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Indian railways launch mobile booking

No more queues at a railway station for making a booking on Indian Railways.

Indian Railways have launched a mobile website that can be access from any basic mobile phone with GPRS.

IRCTC (Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corp), which is Indian Railways’ online ticket booking system, now has a mobile companion website where you can book your tickets using your mobile phones.

“IRCTC mobile website is convenient and easy to use, and can be accessed from any browser enabled mobile having basic GPRS activated on phone,” says an IRCTC statement.

Not only will the mobile website allow users to enquire and book tickets, it will provide booking history.

Just like the main website, the mobile site also offers the ability to cancel any of the tickets booked.

Tickets can be bought using your credit/debit card for payment. Passengers can even check their PNR status on their mobile phones.

Passengers can use their existing IRCTC user id and password on mobile website and fill in details of travel.

You can also update your mobile number in IRCTC profile to receive SMS alerts for your ticket booking.

Taking full advantage of the digital technology, Indian Railways have also removed the need to print your e-ticket.

Virtual Reservation Message (VRM) – A screen-shot of the e-ticket displayed through laptops/palmtops/ Mobile phone is now accepted as proof of ticket by Indian Railways.

The VRM along with an ID proof in original and the indication of the passenger(s)’ name(s) in the Reservation Chart will authorize the passenger to travel, says Indian Railways website.

“VRM combined with valid photo-id in original will be treated as an instrument.”

VRM will also authorise the passenger to enter the platform on the day of journey and will not be required to purchase platform ticket.

Travel

Lake Taupo offers amazing holiday options

Taupo is not really one of the most favoured destinations with New Zealand and international travellers and holidaymakers. That honour goes to Queenstown in South Island. However, Taupo is North Island’s Queenstown.

With Lake Taupo spreading across 616 square metres (that’s the size of Singapore), Taupo offers views, quiet accommodation and tourist-friendly cafes.

Taupo is less than 300kms from New Zealand’s main airport – Auckland and with New Zealand’s modern road network, the trip takes only three and a half hours, along picturesque landscape of North Island.

An international traveller can either drive non-stop to Taupo, or stop on the way and enjoy many options that New Zealand offers. Hamilton has one of the country’s largest gardens – Hamilton Gardens, with Paradise Garden Collection, and Te Parapara – New Zealand’s first traditional Maori garden. Before starting your journey, look up the garden’s website for one of the many exciting events staged here each year.

Hamilton Gardens opens at 7.30am every day of the year. For Indian visitors, there’s a surprise – Indian Char Bagh Pavilion within Hamilton Gardens. Char Bagh’ or ‘enclosed four part’ garden offers a colourful display of flowers spreading out from a distinctive chalk coloured Pavilion.

Char Bagh offers a colourful display of flowers (Image: Hamilton Gardens)

This form of garden spread throughout the Muslim world between the 8th and 18th centuries. The complex symbolism behind this form of garden has its very ancient roots in three of the world’s great religions – Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism.

You can easily get enchanted and lose track of time and the journey ahead while at Hamilton Gardens, where you can easily spend the whole day.

Lake Taupo (Image: Vaibhav Gangan)

The next stop can be Cambridge – a lazy town of 16,000 people with a mixture of Kiwi and British feel in the air.

Known as the town of trees, it offers a stunning range of exotic trees that add to the English-style town atmosphere.

At Cambridge, you can walk the heritage and boutique trails and discover the beautiful range of shops many set within heritage buildings.

The Tree Trail takes in the Town Square and the hidden treasure of Lake Te Ko Utu.

Another nearby attraction is Maungatautari – mountain sanctuary for native wildlife only 15 minutes drive from Cambridge and now a beautiful home for reintroduced kiwi and other native birds. Visit their website for details.


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Then there’s Athenree Gorge (in the Western Bay of Plenty) on the way if you take SH2 route. Waihi beach too is on the way and is worth a stop.

Once in Taupo, you can either get active and try many outdoor activities including horse riding, mini-golf, Segway ride or you may simply want to relax by the lake and finish your favourite novel.

Most cafes on Roberts Street are lake facing, allowing you to take pictures of the lake on your mobile phone and upload them to Facebook using free wi-fi provided by the cafe.

Unlike many smaller towns in New Zealand, Taupo offers you a choice of not one but three to four restaurants offering Indian cuisine, and it is difficult to pick one over the others.

