Uniquely different! This is my overall opinion to the 11th oversea trip I had, which the country we went to is India. The trip lasted in 7 days and 5 nights and I have just returned home this early morning. Feeling tired but happy over the experience gained from the trip, I am now ready to share what’s going on throughout this ‘Incredible India’ tour organized by GTT travel company. Time flies, and the trip was over. Over 600 pictures were taken, over 10 places visited, 3 cities travelled, and priceless experience gained.
22nd January 2012 (Sunday)
The flight is in the afternoon, and so it’s a usual morning, but we need to get up quite early for the rituals to be done for Chinese New Year tomorrow, and also for last preparation for the one-week long trip. I bought quite a number of shirts and jackets for the trip, so that I can choose what to wear, without much restriction. Sometimes, I agree I do wear nice clothing. Haha…back to the trip, we reached Kuala Lumpur International Airport for international flight to New Delhi, the capital of India. This is the first time we met the other tour members in the group consisting of around 40 people; a very huge group.
After a comfortable time of approximately 5 hours with in-flight entertainment provided in the plane, we finally arrived at Indira Ghandhi International Airport. It’s a very beautiful and spectacular airport, which I hardly expected from a poor country like India. It’s very cold in Delhi at night, and I was shivering. We get back to the hotel, ready for the official touring days to start tomorrow. I can’t sleep well that night, probably due to the in-adaptability to the cold environment there at the moment.
23rd January 2012 (Monday)
Early in the morning, I woke up and took the first look over part of Delhi, the capital of India from my hotel room. I can see that many are poor, and that their living condition is not really well in this densely-populated city. The environment is dusty, and the street is quite filthy. Now I can see Kuala Lumpur is way better than Delhi. The houses there are of flat roof, with no clear planning to the construction of those houses. It’s a huge city!
Happy Chinese New Year! It’s the first day of the lunar new year of dragon! According to the tour itinerary, we would be heading to several tourist destinations in Delhi like Laxminarayan Temple, India Gate and Raj Ghat (a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi). All that were cancelled as the Republic Day of India (on 26th January) is coming very soon and all the major roads in the city area are closed including those places of attractions. We can only take a view and few pictures of Lotus Temple from a far location.
What an unlucky day, and I still wonder why the authority close the roads and places so many days earlier!? Very disappointed…the day ends up with no places to visit, and after lunch, we head straight to Agra city through a 5-hours bus ride. Along the bus ride, we get to stop by and visit a gigantic temple called Jaigurudev Temple, a white-marble temple with Mughal architecture, something similar to Taj Mahal too. It’s a very nice building anyway.
We finally arrived Agra, a city with much poorer condition, but famous for the main tourist attraction; Taj Mahal. It’s already night and we went straight to the hotel we are staying for dinner too. It’s Radisson Hotel, a very beautiful hotel with excellent buffet provided for our breakfast, lunch and dinner, but we felt bored after having the similar food for two days continuously.
24th January 2012 (Tuesday)
This is the place we have to visit definitely once you are in India; Taj Mahal. It is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The bus is not allowed to stop near there, and we have to get on electric-powered vehicle to get to the entrance to Taj Mahal, a huge mausoleum built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in dedication to his deceased wife, Mumtaz Mahal. There is a very stringent security check before entering the area bordered by walls, plazas and gardens before proceeding to the iconic white marble structure of Taj Mahal.
The place is filled with many people, and many of them are busy occupying those spaces where they can take beautiful photographs of Taj Mahal. It is very hard for us to queue up and squeeze in just to get a good spot and take photographs in a quick time before the others take over. Taj Mahal is no doubt very beautiful in photographs, but is definitely much more impressive when seen from the eyes directly. I really love the feeling of being there looking at the structure with emphasis on axis and symmetry.
I took a lot of photographs there. Since we are given not a very long time in the place, I have no time to visit the mosques and the other structures surrounding Taj Mahal. The time limits me to observe the surrounding in details, but overall I can still feel the wonder of the place. Leaving the place, we couldn’t also get any time to buy the cheap souvenirs from the many stalls lining up outside the place.
After Taj Mahal, we went to Agra Fort which is also known as Red Fort. It is a gigantic complex of structures with great defence and is famous for having a beautiful view over the nearby Taj Mahal. It takes quite a long time if you want to go through every corners in the fort, and so we only covered major areas in the fort; particularly some main corridors, the prison, castle building, halls and plazas. The structures there are very planned, massive and intriguing.
25th January 2012 (Wednesday)
In Agra, we saw a much poorer and worst condition of the streets. We even saw a huge empty ground filled with people, and try to guess what they are doing? The answer is that they are shitting! Yes…shitting, filling the ground (an open space of public toilet) with ample of human turds that I can even see some clearly from far, from inside the bus. Luckily, we are not out there at the time, if not, it must be very smelly and much more disgusting to only just seeing that.
Today we left Agra and proceed to Jaipur, another city to be a must-visit in India. Along the route, we went also to Fatehpur Sikri, an abandoned city complex up on a hill. The structures in there are not much different with those we have seen from Agra Fort but those are now in much more vibrant red colour. There is also a very vast plaza near the entrance that appears to be very welcoming to visitors with a very beautiful 360 degree view.
After a 5 hours bus ride, we finally arrived in Jaipur, the pink city. It is a well-planned city with many buildings in terracotta colour. Because there is no terracotta term in colour, hence the city is defined as pink city instead. We went to textile and carpet factory and shop to see the demonstration over the products, not buying. After that, we proceed to the nearby spice shop and painting shop, and also no buying in the end because all those products are not suitable for us. At night, we stayed at Cambay Spa and Resort, which is not really good as food served are very limited.
