Thursday, January 19, 2017

Namashkar India (Part 5 - Agra, The City of Love)

Now we move to Agra, the city of love. The place where the world famous Taj Mahal is located. Perjalanan dari Varanasi ke Agra should take around 12 hours, more or less.

Kami bergerak dari Varanasi ke Agra menaiki keretapi, dan bertolak pada pukul 6 petang. Sepatutnya kami sampai Agra pukul 6 pagi, tetapi sebab the train was delayed on the way, we arrived Agra somewhere around 11 am.

Which is dah lambat.

So, nasib baik kami tapau food from Sha Chicken Hut and makan dalam train siap siap, so kami takpayah susah susah cari kedai untuk breakfast di Agra. Sampai je di Agra, kami terus cari cloak room and letak barang kat sana. Time tu agak kelam kabut lah, dah lah barang banyak (semua sebab beli banyak saree cantik kat Varanasi) and masa pulak dah terhad kan, so memang akan terkejar kejar.

Di Agra, kami tak plan nak pergi banyak tempat pun, sebab since kitorang dah overspent di Varanasi, so kitorang kena berjimat di Agra. Dalam kepala masing masing time tu, cuma perlu sampai Taj Mahal je. Kalau sempat pergi tempat lain, it would be a bonus.

Tapi dalam hati I, I teringin nak pergi Fatehpur Sikri. Kalau you guys duduk Agra dua hari maybe sempat lah kot. Sebab Fatehpur Sikri tu despite it's only 40km away (in maps) from Agra city center, tapi it takes almost 3 hours to reach there by car. So, memang kitorang takkan sempat lah ke sana sebab plan kitorang, Agra only day trip sahaja. Pagi sampai, malam tu terus naik train pergi tempat lain.

So lepas kami letak bag, kami pun keluar dan terserempak dengan pemandu teksi dekat luar cloak room tu. Nama dia Sameer. He pretended to help, tapi sebenarnya dia dah nampak lah kami ni memang potential customer and dia pon sweet talk lah. Memandangkan kami ni pulak desperate, sebab takut tak sempat nak menghayati kecantikan Taj Mahal, maka kami pun setuju nak naik dengan Sameer ni.

Sameer offered 3 or 4 places to go with the price of Rs 800 (you guys can bargain cheaper if you want) which is around RM56. Kitorang terus ambik lah sebab senang dah ada orang tunggu, plus naik kereta so cepat sikit sampai tempat yang kitorang nak.

Sameer dropped us dekat depan Western Gate of Taj, and from there we decided to walk all the way to the counter. Kalau nak naik rickshaw pun ada kat sana, and it will cost you around Rs. 100 to Rs 200. And like I said before, we have to be cautious with our money, so we opt to walk.

Kalau jalan pun actually takde lah jauh sangat, dalam 5 minit je dah sampai.

Anyway, most people nak sangat tengok sunrise kat Taj Mahal ni (which is actually our original plan if our train tak delay) but the perks of going to Taj Mahal in the afternoon is that orang tak ramai. Kitorang tak payah beratur panjang pun boleh terus dapat tiket sebab kaunter yang opened for foreign tourist takde orang beratur langsung!

So, yeay!

Tix nak masuk Taj Mahal cost us Rs 1000, sebab harga pelancong kan so it's okay. Then, lepas we purchased the tickets, we proceed to the locker room untuk letak barang sebab apparently dalam Taj Mahal tak boleh bawak bags, foods, and tripod. But, selfie stick is allowed. And waktu you beli tickets tu, you will be provided with water bottle. Yes, air je yang boleh bawak masuk ke dalam tu.

In case you wanted a tourist guide, ada banyak tourist guide kat situ yang work on tips basis. Diorang kata service diorang free, tapi kena bagi tips je. And again, sebab kitorang kan cheap skate, we don't bother to take tour guide at all. Better google je lah kalau nak tahu apa apa facts.