However, Indian Delights (10 Roberts Street) is located on first floor and offers fantastic lake views.

The famous Huka falls is just a five-minute drive from Taupo and provides jet-boating as well as prawn fishing attractions.

Huka falls is a major tourist attraction in Taupo (Image: Vaibhav Gangan))

At Lake Taupo, on-water activities include banana boat ride, kayaking and para-sailing. But if you have had enough of water, then head inland to Craters of the Moon which is only a few kilometres from Lake Taupo.

Here you can enjoy horse-riding where you are accompanied by one pilot horse in the front and one at the back, while you can choose the speed at which you would like to explore the forest around.

Lake Taupo and its surroundings offer a perfect holiday destination for the whole family as well as for adventurous tourists.
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Be child-safe this holiday season

The recent incident in Auckland where a two-week old boy was seriously injured when his child seat came loose is a stark reminder of reviewing our child-safety, says a New Zealand charity.

Plunket New Zealand is urging people to have their child car-restraints checked before the busy Christmas holiday season.

Sue Campbell, Plunket’s National Child Safety Advisor says a car seat needs to be installed correctly for it to perform correctly in an accident.

“The Christmas holiday period can be a busy and stressful time for parents and caregivers so now is a good time to check your child’s car seat – before we get into the silly season.

“We recommend that parents and caregivers seek expert assistance from a child restraint technician for a free check to ensure that your child’s car seat fits your vehicle and is installed correctly. They can also advise about the best car seat for your child’s age and weight, and one that is best suited to your car.

“Child restraint technicians are available through Plunket car seat rental schemes, and at a number of other hire outlets or retailers. It is a totally free service.”

Sue says that Plunket recognises that the cost of child restraints is beyond the means of some families but says that assistance is available.

“Plunket has a Car Seat Rental Scheme which exists to help families get access to child car restraints. Our priority is keeping children safe so we’re flexible on payment methods but hireage is generally less than the cost of a takeaway coffee a week.

“Some families may also qualify for a special grant from Work and Income to buy or hire a child restraint.”

Immigration Travel Work Abroad

Flight booking scam hits Australia

Australian travellers may be left stranded at the airport holding bogus tickets at Christmas time after suffering at the hands of scammers.

A government agency has warned Australians about cheap flight deals through fake websites which have travellers believing they have bought legitimate airline tickets.

But all they have done is been skimmed of their money and left vulnerable to identity theft.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s SCAMwatch website (www.scamwatch.gov.au ) has issued warning for flight booking scams.

If you are visiting family over Christmas make sure you book your flights through a legitimate airline, flight booking or travel website, or a travel agent, the SCAMwatch says.

“Scammers set up fake websites to make you believe you are purchasing a genuine flight ticket, but when you arrive at the airport you may find your booking was a fake.”

SCAMwatch says it has received a number of reports of fraudulent traders who have copied the ABN and look of legitimate travel websites.

“These fake traders claim to sell tickets on behalf of well-known airlines, when in fact the airlines have not authorised the sale.

“After purchasing the fake tickets, victims are given a booking number but when they go to use this number they find that the booking doesn’t actually exist with the airline they are supposed to be travelling on.

“Consumers may be contacted directly by fraudulent traders, or may follow links via popular social networking sites.

“Some victims have lost in excess of AU$1000 for fake international flight bookings, while others report instances of identity theft after interactions with the fake trader.”

Protect yourself

  • Be cautious when deciding to purchase really cheap airfares – if it looks too good to be true it probably is.
  • Check the ABN (Australian Business Number) quoted on a flight booking website is genuinely registered to the trader named on the website. You can look up an ABN on the Australian Government’s business.gov.au website.

Agrees Graham Doessel, chief executive of MyCRA, a national credit repairer.

“It’s all bad for these poor scam victims. At best they can be left with no holiday – but at worst fraudsters can take their personal details and use them to construct a fake identity which would allow them to borrow in their name – the ramifications of that can last for years,” Mr Doessel says.

Currently the Australian Crime Commission sites identity theft as the fastest growing crime in Australia, and a recent study presented by the Attorney-General’s office revealed 1 in 6 people have had their identity stolen or misused in some way.

The Australian government offers this advice.

Warning signs:

  • The flight booking website is not well-known, or you have never heard of it before.
  • The website claims to offer flights at unusually cheap prices, some up to 50% off.
  • There is no Australian contact number or address for the trader, often because they are not located in Australia despite their claims.
  • The site does not have a valid Australian Federation of Travel Agents membership number.

