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TIME Asia Asiaweek Asia Now TIME Asia story
JUNE 26, 2000 VOL. 155 NO. 25
Open the Door to a Cool Summer Escape
By DAFFYD RODERICK

When that trickle of sweat down your back turns into a torrent, you know summer has returned to Asia. It's the perfect time to escape to a cooler clime and feel a fresh breeze on your face. In the old days, Asia's wealthy flocked to hill stations like Darjeeling and the Cameron Highlands to take advantage of slightly cooler temperatures at altitude. Thanks to air travel, you can go much further afield. If you're willing to venture a few more miles to escape the summer simmer, there are excellent options on hand.

The first place to point your compass is due south, to Australia. The ski slopes of Kosciuszko National Park in New South Wales are in good form by early July. Station Resort, close to Jindabyne ski field and only 25 km from the much larger Perisher Blue, offers good value. A mid-week, five-day package including accommodation, ski rentals, lessons and lift passes costs $375 for an adult, based on quadruple occupancy (www.kos.com.au/html/acomm.html). If you're flying from Hong Kong, Qantas (852) 2737-6798 is pitching a return fare including three nights accommodation to Sydney or Melbourne for $910. The offer is valid until the end of August, when the prices will become a bit more Olympian.

  TRAVEL WATCH
Open the Door to a Cool Summer Escape
If you're willing to venture a few more miles to escape the summer simmer, there are excellent options on hand.

Detour
Sure, there are white and black swans, bamboo groves and flower gardens, but the lovely views at Taiwan's Tzuhu Lake are not the only draw for the 1.5 million visitors who travel there each year.

Short Cuts
As part of its summer celebration, the Van Thanh Tourist Park in Ho Chi Minh City is launching a weekend program called Gastronomic Inspiration.

Hot Deals
Singapore Airlines is offering a June Internet special on flights to destinations around the region.

If you don't want to cool off to the point of freezing, think Alaska. No kidding: temperatures in the northernmost region of the United States stay well above freezing in the summer months. Add in days that are 20 hours long and it's an ideal destination for a cool adventure. With direct flights from Japan, Seoul, Hong Kong and Singapore, it's also highly accessible.

A visit to Alaska starts in the capital, Anchorage, conveniently close to both mountains and sea. Giant cedars, bald eagles and icy glaciers are all part of the scenery in this part of the world. A sea kayak is one of the best ways to explore Alaska's oceanic wilderness. The silent boats allow kayakers to paddle into kelp beds to watch humpback whales feed and seals frolic. An average-sized humpback whale eats 2,000-2,500 kg of plankton, krill and small, schooling fish‹but don't worry, no kayakers‹per day. At night, make camp on beaches that border ancient forests inhabited by deer, bears and other wildlife. A week's sea-kayaking package costs about $1,650 and a variety of tour operators work out of Anchorage, accessing their destinations by floatplane. Check out the Alaska Tourism site at www.dced.state.ak.us/ tourism.

If that sounds a little too adventurous, don't write off Alaska yet. To keep some solid steel between yourself and where the wild things are, a range of cruises and self-drive trips are available. Log on to www.alaskan. com to check out your options.

For chill seekers wanting to stay closer to home, hiking in Hokkaido is always a possibility. Still too far? Well, you can always head to the nearest air-conditioned mall.


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