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Sunday, May 29, 2016

ಟೆಕ್ ಬುಕ್ - ಟಿ ಜಿ ಶ್ರೀನಿಧಿ (Techbook by Srinidhi TG)

This post is a quick review of a Kannada book named TechBook by Srinidhi TG (Not me, another very popular Srinidhi based in BLR) and his decade old tech website, ejnana.com. Non Kannada readers may check out other book reviews here or Srilanka or Australia posts here. - Shrinidhi Hande

ಇದು ಟೆಕ್ಸ್ಟ್ ಬುಕ್ ಅಲ್ಲ, ಟೆಕ್ ಬುಕ್ - ಟಿ  ಜಿ ಶ್ರೀನಿಧಿ 

ಟೆಕ್ ಬುಕ್ ಟಿ ಜಿ ಶ್ರೀನಿಧಿಯವರ ಹೊಸ ಪುಸ್ತಕ. ಇತ್ತೀಚಿಗೆ ಪ್ರಚಾರಕ್ಕೆ ಬಂದಿರುವ ವಿವಿಧ ತಂತ್ರಜ್ಞಾನ ಸಂಬಂಧಿ ವಿಷಯಗಳನ್ನು ಇದರಲ್ಲಿ ಸುಲಭವಾಗಿ ವಿವರಿಸಲಾಗಿದೆ . 3D ಪ್ರಿಂಟಿಗ್ , ಬಿಗ್ ಡಾಟಾ, ಮಿಥ್ಯಾ ವಾಸ್ತವ, ಇ-ಕಸ, ಕ್ರಿಕೆಟ್ ನಲ್ಲಿ ತಂತ್ರಜ್ಞಾನ, ಮಾನವಯಂತ್ರಗಳು, ಡ್ರೋನ್  ಹೀಗೆ ಹಲವು ವಿಷಯಗಳನ್ನು ಸರಳವಾಗಿ, ಸುಂದರವಾಗಿ ವಿವರಿಸಿ ಕೊಡಲಾಗಿದೆ. ಚಿಕ್ಕ ಮಕ್ಕಳಿಗೆ, ಮನೆಯ ಹಿರಿಯರಿಗೆ ತಾಂತ್ರಿಕ ವಿಷಯಗಳನ್ನು ಸುಲಲಿತವಾಗಿ ಅರ್ಥೈಸಲು ಈ ಪುಸ್ತಕ ಸಹಕಾರಿ.

ಮೊಬೈಲುಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಚಿನ್ನ ಬಳಸಿರುವುದು ಗೊತ್ತಿತ್ತು, ಆದರೆ ಎಷ್ಟು ಇರತ್ತೆ ಅಂತ ಗೊತ್ತಿರಲಿಲ್ಲ. ಒಂದೆರಡು ಗ್ರಾಂ ಸಿಕ್ಕರೂ ಸಾವಿರಾರು ರು ಆಗುತ್ತೆ ಅಂದುಕೊಂಡು ಒಂದೆರಡು ಹಳೆಯ ಮೊಬೈಲುಗಳನ್ನು ತೆಗೆದಿಟ್ಟಿದ್ದೆ. ಟೆಕ್ ಬುಕ್ ಓದಿದ ಮೇಲೆ ಅವನ್ನು ಇಟ್ಟುಕೊಳ್ಳಲೂ ಆಗದೆ (ಒಂದೆರಡು ಹಳೆ ಮೊಬೈಲಿಂದ ಚಿನ್ನ ತೆಗೆಯುವುದು ಆಗುವ ಹೋಗುವ ಕೆಲಸವಲ್ಲವಂತೆ ) ಎಸೆಯಲೂ ಆಗದೇ (ಇ-ಕಸ) ಕುಳಿತಿದ್ದೇನೆ. :(

ಶಿವಮೊಗ್ಗದಲ್ಲಿ ಯಾರೋ ಒಬ್ಬರು ಕೆಟ್ಟು ಹೋದ LED ದೀಪಗಳನ್ನು ಸರಿಪಡಿಸುತ್ತರ೦ತೆ. ಇ-ಕಸವನ್ನು ದುಡ್ಡುಕೊಟ್ಟು ಸಂಗ್ರಹಿಸುವ ಕೆಲವು ಸ್ಟಾರ್ಟ್-ಅಪ್ ಗಳು ಪ್ರಾರಂಭವಾಗಿದೆ [link]

