It' s a pleasant town by the lake and famous for its palace and temple. As you can probably tell from the picture, the pace is slow here. It's from some detail that you learn that there's something special about this town. "Miniature" is the special art form they master here. If you have the time to draw things nicely on your wall, that probably means that your life is wealthy/relaxed enough that you can afford to have a hobby. Anyway, exquisite colorful pattern of animals, humans and buildings can be seem on the streets, and this miniature art is also the focus of the exhibition in a local museum.
After having breakky with my new friend at the hotel, I headed out alone to explore the city. Yes, despite the fact they can easily invite the other person to hang out together for the day, stubborn people will pretend that they are still very independent and don't need any company. I went out for a walk and the major sites - temple and city palace - are all within walking distances. I met some local kids in an alley while I wandered around and they insisted on showing me their special swimming spot along the lake, I went along, they jumped in, invited me to join as well. The weather is warm, the water seems nice, and I haven't swim since in Pukhet few weeks ago. It's tempting but eventually I turned around and walked away.
Miniature and some nice deco on the door.
Sitting in a roof cafe, having my lunch and chai, and watching "the traffic" goes by.
The traffic gets "busier"...
I am here for only one night and will jump on the 16-hour overnight train to Mumbai this evening. After waking up, I ordered Pakota for breakfast. Pakota is something like tempura that they coat stuff with some powder and then deep fry them. But the difference is, as you can probably guess it again, the coating has the taste of curry as well. I learnt about making pakota before while I was in Australia. At that time we use chickpea powder as the coating but the result is not quite like this one. Anyway, I met Joanna again after the meal. She's about to check out and move to a community near this city. She's the kind of traveller that will actually settle down somewhere and live like a local. I forgot how it happened but we ended up deciding to rent bikes to explore the city and the neighborhood for the day. It's pleasant to ride along the lake, and we went to some village and a museum that display traditional craft work and culture.
What more can you ask for when you have your own island, a boat, cozy tent and a tree?
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Thursday, October 11, 2007
It's not really that comfy to sleep but again I chose to spend my night on the overnight train from Jaipur to Udaipur. I woke up a couple times but the 9-hour journey actually passed quite quickly. I always pick upper berth while booking for overnight train so i can be far from the hassle of the aisle. Since I tend to go for the cheaper non-AC carriages, many things would happen in this "open" space. Vendors would jump in and try to sell you some food that wrapped in leaves while the train stops. Beggars would approach in many different ways. Anyway, upper berth is also a good place to observe but not to get involved.
After arriving Udaipur in the morning, I noticed another backpacker leaving the station alone so I went forward. "Hey would you like to share a rickshaw to town?" She's from Poland and has been traveling for around 1 year as well. For some reason she can't take a plane, so from Europe she traveled overland thorough middle east, worked there for a while, and then came all the way to India. Her response was something like "er..Ok..I was thinking about getting the local bus, but since you asked..."
This is how it works for rickshaw drivers to get some extra money. They will offer a low price to take you somewhere, and then will drop you off in one or several gem stores or souvenir shops first. They can get paid by the time you stay in that shop, or get certain percentage from the price you paid. Our rickshaw driver is a good but sincere business man. I booked a room in another hotel already and Joanna has a place that she wants to go as well, but we both ended up staying in the place that our driver asked us to "have a look" before he takes us to where we wanted to go. Hotel Monalisa it is. We each got one's own room but then traveled to some sites together afterward.
People would get the impression that most people don't usually travel alone in India, but I guess that's not true. I'm not saying this just because I travel alone there. Indeed tourists would come and go, and most backpackers would move as a small group. But at the same time India tends to draw certain type of people. People that have some kind of detachment in their personality. This kind of "detached" people would hang around on their own. This's probably why I have problem finding a travel partner here. People who rush around would stay in a group and have their itinerary. People who are alone tend to be the kind of people who like to be alone, or want to hang around in a place for a bit longer. As for me, I'm the kind of people that travel alone, "sometimes" like to be alone, love to hang around but end up rush around. It's hard to find a second person that has such travel behavior. Anyway, this is to explain why I spent most of the time by myself.
I'm a bit too chatty today that this post is now longer than how most people would ever bother to read. Let me stop here and I shall continue it someday. didn't even start to talk about the city yet...
Posted by Josh at 10/11/2007
Sunday, August 19, 2007
So far i wrote about Delhi and Agra, so maybe I should at least finish the golden triangle. Here it is.
Again, I woke up at 5 and rushed to the train station. My driver was waiting for me outside the hotel, and the sky was still dark when I left.
We managed to get to the station on time but the train didn't. According to other backpackers, this is not unusual since India is such a big county. We then waited for more than 3 hours until the train would finally show up. But I guess the delaying is actually a good thing for me. I found a stange code on my ticket while waiting and another backpacker told me that it means i'm on the waiting list. The delaying gave me the time to sort it out and find my mis-spelled name from a list on the billboard.
Jaipur, is also known as the pink city. As you might have seen in the photo, the city is in red and famous for the romantic pink glow during sunset.
The Amber Fort
View from jaigarh
Posted by Josh at 8/19/2007
Friday, August 17, 2007
Guess it's about time to write something.
Life has been treating me alright lately, but my life has been all about work these days. And time flies when your days are filled with work.
Anyway, maybe more writing to come this weekend....
Posted by Josh at 8/17/2007
Monday, June 18, 2007
It's called the Golden Triangle of India. To some people, it's what India is all about. Delhi, Agra and Jaipur form a tourist loop that most visitors to India would come by. For me, I wouldn't mind following the crowds, especially before I get to know this country well enough.
