Jakarta – Day 17 – National Monument (MONAS) & Random Observations

From Singapore Changi Airport, I took Jetstar to the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta.  I arrived quite early but my friend had classes and cannot pick me up until a bit later so I just hanged around the place.

I went through the customs really slowly.  Lucky for me, I didn’t have to pay for additional visa to land, which I would need for nearly all other Southeast Asian countries …

I waited for my friend near the Departure Hall … the airport was fairly small despite being Jakarta, the capital of the fourth populous country in the world!  There were so many people … there were many students heading on a trip and they had nowhere to sit except the floor.  It was odd navigating through the hall between the people on the ground.

There were also a large group of people heading to Mecca.  They wore uniformed clothing and there were many tears and goodbyes.  I asked my friend later on why that is and she said Indonesia is a Muslim country and many people must make their way through Mecca at least once in their lifetime.  However, the trip is difficult and there are times where there are so many people at Mecca, that trampling might occur.  The worse case scenario is that they might not return alive, especially for older folks.

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I waited at a cafe called White Town White Coffee, where the service was terrible and it took forever for my toast.  I also wasn’t able to stay long because the table was uncomfortable and the WiFi was weak.  Therefore, I moved to the nearby A&W and continued waiting there.  When I left the restaurant to go outside, I was met by extremely warm air … and this was late November …

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Eventually, my friend came to pick me up! YAY!!  As we were heading to her place, I notice how empty the highway was and mentioned it to her … She was driving on a tolled highway LOL.  People don’t want to pay for the highway toll so they are stuck in traffic in the other road 🙂

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Eventually, we would get off the highway where the streets got smaller and you had to go between motorcycles, pedestrian and other cars.  My friend commented that she has the best driving skills in the world because she had honed all her skills in Indonesia and if she can drive here, she can drive anywhere.  And I believe her.

There also isn’t a lot of parking spaces avalible.  There isn’t enough places for people to live let alone free spaess to park!  However, nearby is an empty lot.  My friend said that the family had flattened their house and made a paid parking lot for the neighbours.  They still have a very small hut at the back for the friends and family to hang out.  I don’t know if they have another place to sleep.

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My friend is a university student in this school called Binus University, which is one of the top computer schools in Jakata.  She had to skip a class for me … I feel bad but she returned to school because there was some events she promised to attend.

The school reminds me of those nicer high schools.  It has escalators inside the school .. I had stairs, even the newest buildings.

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We had lunch nearby.  She was a vegetarian so I ate vegan with her.  It was typical Indonesian food – there was dried food, rice, veges and shrimp crackers.  It was ok, I think I was to sleep deprived to enjoy it.

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After lunch was a juicy popsicle stick, which is great for the stuffiness.

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Indonesian drinks!  It is quite easy to calculate from Indonesia Rupiah to Canadian dollar, you just subtract 3 zeros.  so 15,000 IRP for Green tea is $1.5 in Canadian (WOW…)

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I went back to the dorm and rested a bit before heading back out again.  We took a local public van known as ANGKOT or angkutan kota.  We ask if the driver is heading to a certain place before getting on, then we tell the driver when we get off.  It’s a good thing I had a local friend, or how else could I have experience this type of transportation?

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It turns out that the van doesn’t exactly take us to where we wanted to go, so we had to transfer to Jakata’s public transportation, Transjakarta.

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street of Jakata

 

It’s a public bus that runs on a designated lane.  It’s not that difficult to take … with a local friend that is.  Since it is new, the bus station and the buses were very clean and safe 🙂

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We finally made it, the National Monument (MONAS).  It was rather late at night but it lights up and changes color every 15 seconds or so.  We came too late so the monument was no longer open but we did walk around the park.  We would come back to the National Monument, a symbolic tower for the struggles for Indonesia’s independence, later in the trip.

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To be honest, I thought that Jakarta would be an unsafe place with lots of motor cars and possibly robberies, especially at night.  However, I find it to be very safe.  It is possible that I was with a local friend but I still felt it was much safer than say … Athens or Madrid.

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Next to the MONAs is a night market.  There weren’t a lot of people but many of the stores were still open.  There were food and many souvenir stores.  I bought a three T-shirts for $1 each!

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At night time, my friend used another Jakarta transportation – the Indonesia version of Uber!  My friend used an APP and after waiting for 10 minutes, a driver came and picked us.

