- About Jashuat
- Foodie Alert!
The 2 weeks trip to the golden triangle of India was wonderful! I felt like I was living the Hong Kong travel tagline – 买东西吃东西买东西吃东西! Woohoo!
Now that I’m back from my 2 wk vacation (fine fine… so I am on a permanent 6 mth holiday lol where I don’t study much, grades don’t count…c’est la vie mes amies!), the prospect of blogging petrifies me! Worse than taking exams in MICA lol. Friends back in CS, hope your exams were alright!
Let me start with a short paragraph about Jaipur en general before launching into a chronological recount of events. On reaching Jaipur, the feel that one gets from the city is different from Ahmedabad. The city is quite crowded and has a cluttered feel to it, which kinda reminds me of Mumbai. Mode of transport here is the omnipresent auto-rickshaws and a new addition- the cycle rickshaws (like trishaws in singapore.) Hmm cuz Jaipur feels so cluttered, I didn’t really like it THAT much but it was ok. We also controlled our spending (otherwise, we would have to carry our stuff to Agra and Delhi, which will in all likelihood, break our back) but i bought scarves for Steps, Boo and me. (Others, don’t worry, I’ve various souvenirs for you….).
But freaking hell, high price to pay for the scarves can. The seller of the scarves was this indian guy who is my age (21) and I was bargaining with him (it’s the singaporean blood in me) cuz one of the scarf that I wanted had a hole in it and they didn’t have any nice new ones. So he counted me cheaper for the scarves n insisted on teaching me Yoga, all the while showing me pictures of japanese girls n some other girls on his hp, whom he said are his new friends, adding that he loves making friends. Fine fine. Since he counted me cheaper for the scarves, I felt obliged to LEARN BLOODY yoga from him so i kinda spread out my arms n stuff. He then put his arms (EEKS) on my waist and wanted to move upwards when i suddenly froze and moved away. AND THE BLOODY BUGGER HAD THE CHEEK TO ASK, “WHY WHAT HAPPENED?” kuku shit can.
Then we went on to discuss the price of the scarves (which at this point, hasn’t been settled yet) and he said, okie, count me cheaper and he wanted to kiss me!!!!!!!! OH MY GOD! Luckily the deft me managed to wriggle away before he planted one on my cheek (FREAKING HELL) and ran off. Goodness. STEPS AND BOO YOU BETTER CHERISH YOUR SCARVES I TELL YOU.
Hmmph. The nerves of these idiots who think foreigners are liberal. I mean, yeah, I am definitely more liberal than locals in the way i dress (so freaking hot lah. It’s april now. Temp is reaching a high of 45 bloody degrees in the day and a low of 30 degrees at night. Whoopee~ Absolutely freezing my ass off in this lovely weather) but HELLO… THAT DOESNT MEAN WE LOVE KISSING OR BEING KISSED FOR THAT MATTER. I mean we might, but it depends on the person alright, like if he’s a bf, NOT SOME RANDOM DUDES. GOODNESS!!!!!!!!
hahah was talking to Pratty (hmm one of our MICAN friends. crap i think i forgot his real name. So used to calling him Bratty Pratty) on MSN and was recounting to him how Jaipur has more perverts than Ahmedabad and he was saying, “Shresth is the biggest one. He tried to hit on me.” (Shresth is Pratty’s roomate and hails from Jaipur. hahah Pratty is damn funny lah. He is like this tiny ball of humor. Reminds me of Benji n Nick. Lol. ) hmm okies enough sidetracking, on to the chronological recount!
DAY ONE/1st April:
After sending most of our friends off on their summer internships, the school was relatively empty on 1st April, like a freaking ghost town. For me, 1st April was a madcap flurry of activities as I tried to pack my trip stuff, shower, go on MSN, settle admin stuff etc… Finally ard 4pm we left on an auto rickshaw for our holiday! We took a 14 hr coach ride to Jaipur, the first of our stops and reached there on the 2nd.
