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Getting an Inside Look at Alaska

“Crusing Alaska’s Inside Passage” (Questar Video, 1990, 60 minutes).

The narration describes the history and formation of the Inside Passage and the 1,000-island Alexander Archipelago that protects it from the vagaries of the Pacific Ocean. And a recent history of its development as a cruise destination is illustrated with old film clips of early cruises.

The tour stops outside of Ketchikan in the beautiful Misty Fiords, Ketchikan itself, Sitka, Petersburg, Wrangell, Juneau and Skagway.

Brief visits are also made to Tongass National Forest and Admiralty Island, a home for brown bears and sea lions.

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Popular Glacier Bay and the calving of the glaciers, plus views of the vast ice fields are shown.

An aerial view shows the frozen wilderness of the Juneau ice field and Mendenhall Glacier, including a helicopter landing on its surface. Hardy rafters ride the Mendenhall River, and Tracy Arm, which is filled with icebergs and surrounded by sheer cliffs, is explored.

Final stop is at Haines, site of historic Ft. Seward--a quaint, frontier-type town and home for many artists as well as a gathering spot for wildlife, including the eagle.

No travel tips or recommendations are offered.

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Tape from Questar Video, P.O. Box 11345, Chicago, Ill. 60611, (800) 544-8422. Price: $29.95.

“Mainland China” (Laura McKenzie, Republic Pictures Home Video, 60 minutes, 1989).

McKenzie’s brisk, entertaining style incorporates well-photographed scenes of tourist highlights along with a narration filled with tips. McKenzie also offers history, old film clips, maps, observations and warnings.

Her China tour covers major cities--Beijing, Hsian, Shanghai, Kueilin and Hong Kong--plus side trips, with each segment giving lists of places to visit (not always shown on the tape), and suggests itineraries, hotels, shops, restaurants, nightlife and transportation.

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In Beijing, McKenzie’s tour goes to Tian An Men Square for many of its historic buildings and monuments and the Mao Tse-tung Memorial Hall. Other stops include the Forbidden Palace and Museum, the Temple of Heaven and the Vault of Heaven with its Echo Wall.

The Great Wall, Ming Tombs, Avenue of the Animals, and the interior of the Ding Ling tomb are excursions from Beijing. Also the Chang Ling tomb, largest and oldest (AD 1424) in China, and its exhibition hall, which is filled with treasures from the tombs.

Suchou, one of the most beautiful cities in China, was built on canals. It is a center for fine embroidery. Kueilin is followed by the lovely Li River, where some spectacular scenery is shown and information on boat tours is given.

Although the tape offers only glimpses of this huge land, McKenzie provides a colorful supplement to the traditional guidebook.

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Tapes from Republic Pictures Home Video, P.O. Box 66930, Los Angeles 90066-0930, (213) 306-4040. Price: $19.98.

“Hideaways of Hawaii” (Castaway Productions, 26 minutes, 1990).

Co-producers Rick Cullis and Bruce Kernohan combed the islands of Maui, Kauai and Hawaii to film affordble, unusual and off-the-beaten-track rentals.

The tape includes 12 choices of B&Bs;, cottages, rustic cabins and estates selected for merit alone, not for financial consideration, on the island of Hawaii.

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Brief scenes of historic and cultural attractions, as well as the interiors, exteriors, surrounding grounds and gardens for each lodging are shown.

There are also interviews with owners and information on accommodation amenities. In addition, there is information on weather and suggestions for local shopping and restaurants.

Each tape includes a list of addresses and phone numbers to help viewers reach owners for more information.

A tape of each island is $22.95; three single tapes or one 60-minute tape of all three islands costs $52.95. Prices include shipping and handling. Tapes from Castaway Productions, P.O. Box 226, Eugene, Ore. 97440, (503) 344-2617.

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