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At night, my friend went over to a street stall and got us dessert!  She was so hospitable 😛

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November 24 2016

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Singapore – Day 16∼17 – Changi Airport

I flew to Singapore for the night.  I won’t get to Indonesia until morning.

I went to buy cold medicine and tower.  I then paid $12 to take a shower at the spa.

After shower, I walked around the famous airport.  It’s true, they cost have everything including a cute Pikachu!

There is a garden…. I was trying to find a place to sleep and walked into their small cinema.  To my horror, people were sleeping everywhere in the room.  There were also lots of people snoring.  I saw ‘Me Before you.’

It’s an M&M store!

At 5, the restaurants and cafe slowly opened.  I had a kaya and milk tea.

Experience zone and free massage.

Finally, I’m off to Jakarta!

Nov 24 2016

Hong Kong – Day 16 – Why am I here?

A short 8 hours stopover in Hong Kong.  I have no idea why I am here.

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I took Air India from New Delhi to Hong Kong.  The ride was quite long, not to mention it is a red eyed flight.

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from Airport to Hong Kong

Honestly, it wasn’t as bad as I thought.  I might have been able to get a bit of shut eye.

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Breakfast!

 We arrived in the morning and the first thing we eat … is McDonalds!  However, its special McDonalds!

I put my luggage in storage and then bought a return ticket to and from the airport.  I do have an Octopus card but I may have put it into my large luggage.

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I don’t know what to do in Hong Kong.  I’m not close to my aunt or cousins to bother them for 8 hours.  Therefore, I just hang around with my friends at the mall.

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They needed to go shopping for pants at UNIQLO .. and so we went to a mall.

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This is Time Squre~

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I remember it was raining a little bit.  From the mall, I look out and saw more stores and buildings.

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MUJI cafe … I am not a fan of Muji.  I find the items to be too expensive and I can just get something similar in Daiso.

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After shopping, we went to a fast food place called Cafe De Coral (Tai Kar Lok).  The food in Hong Kong is rather expensive and this place would be the cheapest (we presume).

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This is the meal that I ordered.  It is considered afternoon tea.  That is milk tea and chicken with rice noodles.

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I think I had to pick up my food here.

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Actually, there is a reason I don’t like Hong Kong.  Koreans think they have a fast culture but I don’t think they are as fast as Hong Kong.  I feel like I have to have everything ready … like I need to know what I will order and have exact change.  There are also no customer services in Hong Kong, so don’t expect any.  Hongers are a smart bunch and I fear opening my mouth, only have it shut back up in embarassing stupur.  Anyways …

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This is the drink that costs $6.  I was sad I had to say goodbye to my friends soon so I never asked them if they wanted a sip.  I just took back to the airport.  I am sorry.  Next time!

The train takes me back to the airport …. through the waterways.  The nice thing about Hong Kong is that at least I can communicate with people here … and ask questions.

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The Hong Kong Airport again.  I got my luggage back.  It was 8 hours and $32. $32?!?!?!?!?!  I could have stayed here at a hostel for a night!

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Hong Kong Starbucks bear.

Flying off!

November 23 2016

Agra – Day 15 – Taj Mahal & New Delhi Airport

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Early in the morning, we got up and made our way out.  Outside was still dark but there were lots of people heading towards the same direction – Taj Mahal.

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We weren’t trying to catch the sunrise per se, but to get in front of all the tourists so we can get our ultimate photoshoot.  We pay the admission fee and went through the security check, which includes a body check.

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… and here we are!  The ivory marble mausoleum dedicated for the Mughal emperor’s Shah Jahan’s favorite wife – Mumtaz Mahal.  We walked through the gate and between the doors is the Taj Mahal!

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The site is UNESCO, so it costs about $20 per person but I think it was worth it … comparatively.

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It is 17 hectares and had commissioned 20,000 artisans to create this masterpiece.

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The Taj Mahal is renovating, one part at a time, so we will never have a perfet photo but we were just happy the air pollution did not cover the whole thing 🙂

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The couple in front of us were probably instagram stars.  She cleared out all the tourists and really knew how to pose.  It never occured to us that we could have wore our Sari again for today … but we don’t know how to put it on again …

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The gate again.  I am glad we came early, it would be terrible to fight with tourists to get the perfect shot.

