Saturday, 22 July 2017

7 Wonders of the Modern World – Taj Mahal, Agra – India

Taj Mahal, Agra …. Somehow the wonders of the modern world pales to the expectation that one desire from it. I guess it the disappointment is when everyone says it’s a masterpiece putting it up there on a pedestal that after more glorious bootlicking reviews, one’s expectation of being lifted to a higher plane of existence when visiting any of the 7 wonders could never be fulfilled. 

I enjoyed Agra in a way although the distance of places put me off a little. Distance is fine but being force to use only the preying touts of Tuk Tuks or camel or horse carriage cause me to hate India local transport a little more. 

I visited the Red Fort of course and Taj Mahal which was a structure of great artwork but then I also took a long walk into the real Agra … the back lane carefully hidden from the tourist path were the locals go about their daily lives …. It was a place where locals look at you as if you were a lost puppy, strayed off the main tourist road and into their back alley housing.

Not much to post on Agra and Taj Mahal … it was a place to just chill and enjoy the view

Taj Mahal - Tourist Everywhere

Travelled on : Sep 2015

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Buying Fine Arts Souvenir in Jaipur

After 2 hours I was finish with the Amber fort and headed for lunch. I passed by one handicraft shop and went in looking for Fine Rajasthan Painting on Plastic or as the cheaters call it Camel Bone. It has become an obsession for me now to get one for some reason …. So do regret not getting it in Udaipur where I saw the actual artist painting them. 

The shop did not have any for they only have carving. The shopkeeper thou was a nice guy who recommended me a place along the way back to the pink city. The store was nowhere anywhere where a tourist would go. Out of the city and surrounded by empty shops nearby. I had time and thought to give it a fair chance. Walking into the shop I saw they had what I wanted or rather had the stuff but not the quality of painting that I wanted. 

We only have paintings from Rs 1500 and above. All our stuff are good stuff. The word GOOD is over used in India …. I don’t think they understand the meaning of quality. 

He showed me some of the works which I rejected and the shopkeeper dove deeper into the stash till I finally see one that might just make do. 

This one of Rs 6000 

How I hate the intricate layers of India bargaining system. Nowadays my bargaining style seem to be insulting the shopkeeper in India …

I think its painting that is not done asleep at least but no way does it worth USD 100. Thank you and goodbye ....

Walked out and started walking back to town. 

Along the way I saw one more shop … a large one that had some of the fine painting displayed on the window. I decided to give it a try …. Why not …. I had time. … 

This shop had really good works. Not masterpiece such as the one I saw in Udaipur but these were good that the brush strokes did not seem sloppy. How much …. ??? Rs 3500 for the elephant Rs 4000 for the Kingfisher …. Painting on silk cheaper Rs 1000 or if you want painting on paper Rs 800. I contemplate it … keep looking, somehow considering the options and the worth of the painting. 

The Kingfisher Fine Painting on Synthetic Camel Bone - Bargain and Bought for Rs 1000
I have no money for that. 

No problem … ATM nearby …. 

No money means no budget …. You think ATM means unlimited money ???

The banter went on for an hour at lease with me looking as tormented as I could. I wonder now how I even had the patients to do it thinking back. Normally I just snap when the opening price is obviously crazy. 

What’s your budget the shop owner asked … Rs 1000 for the Kingfisher …. 

This is not possible …. 25% offer of the opening price is not possible. 

In a way in India we all know they mark up 100% to 300% for foreigner waiting for people to bargain at 50% of the price before finally settling at around 65% … they still gain a rip off of double the selling price. So in a way me asking for 25% of the original price seams just right. 

It dropped to 3500 as expected …. 

Let me think about it ….

Silk …. Silk painting is only Rs 1000 …. 

No I not interested in silk I told them …. 

More conversation …. 3000 final price … best price … 

I dun have money …. I need to think about it …. If I spend money now what about tomorrow ??

Arghh this is really nice painting, tormented me being wishy washy ……. Mmmm mmmmm no I need to think about it …. 

