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“Expedition 206” journeys to 206 countries where Coca-Cola is sold

January 4, 2010

Starting January 2010, three happiness ambassadors will begin an unprecedented journey to all 206 countries where Coca-Cola is sold. That’s 14 more countries than are represented in the United Nations! Their mission is to seek out “what makes people happy” around the world.

These “happiness ambassadors” will search for and share the optimism and happiness of Coca-Cola from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe and everywhere in between. Their route will include some pretty amazing venues including- the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, the World Cup in South Africa and the World Expo in Shanghai.

Throughout the year-long journey, these Happiness Ambassadors will be sharing their blog posts, tweets, videos, interviews and pictures so you can follow their adventures in every country along the way.

Read their travel stories and more at Expedition 206

List of best restaurants in Los Angeles

January 1, 2010

Ricky’s Fish Tacos
3922 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90029
Price: $

Attari Sandwich Shop (Iranian)
1388 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024
Price: $$

Wurstküche (Belgian, German)
800 E 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

Red Lion Tavern (German)
2366 Glendale Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90039
(323) 662-5337

Messob (Ethiopian)
1041 S Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90019
(323) 938-8827
Price: $$

Electric Karma (Indian)
8222 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048
(323) 653-2121
Price: $$

Electric Lotus (Indian)
4656 Franklin Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 953-0040
Price: $$

Urasawa (Japanese)
218 N Rodeo Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 247-8939
Price: $$$$

Dar Maghreb (Moroccan)
7651 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90046
(323) 876-7651
Price: $$$$$

C&O Trattoria (Italian)
31 Washington Blvd, Marina del Rey, CA 90292
(310) 823-9491
Price: $$

The Beachcomber at Malibu Pier (excellent breakfast)
23000 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90265
(310) 456-9800
Price: $$$

Ruen Pair Thai Restaurant (Thai)
5257 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 466-0153
Price: $

Diddy Riese Cookies
926 Broxton Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90024
(310) 208-0448
Price: $

India Sweets & Spices (Excellent & authentic parathas)
5992 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles
(323) 934-5193
Price: $

Fathers office (best burgers in LA + 130 varieties of beer from around the world)
3229 Helms Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90034
(310) 736-2224
Price: $$

Leaked: new TSA rules coming soon!

December 29, 2009

Here are the new Homeland Security Transportation Security Administration’s official security rules.

Transportation Security Administration
Aviation Security Directive
Subject: Security Directive
Number: SD 1544-09-06
Date: December 25, 2009
EXPIRATION: 0200Z on December 30, 2009

This Security Directive (SD) must be implemented immediately. The measures contained in this SD are in addition to all other SDs currently in effect for your operations.

INFORMATION: On December 25, 2009, a terrorist attack was attempted against a flight traveling to the United States. TSA has identified security measures to be implemented by airports, aircraft operators, and foreign air carriers to mitigate potential threats to flights.

ACTIONS REQUIRED: If you conduct scheduled and/or public charter flight operations under a Full Program under 49 CFR 1544.101(a) departing from any foreign location to the United States (including its territories and possessions), you must immediately implement all measures in this SD for each such flight.

1. The aircraft operator or authorized air carrier representative must ensure all passengers are screened at the boarding gate during the boarding process using the following procedures. These procedures are in addition to the screening of all passengers at the screening checkpoint.
1. Perform thorough pat-down of all passengers at boarding gate prior to boarding, concentrating on upper legs and torso.
2. Physically inspect 100 percent of all passenger accessible property at the boarding gate prior to boarding, with focus on syringes being transported along with powders and/or liquids.
3. Ensure the liquids, aerosols, and gels restrictions are strictly adhered to in accordance with SD 1544-06-02E.
2. During the boarding process, the air carrier may exempt passengers who are Heads of State or Heads of Government from the measures outlined in Section I.A. of this SD, including the following who are traveling with the Head of State or Head of Government:

1. Spouse and children, or
2. One other individual (chosen by the Head of State or Head of Government)
3. For the purposes of Section I.B., the following definitions apply:
1. Head of State: An individual serving as the chief public representative of a monarchic or republican nation-state, federation, commonwealth, or any other political state (for example, King, Queen, and President).
2. Head of Government: The chief officer of the executive branch of a government presiding over a cabinet (for example, Prime Minister, Premier, President, and Monarch).


