Saturday, March 27, 2010

Ghost Town of Fatehpur Sikri ???

Day 5 (29 December 2004). Ewweeee..... scary!??!

HECTIC day for me but intriguing nevertheless, reason being... jeng jeng jeng... This majestic Fatehpur Sikri court took 15 years to build, but it was abandoned after only 14 years of usage due to the water supply was unable to sustain the growing population of this so called self-contain township. The only surviving building is the palace and mosque which are the major tourist attraction as well as an UNESCO World Heritage Site. YEAY to me! There’s a few things I like about this place, ofcos I can’t name it all here as either it will be tooooo boring or just boring… ahhahah….

Diwan-i-Khas - hope I get this one right since I find it hard to source for more info in the web. What I understood (do verify this) is that this place is where the emperor experts representative from different religions discuss the country’s welfare etc etc. Apparently there were 4 major religion reps ie Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist and Christianity to assemble at every corner and the emperor himself will be at the central platform/pillar thus projecting himself as the universal ruler. I thought what he tried to do to obtain peace was kinda cool back in those days.
Does it work? I guess I will never know...

Jama or Jami Masjid (mosque) - Known to be to be Jami one of the most beautiful and largest mosques of the world, not sure whether true or not though. The interesting part is that this mosque marks the phase of transition in Islamic art and architectural elements were blended with the Persian architecture. Anything that was fused will always turn out amazing just like Alhambra in Spain.

Mariam-uz-Zamani's Palace - A powerful woman of the court and used her wealth and influence to build gardens, wells, and mosques around the country. Not only that she also owned and oversaw the ships that carried pilgrims to and from the Islamic holy city Mecca. Talk about GIRL POWER! Aspiring indeed.
Panch Mahal - The moment I entered this courtyard, I was awestruck with this structure, wondering what purpose it served to people of those days. It is located close to a Harem and it kinda supports the fact that it might have been a pleasure palace. Basically for relaxation and entertainment purpose and built base on Buddhist Temple pattern. I guess that’s why it caught my attention, they have the Persian, Hindu, Muslim building at one side followed by a Buddhist inspired structure. Hemm.... 1India?

We spent half a day here before adjourning to Jaipur which also know as the Pink City.

One thing that caught my attention during the road trip to Jaipur was when we passed by this OLD lane with HISTORICAL building and AGED vehicles; our car crawled slowly upward as if going up the mountain. I swear I thought I went through a time travel adventure to the yesterday years…. Glad to manage to caught that in pics.

Again. Story of Grace…heehehee…. This one was a classic joke happened in Agra I think. The thing is that we have been eating curry and dhal for the past few days and Grace have this urge and craving to eat other food. HENCE, at the hotel, she ordered a spaghetti carbonara, I did ask her whether she is sure what she just ordered, I mean… this is not home country nor are we in Italy hence she have to lower her expectation maah...

She said that it won’t be that bad since it is in a hotel (I think it’s a 3 or 4 star hotel lar), I said fine lor.. Since she is soooo convinced. GUESS WHAT!!!?!? Her spaghetti carbonara came and we both saw curry leaves sticking out from the dish plus some other herbs as well!!! I was like “Oh no!!!! The taste gonna be weird as it has been “localized”!" True enough, after her first spoonfed, I can see her making funny faces… me? As usual… HAAHAHAHHAHOHOHOHOHOHO…..

Itu lar… siapa suruh tak dengar cakap! (Who ask you not to listen to me!)

Spaghetti Curry Carbonara, hemm.... perhaps the Italian would be interested to learn new culinary skill here, you think?

Nighty night.

Hyperlink credits : Wikipedia, Indianetzone, AgraIndia, BharatOnline

Sunday, March 21, 2010

I went to USS!!!

I went to Singapore for a reccee trip to check out the hotel we will be staying in (4 Season! YEAY!) & in search of a good and nice halal restaurant for my event (Yup! going AGAIN to Singapore!) in one of the resort world and we settled with Hard Rock Hotel - Rang Mahal Restaurant.

