Month: March 2016

goNews: Goibibo Launches ‘Go-Time Guarantee’ Feature for Quick Refunds

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Goibibo.com, the country’s leading online travel aggregator, has recently launched a unique feature called ‘Go-Time Guarantee’ for quick and easy refunds. With the introduction of this feature, Goibibo guarantees refund to be processed within 2 hours from the time a customer cancels his travel with the portal. In case there is a failure to meet the 2-hour guarantee, Goibibo promises to credit Rs. 100 in that particular customer’s GoCash wallet for every hour of delay. With the launch of ‘Go-Time Guarantee’. Goibibo strives to deliver the fastest refund in India and increase trust and reliability of customers.

Goibibo

Ashish Kashyap, Founder and CEO of Goibibo stated that the company’s core focus is to continuously increase speed, reliability and trust, and launch of ‘Go-Time for refunds’ is the first step in solving pain points of customers. In the coming 3-4 months, ‘time guarantees’ will be given to customers for all processes. Apart from ‘Go-Time’, other innovative features launched by the company includes ‘Photo ratings and reviews’; ‘Question and answers’ and ‘Flights plus hotels on mobile’.

According to a report released by Morgan Stanley last December, Goibibo.com secured the No.1 position in hotel booking volumes in India. It is also the preferred OTA by hoteliers across various parts of India.

4 Movies Based on Solo Women Travellers

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I think one travels more usefully when they travel alone, because they reflect more.” ~ Thomas Jefferson

Solo travelling indeed gives you the much needed time to ‘reflect more’ on your life. As women are always busy in making a balance between office work and household chores, they usually never think about taking out some ‘me’ time. So, it’s high time that all you women (read superwomen), start planning for your first solo trip! Because, what can be more amazing than coming back richer with new friends and interesting experiences to share? Still not convinced? Check out these 4 best travel movies and I bet after watching these, you’ll surely pack your bags to travel solo around the world. Read on.

1. Eat, Pray and Love (2010)

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A scene from the movie Eat, Pray and Love

Based on the best-selling memoir of the same name by Elizabeth Gilbert, this Julia Roberts starrer movie takes you through the transformational journey of Elizabeth, from a painful divorce to a quest of self-discovery. In her travel, she finds happiness by eating in Italy, praying in India, and falling in love in Bali. Follow your heart, woman!

Interesting Fact: The ashram in India where Elizabeth Gilbert, the author, actually spent 4 months, was replaced in the movie by Hari Mandir Ashram of Pataudi, Haryana, as shooting was not allowed in the former.

2. Tracks (2013)

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A scene from the movie Tracks

This movie is an adaptation of Robyn Davidson’s memoir of the same name, chronicling her 9 months journey across the Western Australian desert in 1977. She trekked 1700 miles, with four camels and her loyal dog. To go on a solo trip, that too in the 70’s is an incredible inspirational real life story. Isn’t it? So what you are waiting for?

Interesting Fact: Though the actual trek had taken place in Western Australia, the movie was shot predominantly in South Australia and the Northern Territory. Why? The real locations mentioned in Davidson’s memoir were often inaccessible and distant for cast and crew to travel.

3. Queen (2014)

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Kangana Ranaut in Queen

Shot over a period of 45 days in Paris, Amsterdam and Delhi, you all know the plot of this movie. A simple Delhi girl from a traditional family, sets off for a solo honeymoon to Paris and Amsterdam after her fiancee calls off their marriage. This path breaking movie was commercially successful and the protagonist Kangana Ranuat won the ‘Best Actress’ trophy in both Filmfare Awards and National Film Awards. Queen shows how solo travelling can lead to a new perspective on life, and, above all, boost your self-confidence. So ladies, live your life on your own terms!

Interesting Fact: Remember the night club scene where the remixed version of Asha Bhonsle’s song Hungama Ho Gaya was played? This scene was pictured at a local club in Amsterdam called NL. The song was such a hit with the Dutch crew as well as the other guests that after the shoot, the club hosted its first ever Bollywood party, with the DJ spinning his own version of the song. This new version was used in the end credits of the film. Wow! That’s the magic of Bollywood songs!

