May 2nd, 2015 by admin

Indian citizens traveling to Sri Lanka need to apply for visa. However, it is pretty easy to obtain one online. ETA (Electronic travel authorization) can be obtained online at:

1. http://www.eta.gov.lk/slvisa/visainfo/fees.jsp for $15
2. Sri Lanka Overseas mission for $15
3. On arrival at the port of entry for $20

Once you apply for ETA you will be provided with single entry for 30 days of stay. I was very amazed with the speed with which my ETA was approved within 30 minutes of applying. I traveled to Sri Lanka in December 2013. Sri Lanka allows two days of single entry transit visa for free. Renewal of tourist visa beyond 30 days is possible for 2 months. Any further extension will require valid reason. However, one can depart and come back again. Children under 12 years are exempted from ETA.

I found citizens of Singapore, Maldives and Seychelles are exempted from ETA for a travel period of 30 days. This is on a reciprocal basis between Sri Lanka and those countries.

Sri Lanka is a beautiful country. It has sea, hills, forest and a world of its own. People are friendly and the country is much more efficient than we think from outside.

April 25th, 2015 by admin

The US Geological Survey noted: An earthquake with magnitude 7.9 occurred near Lamjung, Nepal at 06:11:26 UTC on Apr 25, 2015.

The most affected region is the Kathmandu valley. The capital city – Kathmandu saw huge destruction and death toll already risen to 1500. This is the biggest earthquake in this region in last 80 years. Light to moderate tremors were also felt in northern and eastern India, Tibet and Bangladesh. In India as of now death toll has rose to 37. Many buildings have developed cracks in the process.

Many tourist in Nepal are stranded now, specially in the Kathmandu valley. Indian tourists were asked by Indian government to contact the Indian embassy in Nepal for any help they need. Indian government under PM Modi has already started massive rescue and relief efforts. This is the time to show solidarity to our neighbor and show that we will indeed act like an elder brother.

Modi said: Nepal’s pain is our pain.

For sometime, scientists have predicted big ones for this region. A recent earthquake in the Himalayan region was in Pakistan occupied Kashmir where approximately 100,000 people were killed. In my research on this quake I found a study by KVERMP (Kathmandu Valley Earthquake Risk Management Project) which predicted a big one to hit Kathmandu in future. This event will severely affect tourism in Nepal. A large part of its GDP comes from tourism. With severe infrastructure damage including destructing of historic sites like the Dharahara tower brings a massive blow to the tourism industry. Building infrastructure is going to take time and so the tourism industry will also take time to come on its feet again. Many mountaineers who were on their way to climb mount Everest (the highest peak in the world) lost their life due to an avalanche. Apart from Kathmandu, some other towns like Bharatpur and Pokhra has also been affected.

In the immediate aftermath of this, it would be wise for travelers to avoid Nepal for a while.

Good read:

Seismic Vulnerability in the Himalayan Region by Dr. Harihar Paudyal and Ananta Panthi

December 12th, 2013 by admin


Image credit: Oregonstate.edu

This year end I am looking forward to spend my vacation in Sri Lanka. The ticket was booked by my friend through Cleartrip.com. We got a pretty good deal of around Rs 6500 for return trip to Sri Lanka. But he had entered my nick name as my first name. So the name on the ticket and the name on the passport/visa would have been different. This caught me quite sometime after we bought the ticket. I called up Cleartrip support and requested them to rectify my name. Cleartrip told to contact the airlines directly in this regard. So I called Spicejet 24 hrs Customer care (Mobile) : +91 987 180 3333, +91 965 400 3333. The agent over there told me that it is not possible to change the name. If it is typographical error involving one or two letters they can do it but name change is not allowed. It was a rude shock. But I did not wanted to change my name and just wanted to rectify my name to reflect the name I have on the passport. I told him that my last name and my passport number remains the same and I am the same person who will be traveling. When I was angry, he offered to transfer to his senior. After keeping me on hold for sometime, he told they are unable to do anything and to write to: custrelations@spicejet.com. I went to Spicejet website to find the rules in regard to name rectification. I found name change is strictly prohibited. Seeing no other way wrote to the email he provided as follows:

Excerpt of the email:

I have a ticket for Chennai – Colombo on — date —-. I found that the first name has been wrongly entered and I need to rectify it as per my passport. Please note that this is just a rectification and not change in the person. The passport # ********* still remains the same with which the ticket was booked. Which means I am the same person who will be travelling. Please amend this.

I already talked with the customer care and they told name cannot be changed. Please note that I am not changing my name, I am asking to rectify my name as per my passport. Please help. I am asking for legitimate and genuine rectification of name.

As of now the name on the ticket is ” ********** ” and it needs to be “**************”.

Airline PNR: ******
Ticket # : ******
Flight # ****
Passport # *********

Please look into this and help me. Awaiting your quick reply.

They replied back telling name change cannot be done. I will have to cancel the ticket and book it again if its available with the correct name. Also, they will charge me cancellation fee of Rs 1850 per way. I found there is a escalation process if one if not happy with answer received from customer support. So I wrote to Nodal Officer (NodalOfficer@spicejet.com) stating all these details. Also, I told them some airlines take a penalty and change the name. If they would like, they can charge a penalty and amend this. On this the Nodal officer asked me to send a scanned copy of the passport. Sent a scanned copy of my passport and visiting card keeping my fingers crossed. Next day I was informed the needful has been done and the ticket will now reflect the name as per my passport.

