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Far away from the mundane

Wednesday, 09 August 2017

Nestled amidst sprawling tea estates surrounded by majestic mountains and pristine valleys, Munnar is an idyllic destination for those wishing a perfect getaway from the hubbub and mundane urban life.

Situated in Idukki district of Kerala in India, Munnar is at an altitude of 6000 ft. Derived from Tamil words, “muunu” (meaning three) and “aaru” (meaning river), Munnar is at the intersection of three rivers namely Mudhirapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundali.

Lush green and beautifully manicured tea estates define the landscape of this hill station which served as the summer resort for the erstwhile British rulers. The mist gently enveloping the hills and the humble silver oaks dancing to the tunes of wind are a sight to behold.

Home to the world’s highest grown tea plantation, Kolukkumalai tea estate is a must visit hill top. The factory built in the 1930s presents some of the old time tested methods of tea processing. The guided tour provides in depth understanding of the entire tea processing stages from withering to rolling, oxidation, drying, fibre extraction and grading. Tea connoiseurs can try fresh and flavourful tea at the quaint tea outlet attached to the building.

Majestic Mountains

Among other attractions around Munnar are:

Mattupetty Dam – Located 13 kms away from Munnar, the dam is built between beautiful hill ranges. Elephants are said to frequent this place. The water looks so still that you can see the reflection of lovely tea gardens. You could row a boat or simply sit by the lakeside and enjoy the serene ambience.

Tea Museum – The museum showcases the collection of the Colonial era. Besides, the place also provides insight into the art of tea processing.

Attukad waterfalls – Located 9 kms away from Munnar, many streams emerge from this cascading beauty.

Eravikulam National Park – The park is home to an endangered species of Nilgiri Tahr, a rare mountain goat. A variety of rare trees and shrubs can also be found here.

Spice garden tour – There are few spice gardens in and around Munnar, open to visitors. The tranquil place attracts visitors with a treasure of an amazing range of spice plantations ranging from cardamom to cinnamon, pepper and cloves. A tour around the garden helps visitors understand how these spices are grown. It is here that we discovered that bay leaf and cinnamon are derived from the same tree. While cinnamon is derived from the bark, the leaves are bay leaves.

Get soaked in serenity as you take a stroll, stop by the lone chayyakada (tea shack) to sip some hot tea and laze by the lakeside or simply watch the sun shine drizzle into the trees or moon light illuminate the hills. The captivating sights of the enchanting hill station can be extremely soothing to the sore eyes bored of skyscrapers and polluted roads. Every moment in Munnar is deeply etched in memories. We returned to the hubbub after a peaceful retreat. We are now back to the mundane but the cool crisp mountain air has recharged our body, mind and soul to get back to work and look at things with a fresh perspective.

Huan Ying to China!!!

Monday, 07 August 2017

Planning on visiting China? Then here are some cues for an eventful trip!

Beijing

Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China was built to keep out invaders and to retain inhabitants. This enormous wall spans across five provinces from the Shanhaiguan Pass in the east, to Jiayuguan Pass in the west and looks like a gigantic dragon across deserts, grasslands and mountains.

Summer Palace

As the name suggests, this is a fancy retreat which the emperors once used and now is treated as a resort for tourism purpose. Take a nice long walk and spend time here in this place which is spread across 290 acres; this park palace is surrounded by the Kumi Lake and is a feast to the eyes of any tourist.

China Travel Tips

Xi’an

Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses

A place where there is an army of 8000 soldiers, no not real soldiers but just sculptures. A form of funerary art buried with the emperor to protect him in his afterlife.

Huashan (Flower Mountain)

Hua means brilliant, or flowery and shan means mountain and is one of the five sacred Taoist mountains in China that is well-known for its sheer cliffs and plunging ravines. Huashan boasts a lot of religious sites: Taoist temples, pavilions, and engraved scriptures are scattered over the mountain.

Shanghai

Yuyuan Garden

Yuyuan Garden (Happy Garden) s believed to have been built in the Ming Dynasty, more than 400 years ago. With an exquisite layout, beautiful scenery and the artistic style of the garden architecture I will definitely enjoy this place and hope to click a lot of pictures!

