Travel Weekly's Asia-Pacific E-letter: May 23, 2005

TIME IS RUNNING OUT for those wishing to attend the Boryeong Mud Festival, which will be held on Daecheon Beach at Boryeong City, Korea July 16-22. The mud in the area has been found by various research institutions to be rich in minerals that are healthy for the skin. Sanctioned by the Korean Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the festival includes such events as a grand mud bathtub, mud sliding, self-mud massage, a mud wrestling contest, high-tech mud massage, a mud photo contest, a mud beauty contest, a street parade and traditional Korean music performances. For more information see http://www.mudfestival.or.kr/english/festival/festival1.php or contact the Korea National Tourism Organization at http://english.tour2korea.com/.

RELIEF RIDERS International, a company that combines tourism with volunteer service, is planning a trip to Rajasthan, India, Oct. 6-20. The trip will combine traditional sightseeing outings with relief activities, such as distributing medical or educational supplies and food, or assisting in medical activities. Founded by Alexander Souri, a filmmaker and creator of special effects for The Matrix and The X-Men, Relief Riders works in partnership with organizations like the Indian Red Cross. For more information call (413) 329-5876 or visit www.reliefridersinternational.com.

FOR THOSE WHO are looking for an unusual wedding, NOMADIC EXPEDITIONS of Monroe Township, N.J., can arrange a traditional Mongolian wedding at the Three Camel Lodge in the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. Adventurous brides and grooms who opt for the package can wear colorful, traditional Mongolian dress while they enjoy the Mongolian ambience with celebratory vodka toasts and blessings from Buddhist monks. Accommodations are in traditional nomadic tents called gers. Each room has 24-hour electricity produced by solar panels, housekeeping service, Western style bathrooms and showers a close walk away. Stays in the Three Camel Lodge are priced $100-$250 per night, including meals and guide service. Wedding arrangements are additional. Call (800) 998-6634 or visit www.nomadicexpeditions.com.

RITZ TOURS is offering an 11-night Yangtze Summer Saver itinerary priced from $1,599, plus taxes, per person, double. The trip will be offered for selected departures between July and early September. The tour will include sightseeing in Beijing (the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, the Ming Tomb Museum, Tiananmen Square and the Great Wall). After that, the tour heads to Chongqing for a Yangtze River cruise from Chongqing to Yichang and back. Departures are set every Monday through Thursday from July 4 to Sept. 4. A minimum of two passengers, are required for a departure. Call (800) 900-2446 or log onto www.ritztours.com.

QANTAS AIRWAYS is adding nonstop flights between Sydney and Los Angeles to accommodate increased demand during the summer peak travel months. On top of its standard schedule of 17 nonstop flights a week between Los Angeles and Sydney, Qantas will add six nonstop flights June 27 and July 4, 11, 17, 20 and 25.  For detailed schedule information see www.QantasUSA.com. The reservations line is (800) 227-4500.

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