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Head East for the Chinese New Year

| Sunday, Oct. 31, 2004

Ring in the Chinese New Year on a specially priced seven-day, five-night package from Gate 1 Travel. Departing Feb. 8, the package is priced from $779 per person, and includes round-trip air fare from Los Angeles, arrival transfer, five nights accommodations at the three-star Stanford Hillview Hotel and buffet breakfast daily. Your hotel can be upgraded for a slight additional charge, and low-cost add-on air fares are available from cities nationwide. Prices are based on double occupancy, and are subject to availability. Additional nights, optional sightseeing and return transfer via private car also are available at additional costs. Sightseeing begins at $30 for a half-day Hong Kong island tour. Airport taxes, security fees of up to $170 per person are additional, depending on destination. Add-on air fare from Pittsburgh is $41. Gate 1 also has a variety of other Asia trips available for the Chinese New Year. Details: (800) 682-3333 or www.gate1travel.com .

The road the ruins

Visit ancient Roman and Greek ruins on a 12-day tour of northern Libya beginning Jan. 14 to be led by John Rude, an English professor at East Los Angeles College.

Rude has led tours to East Africa, but this is his first into Libya, which until April had been closed to American travelers for two decades. Leaving from Tripoli, the group will explore Phoenician and Roman ruins in the ancient trading-post town of Sabratha, then drive to the pre-Saharan city of Ghadames, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and to Kabaw. Tour-goers will fly to Benghazi and spend a day at Leptis Magna. There will be visits to Shahhat and Apollonia, as well as boating and swimming in the Mediterranean. There is considerable walking during parts of the tour. Cost: $2,400 per person ($300 single surcharge) includes accommodations, meals, English-speaking tour guides, entrance fees, ground transportation and internal air fare. Air fare from Los Angeles to Tripoli is not included. Vision Tours of Angeles has more information. Details: (626) 676-1209 or www.visiontour05.com .

Armchair traveler

Those who want to keep a little of the Halloween spirit after today should exhume "Haunted Places in America" from the Lyons Press. Author Charles A Coulombe is your guide to 50 of the nation's pre-eminent haunted hangouts, from Alaska to Vermont. The reader will visit the Stanley Hotel in Colorado, which served as the model for the malevolent hotel in Stephen King's "The Shining." Travel to Baltimore, where Edgar Allan Poe's house is haunted by a female ghost. Coulombe sketches in substantive historical facts for each chapter. It's unfortunate that he can't resist the kind of cornball asides that give ghost stories a bad name, though.

Even so, it's a well-researched book and a fun read. ( Lyons Press; $16.95; 272 pages; softcover)

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