But I bet you were wondering where where where is this USS right?!??!? Or perhaps I missed out the “R” behind the USS. After seeing the above pic… you surely know lar - UNIVERSAL STUDIO SINGAPORE.

I’ll keep the suspense and blog about it next week or maybe after my India story mory finitto! MUAHHAHHAAA….. Meanwhile, enjoy the sneak preview - entrance only lar (I did say sneak maah)… And since it’s a “sneak” preview, I added drama in my pics lor, heheheee… what do you think?

Hyperlink credits : Wikipedia & Resort World Sentosa

Thursday, March 18, 2010

BLOWN Away By India & Black Taj Mahal Legend‏

Day 4 (28 December 2004). BLOWN like a breeze..... whooooosshhhh.....

Today is a very easy and simple day for us as we only cover 1 site which is Agra Fort, thus I can tell you in detail (more like cut & paste from websites, ehheheheee....) of this beautiful fortress.

Argh...... I don't know where to start....firstly; it's SUPER DUPER HUGER (Yeah! Sooooo darn huge that I felt a need to put the letter "R" in my "HUGE"), imagine my gawk when I first saw the glimpse of it... (Yup! My gawk was as HUGE"R"... hahahhahahha). How the tour guide thingy work is different (or maybe same as some country which I have yet to visit *hint* *hint*), here's the thing; when we booked our ride (as mentioned earlier in Day 3); we've also booked the tour guide of which I earlier thought; he or she will be following us the whole road trip or at least by city basis. Aaahhhh.... BUT instead, the tour guide will hop on our car at the entrance of the site ie Agra Fort or Taj Mahal or Fatehpur Sikri etc etc etc.... What Grace & I will do is probably give a little token (or tips as popularly known) to the service rendered at the end of the site tour. This process will start again on the next site we visited, so on and so forth... you'll get it right. Oh yah! There's a funny story on Grace on this.... *chuckle*

Yup! It’s the THE UNESCO World Heritage site… what else is not new for me right….? Everything here was thought of perfection. Diwani-i-Khas
or “hall of private audience“ was used to receive kings, dignitaries and ambassadors. A three-sided pavilion, it has marble throne terrace, and a pair of thrones. It’s all marble-ish (I know there's no such word but am sure you know what I meant lor hor, ehhehehee).

Then there was the Jahangiri Mahal which was the principal palace for women belonging to the royal household, basically wives of the moghuls.

Carving….. FANTASTIC! I mean... to carve on a marble… and we are not taking about one slab okay! But more like the whole building is made of marble. I did some googling and found out the emperor absolutely love architecture (That explains it!). You must go to see and be impressed…

How significant we may ask since it is not as popular as the sister building - Taj Mahal?What I have read of recent (didn't noticed it then, must be busy snapping away lar) is that the "who is who" of the Mughal Emperors and more than half a dozen these Emperors such as Babur, Humayun, Akbar, Jehangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb - lived in Agra Fort.
The next question will be whether is it a tomb as well (despite of the word "fort")?
Nope! Not a mausoleum. It is back in those days a strong hold, the administrative headquarters, the royal palace, the court, and even a bazaar.… all in one. Basically it is a close view of how the Mughals lived, their beautiful private gardens and mosques were.

The Black Taj Mahal
I heard of this since I was ... forever basically. I do wonder the truth behind it. The story told to me (everyone LOVES MYTH and LEGEND, perhaps the mystery is more juicy then the fact) is that, this monument supposedly to be built on Yamuna River bank opposite of the pearly white Taj Mahal using black marble. It is to look identical to the famous Taj Mahal and meant for him to be close to his beloved wife. And when I was there, at the opposite Yamuna River bank you can actually see the ground has been flatten for this cause (not sure how true is this).