ಗೋ ಪ್ರೋ ಇತ್ಯಾದಿ ಕ್ಯಾಮೆರ ಹಾಗು ನಿಸ್ತಂತು ಚಾರ್ಜಿಂಗ್ ಕುರಿತಂತೆ ಸ್ವಲ್ಪ ಬರೆಯಬಹುದಿತ್ತೆಂದು ನನ್ನ ಅನಿಸಿಕೆ. ಗೊಗಲ್ ಕ್ರೋಮ್ ಕಾಸ್ಟ್ ಬಗ್ಗೆಯೂ ಸ್ವಲ್ಪ ಹೆಚ್ಚು ಬರೆಯಬಹುದಿತ್ತೇನೊ. ಬಳಸಿದ ಚಿತ್ರಗಳ ಮೂಲ ಫೋಟೋಗ್ರಾಫರ್ ಅಥವಾ ವೆಬ್ ಸೈಟ್ ಹೆಸರು ನಮೂದಿಸಬೇಕಿತ್ತು.

Key Summary
  • Title: Tech Book
  • Author: Srinidhi TG
  • Publishers: Bharathi Prakashana, Mysore
  • Genre: Technology/Kannada
  • ISBN 13: NA
  • Pages 132
  • MRP:  Rs ೧೦೦

ಬೆಲೆ ಕೇವಲ ೧೦೦ ರೂ ಟೆಕ್ ಬುಕ್ ಖರೀದಿಸಲು ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಕ್ಲಿಕ್ಕಿಸಿ 

ಇ ಜ್ಞಾನ .com  ಕುರಿತಂತೆ :  ಏಪ್ರಿಲ್ ೨೦೦೭ರಲ್ಲಿ ಪ್ರಾರಂಭವಾದ ಇ ಜ್ಞಾನ .com ಟಿ ಜಿ ಶ್ರೀನಿಧಿ ಯವರ ತಾಣ  ತಂತ್ರಜ್ಞಾನ ಕುರಿತಾದ ಬರಹಗಳಿಂದ ಸಾಕಷ್ಟು ಜನಪ್ರಿಯವಾಗಿದೆ. ಮಾರುಕಟ್ಟೆಗೆ ಬರುವ ಹೊಸ ಹೊಸ ಮೊಬೈಲುಗಳು, ಆಪ್, ಇತರ ಉಪಕರಣಗಳ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ತಿಳಿದುಕೊಳ್ಳಲು ಯಾವುದೇ ಆಂಗ್ಲ ಭಾಷಾ ಬ್ಲಾಗುಗಳನ್ನು ಅವಲಂಬಿಸದೆ ಕನ್ನಡದಲ್ಲೇ ತಿಳಿದುಕೊಳ್ಳಲು ಇ ಜ್ಞಾನ .com ಬಹಳ ಉಪಯೋಗಿ .

ತಾವು ಬರೆಯುವುದಲ್ಲದೆ ಬರೆಯ ಬಯಸುವವರಿಗೆ ಸೂಕ್ತ ಮಾರ್ಗದರ್ಶನವೂ ಇಲ್ಲಿದೆ

ಹತ್ತನೇ ವರ್ಷಕ್ಕೆ ಕಾಲಿಟ್ಟಿರುವ ಇ ಜ್ಞಾನ .com  ಇನ್ನೂ ಹತ್ತು ಹಲವು ದಶಕಗಳ ಕಾಲ ಅವಿರತವಾಗಿ ನಡೆಯಲಿ ಎಂದು ಹಾರೈಸುತ್ತೇನೆ.

Island Game of Modern Life- Book Review

I got this book from Author months ago and the review has been long overdue. Island Game of Modern life is written by first time author Himanshu Kumar and book is a great piece of work telling story of corporate life in a unique way.
Plot: In this plot, Grand Dad who is in his deathbed, tells his grandson about how he was nearly dead in his younger days and how a game with Yamraj saved his life. Rest of the book is primarily about this Game that grand dad and his IT colleagues play with Yamraj. During the course of the game the characters build up, telling their story, life history and other interesting aspects. So there is some part of the book which is pure imagination, philosophical and some of you might find that part too artificial. But once you get over that part, rest of the plot is primarily life story of lead characters (team leader/project manager/team members of an IT firm)- their individual love interests, life struggles, point of view and so on. End of all these the final chapter takes everything to a logical conclusion and throws in some wisdom about life and its purpose.