Jade Buddha Temple

The Jade Buddhas, white in colour were brought from Burma in the nineteenth century. One is seated while the other is in the recumbent position of Sakyamuni symbolizing the Buddha's attainment of enlightenment or nirvana. The temple was built between 1911 and 1918 in the style of the Song Dynasty (960-1279), with symmetrical halls and courtyards, upturned eaves, and bright yellow walls.

The Bund of Shanghai

The Bund is one of the most widely recognized architectural symbols of Shanghai. A 771-metre long retaining wall for flood control was built in the bund, paved with colourful tiles and dotted with flower beds and European-style garden lights. Atop the wall is a spacious walkway for sightseeing.

5 Chocolaty treats you must try!

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Are you a chocoholic? Do you believe that a chocolate a day keeps bad mood swings away?

Then it’s high time you go on your chocolate trip. Not able to understand what we are talking about? Let’s give you the needed context.

Delicious chocolate, rightly known as “Food of the Gods” has undergone considerable evolution ever since it was discovered by the Aztecs in Mesoamerica. Believed to have aphrodisiac and medicinal powers, it was originally served as a bitter, frothy drink. Later on after European invasion, sugar was added and served as a delicacy only to the royals and wealthy. Slowly it started infiltrating down to the masses around the world.

Now this luscious chocolate has further evolved with several permutations and combinations of ingredients. As a chocolate lover you have the right and are perhaps even entitled to taste them all. So here’s our list of chocolate treats you must try from around the world.

Italian hot chocolate

Don’t be tempted to belittle this steamy chocolate treat, as just another drink. You’ll find no other hot chocolate drink to be as rich, creamy and heavenly as the Italian cioccolata calda, as it is popularly called. Get going to Italy and where you can, never say no to this sinful chocolate decadence!

Japanese chocolate ice-cream mochi

No, this is not just a regular chocolate ice-cream! On the other hand, this exotic Japanese treat is yummy chocolate ice-cream wrapped inside colourful rice dough called the mochi. This delectable combination of textures and flavors that complement each other so well, will leave you craving for more. These striking colourful rice ice-cream balls are something you must try atleast once in Japan.

Chocolate Treats

Spanish chocolaty fries

The most addictive fries of the chocolate world, these churros con chocolate is the ultimate sweet tooth buddy. Made of crispy fried pastries, covered with cinnamon and sugar, these fries can be had, sloshed with lip-smacking chocolate sauce. To grab some of these best crunchy chocolate fries, you’ll have to visit Spain. It’ll be a trip and taste that you’ll never forget!

French chocolate croissant

How can we talk about chocolates without mentioning France? Also known as pan au chocolat, this famous chocolate croissant is the ultimate extravagance. Though there are several other chocolaty treats available, nothing matches the self-indulgence this light, fluffy chocolate pastry offers. Customisable with your favourite chocolate filling, this is a must try when you get to France.

German coconut chocolate cake

There is nothing in this world that can beat this coconut chocolate cake. As a chocoholic you will stand a testimony to this, once you find this delicious cake melting in your mouth. Rich and dense, this cake is super exotic with chocolate, pecan and coconut frosting!

So get ready to try the above mentioned chocolate treats from around the world. Don’t let yourself be carried away with forex and payment hassles. Carry your international prepaid travel card, so that you can travel in peace and indulge yourself with mouth- watering chocolate treats without any hindrance!

There is nothing a dollop of chocolate cannot fix!

How to use your Gocash Cards?

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

gocash user profile 03

When was the last time you had a tummy yanking laugh? Can’t remember? Then it means that you haven’t met your friends in the recent past.

Putting food on the table for your family and paying off debts are not the only reason for living. Infact to be more productive in achieving your personal goals and carrying on the above mentioned duties, you need to have fun. Yes, that’s a scientifically proven fact!

Life is fun when you have your friends around. With the International day of friendship around the corner, ensure you meet up with your besties. Here are our ideas on fun ways in which you can spend time with your friends!

Get out of town

Plan an out-of-town rendezvous with your best friends. Choose natural locales such as hill stations, beach holidays or desert safaris, so that you and your friends can go for a fond nostalgic trip down the memory lane, without any disturbance. Book your tickets well in advance, so that you can avoid last minute disappointments.

