Monthly Archives: June 2012

An annual pilgrimage : Amarnath Yatra

The Ice Lingam at Amarnath Cave Temple Pic source:

  Come summer time, the Amarnath cave temple is opened up for the devotees to pray and seek blessings from Lord Shiva. Located at an altitude of 12,756 ft, the Amarnath cave temple is visited by thousands and thousands of pilgrims every year. The attraction here is the mystical and naturally made stalagmite of snow, considered to be an ice lingam or an icon of Lord Shiva. The ice lingam forms by itself during the months of May till August and is said to grow and shrink with the phases of the moon, reaching its height during the summer festival. As per the legend, Amarnath cave temple is the very place where Lord Shiva shared secrets of eternity with his wife Goddess Parvati. The other two ice formations in the cave hence represent Goddess Parvati and their son Lord Ganesha. Located in the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir, the pilgrimage includes stunning views of the snowy peaks and beautiful valleys. The Amarnath cave temple can be reached through Pahalgam town.Along the way up, various services like free food and tented accommodation are provided by non-profit organizations. There are helicopter services from base camp to Panjtarni (6km from the cave) offered by various private operators. Sheer volume of people calls for sufficient security, which is met by various police staff stationed at various points on the way and around the shrine. One is required to registerto be a part of the Amarnath Yatra. The registration is done by Jammu&Kashmir Govt.One can do so from designated branches of Jammu & Kashmir Bank Ltd. One can also visit nearest the post office or check for online registration. This year the Yatra commenced on 25th June and will conclude on 2nd August. Find us on..       Or subscribe to the blog to receive more such travel tips and interesting stories from across the world right into your inbox!
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Few tips for Travel Documents you must have

If this is your first time on an international flight and you are fretting over your travel documents, then this article is for you. BucketeerTimir Chokshi, who stays in USA shares here few tips for documentation that one must keep in mind while planning their travel… Please note that some of these may sound basic, but Timir wanted to include even the most basic things, since we all forget some things, sometime. Also, though the tips mention USA, it holds true for any place. Read on…. 1)    Passport Having your passport in time is important. You need to make sure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months AFTER your return date to the USA (not your departure from the USA). Some countries will not permit entry if your passport does not have this validity. Also, make sure that the name that is on your passport is the name under which all of your travel documents are listed. No differences, even small ones. No “Mike” on your ticket and “Michael” in your passport. You may get away with using a middle initial on the ticket if your middle name is shown on the passport in full, but that’s about the limit of the flexibility that you have with this. Make sure that you have signed your passport in the appropriate location when you receive it. An unsigned passport will be treated as a useless document by most governments. Location during travel: on my person or in my carry on, but in a secure location (inner pocket, zippered holder, etc) Location when in hotel: “hidden” in room / left in locked suitcase in the hotel room or locked in safe box at front desk or in the in room safe (as long as the safe has a combination system which allows you to set the combination). More info at: 2)    Landing documents You will likely have to fill out a landing form of some kind when you arrive at your destination (or sometimes even if you are only in transit to another flight). Having a pen handy and filling out the form on the plane will ensure that you are not caught at the front of the line without your form ready, and this will help you speed through the process. Make sure to use your legal name on the form (as your name appears in your passport). Also, knowing the address and phone number of where you plan to stay is handy, as most landing forms require this information. 3)    Visas Not your credit card, silly…..visas are what you need to get into certain foreign countries. If you are a US citizen, you don’t need a visa for many European countries. If you are a non-US citizen, it is always good to check your home government’s website to see if you require a visa to visit a particular country. You should get the visa in advance, but not too far in advance, as many visas are short term (30 days, etc). You need to check the visa requirements for EVERY country that you plan to visit, not just the country of first entry. If you require a visa, it will likely be a stamp or a sticker place in your passport, which cannot be removed. For US citizens, you can visit the following websites to check if you require a visa to visit a country or Also, it’s important to know if your visa is a single entry visa, or a multiple entry visa. It is possible to have that is good for an extended period of time, but is only single entry, meaning that once you enter that foreign country and subsequently leave, your visa is no longer valid. 4)    Passport photocopies Make copies of the information page of your passport (preferably color, in good resolution). Leave one with a trusted friend or family member when you travel. Take at least two copies with you; leave one in your suitcase in a “hidden” place, and put one in your wallet (which you hopefully carry in a different place than your passport on your person). This copy will help you in the case that you lose your passport (though it cannot be used as a replacement at borders, customs, or other locations). Location during travel: “hidden” in suitcase/checked luggage Location when in hotel: one copy always on my person; other copy “hidden” in room / left in locked suitcase in the hotel room or locked in safe box at front desk or in the in room safe (as long as the safe has a combination system which allows you to set the combination). 5)    Passport photos (extra ones) I always carry two extra passport photos in my bag, and leave them in the same place as the “hidden” copy of my passport. This is very useful in the case that your passport is stolen or lost overseas. US embassies usually cannot take photos, and finding a local photo studio to take the correct size and style pictures so that the local embassy can replace your passport is an extra hassle you don’t need if you have lost your document. With this, a replacement passport can usually be issued by a US embassy in 1-3 days. Location during travel: “hidden” in suitcase/checked luggage Location when in hotel: “hidden” in room / left in locked suitcase in the hotel room or locked in safe box at front desk or in the in room safe (as long as the safe has a combination system which allows you to set the combination). 6)    Itinerary Always leave a copy of your itinerary with the same person who has the extra photocopy of your passport. Also, it is wise to keep a paper copy of your itinerary with you while you are actually in transit. There are some places in the world that actually use a copy of your itinerary as a security measure; they review it at the airport door before letting you into the actual airport. Subscribe to the blog to receive more such travel tips and interesting stories from across the world right into your inbox! You can also… Find us on..
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Tick off Ladakh from your Bucket List!