Things that I would like to highlight:
Try to read this book in one or two sittings. Because there're many concepts, characters, their own stories and sub plots, if you stop for a week and try to resume reading later (like I did) you will have tough time connecting the dots and getting full picture, as you are likely to have forgotten what all happened till the point you read last time.

Also, in the plot, it is the story of a grand dad who was software engineer- It would have been easier to believe if grandson was to the software engineer, as this phenomenon didn't exist 50-60 years ago when grand dad was in his youth. I checked with Author to cross check this point. Someone seems odd, but I continued reading keeping that logic aside, as core story is very much relevant today.

Key Summary
  • Title: Island Game of Modern Life
  • Author: Himanshu Kumar Sah
  • Publishers: Notion Press
  • Genre: Corporate Fiction/ Philosophy 
  • ISBN 13 :978-93-86009-21-0
  • Pages  242
  • MRP:  Rs 245 (Amazon Link here + 50 Rs delivery charges apply, you may wish to wait for a sale)
Island Game of Modern Life will interest you if you enjoy reading life stories of IT people or people who chase money, fame etc without knowing real purpose of life. This book will also give lots of exercise for your brain as author introduces rules of the game- different islands, their names and purpose, rules etc. 

Note: Now you can read all my Book Reviews under one tag- Books

5 Attractions to explore in Matara, Srilanka

Matara is one of the southern most towns in Srilanka. We paid a half day visit to this town to check out what it has to offer. This post lists various attractions we visited in Matara. I do not have too much details to write about each of these, hence covering them in one post instead of separate post for each attraction.

1) Beach Temple (Puravi Duwa Temple)
This is the most interesting place in Matara, a temple located about a hundred meter away from shore on a small island, connected via a suspension bridge. The bridge makes the temple entry a lot photogenic.

Interior hall is nice place to relax and pray for a while- cool breeze from the sea on the otherside refreshes you.
 No entry fee for Puravi Duwa Temple, a donation is expected.
  Entrance and view of Matara from the island
2) Star Fort: Star fort looks great from top view, which unfortunately I don't have. It is a super small fort, the shape of a star, built to protect the then governor. Alligators were places in the canal that separated the fort from the outside world. Today it showcases some artifacts of olden times and history serving as a museum. We were told not to take photographs inside. No fixed entry fee but separate registers are maintained for locals and foreigners and we were asked to make a donation (looked like a mandatory step) and museum staff would give all subtle hint that they are expecting to be tipped.

This is an 18th century dutch fort originally called Redoute Van Eck. More details on Wikipedia
Opposite to this fort is a small temple worth a quick stop.
3) Matara Fort: Right behind the Matara bus terminal, this small fort is the size of a tennis court. Children play in the centre and a clock tower is the sole attraction here. It was built in 16th century by Portuguese. Check Wikipedia for detailed history of Matara Fort.
4) Weharahena Buddhist Temple
This temple is located at about 5 kms from Matara bus terminal. The giant Buddha statue is the main attraction. The statue is 6 stories tall. An underground temple with lots of paintings exist. If you have the time and interest to view detailed historical paintings then you must explore this temple. LKR 250 is the fixed fee for foreign tourists. Parking and chappal stand is free but a donation is expected.

 
5) Dutch Shopping Complex
Dutch Market: This nice building can be seen at an intersection as you enter Matara town. Worth a quick stopover.

 
 
Apart from this there is Matara beach park, which was practically an open space next to the beach occupied by young couples. There are few more temples in 10 km driving distance.

Also see: Nandana Tea Factory * Mirissa parrot rock

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Nandana Tea Factory visit, South Srilanka

While I was exploring places to visit around Galle, Nandana Tea factory came up. Nandana tea factory is pretty far from regular tourist towns of Srilanka. Most tourists visit tea factories which are conveniently located- in 2011 we had visited a tea factory in Nuwara Elia. Nandana is some 40kms from Galle and is not really on the top in the list of things to do, so probably most tourists don’t find it worth going all the way. As I was planning my itinerary to me it looked like instead of going directly to Matara, I can go to Hiyare Reservoir, then Nandana Tea Factory and then head down to Matara. Because everythig else was beach, I thought a short ride on the mountains will be great. I checked Nandana Tea Factory's website and it said they are open to visitors. That sealed it.