4. Wild (2014)

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A scene from the movie Wild

A biographical drama film, starring Reese Witherspoon, Wild is based on Cheryl Strayed’s best-selling 2012 memoir of the same name. The protagonist decides to go for a solo hiking trip along 1,100 miles of the 2,650 mile Pacific Crest Trail, to heal herself after the devastating loss of her mother. Already read the book? Watch movie now.

Interesting Fact: The young Cheryl is portrayed by Bobbi Lindstrom, the real-life daughter of Cheryl Strayed. Also, the real Cheryl Strayed makes a cameo in the film. See, if you can identify her!

Have I missed any favourite travel film of yours? Feel free to name them in the comments section. In the meantime, women travellers get set for a path-breaking solo trip.

5 Great Trips to Take under Rs. 5000 During Holi Long Weekend

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Second last week of March seems to be the most exciting one, isn’t it? Colourful Holi, Good Friday and the weekend following them! Hope you have already bracketed this L-O-O-O-N-G weekend in your office calender. If not, do it now! Pause for a moment, think for a while and imagine that four precious days are knocking at the door. Why to waste it, especially when weather is perfect for a vacation? Ummm! Not sure where to go? Wait! We have some recommendations for you, which are perfect to travel in the upcoming long weekend and that too under a budget of Rs. 5000. Yayyyy!

Chikmagalur near Bangalore

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Shravanabelagola on the way to Chikmagalur | Photo Credit: Pratik Dhar

From trekking trails to coffee plantations, from waterfalls to temples, from wildlife to interesting locals, Chikmagalur has everything for everyone. Nothing can beat the fun of golfing amid green landscape, pleasure of walking around aromatic coffee plantations and joy of trekking to Kalahasti Falls. UNESCO World Heritage sites like Shravanabelagola, Halebidu and Belur temples on the way to Chikmagalur are places to leave your footprints too.

Distance from Bangalore: 250 km approximately

Mode of transport: Ordinary and Volvo buses (fares start from Rs. 250 one way for a non AC seater bus)

Accommodation: As low as Rs. 811 per night

Suggested days of stay: 2nights/3days

Total trip cost: Under Rs. 5000

McLeodganj near Delhi

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Naddi village in McLeodganj | Photo Credit: Ujjal Deb Roy

Cheap bus ride, affordable hotels and pocket friendly food stalls, McLeodganj is the most affordable hill station near Delhi for a peaceful holiday during the Holi Good Friday long weekend. Every attraction in McLeodganj is just a walk away. So be there, visit the Dalami Lama Ashram, take a trek to Triund, camp overnight and relish the home-style Himachali and Tibetan meals, desserts, tempting coffee and affordable liquor and end your short trip on a sweet note. Book your stay!

Distance from Delhi: 478 km approximately

Mode of transport: Private and government Volvo buses (fares start from Rs.700 one way)

Accommodation: As low as Rs. 880 per night. Basic home-stays are available at cheap rates

Suggested days of stay: 3nights/4days

Total trip cost: Under Rs. 5000

Matheran near Mumbai

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Matheran toy train | Photo Credit: http://www.matheran.net.in/en/

A popular weekend getaway for Mumbaikars, the cool unruffled hill station of Matheran gives respite from hustle bustle of the city. The no-vehicles hill station makes way for horse rides and transports one to dreamy imaginations of bygone era. From peace to green landscape, from romance to fresh air, Matheran leaves one spoiled for choices at an affordable cost. The toy train ride from Neral station to Matheran is a journey to remember forever!

Distance from Mumbai: 126 km approximately by train 83 km approximately via Sion-Panvel Highway

Mode of transport: Train along with state transport buses that ply between Mumbai and Pune. Train fare is Rs. 260 per person one way

Accommodation: As low as Rs. 1,999 per night

Suggested days of stay: 2nights/3days

Total trip cost: Under Rs. 5000

Darjeeling near Kolkata

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Tea gardens and Kanchenjunga hills of Darjeeling | Photo Credit: Manasij Kanjilal

A vacation near Kolkata time and again reminds of Darjeeling, the sole hill station of West Bengal. The coming Holi Good Friday long weekend is the best time to plan a trip to the beautiful ‘land of Gorkhas’. Impressive Kanchunjenga mountains, Himalayan toy train, aromatic tea gardens and bundle of historical landmarks, Darjeeling is a paradise for mountain lovers. Take a trip to this paradise in an unbelievably low budget. Book now!