However, there must be a "however" in this story else it won’t be spicy & juicy enough right!??!? Well... HOWEVER, during that period, they were undergoing a war and to utilize country's wealth & resources will be too much of an impact thus Aurangzeb (Shah Jehan's son) has send his father to imprisonment in Agra Fort. Hemm... you can't actually say it's an imprisonment as Shah Jehan stayed in one of the marbled tower (the only one that was marbled) Muasamman Burj overlooking the Taj Mahal, and being taken care by his favorite daughter Jahanara Begum till his death. His imprisonment lasted for 8 years and he passes away peacefully and was buried next to his beloved wife in Taj Mahal - The Epitome of LOVE.

Ofcoz, there are many version of his myth but I thought this was the romantic most. Aren’t you just blown away....?

Now, the even more "juicier" story ie Grace's story. What happen now was this - after I've been handling the trip daily expenses; I thought Grace should be doing it for that day lar... (I wanted to take a day off). And she said ok lor... And guess how much she tipped the guide for both of us??? FOR ONE SITE ONLY! USD10 per/pax. The guide was jumping with joy ofcos... I shrieked in the highest pitch that even I don't know I have.... I told her, we'll be broke in 2-3 days if she kept doing this.

And guess what she said? That was why lar she "delegated" the "job" to me as I so used to doing the (or should I say converting) exchange rate for our quarterly budget. Macam tuh also can ah??? Not wanting to be broke while traveling, I gladly took my "job" back. She just laughed.... Now thinking about it, I think she tricked me to taking back my job so that she can relax.

DARN! I kena conned! Tipah tertipu!

Hyperlink Credits : Hampi, Maps of India, Wikipedia

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Epitome of LOVE - The Taj Mahal

Day 3 (27 October 2004). How lucky Mumtaz Mahal is... to love and be LOVED.

It's not the desination BUT the journey

After visiting India, I have to admit, not only I was wrong in many ways (mind my ignorant yah, at least am honest :P ) but I was overwhelmed by every single way too.

Let's start with...

The JOURNEY to Agra.

Ahhhh...... Agra! Everyone will know where Taj Mahal is located but NOT many know which city it is located in. I didn't either UNTIL my trip to India. The drive took 4 hours (if I can remember correctly, after all, the trip was in 2004!!!). Grace booked the ride from travel agent to take us the Golden Triangle Route - Delhi > Agra > Jaipur > Delhi. We rode in what I believe India national car TATA car, cute little comfy car. We went thru a 2 lane road ie to and fro lar.... not much car but plenty of lorries. And when I say plenty, I meant REALLY PLENTY! Few things that interest me during this journey...

~ The rest stop area cum restaurant - I mean, check it out! Its cool, clean PLUS the food was great! Clean is what I definately did not expect, I was thinking; since it's out of the Delhi city - here I thought of the worse of the mighty worst. BUT...SURPRISE! SURPRISE! Make me pai sei! Malaysia R&R doesn't even look half this interesting! Infact, this kinda look like a resort hor... ~

~ The load and the way overloaded - This is something I know I wil get to see and finally SAW. YEAY! Why am so excited, coz you see on TV and at times I wonder whether the TV exegerated it or not... NOW, I got to see it and it's not half THAT BAD! Really... put yourself in their condition, ok lor hor. However, the overload human part was a weeeee bit dangerous I thought, apparently the same thing for train as well. NO! I didn't capture the human-overload-train (that WOULD be an interesting pics though). ~

The JOURNEY to Taj Mahal
Where should I begin
to tell a story of how great a love can be
a sweet love story that is older then the sea...

Would you be able to guess what song is this? Well, it's by Andy Williams entitle Love Story from an old movie - The Love Story. I guess that's how Shah Jehan thinks of his wife, I bet most of us has heard this story many a times before.What captured my eyes...

