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Travel: a ride to Nepal’s Upper Mustang




I’m on a six-lane highway from Pokhara, Nepal, and the Royal Enfield Himalayan I’m driving harmonises with the smooth tarmac. My passengers and I rush along at 70 km/h and I even have time to look at the cotton clouds in the blue sky. “It’s easy and hassle free,” I think. “At this rate I’ll be in Kalopani in less than three hours – 125 km away and at the overnight stop.”

Little did I know that we wouldn’t stay on the fast Pokhara-Balung Highway the whole way. About 68 km further, at Maldhunga, there is a fork. I look longingly to the left, where the same silky black ribbon continues. My path takes me to the right, along the Maldhunga-Beni ‘road’, with a surface that looks more like the jute twine used to tie bamboo scaffolding.

It’s late May and I’m in Nepal on a drive to Upper Mustang where Tibetan Buddhist culture and tradition is still practiced. The region was isolated for decades and getting there is still not for the faint of heart.

If I’ve ridden 5km, I’m way out of my comfort zone. The road is a rock-strewn mud track, and last week’s rain has left puddles that soak my shoes. The town of Beni is only 16 km from the fork in the road, but it takes me almost two hours to get there. This excuse of a road runs along the Kali Gandaki river. At Beni I cross a bridge and hit slush. It grabs the front wheel and the next thing I know I’m lying face down in the mush. I get my bike out of the mud and keep going. Over the next few kilometers, clumps of mud fly from the handlebars onto my helmet.

The road rises high above the river and meanders along the mountainsides. The scenery is spectacular but I have a lot of work to keep the bike upright as there is gravel, loamy mud, water crossings and sometimes the risk of landslides. I find the Himalaya balances best when I’m standing on the footpegs and shooting it over irregularities. My whole world right now is the motorcycle and the road ahead. It has a meditative effect in a strangely pleasant way.

The Tiji Festival is a three-day celebration.

The Tiji Festival is a three-day celebration.
(Rishad Sam Mehta)

When I reach the Kalopani guesthouse, my fellow passengers say that I look wiped out. But actually I feel calm and relaxed. It took me six hours to get there and each hour challenged my skills and wits. The views of Kalopani are said to be spectacular, with Annapurna peak dominating the skyline, but the dark clouds block the view.

The next morning it’s raining and I brace myself for a tougher ride as the wet gravel is slippery from the slush. We stop at Marpha where the locals sell petrol in barrels. The price is Nepalese 200 per liter. This means translated 125; the measure of a liter is an empty water bottle. After five bottles have emptied into my tank, I continue.

Kagbeni, 20 km from Marpha and past Jomsom, is the end of the road according to Google Maps. In less than 48 hours I rode from Pokhara, which is at 2,697 feet, to Jomsom at 9,000 feet. But Google Maps was wrong – there is a track that leads towards Lo Manthang in the Upper Mustang region.

It is a barely navigable route that runs high above the Kali Gandaki River alongside the highest gorge in the world. I stay as close to the mountain as possible. But sometimes the corners are so tricky and the mud so treacherous that the bike inevitably slides towards the edge.

Kagbeni is the gateway to the Upper Mustang region and the landscape changes abruptly. Until I drive to Chhusang, 10 km from Kagbeni, and stop at a dhaba At lunch I notice that the rain has gone. Likewise the vegetation. We are now in a rain shadow area. The landscape is rocky and barren, formed in the Ice Age and is still being minutely sculpted by wind erosion. It is reminiscent of Zanskar in Ladakh.

We are still about 30 km from Lo Manthang, the former capital of the ancient kingdom of Lo. The ride gets more challenging as I ride through what is commonly called quit, very fine sand. I can’t take my eyes off the road for even a moment. But the scenery is so stunning that I often park the bike to admire it and take a few photos before heading out again.

Get a grip quit takes some time, and by the time I see the walled city of Lo Manthang in the distance, I’ve figured out the technique. You’ll need to keep the throttle steady and ride with a relaxed grip on the handlebars to weave the bike through the fine sand.

We spend three days in Lo Manthang. The three-day Tiji Spring Festival, usually held from May to June depending on the Buddhist calendar, takes place. Also known as “The Liberation of the Demons”, it is the story of a deity, Dorje Jono, who wages war against his father (a demon) to save the kingdom of Mustang from annihilation. The father wreaks havoc on Mustang by causing water shortages – the most precious resource in this arid land. Dorje Jono finally succeeds.