26th January 2012 (Thursday)
Today is a very beautiful and sunny day. The first destination is Amber Fort, a giant and impressive-looking fort with many structures up on a hill surrounded by thick walls. A long barrier wall is also spotted over the hills around the area, which is used to protect the old city in the past. It is something like Great Wall of China, but with shorter length (still quite long).
It is a very long queue for the elephant ride up to the fort which is above a hill. Luckily we came earlier, if not, much more time would be wasted. Finally, it’s our turn and it’s a very shaky ride up to the fort on a pathway full of elephants’ droppings; smelly! We arrived at a plaza surrounded by mainly yellow-coloured facades with beautiful backdrop of the hills and blue sky.
We went up and up, going through ramps, stairs, tunnels and corridors and it is no doubt that it is another huge and amazing structure to visit. The main attraction is the Hall of Glittering Mirrors where at night, one flame is enough to create a sparkling environment due to the multiple reflection from the reflective materials used to built the hall. The views from the fort to the old city of Jaipur is also quite impressive.
Then, we proceed to Jaipur’s waterfront to take a closer look to the Water Palace in the middle of a man-made lake. It is built over 200 years ago as a place of retreat for the past emperors. After a short while, we proceed to the gem stones and jewellery factory for a little demonstration and we were brought to the shop. No buying definitely.
Then, we went to Jantarmantar Astronomical Observatory for a look over the scientific knowledge, research and determination of Indian history in astronomy. Those weird-looking structures and equipments available there are for the purposes like knowing the time of a day, determining the horoscope of the month, determining the angle and height of the Sun from the Earth, and many others. I hardly understand how most of the structures work eventhough the tour guide had explained it briefly.
Then, we proceed to the City Palace complex of Jaipur which houses several museums now, including paintings, armors and weapons, royal clothings, jars, etc. No photography is allowed inside and so I can only take pictures from the outside. We are also being brought to a hall of royal gathering which is very impressive, and also to a plaza surrounded by intricate peacock-styled gates.
After the tour in the palace complex, we went to the nearby local bazaar for a quick and dangerous shopping. Why quick? Because we were given only an hour for that long street of shops. Why dangerous? Because it is very challenging to even just cross a small road, knowing that the traffic is bad and the reckless driving behaviour of the people. We only bought some magnets there after some bargaining. We also see the Wind Palace along the street, with over 900 windows for women to look out in the past.
27th January 2012 (Friday)
Today, we proceed back to Delhi through a 5-hours bus ride. It’s quite boring staying so long in the bus. As soon as we reached Delhi and had lunch in a Chinese and Japanese Restaurant, our bus passes by the roads surrounded by embassies, and also the Presidential House of India, which is the world’s largest house for the head of state. It contains over 300 rooms and is previously known as Viceroy’s House.
What’s more interesting is that we saw there are many roundabouts in New Delhi, and that those places are filled with many people loitering around, relaxing with some playing small games including poker cards under the sun. The roundabouts are turned to something like a park. Then, we reached India Gate, a gigantic War Memorial gate-like structure of over 40 metres high for the 90 000 Indian armies who lost their lives in World War I. It’s a Western-styled gate and is supposed to be the center of New Delhi, with a very visible strong axis leading to the Presidential House.
At first, the itinerary already mentioned a tour to Raj Ghat, a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi, the father of independence of India. However, the place is still closed and we can’t get in there. Disappointed again. Then, the tour guide dropped the Lotus Temple tour too because it is quite far and might delay our time back to airport for flight home. Another bad decision! I couldn’t see the interior of the magnificent temple already! And yet, we are given an hour plus to visit a shopping mall near the airport.
It is so strict for the security check in the mall. You have to be inspected including your bags even before you can enter the mall. My goodness…I even give up on entering several shops in the mall as there are ample of guards watching you as if you are a thief. So, the shopping trip ended with nothing bought. Another disappointment. The authority was so afraid that we would bomb their place.
Finally, after an early dinner near the airport, we finally went back to the Indira Gandhi International Airport for flight back to Kuala Lumpur after a tiring trip. The procedures through the immigration and check-in are so annoying and wasting much of our time. The authority is too strict on that. Some last few pictures-taking and also some quick shopping in the airport before we leaved, and board the plane. We bought some chocolates, some small souvenirs (key chains, silver plate of Taj Mahal, and also a model of Taj Mahal). Okay…we were back to Kuala Lumpur International Airport in a very early morning, and we waited so long for that baggage reclaim. We had a breakfast at McDonalds in the airport before going back home for a sleep.
That’s the end of my trip. Yes, it’s already ended, and the conclusion is that the trip came with some disappointments (not able to shop on products we wanted, and also not able to visit some places as mentioned in itinerary, some delays from the traffic congestion) and also some surprises (surprises over good quality of hotel and food we are attended to). It is definitely a uniquely-different trip, as we saw many new and memorable perspectives from India which appears to be a fresh location as this is our first time being in this huge country with population of over a billion people. It is still an unforgettable trip for me, and the experience gained from the trip is priceless. It is fun and certainly different visiting India. Want a future trip to India next time soon? Not really also….The trip is over and I’m back blogging as usual again…
(All the pictures from this post are taken by myself, please credit if you are sharing or re-using it…for the full 400 pictures of the trip, you can go to my facebook photo album and see all that fascinating images easily)