~ On L.O.V.E - It is said that Shah Jehan was so heartbroken after her death he undertook the task of erecting the world's most beautiful monument which is also one of his promised to her on her death bed. ~

~ On task - 22 years and 22,000 workers to construct the monument. ~

~ On balance - I was told that the design is symmetrical, you can view it from the entrance. Shah Jehan wants it to be perfect for his darling wife. ~

~ On myth - Heard this since I was little
a) Shah Jehan had planned to build black marbled Taj Mahal, which was to be his own tomb on the opposite bank of the River. It never got started due to conflict with this son’s as he deem it‘s a waste of country‘s money & time.
b) Shah Jehan does not want no one else to ever copy the masterpice, so he had the master craftsmans hands cut off. ~

Last but not least, Grace’s weird story again…. She’s kinda subconsciously entertaining without she herself realizing it, heehehheee… kinda miss not traveling with her. This year I MUST force her!

The Grace story (should follow same format maah) - As usual, something weird would come out from Grace lar… this time around it was the entrance fee. If I am not mistaken, the entrance fee for tourist is approximately RM75 and for locals is about RM25 (not sure whether this has changed). And as usual (again), I am the pay master for this trip lar cos according to her I handles the fund and budget for our department thus I should do the same ..ARGH….. (here I thought am having a holiday!).

I told the lady at the counter tix for 2 person, and she looked at us and asked - one LOCAL, one TOURIST. Obviously Grace looks like a tourist from China and me looked like local to her (am still surprise over this but HEY! Northern Hindi girl are beautiful THUS I don’t mind being a local! Hehehe….YEAY!) I honestly and obviously said “no” lar…. I paid accordingly. Grace asked me, why did I not lie, then we “untung” (profited) RM50?!?!?? Why lily? WHY? WHY?

And I said… “Yeah right! What if she starts talking to me in Hindi, what and how do you want me to reply? The only word I know is Namaste (Hello) and Shukhriya (Thank you), other then that would be Kuch Kuch Hota Hei which is a popular Hindi movie name of WHICH I STILL don’t know what it means!”… She burst out laughing… not sure on me or on herself though… but I sure knew I made the right decision. I mean, would you want to be caught for lying our origin status in this magnificent Taj Mahal - One of the Wonder of the World!?!?

Grace…. Grace….. Apa lar….. Hahahhaaa….

Hyperlink credits : Wikipedia, Taj Mahal Agra Tours, World Greatest, World Guides

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Delhi Delight & Tsunami News

Day 2 (26 October 2004). We are OK cause we're in New Delhi.

It's a more eventful day today as we have the entire sightseeing place mapped out (with darling uncle's help). Am excited ofcos (what else is new right!). Those day before I own a digital camera, I brought along my analog camera together with 7 rolls of film plus my Lomo, however the pics that I will be posting will be all from Grace's digital camera (more changgih lar).

Oh yah! There was this funny incident happened that I must share. Due to the fact that digital cameras were very rare / scarce / exclusive thus it became an attraction everywhere. While Grace diligently (as usual - my favourite camera woman!) trying to take a pic of cutie me (perasan max here!); out of the blue, a crowd of 10 or even more locals came and stand by her side ie behind her, next to her; basically breathing down her neck trying to peep the tiny screen (those days the screen was super tiny). NOT only that, I remembered them pointing on the screen and followed by pointing towards my direction, I guess as much they were saying "LIVE TELECAST" hahhahahhahaa.....Grace was so upset lar ofcos and me? LAUGHED like crazy lar ofcos.... sTarGe, this will only happen to Grace, when I was using the camera, OK pulak... no one came to watch the "LIVE TELECAST". HAHAHHAHHAA......

First site was Qutb Complex, I think it's pretty near uncle’s house IF my memory doesn't fail me (after all it was 6 years back). I realised that somehow this place doesn't have the much needed publicity as it should.

The most famous monument situated in the complex is the Qutb Minar; other important constructions in the complex are the Quwwat ul-Islam Mosque, the Alai Gate, the Alai Minar, the Iron pillar, and the tombs of Iltutmish, Alauddin Khilji and Imam Zamin; surrounded by Jain temple ruins. You have to be there to feel it, it’s really unbelievable to see the carving on the bricks. Honestly, I never knew Muslim has a strong foothold in New Delhi.