Protect yourself:

  • Be cautious when considering whether to purchase really cheap airfares – if it looks too good to be true it probably is.
  • NEVER send money or give personal details to people you don’t know and trust.
  • Check the ABN quoted on the website is genuinely registered to the trader named on the website. You can look up an ABN on the Australian Government’s business.gov.au website.
  • If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.
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$1m NZ pavilion may go for London Olympics

Maori Waka at Rugby World Cup 2011

A huge waka-shaped pavilion, cornerstone of the very popular Rugby World Cup event, may be seen next year in London during the 2012 Olympic Games.

New Zealand won the recently concluded Rugby World Cup.

Discussions are underway between the New Zealand Olympic Committee and Ngati Whatua o Orakei to take the 76-metre long Waka Maori to the United Kingdom.

The 76-metre long waka has been on the Auckland waterfront since 13 October where it has seen around 400,000 visits to the Waka Maori events that included performances in the waka, a Maori rugby exhibition and carving, weaving, ta moko and contemporary Maori arts displays at the artisans village.

Maori Waka at Rugby World Cup 2011

Maori Waka at Rugby World Cup 2011

The waka cost $900,000 to build and was funded by Te Puni Kokori, the Ministry of Culture and Heritage and the Ngati Whatua o Orakei Maori Trust Board.

The waka has made an impact at the Rugby World Cup fanzone and it could provide a focal point for New Zealand activities in London, says New Zealand Olympic Committee Commercial and Marketing Director Terry Daly.

“We’re urging business and government to build on the momentum created around the Rugby World Cup and to look at ways the London Olympic Games can be used to promote New Zealand,” he says.

“A major Kiwi House in London is taking shape and the waka could add another dimension to the series of showcase events already planned.

“With millions of visitors set to attend the London Olympic Games, New Zealand will be ideally placed to show the world what it has to offer.”

The New Zealand Olympic Committee will announce its plans for Kiwi House in London early next year.

Ngati Whatua o Orakei Maori Trust Board chief executive Tiwana Tibble says there has been a lot of enquiry, both before the rugby tournament and during, about using the waka.

“From a Ngati Whatua perspective we are interested in opportunities where the waka can be used to show New Zealand at its best and create greater awareness of Maori culture as a positive part of life in this country.

“The waka itself is a blank canvas and it is up to people to make it come alive in whichever way they want to; he tangata, he tangata, he tangata.”

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Festival to celebrate rugby world cup cultures

Auckland will host a cultural festival to celebrate diversity among the 20 rugby-playing countries participating in the world cup in New Zealand.

The national identities of each of the countries in the Rugby World Cup will be celebrated at the ‘Kiwi Day Out’ festival  on Labour Day.

Auckland Domain will transform into an international village where the 20 countries will showcase their arts and “cultural flavour. The free, family event is sponsored by the Office of Ethnic Affairs.

From Namibia, Georgia and Romania to Argentina, France and South Africa, marquees representing each of the Rugby World Cup participating nations will feature their cultural food, crafts, costume, and performance.

The International Village promises a captivating and creative display of ethnic diversity, says the director of the Office of Ethnic Affairs, Mervin Singham.

“Embracing diversity is in New Zealand’s national interest and celebrating other cultures confirms our strengthening ties within and between our communities, our businesses and our people.”

From 3.30pm to 6pm, the stage will showcase some of the country’s best loved musicians including the iconic Dave Dobbyn; the youthful rocking energy of Feilding heroes, Evermore — along with former Australian Idol winner Stan Walker and family favourites – the Patea Maori Club.

When: 12-noon – 6pm, Labour Day, 24 October

Where: Auckland Domain

Free Public Entry

Immigration Travel Work Abroad

High commission to accept online visa requests

The Indian High Commission in New Zealand is about to implement the online visa scheme.

From 30 May 2011, the high commission in Wellington will accept only online visa applications.

“After this date, the High Commission will not accept manual, handwritten or typed visa applications,” says the high commission.

“All applicants should submit visa applications to the high commission online for all types of visa requirements.”

Visa applicants can submit their applications at secure website here.

Once the online application is lodged, the applicant can print the online form and send it to the high commission with required documents.

For more info on Visa please visit the High Commission website.

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Qantas mulling moving ops to Asia

Media reports that Australia’s Qantas Airways is planning to move its operations to Asia have met with strong reaction from the Australian community, and unions are threatening industrial action.