Pamper yourself

If you don’t want to get out of town, you can have fun indulging yourselves at a spa or even going on a shopping spree. There are spas in Dubai such as the Heart and Soul, which offer multisensory experiences, with a masseuse giving a warm soothing massage while the harp player plays her music in tandem with the kneading.

Things to do on Friendship day

 

Go on a coffee tour

Can you resist a steaming cup of hot, dark, bitter-sweet coffee? Then you have to go on this aromatic coffee bean journey with your besties at the coffee museum in Al Fahidi. Irrespective of you being a coffee aficionado or not, you’ll fall in love with the stories behind the origin of coffee, ancient grinders, pots and roasters. Don’t miss trying out the authentic Ethiopian and Turkish coffee prepared and served by people in traditional costumes!

Explore underwater marine life

Boasting of over 33,000 aquatic species and the largest collection of sand tiger sharks, the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo is an exciting way to spend time with your friends. Located at The Dubai Mall, this place takes you through a 48-metre walk-through tunnel exploring various species of marine wildlife. Remember to not miss taking the glass-bottom boat tour, getting wet in a snorkelling cage and to go swimming with the sharks. It would be the most memorable experience indeed!

Get adventurous

Are you an adventure trip lover? Then head to Absolute Adventures in Dubai. They can provide you customised adventure tour packages both locally and internationally. You can also sign up for the exciting 24hr Desert Survival Course in association with the Bear Grylls survival academy. You’ll learn things such as how to light a fire, find and purify water, deal with snakes and scorpions in the wild, etc.

To continue having fun times with your friends and still make full use of the time, sign up for courses on fitness, pottery, yoga, archery or even hula hooping. Use a prepaid travel card to handle all expenses and payments without worrying about cash!

A fit body and an open mind are any traveller’s best companions. Especially if you are travelling for business, you need a sharper mind and a fitter body to make sound decisions. You cannot afford to suffer from low energy, jetlag, bloating, or stress, which are all productivity killers.

Want to increase the sharpness of your brain, be fit and more productive? Then follow the tips below.

Be active

Passing out, throwing up or facing trouble with coordination and memory? Yes these are some of the side effects of jetlag, that you’ll not want when you are headed to your business meeting. Surprisingly simple exercises help get rid of these symptoms. Start by brisk walking in the airport and taking the stair wherever possible before boarding the flight. Even inside the flight try to stay active by walking around, doing leg stretches and glute sqeezes, so that you keep your blood flowing and avoid cramps. In your hotel room, you can try yoga, mild squats, pushups and planks. These exercises will sharpen your mind and increase energy. However remember to listen to your body, and give it the needed rest.

Stay hydrated

Even the slightest dehydration can play irate games with your mood, energy, and reasoning ability. So keep sipping water throughout the day. Avoid too much of caffeinated, carbonated or alcoholic drinks. Stick to water and fresh juices wherever possible. Drinking plenty of water can also help relieve jetlag.

Tips for staying physically fit during business travel

Don’t overwork

As you are travelling and working across time zones, don’t be tempted to stay up late for team calls from your home office. This will get you overworked and too tired. Inform your team and boss about your available time, so that the status meeting or calls are scheduled accordingly. Go back to bed as early as possible, so that you are ready and fully rejuvenated to take on the next day. Get as much sleep as possible, as your body and mind are already in disarray about the time zone changes. Don’t stretch or tax them further by staying up late.

Enjoy yourself

We all know the adage about how all work and no play made jack a dull boy. So ensure you schedule some time off and experience the culture and landscape of the neighbourhood. If you are keen about visiting sightseeing spots that interest you, do your research before setting out, so that you don’t end up disappointed and stressed. Don’t miss out on enjoying the culinary delights of the area. Most importantly don’t forget to get a souvenir to delight your loved ones back home.

To make the most of your business trip, you need to be free from money, shopping, payment and forex worries. Hence remember to carry an international travel card for a hassle-free money management during your business travel.

Meet your endangered friends!

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Brace up for a startling fact! 

