Heat waves are sweeping across large parts of India and this has already created around 200 fatalities in Andhra Pradesh and Telengana. Temperature is hovering more than 47 degree Celsius in many places across both the states. Fatalities has also been reported from Odisha and West Bengal. Read more …..
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi is in China these days. His visit abroad are typically grand affairs and said to have signed a slew of MOUs. How many of them will be on the ground and how soon, is something to be seen. However, I feel the biggest take away from this visit will be the tourism sector. Tourism between India and China will be the biggest beneficiary from this visit of Modi. If one checks the agreements signed between China and India, this may not come clear as the items are in bits and pieces. If we connect the bits, then visualizing the future is not that difficult. One of the 24 agreements is : Agreement for cooperation in the field of tourism
What kind of co-operation? Some sign are already up. The two countries had decided for the establishment of consulates in Chengdu and Chennai. This is a very positive development not only in terms of tourism but also from the business point of view. China has also shown the green flag for the opening of a second route to Kailash-Manasarovar pilgrimage from India through Nathu La in Sikkim. As of now the only route for this pilgrimage is Lipulekh Pass in Uttarakhand. The Nathu La route will be opened in the month of June. World wide tourism is a $3 trillion industry and we must strive to have a bigger pie of this industry. India has a huge potential in tourism and with infrastructure improvements more avenues would open. Modi asking NRIs in China to be a tourism ambassador of India is a great message. Each one of us can do our bit in promoting tourism in India. Simple things like not throwing garbage on road, courteous/helpful with foreign tourist etc can go a long way.
The government of India has announced E – tourist visa for Chinese nationals. If this is reciprocated by China, will go a long way in promoting tourism and confidence building with India. As of now only two India airlines operate flights to China – Air India and Jet Airways. There is virtually no direct flight to Shanghai from India (except for a China Eastern flight from New Delhi). Though there are many international airlines operating from India to China via Hong Kong. What I as a traveler is looking for, when road travel will normalize between India and China. We have many border points where international travel can be opened. For instance, road infrastructure in Nathu La in Sikkim is already in place and can be opened for international travel to and from China. As we know road infrastructure on the Chinese side is already developed and road travel should not be a problem. This will reduce cost and will encourage Indians to tour China who are cost conscious. Opening road travel will be single largest factor to boost tourism between India and China. And if sometimes in future railways also connected India and China, then both these form of transportation will transform the map of tourism and business for these two countries. In Modi’s first visit to China I feel seeds of such dream are being sown.
It was my second visit to Goa and I wanted to explore – is there a different face of Goa? Typically the name of Goa evokes the thought of sun, sand, beaches, drinks and party. Most people visit during season from mid October to March. The monsoon months are off season in Goa. A very laid back atmosphere prevails during these months. My last trip to Goa was a hectic one as we were juggling too many places. This time I wanted to experience monsoon in Goa and planned to have the trip as relaxing and laid back as possible. But I went to this trip with an open mind.
The 1st weekend of July 2014 was a long one and we booked our tickets for Friday evening on Seabird Tourist via Redbus.in. Note that weekend tickets costs more and we had to pay Rs 1400 per person for AC sleeper. The return journey cost Rs 950 per person as we traveled on a Monday evening. Seabird runs 4 buses between Bangalore and Goa everyday. The buses we traveled in were okay but not the best of the lot.
The early morning view of western ghat while sleeping in the comfort of the upper berth of the bus was amazing. We reached Panjim around 9 am and hired a taxi to Calangute for Rs 200. We took room at Villa Costa near Hotel Park Calangute. It was decent double bed room with LED TV, freeze, attached toilet and balcony. The cost – Rs 800 per day. Got fresh and left for one of the most amazing beach walk I ever had. At the beach we went to have breakfast at Flying Dolphin Beach Bar & Restaurant. It has a row of pleasure chair and gives gallery view of the beach from there. In food I liked the cheese omelet. Then we started our beach walk from Calangute to Baga. Calangute beach hardly had any people which is a total contrast from the in season days. While we walked on and off rain kept company with us. During the monsoon months the Arabian sea becomes very rough. So people are not allowed to bath in the sea then and beach guards keep patrolling on their red jeeps to stop people from venturing into the sea. We found most of the restaurants are closed now for off season. But as we went closer to Baga beach the population increased and obviously a lot more restaurants were open here catering to people.
At Baga, we enjoyed the sight of confluence of river Baga and Arabian sea. The river looks shallow and non threatening but do not venture deep. We heard a person was swept away into the sea few days back. A few fisherman were fishing at the confluence. Stood there for sometime to see how they use different types of nets to fish out. It was already afternoon and was time to try some great food. Little disappointed with the beer that it was not optimally chilled. We kept to restaurant hoping on our way back on the beach to check new food and try them. At one of the restaurant they offered to cook live fish for us. With such amazing experience we walked back to Calangute and made our way to hotel room. We were tired! Took a quick shower and splashed onto bed. A very refreshing sleep and when the eyes opened it was around 8.30 PM. So there was nothing much to go out. We decided to have a sumptuous dinner.
After diner we had the most amazing experience we had Goa till then. We went sat in the sea beach in the night. By the time we reached there it was almost 11 PM. We sat in front of Hotel Park Calangute. It was not a full moon night but the moon was big enough to give a sense of illumination in the clear sky night. As the moon was preparing to set in the Arabian sea, its glittering reflection in the Arabian sea was a sight to see. With that dreamy experience in mind, we walked back to our hotel around 1 AM. By then I could say, I did experience the other side of Goa and it was very pleasant.
Today I woke up early in the morning. Around 6 am, I went to the balcony. There one of our neighborhood Squirrel was sitting on the rim of the opposite house’s 2nd floor and relishing his/her early morning breakfast – a piece of coconut. Yes captured and sharing here.
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.