I am a bad blogger. I haven’t been keeping up with my blog, clearing the emails, update my diary (still pen my thoughts, since 12), paint, draw, read, and the list goes on. I attribute the procrastination and laziness to the overwhelming India trip. It has been weeks but my friend and I are still questioning ourselves, “When will we get over India?” and “Did it really happen?” We still talk about the trip like it was yesterday.
I’ve been thinking long and hard, whether to include photos from other places, but you know what, I can’t. I just can’t. Hands down, the most memorable travel experiences of 2013 are all from India!
On the way from Delhi to Agra, I kept my eyes peeled, in case shit happens. Shit like people spiking our drinks, snatching our belongings, oh you get the drift. When things like these happen, I want to be awake and react quickly, not disoriented. Boarding the train at 5am means that we were shrouded with darkness. About two hours later, the darkness began to fade away. My back was facing the head of the train, so it was going in the opposite direction (no dizziness for me, thank God). I turned to look at what’s ahead and saw the sun creeping out from the horizon! What a lovely sight, I couldn’t take my eyes off it!
This is the gate to Taj Mahal. It was so beautiful. The floral motifs, the verses from Qur’an, the beautiful patterns…I was in awe. I kept thinking, this is just the gate…I think I might faint upon seeing the Taj Mahal!
Nope. Didn’t faint! Else I wouldn’t have taken this shot! The white marble against the clear blue sky was perfect! Right at that very moment, I knew I was the happiest person in the world, no doubts about it. I finally get to see Taj Mahal in all its glory, right before my very eyes. It’s a dream come true.
This is a 300-year-old Muslim quarter in the heart of Jaipur. Staying with a family here for 2 nights opened my eyes to different culture and practices. It seems like there’s a fixed routine in the morning – women and girls on the rooftops either combing their long cascading hair or doing the laundry (or both), boys flying kites on the rooftops or running around the narrow alleys, and men getting ready to go to work. This view from the rooftop was definitely memorable.
My friend and I survived India without any maps or guidebooks. We didn’t know what the tourist attractions are (besides Taj Mahal), in fact, we didn’t wanna know. We didn’t want to overplan our itinerary, for fear of disappointment if we couldn’t strike things off the list. We want India to surprise us. We wanted to go wherever our feet take us. Since Hawa Mahal is just around the corner and one of the five attractions (the ticket entitles us to go to 5 places), we decided to give it a go. Boy, were we marvelled by its beauty!
A little disappointed with…I don’t know who or what. Myself? India? It has been days but we have not tried any samosa. Thinking street food can be found everywhere, we always thought we could have them tomorrow, but tomorrow never comes. One day, it did. A Filipino lady from San Francisco suggested to have dinner at LMB (Laxmi Mishthan Bhandar) Hotel. The restaurant serves samosa and it was too good that we had to return another day! The samosa and I made a perfect couple, like Cinderella and Prince Charming. Love at first try indeed.
Another memorable moment for me was when I saw my friends (got acquainted with a Filipino and Russian, travelled together for two days) checking out the view of Jaipur City from Madhvendra Palace in Nahargarh Fort, aren’t they cute? I smiled while taking this picture, as they stood there for a good few minutes. While they were enjoying the view, I was enjoying mine too – three great people buzzing in astonishment, framed by the colourful floral motifs of the palace, frozen in time.
Before we bid farewell to Nahargarh Fort, I took some pictures of the Pink City. It seems peaceful and quiet here in the picture but that’s far from the truth! Jaipur is by far the noisiest and dustiest place in India! It’s noisy, a lot of honking going on and very, very dusty to the point where you have difficulty breathing! All that just…disappeared when I looked at the city from the fort. Anyways, I almost died climbing. It was cold, the air was dry, thus I had to rest for a few minutes, twice! Would I do this all over again? Yes! With a bottle of water. A huge bottle.
This is a pretty memorable sight for me. In Jaipur, all the animals – chickens, birds, cows, goats, pigs – are exceptionally HUGE. Disgustingly huge. They eat rubbish and their own faeces. They’re often too fat, or can be extremely skinny too, but never healthy. So why is this memorable? On the way up to Nahargarh Fort, as I was struggling midway into the climb, a goat next to me was…almost dying, I swear! Its head was almost on the ground, horns were scraping against the wall of the fort, and gasping for air. It was a painful sight. I would cry if the goat…didn’t make it. As I continued the climb, I kept glancing over to see how the goat was doing. After a while, I stopped turning back, it was too painful for me. Later, while I was taking a break from the hike, the goat overtook me! It seemed like it was in the pinkest pink of health! I’m glad the goat survived. None of the two goats in the picture below is the aforementioned goat, but I’m happy that all of them managed to get up here to eat the plants, instead of all the filthy rubbish in the city down below!
The honkings, the bumpy rides, the smell of gas from the auto rickshaw, the terrible dust, the annoying driver…all vanished when I set my eyes on the beautiful Amber Fort. The lake, fort, those pigs evenly spaced out – everything was perfect! This is the cover photo of my Facebook account too. I love it that much. If heaven is on earth, it would be here.
Still in Amber Fort, I was in love with the interior of Sheesh Mahal. The intricate patterns made of mosaics and coloured glasses sang to me like a love song. I was in love. Yes, Amber Fort is my favourtie place in India.
In Mumbai, we went to Elephanta Island to check out the caves. There are seven caves, we gave up after the second one. They’re nothing like the ones I’ve been to in Thailand, and nothing like the ones in Vietnam, according to my friend. We were expecting more. Nonetheless, on the way to board the ferry, I looked at the vast Arabian sea and saw this small and skinny man. I can’t help but wonder where is he heading to, how long would it take for him to reach his destination, etc. It made me think of…perseverance, resilience, effort, motivation, gratitude, and all the things that we take for granted, such as technology, health, convenience, etc.
Ahhhhhhhhh. Seafood!!! At last! Something else other than ALOO! Aloo (potato) is everywhere…we were so sick of potatoes! Mind you, I am a hardcore potato lover. Everything from chips to fries to mashed potatoes. The plate of squid gave me hope and happiness unlike any other. I was a little girl who found her missing Barbie after suffering from separation anxiety for months! Thank God for Goa!
You know you’re in India when there are cows everywhere! Hey you, too much tanning is no good for the skin. Besides, I think you’ve had enough.
Last but not least, this picture evokes contentment in me and it eases my mind. A good way to close my India chapter. You see, in the four states that I’ve been to, dogs (and other animals) were…unhealthy and sickly. They were skinny, and shivering in the cold. Some ate rubbish along the streets. A dog in Jaipur seemed to be a victim of abuse, when water was given, it almost had a panic attack. Fear was apparent in its eyes. In another instance, a boy in Taj Mahal spat on a dog. I reacted,”Eh!”, which wasn’t too loud, but loud enough for his mom to notice. I was non-verbally telling her son not to spit at that poor skinny dog, with flies all over its body. Anyway, this picture shows a group of dogs, happily barking, running and later resting by the beach. At least I know, not all places in India are terrible for stray animals. Colva, Goa is definitely an animal-friendly place.
There you have it, 15 most memorable travel pictures of 2013! Now, let’s work on this year’s trips!