Away with words
Tokyo may be a fascinating city to explore but if you're only in town for a couple of days, getting around the sites can be a challenge, what with painfully expensive taxis and the subway system's lack of English-language directions. First-timers might like to employ the services of H.I.S. Experience Japan through its website: hisexperience.jp. The company's English-language programmes range from a 4,000 yen (HK$293) half-day trip around Tokyo - taking in Tokyo Tower (left; where admission alone costs 1,420 yen), the Meiji Shrine, the Imperial Palace, Ginza and other attractions - to courses in samurai swordsmanship, Japanese cooking and sumo wrestling. Tours outside Tokyo, such as day trips to Mount Fuji, and longer excursions to ancient capitals Kyoto, Kamakura and Nara are also available. Bookings can be made through the website.
Travellers planning to visit the Maldives should note that Como Hotels & Resorts' Cocoa Island property has a summer package that offers seven nights' accommodation for the price of five and 14 nights for the price of 10 from May 15 to October 15.
Operated by the company that is behind Parrot Cay in the Turks and Caicos Islands, Uma Paro in Bhutan and other swanky resorts, the Cocoa Island operation isn't for the shallow of pocket, with nightly rates for a Dhoni Suite (above) starting at US$590 (US$690 in July and August). Book your stay before the end of this month and you'll receive a US$200 voucher to use on spa treatments, food and beverage or excursions. Visit the Cocoa Island website at www.cocoaisland.como.bz for further details and online reservations.
In 1894, a feisty American housewife, Annie Kopchovsky, left behind her husband and children to become the first woman to cycle around the world. On her return from a trip that took her to, among other places, Singapore, Hong Kong and northeastern China, she was a global celebrity. Yet, when she died in 1947, her obituary didn't even mention her remarkable journey. Now, her story has resurfaced with the publication of a book titled Around the World on Two Wheels: Annie Londonderry's Extraordinary Ride (she renamed herself for the benefit of one of her sponsors, the Londonderry Lithia Spring Water Company). Like Englishman Thomas Stevens, who had circled the globe by bicycle a decade earlier, Kopchovsky covered most of her route by ship (she travelled from France to Japan in only six weeks) but this makes her story no less interesting. The book, written by her great grandnephew, Peter Zheutlin, is available from Hong Kong bookshops for HK$184. See also www.annielondonderry.com.
Deal of the week
Cathay Pacific Holidays is selling a two-night package to Xiamen - the one-time treaty port and popular health resort known as Amoy - with accommodation at the Riyuegu Hotsprings Resort (www.riyuegu.com) for HK$1,999 per person, twin share. There is a HK$120 surcharge per person for Friday and Saturday departures and peak-season surcharges between March 20 and 22, but otherwise this price will be available for departures until the end of next month. Included are round-trip, economyclass flights with Dragonair, breakfast at the resort and insurance. For details and reservations, call 2747 4388, e-mail [email protected] or visit www.cxholidays.com.