Featuring a variety of plays, colorful costumes, music and dance, this re-enactment has attracted travellers. We spend time downtown, where there are a number of cafes serving cappuccinos and americanos, and restaurants serving steamed or stir-fried momos and chilli beef with fiery red chutney.

There are souvenir and artifact shops; The fossil camps are the most fascinating for me. The region around Kagbeni was a sea before continental drift and collision millions of years ago crumpled it into a mountain range, so there are rocks with ammonites to be found. Ammonites are shelled cephalopods that became extinct about 66 million years ago.

On the way to Lo Manthang.

On the way to Lo Manthang.
(Rishad Sam Mehta)

As we head back after three nights in Lo, I feel refreshed and more confident on the bike. The return trip is divided into small sections, so what I did in two days I’ll do in four. The first overnight stay is in Samar, a small village with charming private accommodation just 40 km from Lo. Samar remains the nicest place we stayed at on the entire trip. There I get my first glimpse of the majestic Annapurna.

The next night stop is Marpha, 55 km from Samar. Between Samar and Marpha we drive through Kagbeni again and this time it is stress free because it doesn’t rain and we have plenty of time. We stop at Yakdonalds – no typo – named for its yak meat burgers. They are delicious and the Happy Meal comes with healthy sea buckthorn juice.

Two days later we reach Pokhara after traveling about 650 km. There is a sense of gratitude for a great ride and anticipation because Pokhara, the city where everyone and everyone returns after tough hikes or scaling snowy peaks, really knows how to throw a party. Now that the riding is over, I look forward to live performances by local talent, soul-satisfying food and fine Nepalese whisky.

How to get there: There were always footprints for Upper Mustang and Lo Manthang. The only way to get there used to be by hiking from Pokhara. Then came the navigable roads to Jomsom; now there are flights from Pokhara to Jomsom. From there, it’s another five-day trek to Lo Manthang if you choose to walk.

Road construction is underway and the asphalt is slowly and steadily creeping closer to Lo Manthang. Currently, the road behind Jomsom is almost impassable and only suitable for 4×4 vehicles.

How to proceed: Wild Adventures Nepal ( organizes guided tours. Royal Enfield can organize trips to Mustang for a fee, including motorbike and logistics.

Costs: Upper Mustang, beyond Kagbeni, costs $500 (approx 40,000) for 10 days and $50 per day thereafter.

Rishad Saam Mehta is a travel writer and photographer.

Also read: Travel: Rest and restart at Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary

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List of Top Amazing Places to Must Visit in 2022




List of Top Amazing Places to Must Visit in 2022

Are you a newly married couple searching for new experiences and recollections collectively with out denting your financial savings account, or do you wish to plan a household journey with out spending your retirement or emergency funds? 

You may contemplate taking a travel loan from famend monetary establishments or NBFCs at reasonably priced rates of interest. Nonetheless, chances are you’ll be confused about which locations it is best to go to which can be on virtually each traveler’s record. So, listed below are probably the most appreciated locations in India and overseas the place you’ll be able to plan your journey utilizing a private mortgage. 

Listing of Prime Wonderful Locations to Should Go to in 2022

  • Assam – India

Amongst many stunning states, Assam is one with a definite id and is on the precedence record for nature lovers. There are various sanctuaries and nationwide parks the place you’ll be able to see animals just like the one-horned Rhino. You may go to many fantastically designed historical temples. Vacationers can take pleasure in quite a few scenic parks like Nehru Park, the place you’ll be able to see imposing granite sculptures.

  • Switzerland

Switzerland is the choice of people who wish to take pleasure in snow-capped mountains. A metropolis in Switzerland – Lucerne, is understood for its medieval structure in stunning mountains. Swiss chocolate and Swiss timepieces are ready for you – the one place to expertise them. Put an finish to your worries about touring bills. Take a journey mortgage with a versatile compensation facility of 12-60 months. Now you can plan the holiday you could have at all times desired.

  • Paris – France 

Paris is a vibrant and alluring touring spot recognized for the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum – the Palace of French kings, and varied different thrilling and delightful locations. You may go to iconic monuments just like the Arc de Triomphe and Notre Dame Cathedral, which is within the rebuilding course of, apart from the town’s quaint cafes and avant-garde artwork galleries. So, put together for a Paris journey and make your dream come true.

  • Bangkok – Thailand

Bangkok is an iconic spot for a trip. Its variety within the world-famous scrumptious road meals have to be alluring for a lot of. The largest buying centre – MBK Centre – is located in Bangkok. You may go to the Grand Palace – the official residence of the king of Thailand. Thai delicacies can be there for you.