Read about Hiyare Reservoir in this post.  As we headed towards Nandana tea factory, we passed through several small tea factories- our driver kept saying that none of these are open to tourists and asked from where did we get to know about the fact that Nandana tea factory is open to tourists. I said internet and he said “I don’t know that much about internet- not many tourists come this side. 2004 was when I had come here last

Hutch internet connection died on the way. With some local help we navigated last few kms and reached Nandana. Once they confirmed that factory tour will be arranged, we were relieved

The factory visit program at Nandana Tea Factory consists 3 parts- Garden visit, factory visit and tea tasting session. Entire session lasts about 90 minutes and is totally free. On that day we were the only group and thus the tour felt very exclusive, compared to other factories that tour visitors in large groups.

Our first stop was at their kitchen, where we were shown their traditional grinding stone, kettle, raw rice and other village style life.

Next we saw the nursery, where different types of tea plant saplings are nurtured before planting outdoors. TRI stands for Tea Research Institute. It assigns specific numbers for each breed/variety of tea (Example: TRI 2043)

Next stop was at the garden- very small campus (about 4-5 acres). Staff were very informative to tell us about various plants and trees in their garden. Many medicinal plants, fruits are cared for here. We were shown how a decompose pit, a honey bee nest and many other trees/plans and their importance were explained to us.


They have a small venue made completely out of natural materials- tree trunk, mud etc. If there are any events this hut is used for the same.

After exploring the garden, we entered the tea factory. We were first shown the initial drying bed, where up to 35% moisture is taken out from the leaves. At the time of our visit they didn't have any fresh stock to process, hence this section was empty.

Next we entered the processing area through back door. Here visitors are given a white coat and hat. No other tea factory that I visited had this provision. There was no restriction to take photograph either.
We saw the huge machinery at work churning the leaves, crushing them into smaller ones and then, the leaves getting separated based on size

The final stage is special. There is a colour separator machine, which scans each tea leaf particle, identifies its colour (black, brown etc) and routes them to different boxes. Before the arrival of this machine, the separation was done with hands by experts
 
Nandana tea factory is in its 3rd generation of ownership and reportedly exports to 4-5 different countries including Russia and UK.

 Final phase was tea testing (or tasting). The most interesting part. Most tea factory visits conclude with drinking a cup of tea. But here at Nandana, we were laid out with a buffet of tea variants. Around 6 different variations and first and second extraction for each- that is 12 options. We could sample any or all of them one by one to decide which one we like the most. Then they would make a full cup tea of the variant we selected. Tea was also accompanied by biscuits, banana and jaggery- total bliss- almost eliminated need for lunch that day.

After tea tasting we went to their factory store and bought 3-4 packets of tea. Rate card is below for your reference.
Then we headed towards Matara. The visit was totally worth it. Map location below. When in South Srilanka, recommend visiting this factory.

Similar: Royal Enfield Bullet Factory visit * Nano Sanand plant visit * Moonstone factory visit *

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Scoot Airline: Fly Cheap to Singapore and Australia from Chennai, Amritsar and Jaipur!

Scoot Airline is the new entrant to India’s international budget travel market on the Asia-Australia region, competiting with Air Asia, Tiger Air and few other budget airlines dominating the region. Scoot is based out of Singapore (and owned by Singapore Airline) and has started India operations recently. Out of curiosity, I spent some time on Scoot’s website checking the fares to see if they are cheaper than the rivals. This post shares my findings. In summary I find scoot fares at par with Air Asia at best for ex-Chennai, not super cheap at this moment, but a good deal for ex-Amritsar tips. But it is good to have this option in our mind- if there is a sale you might get cheap tickets. But note that I have not personally booked tickets on this airline and haven’t flown it. This post is purely based on information I spotted on Airline’s website.
Things you should know about Scoot Airline’s ex-India flights

Cities operating from: Chennai, Amritsar (seems already operational) and Jaipur (from October)
Frequency- couple of times a week, set to be increased over time
Destinations covered from India:  Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong and few more
Note: Only select destinations are served from select origins on a given day, not  from anywhere to anywhere. Check on the site for cities you have in mind.