1. During flight, the aircraft operator must ensure that the following procedures are followed:
1. Passengers must remain in seats beginning 1 hour prior to arrival at destination.
2. Passenger access to carry-on baggage is prohibited beginning 1 hour prior to arrival at destination.
3. Disable aircraft-integrated passenger communications systems and services (phone, internet access services, live television programming, global positioning systems) prior to boarding and during all phases of flight.
4. While over U.S. airspace, flight crew may not make any announcement to passengers concerning flight path or position over cities or landmarks.
5. Passengers may not have any blankets, pillows, or personal belongings on the lap beginning 1 hour prior to arrival at destination.

AIRCRAFT OPERATOR ACKNOWLEDGMENT: The aircraft operator must immediately provide written confirmation to its assigned PSI indicating receipt of this SD.
AIRCRAFT OPERATOR dissemination required: The aircraft operator must immediately pass the information and directives set forth in this SD to all stations affected, and provide written confirmation to its PSI, indicating that all stations affected have acknowledged receipt of the information and directives set forth in this SD. The aircraft operator must disseminate this information to its senior management personnel, ground security coordinators, and supervisory security personnel at all affected locations. All aircraft operator personnel implementing this SD must be briefed by the aircraft operator on its content and the restrictions governing dissemination. No other dissemination may be made without prior approval of the Assistant Secretary for the Transportation Security Administration. Unauthorized dissemination of this document or information contained herein is prohibited by 49 CFR Part 1520 (see 69 Fed. Reg. 28066 (May 18, 2004).
APPROVAL OF ALTERNATIVE MEASURES: With respect to the provisions of this SD, as stated in 49 CFR 1544.305(d), the aircraft operator may submit in writing to its PSI proposed alternative measures and the basis for submitting the alternative measures for approval by the Assistant Administrator for Transportation Sector Network Management. The aircraft operator must immediately notify its PSI whenever any procedure in this SD cannot be carried out by a government authority charged with performing security procedures.
FOR TSA ACTION ONLY: The TSA must issue this SD immediately to the corporate security element of all affected U.S. aircraft operators.
FOR STATE DEPARTMENT: Retransmittal to appropriate foreign posts is authorized. Post must refer to STATE 162917, 201826Z Sep 01, Subject: FAA Security Directives and Information Circulars: Definitions and Handling, for specific guidance and dissemination.

Gale Rossides
Acting Administrator

This just shows how screwed air-travel will get. Sigh! Send your comments.

[via Gizmodo]

World’s fastest rail-line opens in China

December 26, 2009

The Wuhan–Guangzhou High-Speed Railway, also known as the Wuguang Passenger Railway, is a 968-kilometre (601 mi) high-speed rail line, operated by China Railway High-speed (CRH), connecting Wuhan (Hubei) and Guangzhou (Guangdong), in the People’s Republic of China. It is the world’s fastest train service, utilizing double-heading CRH2C and CRH3C trains which average 313 kilometres per hour (194 mph) in commercial service.

The line is part of the future 2100-km long Beijing-Guangzhou High-Speed Railway, while the Beijing-Shijiazhuang and Shijiazhuang-Wuhan sections are still under construction and expected to be opened in 2012.

From December 28, 2009, until Guangzhou South Station is opened in late January 2010, 28 passenger trains run on the line. Of these 28 trains, 2 run between Wuhan and Changsha South, 5 run between Changsha South and Guangzhou North, and 21 run between Wuhan and Guangzhou North. 2 of the 21 trains are non-stop, cover the 922-km long journey in 02h57m or 02h58m.

There are 18 stations on the line. 14 of them are opened for passenger service. Guangzhou South station is expected to be opened on January 30, 2010. Lechang East and Yingde West stations are under construction. Wulongquan East is an overtaking station, not opened for service.
It is operated by double-heading CRH2C and CRH3C trains. Each train group has two trains totaling 16 cars. The passenger capacity is about 1114 (CRH3C) or 1220 (CRH2C).

The second class is about ¥0.46 per kilometer and the first class is 60% higher. Deluxe class is also available on CRH3 trains, which is about 80% higher than second class. Like other train services in China, insurance of ¥0.0011722 per kilometer is included for every ticket. The rate-making distance is based on the existing Jingguang Railway, not the actual rail distance of the new railway. Hence though the actual rail distance between Wuhan and Guangzhou South is 968 km, 1069 km is charged. The ticket price between the two terminal stations is ¥490 and ¥780

Before this line was open, the fastest commercial train service was the train run between Lorraine TGV and Champagne TGV in France, averaging 279 km/h.