DAY TWO/2nd April:
Accommodation: Hotel. 800rps/night for the room
1) Hawal Mahal (Palace of the Wind)
2) City Palace – 30 rps (180 for entry, 50 for camera charges. Locals are charged 35rps for entry)
3) Jantar Mantar – 10rps (40cents) and an additional 50rps ($2) for camera charges and 150rps for a Guide
4) Chokhi Dhani
Top Reccommedation: Chokhi Dhani, not to be missed
At Jaipur, our hotel was the best one that we have stayed in thus far. Private bathroom, marble floor, daily room service, clean bedsheets, fresh towels, AIR-CON… OH MY! hahah A total luxury! And it was darn cheap too at 800rps, which is abt $30 a night, so it works out to $10 per person per night.
After a good hot shower, we headed off to Hawa Mahal, alternatively known as Palace of the Winds. It is Jaipur’s most distinctive landmark, constructed of pink sandstone in 1799. The purpose of this pink palace is for royal ladies to watch the life and processions of the city and as such, there are many small windows in which one can look out from and people-watch.
After Hawa Mahal, our next stop was the City Palace, a blend of Rajasthani and Mughal architecture. We took a cycle rickshaw to the City Palace from Hawa Mahal, which was quite near. The cycle rickshaw is much like trishaws in Singapore, albeit cheaper. However, the ah pek who was cycling e 3 of us looked so old until we felt a bit horrid for even making him cycle us. Hmm on the other hand though, I thought it was good exercise – at least it would keep him healthy?
The entrance fee to City Palace was 230 rps (180 for entry, 50 for camera charges. Locals are charged 35rps for entry) which is $8. It includes an armoury, which houses wicked weapons of olden days. Guys would be delighted I think… especially the MICAN boys who were so excited while watching the movie 300 hahah. ( Sidetrack: We watched 300 with our fellow classmates in India… Sorta like a class outing. Maybe CS should organise something like that, totally funky. Rahul who was sitting beside me then, along with other boys in the theatre, was screaming lines from the comic, like “Tonight, we DINE and DIE in hell!” hahah. Totally funny. I was more amused by the boys than the movie itself. Movie watching in India is so much more interactive than Singapore. Very very interesting and more fun to boot!). Weapons like swords which shot out bullets when it came into contact with human flesh, swords which could be further split into two WITHIN an enemy’s flesh to inflict further damage etc were showcased. Gory. hahah. Some of the weapons were beautifully handcarved as well, reflecting the fine artistry of those times.
Next we trotted off to Jantar Mantar, an astronomy observatory consisting of huge gigantic sculptures, which are used to tell time, calculate atrological signs of babies etc. It was built by an emperor called Jal Singh who loved all this astronomical stuff. This observatory that we went to is the largest and best preserved of the 5 observatories that he built. The entrance fee is 10rps (40cents) and an additional 50rps ($2) for camera charges. We got ourselves a guide too for 150rps ($6) who told us of the stars, the moon, and the whole milky way and solar systems. Aiyah no lah… 150rps where got say so much! The guide just explained the various structures to us, that’s all.
A word of advice to those who intend to explore India – for all these sightseeing places, getting a guide is worth it cuz you will then be able to make sense of all the various structures that would otherwise appear the same. Well you won’t know for sure if the guides are bullshitting or wadever, but it is just nice to have someone tell stories to you. The pic below with the caption “huge yeah” features the largest sundial in the world and measures to an accuracy of 2 secs (info gleaned from Joanne… I forgot all about what the guide said.). It is huge but is even larger when you see it in reality cuz it is more 3D than what this pic suggests.
Hmm when evening hit, we were off to this place called Chokhi Dhani, a place recommended multiple times by multiple friends. I still remember the look on Dhriti’s face when she said, “Oh ****, you have to go to Chokhi Dhani… The rotis there are awesome… You just spread lots and lots of butter, OH ****…” with this ear to ear grin stretched across her face and a decidedly luminous glint in her eyes.
Chokhi Dhani means “special village” and is a neo-Rajasthani village 15km south of Jaipur. It recreates the whole Rajasthani ambience with traditional Rajasthani food, (Rajasthani thali) traditional Rajasthani setting and traditional Rajasthani entertainment. I give the place full marks for its setting and ambience. But minus one point for the many mosquitoes there. I really really detest mosquitoes with a vengeance. The friggin bloodsuckers.
