Farts and all Carting Lane, which is just behind the upmarket Savoy Hotel in London, was once nicknamed "Farting Lane", because its street lamps were, up to the 1950s, fuelled by gas from the city's sewage system. It's said that locals once joked that if the lamps flickered, it meant that the hotel's guests were passing wind. This is just one of many "best-kept secrets, amazing stories and loads of other cool stuff" contained between the covers of the London edition of Lonely Planet's new City Trails guidebooks for children. Published next month and aimed at young readers aged eight and above, the City Trails series will also cover New York and Paris, where, kids will learn, there is just one public pissoir (right) left of the more than 1,200 that were stinking up the City of Light in the 30s. Each book has about 100 pages of interesting (and mostly non-toilet-related) facts, which should be enough to keep kids with inquiring minds engaged on a long-haul flight and ready to hit the ground running when they arrive at their destination. For online purchase and sample pages, visit shop.lonelyplanet.com/childrens-books.
Stranded in Yangon The Strand Yangon, the only purpose-built heritage hotel still in business in the city formerly known as Rangoon, has just closed for extensive renovations, leaving the Belmond Governor's Residence as the only alternative hotel for travellers in search of the city's colonial experience (as the name suggests, it wasn't always a hotel). Opened in 1901 by the Armenian Sarkies Brothers, who were already running the Eastern & Oriental Hotel, in Penang, and the Raffles, in Singapore, The Strand claims to have been dubbed the finest hotel East of Suez by guidebook publisher John Murray. The Peninsula in Hong Kong has made similar geo-superlative claims, although the hotel now mistakenly suggests on its website that it was in fact "the first hotel east of Suez" when it opened in 1928. The Strand will be closed all summer, but is open for online reservations from November 16, at www.hotelthestrand.com.
Wild ride British-owned, India-based motorcycle touring company Nomadic Knights is running a new Roof of India tour, which will wind for 2,100km through the Indian Himalayas, starting and finishing in Narkanda, in the state of Himachal Pradesh, and looping through old hippie-trail favourites Srinagar, Leh and Manali. Intrepid riders signing up for the 14-night trip will have to negotiate "The Cliffhanger" (top), which Nomadic Knights describes as a "spine-tingling track [that] traces a narrow and rudimentary route high above a gushing river in the remote Pangi Valley" on Indian-made 500cc Royal Enfield Bullets. Although it might sound more like an outlaw Scandinavian biker gang, Nomadic Knights is a professional outfit, with a good reputation, and this particular trip is restricted to experienced riders only. The first tour departs on July 30, and is priced at US$3,980 per person, which includes bike hire, medical, mechanical and logistics support, hotels, meals and fuel. For a full itinerary and other details, go to www.nomadicknights.com and select "Himalayas Roof of India" from the Adventures dropdown menu.
Deal of the week With departures available up to July 7, Westminster Travel is selling a two-night package to Bangkok starting from HK$1,780 per person, twin share. The entry-level hotel is the Grand Alpine Pratunam, which, judging from online guest reviews, is probably best avoided unless you're on a tight budget. Among the better value propositions are the Courtyard by Marriott and the Holiday Inn, which are both priced from HK$2,130. Several higher-end hotels are also available at affordable prices, including the Grand Hyatt Erawan (from HK$2,540), the St Regis (from HK$2,990) and the Mandarin Oriental (above; from HK$3,840), which this year celebrates its 140th anniversary. Flights with Cathay Pacific, daily breakfast and travel insurance are also included. Further information can be found, and reservations made, at www.westminstertravel.com.