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Clear of people!… This is my friend’s last of the seven wonders of the world!  I still have 4 more to go.  Heck, I haven’t even been to the Great wall of China.  I wonder if I can ever make it to Petra or Brazil for that matter …

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Anyways, pretty cool right!  We followed this local Indian guy who brings tourists to the best photoshoot location for a fee.  We take the photos after them 🙂

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To the side of Taj Mahal is a mosque..?  It is close to the public but we can walk and admire the celling, and all the decorations on the wall.

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Tada!  I think some of the items have been striped of their decorations.

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The sun is coming out but it wasn’t cold to begin with on this November morning.  Staying awake on the other hand, posses a new challenge however.

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The other side of the Taj Mahal is the Yaruma River.  We were probably across the river somewhere yesterday.

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The pilars of the Taj Mahal looks like this ~~

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The other side of the Taj Mahal is also being worked on.  There are lesser people on this side too …

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After an hour or so, we just sat here.  There it is, our one week trip to India coming to a quick end.  We reached our last desination in India and our next desintation is the airport in New Delhi.  We pat ourselves in the back that we didn’t get robbed or fallen sick to some food poisoning.

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We visited the Taj Mahal to see the constructions inside.  We are no allowed to take photos, so there are none.  However, the largest room is where his beloved wife is buried.  We go around the tomb and come back out the other way.

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Walking back out the gate.

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… and heading back to our hotel.  I would like to … take a nap and then eat breakfast!

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We were one of the last visitors to grab breakfast in the morning.  There were still a lot of food in the buffet.  It was the best breakfast we had all trip!

IMG_20161122_102935891_HDR.jpg.. and a cart of other yummies.

After breakfast, we had to shower and pack.  We were going to take a long car ride to New Delhi and then take another long flight to Hong Kong.  I think I was being stupid because my next desination is actually Indonesia and I could have just taken the flight straight from India to Indonesia for a much cheaper price but instead I headed to Hong Kong.  Anyways, I won’t be able to shower for a while.

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The last of a long road trip.  We didn’t stop, not even to go to the washroom (where would we go …?)

IMG_20161122_182543405_HDR.jpgWe made it to the airport … except we can’t check in yet.  We were almost 7 hours early so we walked around the departure area to eat dinner and relieve our boredom.

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I think this was my dinner was …. not very satisfying.

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… On the last day, I finally had time to look at these rupees … aren’t these cute?

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Finally, we are able to check in … the duty free inside:IMG_20161122_215712877_HDR.jpg

..then we make it to the departure gate.  The Air India plane stopover in Hong King and moves onto Seoul, its final destination.  Someone asked me if I spoke Korean .. haha …NO.IMG_20161122_225750064_HDR.jpg

Almost there! Look a Snooze box!IMG_20161122_225010306_HDR.jpg

… and a Mcdonald! That’s huge!!!IMG_20161122_220005358_HDR.jpg

… and there is a Starbucks:  India cups!IMG_20161122_225125025.jpg

ok, finally out of India!  It has been interesting 🙂

November 21 2016.

Agra – Day 14 – Fatehpur Sikri, Itmad-ud-Daulah, and Taj Mahal View Point

The Indian trip is quickly coming to a end.  From Jaipur, we had breakfast and departed for Agra, home of Taj Mahal.

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Breakfast was comlimentary and in the same place as before.  We were sad to leave the nice hotel so we took more photos before leaving 🙂

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The streets outside of Jaipir is much more different than from the view we had in New Delhi.  The air is also much better than in the large city.

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We pack the luggage into the trunk and head off to Agra.  On the highway, there are monkeys surrounding the car, perhaps they know we have food ….

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Our first stop is Fatehpur Sikri.  One of the option is to go to Agra Fort but it is fairly similar to the Red Fort, so we took a pass and went to Fatehpur Sikri instead.

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We are not able to drive right into the complex but rather, another public bus.

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This place was created as a capital for the Mughal Empire but was abandoned in 1610, not even 50 years of use.  Apparently, there were issues with the water system … !

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Even after hundreds of years, the intricate designs on the pillars and the walls are still evident.

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the windows

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We are in the blue city now but there are still many pink in the buildings from the marbles and sandstones.  The first level of the buildings are often allievated.

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There is still a mosque here that is still being used.

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It is about 37 km from Agra but I feel like I was dropped in the middle of nowhere.  There aren’t a lot of tourists and the complex seems kind of empty.