This August Do Ladakh

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An interesting find…Imsil Cheese Village

Imsil Cheese Village Pic source:

While I was enjoying myself pinning pictures of cheese on my “How cheesy” board on Pinterest; I came across the name of a village in Korea called the Imsil Cheese Village. And I  just had to write about it! Located near the town of Imsil,Jeollabuk-do; Imsil Cheese Village is Korea’s first Cheese Village and attracts quite a few tourists keen on learning cheese making process. Visitors can make their own cheese and even cook a pizza topped with it. The life in a country side farming village adds to the charm. This place is especially popular for overnight family trips. What started back in 1966 is now a common name under every household. Imsil Cheese Pizza was first made by a franchise in 2004. Later, a group of enterprising cheese manufacturers decided to branch out into making cheese pizza.  JiJunghwan’s Imsil Cheese Pizza is very popular and a must try while in Korea. The legend goes, Imsil cheese is a mission legacy of a Catholic priest from Belgium who arrived in the farming village of Imsil, in the mid-1950s, when the economy was left devastated post Korean War. He started a farmers’ milk cooperativefor which he took the Korean name of JiJunghwan. This cooperative in the due course became the Imsil Cheese Factory, which exists today and produces high quality cheese and dairy products for the Korean market. If you are in Korea and relishing the JiJunghwan’s Imsil Cheese Pizza, check out the picture of the Belgian missionary priest on every pizza box! He must be the only missionary in the world to bequest a pizza chain! Apart from Imsil, Korea has quite a few interesting places that can make one’s vacation fascinating and memorable. One can laze around on the Mangyang beach or on Geumo Island, explore the traditional Jagalchi Market in Busan, relax at the Beopjusa Temple, visit the Yeotgari Village in Taean, raft at Naetgang Village, dig for clams at Haebari Village, hike at JejuOlle, BukhansanDullegil Trails…etc. So much to do and see! Am going to put it on my Bucketlist! :)
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I so love rains…

…and here I would try and list a few points in support of my love…:)

