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Ask T&L: Solo Travel, Veggie Eats, China

Solo travel . . . Vegetarian Paris . . .
Harbin, China . . . Caribbean private pools

q. Do you know of outdoorsy tours for singles?I've tried Backroads trips [800/462-2848], and am looking for something new. -- E.D., Guttenberg, N.J.
a. Roads Less Traveled (800/488-8483) offers a number of singles-only packages. This summer, try the Canadian Rockies Sampler: six days of hiking, biking, white-water rafting, and horseback riding ($1,495; $295 single supplement). Can't wait?Go biking, hiking, and rafting in northern New Mexico (six days, $1,380; $275 single supplement). Butterfield & Robinson reports that its more exotic trips tend to attract singles-- especially those who find it more relaxing to travel in a mixed group. Consider eight days of biking and walking through Morocco (800/678-1147; $4,250; $480 single supplement), or 11 days biking and walking in Rajasthan, from Jodhpur to New Delhi ($5,525; $575 single supplement). Whatever you choose, be sure to ask if single-occupancy rooms are available.

q. We want to eat well during our upcoming trip to Paris, but we're vegetarians. Do you have any advice?-- S.S., Santa Fe, N.Mex.
a. Paris has many good vegetarian restaurants-- La Truffe, for instance, does delicious things with wild mushrooms (31 Rue Vieille-du-Temple; 33-1/42-71-08-39; dinner for two $55). And chefs at some of the top establishments (Guy Savoy, ArpËge, Pierre Gagnaire) have been known to create dishes on the spot; don't be afraid to ask. For listings of vegetarian restaurants in Paris, as well as in other international cities, consult www.veg.org/veg or www.envirolink.org/arrs/francoveg (in French). Or pick up Jed and Susan Civic's The Vegetarian Traveler (Larson Publications; 607/546-9342).

q. What can you tell me about Harbin, China?-- W.L., Chester, Pa.
a. Once known as "Little Moscow," Harbin is the capital of Heilongjiang province, near Siberia in China's far north. The flight from Beijing takes about two hours. Harbin's proximity to Russia has brought it a tumultuous political past and a fascinating mix of architecture: the historic Daoli district skyline is punctuated with turrets, spires, and onion domes. The city is famous for its annual Ice Lantern Festival (January 5 to February 5), in which everything from life-size Chinese temples to Mickey Mouse melts before your very eyes. Absolute Asia is currently developing a tour to coincide with the 1999 event (212/627-1950).

q. On a recent vacation to Grenada's Spice Island Inn, my husband and I were delighted with our cottage's private pool. Which other Caribbean hotels offer them?-- T.J.F., Kingwood, Tex.
a. You can find them at many top resorts: Le Toiny on St. Bart's, Horned Dorset Primavera on Puerto Rico. Or head to St. Kitts, where each of the Golden Lemon's 15 antiques-filled suites comes with a plunge pool (869/465-7260; suites from $465). Jamaica's Round Hill goes one step further-- the 20 villas all have private pools, as well as a cook and maid (800/972-2159; two-bedroom villas from $1,300). Skinny-dippers should head to Cap Juluca, on Anguilla, where two of the 19 Moroccan-style villas have carefully concealed pools for guaranteed privacy (264/497-6666; private-pool villas from $1,810).

E-mail your questions, or mail them to: Ask T&L, 1120 Avenue of the Americas, 10th floor, New York, NY 10036. We regret that questions can be answered only in the column.

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