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ADVISORY - Series of Asia-Pacific travel features.

TOKYO, Jan. 7 Kyodo

In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States and the war in Afghanistan, many travelers are rethinking vacation plans for the year 2002.

But even with a global recession looming and nagging worries about safety still in the air, the travel bug, once caught, is almost impossible to cure with anything but yet another adventure.

With this in mind, Kyodo News correspondents from across the Asia-Pacific region offer a series of safe, scenic and historic suggestions for trips short or long throughout the region or just down the road and across the hills of their home country.

Photos attached to some travel feature stories are available via e-mail. Please call KWS editor 03-5573-8089.

The schedules are as follows:

---------- Nepal's grandiose mountains offer timeless appeal

KATHMANDU, Dec. 26 Kyodo - Slumping may be the kindest word for the current state of tourism in Nepal.

The Himalayan Kingdom received some 500,000 visitors in 2000, but in 2001 it has had to make do with less than half that number.

An ongoing communist insurgency rendered Nepal's countryside unsafe for many travelers, while a bloodbath in the Nepalese royal palace in June, in which the country's popular king Birendra was slain along with nine other royals, also kept potential visitors away.

---------- Climbing one of world's most dangerous, active volcanoes

MT. MERAPI, Indonesia, Dec. 27 Kyodo - It was 3:00 in the morning. All were still sleeping. But Christian Awuy woke us up, knocking on our room doors at his Vogels Hostel in the quiet highland resort of Kaliurang, near Yogyakarta.

''Wake up, guys! It's time to climb!'' he shouted.

Fifteen minutes later and our group of six -- two French lawyers, two New Zealand journalists, a Dutch student and myself -- was sitting in the hostel's dining room, listening to Awuy's short briefing about Mt. Merapi, one of the most active volcanoes in the world.

---------- Cambodia is a relaxing Buddhist getaway in a time of terror

PHNOM PENH, Dec. 27 Kyodo - The Buddhist southeast Asian nation of Cambodia is still attracting many visitors even though the Sept. 11 attacks in the

United States have prompted many people to shy away from traveling overseas.

Fearful tourists are starting to get adventurous again and want ''to relax at a peaceful destination like Cambodia,'' said Sathol Miura, president of APEX travel agency.

Tourists find Cambodia's ancient Buddhist history attractive for many reasons, including the perception that Buddhism does not seem to be suffering from the current strife plaguing other religions such as Islam, said secretary of state for tourism, Thong Khon.

---------- Sri Lankan links offer both natural beauty and golf history

COLOMBO, Dec. 28 Kyodo - Sri Lanka offers fantastic golfing holidays at near give-away prices. A week of challenging golf at its three international golf courses can be had for less than $700, with luxury accommodation, breakfast included, and transfer costs.

''We see a huge potential for golf tourism in Sri Lanka,'' said Vasantha Leelananda, general manager of Walkers Tours, a travel agency that has been avidly promoting the sector. ''With three internationally acclaimed golf courses in Colombo, Nuwara Eliya and Kandy, enthusiasts can combine their passion for the game with a very nice tour of the country.'' (Photo available)

---------- Philippine gov't frantically woos tourists

MANILA, Dec. 29 Kyodo - Efforts to aggressively ''sell'' the Philippines are in full swing in a bid to lure back local and foreign tourists.

The government has launched an offensive against criminals as part of its bid to purge memories of the Abu Sayyaf, a notorious kidnap-for-ransom rebel group that preyed on tourists, among others.

Full-page ads have been taken out in national dailies touting several tourist destinations inside the country.

---------- China's railways fight competition via luxury 'train hotels'

BEIJING, Dec. 30 Kyodo - Each evening on the stroke of 6 p.m., the T21 pulls out of Beijing.

Fourteen hours later, its well-rested and well-fed passengers -- the sound of the T in the train's name suggests the words ''extremely fast'' in Chinese -- step off the train in Shanghai, having helped open a new page in Chinese railway travel.

Once the main mode of moving around the country, the railways have suffered heavily from the competition of air and road travel, but now they want to win back domestic customers by offering greater comfort and appeal to tourists with the creation of luxury ''hotels on wheels.'' (Photo available)

---------- Insa-dong: a Seoul cultural asset for visitors

SEOUL, Dec. 31 Kyodo - Insa-dong, a cultural melange of old and new, is becoming famed among locals and visitors alike as ''street filled with aroma of Korean history,''

Many shops feature old furniture, antiques and old paintings, while, since the 1970s, modern galleries and exhibition halls have also begun to dot the kilometer between the traffic circle in Ankuk-dong and Chongno.

