Latest in Travel: Lodging shortage in Pangong Lake

Also in the news: Bharat Gaurav Tourist Train begins its 18-day Shri Ramayana Yatra while Yellowstone partially reopens after record-level flooding.

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Ladakh Tourism Department advises against lodging near Pangong river without prior booking. Photo By: chrispiason/ iStock

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Hong Kong’s famous floating restaurant sinks into the past

Jumbo Kingdom, the world’s largest floating restaurant up until its recent demise, has fed dim sum to generations of Hong Kongese and tourists for decades. Financially, the seafood barge has been taking on a slow leak in deficit since 2013, and the ‘temporary’ pandemic-induced closure in March, 2020 (unknowingly its last month of operation), arguably, was what a North American iceberg was to the Titanic.

However, on June 14th, 2022, Jumbo Kingdom unceremoniously sunk as it was being towed away to a shipyard. Three-stories high and 260-feet long, the vast Chinese Imperial-style structure, and stalwart of Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter, has long been intertwined with Hong Kong’s cityscape–even appearing in blockbuster Enter the Dragon and the popular Bond flick, The Man with the Golden Gun. Submerged more than 1,000 metres below the sea, its loss is greatly mourned in Hong Kong and the world at large.

 

Ladakh Tourism Department urges travellers to book Pangong Lake accommodation in advance

Pangong Lake draws many to its shores—one-third of which are India’s territory, the rest lying in China—however its popularity among travellers often outweighs its limited accommodation. This can lead to tourists, without confirmed reservations, to find there is no lodging available after having made the five to six hour drive from Leh. Along with warning about this serious, and potentially, dangerous inconvenience, the department also took the opportunity to caution tourists in Leh to acclimatise there for 48 hours before moving onto high-altitude areas like Khardongla, Changla, Pangong Lake, Tsomoriri and Penzela.

 

Italy’s Amalfi Coast curtails tourists in rental cars

A 22-mile stretch of the stunning Amalfi coastal road along the Tyrrhenian Sea is now restricted to travellers based on their license plate numbers due to heavy traffic jams during its tourist season. The ban is being implemented between Vietri sul Mare and Positano; from ten a.m. to six p.m, if the last digit on the plate of a charter bus, sightseeing van, or rental cars is odd, drivers can only use their car on odd-numbered dates, and if it is even, it can only be used on even-numbered dates. The ban is in effect on weekends from June 15th to September 30th, though it stands every day during the month of August as well as each day of Holy Week leading up to Easter Sunday during April, 2023.

 

A special Indian tourist train to now connect holy sites

On June 22nd, the Bharat Gaurav Tourist Train began its maiden Shri Ramayana Yatra from Delhi (carrying 500 passengers), connecting India and Nepal via a cultural circuit that passes through myriad religious destinations. The 18-day journey follows a meandering route that includes a stop at Nepal’s Janakpur, in addition to Ayodhya, Sitamarhui, Varanasi, Prayagraj, Chitrakoot, Nasik, Hampi, and Rameshwaram, among others. Culture, architecture, and history are the described focus of the Bharat Gaurav, with several other tourist circuits reportedly in the works. The theme of Indian pride is mirrored by the eclectic design of the 14-coach train, paying homage to the nation through nods to folk art and monuments. The completely air-conditioned train will solely serve vegetarian fare.

 

Yellowstone partially reopens after record-level flooding

After the USA’s Yellowstone National Park experienced perilously-high levels of rainfall, it was declared closed on June 13th, as the park was evacuated in response to record-level flooding. Felled trees, rockslides, and mudslides damaged much of the region’s infrastructure; the well- known national park closed for over a week as responders dealt with the aftermath. On June 22nd, the park reopened its three entrances located on the Southern Loop, but has left the Northern Loop closed. In order to limit the number of visitors, vehicles with license plates ending with an odd number can only enter the park on odd-numbered dates, and if the last digit is even, it can only be used on even-numbered days. However, those with reservations will be let in regardless.

 

TAAI calls for faster visa processing by Western nations, and the scrapping of Air Suvidha

The Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI), an organisation that reportedly represents the concerns of over 2,500 travel-related businesses, has voiced concerns over reported delays in visa processing and a dearth of visa appointments for destinations in the West, naming the UK, USA, Canada, and Schengen countries (among others). In a suspected tit for tat proposal, they have suggest the Air Suvidha requirement (a travel form all inbound travellers to India must complete, currently) be scraped (tap here for more information on Air Suvidha), and have also called for free, multiple-entry, 6-month E-visas for travellers from nations that can boost the domestic tourist industry.

 

Fresh flight routes and old feuds

Starting late June, the airline GO FIRST is set to resume regular international flights connecting Jammu and Kashmir’s Srinagar to UAE’s Sharjah. On June 20th, Saudi Arabia lifted coronavirus-related travel restrictions on travel to India. Also announced on June 20th, travellers to New Zealand no longer need to present a negative COVID-19 test. They will, however, need to take a test on the first day of their arrival as well as a follow-up test on the fifth or sixth day of their stay. While unvaccinated passengers can transit through New Zealand, only fully vaccinated travellers are able to holiday in the country.

Nepal’s private aircraft umbrella group, Airlines Operators Association of Nepal (AOAN), and the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) are in yet another row, as AOAN threatens to suspend flights until CAAN goes back on decisions to shift some aircraft parking outside of Kathmandu’s TIA, citing a lack of relevant infrastructure at the newly allocated night-stop parking, among other demands. Recently, relationships have appeared tense between the two organisations, with AOAN threatening to ground their planes just last April when CAAN ordered 60 per cent of private aircraft flights must be at night; CAAN reversed their decision that April.

 

To read more stories on travel, cities, food, nature, and adventure, head to our web forum here or our new National Geographic Traveller India app here.

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  • Julian Manning can usually be found eating a crisp ghee roast with extra podi. The rare times his hands aren’t busy with food, they are wrapped around a mystery novel or the handlebars of a motorcycle. He is Senior Assistant Editor at National Geographic Traveller India.

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