Give me your name card for the shop so I can find it tomorrow if I somehow manage to shuffle my budget …. 

Shopkeeper sends the boy to get name card but I could tell he was stalling … the boy took forever to get the name card over … 

Friend … ok …. Rs 2500 …. Really very cheap … you are lucky person …. ( am I really lucky ???) 

At this point I decided I will need time to contemplate my buying decision …. Proceed to walk out the door … 

Whoops I U-turn .. I forgot my water bottle …. 

Friend … Name me a price between 1000 ( my Budget) and 2000 ( Oh so it drop again to 2000 ) 

No I need to think … 

Just tell me a price … 

Why are you pressuring me ? I barked at him …. 

No pressure he said … and I scratch my head and grabbed my water bottle and started to walk out the door … I will think about it I said … 

OK 1000 …. And he started the packing process …. 

I was stunned … dumbfounded … what the f*ck just happened …. 

You sure ??? 

Yep yep … no problem … 1000 Kingfisher is yours … 

I dun want you to get into any trouble …. (Secretly thinking maybe I should not buy this now but can’t think of a way to escape tactfully)

No problem …. Rs 1000 please …

So I parted with Rs 1000 and gained a Rajasthan Fine Painting on synthetic Camel Bone. Why do I somehow feel that I lost instead of winning a grand bargain of 25% …. Only in India

Post Note: Nowhere else in India did I saw such quality and size of work in India at this price even after extensive bargaining …. The closes I got was Rs 1400 in Dalli Haat New Delhi. I am starting to think I got a good deal … either that or that somehow being a foreigner all these shopkeeper opens the same inflated price … oh well … only in India 

Travelled on : Sep 2015

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

The Pink City of Jaipur – India

Recalling Jaipur I was so tired I was not pleased when the hostel was located at a faraway location from any sorts of sights. Being set in a residential neighbourhood this hostel was really far away, no busses, no trains, no food.

The one thing that annoy me the most was the food. No food nearby. It took me about 2 hours walking round and round going in a bigger circle to a bigger circle till I finally found some resemblance of food. That was at least a 20 minute walk from the hostel.

The Pink Turban Hostel. Because the hostel was hot with lousy air conditioning (Although they were using a desert cooler and a huge one too) WIFI that barely works and a location that sucks big time I was not pleased with Jaipur. 

New Jaipur - The Pink City

A typical Street inside the Pink City - Jaipur

The Pink City Gate - Jaipur
I only did two things in Jaipur …. Visit the Pink City which was not really pink and not really pretty thou it was a walk like any other walk though India big cities. Streets dedicated to Sari, streets dedicated to jewellery, streets dedicated to chapatti …. You get the idea … the only new thing I saw was a street that was dedicated to Marble carving. That was a sight to see but any stuff worthy of spending Rupee was too big to carry. 

I got persuaded by some people from the hostel that I should and must visit the actual Jaipur which was far far away and has a famous fort call the Amber Fort. I though the Pink City was the old city of Jaipur but apparently it was the new Jaipur.  

So I made my way … rickshaw was draining my funds in Jaipur and that did not even get me to my destination and I had to take a bus. Amber fort thou was quite a worthwhile visit, grand and ever charming. Touts and friendly Indian guides will pester you to get a guide …. It’s not worth visiting without a guide they would say, you will be wasting your money …. Rs 200 rupee for a foreigner entrance ….

I find it f*cking rude of Indians who seems to think they, and when I say they I mean every f*cking single individual with different minds and idea whom seems to think they are all knowing and all wise. They give the off air vibe that you tourist don’t know what you are doing …. Follow me I will make your trip memorable till I part you with your money and then you will feel cheated like a Indian. 

I went in without a guide …. Read the tablets information post every now and then and just went nook and corner exploring …. One of the security guard saw me wandering everywhere and asked me to follow ….

He could not speak much English but was kind enough to show me all the hidden rooms of the fort and best view of the place such as hidden staircase that gives amazing view upstairs. Just when I was starting to profoundly hate Indians …. This chap alters my narrowing view of India …. 