  • London – the UK

London is likely one of the cities that has one thing for each traveller. Historical past lovers can go to the British Museum to see Egyptian mummies and Buckingham Palace to benefit from the change of guard day by day. Artwork lovers can go to the Nationwide Gallery, the place work by Leonardo Da Vinci are the important thing sights. You can too see the conflict room utilized by Churchill in World Battle 2.

  • Hong Kong 

There’s an growing variety of vacationers visiting Hong Kong, and there are various causes for this. There’s a well-known gentle present in Hong Kong Harbour. The skyline is simply as fabulous, with a particular level known as Victoria Peak. You may have a look at the sight views utilizing telescopes. There are the most important Buddha statues and scenic magnificence lined by forests. After all, how are you going to keep away from the enduring Disneyland in Hong Kong? Take pleasure in all of the rides within the Disney theme parks impressed by Chinese language tradition.

You may shortlist your favourite locations and plan your tour one after the other utilizing private loans for touring. 

Allow us to see the eligibility for the greatest private mortgage rates of interest from the main monetary establishments. 

Straightforward Eligibility for the Greatest Private Mortgage for Journey

  • Age Restrict: The mortgage applicant ought to be between 21 and 65 years previous. 
  • Fundamental Earnings: The lender needs a minimal wage of Rs.20,000 a month, relying in your metropolis. You will get a mortgage quantity as excessive as Rs.25 lakhs.
  • Credit score Rating: A mortgage applicant’s credit score rating is the first issue {that a} lender opinions to approve a mortgage quantity. Most lenders require a rating of 750+.
  • Whole work expertise: The lender checks your employment historical past to supply the greatest private mortgage rates of interest. Total work expertise ought to be a minimal of 1 yr and 6 months with the present employer.

You may verify your eligibility for a private mortgage for journey utilizing the private mortgage eligibility calculator obtainable on-line totally free. Discover one of the best NBFC providing fast private loans digitally and prepare in your journey to your favourite place internationally.

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DOT proposes new airline refund rules amid travel chaos





The Department for Transport has proposed new rules to better protect travelers if their flight is delayed, canceled or otherwise significantly changed – in response to the “barrage of complaints about air travel” the department has received since the coronavirus pandemic began , it said in a press release.

By defining when a flight can be considered canceled or significantly changed, the proposal aims to fill a gap in the Department of Transportation’s ability to prevent what it sees as unfair practices in the transportation industry and airlines to oblige consumers who they believe are victims of these practices to be reimbursed.

If it goes into effect, it would be the “biggest expansion of travelers’ rights in decades,” according to Scott Keyes, founder of a website that helps travelers search cheap flightshe wrote on Twitter.

So what does it mean for you?

What are the proposed rules?

Under the proposal, which is subject to a 90-day public consultation period, airlines and ticket sellers would have to refund consumers if they “significantly” change their flights.

This applies to domestic flights delayed by three hours or more or international flights delayed by six hours or more. It would also apply if the departure or arrival airport is changed, if additional connections are added, or if the class of service or aircraft type is changed, e.g. than expected.

If an airline published a flight in its online reservation system when the ticket was sold but ultimately did not operate the flight for any reason, it would be considered canceled under the new rules.

From traveling light to booking your flight direct with the airline, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind during particularly chaotic travel times. (Video: The Washington Post)

“When Americans buy a plane ticket, they should get to their destination safely, reliably and affordably,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in the release. “This new proposed rule would protect travelers’ rights and help ensure they receive the timely refunds they deserve from airlines.”

The new rules would also require airlines to issue ticket holders who decide not to travel because they are ill or are unable to travel due to government travel restrictions, including, for example, imposing a quarantine requirement on incoming passengers, with no expiration date. In the case of airlines receiving future government bailouts, the rule would require them to issue refunds instead of credits.

But there are limitations. For example, if someone books a flight but later new public health restrictions are imposed that would render the trip “pointless”, that person would be eligible for a non-expiring voucher or credit. But if someone does not check what is required for the trip, such as B. PCR tests, and cannot travel, he is not eligible.

How do they differ from the current rules?

Under current rulesTravelers to and from the United States are already eligible for a refund if their flight is canceled or significantly delayed and they choose not to take another option, or if they were involuntarily downgraded to a lower tier than what they paid for , to be demoted.

However, because the Department of Transportation does not define “substantial delay,” the question of whether travelers are eligible for a refund depended in practice on many factors “including the length of the delay, the length of the flight” and individual circumstances, it said. When a complaint is made, the individual process for the department to determine whether a refund is required takes a long time, she warns consumers.