Australian and International Pilots Association has warned that any move by Qantas to shift operations offshore and set up a premium airline in Asia will provoke a community backlash.

The Association president Barry Jackson told The Australian that reports that Qantas wanted to base much of the airline in Asia would set off alarm bells in the community.

“Australians want Qantas, not ‘Qantasia’,” he was reported in the newspaper.

Qantas cheap airfares“The Qantas Sale Act of 1992 was designed specifically to prevent this sort of move happening. Obviously, Qantas’s lawyers believe they’ve found a tricky way around it, so they are now looking at how best to pack the business up out of Australia and into Southeast Asia.”

In the meantime Qantas said the media reports that it was setting up a premium airline in Singapore were “purely speculative” and no decision was reached.

Australia’s flagship carrier has denied media reports that it was seeking a licence to operate an airline in Malaysia.

The airline told a news agency that it was looking at options to strengthen its struggling international operations.

Qantas is facing competition in the premium segment from Emirates and in the cheap airfares segment from cheaper airlines.

Earlier, the Australian Financial Review reported that Qantas was considering setting up a full-service airline in Singapore where up to 20 aircraft could be based.

Qantas intends to challenge the market share of Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific in Asia and build its network in Europe, the newspaper said. Qantas already operates a low-cost carrier, Jetstar Asia, in Singapore.

In the meantime, aircraft engineers have called off plans to strike but there are plans for further industrial action.

As if to compound its difficulties, the Australian carrier has been slapped with a NZ$6.5 million fine by the New Zealand High Court. The court has handed out its highest ever fine to Qantas which admitted to breaching New Zealand’s Commerce Act by exchanging information with other cargo carriers to fix the fuel surcharge component of the price for international air cargo services.

Health Travel

Dengue, chikungunya rise among UK travellers to India

Malaria is not the only major threat for international travellers. Dengue and chikungunya are posting new threats for travellers to India, and unlike malaria, there are no vaccinations known to be effective for dengue and chikungunya.

The number of UK travellers contracting dengue fever has doubled between 2009 and 2010, and the most reported cases were among British travelers visiting India.

As many as 406 UK travellers in 2010 contracted the mosquito-borne infection in 2010, compared with only 166 reported cases in 2009, says the UK’s Health Protection Agency (HPA).

International travellers visiting India are prone to mosquito-borne diseases like malaria, dengue and chikungunya

The agency says that dengue fever is not present in the UK, and the most reported cases were associated with travellers to India – 84 cases. Other high risk countries for dengue fever are Thailand (61) and Indonesia (22).

However, dengue fever is not the only infection to be worried about.

There is a 34 percent increase in the number of British tourists reporting another mosquito-borne infection – chikungunya, which rose from 59 cases in 2009 to 79 in 2010. Again, about half of the chikungunya cases were associated with a visit to India.

The UK does not have a system of active surveillance of dengue fever or chikungunya, so there may be more cases than reported by the HPA.

HPA says while both diseases are endemic in Asia and Africa, dengue is more wide spread, and is common in South America, Central America and the Caribbean and the Western Pacific.

ARTICLE CONTINUED BELOW

Also read: Get the shot before flu symptoms develop

Also read: Top 7 health concerns for travel to India

Both the diseases are contracted through the bite of an infected mosquito. These are not contagious and cannot be spread from person to person.

What are the symptoms of dengue and chikungunya

The common symptoms are similar to flu: sudden fever, muscle pain, headache and a rash.

According to HPA, chikungunya can also cause joint pains that can persist for several months.

However serious complications from dengue and chikungunya are not common in UK travellers.

Which vaccination can I take?

While malaria can be prevented by taking vaccination shots, unfortunately, there is no specific vaccine or drug to prevent or treat either disease. However, supportive treatment can help in managing symptoms.

“These figures demonstrate that the importance of taking precautions to avoid mosquito bites extends to protecting against other infections, not just malaria,” says Dr Jane Jones, head of the HPA’s travel and migrant health section.

What’s the difference between malaria, dengue and chikungunya?

“The mosquitoes that spread dengue and chikungunya bite in the day, compared with those that spread malaria which are mainly active from dusk to dawn.”

How to protect against dengue and chikungunya?

The best protection against dengue and chikungunya is similar to that against Malaria – avoid mosquito bites.