Amber Fort - Jaipur

Amber Fort - Jaipur

Amber Fort - Jaipur

Amber Fort - Jaipur

Amber Fort - Jaipur
Its people … Its people …. Just that most Indians are cheats …. At least at tourist places.

Travelled on : Sep 2015

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

More Tuk Tuk Stories – I’m an Honest Tuk Tuk Driver in India

India is really taking that last mile of travelling out of me. I got to Jaipur and before getting off the bus I could see the faces of the tuk tuk drivers all looking in and pointing to the one tourist in the bus which was me. Step off and immediately I was flanked by these disgusting creatures. I lost my calm …. I despise them really. 

Outer District of Jaipur - India
Once I got my bag it was time to negotiate but even just a short 3 hours ride form Pushkar and I was not in the mood. How much to Pink Turban Hostel …. The standard diversion tactics and Indian playwrights came alive. I was not in the mood and with this one guy who thinks India is great and keep asking why in a obtrusive manor, I really lost my calm. 

How much to Pink Turban Hostel …. If you don’t know you can get loss … 

I know the way, he finally admitted … 120 rupees ….. 

60 rupees I said 

Not possible sir … 100 rupees at lease … 

60 rupees … Yes or No … stop wasting my time … 


Starts walking 


Shouts for another tuk tuk

Ok 60 …. 

I got in and it was two drivers … one to drive and one to distract you …. First time India? … first time Jaipur? Why Pink Turban … so far from city … many good place in Pink City nearby …. WHY WHY WHY ….

I fucking hate India …. All cheats …. 

No cheat in Jaipur … all honest people here …. 

Everyone says that I told him, and all the same story. 

I Honest man I dun like lie, give me a gift from your country, Its not possible for 60 rupee 80 please …. 

I promiss I swear upon my f*cking dead honour ….. shut up and drive me to Pink Turban …. 

Stuck in traffic the guy started yelling to another Tuk Tuk Driver next door in Hindi ….. after a while …. OK you take bag and go with him … he bring you to Pink Turban … 

60 rupee ??? 

I got the f*cking head wobble …. Got out and the bastards zoom away … 60 rupees I asked the new bastard and he said 100 rupee … 

Those guys are cheats I am honest the new tuk tuk driver said …. 

F*cking bastards … 

I decided I will walk to pink turban …. But half way through I gave up when a Tuk Tuk with a smile pulled over 40 minutes later. 40 minutes’ walk managed to calm me down and this time I negotiate without the hostility and settle at a price of 70 rupee …. 

Welcome to Jaipur … the new new tuk tuk driver said ...

I hate this place already.

Traveled on : Sep 2015

Monday, 17 July 2017

Holy Town of Brahma – Pushkar India

Follow my blog with Bloglovin
Pushkar was a holy town. Whenever I think of holy town in India I think of Varanasi and its craziness yet peaceful nature. In a way Pushkar resembles that but in a much much smaller scale.

I ended up in the Moonlight hotel recommended by Raj in Udaipur and true enough a rare and honest guesthouse owner. Offering rate was 250 rupee a night for the cheapest room which was really good and went up as the room gets better. I took the cheapest of course. 

Two guys I met in Pushkar …. Andres and Edward. Andres was from Columbia and Edward was from Germany. These two was the one I hang out the most exchanging stories on the rooftop while smoking cigs. 

I ended up reciting the story of Brahma quite a few times to whomever I met. Most of them do not know the story Brahma but ended up in Pushkar based on lonely planet recommendation. It’s a holy city …. Hence travellers goes there without knowing the story. 

Pushkar was a nice town …. A small lake in the centre that could be walk around in 20 minutes was the scared lake that Brahma created. Devoted Hindu comes here to take a bath just like in Varanasi but less intense. The single street around the lake was plied with tourist shops selling all kinds of food and handicraft. 