So, nak masuk Taj Mahal tu, you kena jalan another 3 minutes to the gate from the ticket counter. Nanti you akan kena screen by the guards there. And no worries, the lines are separated according to your gender and female officers yang akan check you, if you are a female lah.

If they found food in your bags (beg kecik boleh bawak masuk), it would be instantly thrown out, so jangan lah bazir duit beli makanan and see it goes to waste okay. Kalau tengok tong sampah kat situ memang penuh dengan food semata mata.

Bila dah lepas je security check tu, maka bermula lah perjalanan anda untuk menghayati keindahan Taj Mahal, lambang cinta Shah Jahan terhadap isteri ketiganya, iaitu Mumtaz Mahal.

The first gate you'll find upon entering the compound

Gambar tu no filter okay.

Sebenarnya ada lagi dua gate untuk masuk ke Taj Mahal ni. Western gate ni selalunya digunakan oleh foreign tourist. From my reading, most people said it's usually crowded with people but maybe sebab kitorang sampai pun dah tengahari kan, so memang takde problem lah.

Thing about Taj Mahal is, it is so majestic tau. Majestic gilaaa yang you masuk compound dia je, you dah rasa meremang macam..biar betul kau ada kat sini. Ha macam tu.

I rasa, kalau you ada interest in architecture, or you memang take architectural course, you'd appreciate Taj Mahal more. Sebab semua benda kat sini symmetry. Honestly, I baru tahu Taj Mahal ni famous sebab dia sangat symmetry! And every inch of the structure tu memang dibina dengan sangat intricate and details okay.

Sebagai contoh, tengok half dome dalam gambar Western Gate tu, the inside so cantik it creates optical illusion when you see it
The inside of the half dome

Cantik kan? Majestic okay. So intricate.

Then, when you walk past the gate, this is what you will find:

Tugu Cinta, Taj Mahal

Too bad, tiang satu lagi tengah under maintenance pulak. Tapi Taj Mahal tetap maintain gah dah cantik.

Bila I tengok Taj Mahal ni kan, honestly rasa macam sebak and terus rasa romantis. Gituh. I can only imagined lah how much Shah Jahan loved his wife sampai sanggup bina structure macam ni demi nak mengabadikan rasa cinta dia terhadap Mumtaz.

By the way, kat sini memang ramai gila orang ye. So, agak susah lah nak ambik gambar solo kat sini. Mesti ada orang punya kat background. Kalau nak cantik, kena cropped lah bagi cantik.

So, lepas dah puas ambik gambar kat luar ni, kitornag pun berjalan masuk ke dalam Taj Mahal itself.

Untuk masuk ke dalam, you ada dua options:

  1. Tanggal kasut and kaki ayam 
  2. Pakai shoes cover that is provided to you the moment you bought your tickets
So, kitorang of course lah opt to wear the shoes cover tu kan. So nanti, waktu jalan masuk tu you takde lah mengotorkan Taj Mahal tu nanti.

Kat dalam Taj Mahal tu, we are not allowed to take any pictures because kat dalam tu is the makam where the bodies of Mumtaz and Shah Jahan disemadikan bersama bersebelahan.

Sebenarnya, original plan untuk Taj Mahal ni, sepatutnya body Mumtaz je disemadikan di makam ni, tetapi lepas kemangkatan Shah Jahan, anakanda beliau decided nak kebumikan mereka bersama sebab dia tahu betapa bapa dia ni sayang sangat kat Mumtaz ni, so biarlah mereka dikebumikan bersama. Anyways, perbuatan anak dia ni (memakamkan mereka bersebelahan) telah mencacatkan sedikit simetri plan for Taj Mahal ni. (boleh further read kat google kalau interested)

Dalam Taj Mahal ni sangat gelap ye, so memang kalau nak ambik gambar pun tak nampak apa apa. So, we decided to spend time outside and just to devour and indulge the beauty of Taj Mahal while we are there.

One of windows in Taj Mahal that's decorated with Quran verses

Windows in Taj Mahal ni semuanya dihiasi dengan ayat Quran. Cantik sangat. Fun fact, the verses were written with optical illusion too, so it would appear the same size when you look at it at any angles. Cool kan?!

