THE territory's travellers are a generous lot - we've been handing bulging lai see packets to the airlines and travel agents all year. That's the conclusion of a small survey designed to see whether the strange charging on the Hong Kong-London route, which was reported on February 3, is unique. It's not. For instance, cheap but reputable travel agents charge $2,900 for a Thai Airways International flight to Bangkok and back. Similar agents in Bangkok charge 8,500 baht (about $2,550) for the same trip, same airline. On Cathay it's more noticeable. We pay $3,100 for the Bangkok return, while Thais pay the same 8,500 baht. In other words, we pay 19 per cent more. Fancy seeing relatives in Toronto? You'll pay $9,500 for the return trip on Canadian Airlines. Fancy paying for them to visit you? They'll pay C$1,005 (roughly HK$5,780) on the same airline. And Hong Kong agents are quoting slightly less than $8,500 for a Qantas return to Sydney. In Sydney, agents are offering the same trip, but with the Sydney-Hong Kong leg first, for A$1,139 (about HK$6,330). Fares much cheaper than these are available in all these cities, but these figures are based on genuine prices paid in equivalent, established travel agents. Meanwhile, back to the Hong Kong-London route. Virgin is still offering Brits the return fare of GBP499 (about $5,680), while we're being asked to pay $7,050. But there is one select group that gets a great deal. Members of Hong Kong's Foreign Correspondents' Club have been offered Virgin return tickets to London at $3,500. Cut both ways MAYBE you're thinking that you can be smart and phone up a travel agent elsewhere, perhaps in London, and buy a cheap ticket on your credit card. Tough. If you ring a travel agent in London to try and get the cheap fare for Hong Kong to London and back they'll come up with a long list of reasons why you can't have it. At least three people have tried and failed since our first article on the subject. Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Government is still paying $11,160 for each London return ticket for children over 12 travelling on the Overseas Education Allowance Scheme, it told legislators last week. It is actually now paying six per cent more than it was last year - despite the weak price war which has semi-started. Most annoyed of all was one customer of Swire Travel, one of the territory's largest agents. A while ago he was sponsoring three students from the Philippines to come to Hong Kong, and the Manila-Hong Kong run is one of the few that's cheaper from here. Unfortunately, he was told that because the journey was starting in Manila he'd have to pay the Manila price, which is 50 per cent higher. Three times a year he has to pay for his daughter, who is studying in England, to visit him in Hong Kong. Unfortunately, he is told that because the travel agent is based here and has no London office he'll have to pay the Hong Kong price, which is about a third higher. The Hong Kong travel industry may not be cheap, but at least it's consistent - when it comes to billing. Cliff-panger IN the last paper published in the Year of the Cock we started to report how Pang, a Hong Kong businessman, had tried to turn the tables on Mr Eke, who operated from an address that looked like a bus stop in Nigeria. Mr Eke was running the standard bank scam, appearing to offer Pang US$12 million for the use of a bank account. In practice, Mr Eke wanted to empty Pang's account and disappear. Pang said yes - but asked for US$40,000 first to cover expenses to set up a new account and shelf company. Mr Eke's first reply showed excitement, but he hadn't yet realised the tables were being turned. ''Things are really going to work out fine because the officials involved in this transaction are all prepared to do the business with you . . . time is our watch word,'' said Mr Eke. So Pang spelled it out in his next fax. ''If you wish us to come to Nigeria we will come, at your convenience and expense, when we receive pre-paid round-trip business-class tickets.'' He also asked for five-star hotels and a spending allowance, and repeated that he wouldn't allow his own personal account to be used. Pang wrote: ''We do not for a moment suggest that this might be the case with you, dear sir, [but] apparently there are dark forces in Nigeria who would prey on gullible and unsuspecting businessmen, and when any attempt at reimbursement is made, their contact address turns out to be a bus stop.'' Is Mr Eke smart enough to realise he's been rumbled? Or does he think Mr Pang is hooked and ready to be reeled in? All will be revealed next week. Floating ANYONE having difficulty getting their work done each day should try the coffee from Irene's at the Kowloon Star Ferry terminal. Her coffee, which has only 50 per cent of the caffeine of the normal stuff, was somehow advertised as ''50 per cent caffeine'' before the holidays started. Wow. Just the thing if you want to get a day's work done by 9.25 am - although you'llenduptalkinglikethisandnoonewillunderstandyou.