Yup, as can be seen from the above pics… we had a hellotta fun at Chokhi Dhani! The roti was piping hot and when butter was spread on it… umm mmm, delicious! According to a blog post by Joanne, there were 5 types of curry, 3 types of pickles, 4 types of rotis that we never saw before, a bowl of cold raw veg, buttermilk (curd + water. DAMN DISGUSTING. I don’t like buttermilk… yucks… but supposedly it is good for summer, helps to bring the heat down. Jo loves buttermilk.) and jalebi, a popular indian sweet which is fried to golden crispiness. Although the roti was delicious, I didn’t really like the meal all that much cuz it was sorely lacking… make a guess… it can’t be that hard… yeah it was sorely lacking meat!
When the waiters were serving the food, I spied upon this dish which looked like mutton curry and I couldn’t believe my luck and good fortune. I was thinking, “Oh my god, there’s meat!” and proceeded to plop the thing into my mouth with much glee, only to discover that it is something like yam but more sinewy. Disappointed man hahah. I mean there is no point giving me so many different types of veggies yah. It is like giving me something when there is no demand for it. Link back to brand management class. Fulfillment of a need when there is no want makes the good a failure. Understand? hahah. Luckily I’m just plain old Jasmine and not a rajasthani princess. Imagine… me eating that everyday. OH GOD! hahah.
Hmm there were camel rides etc at Chokhi Dhani too. It was fun and exciting, but scary too! The lady who took the camel ride before us was screaming her head off when the camel descended. Why? Well from a standing position to a resting position, the camel’s legs just buckled, and you find yourself leaning horribly forward, your centrifugal force (or wadever the physics term is that we learnt in sec sch) thrown completely off course, and you’re just so scared of falling off the freaking camel that you scream. Jo and I were scared too but well, being the brave soul that I am, I didn’t scream ( at least I don’t remember me screaming but just cackling like a hyena. Yeah when i get nervous, I laugh and giggle… it’s damn retarded I know). Jo on the other hand, says it loud and says it proud, “GOT LOH I SCREAMED.” hahah scaredy cat. Lol.
See the bottom right pic? Hahah that is Jo doing her best rendition of a camel. See the semi-sleepy eyes and the blur look? She is damn funny lah. I bet when she sees this pic, she will start screaming, “Eeeyer! So ugly!!!! You better not post such ugly pics of me!” hahah but it is damn funny. If there is a thing called reincarnation, I suspect she really is a camel in her past life. She drinks like ten million bottles of water a day, like seriously. Goodness! If that isn’t a sign of her being a camel in her past life, I don’t know what is.
Okies so that’s the end of Day 2. Places visited: Hawa Mahal, City Palace, Jantar Mantar and Chokhi Dhani. Hmm for me, I think Chokhi Dhani is the best outta all the places we visited. It is the most interactive afterall!
DAY THREE/3rd April:
Places visited: Amber Fort and Cenotaph of some famous emperor
Amber (pronounced as amer) Fort is a delicate-pink, fort palace sitting prettily on top of a rocky mountainside. There are 3 ways of getting to the Fort – 1) via jeep (have to pay lah duh~) 2) via walking (what we did) and 3) via elephant ride. We wanted to go for the elephant ride cuz it is so funky BUT there were no elephants in sight, so we had to walk. So sian… and after we were all pumped up for it too.
Hmm the highlight of Amber Fort probably has to be the Jai Mandir (Hall of Victory), which is noted for its multi-mirrored ceiling Patterns are made with colored foil and paint, and covered in glass. At night, this would be candlelit and the mirrors would glitter like stars. Of course, time has eroded the grandeur away but still, one can just imagine…
Cenotaph and the story behind it!: Next on the agenda was a cenotaph of past emperors and the royal bloodline. Our guide told us interesting stories of the place and the most memorable one was that of one of the past emperors. Apparently, the bloke was nearing 2m in height, weighed 250kg, had 108 wives but was childless cuz of his failure to “jiggy jiggy”. If the emperor had a wish, I guess he would have wanted viagra to be invented like a few thousand yrs earlier, but then, he would have been kept so busy with his 9 million wives (bloody unfaithful idiot) I’m sure he wouldn’t have time for any state affairs. So i guess it all works out in the end huh?