And it is a common sight to see tourists in groups of two or three strolling along the street and popping in and out of the eclectic mix of shops.

---------- Illuminated 'Great Leader' watches even at midnight

TOKYO, Jan. 1 Kyodo - Residents of Kaesong, the ancient capital, have a huge bronze neighbor erected on Chanamsan Hill in the center of the southern North Korean city, where people are enduring food and electricity shortages and political pressure.

The huge statue of the late North Korean President Kim Il Sung, which stands just up a hill from a downtown plaza, commands a view of almost all the elusive country's major cities.

One child, who was playing with his mother in front of the ''Great Leader,'' shouted ''Man-se (hurrah)!,'' responding to his mother's question: ''(Is this) Comrade Kim Il Sung?'' The boy seems to have been given special training to respond like this before foreign tourists.

---------- Bangladesh offers beauty to the adventurous

DHAKA, Jan. 2 Kyodo - It is said beauty lies in the eye of the beholder and for Bangladesh the adage holds especially true.

Although not rich in natural resources, it is extremely well-off in beauty.

The country is filled with an amazing diversity offering nearly anything a tourist could want in a holiday.

---------- True blue Aussie destination

SYDNEY, Jan. 3 Kyodo - Once perceived as an impenetrable barrier to 19th century Australian explorers, the Blue Mountains, 110 kilometers west of Sydney, offer the modern explorer a chance to get back to nature, without leaving civilization behind.

A popular short break destination, the region is just 90-minutes from Sydney by car, bus or train and combines breathtaking natural beauty interspersed with quaint villages and cosmopolitan art galleries and museums.

The Blue Mountains are a particularly scenic part of the Great Dividing Range that runs along the east coast of Australia. They were first crossed by explorers from the fledgling colony of New South Wales in 1813 and are now home to 96,400 people scattered over an area of 140,377 hectares divided into 26 townships. (Photo available)

---------- Sittin' on the Mekong

LUANG PRABANG, Laos, Jan. 4 Kyodo - To travelers of a certain age, the strains of Otis Redding's classic ''Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay'' can conjure up images of a lazy summer afternoon gazing across San Francisco Bay, ''just watchin' the world go by.''

It can also trigger images of marching on Washington to protest the Vietnam War, partaking in the Summer of Love, and thousands of other mind-flashes from the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Now, with another Asian war in progress and times not quite as innocent as they once seemed, sitting on the dock can perhaps be somewhat more satisfying in a spot a little more remote than ''the side of the San Francisco Bay.'' (Photo available)

---------- A 'historical' trip down Malaysia's Malacca

MALACCA, Malaysia, Jan. 5 Kyodo - Before one sets foot in Malaysia's Malacca State, it is best to equip oneself with a bit of its history because Malacca is ''where it all began'' as locals like to tell you.

It tells the history of Malaysia and also of the country's first taste with the forces of globalization of yore.

Due to its strategic location on the Euro-Asian mercantile route, Malacca was for centuries a trading post to many ships and merchants from China, India, the Middle East and Europe. (Photo available)

---------- Take the train to Taiwan's prime sightseeing spots

TAIPEI, Jan. 6 Kyodo - In a bid to lure travelers back from hopping across Taiwan on aircraft, Taiwan's Railway Travel Association has recently introduced special luxury tourist trains to the island's three major sightseeing areas.

The trains' coaches are modeled after business-class aircraft cabins, with just three seats per row and ample leg room. The upholstered seats have reclining backs with special back support, leg rests and a folding table.

The in-train entertainment system offers five music program channels and five radio channels. For those who take their work with them, laptops can be plugged in or recharged on demand. (Photo available)

---------- Amazon jungle hotel promotes 'ecotourism'

MANAUS, Brazil, Jan. 7 Kyodo - ''You are the intruder here, not the insects, frogs and other little animals you may find in your room. Do not bother them, although they may disturb you.''

This is a notice displayed in the rooms of a hotel in the heart of the Amazon rain forest.

The Ariau Jungle Towers borrowed its name from the indigenous language Nengatu, in which ''ariau'' means root or potato, and is located some 60 kilometers from Manaus, the largest city in the region and capital of Amazonas State. (Photo available)
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:Jan 14, 2002
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