Distance from Kolkata: 570 km approximately by train and 632 km via NH 34

Mode of transport: Trains till New Jalpaiguri (minimum fare around Rs. 320 per person one way) and buses till Siliguri (fare starts from Rs.500 per person per way). Local taxis and buses are available from Siliguri and New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling

Accommodation: As low as Rs. 1,100 per night

Suggested days of stay: 3nights/4days

Total trip cost: Under Rs. 5000

Khajuraho near Bhopal

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Temples of Khajuraho | Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/wnkwalker/7251861276/in/

Conjured by images and structures of timeless beauty and serenity, Khajoraho is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is just perfect for a weekend getaway near Bhopal. A land of countless Hindu temples, historic sculptures and artistic carving along with the best kept Panna National Park, Khajuraho can be explored in a pocket friendly budget. Reserve the Holi Good Friday long weekend for a historic trip to Khajuraho.

Distance from Bhopal: 308 km approximately by road from Bhopal

Mode of transport: Regular bus service between Bhopal and Khajuraho

Accommodation: As low as Rs. 600 per night

Suggested days of stay: 2nights/3days

Total trip cost: Under Rs. 5000

Gear up folks! Ditch the pocket pinch and get set for a splashing and vibrant Holi this time.

goNews: Thai AirAsia to Launch Direct Daily Bangkok-Kochi Flights

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Thai AirAsia decided to launch daily direct flights between Don Mueang Airport, Bangkok and Kochi, India from May 17, 2016. At the same time, the airline is also offering promotional airfares starting at a price as low as Rs. 2,999 until March 27, 2016. Travel period with this promotional fare will last till May 22.

Thai AirAsia
Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/94910863@N06/8839768019/in/

AirAsia has already become a familiar brand in India following its success in the Chennai and Bangalore route. With the introduction of a direct flight between Kochi and Bangkok, the airline is eyeing more business and revenue generation. With the introduction of the direct flight to Kochi, Thai AirAsia is also expecting to achieve load factors of over 85% within the first three months of the route’s operation.

Thai AirAsia
Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/igcameron/4034013882/in/

Kochi is an important port city as well as industrial hub of India. It is also flooded with tourist destinations and leisure activities like ancient churches, backwater cruises etc. Presently Thai AirAsia flies in Don Mueang-Chennai route and Don Mueang-Bangalore route five times a week. It also flies from Don Mueang to destinations like Phuket, Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Hat Yai, Krabi and Surat Thani, all of which are popular amongst Indian travellers.

Take a Sabbatical and Travel Around the World

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Attention workaholics! It is time you all say ‘hello’ to sabbatical (a specified time away from work, usually unpaid).

Do you ever count the hours you put to business weekly? Do you ever count the times you attend a business meeting? I guess you don’t. Aww! It is next to impossible. Anyway, are you one of those who wishes to break all barriers, skip daily job routine and head for a holiday? If so, then stop thinking and apply for a sabbatical. All you need to do is, convince your boss and get him some goodies while you return. And you are set for an ‘out of the world’ break, a break that will make you travel around the world, explore the colourful landscape, appreciate the artificial marvels, taste local cuisines and bring you back with a bag of new experiences. Be it months or year, a sabbatical can do wonders. Here is why:

Break the 9-5 Job Routine

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Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ummorris/10932271603/

You spend the entire week coding or publishing news? When you are bogged down, your mind just needs to wander. Stop dragging and take a break. Only a sabbatical can help you come out from the clumsy work-stuffed world and give a chance to breathe the fresh air, walk through wet grass or wake up to the sunrise over mountains. A new life awaits for you dearie!

Rejuvenate

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Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/originalnames/2867912602/

A sabbatical is the best medicine for a stressed out mind. Not only does your body and mind get the rest it needs, but also you become more enthusiastic, refreshed and rejuvenated. The joy of travelling and the ‘partial break-up’ with official mails help meditate, relax and get boost up with positive energies of the world.

