December 10th, 2012 by Ambrose Bittner
Great news for those traveling in Myanmar. CB Bank Ltd., has now installed ATMs where you can get local currency using a Mastercard, Maestro, or Cirrus debit card. They currently have 36 ATMs in Myanmar in the towns of Yangon, Mandalay, Bago, Taungoo, and Pyinmana. They’ve also just installed one in the arrival hall of the Yangon Airport!
Changing money to local currency has always been an issue as you’ve needed US$ cash in preferrably $100 bills. Many places would not change bills unless they were crisp new notes without any signs of wear, like fold marks.
The transaction fee to use the ATM is 5,000 Kyat, about $6, which is comparable to the cost of using an ATM in Thailand, but expensive by US standards. Point-of-sales terminals will also become available to merchants, so expect to start to be able to use a Mastercard in shops soon.
Here’s the link to the Mastercard press release.
December 5th, 2012 by Ambrose Bittner
It appears that India has come it’s senses and removed the requirement for a minimum 2-month gap between visits to India by a foreign national (except those from China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Sudan, and Bangladesh — effective immediately.
The original restriction was a poorly implemented policy that created a lot of confusion in the first place. It had been revised so that tourists could visit neighboring countries like Bhutan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka for a short time and still return to India if you had an itinerary that showed this, but now there will be no confusion — especially by airport immigration officers in communicating to foreigners.
This will probably benefit international business people the most. Thank you India! I hope that you also implement a visa-on-arrival for more nationalities soon!
November 19th, 2012 by Ambrose Bittner
I wrote an article a few years ago about the process for getting custom-tailored suits made in Bangkok. Here’s a much more insightful article on the Travel Impact Newswire blog with from with tips from one of Bangkok’s best tailors, Raja Gulati:
Tips from Bangkok’s Best Tailor: Defining Factors to Look Good in a Suite
November 12th, 2012 by Ambrose Bittner
The lunar new year takes place at a different time every year typically between late January and late February. In 2013, it is on February 10th. TET is a family holiday and most Chinese and Vietnamese will travel to their hometown during this time, usually taking the whole week off. As a result, most hotels and other companies operate on a barebones staff and many local restaurants will be closed.
In fact, all over Asia during that time, expats take advantage of this time to take their vacations around the region. As a result, hotel space is at a premium, especially in places like Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Bali….even though these countries don’t celebrate the Lunar New Year. So, if you want to travel in Asia during this time, plan early to get your hotels and local flights. You’ll be glad you did.
October 19th, 2012 by Ambrose Bittner
Kangtega Mtn from Everest Trek
Alexis Mead and her close friend and travel buddy, Lesley Wall, are currently in Namche Bazaar on their way to Mt. Everest Base Camp. Red Lantern Journeys has provided them with a TrekTraka satellite tracking device which allows you to follow their progress on the two week trek through the land of the Sherpas amongst the highest mountains in the world.
Click this link to view their progress: Map of Alexis and Lesley on the way to Everest Base Camp.
After the trek, Alexis and Lesley will join Christine Schutz, Director of the Mitrata-Nepal Foundation for Children, in Kathmandu to visit the children and projects that support them.
July 16th, 2012 by Ambrose Bittner
The Austalian company, TrekTraka, has generously allowed Red Lantern Journeys to use a new technology that integrates a SPOT GPS satellite tracking device with social networking on the Climb for Himalaya Children that will allow the climbers’ families, friends, and supporters to track their progress on Mt. Rainier during their ascent.
Visit the links below to view the map of Mt. Rainier with starred points of interests on the routes the climbers are taking. During the climb, the climbers position on the mountain will also be posted to the map allowing you to see their progress in nearly real time! As the climbers reach pre-defined points on the mountain, posts will also be made on their behalf to their Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter accounts to enable their friends to follow the progress there.
Maps of the Mt. Rainier Climb and Progress of the two Teams:
- Team Ascending the Disappointment Cleaver Route
- Team Ascending the Emmons Glacier Route
July 11th, 2012 by Ambrose Bittner
The Mitrata-Nepal Foundation for Children and Red Lantern Journeys team up every year to raise money for children’s causes in Nepal by climbing 14,411-foot Mt. Rainier in Washington State. Beginning on July 19th this year, participants will take 3 days to scale the mountain…if weather conditions permit! Last year, high winds and poor visibility forced both teams to turn around at about 12,000 feet.
Please consider sponsoring one of our climbers with a tax-deductible donation. Your support, no matter how small, goes a long way to provide food, clothing, a home, and education to children in Nepal who need it to become productive members of their community.
Please visit the Mitrata web site to learn more about the great work that they do.
June 29th, 2012 by Ambrose Bittner
I’m very sad to share the news that one of the oldest monuments in Bhutan, the Wangduephodrang Dzong, in the Wangdue district in Bhutan succumbed to a devastating fire on 24th of June, 2012. It was over 400 years old, having been built in 1638 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, it was the third oldest dzong in Bhutan and has served as a fort, administrative center, and monastery. Even sadder is the fact that major renovation work had just started in January of this year. However, all sacred relics from the Dzong have been saved. The cause of the fire is still being investigated. Initial reports indicate the fire may have been caused by an electrical short-circuit.
Wangduephodrang Dzong on Fire
June 20th, 2012 by Ambrose Bittner
China has reopened Tibet to foreign tourists, but with restrictions on some nationalities and maintaining the recently implemented minimum group size requirement. The nationalities that are still not allowed to enter Tibet include the United Kingdom, Norway, Austria, and South Korea. Here’s a link to more info on the Tibetan Review web site.
These policies show that China continues to use Tibet as a political football to the detriment of native Tibetans. It’s a callous approach to issues that could easily be resolved by showing a bit of compassion and respect for the needs of local Tibets that the Chineses insist on ruling. China has shown itself to be an inconsistant and unreliable tourism destination through their policies, which has caused me to quit promoting China as a destination, although Red Lantern Journeys will continue work with clients planning trips there.
June 14th, 2012 by Ambrose Bittner
Click to buy the book from Amazon.com
Vegetarians and vegans planning a trip to Asia will find Teresa Bergen’s travel guide a helpful resource. The ebook is thoroughly updated from the long ago guide Bergen first put out in 1994.
Vegetarian Asia Travel Guide covers 23 countries. Each chapter starts with a snapshot of the current state of vegetarianism and animal welfare in that country, including information about relevant religious or philosophical traditions and organized vegetarian groups. The bulk of the book focuses on which common dishes are usually vegetarian or vegan, or can easily be made so. Also covered is how to say “I’m a vegetarian” in local languages, food customs and resources for further information.
The book has a few restaurant recommendations for most countries, but not too many. Perhaps Bergen is worried that they’ll go out of business if she waits so long again between editions. Focusing on types of food rather than specific restaurants will give the ebook a longer shelf life.
The ebook format itself is very convenient for people traveling with electronic devices who don’t want to carry the extra weight of books. But some travelers will probably hope that this very helpful guide becomes available in print.
You can order the book on Amazon.
Also, visit Teresa’s Veg Travel and Fitness blog: www.teresabergen.com