What are the cheapest fares you should expect on Scoot Air: (All inclusive with 20kg check-in bag and when booked well in advance. Nothing else (Seat, meals, insurance etc) selected)

Below are the cheapest fares advertised on Scoot website, but be sure to add about USD 40-60 per person round-trip for 20 kg check in baggage (in most cases you will need it, it is hard to go to Bali, Australia etc for a week with only hand baggage, unless you have family there) plus.
Chennai-Sydney (return): 36000 INR Approx (if booked 6-9 months advance)
Chennai- Bali (return: 26000 INR approx.)
Chennai- Singapore (return): 13000 INR (without check in bag or anything)
I find that rates are cheaper only for few popular destinations such as Singapore, Sydney, Bali etc. For many other less popular destinations, rates are not cheap.

FAQs
Q1: Are the scoot rates cheaper than Air Asia and Tiger Air?
A: Ex-Chennai: No. Ex-Amritsar: Yes. At this moment lowest fare I could find on Scoot website seems at par with lowest fare I have seen (n booked) on AirAsia, Tiger Air etc. But depending on any ongoing sale, your origin, destination, date etc, for some scenarios Scoot might be cheaper than competition.

Since Air Asia or any other international budget airline doesn't connect Amritsar, for those who can fly out of Amritsar it will be lot cheaper than whatever options they have today.

If you have a fixed date and destination and have to travel anyway, then on that date you might have cheaper fares on Scoot than rivals. If there is no sale or cheaper seats are sold out, Air Asia ticket might be expensive for some dates and destinations. Do check all before booking.

Q2: What all I should be aware of while booking on Scoot Airline?
  • A seat selection fee of USD 9 or so will be added per leg per person. You need to remove it manually if you wish to save these dollars
  • Similarly 20kg check in luggage and few other add-ons might be added by default- keep an eye at every step.
  • Because Scoot Uses Singapore as a hub, similar to Tigerair a transit fee (Scoot-thru) is levied mandatorily.
  • Not much Indian veg food options on menu
  • I checked on travel portals like MMT, Cleartrip to check if Scoot flights are shown. At this moment NO. May be soon this will be fixed.
  • TigerAir gives a 24 hour No-Questions-Asked cancellation option. Not sure if Scoot offers the same.
  • Air Asia offers free of cost name correction while scoot air charges for the same.
  • On board WiFi is available on most Scoot flights, obviously on purchase basis. I hope it is better than the limited Wifi (3MB, WhatsApp/Twitter only) AirAsia provides
  • Please factor possible Singapore visa expense as well. (Not required for short transits, but needed if you plan to stay. SG visa is issued usually for a shorter duration than Malaysia, which gives 1 year multiple entry visa.
I still like the AirAsia interface. Scoot and Tigerair can pickup a tip or two from Air Asia, such as
-          After selecting origin, list only those cities served from that origin
-          Currency selection option
-          Internet banking payments

Q3: In what way Scoot is better?
  1. Looks like Scoot doesn’t charge extra for credit card payment. (I went till payment page where nothing was added for credit card option, but I have not made any booking yet to be 100% sure) while other airlines charge a few k for credit card or even netbanking transaction
  2. Scoot is owned by Singapore Airlines and you will get some Krismiles when you fly scoot. (adds to your points if you are SQ frequent flyer)
  3. If you have 5+ hour connection time in Singapore, you can try Changi Airport’s Free city tour! Changi Airport is also way better (best in the world) than other transit hubs such as KLIA2
  4. While AirAsia largely operated its own fleets, some ScootAir connectivity might be served by TigerAir or SilkAir (or may be even Singapore Airline), as ScootAir focuses on long haul.
Tiger Air has discontinued its Chennai outbound flights and these will now be catered by Scoot
Bye Bye tiger air from Chennai
Summary: Having one more player gives more options and will bring down prices a bit across budget carriers, so Scoot India launch is a good move. I am based in Chennai and have flown on cheap tickets from Air Asia (to Australia already and few more lined up) and Tiger Air. Scoot is a welcome addition but their fares as of now are cheap but NOT so super cheap so super cheap that I would jump with joy and book a bunch of tickets right away. I will keep an eye on them for sure. However, for those who can fly out of Jaipur or Amritsar, Scoot is a great opportunity to fly to Australia at cheaper fares. It is going to be way cheaper than any option they had so far (next best option from Amritsar to Sydney is twice as expensive as Scoot). Also it might be worthwhile to see if Scoot retains the low price and how other carriers react.
Flyscoot.com is the official website for Scoot Airline. I wish all the success for Scoot in India- may they introduce more flights at cheaper fares...