Find Your Passion

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Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/62423300@N05/6171501623/

The busy office schedule might not permit to find your passion, but travel does. Give it a try, sit under the open sky, look around the landscape and think what you love, what you are born for. Who knows that you might return back only to discover that your only passion is travel?

Fall in Love with Yourself

Sabbatical
Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/89362689@N08/8130189094/in/

It is you who should love yourself the most and rest of the world will follow. Time off, break from work, a long holiday, adventure games, new people and different culture.. everything make you happy. And at the end you will love yourself all the more, because it is only about ‘me time’. Not bad right?

You Get More Creative

Sabbatical
Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/12782943@N02/16456007166/

A fresh mind brings new ideas and improves creativity. But this is possible only when you take a break from job and head for a long pending vacation. New place, new people and new culture are instigators to your creative trait.

Make New Friends

Sabbatical
Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/captainclokey/4648508800/

Life is short and better not stay alone. You might have a bunch of friends in office and neighbourhood, but what about making some new? Travel helps you come across lots of interesting people from varied cultures and communities. Some can even get their ‘friends forever’ and an all new Friendship Day might be just the next party you prepare for.

Explore the World

Sabbatical
Photo Credit: Sayan Nath

Holidaying for a long period across different cities and countries is the best way to know the world. From architectural edifices to natural wonders, from religious diversity to cultural milieu, the world has so much to explore. From man to wildlife, you get to interact with all. So why sit back and slog over the computer? Apply for a sabbatical and you will have bagful of stories to cherish forever.

A Guaranteed Job when You Come Back

If you have taken a sabbatical from the ongoing job, then why worry? Your boss would love to get you back with a refreshed mind and body and definitely, bundle of new experiences to share with him.

Age is on Your Side

Sabbatical
Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/92684950@N05/12221868313/

Work made you wiser than teenage self and by now you must have learned a bit of the big world. Luggage packing, sitting by the train window, learning local language and photographing the landscape, all will take you through the best phases of life. You are young so it is good to add some adventure too. I am sure you will appreciate these rather than repenting later on.

No Regrets at the End

Sabbatical
Photo Credit: Debatree Saha

Your feet is what takes you to the corners of the globe. Everything has its time and when you grow old, I promise you will never regret for the sabbatical you took for a leisurely vacation amid the wild, far off in the mountains, by the serene seaside or in a historic city.

Gift yourself a mini-retirement. A doctor might not prescribe a holiday, but the cure it gives, is way beyond scientific drugs. Set off! Get out! Wander! Enjoy! This is the time!

Here Are 20 Signs That Show You Are a Born Traveller

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Are you the type – who loves, reading a book in wilderness rather than in a four-walled room; trying out a delicious local cuisine rather than eating Chinese in a restaurant; downloading all the travel apps rather than movies, games and videos or constantly day-dreaming which place to visit next? If your answer to all these questions is a big Yes!, then the wanderlust bug has surely bitten you and you have fallen prey to its nature of hopping around the vivid world. If you exhibit any of the following 20 signs, you’re definitely born to travel!

1. You love to sit with an Atlas and encircle the places you wish to visit!

Yes! The pleasure of turning this into reality is fantabulous.

2. Your backpack is always within your reach!

Better not keep it away when you are sure that you will need it too frequently? After all, backpack is your essential travel partner.

Traveller

3. You keep a constant check on trending airfares, hotel deals and availability of rail tickets!

Is this your favourite time-pass? Then I term you as a ‘wanderlust’.

Traveller
Image designed by Priyanka Sharma

4. Accumulating cashback has become your singular life mission!

Then your frequent trips can turn into real cheap ones.

5. Your phone is updated with all travel apps!

Because you could possibly need those any time.

Traveller

6. Your passport is your favourite accessory!

Can you count the number of stamps it has?

Traveller
Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/25247859@N02/2574262867/in/

7. Whenever you save some cash, you plan to utilize it in your next travel!

And then your friends can call you ‘kanjus’. Who cares?

8. Photographing landscape, local culture and memories is your dream!

They remain entangled in your heart forever.

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Lodhi Garden, Delhi | Photo Credit: Debatree Saha

9. Wherever you go, you bring along souvenirs as a memory!

One day you might have to buy a separate cupboard to keep all those.