Station Information:
0 – Wuhan
48 – Wulongquan East
85 – Xianning North
127 – Chibi North
209 – Yueyang East
279 – Miluo East
347 – Changsha South
387 – Zhuzhou West
455 – Hengshan West
496 – Hengyang East
552 – Leiyang West
628 – Chenzhou West
711 – Lechang East
758 – Shaoguan
826 – Yingde West
885 – Qingyuan
922 – Guangzhou North
968 – Guangzhou South

[Source: Wikipedia]

In the news:

EU drops visa requirement for Serbs, Montenegrins and Macedonians

December 22, 2009

The European Union on Saturday opened its borders to visa-free travel for more than ten million Serbs, Montenegrins, and Macedonians after nearly 20 years of tight restrictions, a major boost for the troubled region’s hopes for closer ties with the 27-nation bloc.

The three western Balkan nations celebrated the lifting of visas with fireworks, concerts and all-night festivities, marking a significant milestone for citizens who have long felt shunned by the rest of Europe. Serbs, Montenegrins and Macedonians — citizens of the former Yugoslavia — had enjoyed free travel to other European nations in the past, but visa requirements and fees were introduced as the federation was breaking up and going to war in 1991. The policy had forced residents to wait in long lines at E.U. nations’ embassies.

While you might not need a visa …
Similar to neighboring Bosnia and Croatia, foreigners are required by law to register themselves with the police station in their district within 24 hours of receiving a Serbian entry stamp at a border crossing or airport.
Registration is done automatically by hotel staff upon check-in, however if you are staying with friends in a private dwelling, you must register your presence with the police in the district in which you are staying.
You will receive the bottom part of the Foreigner Registration Form to carry with you if registering at a police station, or a printout from hotel reception if staying at a hotel; when exiting the country, you will be required to present it to the Border Police. Sometimes they will not ask for it, and you can keep it as an administrative memento. Never forget, though, that failure to register can result in prosecution and a large fine.
[Source: WikiTravel]

Air Arabia’s exclusive package to Goa, India

December 22, 2009

Air Arabia, the first and largest low-cost carrier in the Middle East and North Africa, unveiled today a range of value-for-money package holidays to Goa, India. These four-night getaway packages – available at a range of three, four and five-star hotels – include flights, transfers, accommodation, breakfast and tours.

Air Arabia provides roundtrip flights three times per week between Dabolim International Airport in Goa and its hub in Sharjah, UAE, as well as additional service over the holiday season. Current holiday packages to Goa are valid for travel until March 31, 2010.

These exciting new packages are offered by Air Arabia Holidays, which provides a wide range of holiday destinations in Asia, the Gulf and Middle East, Europe and North Africa. Customers can search online by holiday theme or by chosen country and will be provided with a range of inspiring and convenient readymade holiday solutions. Alternatively, customers are able to create their own individual holiday by picking flights, hotels, booking rental cars and transfers and choosing among a range of exciting excursions.

Air Arabia announced earlier this month the addition of eight flights to Goa in response to the strong demand during the festive season. The additional flights to Goa will take place on December 17, 23, 24 and 30, 2009. The Sharjah-based carrier will also offer supplementary flights to Goa from January 4-7, 2010. These flights will depart Sharjah at 14:25 PM and arrive in Goa at 19:00 PM. Return flights will depart Goa at 19:45 PM and arrive in Sharjah at 21:40 PM.

Located on the west coast of India, Goa is visited by hundreds of thousands of international and domestic tourists each year. With a share of nearly 12% of all tourist arrivals in India, tourism is the largest contributor to the Goan economy. Its sandy beaches, dramatic waterfalls and verdant vegetation make it ideal for tourists seeking both relaxation and adventure, ancient history and a vibrant nightlife.

Google offers free WiFi at airports in US

November 11, 2009

Google will offer free WiFi access at 47 airports around the United States from now until January 15th, 2010. As part of the promotion, they’ll be collecting donations through Google Checkout for three non-profit organizations and will provide matching funds up to $250,000. But whether you donate or not, there’s a much better chance now that you’ll be able to go online while waiting for your flight.

