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October 23, 1999

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Hong Kong Vacation

If you haven't visited Hong Kong, maybe a new deal from United Airlines and MasterCard will tempt you. It's one of the most exciting and cosmopolitan cities in Asia, whether your passion is food, shopping, history, or romance. Take a ride on the Star Ferry and look at the moon over Victoria Peak -- it's a scene you'll remember the rest of your life.

United's vacation division will fly you there non-stop from L.A., San Francisco or Seattle and put you up for four nights in a hotel for only $799 November through March if you use your Mastercard to pay for the trip. You'd be hard-pressed to find airfare alone at that price -- four hotel nights included means you're really stealing a deal. And airport transfers to and from your hotel are also covered.

Is four nights too short a time to spend in Hong Kong? Admittedly, it's a bit of a schlep. But you get three full days there, and what the heck -- be impulsive and jet off, especially if you live on the West Coast. If you book on line at unitedvacations.com, you'll get 1,000 bonus miles. Or you can call United's vacation folks directly.

Hong Kong -- one of the world's great cities on sale. That's my Deal of the Week.

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New Technology for Detecting Turbulence
Who hasn't been through one of those scary, shaky moments on a plane. Well, turbulence was more than a few bumps for a China Southern airliner flying into Hong Kong last week. The 757 dropped almost 2,000 feet in under ten seconds. 45 people ended up in the hospital.

Turbulence is one of those mysteries of flying. The weather guys in Hong Kong were predicting clear skies there. Well, there's new technology to help pilots know when turbulence may strike.

The Lidar system, which is like radar but with lasers, goes on board a plane. It'll give pilots time to warn passengers or go around rough spots. And the F.A.A.'s testing a different system in Juneau, Alaska. This one's to detect turbulence near runways. Both are still prototypes, but the results so far have been promising.

Worst Travel Destinations
Okay, so the going's getting a little easier, but half the battle planning trips is figuring out what to avoid, right? Now, thanks to The Wall Street Journal we have the world's top ten bad travel destinations. And the worst? Koversada...a nudist camp in the war-torn ruins of Croatia.

The Journal hated the food...served out of big vats...not to mention the sandless beaches. The description was, well, harrowing. I had to find out, is it really that bad?

Oliver: "The Croatian Coast is a very big destination for naturists, for nudists. They have a lot of nudist camps there, really a lot. Koversada is really one of the better ones and it's considered to be very good."

That's Jeannie Oliver. She writes about Croatia for the Lonely Planet Guidebooks. She told me the area's very picturesque. But, she does suggest taking your own food. And she says the facilities can be, well, at a bare minimum.

Traveling in a Hurry?
According to one government scientist, the glaciers in Glacier National Park are disappearing and they could all be gone in a generation. Wanna get there fast to check them out? Here's an idea: head over to www.gulfstream.com. The luxury corporate jet maker just announced their first sale on-line. The price? Only $22 million. And that's for a used jet! Oh, pilot and fuel aren't included.

Travel Advisory
by Cheryl Glaser

Hurricane Update
Hurricane Jose was in the Caribbean last week, but southern states are still feeling Irene's impact. That storm's heavy rains caused floods and washed out roads in the Carolinas ... and in central Florida, three counties closed beaches when the storm burst a sewer line there. Officials with the Florida E.P.A. expect things to be cleaned up soon.

Volcanic Activities in Ecuador
And, scientists in Ecuador are downgrading alerts on a volcano near Quito, even while another, near Banos, erupts. Last week, falling ash burned some tourists near Banos, popular for its hiking and hot springs. Now, the government has evacuated the town and surrounding area. I asked travel writer Rob Rachoviecki if we should cancel our trips.

Rohovietsky: "You remember Mount St. Helens in Washington State? It was a huge volcanic eruption, but it didn't stop people traveling around Washington State or going to Seattle or the major towns."

Rob's really not worried about Ecuador. In fact, he's leaving for Quito next week.


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