Holy City of Pushkar - India

I ended up staying three night in Pushkar despite not having much to do here. Everyday was sort of a same routine …. Walk around and head back for some sleep and read comics. The last full day I decided I must see the Brahma temple … it’s was the reason I came anyway.

I was so lazy in Pushkar that at one point I could not have been bothered if I even miss going to that temple. Thinking back maybe it was the force of Shiva at work preventing me from developing deep interest in visiting the temple. 

Dumping everything in the hotel including shoes I head out with Edward to the temple …. Line was long but ever moving and still not as crowded as the Kali temple in Kolkata. Not too bad I thought and nearing the start point of the steps a flower vendor called out to us ….

Hello Hello ….. Eh Hello … 

Flower for Brahma ….

No thanks …. 

No respect Brahma ….. 

By now I know how to give back a curse when I see fit …. 

You no respect Brahma I retorted back ….

Meekly he said no …. I respect Brahma, but he did not try to force sell his flower again. 

In we went and round the inner circle following the flow of Hindu tourist. The outside says no camera is allowed but once inside, it was the local Indian tourist that pops out the camera phones and snapped away. I smiled as I know enough about Hindu religion now that respect meaning is not the same as the western culture assume. Respect is doing the devoted worship and keeping their god chant in mind always …. The story had nothing about cameras as 4000 years ago there was no such things.

Me and Edward sat inside the temple for a while in a quiet corner while I relate all the stories I know about Brahma and the Hindu Culture …. He was very surprise but was very grateful for the knowledge that he now had a deeper understanding of Pushkar. 

Pushkar was a nice rest but it was time to move on to Jaipur … 

This time I took the tourist bus which was 200 rupee but jam packed with people and never on time …. The boy at the travel agency which I asked when is my bus coming after an hour kept saying 15 minute later …. Or with the calming sit down hand sign and mouthing wait wait. While his friends around all watch the internet and some sort of youtube channel which I suspect contain as much nudity they could find I was ignored to wonder if I was even going to get out of Pushkar …. I got angry … gave him my piece of mind about the absurdness of what was going on, only to get the standard reply ….

*GRIN* This is India …

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Travelling by Local Government Bus from Jodhpur to Pushkar – India

I had time to check for the local suburban government bus so I decided to take it. The official bus stand was filled with people …. The real India! Not the tourist bus which is normally empty but leave you waiting for hours for the bus and when it arrive it is packed to the brim like sardines. No the government bus was a rackety bus that looks old, painted in blue with all the Hindi markings of where it was going.

Bus stand had ticket counters as well to sell tickets to wherever you are going but the catch is they would only sell the ticket once the bus arrived. No advance reservation allowed. Bus stand are only in Hindi for some reason and no English board nor announcement can be heard. This makes it harder for one to navigate the Indian bus system

Local Government Bus in India
Nothing a few questions can’t help answer and I found that the bus departs at 9 am in the morning. I have realized that information in India is always never as it is ….. it’s always approximate …. But if you do not head the information provided and lost track of time, miss of bus or unfortunate event is your fault entirely.

Research done a day earlier I was ready for a local adventure

Bus Station in Jodhpur
The next day I arrive at 815 am early to buy the bus ticket only to be told by the ticket booth that the bus to Pushkar departs at 1030 am …. I was to wait around to buy the ticket at 930 when the bus arrive. F*ck this shit and I walk over to the next counter and ask for a ticket to Ajmer instead. I knew Ajmer had bus almost every half hour and from Ajmer to Pushkar it was only a very short journey anyway ….

Ticket Booth in Jodhpur Bus Station - India

I hate waiting … especially in India where waiting can be infinite. Most displeasure shown would result in a reply with a big grin “This is India” 

So I got the bus to Ajmer for 185 rupee which left half an hour later and then at Ajmer after dodging all the auto rickshaw telling them I have no money since I arrive using a government bus. A few more asking around and I found the government bus to Pushkar and sat in the bus waiting for the worst fee and turn out it only cost 14 rupee from Ajmer to Pushkar …. Hooray .. I did the right choice and manage to save time and also money.