Monsoons in Kerala… Pic: Priya

Enjoying rains in green Kerala makes it an even more beautiful experience. Kochi as compared to rest of Kerala has a better climate, or atleast that is what I would like to believe! Well, we do have our days when one can feel beads of sweat trickling down our back; but thankfully those days are limited. The southwest monsoon generally hits our coast on first week of June, and this time too its on the dot and hopefully we will have a good monsoon if it stays on for a couple of months (June till September). …my most favorite moment of monsoon is when rain water first touches the earth. The fragrance of earth is simply delicious, so divine.  The feel of the water drops on your face as you look up is just out of the world. The rains in Kerala are never a non-stop affair; it always stops after a spell. My friends in the north of India though ask- how do guys function when it’s pouring incessantly the whole day? I say, life just goes on… …there are far too many memories attached to monsoons. I remember how as a kid mom used to let me and my siblings enjoy the rains, how we used to giggle and laugh looking mortally insane and how mom used to prepare hot pakoras (battered and fried vegetables) with hot ginger-tea; while we were busy making a fool of ourselves out in the rain. Wow, just thinking of them as I write makes my mouth water…:) …for all my love for rains, am not a great fan of winter +monsoon combination. And especially when you are out on street without any protection at all. I remember taking the literary walking tour in Edinburgh, Scotland where the guide took us to homes and places of work of literary giants like Walter Scott, Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson, J K Rowling, Ian Rankin, Alexander McColl Smith,… etc. holding an umbrella, with clattering teeth and a frozen mind as the rains kept pounding away at us. The temperature was low and if that wasn’t dramatic enough, it was windy. And same was my experience in Colmar, France where I made futile attempts to stop my hands from shaking as I tried to get few nice shots of Lance Armstrong, making his comeback to professional cycling after a three year break, at the Tour de France with the rains drizzling none stop for over 3 hours! (For the records, I just didn’t get any decent pictures that day..:( …well, these experiences have their own charm, but on any rainy day, I would like to be indoors sipping hot ginger-tea or cappuccino, listening to some light music or reading a book. Any day! That said, wherever I am; rains successfully bring a smile to my face, magically uplifting my mood for the day.
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The BucketList Travel Company – Travel Differently!

Most of us would have at some time or the other picked up a travel magazine or switched on a TV channel showcasing a cuisine or a place and got instantly transported to a different location – only to be crudely brought back to the present where one ended up wondering “what am I doing slogging day in and out when there is so much out there to see & do?” Just like everyone else, we too were sailing in the same boat, till we decided to do something about it. From that thought process arose “BucketList Travel Company“. Today we are in the business of experiences. Providing you with travel, stay, people and food experiences that are one-of-it’s-kind and everlasting. What kind of travel experiences, you can ask? Well, we are quite clear what it’s not! And that’s the one-city-a-day, ‘look, quick, that’s the Eiffel Tower!’, if its Tuesday, it must be Tuscany’ kind of thing. Our kind of travel? Well, it’s different. Very different. More oriented on Experiences,than travel. It’s about travel that is tailored to one’s needs & desires. And not the other way round. It’s about getting under the skin of a city. Not seeing the sights and catching the last bus out. There is so much to explore, so much to discover that it sometimes seem unfair to be tied to the rigmarole of life’s routine monotony. Do we satisfy ourselves with arm chair traveling or do we set ourselves free and earn that little travel candy that our tired souls and thirsty mind truly deserve? You decide. BucketList Travel Company (BLTC) was born as a thought process of our conversations. The four of us who come from various fields had one thing in common – our love for travel experiences. Our passion for travel experiences encouraged us to create a platform where all of us can meet and share the same; a platform that helps people realize their travels and dreams. Hence we are in the business of experiences. Providing you with travel, stay, people and food experiences that are one-of-it’s-kind and memorable. The video below captures the essence of what we think BucketList Travel Company is all about… (if you are not able to view the video click here) Subscribe to our blog posts through e mail and stay tuned for travel information from around the globe. ….You can also follow us on Facebook BucketList Travel Company  
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