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December 24, 1989|JERRY HULSE

One of the season's best buys is an $899 Japan package: round-trip air (LAX/Tokyo), hotel for six nights, half a day sightseeing tour of Tokyo. Extensions to other areas of Japan: $244. Another: Hong Kong ($936) features round-trip air from LAX, hotel (five nights), sightseeing, airport transfers.

Contact Japan & Orient Tours, 3131 Camino del Rio North, Suite 1080, San Diego 92101. Telephone toll-free (800) 877-8777.

Germany by Rail: Germany's Flexipass Rail ticket allows passengers to travel by train without using the pass on consecutive days. Example: Four-day/nine-day passes ($120/$180) can be used during a 21-day time frame, and a 16-day pass ($250) is valid during a similar period. Those prices are for second-class travel. Other details from GermanRail, 747 3rd Ave., New York 10017. Call toll-free (800) 223-6036 or (212) 308-3100.

For general information on travel to Germany, contact the German National Tourist Office, 444 S. Flower St., Suite 2230, Los Angeles 90071. Telephone (213) 688-7332.

Airport Parking: Parking at LAX is a lesson in frustration. Particularly during the holidays. Bumber-to-bumper traffic. Crowded lots. And if you park in the terminal lot, the ransom is $10 a day. A better bet is Auto Air Porter, a multilevel facility at 2222 E. Imperial Highway. Rates: $5.10 a day for 10 days, $4 for each additional day. Motorists are delivered by van from the parking area to LAX and picked up on their return. Round-the-clock service. For an extra fee, attendants will wash, gas your car. For a preferred customer discount card that saves you $1 a day, call toll-free (800) 752-3339.

Club Med: Beginning in February, Club Med will inaugurate weekly cruises of the Caribbean aboard the world's largest sailing ship. Club Med 1 will sail from Guadaloupe to Antigua, St. Maarten, Virgin Gorda, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, St. Barts. Prices for seven days start at $1,290 (accommodations, meals, entertainment, water sports). A retractable platform allows passengers to water-ski, windsurf, snorkel directly from the ship. Two restaurants, two bars, two swimming pools, a casino and a fitness center. Telephones, TV sets in each cabin. Following the winter season, the vessel will return to her home port in the Mediterranean.

Your travel agent or call toll-free (800) CLUB-MED (daily except Sunday).

Biking in the Bayous: Louisiana's Cajun Country will be the setting for five-day bike tours by Backroads Bicycle Touring in 1990. Five departures during spring/autumn months. Bikers will travel along the Great River Road out of New Orleans, skirting the Mississippi to the Atchafalaya Floodplains. Antebellum homes. Historic towns. Bikers will overnight in plantation homes and dine on Cajun-style food (jambalaya, shrimp creole, gumbo). Rates: $926.

Backroads Bicycle Touring, 1516 5th St., Suite PR37, Berkeley 94710-1713. In California, telephone (415) 527-1555. Outside the state, dial toll-free (800) 533-2573. Ask for a copy of Backroads' 64-page catalogue.

Leading Hotels: A new directory published by Leading Hotels of the World names properties from Beverly Hills to Baden-Baden. Descriptions, color photos of 225 hotels. Alphabetical listings. Maps pinpoint cities/towns where hotels do business. This is a 160-page pocket-size directory. Lists rates, addresses, telephone numbers, general information about reservations. A new feature this year tells travelers how to say "good morning" and "thank you" in 56 countries.

Complementary copies from The Leading Hotels of the World, Department PR, 747 3rd Ave., New York 10017.

Whale Watch: H & M Landing, pioneer of whale-watching excursions in Southern California, has begun a winter schedule out of San Diego. Boats carry a maximum of 75 passengers. Twice-daily three-hour cruises (10 a.m./1:30 p.m.). Full-day trips at 9 a.m. Sightings guaranteed. Prices: $12 for three hours, $32 for full-day excursions. Discounts for children. Other cruises to breeding lagoons in Baja. For recorded details, call (619) 491-1760; for reservations, call (619) 222-1144.

A Letter From Russia: Filmmaker Arthur L. Wilde writes from Russia: "I'm in Moscow for a few months working on a motion picture and am staying at the Sovietskaia Hotel. It's bitter cold, with icy streets, rotten transportation and worse food. That aside, the hotel is great. What's interesting is that it is not a tourist hotel, but rather one for Soviet citizenry, although they do allow foreigners, if and when they have room. It's done in a stately neo-Greco style. The lobby is spacious--cavernous, actually.

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