Basically we spend almost half an hour just sitting kat koridor Taj Mahal tu just to view the beauty that is Taj Mahal. Memang cantik. You really have to really really love that person to be willing to spend that much money (most of the national treasure) to build something beautiful like this. Seriously.

We've spend more or less 3 hours in Taj Mahal. So, around 2 pm, we called Sameer so that he could pick us up and take us for lunch. We went to Rangrezz restaurant. Originally, we planned nak makan di Jahanpanah sebab baca good review and the price is cheaper, tapi tutup pulak. So, we opt for Rangrezz sebab alang alang Rangrezz ni sebelah je dengan Jahanpanah.

Anyways, from Taj Mahal to these restaurants tak jauh mana pun. Around 10 minutes je. Itu pun it actually could be shorter but Sameer tu bawak slow macam makan angin, boleh?

Oh, the traffic in Agra sangat laah chill okay. Tak busy langsung. Nothing like Calcutta. It's so relaxing, kereta tak banyak, takde bunyi honk, sebab tu lah our tour guide pun bawak relax je. Sampai kitorang yang bising suruh dia drive laju sikit sebab kitorang dah tak banyak masa okay.

So, after makan tu, we decided to go to Baby Taj because masa dah tak cukup and we can only choose one place to go je. We decided not to go to the Red Fort because we'll be going to at least another two forts in India, so we opt for Baby Taj instead.

For your info, all the attraction places in Agra is closed by 4.30 pm so, nanti plan wisely okay kalau nak cover every places.

Why Baby Taj? The name is cute kan? Well, Baby Taj's original name is Tomb of I'timad-'Ud-Daulah which is the mausoleum for Mumtaz's grandfather, Mirza Ghiyas Beg. It was said that Baby Taj is the draft and inspiration for Taj Mahal and it's also known as The Jewel Box.

Baby Taj


This is the Baby Taj. It's actually a lot smaller than Taj Mahal but the plan is almost the same. It has three gates (if I'm not mistaken) and it has the gardens, same like Taj Mahal.

I noticed colors of Baby Taj ni berubah according to the lightings. In this picture, it looks white as pearl but as the sun sets, the color changes to golden.

Another angle of Baby Taj

See, the color changes. 

I did not go inside the Baby Taj sebab tak cukup masa time tu. Anyhow, to go in, you'll have to wear the shoe covers, same like the one in Taj Mahal. 

Anyways, the ticket to Baby Taj is a lot cheaper. It only cost us Rs. 200 per person. So, definitely a must go to place!

Also, kalau you perasan, the gate kat dalam gambar di atas, pattern dia sama je macam the ones in Taj Mahal. And, Baby Taj is actually was built Mumtaz's aunt, daughter of Mirza, Nur Jahan.

After finished jalan jalan kat Baby Taj, Sameer took us to a shop for us to buy some souvenirs. The shop was quite old, but the stuffs inside were good.

So Farah and I bought Taj Mahal miniatures (kononnya it was made by the same marble as the one they used for Taj Mahal), and chai. Darjeeling tea originally from India. A small miniature of Taj Mahal only costs us Rs. 150 per piece, which is RM10 je. So not bad lah kan.

After done shopping, we decided to go back to the train station sebab our next train is scheduled at 8 pm so we have to get back fast! And by the way, sebab kitorang cheapskate, kitorang tak bagi tips pun kat Sameer, only bayar the fees je. LOL. 

We arrived at the train station by 7 pm.

Dekat train, we went straight to the waiting room because apparently our train was delayed to 10 pm. So kitorang lepak lepak je lah. The facilities here pun okay je. Toilet bersih, takde lah kotor mana pun. By the way, kitorang bertolak from Agra Fort Train Station, not Agra Cantt. Ada dua train station kat sana, so decide lah which one yang you nak.

So, pukul 10 pm, kitorang pun get ready lah nak pergi naik train, sekali delayed again to 11.45 pm.

Around 11.45, we heard an announcement saying the train is again delayed to 3 am.