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A souvenir stall at Mcleodganj | Photo Credit: Ujjal Deb Roy

10. Your facebook profile has more of your personal travel albums!

Friends may get bored of it but for you it is fun, it is life. Go ahead dear friend!

11. You are constantly day dreaming of where to go next!

Live up to your ‘day dreams’.. LOL.. Only you can prove ‘daydreams do come true’.

Traveller
Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/simplebeautydesign/7919115804/in/

12. Alps Mountain Railway or Amazon jungle has been your favourite fantasy!

While your friends tap their feet on English pops in a dark disco, you wish to wake up to the glory of Alps mountains or click a tiger deep inside the bushes of Amazon and you go far, far and more far…Wowww! How varied the world is!

13. The major criteria for your life partner is that he should be a travel freak by heart!

And you two will swim in the ocean, trek up to the Himalayas or kiss each other under the starlit sky of Jaisalmer.

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Photo Credit: Debatree Saha

14. Your in-flight time pass is to read the complementary travel magazine!

Do you really care if you secretly bring one back with you.

15. French, German, Chinese, Spanish and more!

You are an expert in toasting your host in many languages.

16. You have saved your salary to gift yourself a DSLR!

And it will go heavy with clicks of your trips.

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Photo Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_single-lens_reflex_camera#/media/File:Canon_EOS_70D_(camera_body_front_view).jpgw

17. You would be more than happy if parents gift a travel ticket on your birthday!

I don’t need a gold chain mamma. Hahaha 😀

18. You are a foodie by heart!

You can eat any cuisine in any part of the world, drink tap water if mineral water is out of reach. And this is an experience to you!

Traveller
Photo Credit: Debatree Saha

19. You are the one always sitting in front with the driver!

Antakshari can happen later on, you got to keep an eye on the road first.

20. When you know there is a long weekend, you start planning a trip way ahead!

Bang Bang!!Thailand? Dubai? Okay no.. this time Udaipur or Darjeeling will do..Just pack up buddy and make the best of the long weekend!

Traveller
Photo Credit: http://blog.goibibo.com/2015/12/16-long-weekends-2016/

If you can relate to the above pointers, then get the tattoo of the word ‘wanderlust’ done on your wrist. The world may or may not know you, but you will fall in love with yourself all the more as your dreams of walking barefoot on the beaches of Maldives or dune bashing in Dubai will come true. For life is short and give it everything you live for!

Bon voyage!

goNews: Art of Living to Organize World Cultural Festival in Delhi

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The World Cultural Festival is due to kick off in Delhi on March 11, 2016. The three day festival is being hosted by Art of Living, an India based non-profit organization that was started by world famous philanthropist, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Being hosted across 1000 acres of land, the event is expected to be one of the biggest cultural gatherings that aims to bring together nearly 3.5 million people from different parts of the world.

Art of Living 2
Photo Credit: http://srisriravishankar.org/tour-schedule/world-culture-festival-2016/

A number of world leaders like President Bidhya Devi Bhandari of Nepal, President Maithripala Sirisena of Sri Lanka, Vice President of the European Parliament, Ryszard Czarnecki, and many others are expected to attend the event. According to Bhanumati Narsimhan, director of the Art of Living, “the festival aims to celebrate Art of Living’s 35 years of service, humanity, spirituality and human values.”

Art of Living
Mass gathering at Art of Living session | Photo Credit: http://cdn.artofliving.org/sites/www.artofliving.org/files/unity_carousel_image/wcf3_0.jpg

Here are what all you need to know about the extravagant three-day World Cultural Festival 2016:

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi is due to inaugurate the event on March 11, 2016,
  • a number of spiritual leaders from various faiths are expected to come together at the event,
  • more than 10,000 artists will play 40 traditional instruments on all three days,
  • an inter-faith meeting will be held where spiritual and religious leaders are expected to participate in talks on issues of global concern,
  • on the second and third day, a Global Leadership Forum is scheduled to happen, and,
  • each day is expected to end with a meditation session.
Art of Living
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the man behind the establishment of Art of Living | Photo Credit: http://livestream.com/webcast/mahashivratri?_

The festival is open to all and is expected to turn out to be world’s largest platform where millions of people from around 155 nations will drop in to imbibe the most precious learning of life.