Next was this interesting looking temple in a shape of a lotus, it’s called Bahá'í House of Worship and apparently serves as the Mother Temple of India. We didn’t go in ofcos as the queue is “fantastically” long and obviously am not surprise. It supposedly look charming at night or especially during sunset… unfortunately those days am not so much into taking pics during sunset nor sunrise - late bloomer!

I was impress as well as shocked with this one. Firstly; I thought the are only ONE, UNO hugely built tomb in India - TAJ MAHAL, I didn’t even know there are others in existence as well….hemmm…. I should read more before I travel! How should I describe this from my angle… let me see…. (Google Wikipedia :P ). Designed by Persian architect - it was the first garden-tomb in India. The complex encompasses the main tomb of Emperor Humayun, which houses the grave of his wife, Hamida Begum plus few more of the nobility. My take? - Super humongous. If you think this is impressive, can you just imagine Taj Mahal?

One thing I like about Humayun Tomb is that the brick is earthy /orangy / brownish in colour, and somehow it blended well with the contrast colour of the sky (which is almost cloudless); makes pics look spectacular. But then ofcos, Grace is a good photographer lar else it won’t turned out nice anyway maah…

This is a must tell story - If I can remember it clearly & well ofcos. There’s a few things that I MUST MUST MUST share! The venue : Purana Qila or Old Fort which is the inner citadel of the city of Dina-panah, founded by the second Mughal Emperor, Humayun in 1533 (Yup! As you see his beautiful tomb in earlier story). It is built at the site of ancient city of Indraprastha founded by the Pandavas from Mahabharata period, which is considered the 'First City of Delhi'. In this fort, you’ll be able to see Single-domed Qila-i-Kuna Mosque, Sher Mandal - a double-storeyed octagonal tower and was use as library much later and Kairul Manzil - a madarsa.

OK! Here’s the silly story with Grace & moi (Grace, you sure you are not jinx ah? [it is part of “your” name] heehehe - joking yah).

1. Movie - Am sure you’ve watched Hindustani movie before, those days (perhaps now still), they will somehow have a scene where by the hero and heroin “roll” on the plain beautiful grass while singing & dancing and perhaps playing “hide & seek” behind a tree. YUP! APPARENTLY this is normal - I saw kids (either they imitate the movie or vice-versa) doing it and having fun (all al-naturel). SHOCKED I definitely was but chuckled away anyway… aahh… now I can relate more to Hindi movie. Hehhehee….

2. Lost in the Fort - YUP! While smartly LOOKING for the way out (HEY! The complex is HUGE okay!), we sooooomehoooow took one of the gate which lead us to freaking nowhere and to turn back was FAR. We decided to walk ALONG the fortress WALL which is kinda steep/lonely/scary (but then again I can be a coward lar to anything). We soon bumped into the lake with loadsa people relaxing & boating (phew!), climbed quickly over a fence (me in skirt somemore!) to the “human” side. Pic to prove, by the way GPS might be required here! Hehhehee.....

We then past by Red Fort which till this day am still upset that I didn’t manage to go in…. hemm....does this mean I owe myself another trip to New Delhi? Hehhehe…. Any excuse(s) to travel.

Ahhh…. The sun about to set, our final site for the day before we depart to Agra tomorrow - Janta Mantar. You probably be wondering what is this right? (you’ll see more in different part of India as well I should think). Well, basically… and literally it's the 'instrument and formula', consists of 13 architectural astronomy instruments, built by Maharaja Jai Singh II of Jaipur from 1724 onwards. The primary purpose of the observatory was to compile astronomical tables, and to predict the times and movements of the sun, moon and planets or better known as jeng jeng jeng…… astrology. They very terror the merror hor…

I guess we call it a day as uncle & auntie prepared dinner for us. Tomorrow an early day - Agra here we come!

Grace??? Back profile again?

