Archive for December, 2006

Incredible India! Day 6/7

December 31, 2006

DAY 6/7 – AGRA – DELHI – SINGAPORE

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no it’s not Buckingham Palace, it’s the Red Fort, Agra

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the well maintained gardens

We make a visit to the Red Fort, by now I’m kind of immune to the intricate, magestic Indian forts/masoleums. Still, we spend an hour or so walking through the courtyards and archways – imagining how wonderful life was for this moghul and his hairem 😛

We then head back to Dehli and arrive about 6 hours later. We settle in the backpackers strip – Paharnj – cosy, convenient strip with cows, rickshaws and shops to delight.

We do our last minute shopping and manage to squeeze in henna painting, threading & mani/pedi.

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henna in its birthplace

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hot snacks being deep-fryed

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fresh muesli with fresh curdy yoghurt

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As you have seen and read, India can be best described as INCREDIBLE. Although not for the faint-hearted – it’s a place that should be on your travel list – great food, great shopping, great adventures and great memories.

Next destination: Perth & Melbourne Mid Jan 07.

Ps. Happy New Year, hope 2007 is the best yet!!!

Incredible India! Day 5

December 31, 2006

DAY 5 – JAIPUR – AGRA

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Surreality of the rural villages

We head back to Agra in pursuit of visiting the Taj on Christmas Day. Off the beaten track, we travel through rural villages – in what resembles an Indian safari adventure. Once again a visual feast – we’re treated to intriguing carriages of people, women drawing water from wells, carrying them in potted/stainless steel vessels, shepherds, women making cow patties (not edible beef patties – but cow dung patties used as fuel). When we stopped for a pee break at the petrol station, some curious village kids come out of their abode, to take a peak at us strange-looking Chinese girls. I quickly snap a few shots. How ironic that both sides find each other equally intriguing…..

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shepherd and her sheep

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curious kids

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curious men

We reach the Taj Mahal and queue up for an hour just to keep our handphones in the locker. After observing the foriegners approached by locals and cutting the 2 hour queue to enter the Taj, we decide to follow suit and pay an additional sum to get in ‘quick.’

Being Christmas day – the place is crawling with enthusiasts Indian & non-Indians alike – all wanting a piece of this marble World Wonder. In all it’s integrity – it lives up to it’s expectations – it indeed is an architectural marvel.

We snap away and wait till dusk as it changes from pearly white – to a yellow tinge and finally a soft pink.

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queueing for entry to the tomb

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basking in the Taj’s glory

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the picture-postcard Taj Mahal

Incredible India! Day 4

December 31, 2006

DAY 4 – JAIPUR

After a hectic day settling into Jaipur, we decide to have a relaxed itinerary – so first on the agenda is Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds). Spend a good 1hr or so capturing the windows and unique angles of this charming building.

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Locals posing strategically behind the arched windows

Later, we continue with our main mission in Jaipur – shopping! We spend hours haggling for the best prices for tops, skirts, more bags & jootis 🙂

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Posing the old-fashioned way

In between shopping along the bazaar, we chance upon this old-fashioned camera & pose for black & white portraits. Funnily, the developed prints made us look Indian – hehe.

As part of the leisurely itinerary – a massage was in order, so we all booked an Ayurvedic hot oil massage. An hour long affair, it was just what we needed to relax our shopped-out bodies 🙂

Incredible India! Day 3

December 30, 2006

DAY 3 – NEW DELHI – JAIPUR

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Facade of Hawa Mahal, Jaipur

Set out to Jaipur, Rajasthan without Dup & family, so it’s jus the 3 of us. We reach the ‘Pink City’ about 6 hours later, only to realise that many of the hotels are booked out 😦 Feeling the frustration of Mary & Joseph on Christmas eve – we finally find a hotel 2hrs later that was available for 2 nights – phew!

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the chaotic Jaipur city

Jaipur’s the epitome and stereotype of what I envisioned India to be – a barrage of people, vehicles and animals charging from all directions. More accurately… cows roaming the streets, old world charm – manual/auto rickshaws, camel/horse-led vehicles, beggars, children rummaging through the rubbish, men peeing in the open-spaced cubicles, sari-clad females, turban-clad males and of course the occasional visible scurrying rats. It’s absolute chaos and disorder – and I quote JJ, "It’s like a huge migration of people from 1 end to another."