The palace is quite big though, it’s almost like a maze where you can weave through buildings and pillars.  It was a good thing we are not able to go upstairs.

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In the middle of the palace is a distilled pond with a building in the center.

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More random photos from the palace.  There are local people that comes here too! They sit and chat… quite a nice place to do so 🙂

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I think we were here for close to 2 hours, just taking photographs against the large building in the background.

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I don’t remember where the public bus comes but it might have been once every hour.  The bus is here but no one got on, so we waited with the stray dogs.

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Near the palace is also a small village where they have stores that sells foods and snacks.

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Fruits are kept and sold in jars in the countryside.

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Cows! It is the first time seeing cows in India!  I was told cows cross the streets and paralyzes traffic but I have yet to experience it.  Most animals I’ve seen has been walking on the side of the road, aside from those monkeys that is.

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We pass by the Agra Fort … hello, goodbye …

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More fruits being sold on the streets.  It looks surpringly great but I had only ate fruit via the hotel.

Next stop is the mini Taj Mahal known as I’timad-ud-Daulah.

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It isn’t made for the wife of a ruler but by Nūr Jahān, the wife of Jahangir, for her father.  It is called the mini Taj because of the similarity in building structure.  This place also predates the actual Taj Mahal.

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We are because we heard we can see a fantastic sunset with the Taj Mahal, which is one of my friend’s dreams to see.

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It costs money to go in – of course – but the coupon can bring tourists to many other structures throughout Agra (except Taj Mahal that is).

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This is just the outer gate and the mini Taj is behind it.

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Here is the Mini Taj!  It is made from white marbles and decorated by various precious stones.

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Apparently, this is a story of rags to riches for the man who is interred here.  He began poor but his luck changed when his daughter was born and came to find work for the court. His daughter, who later became the wife of the Jahangir of the Mughal empire, is the most beautiful woman of her time.  She built this build this mausoleum his honor.

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The building is a square shaped and there is a door opening to every corner.

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By the way, we cannot wear our shoes into the place.  We were worried that our shoes would be stolen but took a chance anyways.  There was a man outside that also ‘rent’ shoe protectors but it was kind of dirty, as all of it was reused.  I decided to forgo it and walk in with socks.

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Actually, the mausoleum is small but there are more than a few people who are interred here.

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Heading back out from where we came, we took one last photo.  It wasn’t a very good place to see the sunset.  We were also mistaken in believing we can see Taj Mahal from here.  My fav pic of the day:

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So … my friend wasn’t too impressed that she couldn’t see the sunset or the Taj Mahal (and definately not both together).  The sun was setting a bit though but our driver had another thought!

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panorama

 He drove to this place just across the Yaruma River, almost parallel to Taj Mahal.

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where’s the Taj Mahal?

There are already a lot of tourists there taking photos.  Next to the area is actually a private property and they were crossed whenever we try to enter the area to get a better photo.  Two young tourists who ignored them were yelled at by them.

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Hello Taj Mahal!!! It’s been a week in India and I finally get to see you.  We were so shocked at the moving tourists going around the Taj Mahal …. they looked like ants and we were truly happy we did not go to the Taj Mahal during this time.

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We caught a glimpse of the sunset although it wasn’t close to the Taj Mahal.

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It was very difficult to get the perfect picture with the Taj Mahal but I got a shot of this stray dog! He and his friends comes because he knows we are tourists and tourists always have food.  Sorry, not this one though.

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We return to our hotel in Agra — a 5 star Radisson Blu! We got an upgrate to buisness class!  I feel so bad because I didn’t give his a tips ….

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The room is so nice!!! *roll* roll*roll* across the bed.  I opened the television, checked out the bathroom, and just chill *ahhhhh*.  It was a good end to the trip.

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We ate Indian food at the restaurant.  Since this is a 5-star hotel, my friend said it is ok if I wanted to go ahead and eat meat since we have been vegan throughout the trip (just in case we get food poisoned).

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Tomorrow was going to be the last day in India … making this night the last night for us in India.

November 21 2017.

Jaipur – Day 13 – Amer Palace, Hawa Mahal, and the City Palace

Today is a fully scheduled day but as always, breakfast!