Google is also running a contest starting Monday, November 16, 2009, where you’ll be able to win prizes by submitting a photo of yourself using the WiFi in any participating airport or on a Virgin America flight. In addition to being able to win great stuff, they will feature winning photos on this website.

[Sources: Consumerist and Google]

EveryTrail gives user-generated travel content

November 6, 2009

EveryTrail is a global web2.0 platform for geo-tagged user-generated travel content that’s changing the way millions of people share travel experiences and plan trips. EveryTrail makes it easy to share travel experiences, through interactive maps that include photos plotted along your trip route.

EveryTrail is free and useful for a wide variety of trips – including road trips, sight seeing tours, sailing trips, hiking, cycling, flying, hang gliding, geocaching, skiing, kayaking trips and more. EveryTrail has trips from over 80 countries in all corners of the world.



The rich and vibrant EveryTrail community is a great place to connect with others who share similar interests in travel and outdoor activities. When planning your next trip, use EveryTrail to discover where to go and what to do in some of the best places on earth.

American raises fare, others follow

October 15, 2009

While some are touting 2010 as the “Year of the Travel Deal,” the truth may be a bit more complicated than that. While suffering hoteliers will decrease hotel rates and create more package deals, airlines are still finding new ways to create revenue.

American Airlines raised fares $6 to $16 Monday and five other carriers followed suit. The five so far: Continental, Delta, United, US Airways and bargain Southwest airlines. Southwest, which had resisted the $10 holiday surcharge placed on many flights, seems to have had a change of heart. Or maybe it realized that it was ignoring an untapped revenue stream? Southwest said that its fee would actually be $4 to $10 round-trip.

Either way, most airlines were operating in the red last quarter and they don’t intend on staying that way. In fact, the third quarter of 2009 should be most known for the creative ways (read fees) airlines came up with cash.

Three airlines came out with a profit in the third quarter, JetBlue, Alaska and AirTran. So far none have joined the six carriers in raising fares. However, AirTran joined in on the $10 holiday surcharge from Thanksgiving to Memorial Day.

[Source: BNet]

Pre-pay your baggage fees on United for a fee

October 6, 2009

United has just announced a program where you can pay $250 to have their normal checked baggage fees waived for a year. The plan covers 2 bags per passenger, up to 8 passengers “traveling under the same confirmation number.” Current fees are $20 for the first bag and $30 for the second, so if you travel solo a lot and always carry two bags you’ll have to make six trips before you enjoy any savings.

On the other hand, if you’ve got a big family trip planned in the next year, this may be a way to shave a little off the fee gouging. But only a little.

When you purchase the Premier Baggage option, your annual subscription will be associated with your Mileage Plus® account. Simply provide your Mileage Plus number each time you make a United reservation, and you’ll automatically receive your Premier Baggage benefits.

Premier Baggage can also be purchased for a friend or family member. It makes a great gift for any frequent flyer.

*The purchase of a Premier Baggage annual subscription does not waive fees that would ordinarily be assessed for oversized and overweight bags and does not cover the cost of checking more than two standard bags.

[Sources: and Consumerist]

British Airways to charge for early seat choice

September 25, 2009

We have heard of European airlines charging fees for just about anything! The latest in charging fees for booking a seat in advance is British Airways. The airline says it will allow passengers to choose seats up to 355 days before flying — for a fee.

Charges will range from £10 ($16) per passenger for an economy class flight within Europe, £20 for a long-haul economy seat or £50 for an exit row seat.

Business-class passengers will be charged £20 for a short-haul flight and £60 for a long-haul flight.

Passengers now can choose a seat only in the 24 hours before departure, at no charge. The new policy is effective from October 7.

[Source: NYTimes]

Photos: Konkan, Maharashtra

September 25, 2009
Konkan, Maharashtra

Konkan, Maharashtra

Click here to see the photos

American to charge $50 for second bag on international routes

September 17, 2009

Flying is all set to get more expensive with the concept of pay for check-in baggage this week. One of US’ biggest carriers, American Airlines, has from Monday discontinued the earlier practice of allowing economy passengers to check in two bags of up to 50 lbs (23 kgs) each for no charge. The airline will now charge $50 for the second bag and $150 for the third one, said the airline’s call centre in India.