By that time, those yang waiting with us semua sambung tidur. Ada yang siap bukak sleeping bag and tidur like there's nothing to worry about. Some siap bentang kain and tidur macam tidur kat rumah okay.

Ada this one time, there were three ladies sleeping side by side. I assumed they were families. And it was around 1 am I think, and creatures of the night started creeping out. Well, there were rats coming from the toilet and going straight to the bin. I dengan Farah tengok je lah because the rats were across the room.

Then, suddenly, the rats boleh pulak jalan atas muka the ladies! Imagine the horror on our face! HAHAHA! But the ladies just tepis gitu gitu je. Well, tengah tidur kan, mana nak tau tikus ke lipas yang jalan atas muka, ye dok?

After some time, one of the ladies bangun and offered us her place for us to sleep. But, traumatized, we have to decline the offer lah. 

Anyways, orang kat sini baik dan peramah okay. Also, very romantic. Kat sini lah I witnessed a husband suap pizza to the wife sebab the wife was busy nursing their 3 months old kid. So sweet kan. 

So by 3 am, kelibat train masih tak nampak. And it stated there the train will be arriving at 5.45 am. Time ni kitorang dah mati kutu dah. Nak jalan jalan kat luar, the temperature was 14 degree Celcius. Sejuk gilaa okay, so we just stay inside and main phone je lah, tengok gambar and videos that we took in Taj Mahal and other places.

So, while waiting for the train, we did some math. Our next station should be Jodhpur. And we are supposed to do a daytrip in Jodhpur before hopping on the next train to Jaisalmer. Agra to Jodhpur would take more or less 12 hours. And by the time we arrived in Jodhpur, it would be night and we have to burn Jodhpur.

Anyways, we do not let that bother us for long, so we decided just go with the flow.

By 6 am, after almost waiting for 12 hours, we finally boarded the train to Jodhpur.

So, until next time, more interesting stories await and more wonders to unveil in next destination!

See you!



Monday, January 2, 2017

Hello, 2017!

Okay, berhenti sekejap tulis pasal India. I nak cerita pasal tahun baru. I nak summarize my 2016.

Honestly, 2016 is not my favorite year at all. In fact, I kinda hate 2016. But, 2016 also has somehow broaden my network. I've made a lot of new friends this year. I have reconnect with a few long lost friends and I've had one of the best trip in my life so far, this year.

So, overall, my 2016 wasn't really that bad lah actually.

I've started my 2016 with a roadtrip with a few of my close friends to Kuching. It was kinda an awesome trip but a bit tiring (thank God I wasn't driving!). The journey took 28 hours on the road (from Miri to Kuching return journey) but we managed to go to a few places yang I don't think I'd ever go if it's not because of the roadtrip. So it was awesome.

Then in February, there was a celebration. My girlfriend got married! It was a happy day as we managed to meet again (all six of us) and celebrated her big day. I was one of the bridesmaid. Nothing much happened in March, except that I've made a pack with 3 of my friends that 2017 would be our year (faham tak baru awal tahun masing masing dah miserable and give up with our 2016). We promised that all of us will get married in 2017. So far, semua berjaya tunaikan janji because they finally found love in 2016 except me, as always lah but it's okay.

In April, my career took a big turn. I was transferred to another department doing something that is totally out of my expertise (macam lah I was an expert in something all this while! LOL). But I kinda like my new job sebab it was fun playing with numbers but what a big responsibility! Cuak gak lah but so far, so good. But, because I was transferred to a new department, I managed to meet with a lot of new people which is kinda cool. Seronok sebab these people sekepala and they made me looking forward to go to office everyday, yeay!

Then in May I went to Mabul and reconnect with my long lost friend, Farah (the one that I went to India together). It was awesome despite I didn't have a diving license, I basically lepak and snorkel je kat sana which is very cool. I'd definitely do it again if I could. Tapi I have to cancel my trip to Philippines during this month, sebab tuntutan kerja. Sedih okay. I really wanna go there, tapi tu lah, belum ada rezeki kot.