Did you know that earth is on its way towards sixth mass extinction?  We’ve already lost 58% of the vertebrates. Just like how the dinosaurs were wiped out, our world with all its inhabitants too would be completely gone in a few decades. Habitat loss, mass exploitation and degradation are considered to be the few top reasons behind this apocalypse. The first few signs are the extinction of species such as tigers, gorillas, pandas, orangutans, elephants, rhinos, whales etc. So what can we do to stop or rather slow down the annihilation? 

We should preserve, nurture and encourage natural habitats. As responsible world citizens we must avoid and discourage places such as the zoo where animals are raised in captivity.  Ensure you visit endangered species in their own home turf, to show your solidarity towards preserving them.

To kick start your engine, here’s a list of few endangered species and where you can visit them.

Royal Bengal Tiger

Elusive and hard to track, witnessing a royal bengal tiger is a great wildlife experience by itself. Though their numbers have fallen rapidly by 95%, we can still spot them in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan. The mixed deciduous forest, thickets of bamboo and expansive grasslands in Bandhavgarh National Park and Kanha National Park, India are one of the best spots in the world to see the tiger in all its glory. 

Royal Bengal Tiger

Bornean Orangutan

Adorning the forests of Sumatra and Borneo, these auburn-haired orangutans are critically endangered.  They are infact our closest cousins who share around 97% of our human DNA. Having lost over 55% of them, the best place to visit these endearing, intelligent, and puckish creatures is the Tanjung Puting National Park located in the central west of Kalimantan, Indonesia.

Bornean Orangutan

Giant Panda

One of the world's rarest mammals, the giant panda is an exquisite sight in black and white. Living among misty dense bamboo forests along the rainy mountains of south western China, these shy creatures were classified under the critically endangered category. But now due to the consistent efforts of the patrons and Governments, their population has risen by around 17%. The best place to visit these beautiful creatures is at the Chengdu Giant Panda Base and Dujiangyan Panda Valley in China.

Giant Panda

One Horned Rhino

The largest of the rhinoceros species, the one horned rhino is one the most endangered animals in the world. Constant poaching and habitat loss has contributed to the loss of these solitary creatures. Found across forest, grassland and desert habitats of the Indian subcontinent, the armour-plated rhinos were largely spotted in Nepal, India, Burma and Bangladesh years ago. Then the population suddenly declined close to extinction.  However due to rigorous conservation efforts by the Governments and NGOs, the rhino populations is steadily reviving. The best place to visit these magnificent animals is at the Manas National Park and Kaziranga National Park in India.

One Horned Rhino

Explore these exotic endangered species in peace without worrying about carrying cash and getting forex. Just carry a prepaid multicurrency travel card for hassle-free travel.

 

Brace up for a startling fact!

Did you know that earth is on its way towards sixth mass extinction?  We’ve already lost 58% of the vertebrates. Just like how the dinosaurs were wiped out, our world with all its inhabitants too would be completely gone in a few decades. Habitat loss, mass exploitation and degradation are considered to be the few top reasons behind this apocalypse. The first few signs are the extinction of species such as tigers, gorillas, pandas, orangutans, elephants, rhinos, whales etc. So what can we do to stop or rather slow down the annihilation?

We should preserve, nurture and encourage natural habitats. As responsible world citizens we must avoid and discourage places such as the zoo where animals are raised in captivity.  Ensure you visit endangered species in their own home turf, to show your solidarity towards preserving them.

To kick start your engine, here’s a list of few endangered species and where you can visit them.

Royal Bengal Tiger

Elusive and hard to track, witnessing a royal bengal tiger is a great wildlife experience by itself. Though their numbers have fallen rapidly by 95%, we can still spot them in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan. The mixed deciduous forest, thickets of bamboo and expansive grasslands in Bandhavgarh National Park and Kanha National Park, India are one of the best spots in the world to see the tiger in all its glory.

Bornean Orangutan

Adorning the forests of Sumatra and Borneo, these auburn-haired orangutans are critically endangered.  They are infact our closest cousins who share around 97% of our human DNA. Having lost over 55% of them, the best place to visit these endearing, intelligent, and puckish creatures is the Tanjung Puting National Park located in the central west of Kalimantan, Indonesia.