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Breakfast is buffet style 🙂  The breakfast area is another dining area in the hotel 🙂

Our driver picks us up from the hotel in the morning and brings us to the first of many pink buildings in the pink city of Jaipur –  Hawa Mahal, also known as the palace of the wind.  The palace is a gorgeous 5 story building with small windows.

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It is situated in the old city of Jaipur.  It reminds me of Macau’s Ruins of St. Paul because we can only admire one side of the building … some websites say it is opened for visitors but it isn’t opened when we were there so, like many of the tourists, we take our photos outside and go along our way.

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From there, we leave the city of Jaipur and drive 11 km to Amer Fort.  We plan to go up the fort via the riding of the elephants.  Note: NO TIPPING FOR THE DRIVER.

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We wait in line to climb onto our elephants.  On second thought, I am not sure there is another way of transportation up to Amer Fort …

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My friends share an elephant and I have my own.  I feel bad already … going on these elephants.  They don’t look happy … at all.

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The head in the photo belongs to my driver … I think they think I am Japanese … and speaks Japanese to me, as do some other drivers when they pass me.

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As the elephant pulls the driver and me up the hill, I can see the old buildings beneath me.

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An elephant returns from his or her trip to the top.  They are painted in henna.  I wonder if the trunk is supposed to discolor like that …

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Looking behind me, there are many more elephants climbing up the path towards the Sun Gate to the Amer Fort.

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The lake below is Maota Lake.

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I think I pay around $30 for the short elephant ride.  Remember how I said you should not pay tips?  There are signs EVERYWHERE that say no tipping but the driver still pressure me to pay tips.  My friends did not pay even though the driver asked.  He said he pointed to sign that says “NO TIPS”, so no tips.

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Finally, arrive at the top of the Amer Fort.  The fort is also known as Amer Palace as the rulers and their families of the Rajput Maharajas used to reside here.

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The buildings are made of sandstones and marbles and hence the pink hue.

 

 

Still, just at the outer court of the palace .. we walk up the stairs into the palace.

 

 

Inside the palace has many buildings  … and many tourists.  Most area is open to tourists, so we walk all around.

 

Walking to the top of one of the buildings, we can see the path and the sun gate below, the garden and the Maota Lake.

 

 

The artwork on the palace is still quite elaborate.  The palace is also continuous being renovated by onsite craftspeople (since it is also a UNESCO too).

 

There is one hall with many mirrors.  It looks magnificent when it glitters in the sun. However, there are many people and it is hard to get close to it.

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Back down at the palace garden.

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On one of the tallest tower has a mini star-shaped window and hence a small visible view.

 

Finally, we leave Amer Fort, but not before checking out a corridor that is essentially a dead end.

 

On our way back to Jaipur, the driver stops his car and told us to come see the Jal Mahal.  The Jal Mahal is located in the middle of a lake and was only recently restored in the 2000s.  It is currently not open to the public, so we only walk around the beach side .. and saw how not very clean the water was but still thrived with fish …

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Back in the car, my friend asks if the driver can stop by a Sari store.  She saw a blog of this Taiwanese girl who bought a Sari and walked around the City Palace and Hawa Mahal and took many nice photos.

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The guy sells us a sari for $30Canadian and fails to put it on us correctly.  We are told by locals that it is about 5 times what locals would pay but on the bright side … we are able to use our old currency!  He also says we can use this as a curtain after .. orz

IMG_20161120_130642644.jpg The City Palace of Jaipur.  In the beginning, the palace was used by the ruler of Amer Fort but the ruler Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II moved the capital to Jaipur and assisted in the urban planning of the city.

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The city palace also consists of many buildings.  It is here that two different ladies redo our saris and ask us … ‘how much we paid?’.  We lied and said it was cheaper than what we really paid but they were still shocked by the money we forked out.

One of the buildings, Chandra Mahal, is 7-story building most recognized in the city palace.  Visitors can enter the first floor but the above units are residences for descendants of Jaipur’s former rulers.

A lot of doors are closed to visitors but it still makes for great photography …

There are souvenir stores outside the palace that sells relatively cheap postcards 🙂

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We return to Hawa Mahal to retake some photos with our newly bought Sari.

Some interesting architecture as we drive back to the hotel.  It is our last day in Jaipur!

We fix our sari and take more photos!  The Sari is actually one long piece of cloth and it is folded such a way that it brings out the shape of this traditional dress.  Many pins are used to keep the dress in place, so once we take it off …. we have no idea how to put it back together.