Disclaimer: All information as observed during the preparation of this blog post on airline’s website. Pricing and other aspects of air travel are subject to change at regular intervals. Please use your discretion.

Similar: Travel Hack- Making the most of AirAsia Sale * Tiger Air experience * AirAsia WiFi experience  * 10 Precautions to take when booking cheap tickets * Comparison of 7 European Airlines *

10 Adventure activities to try around Bangalore!

Bangalore or Bengaluru as it was now know, is India’s IT Capital attracting large number of business and leisure travelers alike. The city is famous for having a bustling nightlife, with a great crowd. However, that is not the only reason travelers are seeking this beautiful city. There are several adventure activities you can try in and around Bangalore, which are fast gaining popularity.  Of course some will claim living in Bangalore itself is an adventure, given the current urban challenges the city is facing- such as traffic and garbage). If your idea of weekend adventure was to visit Nandi hills, do read this post to find out the true adventure activities you can try around Bangalore.

1 Microlight Aircraft Flying at Jakkur airfield: Jakkur, just outside Hebbal, much before Bangalore airport, has a small airstrip on which microlight flying sessions are conducted. For about INR 3000-5000 you can fly a small plane for a few minutes. Totally worth every minute and penny.
2. Sky-diving at Mysore: Sky diving is one of the most adrenaline pumping activities and you can try it at Mysore airport, just 200 kms from Bengaluru. This will set you back by INR 30000 approx for a 30-40 second free fall from 10000 ft, but it’s totally worth it. Everyone should try this once in a lifetime.
3. Cave Exploration at Antaragange, Kolar: Kolar is a town 60 kms from Bangalore and was once popular for its gold mines. If you are looking to be a modern  day Indiana Jones, looking for some lost treasure, then there are a lot of ancient caves which you can explore. It is advisable to take an  expert guide instead of venturing out on your own though.
4 Off-Road ATV Ride: There are many centres within city limits that offer an off-road driving experience on ATVs. Enjoy navigating through custom made tracks filled with mud, slush, water, rock and more.
5 Wild Life Safaris: There are at least half a dozen wildlife sanctuaries that you can explore within 200 kms from Bangalore. Bannerghatta is the closest while Bandipur, Madhumalai, Kabini, Nagarahole, K Gudi and Badhravati are within few hours driving distance. Should you wish to stay overnight, there are jungle lodges and beautiful resorts in most of them.

6. Dirt Bike sessions with Santosh CS at Kolar: For the biking enthusiast in you, a half day session at Dakar champion CS Santhosh’s Big Rock farm near Kolar is a must-try experience. Kolar is about 60 kms from Bangalore.

7 Scuba Diving off Murudeshwar: About 500 kms from Bangalore is the coast of Murudeshwar. Besides the popular Lord Eshwara temple, Murudeshwara is probably the only spot in Karnataka where you can try Scuba diving. Prior planning is required and larger the group, lower the discounts.
8 River Rafting: White water rafting is another fun filled activity. You can try it in Dubare, Coorg or Badhra River, Chikmagalur (both about 300 kms from Bangalore) or at Kali River, Dandeli (600 kms from Bangalore).

9. Camp in a motorhome: Ever tried staying in a caravan or motorhome? Caravan trips are very popular abroad. You can try it now for a unique experience with family. Stay in a caravan parked by the lake- eat, sleep and stay inside the fully equipped vehicle for a unique experience.

10. Trekking in the Western Ghats: For nature lovers, heading to the hills is a perfect weekend getaway. You can easily draft a weekend trek to various hills around Bangalore- most popular ones being in the Western Ghats. Consider Bisile, Sakaleshpura, Agumbe and more such spots- Go in larger groups and be vary of permissions that may be required to enter some of the reserve forests.

Of course while you plan your Bangalore visit, should you need help with finding the right hotels or looking for flight fares, there is always MakeMyTrip.

If you can’t afford longer trips or do not have a weekend to spare, you can check my postlisting early morning/late evening attractions around Bangalore.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Malkey Car rental in Colombo Srilanka- Feedback

This post shares my taxi rental experience in Srilanka and will be useful if you are looking to rent a car in Srilanka. Else you can skip to read Europe or Australia posts here.

