My Indian Adventure

“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” – Cesare Pavese

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My trip to the Land of the Maharajas was a trip of both worlds, familiarity which is of Delhi and Agra, as well as of the unknown, Srinagar, Kashmir. I hadn’t plan to go away, it was one of those spur-of-the-moment decisions! I had to go away, to reenergize & find the meaning of life, that’s when I decided I need to take a break – away from work & the mundane, routine tasks! I never thought that it would take me to this Sub Asian continent, for I have thought of going to Turkey this autumn.

Our journey began on Saturday, 20th October:

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1530 – met Amy, my ex-schoolmate at KLIA. We were requested to meet up at Counter L.

1630 – briefing by our tour agent & group leader (Counter F18)

1700 – immigration check by a stone faced & unfriendly officer. Should have gone through the Autogate instead!

1730 – coffee break at O’Briens and performed Asar prayer

1800 – boarding MH 190 to Delhi.

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it was a 4hour and 20 min flight, was served chapati, rice & chicken curry. Spent my time napping, watching Travel channel & part of Snow White

2100 (local time, 2300 Malaysian time ) – arrived at Indira Gandhi International Airport, immigration check, baggage claim. Pretty clean airport = clean toilet, so I was satisfied!

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Our local tour agent was already at the airport, waiting for us – a small group of 18.

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2300 – checked in at Hotel Grand Sartaj, Delhi & served Indian cuisine for dinner.

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21st October, Monday:

Woke up early and decided to jot down a few notes about my trip to India.

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Checked out early as we have a flight to catch – off to Srinagar, Kashmir!

…. to be continued when time permits!

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1433: Welcome to the New Year…This gotta be a GOOD LIFE!

A new day, a new year, a new beginning. Will it truly be a new beginning for you (all of you out there) and me? Or will it be like any other day? For me at least!

It’s time to reflect on your life, it’s time for change … but I have to admit that CHANGE is not easy. It takes determination and hard work and maybe a HARD kick in the butt (which I need NOW). Anyone can help me to cure this “sickness” of mine? PROCRASTINATION… I don’t always procrastinate, it comes and goes…. it all depends on my mood. Like right now, for instance. I’m supposed to be preparing a speech, but I’m right here typing an entry in my nearly forgotten blog! The truth is my heart is not in it, I don’t feel like writing a speech, my speech! But I’ll get it done, even though at the 11th hour!

So what will be my inspiration? Am looking forward to go on a short break abroad… no not Paris or London or Copenhagen or New York. Just a mere swim away to the Indonesian archipelago. This will be my 2nd trip to Jakarta and Bandung, the so-called Asian shopping haven! I secretly wished that I could travel to Turkey this winter, go on a hot air balloon ride over Anatolia, escaping from reality! But Indonesia will do, I guess. Not to forget, that my GFs and I will be heading to Bali in February 2012! Ahaha…the good life … all this traveling talk just boost my mood! Could I squeeze in more travel plans for next year? Turkey is still in my mind. Why not? It’s a beautiful country filled with heritage & history. Not to forget great food! My visit to Istanbul in 2005 has spoiled me! I guess, whoever has set foot on Constantinople will instantly fall in love with what she has to offer! It’s like a living museum, filled with culture and tradition! A sight to behold! If it was a man, I would have fallen instantly in love with him! *sigh*

Well, CHEERS to a prosperous New Year!

“to move, to breathe, to fly, to float. To gain all while you give. To roam the roads of lands remote: to travel is to live” Hans Christian Andersen

The Libyan Uprising

Checked on her blogger pals in Libya (KhadijaTeri, Highlander @ From the Rock, Anglo-Libyan). Glad to hear that they’re Okay and living one day at a time. Am following your posts / updates on the situation in Tripoli.

Highlander, we are very concern about the situation in Libya. It’s nothing like the uprising in Egypt! We never expected this to happen, the atrocities against ones own people. I personally have no concerns for Libya’s leader & his followers, but I can’t accept and abhor his actions towards those innocent people! Yes, he is not democratic, but oh please, have a heart at least! Is he so full of himself that he thinks he can go on forever? Well, I guess those brave / courageous countrymen of yours have proved him wrong. Can’t blame them for putting their lives at stake in search of freedom.