Vacations Gone Wrong: Read these six stories of epic travel failures

The lack of clarity about what constitutes a canceled or significantly delayed flight has led to “disagreements between airlines about when passengers are eligible for a refund,” the transport ministry said in the press release.

Meanwhile, passengers who choose not to travel because they are ill or are particularly susceptible to illness are generally not protected by current regulations. For this reason, people who are ill and could infect others, or people who are particularly at risk of becoming seriously ill, can still travel so as not to lose the money they spent on their ticket. “This type of action by consumers is not in the public interest,” the department said.

Welcome to the travel hell of summer with lots of gas and canceled flights

When would this take effect?

The Department of Transportation’s proposed rule still has a while to go before it can be enacted. After the period of public hearing 90 days ends, the department reviews the comments and decides whether to keep the proposed rule unchanged, modify it, or withdraw it.

Anyone can comment, including businesses that would be affected by the rule. If the rules are enacted, companies can apply for an exception, which the department will only consider if it finds that “unique circumstances were not taken into account in the rule-making”.

What rights do I have if my flight is delayed now?

Travelers have reported a spike in travel issues this summer – from canceled or delayed flights to lost luggage and strikes – as many countries eased or eliminated all pandemic-related restrictions, which has led to higher demand and airports and airlines have been unable to cope.

Have nearly 550,000 flights been delayed So far this year, the United States has operated more than twice as many such flights in all of 2021, according to the Department of Transportation. More than 88,000 flights were canceled, about 3.2 percent of all flights, compared to less than 1.6 percent of flights last year.

If your flight is one of them, the current rules still apply. For a flight arriving or departing from the United States, you are eligible for a refund if your flight is canceled or significantly delayed and you decide not to choose another option. This also applies if you are involuntarily downgraded to a lower service than you paid for.

How to get refunds from an airline if your flight is cancelled

You are also entitled to compensation if you were denied boarding because your flight was overbooked and you did not voluntarily give up your seat. Airlines are allowed to overbook flights and there is no minimum they have to offer when asking travelers if someone is willing to take a later flight. passengers have reported that airlines have offered thousands of dollars for people who voluntarily get kicked off their flights.

If you are involuntarily bumped, airlines should provide you with a form detailing your compensation claims, which are often tied to arrival at your final destination. Keep in mind that most airlines require you to be checked in or at the boarding gate by a certain time in order to be eligible for compensation over and above the cost of the flight.

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First EU travel route with only digital ID pends approval: Finland to Croatia




Passengers could soon fly to Croatia from Vantaa Airport in Helsinki using a digital ID on their phones instead of a physical ID card or passport, subject to approval by the European Commission. However, in the initial phase of the project, passengers would still have to take their passports with them to return home, the reports Sanomat newspaper Helsinginvia online translation.

Finnish authorities will need guinea pigs to test the first cross-border route, but they have yet to pack their tiny suitcases. The first step is to complete the application by the end of August and await the European Commission’s decision on whether to fund the pilot. If approved, a multi-stage pilot would begin, with the Commission reportedly keen to see the results of such pilots, with a view to rolling out digital travel documents across the EU.

If approved, the project could begin by the end of the year, although there are no direct flights between the two Finland and Croatia until spring 2023. Finland is therefore considering other destinations. The Netherlands and Canada are also mentioned.

Mikko Väisänen, inspector of staff at the Finnish Border Guard, said the Commission had contacted Finland to see if it was interested in participating. The use of digital ID cards could help speed up checks.

phase out of the physical

In the first stage, a passport would still be required. Väisänen told Helsingin Sanomat that a traveler would have an app on their phone containing a digital travel document. Before the trip, they would send the information in the document to the border authorities electronically and in advance. The data will be deleted after the trip.

At the border control, a photo of the passenger is taken for identification. The passenger would have to hold the passport over the reader but not open it for a scan. This would be to read the chip. In a later step, the passenger could hold their mobile phone over the reader.

Similar plans exist for Croatia, but passengers would be required to carry physical ID to ensure they can complete all stages of the journey.

Helsinki’s Vantaa Airport would have a line for departing and arriving passengers to pass through border controls during the digital ID pilot.

The digital travel document could also eliminate the need for boarding passes and other documents, as facial recognition could be used at security and boarding instead, says Väisänen.

Finland may also plan to use it Biometrics from civil and tourist traffic Serious Crime Investigation Register.

Article Topics

biometric passport | biometrics | Croatia | digital ID card | EU | Finland | apartment | pilot project | travel documents

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