Giant Panda

One of the world's rarest mammals, the giant panda is an exquisite sight in black and white. Living among misty dense bamboo forests along the rainy mountains of south western China, these shy creatures were classified under the critically endangered category. But now due to the consistent efforts of the patrons and Governments, their population has risen by around 17%. The best place to visit these beautiful creatures is at the Chengdu Giant Panda Base and Dujiangyan Panda Valley in China.

One Horned Rhino

The largest of the rhinoceros species, the one horned rhino is one the most endangered animals in the world. Constant poaching and habitat loss has contributed to the loss of these solitary creatures. Found across forest, grassland and desert habitats of the Indian subcontinent, the armour-plated rhinos were largely spotted in Nepal, India, Burma and Bangladesh years ago. Then the population suddenly declined close to extinction.  However due to rigorous conservation efforts by the Governments and NGOs, the rhino populations is steadily reviving. The best place to visit these magnificent animals is at the Manas National Park and Kaziranga National Park in India.

Explore these exotic endangered species in peace without worrying about carrying cash and getting forex. Just carry a prepaid multicurrency travel card for hassle-free travel.

gocash info 04 01

Top 3 waterfalls you must visit

Thursday, 06 July 2017

Awed by the grandeur and power of free falling water? Gently kissing the gliding clouds and rainbow, the waterfall pelts out a formidable thunderous roar, which is a force to reckon with. Cool, and crystal clear, every waterfall has a mesmerising effect that refreshes the mind and soothes the soul. 

Want to experience the wild, free falling waters? Then visit these 3 amazing waterfalls from around the world.

Niagara Falls

Stretching across the US-Canadian border, the Niagara Falls (167 feet) never fails to awe its onlookers. Consisting of three major falls viz, Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls, this overwhelming flow of water is a great source of inspiration to explorers, travellers, artists, authors, filmmakers, etc! Apart from just viewing the overpowering water source, there are so many other activities you can do around the Niagara river. You can cruise through the basin of Niagara Falls State Park’s Horseshoe Falls by taking the Maid of the Mist boat tour or engage yourself with interactive exhibits at Niagara Gorge Discovery Centre and explore the exotic flora and fauna at the hiking trails.

Niagara falls1

Victoria Falls

The greatest curtain of falling water in the world, the Victoria Falls is an awe-inspiring natural wonder. Located on the Zambezi River, and creating a watery smoke that thunders, this largest water fall in the world extends for more than a kilometre and a height of more than hundred meters. Known as the adventure centre of Southern Africa, there’s no dearth of thrilling activities to do around Victoria Falls. Don’t miss out on the elephant back safaris, lion walks, bush walks, mountain biking, white water rafting and fly fishing.

Victoria falls1

Iguazu Falls

Born to a volcanic eruption and tectonic plate movement, Iguazu Falls is celebrated as the most spectacular waterfall in the world.  Spanning between Argentina and Brazil, the U shaped Devil’s Throat drops more than 80 meters into a milky abyss of mist. A trip into the surrounding subtropical rainforest will let you catch a glimpse of tapirs, giant anteaters, howler monkeys, ocelots, jaguars and caymans. If you are a plant lover you can relish the 2,000 species of vascular plants. The large clouds of water spray incessantly, thereby soaking several river islands and the riverine forests nearby. This creates an extremely humid micro-climate favouring lush and dense sub-tropical vegetation that harbours a diverse fauna.

Iguazu falls 1

Visiting wild and free waters is such a liberating experience.  So don’t carry wads of cash and waste your precious time on checking foreign exchange and worrying about the safety of your money. Carry a travel card for hassle free shopping and travel.

Go experience the raw power of gravity!

 

Awed by the grandeur and power of free falling water? Gently kissing the gliding clouds and rainbow, the waterfall pelts out a formidable thunderous roar, which is a force to reckon with. Cool, and crystal clear, every waterfall has a mesmerising effect that refreshes the mind and soothes the soul.

Want to experience the wild, free falling waters? Then visit these 3 amazing waterfalls from around the world.