  • Wear appropriate clothing to cover most of the body – long sleeve tops and trousers
  • Apply insect repellents. A common brand in India is Odomos.
  • Where malaria and other mosquito-borne illnesses co-exist, wear repellant all the time. Also use mosquito nets at night.

Vaccinations against malaria and other illnesses need to be taken at least a month before travelling to a foreign destination.

“Anyone travelling to a tropical destination should take appropriate advice from a health professional or a travel health clinic at least 6-8 weeks before they travel to ensure they are aware of the risks and how they can best protect themselves from illness.”

Travel

Use iPad to prepare for travel to India

Indian Panchang (Calendar)

Travelling to India for the first time can be very overwhelming. From packing the right clothes for India, to getting the right vaccinations for travel to India, knowing Indian roads, Indian festivals, Indian Railways, it can be quite a daunting task not just for western travellers, but also for overseas Indians visiting India after many years.

With a range of simple iPad Apps, planning your India trip has just got easier. Let The Global Indian magazine show you some of the best iPad Applications for travel to India, many of which are free.

Mobile Maps India GPS Navigation App

Any traveler to India will tell you how lost you can feel in this vast landscape that India is, where culture, language and climate changes every few kilometres. You will be lost without a comprehensive map of India, and could be easily taken for a ride by your taxi driver, or rickshaw driver.

While there are many other map applications which are either cheaper or free, this iPad App is worth its price. Now, the most important and useful iPad App in this list is also the most expensive, but before we get to the price, let us show you the features.

Mobile Maps by Sygic and MapmyIndia is a very comprehensive turn-by-turn, voice guided navigation software for your iPad and iPhone. The iPad app provides all maps with street level navigation in 400 cities across India, with free map updates.

You can control the music and radio while navigating, and use its pinch-to-zoom feature to scroll naturally through menus. You can search for thousands of restaurants and other points of interest, with an option to call in, find parking, and navigate to. For its usefulness, $49.99 is a small price to pay.

Indian Trains

Indian Railways is the largest employer in the world, and has one of the most expensive railway networks going the breadth and depth of this vast subcontinent. If you are going places in India, you will inevitably travel by Indian Railways which offers a unique way to experience India’s diversity. This $1.99 iPad App lets you check running train status, seat availability check and PNR status for any train in India. (PNR is a ticket number issued by Indian Railways.) The iPad App integrates with the Indian Railways website, and lets you check running train status, seat availability for next 90 days, bookmark train Number, station and PNR numbers and search trains between stations. Download the iPad App.

India Panchang Calendar 2011 App

India is a melting pot of many regions, and the Indian calendar is full of more than 340 festivals and holidays. You will need to familiarise yourself with Indian festivals while planning your trip to India, so that you can either plan near a festival or away from it so as to avoid major rush.

The Panchang (Hindi for calendar) shows India’s culture through the Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian and civil festivals happening all along the year. Nearly all the festivals are illustrated with a colorful image. Download the iPad App for $0.99.

Hurry with the curry

If you are dining at an Indian restaurant and have no clue what to order, this iPad App will surely be your saviour. You don’t need to play it safe and order ‘butter chicken with naan’ every time you order at an Indian restaurant. Simply download this iPad App for $2.99 and let it help you negotiate most South Asian restaurant menus.

It will even give you an idea of the spices and ingredients that make up many popular Indian dishes. Just look up the alphabetical index, and you’ll be on your way to becoming an Indian food expert in no time at all! The App is written by Shaheen Bilgrami who was born in India and has lived in the US and the UK. She has been a foodie from an early age and enjoys cooking and eating good food from all over the world! Download the iPad App.

Lingolook INDIA App

India has 22 languages recognised by its constitution and has more than 500 dialects. While English is the widely spoken and understood in the main cities of the country, it is very helpful to know some local words for essential communication. This iPad App promises to teach you to “speak Hindi like a local with a tap of your Multi-Touch display, and master pronunciation of essential travel keywords and phrases from over 300 “talking translations”.

If this sounds like too much of a task, you can simply flash your iPad or iPhone with the large type translations showcased on 75 cleverly designed flashcards. The best part of this iPad App is that it does not require internet connection, because the data is stored on the device. You can learn 500 most essential words and phrases and 300 high quality audio translations. It also contains reference menu readers, country tips, travel facts, size chart, calendar and numeral! Downoad the iPad App for $3.99.
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Editor recommends Food Travel

Experience Auckland’s culinary flavour

Malaysian Food Lamb Curry

While New Zealand offers plenty of tourist attractions, its ethnic food variety is unmatched, especially in the multi-ethnic city of Auckland.