Anyways, at dusk we bravely set out towards the town area – braving the suicidal traffic – and truly it is suicidal crossing the roads. It was a visual/sensory feast – the razzle & dazzle of colourful goods ranging from saris, bangles, jootis to fresh peanut brittle, muruku to fresh pungent urine and cow dung to the different pitches of the inpatient vehicle horns.

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fresh produce for sale

Incredible India! Day 2

December 30, 2006

DAY 2 – NEW DELHI – AGRA

Head out 8ish with Bal, Dup, baby Arleen, Rikki, Sheryl & JJ in tow. A 5hr drive out, we make a breakfast stop and eat more yummy naan & chutney. The surrealness of India starts kicking in… I start noticing eagles and even this huge, strange stork fly past.

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brekkie – naans, chipatis, chutneys, chai…..

We visit Akbar’s Tomb an impressive masoleum built circa 1600’s. Apparently this Mughal was the greatest and one who was greatly respected. Being the first national monument I had visited, I was rather entranced by the intricate decorations on the facade and tiles. What gripped me the most though, was the chant by this elderly who guarded Akbar’s tomb – his haunting voice echoing through the chamber, leaving a lasting impression.

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Akbar’s Tomb

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In awe of the splendid intricacy & design

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the enchanting chant…

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mingling with the shoe-minders 🙂

After Akbar’s tomb we excitedly head out to the jewel of India – none other than the Taj Mahal, only to discover it’s closed on Fridays!!!!!!!! ARGGGGGH… Determined to get a glimpse anyways, Dup asks the locals and the driver travels through the narrow lanes and we get dropped off the back entrance of the Taj. A few metres later, we discover the back view of the majestic Taj, though a backdrop to the cows and thick lawn of litter. Still we’re elated to peak at the gem at dusk.

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the incredible juxtaposition…..

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the jewel of India

Incredible India! Day 1

December 30, 2006

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Namaste, I’m back from India, an amazing 7 day adventure, nursing a sore throat (me thinks from all the delish naan, masalas & muruku), surrounded by my messy, but treasured assortment of Indian buys (ranging from accessories, books, muruku to wooden blocks). My Havianna slippers & Nikes both have stubborn remnants of cow dung – which I think best describes India – it’s a trip/place which will stick with me no-matter-what!!!! 🙂

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DAY 1 – NEW DELHI

After a 6hr plane ride on Indian Airlines I reach the New Delhi Airport. Whilst waiting to clear customs, I can’t help but observe how attractive the British Indians are – sharp features, well dressed & confident.  Am greeted by Dupinder (Bal’s hubby) and meet up with Sheryl and JJ (my travel companions for the trip).

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We dump our luggage at Dup’s Aunty’s place and head out to the Janpath Markets and my eyes light up as I see the
Jootis (Indian shoes) which were top on my shopping list 🙂 In addition to
the shoes, I bought tops, belts & some accessories.

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a buffet spread of jootis

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Sheryl, Bal & Ag – bag lovers unite

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the dazzling assortment of goods tempt @ Janpath Market, Delhi

For eats, we had Pizza Hut for lunch and ordered Indian flavoured pizzas and Masala soda (lemonade peppered with spices – or rather a swig of steak – it’s really meaty flavoured). Dup eggs me to try a bethel nut after lunch, sans-tobacco. Whilst I spat it out, like all the locals do – it was only cos it tasted like soap 😛 Dinner was yum too, Dup’s Aunty Mrs Bhatia – displayed her fine culinary skills with a spread of chipatis, chicken curry, salads and flavoured rice – YUMMMMMMMMMM….

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Erm, this taste like soap Dup!

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Mrs Bhatia’s spread of
home-cooked Indian food

Santa Aggy’s bz @ work

December 20, 2006

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I’m pooped…. Been bz makin chrissy pressies all nite 🙂 Made ‘paperdoll’ magnets for Mr Woh & breadtag/paperclip/snowflake/zouk flyer earrings for my CNL buds… Haven’t finished yet, will work on completion tomorrow, before I fly off.

If I dun get a chance to update… Wishing everyone a real special Christmas 🙂

Bread tag earrings – NEW!