Niagara Falls

Stretching across the US-Canadian border, the Niagara Falls (167 feet) never fails to awe its onlookers. Consisting of three major falls viz, Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls, this overwhelming flow of water is a great source of inspiration to explorers, travellers, artists, authors, filmmakers, etc! Apart from just viewing the overpowering water source, there are so many other activities you can do around the Niagara river. You can cruise through the basin of Niagara Falls State Park’s Horseshoe Falls by taking the Maid of the Mist boat tour or engage yourself with interactive exhibits at Niagara Gorge Discovery Centre and explore the exotic flora and fauna at the hiking trails.

Victoria Falls

The greatest curtain of falling water in the world, the Victoria Falls is an awe-inspiring natural wonder. Located on the Zambezi River, and creating a watery smoke that thunders, this largest water fall in the world extends for more than a kilometre and a height of more than hundred meters. Known as the adventure centre of Southern Africa, there’s no dearth of thrilling activities to do around Victoria Falls. Don’t miss out on the elephant back safaris, lion walks, bush walks, mountain biking, white water rafting and fly fishing.

Iguazu Falls

Born to a volcanic eruption and tectonic plate movement, Iguazu Falls is celebrated as the most spectacular waterfall in the world.  Spanning between Argentina and Brazil, the U shaped Devil’s Throat drops more than 80 meters into a milky abyss of mist. A trip into the surrounding subtropical rainforest will let you catch a glimpse of tapirs, giant anteaters, howler monkeys, ocelots, jaguars and caymans. If you are a plant lover you can relish the 2,000 species of vascular plants. The large clouds of water spray incessantly, thereby soaking several river islands and the riverine forests nearby. This creates an extremely humid micro-climate favouring lush and dense sub-tropical vegetation that harbours a diverse fauna.

Visiting wild and free waters is such a liberating experience.  So don’t carry wads of cash and waste your precious time on checking foreign exchange and worrying about the safety of your money. Carry a travel card for hassle free shopping and travel.

Go experience the raw power of gravity!

Heard about the counter-productive hiring reality happening at workplaces?

Managers hire team members who are very much identical to them in most aspects. This is a complacent productivity disaster in the making. What they fail to understand when they choose their work twin, is that a team’s strength lies in the differences and not in similarities!

Mckinsey research finding goes on to prove this fact. According to a detailed study in 2015, organisations that were high on ethnic and gender diversity levels, were more likely to outperform their homogenous counterparts by 35% and 15% respectively!

Curious to know how diversity improves productivity? Here are the reasons.

Brings in wider experience

Today diversity in human capital is one of the most competitive differentiators in any team or business. It implies a bigger palate of varied experience, which could cumulatively increase the collective productivity of any team.

Creates constructive conflicts

Winning teams usually comprise of a mixture of men, women, introverts, extroverts, dreamers, analytical thinkers, etc. These diverse personalities lend their ideas which might be contradictory. Constructively discussing the pros and cons of these contradictions usually result in ground breaking ideas and action plans.

Diversity at Work place

Cultivates attitude change

Employee attitude greatly affects the performance of any team. Having a diverse team, helps mould the attitude of people in an optimal way. It helps people be open minded, free from prejudice and more understanding towards other people’s perspectives, beliefs and sensitivities. This broadens the team’s thinking capabilities, thus leading to better performance.

Forges productive collaborations

Team members should never function in isolation. The diverse skills and expertise of the team members will be put to best use only when they collaborate. The team members learn to communicate freely,  understand emotional intelligence, share ideas, knowledge and also be flexible and more receptive to comments, only when they collaborate.

Increases customer satisfaction

In retail businesses, when customer’s see that team members are from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities, they are able to relate better with the company. This helps them develop a comfort zone with the brand. They express their feelings or grievances to executives they share a commonality with. This ensures more personalised service and superior customer satisfaction. Naturally the performance of the company goes up.

Nurtures goodwill ambassadors

When employees from diverse backgrounds, realise the value addition their perspective brings to the table, they begin appreciating their workplace for fostering diversity.  They become goodwill ambassadors to the company, never badmouthing their employers. This results in increased employee retention and decreased absenteeism.

Now that you know the benefits of having a diverse team, go ahead and revisit your team strategy!

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