Perhaps… the whole India trip should be dedicated to my dear friend - GRACE
(That evening, we heard that Tsunami hits India - will update you in next entry)

Hyperlink credits : Wikipedia, Jantar Mantar

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Incredible India

Day1 (25 October 2004). The loooooooong awaited trip (then). FINALLY!

I have blogged about almost all continents or perhaps I should say section (continents sounds pretty HUGE, TOO huge lar) as I have been to or at least one of the countries in this section (Well, I haven't been to South America / North America yet), guess now it's India's turn and my traveling companion this time around is Grace. Am pretty excited with this trip for few obvious reason…

1) Taj Mahal (a must MUST for me!)
2) Atharva & Seema (cutie pie & his mommy darling)
3) The majestic architecture and wonders of culture

Well… the real list was pretty long lar, there’ll be no end if I were to pen it down, thus let’s just stick with 3 points okies dokies?

Grace is one of the easiest travel-kaki, basically her statement will be “just tell me how much, should not exceed RMxxx and you must plan EVERYTHING!”. She just pack and go and a light traveler too.

Can’t remember the exact detail (since it was mooooons ago), basically we arrived on Christmas day (you can’t feel the celebration much here) and we were way to excited to be bothered by it too. The earlier arrangement was that we were to stay with Seema I think (Grace arranged this part) but she have unavoidable commitment that we stayed with her parents instead and the VERY SUPERBLY MARVALOUS and the HOSPITALITY was at its paramount. Can’t ask for more.
Thank you Seema!

It was kinda funny as Grace actually emailed Seema her pic so that the driver can identify her and take us to her parent’s house (which I heard that it is very close to Shah Rukh Khan’s mom house! - need to RE-varify this). He will be holding a paper with Grace’s name on it and double check with the pic Seema gave him. The thing is…. Grace have this “blonde” colored hair (you‘ll soon see her pics), how lar to miss that, even if you want to miss it on purpose also very hard wor….. Hahahhaaa…. I think I did told her this :p
We manage to locate each other, friendly chap and very helpful despite that he can’t speak any English (I think, but HELPFUL definitely!). Upon arriving at the house, uncle asked us where would we like to cover; wrong question to ask me lar… I got this book where I just open and said here, here, here, here, here….. Remembered him saying that I was well prepared (I have more surprises for him of which I think it shocked and tickled him at the same time, later post!). He advised the driver (which I failed to ask the name. Againlar), the places to take us and which route and then of we go. Didn’t cover much places as we arrive New Delhi at about 2ish (Few hours of daylight left). He took us around the city, India Gate ofcoz, parliament house and the streets nearby.

We were done with our sightseeing by 4pm, then he took us to Janpath Road; BIG MISTAKE. I almost bought the WHOLE STREET and this is a NON-shopaholic talking okay! OK! OK! OK! I MIGHT have exaggerated abit (more like a lot!) BUT really! It’s cheap… how I know?!?! I actually reccee-ed this shop called Khazanah in KL and found EXACTLY the same thing a pinch of the price ONLY! Sigh...

I learnt from my Bali trip with Grace that she don’t like additional luggage and she WOULD NOT help me to carry them (note the capital letters), THANK GOODNESS for her rule, I didn’t shop lar. And whatever I shop I make sure can fit into my luggage. Hehehee.... turning point for NO-SHOPPING during trips for me.

Hehhehee.... I remembered a joke while we were shopping, Grace being stopped by a local asking her whether is she a Tibetan…..hahahahhaaa…. She looked at the guy in amazement. I burst out laughing ofcos (SOOO LOUD!). Hence am asking her to “teman” me to Tibet this year if I ever go, I mean… she's already “local” there maa, shouldn’t be a problem lor right... MUAHHHAHAH….

By the way, all should be warned, Grace prefers her back (God of Gambler) profile (don’t ask me why!), those pic with her facing the camera are consider PRICELESS!

Hehhehehe….. Soooorry Gracie! It is the truth wor!

Hyperlink credits : Wikipedia

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