Monday, October 16, 2017

INCREDIBLE INDIA - HOLI FESTIVAL OF COLORS

Hello, it's me, Aja!

It's been a long time since the last time i update about my two weeks experience in India. I'm just started a new job after I came back from Cambodia on early May. So, i've been busy adapting to new working environment (eventho there's not much work loads) hahaha. Okay, let me be honest, i'm just being LAZY hehe

If you have already forgotten, previously i've wrote two posts about my first and second day in India. And here's the link if you want to read about it:
1. Incredible India Day 1 - Arriving at New Delhi for the first time
2. Incredible India Day 2 - Agra, home to the majestic Taj Mahal

(p/s: you can get my full 2-weeks itinerary from the first post)

So this post will be my third day in India, the day full of colors because it was the day of Holi Festival! And it going to be A LOT OF PICTURESSSS in this post!


Continue on the third day, 13th March 2017....
The best time to visit Taj Mahal is during sunrise, which is why me and Farah were very excited since the night before. Note that sunrise in India is a bit earlier than in Malaysia, it was around 6.30am. However, we were both overslept and already late for sunrise. It was around 6.45am when we reached Taj Mahal west gate by tuktuk. Urghhh, so upset :(

We saw a lot of people already queueing at the security check at the moment we buy the entry ticket. And there were so many tourist guides keep approaching us. Some of them told us that we don’t have to queue for security check if we hire them. But nahhh, it was a lie. Everyone have to go through the security check no matter what. So, we’re not falling for their bullshit.

Ticket counter at Fatehpuri Gate (west gate), Taj Mahal.

There are few items that is not allowed to bring inside Taj Mahal such as foods, tripod (monopod only) and big bag. Only small bag allowed. If you already bring a big bag, make sure to keep it at the cloakroom (locker room). Ask people for the direction to cloakroom, it is located not far from the entrance gate but it will be a waste of time if you already queue and then you have to turn back to go to the cloakroom to store your bag and other stuffs.

Main gate to Taj Mahal, after the security check.
It was around 7am but look at the crowd...

We spent around 2 hours inside Taj Mahal complex as the area was quite big and you gotta be amaze of the buildings hence taking pictures from every angle is a MUST! I don’t feel the need to write 2-3 long paragraphs describing Taj Mahal as you can google it by yourself. Or maybe i should write it on another post. One thing for sure, you have to visit Taj Mahal to see it with your own eye, to witness the architecture of this magnificent monument, to deeply feel the intense love between Shah Jahan and Mumtaz.

Taj Mahal, Crown of the Palace.
Taj Mahal from distance.

(Fun fact about Taj Mahal; there are 99 names of Allah on Mumtaz Mahal’s tomb.)

At 9am, we both left Taj Mahal complex and took a tuktuk to go back to Tajganj to celebrate Holi Festival. We decided to go back to the place that we visited last night, which is at the back lane of our hostel. We got so many colourful powders thrown at us and we even got thrown with the coloured water. They played the Bollywood songs and everybody were dancing on the street. Some of the local kids invited us to come to their house, introduced us to their family and let us taste their homemade local foods. I tried both Panni Puri and Ladoo!

Then, we met Kim and Louis from South Korea. Coincidently they stay at the same hostel with ours and their dorm was just next to our dorm. We tag along with them and walked around Tajganj area to celebrate holi with different crowd. The good things on that day was everyone feels like family, they come to you, wishing you “Happy Holi!” and then rub colour powder on your face. To be honest, I feel ugly at that moment, hahaha! We looked like avatars walking along the road with our face full of colours, LOL.

Below is some of the photos taken around the neighbourhood during Holi:

What Holi did to us :D
This guy is always concern about our safety. And he showed us to his house and family.

Farah and three girls from the neighbourhood.






Ladoo.
Panni puri.











 



Around 12pm, we go back to hostel, took shower and get ready to go to Agra Fort at 2pm. I’ll write about Agra Fort on different post, later. At 4.30pm, after we’ve done visiting every part of Agra Fort, we take an Auto (auto-rickshaw/tuktuk) to go to Baby Taj. When we reached at Baby Taj entrance, we realized it was the same as Taj Mahal, but in smaller size. So we cancelled the plan and heading to Mehtab Bagh instead.

In front of Agra Fort, look at how big the fort is!

Panaroma view of gate inside the Agra Fort, after security check.
Inside the fort.

Mehtab Bagh is a park overlooking Taj Mahal and people usually visit this park early in the evening for sunset. You can spot some locals having picnic with friends and family here. We also met 3 Malaysian guys, Shahul, Acap and Jaz at the park. So, all of us decided to go to Sadar Bazaar to have dinner.

Taj Mahal as seen in distance from Mehtab Bagh.

Malaysian squad waiting for sunset! From left: Shahul, Farah, Acap, Me, Jaz.
At Sadar Bazaar, trying some of their local street food. God bless our tummy!

Momos, believed to be of Tibetan origin. Looks like dumpling and it tastes good.