American’s website said: “Customers purchasing economy class tickets on or after September 14 for travel between some countries and US …. may check one bag for no charge and the second bag for $50.” The airline’s call centre said the first bag allowed to be cheked in for free should weigh up to 23 kg. “If that bag is over 23 kg and below 32 kg, a charge of $50 will be for being overweight. Similarly, if the second or third bags also weigh between 23 and 32 kg, then a similar fee of $50 will be levied on each in addition to the additional bag charge of $50 and $150,” said the call centre for economy class passengers.

Foreign carriers, especially US airlines, had earlier this year started levying charge for both internal and international flights. Many even levy a charge of $20-30 for the first check-in bag. LCCs abroad, like Britain’s Ryan Air, also make passengers pay for check-in baggage.

Airlines in India slash rates by 50%

September 15, 2009

If you’re traveling to India or in India now then you are in midst of the ongoing airfare war in India which is heating up with drop in rates by 50%. After the Jet Airways strike is over, all major airlines are offering competitive prices on airfares across the country for 5 days.

Jet Airways executive director Saroj Dutta had announced that the private carrier had suffered a loss of over Rs 200 crore ($40 million) on account of the pilots’ stir since last Tuesday.

Read more: Airfares slashed by 50% for next 3 days [Times of India]

What to pack for backpacking?

September 11, 2009

Are you going on a backpacking adventure and at a loose end as to what to pack? You will need to carry your backpack around for long periods of time and it must contain everything that you will need while you are away that can’t be purchased locally. It is essential to pack as lightly as possible; having a large bulky backpack can weigh you down, especially when boarding buses and trains. It will also tire you out to carry around all day. Read on for a list of handy backpacking items:

The size of backpack you buy really depends on how much you are prepared to lug around with you. If you plan on taking only the bare essentials, you could get away with a 35 litre backpack. But on average a 50 litre one might be a better choice, especially as it will leave some room for any souvenirs collected on the way.

Sleeping Bag/Sheet
A good sleeping bag or sleeping sheet is essential. One of the modern ones that can be rolled up very small is best. At many hostels you will be charged for sheets/blankets and they may be in a dubious state of cleanliness.

First Aid
Check the contents carefully and consider customising rather than bringing items that you are very unlikely to use. Plasters come in very handy for small cuts and blisters if you plan on doing lots of walking. If you are taking prescribed medicine check for any restrictions on taking them through customs, and check that you can obtain replacements at your destination.

Travel Towel
There are some really good travel towels on the market which are lightweight, take up a lot less space and are designed to dry quickly, which is great for travelling! However you may want to squeeze a bigger towel into your backpack to laze around on the beach.

Plug Adaptors
If you are taking electrical items like your MP3 player or phone charger, you can buy a good travel plug adaptor at most supermarkets and specialist travel stores. Many hostels and fellow travellers have them to borrow so consider if it is worth packing if you will only use it occasionally!

Mosquito Repellent/Nets
Mosquitoes may be annoying, but in malarial areas they are also dangerous. Deet based insect repellents are the most effective and a mosquito net is another important way of protecting yourself against malaria. Check with your doctor before travelling to find out if you need malaria tablets.

Ear Plugs
Getting some sleep when backpacking can be a nightmare if you are staying in hostels with others, on a bus journey or even sleeping out in the open. Ear plugs can make all the difference to you getting a good night’s sleep.

A must have item for your backpack! Especially handy at night time where there are no lights or in remote areas where electricity is not used. No need to spend a lot of money, any torch will do the job!

Take a couple of padlocks with you. They are ideal for securing your backpack and for hostel/guesthouse lockers to store your valuables – which you may have to supply your own padlock for.

Take a good book to read on the plane or to read while lazing on a tropical beach. Resist the temptation of packing a whole library in your backpack – remember you can swap books with other travellers along the way!

Backpacking Travel Insurance
No matter how light you want to travel, travel insurance for backpacking is the one thing you should definitely take with you. If you arrange your backpacker travel insurance as soon as you book your trip, you will be immediately covered should you need to cancel your plans. Check your backpacker travel insurance cover limits for personal possessions including valuables and single items, and think carefully before taking expensive items with you on your trip (camera, laptops and so on). You should also check that the backpacking travel insurance policy covers you for any activities you plan on doing – like bungee jumping!

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