Am sorry for being so emotional, for I feel for your people. Yes, I was there long time ago, although for a very short while, only 3 1/2 years. But, I’ve seen the suffering, the propaganda, I love Libya too much for it has opened my eyes to the world. It has lead me to appreciate what’s out there. Can’t believe I’m shedding tears at this present moment. That’s how deep my love is for this adopted country of mine.

As Promised…Girls Out & ABout: Japan March 2008

Travel is more fun when it’s with your good pals 🙂

My travel Buddies
Shibuya
Sakura - Cherry Blossom blooming at Ueno Park
UENO: I'm so in love with takoyaki
Metro Station in Tokyo
H A R A J U K U - Japanese boy in Traditional attire
Newly Weds
All dolled up!
Asakusa: great packaging
Kaminarimon, Sensōji, Asakusa
Asakusa: shrine
Tokyo tower
Close up but didn't climb up!
Shinkansen from Hakone to Tokyo

This post will be updated frequently, thanks to my gal pals….had kindly requested them to pen a few words about our trip to the Land of the Rising Sun….

Visit to the Historical City of Melaka

Melaka @ famously known as the Historical City of Malacca has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site together with Georgetown, Penang on 7 July 2008. Melaka was once a very popular and busy port, with ships coming in from Europe, Arab States, South Asia and China. It’s strategic location between the East and the West made it an ideal site/stop for these traders. The Portuguese, the Dutch and the Brits once colonised Malacca and left behind their heritage and culture. Tourists, local and foreign can find and see beautiful architecture (of what’s left of it!) left behind by her conquerers! Melaka is famous for the A’Famosa, the St Paul’s Hill as well as the Stadthuys….

A Whole Different World — Morocco

Across the Gibraltar Straits lay the land of Kings, a kingdom called Morocco. The harsh land with its mountain range cutting across her. She is also covered with soft golden sand in the south, the Sahara Desert. This land has been explored and discovered long ago by merchants and the Romans, the Umayyads who also ruled the Iberian Penisula and now frequented and flocked by tourists. This western kingdom is famous for its spices, ceramics and of course leather. In short, it is a shopper’s paradise!

My adventure to Maghribi began once we disembark from the ferry to Tangier, a Northern port city of Morocco. I have no idea what it is like out there or what to expect. Once the hot air hit our faces, then I realize that I am no longer in Spain. The stark difference of these two countries was obvious, one very rich, green and clean while the other is the opposite. This may be harsh to some, but it is the truth. The hardship faced by these people has opened up my eyes to reality. Then only did I cherish what was given to me (the whole package).

Before going through the arduous journey to Fes, we were taken on a bus ride around the city of Tangier.

It’s lunch time, thanks for the entertainment!

The journey to Fes was a torturous one, the road twists through some of the most beautiful but sometime barren countryside for more than 5 hours. It was pitch dark too and we were afraid for our lives as there were no street lights along the country road. We were thankful once we arrived in Fes, the new part of the city. In the late evening we were entertained at a local restaurant not far from the hotel.

Magic Show – Guess what did he pull out? Naughty, naughty boy!

The picture below is for you, PC

Trying to teach us to shake our booty! I nearly died out there!

A Moroccan Wedding

A night to be remembered … sigh

… to be continued …

Have boots will travel … SPAIN

Time flies … my adventure has ended. What’s left are memories of the very short trip to a foreign land, an escapade of sorts. One day, they may fade but hopefully the memory will etch in your heart forever.

Madrid was great, one of the cleanest places I’ve been to. The beautiful sculptures, monuments and buildings were simply captivating. They took my breath away as there were so much to see and so little time to savor them all! The must-see places include:

Puerta del Sol – shopping paradise, but beware of pickpockets. A guy from the same tour group lost 1000 Euros but nothing else was taken, not even his wallet. Other than that, you’ll enjoy yourself there if you ain’t claustrophobic! In fact, I did not even carry any purse just cash in a secret place ;-P

Royal Palace – be sure to be early as there’s a long queue to enter this huge palace. No photos are allowed to be taken. A few blocks away is the Royal Theatre, where such performance such as the opera is performed.