Auckland’s central business district and the neighbouring Parnell and Ponsonby suburbs offer a rich choices for places to dine in, to suit all budgets.

For a taste of Malaysian cuisine in the City of Sails, there’s a hidden culinary gems – The Mustard Seed Malaysian Restaurant.

The restaurant was previously known as Bing’s Malaysian Restaurant.

The Mustard Seed offers a range of ethnic Malay, Chinese and Indian influenced dishes which are essentially the core of Malaysian cuisine. If you love Indian food, then Malaysin cuisine offer a great variation to experiment.

Malaysian Food Lamb Curry

Lamb Curry

Owners Tommy Ning and Joni Hoang are keen to demonstrate the wonderful tastes Malaysian food can bring to Kiwi diners and Indian tourists.

The Mustard Seed is a member of the Malaysia Kitchen Programme for New Zealand – a year-long campaign initiated by the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) to educate consumers about Malaysian cuisine and to encourage trial.

It’s all about the experience, ambience and food offerings, says Ning. “The Mustard Seed brings this together for guests and foodies alike all in a beautiful four-star hotel setting.”

Malaysian food

Malaysian Chicken Curry Laksa

“We pride in serving authentic Malaysian cuisine and our three Malaysian chefs are very experienced in this space.

“They specialise in char kuey teow, beef rendang, chicken and lamb satay, curry and lamb varuval,” Ning says.

The Mustard Seed can sit 200 diners in a grand dome-shaped ceiling dining hall which is becoming rare sight in Auckland’s central business district.

Next time you are out to try out ethnic food in New Zealand, you know where to begin.

Immigration Study Abroad Travel

Choosing an immigration attorney

Immigrating to a new country is a major decision for immigrants, and choosing the right immigration attorney or immigration agent is very crucial, whether it for studying abroad, working abroad, doing business abroad, or moving permanently to a new country.

Before hiring an immigration lawyer, you must decide whether you need an immigration consultant at all. Some countries have a very straightforward migration process and easy-to-understand immigration rules.

Also, the immigration department of most countries are very friendly, whether you are immigrating to the UK, US, Canada, the Middle East, Australia or New Zealand.

It is always useful to have a chat with an immigration officer of the country you are migrating to. Some countries have a very helpful website with plenty of information. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has a very extensive website which can be very valuable.

Familiarise yourself with the immigration rules and processes on these websites. Complete online assessment forms to see whether you qualify for a student visa or work visa or permanent residency. Find out all the documents that will be required for getting a visa.

If your case is straightforward, you may not need an immigration lawyer who are very expensive to hire. The money saved can be very useful during the initial stages of settlement.

Of course, you may get overwhelmed by the immigration documentation, processes and the uncertainty involved in your visa application being processed. This can be very stressful and you may want to hire a competent immigration attorney.

Here are a few tips that will help you find a good immigration lawyer, whether you are in the US (Miami, Atlanta, California), Canada, India, New Zealand or Australia.

1. References: Ask your friends and family who may have used an immigration consultant/attorney. You will be surprised to know how many people would have stories to share about their immigration lawyer.

2. If this does not help, then look up the yellow pages and contact a few immigration attorneys near you. Ask them for references, and speak to their past client to know what their experience. Ask a few immigration lawyers about their experience with your type of case. Find out how many years they have been helping immigrants.

3. Make sure the attorney is registered with a relevant industry body or legal establishment. Most countries require immigration lawyers to be registered with a government governing body. Speak to the immigration department of the country you want to migrate to. They can guide you about the registration and legislative requirements of that country for immigration attorneys. They may even be able to point you to the official website of the governing body.

4. Money: Find out the fees of a few immigration lawyers. Remember, just because an immigration agent is more expensive, does not mean he is good. At the same time, the cheapest immigration agent may not have the expertise for your work. But you must shop around. Find out the terms of payment too.

5. Attitude: Find out the working style of the immigration attorney. It is important that you feel comfortable working with this agent.

6. Finally, find out what the immigration lawyer is promising. If he sounds too good to be true, he probably is. Don’t get carried away by unrealistic promises – whether it is about the success of your case or the time frames. In fact, that is a dead give away of a fraudulent immigration lawyer. As they say in the law circle, Buyer Beware.