Annnnnnnnnd the trip to Fort Amber marks the end of our Jaipur days. We took a coach to Agra, where the tyre punctured midway. Apparently it is not uncommon to have punctured tyres but thank god this is our first encounter and double thank god for the fact that we took an air-con coach. Imagine if we were trying to be funny (*cheapos) and took a non AC bus in the middle of the day. Poof goes the tyre. Poof goes us. Oh lucky lucky us!
On arrival in Agra, it was a madcap flurry of activities. We were supposed to meet our MICAN friend Pulkit in Agra but Miss Organized, aka Miss Lee, forgot to bring Pulkit’s hp no to Agra and instead, left it to rot in back in SilverOak. (FINE, the said Miss Lee refers to me, Jasmine Lee and not Jonneh Lee.) So we didn’t meet up with Pulkit, and instead wandered around Agra by ourselves.
Highlights of Agra would definitely have to include the lip-smacking roadside tandoori chicken I had plus SHOE SHOPPING! hahah. Oh and while we’re on the topic of highlights, let’s not forget the famous love monument, the Taj Mahal shall we?
Hmm the trip to the Taj was a mistake. Not a mistake as in it was a horrible trip BUT a mistake as in we HAD to go to the Taj on the VERY day we arrived in Agra because of some Agra Elections.
DAY FOUR/ 4th APRIL
1) Taj Mahal – 750rps, closed every friday for maintenance work
We booked into a hotel in Agra, equipped with air-conditioning and an attached private bathroom on top of a deluxe bed with neatly pressed sheets. Sounds fab? Not really….
eeeyer… The bedsheets can be interpreted to be VERY AUSPICIOUS but then again, it looked like it came straight out of a Chinese Horror show. EEKS. Can’t stand the freaking bedsheet. It’s those woolly kind, wonder how long it hasn’t been washed. Ewww!
Hmm the original plan for Agra was to stay there for perhaps 2 nights but on reaching the hotel, we were told that Agra had an election tomorrow (5th April) and that all roads were going to be blocked. That meant that we couldn’t visit Taj Mahal on 5th as planned, neither could we go to Taj on 6th (Taj Mahal is closed for maintenance work every Friday. All travelers, take note!) which left today! Oh god. And the Taj was gonna close in 2 and a half hrs! No time to lose.
Tsk tsk… while I was taking in the beauty of the Taj as you can see from the above pic, Jo n Ken were disgracefully stoning. No sense of class, those two lol. Hmm actually the Taj is pretty nice, and the moment you step into the monument, the air feels chilled, as if it is air-conditioned. It’s not that cold, but it’s cool & I reckon the chilled air was a result of the Taj being built solely of marbles. I used to want parquet for my floor tiles, but after experiencing the horrendous heat in India, I’ve decided, it’s marble floor tiles for my future home.
Many of our friends here asked us “How was the Taj?” Personally, the Taj Mahal is one of those monuments where you gotta see once in your life. It’s beautiful, it’s grand, there’s no doubt about that. But it wasn’t breath-taking as such. Maybe it was the company (3 singletons isn’t the best way to appreciate a love monument, especially when one is wearing a bloody Man U jersey. Not tt I don’t love Man U, I mean, I LOVE Man U, BUT it is just SO WRONG to wear a Manchester jersey to the Taj. I should be in a flowing white dress and a nice sunhat to match) or maybe I’m not romantic enough but well, the grandeur of it all didn’t quite strike me as I thought it should have.
But I guess these things happen. Like when one builds up hype etc, it invariably ends in a little disappointment. For me, I’m also more of an activity person, so asking me to appreciate something purely 2-D like art paintings/monuments etc, the whole activity becomes flat after awhile. That said, we heard bits and pieces of stories about the Taj from this guide which livened up the Taj and made it come alive abit more. The tranquility experienced there seems to calm one’s nerves and gives off a settling peace of mind too. If I could picnic there, I would. If I was there with a lover, I would probably love the whole experience a lot more.