December 17, 2006

Christmas is literally around the corner & some of my lucky friends are going to be receiving these bread tag earrings. If you’re interested in purchasing any of these earrings do email me quick, as I’m actually heading to India this Thursday. I can be contacted at agneschen.ong@gmail.com

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Paperclips

The Holidays, the holiday, the stupid queues…

December 16, 2006

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Robertson Quay

I finally caught a movie after such a dry spell of non-inspiring flicks. After Di raved about The Holiday I decided to watch it alone after Angie’s step@Cathay yesterday. It was a really good feel-good movie. Jude Law is terribly dashing and Jack Black damn funny and cute – I flattered Nav by telling him – he has the potential to be the Bollywood version of Jude if he shed his paunch, and that he has the humour and flab of Jack 😛 Anyways it was jus nice escaping into the lives of the 2 women who house swapped – the cosy England cottage and the flashy neighbourhood of L.A, the men, Cami’s gorgeous pastel fluffy winter wear and the twists. I totally loved the movie and came out feeling all warm-fuzzy 🙂

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So what about my holiday to India – well it seems my Aussie visa takes longer to process so I’ll be joining Sheryl & JJ a few days later – which actually works out fine for me. Bal smsed and said its super cold in New Dehli – which is fine too for me – cos my last real taste of winter was my work stint in Sydney (circa 1997).

On Tuesday, I searched for all my woolies, scarves etc from the containers and put them in the wash with the softener – all ready for my Winter wonderland in the Indian Golden triangle 🙂 I’m rather excited about the trip – whilst Nav & Nelly have warned me that there’s plenty of cows and their dung – I can’t wait to venture this part of Asia.

I’ve been doing some read up in the travel guides. I can’t wait to visit the various bazaars and purchase some bracelets, jootis (traditional flat shoes) and saris. I can’t wait to indulge in all the North Indian cusine – naan, kulfi (traditional ice-cream), tandoori chicken 🙂 🙂 I can’t wait to snap away at all the colourful images. I can’t wait to see the awesome Taj Mahal…. I think this is going to be a trip I’ll never forget!!!!!!!

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Lastly, this morning I was all psyched for the Nike Sale at the Expo. I was determined to find a pair of shox. I arrived 11.45am to discover I had to queue to enter (duh,,, hello this is singapore!!) Then when I reached the doors we had to queue again – this time though we were herded by yellow partitions – I felt like some sheep and was asking myself why Agnes??? After much patience, persistance and tonnes of determination I found a pair of Nike shox in my size and picked up a singlet and socks for Nav only to discover I had to queue AGAIN just to pay and then queue again just to reclaim my backpack. ARGGGGGGGH…. total savings $60…. This is the FIRST and LAST time I’ll come to such a sale….. It’s so much easier visiting Queensway…..hmmmph….

A jam-packed-fufilling day

December 11, 2006

Today was a friggin’ productive day and the day’s not even over yet!!! 🙂

  1. Did Step class @ Capital
  2. Maid came over to clean up the house
  3. Kenny came over to quote glass
  4. Washed 4 loads of clothes
  5. Sorted/threw out CD’s
  6. Wiped the mirrors
  7. Siya dropped by
  8. Bought cockroach & ant bait @ CK
  9. Got shoe inner soles fixed @ Peoples Park Centre (PP)
  10. Changed sg to rupees @  PP
  11. Picked up alterations @ Pearl’s Centre (PC)
  12. Traded in 2 old/crappy nokias @ PC for a 2nd hand Nano!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂
  13. Got 2 watches repaired
  14. Courier collected the recall Macpro battery
  15. Going for RPM in an hr!

I’m so so pleased with myself – I’m not always so ultra-productive but today was  AMAZING!!!!
And I can’t believe the ah-bengs offered me $135 for the 2 handphones which didn even work that well (spoilt LCD screen, missing battery, spoilt buttons) – man I was expecting $12 at most for the 2 phones!!! Aside from selling handphones they sold 2nd hand cameras and nanos – so I just casually asked them how much the nano was and he quoted $180, so I nicely asked if I could trade the 2 hps for the nano & the ah-beng said YES. Yipppppppppeeeeeee. For my cleaning efforts the past 2 days, that definitely is the silver lining!!!!!!! Yay Yay