I sent the sari back to Canada because it is quite heavy … I never told my mom I went to India … LOL

November 19, 2016.

Jaipur – Day 12 – Monkey Temple (Galta Ji)

This day sees us leaving New Delhi to the Pink City of Jaipur.  Our schedule for the day is … transit.  The journey is 277 kilometers, so we spend approximately 5 hours in a car.

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By the way, I had a huge luggage with me (compared to the 7 kg duffle bags by friends brought) and being in a regular car means … it isn’t veey confortable … must remember to TRAVEL LIGHT…

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Before that, we eat breakfast at the rooftop 🙂  Again, all vegan and no meat.

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On the road again, we move through the streets with no lines.  We learn that in India honking isn’t a source of road rage or annoyance but rather a necessity.  *Honk* can mean “I’m behind you”. *honk*, “We’re driving through the crossroad”.  *Honk*, “Dear animals, please kindly move to the side”.

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Apparently, animals on highway is quite the norm once you move away from the big cities.  Of course … we have to ask our kind driver to slow down so we can take photos…. wows~~~

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Another car on the road, which is rare … the reason why there are few so cars on the road is because this is a toll road.  It’s great for us because it is much faster 🙂  There is probably a lower chance of getting car jacked too … 

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We stop at a gas station and of course … there is a tractor  🙂

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The rural side of India.  The towns sits to the side of the highway.  

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More animals on the side of the road!  These are some cute sheeps … with a real life shepard.

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After what seemed like forever, we are finally getting close to … the Monkey Temple!

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There is even camels in India!  However, almost all of the camels here are ferel.

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The outskirt of Jaipur has a lot of fruits and vegetables being sold in carts!  There are actually lots of many things being sold in carts here 😛

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Beep Beep!  So, rumor has it that traffic jams in India are sometimes caused by cows … we get to see it first hand!

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Finally arrive at the only attraction of the day – the Galta Ji or the Monkey Temple.  It is about 10 km from the city of Jaipur and it used to be a Hindu temple complex.  By the way, my friend recorded more that 100 likes on instagram from a photo similar to this one (except that has a monkey walking across…).

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This place is most famous for the monkeys, who have completely overrun this Hindu complex.

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The admission is free but there are some people (holy men) here who ask for mandatory donation.  We also have to give money to take pictures and we pay per all photographic devices, including cameras and cell phones and everything else.  I hid my cell phone and told them I don’t plan to take any photos (and hence why there are so few photos).

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There are monkeys everywhere and some are very aggressive.  They steal and take things from us if we are not careful … Bags should always be in front.

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This is a baby monkey … it is so tiny!  It keeps looking at us for food … I didn’t bring any food …

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There is also a spring and locals come here to swim or dip themselves inside.  Personally, the water is a little too dirty for me to enter.  If they dive it, they can ring the bell too.  This is us looking at the locals do it.

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All the complexes here are empty.  There are also two types of monkeys here.  They sometimes go and fight each other.  By the way, this temple is dedicated to the elephant god, not monkey 😛

We leave the monkey temple and enter the city of Jaipur!

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The town is much smaller, the roads are smaller and there are comparatively fewer people.

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There are also elephants on the streets!!! Maybe it is elephant taxis … Their faces are painted.

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We pass by another empty but significant looking building, as we race towards the hotel before sunset.

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We stop by a park … I think it might be either closed or it could be private park.  I not certain.

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We have arrived at the our hotel for the night!  The hotel is much better than the three-star hotel we stayed at in New Delhi.  This place is called Umaid Bhawan Hotel.

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The place looked like a castle and here, the service was quite nice.  My friends and I share one room but it is really safe (inside the hotel anyways).

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The hotel also has many bellboys but they seem to be from Nepalese …?  They don’t seem to be from India because the looks different.

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As usual, we eat our dinner at the hotel.  The price is a little bit more expensive but at least we can pay with credit card, so that saves some cash for us.

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Another vegetarian meal but it is quite delicious!  I also order a masala youghurt too.

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It is Saturday, so there is also a performance!  Most of the people here are hotel guests and they appear to spend a lot of money on the meal (whereas we are taking photos of our meal in every angle).

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I am also asked to dance with this lady here 🙂

November 19 2016 – a tiring day of sitting in a car all day.