Oh but I did love the experience that was to come later! Shoe shopping! Hahah Agra is known as the place where shoes are exported to all parts of India and the world so it is supposed to be damn good and damn cheap. We shopped abit and I bought a pair of pink boots. (on top of other stuff.) Funky yeah! hahah. Hmm maybe it was cuz we didn’t have the right contacts or that we did not have quite enough time to REALLY shop for shoes, we couldn’t find all that many selection of footwear but in any case, it was enough to keep us happy!
DAY FIVE/5th April
Places visited: Agra Fort
Story telling time: Agra Fort was built primarily as a miltary structure but during Shah Jahan‘s (the guy who built the Taj Mahal for his beloved wife) reign, it was remodified into a palace. Sadly though for Shah Jahan, the fort eventually became his prison grounds when his ungrateful cad of a son, Aurangazed, seized power from his dad. However, Shah Jahan’s prison area was by no means shabby – in fact, it had alot of space, just that Shah Jahan couldn’t leave the palace or like the relatively large area which was allocated to him (there were guards guarding him).
As the pics say, Shah Jahan’s prison is quite unlike the prisons that we know. He is an emperor afterall lol. HIs prison ground in its former days of “glory” had walls painted in GOLD and covered with semi-precious and precious stones. It also had a clear view of the Taj Mahal (refer to pic–> view of Taj) In his later years when his eyesight gradually weakened, he looked at the reflection of the Taj across the Yamuna river with the aid of a diamond. Talk about rich…
The ministerial onyx seat was actually the emperor’s seat (typo in the pic). The emperor would sit there while his ministers wld sit opposite on a marble throne. During that time, when war raged, a cannon ball was launched, hit the onyx throne, and ricocheted onto the wall. The onyx throne wasn’t smashed into smithereens but was cracked. That was the strength of an onyx! Cool huh! After watching Blood Diamond (the movie… bloody good movie!), maybe I wouldn’t want a diamond as an engagement ring anymore! A ring set w onyx would be nice (although my horoscope aries, says tt I’m a diamond girl~).
The mirror palace AKA Shish Mahal is similar to the mirror palace mentioned earlier at Amber Fort. However, it is much grander than the one at Amber Fort as it is kept and maintained in good condition (gems etc are still intact). Our guide told us that we could go in by paying the keyman 400rps (15bucks). In other words, it means that we could go into the mirror palace by bribing the guide n the keyman for 400rps (which otherwise, we’re not allowed to go into). Naturally, despite the ‘unethicalities’ of it all, (oh screw ethics alright!) we readily agreed and waited for half an hr while our guide went to fetch the keyman. Alas! when our guide came back, he told us that the keyman was on leave. Dammit man, talk about bad luck!
One of the stories said abt this mirror palace is that Mumtaz (empress the Taj is built for) wanted to walk on clouds and be among stars, so architects of that time came up with the concept of the mirror palace, where marble tiles are laid on the floor and mirrors and colored glass are placed on the ceiling, such that one a single candle is lit, that glow will reflect all over the tiny mirrors and colored glass, giving one the ethereal illusion of thousands of stars amid the clouds.
In the picture of the big lawn (beside the pic where Ken n I are doing a piroutte in the garden), in ancient times, the lawn used to house a huge aquarium with hundreds of exotic fishes. The emperor and Mumtaz would then sit at opposing ends and have a fish shooting competition. According to our guide, Mumtaz always won the emperor cuz the guy would only have eyes for her and not the fish. I wonder what kind of a beauty she must have been, to have mesmerized the emperor to such an extent…
Hmm that’s about it for Agra Fort. After we finished touring the place, we went shoe shopping! Agra is known as the shoeland in India, where several of our friends told us that shoes in India mostly come from Agra. Being a girl, we definitely couldn’t resist buying shoes man! hahah.
Oh that’s the shoeman and his family! Between Jo and I, we bought at least 10 pairs of footwear from him, including 2 boots! hahah. He is a happy man and we are happy girls. The rule of interdependence! hahah. Boots day when it’s back to Singapore!
Kkiez… that’s it for my JAIPUR and AGRA trip. Next up will be Delhi!