Travel

Place highlight: Sarawak

CULTURE

If there a place with Indians and Chinese co-habit with cultural interaction, it is Sarawak.

In fact, if there is one  feature that sets Sarawak apart from many of Malaysia’s other states, is its cultural diversity. Sarawak has a population of 2.5 million, with 27 distinct indigenous ethnic groups that speak at least 45 different languages and dialects.

Except the Chinese and the Indians,  all of the 27 ethnic groups are indigenous. The region is occupied by Chinese and Malays and a growing number of indigenous people that have migrated from rural areas.

Half of Sarawak’s population live in rural areas; the other half live in towns.

A strong Sarawak cannot exist unless all races unite, says Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud. “We cannot build our State and fulfill our aspirations without working together.”

TOURISM

Such cultural diversit makes Sarawak one of the most popular tourist destinations in Southeast Asia. A variety of colorful festivals, rituals and practices attract tourists all year around.

Tucked away on the foothills of legendary Mount Santubong, 35 km from Kuching, is Sarawak’s fascinating cultural showcase, the “Sarawak Cultural Village” which is also the venue for the internationally renowned Rainforest World Music Festival.

This living museum depicts the heritage of Sarawak’s major racial groups and portrays their respective lifestyles amidst 14 acres of tropical vegetation and attracts thousands of visitors a year.

EMPLOYMENT AND BUSINESS

The state’s strong focus on development has helped to build a progressive community that has a vibrant ethnic identity among its people, no matter what their origins or religious beliefs are.

The state is creating employment and business opportunities for its people, including for the indigenous communities in those  rural areas.

The region is putting together many industrial and commercial projects in the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) development area.

SCORE, one of five regional development corridors throughout Malaysia, will transform Sarawak into a developed state by 2020. Focussing on five major growth nodes – Tanjung Manis, Samalaju, Mukah, Baram and Tunoh – SCORE will develop 10 key industries including hydropower, heavy industry and tourism. Baram, currently a rural and underdeveloped area, will benefit from a new hydro dam.

As a result, the district will attract a wide range of industries such as palm oil, pulp and paper and timber which will provide job opportunities for the indigenous people living there and ensure that Baram is not excluded from mainstream development.

THE ABORIGINALS

The Ibans, members of a major ethnic group in Sarawak, were once the legendary warriors of Borneo; the most feared of the headhunting tribes. These days, they have adopted a peaceful agrarian lifestyle.

There are also the Bidayuhs (land inhabitants), known as the “Land Dayaks”; the Melanau fishermen of Central Sarawak, and the multitude of upriver tribes who collectively form the Orang Ulu. The Penans are the guardians of the rainforest and although most of them have now formed permanent settlements, a negligible number of Penans still live in nomadic communities.

Travel

How safe is drinking water in India?

Safe drinking water is a concern for travelers to India, including for Indians visiting India who prefer bottled water or distilled water in India.

Contaminated water can cause a range of diseases, including diarrhoea, and spoil your well-planned trip. It can also result in hospitalisation and put unnecessary strain on your finances.

Here are some tips to ensure that the water you are drinking in India is safe for drinking.

  • Avoid tap water. Always drink mineral water or bottled water. Make sure the seal on the distilled water bottle is not broken. Also, buy bottled water from a reliable source.
  • This is because there are rogue vendors who refill used mineral water bottles with tap water and sell them. Also check the product expiry date on the bottle.
  • Avoid buying food from street vendors.
  • Avoid ice cubes in the drinks.

Check the seal of the water bottle before buying it.

While water purifiers are common in most Indian places, and mineral water is easily available, there may be places where you don’t have access to distilled water. In such cases, drink boiled water. Boiling water kills bacteria, parasites, and virus mostly responsible for diarrhea.

Boil water at least for a minute. Let it cool naturally. Do not add ice. If you are at a hill station at higher altitudes, then let the water boil for five minutes.

If it is not possible to boil water, it is then important to know some water treatment or water purification methods, while you are in a country where water pollution is common.

Here are some common water purification methods you can use while in India.

Iodine is the best way to purify water. Some common iodine products available in the pharmacies are Globaline, Potable-Aqua, or Coghlan’s.

However, iodine tablets or liquid iodine may not kill the parasite that causes diarrhoea (cryptosporidium) and other coccidian parasites like cyclospora and toxoplasma. Also, if the water is below 5 degree celsius, try to warm it before putting iodine in it.