So, the first stop is Delhi, the capital of this huge country. I might have said some bad things about this city but that's probably because I didn't give myself enough chance to see the whole city. I had some unpleasant experience dealing with the cycle-rickshaw drives/riders. So, after visiting Jama Masjid and Red Fort, I booked an early train to leave Delhi without even checking up the Modern part of the city, New Delhi.
I left my hotel before sunrise and walked to the train station alone. Pahar Ganji is still in some kind of madness even before the sun comes up. When I left, some part of me was secretly happy about not having to come back again since I plan to fly out of India from another city in the South.
It was a comfy 2-hour ride to Agra. Agra is famous for the gorgeous Taj Mahal. I did something that I didn't expect myself will do - I hired a auto-rickshaw and a driver to shuttle me around. The driver waited outside my hotel since I arrived and kept reminding me that he has 4 kids to feed while offering me a good price. I eventually gave in and stepped into his cab. He has been quite helpful in the beginning but somehow started the old trick of taking me to gem stores after lunch. After visiting 3 shops, I got quite depressed from the game we were playing and asked him to drop me back to my hotel, from where is around 10-min walk to Taj Mahal.
There's a long queue of Indian people waiting to get into Taj Mahal. Foreigners have to pay a much more expensive price to get in, and somehow that gave me the privilege to cut in to the front of the row. And I got in about an hour before sunset. It's said that the marble of the building would change its colour as the sun starts to set, so I hung around till the sunset. Unfortunately the colour didn't really change much, but rather greyed out. Still, it's beautiful and upsettingly romantic.
The train I booked to leave Agra is again quite early and will leave from another train station, which is quite far from where I stayed. Getting to that train station became a problem. Somehow I met my driver again that evening. he warned me that it's hard to get someone to drop me to the train station that early and offered to pick me up at 5 am. He named a price,which is maybe twice as the normal charge. Considering that he has 4 kids to feed and I can at least count on him for getting me to the station timely and safely, I said yes.
Posted by Josh at 6/18/2007
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
"India is the kind of place that you can find your peace of mind." said Martin, a Brit that I met in the east coast of Australia. And a couple weeks later, I bought an one way ticket to Delhi from Bangkok after getting my visa to India in the local embassy.
I was not alone when I arrived. It was an indirect flight from Bangkok to Delhi that passengers had to spend one night in Bangladesh, and that gave us plenty of time and a chance to form a small alliance. 4 of us all travelled alone then. A 70 something Australian guy - M, a Japanese Yogi girl - K , a 40 something Italian carpenter - R, and me. M and K have been to India many times so they leaded us to the city with local bus. And upon stepping into the bus, I came to realize that I'm in a place that's far from the world I know. The seats are scripted with patterns of a language that I can't recognize at all, and most of the passenger are turbaned men.
Anyway, it's a great comfort not to land in a world like this alone, but our alliance only last for another one hour after we got to our destination- Pahar Ganji. Although most of us had not booked for hotels yet. We are all too different, and all too stubborn to follow someone else. 4 of us ended up separate and went to 4 different hotels after we got there. I have been told that it's easy to find a travel partner here cos India is the kind of place that travellers would try to cling to each other in facing this unknown territory. Obviously that's not the case for us.
Pahar Ganji is the cul-de-sac for backpackers, so I met them on the street one after another in the coming 2 evenings. Those who been to India know how and where to find their retreats. M and K each has a place on their mind that they want to settle down for a while. And R, after being in this hectic city for over 24 hours, decided that he can't stand it anymore and need to escape to a beach or some mountain as soon as possible.
As for me, I had an itinerary that I try to fulfill. So I moved on., and wondering when can I come across to my peace of mind in a hectic world like this.
To be continued...
Posted by Josh at 6/05/2007
Thursday, May 17, 2007
So, Phoebe and Alma will go travelling next week. One for almost 2 months in France and UK, and one for about 75 days in China, Tibet, Nepal, India and possibly Iran. Three of us used to backpack in Greece and Turkey together while we were in college, so I got this strange feeling of being left out while I learnt that both of them are off for big trips.
Back then we met quite a few people that have been travelling for months or a whole year along the way, but I guess that's something we can't imagine ourselves doing then. That was about 5 years ago. Many things have changed now.
Anyway, this is to say goodbye and good luck to them. Bon voyage and take care!
Posted by Josh at 5/17/2007
Friday, March 02, 2007
It's 2am now.
I don't know it's because of the green tea that I had tonight or the fact that I'm starting a new life, I'm having some trouble falling asleep in my cozy new room. I just moved in this morning, and it's located on the top floor ( or more like the rooftop ) of an old apartment in Xinyi district. The room is modest but comes with most of the basics that I need, and faces a balcony that has a slightly blocked view of Taipei 101.
Posted by Josh at 3/02/2007
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
This one is about travelling. I always believe that the best picture that will pull you back into the sensation you felt while in a certain journey is never the beautiful postcard-like scenery shot.
It's a hot afternoon, I was in a bus with my big backpack and about to leave Mumbai. India never stops to surprise me with even the smallest thing that you can spot on the streets. And then, there's this moment that I strongly felt the urge to bring out my camera while the colours around me and the composition in my sight got so overwhelming. Green, red, orange, blue, a door that remains open, and a story happening.
Yet I can still feel the stare, which I constantly get from the locals and never know how to respond.
Posted by Josh at 2/13/2007