नया साल २०१५ मुबारक …Celebrate New Year in India

I’ve heard a lot about India.

I always have some plans for every new year. So, I was normally away from home during this festival since 2008. However, last year and probably this year, I will be home. This was what I thought just two months earlier before new year. I couldn’t really remember why I and my sister decided to go. All I knew was I’ve got a domestic trip before new year and another international trip after new year which was planned 6 months before. When the flight was confirmed, I confessed I still hesitated to go because of what I’ve heard. But, the more I found information about this country, the more I excited to go!

There’re so many things to see and so many different places to go within one country. It’s so amazing! All the bad things I’ve heard hardly stopped me to go now. Furthermore, it aroused me to visit other interesting cities in India more. I almost planned to visit India for the second time even I hadn’t made the first time yet. 😀

I decided to hire taxi with driver to take us around New Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Jodhpur, and Pushkar. It’s very cheap and convenient, you will be so happy if you’ve got a nice driver since you need to go with him everyday. However, we were lucky enough to have a very nice and friendly driver, he was always care for us and gave us a very good suggestion throughout the trip.

I’ve still heard a lot about India…

My anxiety level went up when I was on the plane. However, it’s getting worse when the plane had landed. I was almost freak out when I walked into the arrival hall and saw no one holding a signboard with my name on it, it’s just somebody else! Where was my driver? I had no idea what I was going to do next. Fortunately, my sister saw a group of people outside an arrival hall. And, that was the first time we met our driver, Mr.Mishra.

We spent 2 nights in Paharganj area. It was very near the main train station of New Delhi and there’re so many budget hotels for tourists as well. However, the first sight of this area in the morning nearly made me shock. All I’ve heard happened right in front of my eyes, the dirt, smelliness, beggars, noise, and cows on the road. However, I started to get used to it when the time passed by since it’s a normal thing in India.

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First day in Delhi was fun. Everything was such a new thing for me. However, I will tell about amazing things later in the next post. That day we went to Red Fort, Gandhi Smriti, Lotus Temple, and Humayun’s Tomb. The buildings were so gigantic and elegant especially the Red Fort, it’s the first attraction I saw in India. My perception about this place was delightful because it’s so different from what I saw on the Internet and the real building was so beautiful.

However, we could only spend a day in these places. Traffic jam was not the only reason. But, we were so enjoy taking photos with ourselves and with others! Many people especially schoolchildren liked to greet and take photos with me! Since I was not aware for this thing, I was a bit shock and curious about why they did that because no one looked at me like that when I was in Thailand. I asked my driver and he gave me an answer.

….’Don’t be curious, it’s normal, they’d like to take pictures with you because you are beautiful!’

Oh my god! I laughed with his answer but I personally thought that Indian people might never seen someone with green hair before. haha+ 😀 Well, we also tried Starbucks at Connaught Place later that evening. However, I really got different feeling because many people were gossipping about me!! What the heck?? Well, nothing serious, they might gossip about my hair. But, before I leaf, all the staffs and managers at Starbucks also asked me to take a picture with them! Oh, what really happened? haha+ Now, what really shocked me was not the dirt, noise, or smelliness of India but it was the feeling of a celebrity instead! 😀 (You know what?, there’re some people asked me to take pictures almost everyday!)

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Next day, we went to Agra, my driver’s hometown and the city of Taj Mahal. Since we arrived in the afternoon, I planned to visit Taj Mahal on the following day so we could spend all day long there. Then, we visited the Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah (Baby Taj: similar shape like Taj Mahal but smaller) and Mehtab Bagh (Moonlight Garden: a square garden opposite the Taj Mahal) to warm up ourselves before visiting the real Taj Mahal tomorrow. It’s 3pm, we planned to check-in and have late lunch. Unfortunately, the hotel owner suggested us to go to Taj Mahal now! It’s sunshine in Agra for the first time after a long cloudy week. So, we canceled the lunch and headed to Taj Mahal!

Well, the first sight of its was unexplainable, I was speechless , It’s so beautiful! The perfect white marble building in front of me was so flawless. It was more beautiful when the sun shone on it. I was so happy to see and to celebrate with one of the seven new wonders of the world in the last day of 2014.