Madrid is a shopping haven, be sure to bring enough cash or plastic money as I can guarantee that you’ll go shopping crazy here. Items such as handbags, purses etc by Spanish designers for instance Tous can be bought at a cheaper price.

Madrid and Spain in general is a pretty safe place for tourists and travelers alike. I have no qualms of exploring the city on my own at night. In fact, I had no problem walking from my hotel “Hotel Atlanta ” to Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, which isn’t far at all – it may have been a 15 – 30 minute walk.

Madrid by Night

 

2 nights in Madrid may not be enough but we had to continue our journey to the city of Toledo, a World Heritage Site. It was foggy and we were unable to see the beautiful city of Toledo from the hill top. We were then taken to tour Toledo on foot. Pathways were covered with cobbled stones and the forts and buildings still stand strong. Church bells could be heard ringing in the middle of the windy day to signify the time for service. I observe the priest, vicars dressed in black robes enter the doors of the church while the rest of us the tourists and locals enjoy the view and fresh air. After the long walk and many stops it was time for lunch, so we found a great halal place to have a large platter of doner kebab. Umm the crispy & crunchy vegetable and juicy lamb meat sliced thinly in this fabulous flat bread. Every two bites is downed with a sip of Cola to quench our thirst.

Below are pictures of Toledo

Tagus River

Tagus River

An artisan hard at work

A different angle

The city of Toledo

Anybody home?

Take 5

What’s left of the fort

Once we’ve filled our stomach, we’re ready to proceed to Cordoba which is quite a distance away. The journey took us through hills and valleys covered with olive trees all along the highway. We had to make a few pit stops along the way for prayers as well as toilet stops.

Cordoba, a beautiful city known for its architecture, heritage & history. Once a place ruled by the Muslim empire for hundreds of years and finally fallen to the Christian rulers, namely Ferdinand and Isabella. (Let’s hope I got my facts right!) Not much is left of the Islamic monument, nor are there plentiful of Muslim of Spanish origin. Most of them have either migrated or converted to Christians.

Below are a few pictures taken of the interior and exterior of the Mezquita.

The oranges are bitter so no one actually eats them.

No pillar is the same as they were taken from Roman temples and other Roman sites.

Within the Mezquita compound

Alleys and houses not far from the Mezquita

What’s left of the Universidad Islamica Internacional Averroes De Al-Andalus

Our journey across Spain took us to the next city, the city of Granada famous for its Moorish heritage and landmark, the Al Hambra. We arrived in Granada in the late afternoon, took a quick shower and explored the city. Well, actually went last minute shopping for gifts. We’re quite fortunate that there’s a mall close by, the El Corte Ingles.

That night, we had planned to watch a performance made famous by the gypsies living in the South of Spain, the flamenco. The drive to the Gypsy cave was not a long one but we (the vehicle we were in) had to squeeze through the amazingly narrow and steep streets. Thank God for the ever efficient driver, we arrived at our destination in one piece. 😉

The performance was held in a cave-like room, it is a family affair (I don’t know if it includes the grandmother!). I was captivated by their elegant moves and how their feet move following the beat of the music. I could never do that. I must be born with 2 left feet.

He is HOT!

The granny?

Another HOT dude?

Ole!

Muy Bonita

Typical Granada homes (casa)

View from the top

La Al Hambra by night – after the show

That’s enough for the night!

We visited the Al Hambra & Generalife the next morning.

Generalife, a summer palace and garden built during the reign of Muhammad III. It’s situated not far from the Al Hambra and part of the garden is maintained by gardeners. It is best visited during Spring and Summer when flowers bloom. However, tickets are limited as the Spanish government tries to control the influx of visitors into the area.

Our local guide

Generalife & Al Hambra

A view of Al Hambra

After the grand tour of this fabulous landmark, we returned to the city center for lunch.

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We are about to leave Spain for Morocco but before doing so we had to spend a night in Torremolinos which is a city not far from Algeciras and Tarifa, where we were taking the ferry to Tangier.

It’s time to make a move. While on the road, you could see hundreds of wind turbines.

Port of Tarifa

Punta de Tarifa

Leaving Spain behind ;-(

Adios for now!