Wednesday, February 01, 2006

travelogue - india


Maharani Palace Hotel

26/01/06 – KL- Delhi- Jaipur
Flight from KL 1210 noon via Indian Airlines IC 854 – nice Indian meal. Stopover 1 hour at Bangkok, but cannot leave plane
Reach Delhi around 5.30 pm local time (2.5 hrs behind KL)
Greeted with flowers and whisked straightaway to Jaipur – with “Sadarji” bus – cute honk sound !
Nice Indian vege dinner (lots of Tofu and great vanilla ice cream!!!) halfway to Jaipur – brrr… cold tonight, around 7 deg C
Reach Jaipur at Maharani Palace very late, around 1 am (Wow ! about 5 hrs journey. Tourist bus have to pay tax when entering a different state, i.e. Delhi,DL to Rajashtan, RJ) Yeay, zzzzzzz time

Amber Fort

27/01/06 – Amber Fort, Jaipur
Nice cozy hotel, and me and Norul got a corner room !
Breakfast vege Indian meal, then went to Amber Fort
Jaipur is also known as Pink City because of the buildings were painted pink to welcome the British king (according to our tour guide, Mr Ashfaq, it’s King Charles)
Climb up Amber Fort via jeep – cool ride !
Amber Fort almost reminds me of Beijing’s Great Wall
There’s also another fort further up which housed ammunition and the biggest cannon in Asia
We skip the elephant ride – a tourist was crushed once when he/she fell off
First shopping in Jaipur at a not so cheap fabric, painting, jewellery, souvenir shop ( I hate that our tour guide have to bring us to these kind of shops
We see Hawa Mahal (Wind Palace) and pink gates along the way
After lunch, went to the museum – a small one though, and more shopping (at a bigger saree/fabric “shop” huhu…). I got a very good deal with the street vendors who were desperate for moey, poor them, bought a box of bangles for very cheap!!

Jaipur Museum

Pink City Day & Night

We have dinner at the hotel and is entertained by the hotel’s artist with popular Hindi songs ( as requested by our Hindi movie fanatic tour member – will call her “Datin” from here on) and she dances along too !! Sporting ladies !! Even the local tourist took a video of our Datin

28/01/06 – Jaipur, Rajashtan – Agra, Utar Pradesh
Take off 9am in the morning, another long journey, about 5 hours
Reach Pushp Villa around 2pm
Nice scenery along the way – yellow mustard flower fields
We see “pancakes” (cow dung) being dried under the sun. These cow dung are used as fuel for cooking, heating etc
We stop by at a petrol station – very expensive !! Diesel for Rs 33/ litre ( about RM 3.30/litre) and petrol for Rs 42/litre (RM 4.20/litre)
Another stop over at “commissioned “rest areas with (expensive) souvenir shop. We believe our tour agent has been paid by these shops to bring gullible tourists for rest stops so they can spend some money too on their souvenirs

Along Jaipur-Agra road

After lunch at the revolving restaurant (we can see Taj Mahal from here) we went to Agra Fort – expensive entrance rate though, Rs 350 (RM 35)
Shah Jahan was confined here at the Agra fort. It was told that after he built the Taj Mahal (Mahal means palace) tomb for his wife, Mumtaz because of his devotion to her, he became so obsessed with building another palace (of black marble; Taj Mahal is made of white marble) that he was neglecting his people. So his eldest son ( he has 4 sons and 2 daughters) confined him here at the Agra Fort. It’s about 2 km from Taj Mahal, so he can still see it from the fort.
More shopping then, a marble factory, we were shown the miniature marble Taj Mahal – very nice, it glows when dark, (with a bulb put in, of course). This shop has a “secret saree” room – like a labyrinth, there are a few rooms with fabrics, sarees, kurta, Punjabi suits etc
I waited for mom in the bus, but she didn’t show up for almost an hour, only to be told that some of the “missing” tour members are actually in the “secret rooms”. They are mad for shopping indeed !! Got myself some more souvenirs for very cheap from the street vendors (I prefer to buy from the street people)

Agra Fort

29/01/06 – Taj Mahal, Agra
Very cold in the morning, around 7 deg C
Next is Taj Mahal. Very expensive entrance !!! USD 22
We are not allowed to bring any stuff, except passport, money and drinking water. Tight security here. Someone tried to bomb Taj Mahal before. Raph jokingly said that no wonder one of India’s city is called “Bomb”ay
We took loads of pictures here – to make full worth of our USD 22
Taj Mahal took 22 years to built by 20,000 workers. It was designed by an architect from Iran.
It is actually a tomb for Shah Jahan’s wife – Mumtaz. Shah Jahan is also buried here. We cannot take pictures in the masoleum, only the replica of the tombs are in view. The real tombs are in a lower ground and is off limits.
There are also 2 mosques at both sides of the tomb, but only one was used. The other is to balance the design.

Taj Mahal entrance

Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal mosque

Behind Taj Mahal is where the Yamuna and Ganges River meet. Shah Jahan wanted to build another palace made up of black marble across the Yamuna river, but his plan was foiled by his son, when he was confined to Agar Fort.
After lunch, we leave Agra for Delhi. Another tedious journey. Took off 2pm, and reach Delhi almost 7pm. Our dinner is only ready after 8pm, so we went to Shopper’s Stop shopping mall, the biggest in India.
Couldn’t find any supermarkets here – wanted to try the Pepsi Cafechino
Dinner at Waves restaurant (Rs 350 per person, but already inclusive in tour) with another request for a Hindi song from Datin, and she danced again !
Reach Pablas International Hotel (more like budget hotel actually, imagine Kowloon Hotel in Petaling Street ) about 9.30 pm
Late night shopping at Karol Bagh Street (or Ghaffar Bazaar) before the street vendors go back. Got a nice sling bag & ‘dinner handbag’ for Rs 120 and Rs 75 each). Went back to hotel 11.30pm

India Gate

Mahatma Ghandi Memorial

Delhi Red Fort
30/01/06 – Delhi
Our Nepalese ( I think) waiter is confused – me, Datuk and Norul ordered American breakfast, but he prepared it buffet style for all of us (should have been more variety buffet, oh well). Thankful that Et brought some Mamee with her, so I gulped in Assam Laksa Slurp Mamee, hehe
The vendors open late at 10 am. So just a one hour shopping in the morning before checking out at 11.30am
Jam packed Delhi ! First Stop – Mahatma Gandhi’s Ghat or symbolic cremation place to remember him. There’s a burning fire here. Yesterday, 29/01/06 was the 30th anniversary of his death. So we can see fresh flower wreaths today.
Next lunch on our own at McD – have McVeggie (aka Hash brown burger) economeal. Nice coke ! (Vanilla taste ) They don’t serve beef here and vege and non-vege meals are labeled.
After lunch, more shopping at Pallika Undergorund Bazaar. But most of us didn’t find much down here – mostly modern stuff. We went up again and find some ethnic stuff for souvenir. Got a very nice table runner/bed sheet decoration for only Rs 150 (RM 15), shawls (Rs 50 each) and ornamental book key chains (RS 15)
Meet back at 5.30pm and next stop is India Gate – wow, looks like the Champ Elysses of Paris ! (sorry can’t remember spelling)
Shopper’s Stop again for dinner (McD again ! got Aloo Tiki – probably Dahl beans)
Then head to Airport. We reach very early at 8.30pm, but our flight back is 0050 am the next day
Boring, nothing much here here in the airport. All shops selling stuff at USD prices (and marked up, although they claim they’re tax free )
Didn’t find any India fridge magnets at all throughout the journey
Reach KL the next day 31/01/06 @ 1015 hrs. Tiring journey.



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