Then, we went back straight to the hostel after dinner and sleep earlier on that night. We have to wake up early to catch morning train to Jaipur.


side note: the reason why we didn't go to Mathura or Vrindavan to celebrate Holi is solely because of safety. They held big celebration at those two places but it's gonna be too risky for us. It is widely known about how the festival of Holi is used as an excuse for molestation at Mathura and Vrindavan. There are many cases of women being sexually harassed during holi in the name of culture and tradition. So, if you're women travelling solo or in small group, better avoid that place or gang up with bigger group, and include some men too.


That's all! Stay tuned for my next post!


Till then,
Aja.


Don't forget to go beyond~

Friday, May 12, 2017

INCREDIBLE INDIA DAY 2 - AGRA, HOME TO THE MAJESTIC TAJ MAHAL

Hello, it's me, Aja!

This is the continuation from my previous post. So, if you haven't read my previous post about my first day arriving in India, please check it out by clicking here.

First, let me give a little bit introduction about Agra (which you can actually google but i know you're too lazy too google it).

Agra is one of the city in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India. It is located around 206 kilometers south to the national capital New Delhi. Agra is one of the most popular city in India because of its many splendid Mughal-era buildings such as Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri, all three of which are UNESCO World Heritage site. Agra is included on the Golden Triangle of India along with Delhi and Jaipur. Why Golden Triangle? Because the location of those three famous cities is like a triangle shape.

Golden Triangle

Inside the train.


So here's the story after we reached Agra...still on the second day.

From Agra Cantt railway station, we go to our hostel at Tajganj by an auto-rickshaw or commonly called as tuktuk. The driver name is Bobby and he’s a nice guy (in the beginning). He showed us a book of people from all over the world writing reviews about his service. Later when we reached the hostel, Bobby tried to persuade us to take a tour package from him, but we rejected. He even followed us inside the hostel. That’s make me hate him, I don’t like people keep on bugging me, telling me to buy something. If I said no, it’s a no, period. Few minutes later, he left because we ignore him.



Bobby.
On our ride to the hostel.

Bobby's auto-rickshaw charge.


We stayed in a female dorm at Bedweiser Backpackers Hostel. I kid you not, that’s the best hostel during our trip in India! I would recommend the hostel to anyone coming to Agra. Okay….back to the topic….. 


The main entrance of the hostel. And that's the security guard.


4 bed female dorm in Bedweiser Backpackers Hostel.


Living room.

After finish check-in, we went out for an evening walk. The map showed that the road next to our hostel is Taj East Gate Road, so we thought it is very near to Taj Mahal, but it’s not. It’s around half an hour walking distance from our hostel to Taj East Gate. But we didn’t go to Taj Mahal since it probably closed when we reach there. So, we walked into a nearby village but nothing seems interesting there and we’re actually quite scared of the dogs so we decided to turned back and walk towards Taj Mahal direction and then back to the hotel.



Television shops at the village.


Motorcycle workshop.

Cow walking in city street? Well, it's India.


Around 8.00pm, we went out again for dinner at Mumtaz Rooftop Café before we found out that it was closed for renovation. So, we changed plan! Since the next day is Holi Festival, a big colour festival celebrated across India, we saw that they have made a set-up like bonfire at certain place. We plan to go to one of the bonfire to see their ritual prayers but we were scared to walk by ourselves because we’re both girls and drunk man are everywhere on that night. We waited for a family passing by and we asked if we could follow them to go to the bonfire. However, they told us that the bonfire will be light up around 9pm, so we have to wait for another one hour by ourselves because they will pray there and then going back home. Feeling upset, we walked back to our hostel and still considering the consequences of going to the bonfire by ourselves.




Me, feeling unsafe, at Taj East Gate Road.

Most of the tuktuk driver told us to stay inside our hotel during the night because it is a bit unsafe. They said most people will get drunk on that night. That’s why we’re scared and don’t want to walk by ourselves. When we arrive at the hostel, we heard Bollywood songs played loudly from the back lane of our hostel. There could be another bonfire setup near to our hostel. Without much hesitation, we both agreed to go there! As soon as we saw the bonfire setup, we ran there, doesn’t feel scared anymore, hahaha. They’re already dance to the music and the bonfire will be light up in a bit.



This is what i mean by "bonfire setup". I don't know what do they call it.

They begin their ritual prayer as soon as the bonfire is light up.

Few moments later, we found out that we were already dancing with them. Most of them are kids from the neighbourhood and other travellers that were dancing together with me and Farah.



Me and Farah with some kids from the neighbourhood.



There were other travelers from Taiwan too!




We went back to our hostel around 10pm. We don’t want to stay out until midnight, it will be unsafe for us. We had our dinner, instant noodles (maggi) at the rooftop of the hostel. There’s a café and common room at the rooftop. We slept early on that night so that we can wake up earlier to catch sunrise at Taj Mahal on the next day.


That's all! I will continue on my next post. So, stay tuned!


Till then,
Aja.


Don't forget to go beyond~


p/s: my next post might be written in Malay.