During my Srilanka trip this month, I hired the services of Makley Rent a Car agency. The reason I hired them was because I had tried their service way back in 2011 (my previous and first visit to Srilanka) and there was no reason to complain (though driver complained that our schedule was too hectic).

I prefer to avoid taxi rental and try public transportation/trains instead, but after some preliminary assessment, I felt public transport option will not be viable for Srilanka due to following reasons
  • There were many spots between Galle and Colombo that we wanted to stop and visit. Taking a bus/train won’t give us flexibility to stop at will and explore.
  • Few attractions (like Hiyare Reservoir, Nandana tea factory) etc were in the interiors- trying public transportation to reach there would have cost lots of time
  • Language problem would have made it difficult to converse with bus conductors or auto drivers. Having an English speaking driver would make it lot easier.
  • Unlike Singapore or Melbourne, Colombo doesn’t have a seamless public transportation assisted by an App for easy movement within city.
Because of these reasons, I decided to book a taxi.
Quote I got began at 42.5 LKR per km (INR 21). This was for Maruti Alto, the cheapest vehicle in their fleet. (This is 3 times what an Indica costs in India, but it is not fair to draw comparisons like that as different countries will have different rules and standards) Next was Perodua Viva, (a Malaysian model not available in India) or similar at 45 LKR per km. (In 2011, for 45 LKR per km I could have rented a 9 seater)

We were 3 of us, so I felt a small car is enough. I booked thinking I have already seen Alto and let me try Perodua Viva

I had to pay LKR 10000 as advance amount and the booking was confirmed. I shared my daily itinerary and asked them for their opinion- they said “it seems fine”. No further comments.

When we landed, driver was promptly waiting- which was great. But when I got to the car, I was disappointed- It was standard Alto, not the Perodua Viva that I had booked. Further, I was given a rate sheet at par with and not alto (Alto is LKR 2.5 cheaper per km). Rental agencies world-wide upgrade a customer to next higher category for free if booked category is not available. Instead Malkey downgraded me and tried to charge me at higher category. When I complained to the driver, his explanation was “This is a new car hence it will be charged at par with next category”- that was another shocker- age of the car doesn’t qualify it to be charged at higher or lower category. If the car was very old (our 2011 rental was old van) they wouldn’t charge us as per lower category. We stopped at their office couple of kms from airport- manager there said he can’t help with downgrade and asked me to mail the folks who had confirmed booking. He was also not aware that I had paid 10000 LKR as advance.

Later in the day, I shot a mail to their reservation team, who again tried to justify the higher category rate claiming the car is new. After my protests they agreed to charge as per Alto slab.  The car had 30000 kms on the Odo already- I don’t consider it as new car anyway. This downgrade remains as a big disappointment during our trip- more so because I wasn’t informed and an attempt was made to charge me higher. Other than this I don’t have any complaints on their service.

Other than the stated per km charge, there will be following expenses you should be aware of, when you rent from Malkey. (I think it is applicable for all rental companies, though I have not tried any other agency in Srilanka yet)
  • Airport parking- 600 LKR
  • Driver accommodation expense- LKR 1600 per day if you can’t provide one (expensive hotels and resorts will have free rooms for drivers)
  • Driver food expense- Rs 200 each for breakfast/lunch/dinner, if you can’t provide
  • Overtime expense beyond first 8 hours: About LKR 100 per hour
  • Toll, parking etc at actuals
  • Even though they have a small office near airport, km and time will start from their Colombo garage, which is 40-50 kms from airport.

Our driver had pretty decent English, has considerably helpful in checking with locals or taking us to places worth visiting. He seemed little surprised by the detailed planning and specific itinerary I had.

We logged about 580 kms in 3 days- Colombo airport- Galle-Hiyare Reservoir- Nandana Tea Factory- Matara-  Galle-Colombo and back to airport. Overall this taxi rental cost me about LKR 32000 or INR 16000. Taxi expense proved to be second highest expense of our trip. I would have liked it to be a bit lower

I have not tried any other taxi rental agency in Srilanka, so unable to offer a relative rating. Will I book with Malkey again in Srilanka? May be Yes, but I will definitely evaluate other agencies for my options first.

Saw these budget Nano taxis in Srilanka- first generation Nanos- should try once.

Have you tried taxi booking in Srilanka? Which service provider did you try? How was the experience?