My misery started in June when I got involved in an affair (if I could call it an affair lah). It was something that I wish I didn't do. It was very stupid of me but things have happened kan. I don't want to elaborate much on this matter, but cukup lah I cakap it was one of the biggest mistake that I have ever made in my life. Also, during this month, rumah sewa I kena pecah masuk dengan perompak while I was in the house. Thank God I sempat call polis and my friends and the perompak tak sempat buat apa apa but I was shaken and traumatized to this day. Sampai sekarang kalau I dengar bunyi pelik kat dapur, I terus tak boleh tidur. Takut okay.

In July, I moved out from my previous house sebab I dah rasa tak selamat kat sana. Rumah sewa I yang baru ni sangat awesome because it's an apartment! The rental is quite pricey tapi the security, insyAllah guaranteed. So I okay sikit lah. Nothing much happened in August, except I somehow macam dapat hidayah or some sort to finally stop the affair. I think God loves me, and He wants to protect me from getting hurt any further.

So in September, I've burned bridges. I quit the affair. I blocked him from my life. It was hard. I was miserable and I couldn't stop crying for days. But Tuhan dah susun semua kan, I've made friends with some of the most amazing people in my life yang have been here with me throughout the detox process. Like I said, it was hard at first, but I've managed. Also, in September, we managed to secure tickets to India!

October is all about my India planning. I was excited!

Then November came. India trip is finally happening! It was the best moment of my life so far. Bila pergi India, I bersyukur sangat I quit the affair. When I was in India, I could truly feel how much God loves me. He has saved me from a monster in disguise. Alhamdulillah. It was truly an eye opening experience for me, spiritually, and emotionally. I've learned about forgiveness. To you, if you are reading this, I would like to say, I have forgive you despite the fact that you never did a proper apology to me. I know you don't know what you did wrong. I know you think you were not wrong. But I was hurt. You have hurt me, but I have moved on. Those three months were the worst months in my life, ever. I wish you all the happiness in the world, because I am truly much happier now. Alhamdulillah. And I believe, you are too.

I could say that India has saved my 2016.

Back from India in December, I could say that I've changed. I'm still the old Mira, or Belle, some might call, but something inside me has changed. I don't know what, but I'm about to discover it this year.

Overall, lessons learnt from 2016:


  1. Friends can hurt you too
  2. It's never too late to walk away from something that hurt you
  3. Just burn all the bridges that took you nowhere, or worse, that took you to your misery
  4. Learn to forgive. Forgive whoever did you wrong and most importantly, learn how to forgive yourself
  5. God is great. Just believe in Him. He knows. Have faith in His plan
  6. Learn how to be alone. Learn to enjoy having only yourself as a company. It's not that bad
  7. Keep exploring things around you
  8. Appreciate everybody who walk into your life. If you truly want them to stay, cherish them. Not manipulate them. Show that you care, show that you love them
  9. Sometimes you have to be selfish for your own good

I have my wishes for 2017 too, which are:

  1. I want to work on my relationship with God. 2016 was not a good year for me spiritually, so I want to be a much better muslim this year. I want to run, to sprint towards Him 
  2. I want to spend more time with my family. If ada rezeki lebih, I want to take them to a vacation, all expenses paid...by me, InsyaAllah.
  3. I want to live a healthier life. Well, I managed to shed a few kilos in 2016, and I want to keep it that way too, only I want to be healthier and fit
  4. I want to be financially stable. 2016 has subtly taught me about money management
  5. I want to work hard and smart. I know my workload is gonna me superbly a lot this year, so I hope I'll manage and make no mistake ever
  6. I want to broaden my network, and keep my circle closer. My circle has grown smaller, but it's okay, I need to screen the people that I want to keep. Alhamdulillah I found a few quality friendship in 2016, and I hope that would stay. InsyaAllah.
  7. I hope I found the love of my life this year. Amin.


All in all, I wish you and me, may we all found what we lost, and may 2017 would be a GREAT year for us. 

Amin!