I really appreciate the help and experience with the SpiceJet escalation team. SpiceJet as a low cost airline would definitely not like to allow laundering of tickets which was purchased much earlier. But genuine name rectification should be allowed where the same person will be travelling. Below is the support matrix of Spicejet:

1st contact: 24 hrs customer care: 91 987 180 3333, +91 965 400 3333

2nd contact: write to – custrelations@spicejet.com

3rd contact: Nodal officer – NodalOfficer@spicejet.com

4th contact: Appellate Authority – AppellateAuthority@spicejet.com

November 25th, 2013 by admin

The Hues of Chilika
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/arnabmaity/8805690430/

I was born and spent the early days of my life in one of the wettest place in India. I have a natural affinity to wetlands. But you will ask me: Does the tourist has a business there? I say yes!¬† With developing tourism facilities and raising awareness, the average tourists can also enjoy holidays at such amazing wetland eco-systems. But for travelers and animal photographers, these are the place to be in. India has some amazing wetland eco-systems. And the good news is that, they are now preserved by the government. National Geographic in one of their recent issue, made a list of India’s best wetlands. I am noting them as follows:

Eastern India

  1. Chilika Lake, Orissa
  2. Deepor Beel, Assam
  3. Loktak lake, Manipur

Northern India

  1.  Keoladeo National Park, Rajasthan
  2. Tso Moriri Lake, (Ladakh region), Jammu & Kashmir
  3. Wular Lake, Jammu & Kashmir
  4. Ropar Lake, Punjab

Southern India

  1. Astamudi Lake, Kerala
  2. Vembanad – Kol lake, Kerala

I am glad to have visited Chilika lake back in 1993 along with my parents. We had traveled from Puri on a day trip to Chilika. It is famous for shrimp cultivation. The lake has an inlet with the sea and has natural small size waves which is not found in typical lakes. We had took a boat ride to a Kali temple located at one of the islands in the lake. It is a very nice place and on my travel radar again. So now that you know the names, the thought of visiting one of these places dint cross your mind?

March 7th, 2011 by admin

Momondo is an amalgamation of few travel services like airlines search, destination info etc. This site does not sell anything, just provides information. The good thing is all this info comes free! The info are presented in few search formats comes with name, address, map etc.

Momondo was conceptualized by few people from the travel industry and is based in Denmark. They provide search for flights, hotels, car rentals and city guides. The site provides info in 14 languages. The is good even in terms of India related info. However, it may not be upto the mark for city guide for India. The best is their flight search and there are words on the net that, Momondo probably provides the lowest airlines fare search.

I see that they have words of quality from The New York Times, CNN etc. So try Momondo to your advantage.

Website: http://www.momondo.com/

February 22nd, 2011 by admin

Most of us like to travel but please note that a successful and happy trip depends a lot on what you carry and how you pack your bag. This article will apply to any trip which is equivalent to 2 or more days.

First and foremost carry only what is essential and travel as lighter as possible. Now why will this help you? Let me explain — only a hand bag or a back bag will not require you to put your luggage to the clock room or at the security of anybody, it is also economical as you do not require any potter to carry you luggage nor store it, it increases mobility and flexibility, and finally the most important it brings peace of mind.

Now if you are convinced with the advantages of traveling lighter then we come to what to carry and how to pack it.

What to carry:

1. The first step in this regard is to make a list of the items you would like to carry. I suggest you make this list at least 4 – 5 days before the date of actual journey. This will give you time to refine your list according to your need. Start your packing at least 2 days before the day of actual travel. This will save you from last minute hitches.

2. Carry cloths according to the climate of the place where you are visiting. Only carry those cloths which you are going to use. Also, remember that you might also buy cloths from your place of visit, so carry cloths only which you need.

3. Carry tooth paste, brush and shaving accessories

4. comb, deodorant, face wash, sunscreen lotion preferably above SPF 25, soap, shampoo, body lotion, for cold places carry cold cream and lip guard

5. Sun glass, cap and scarf

6. Typically sport shoe, trekking shoe if you are going trekking and sports socks. If you are visiting religious places make sure you carry a pair of sandals as it will increase your mobility and peace of mind.

7. If it is a longer duration trip carry nail cutter

8. Take one medi pant or half pant, one vest or t – shirt for sleeping

9. Two t – shirts and two trousers, two handkerchief

10. one towel

11. Camera, camera battery charger, extra battery

12. Mobile phone, phone battery charger

13. A bottle of water

Now that we have set of items, how should we pack then to our advantage!

1. The first thing is to determine what kind of bag will be comfortable and accommodates your stuffs. If you are back packing then just carry a back bag or at least stick to one bag policy of average size. Look for bag which have many chains.

2. Keep things which you need to access often in the front or side pockets. e.g. comb, deodorant

3. Keep your cloths at the bottom of the bag

4. Keep your camera one or two layer below the top as you may feel to take out the camera often. Also, this way it will provide cushion and protect from damage.

5. Carry a chain and lock & key so that you can tie your luggage for safety (specially during sleep).

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