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The first day of 2015, we did sight seeing at Agra Fort and Sikandra (Tomb of Akbar the Great). They were so beautiful as well, for me, Taj Mahal was only a highlight in this city. Next day, we took a long journey to Jaipur which took around 3-4 hours. However, there’re two interesting places to see along the way. They’re called Fatehpur Sikri (Ancient City) and Abhaneri (Stepwell). In my opinion, the Abhaneri really amazed me because I never saw the stepwell before. It showed us how smart ancient people were. Later that night, we arrived at Jaipur, the capital city of Rajasthan state. Jaipur had nickname as the Pink City because of the lookalike pink buildings in the old city part. That night I decided to stay at a luxury hotel decorated and serviced as I stayed in a palace. Well, those two nights were like a dream for me. I just didn’t want to leave that place!

There’s a lot to see in Jaipur. Most people planned to travel in these 3 cities, New Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur, because it took less vacation time and you’re able to visit many famous tourist attractions. One day in Jaipur was not enough for me. We just went to Amber Fort, Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds), Jal Mahal (Water Palace), and City Palace. However, I was not that impressed because of the ticket fee. It’s so expensive compared to the previous cities. As far as I knew, Thai people has got excepted from paying a tourist price in New Delhi and Agra but not in Jaipur and Jodhpur (where I would go next) due to the BIMSTEC agreement. Actually, it’s normal to pay in tourist price because we were tourists! I just couldn’t accept the entrance fee from Rs10 in one city to Rs400 in another city!

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After that, we went to Jodhpur, the Blue City. It’s pretty much off the plan because the city was quite far. Since I planned for this trip so I had a chance to go wherever I wanted! 😛 I didn’t know why I wanted to go to this city that much. It’s gotta be the amazing view of the blue houses and buildings looking down from the Mehrangarh Fort, I guessed. The trip from Jaipur to Jodhpur took longer than I expected, however, I could see the desert area along the way. If I had a chance, next time I will stay 2 nights in desert at Jaisalmer! Once we reached the city, my driver took us to Bishnoi handicraft shop. Actually, I didn’t mention about shopping in India. I didn’t plan for this thing because I just wanted to save money for traveling. However, every city we went, their crafts were so beautiful and had a good price. We did shopping a lot in everywhere we went until we really had no money left, so then we could tell ourselves to stop! 😀

Our hotel was in the old city area which car couldn’t access. So, we needed to take tuk tuk to get there. One night in Jodhpur was so wonderful because of the hotel style, friendly staffs/owners, and the rooftop view. We woke up at 5am preparing ourselves to see the sunrise on the rooftop. Even it’s so cold but I was overwhelmed by the view!

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Later we went to Mehrangarh Fort which was so magnificent. I loved this fort more than other places. Not only the fort was so beautiful but they also had a very good management for preserving this buildings and for the tourists to keep a very good memory about this place and its history. Then, we stopped by Jaswant Thada before heading to Pushkar, our next stop. Pushkar was the holy city, my driver said that. It has the Brahma temple and sacred lake as the famous places to visit. I had no idea what it was because I didn’t know about Hindu religion and rituals. And, I was requested to stay here for a night before going back to New Delhi for the early morning flight which it was better for driving. So, I didn’t find any information about this town. The truth was, I needed to be a vegetarian for a day! There’s no meat in this town! That dinner I didn’t try mutton curry with cheese naan, poor me. haha+ 😛

We reached New Delhi safely with Mr.Mishra. He really was a good man. All 8 days we spent together was really fun and happy. I couldn’t imagine how the first trip in India would be without him.

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There’s still a lot to tell but I’m afraid that this post will never end. 🙂 However, one thing I’m sure that what I’ve heard about India is totally different from what I actually see. People may be worried to visit India because of what they’ve heard. Yes, sometimes it’s true but sometimes it’s not. For me, the beauty of all attractions I saw just blow me away and I totally forgot about bad side of India. Even the Indian cuisine that I’m so worried, it turns out to be a very delicious dish in almost every meal. The unpleasant scams are easily managed if we know the truth and we just be able to ignore those scammers. I’m so lucky to have a chance to go to India. This experience is very precious. And, I’m so sure that this is not the end. India is still awaiting for me!

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