TIME OUT By Barry Girling (KCRC/SCMP, $88) IF Barry Girling asked for the outrageous - like giving up a month of Sundays or running the MacLehose Trail in the dark - I'd have a legitimate case against Time Out. But he asks little, gives much and makes me feel lazy. What's worse, he pricks a hole in my smugness. Just when I think I've memorised every rock or root system along Sir Cecil's Ride, the culprits that have tripped my running shoes over the years, here comes Girling, ever wise and diplomatic, to offer something new. Time Out is a gentle reminder, there's more to see of Hongkong and, at the end of the bus ride, a mini-adventure awaits. It is a gem of sightseeing ideas, based on 25 of Girling's recent columns from the Sunday Morning Young Post and Wah Kiu Yat Po. Written in a clear, conversational tone, the bilingual guide fits easily into a pack and takes the fear out of being a klutz with map-folding. Lacking is an intimidating laundry list of must-sees written by a taskmaster. It doesn't pretend to be the definitive word on Hongkong's attractions, country parks and monuments. Chapters are arranged by KCR, LRT, Bus and Ferry. In ''Over the Border'' we traipse around Shenzhen City, Shekou and Guangzhou, visiting a folk arts centre or royal tomb. Grab the binoculars and set the eyes upon the forbidden bird sanctuary at Shataukok from Luk Keng in the northeast New Territories. Or catch a glimpse of fading Hongkong, the inhabitants of Tolo, the disappearing Hakka and Hoklo villagers as they gather clams. Make time for a simple vegetarian meal in the canteen of the Taoist temple of Ching Chung in Tuen Mun. The distinctive architecture will make up for the spartan fare. There are maps and sketches, information on public transport and where to get refreshments. The Cambridge-educated freelance writer, a former television producer and hotel industry executive, has been based here since 1979. A question remains. What may be in vogue in book design - fading the tones of some photographs - frustrates the eye and detracts from Girling's eye and skill in photography. His are informed suggestions, highlighting a few interesting facts and places. In Time Out, he whets the curiosity. The rest is up to us. The book is sponsored by the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation. All profits from the sale will be donated to the Alliance of Patients' Self-Help Groups.