Iodine takes about 30 minutes to work in normal temperature. In colder weather, allow water to stand for longer time.

Some tourists also use crystalline iodine. They are durable and you can make your saturated solution from the crystals.

You can then use the solution to purify water. WARNING: Crystalline iodine (4 to 8 grams) can be fatal if swallowed in a single dose.

You can also use water bottle filter. However, some water filters may not remove all the viruses. For example, some water filters have pore sizes of 0.1 to 1 micrometer and can remove bacteria that causes diarrhea.

However, viruses are smaller than 0.1 micron and will not be removed by these filters. To kill these viruses, add iodine to the water once it has been filtered.

Chlorine is also effective for water purification, but it is not as effective as iodine.

Also read: Don’t forget essential vaccinations before traveling to India

Health Travel

Top 7 Health Concerns For Travel to India

Have you thought of immunizations and vaccinations for travel to India? Tourism in India is on the rise. The Incredible India campaign is getting everyone – foreigners and Indians alike – excited about visiting many tourist places in India.

However, travellers should be aware of health issues and concerns in India. Tourists can be prone to many illnesses in India including diarrhoea, malaria, yellow fever, dengue fever, hepatitis and typhoid. Tetanus injections and shots for travel to India are very important before travelling to India.

Travellers must understand how vaccinations work, whether travelling to the capital city of New Delhi, lush green Kerala, seaside Goa, or the dessert of Jaipur.
India presents a high risk of food-borne, water-borne and other infectious diseases such. “We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before travelling,” says a travel advice by the Australian government.

“We recommend you boil all drinking water or drink bottled water; avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.”

Here are the top five vaccinations or shots you need for Travel to India:

Malaria: Malaria is a common illness in most cities of India. Malaria is caused by mosquitos breeding in stagnant water. The risk is especially high during the  monsoon months of May to November.  There are other mosquito-borne diseases such as chikungunya fever and filariasis. Malaria is a bacterial disease and effective shot is prophylaxis. Check with your doctor. Even with vaccination, travellers should protect themselves from mosquitos. A common mosquito repellent in India is Odomos. Alternatively, avoid mosquito-prone areas. Wear loose, light-coloured clothes.

Typhoid: This is a bacterial disease transmitted through water or food. There’s oral or needle vaccination available. It can be treated with antibiotics.Hepatitis A and B: This is a virus and it affects the liver. Hepatitis B is transmitted through blood and hepatitis A through contaminated water and food. Fortunately there is vaccination available for both Hepatitis A and B with one shot.

Diarrhea: This is very common among foreign travellers, and is often described informally as Delhi belly. Mostly contaminated water or food causes diarrhea. It can also be caused by spicy Indian food. Make sure you have oral rehydration salts with you, or you can buy them from a local chemist. A common brand of oral rehydration is Electrol, or ask a doctor. You can also take anti-diarrhea medicine like Immodium. Buy your drinking water bottle from a good shop and check that the seal on the bottle is not broken. Eat freshly cooked food. Avoid ice cubes.

Dengue fever: There is seasonal outbreak of dengue fever in New Delhi and other parts of the country. Unfortunately there’s no effective vaccination available because dengue is a virus. Avoidance is the best cure. Use a mosquito repellent with DEET.

Japanese encephalitis: This is a mosquito-borne disease and its most reported cases are found in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. Many countries have vaccinations for Japanese encephalitis. Check with your GP.

Tetanus: Tetanus is also a bacterial illness transmitted through animal faeces. Though less common, tetanus very uncomfortable.  Travellers should immunize with vaccination.

Avian influenza: The risk of avian influenza is high for long-term travellers, not so much for brief visitors. It is important to take influenza antiviral medicine under medical supervision.

Many foreigners and Indians also visit India for medical tourism, which is a form of visit with the intention of undergoing medical treatment in India which is mostly cheaper. Travellers must do their research before receiving treatment from a medical facility in India. While the country has some of the best medical and hospital facilities, there are many medical treatment providers which offer very poor quality treatment.

If the treatment results in health complications in India, the cost of revacuation can be very high. “Medical evacuation costs could total in excess of AU$300,000 depending on circumstances,” says the Australian government website.
Also, if a traveller develops adverse symptoms on return to their home country, they have little recourse against the overseas treatment provider.

This advice is for information and should not be used in place of medical advice. Please consult your doctor.