About Me

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
I am married to my loving husband for more than 38 years now. I am a mother to 3 beautiful children, until 11 years ago when I lost my youngest son. Since then my life is forever altered but yet unbroken....

My Travel Journal

"There isn't much I haven't shared with you along the road and through it all there'd always be tomorrow's episode" - Elton John

I started traveling around the world since early 80s when I had the opportunity to combine business trips with vacations. Then later when my rezeki is in abundance, there were numerous other trips along the way for vacations, most of the time with hubby and the kids when the timing is right. I have also started to compile the journal and photo-pages covering almost more than 25 years of world wide travel. Some destinations I visited just once, others many times. Many of those places are the obvious famous places people would like to visit but some, the casual traveler doesn't even think to try. I have placed links to my travel at the side bar of my personal page, My Life Reflections, and will be updating them from time to time.

My wish is to continue my travel and complete circumnavigate the globe, insyaAllah…

Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Agra, India 2008 - The city of the Taj...

"You'll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut..." - Dr Seuss

After breakfast we drove towards Agra , the city of Taj Mahal via Fatehpur Sikri. The distance of about 235 km was covered in about 5 hours.

(A long way to go)

Fatehpur Sikri

Fatehpur Sikri was built by Emperor Akbar in 1569 and abandoned after 15 years due to scarcity of water. The principal buildings of the imperial palace complex, clustered on a series of terraces along the sandstone ridge, formed the core of Fatehpur Sikri, Akbar's city. The royal complex contains the private and public spaces of Akbar's court, which included the harem and treasury.

(The Roya complex of Fatehpur Sikri)

The adjoining sacred complex with the Jame’ Masjid, Salim Chisti's tomb and the Buland Darwaza are separated from the royal quarters by the Badshahi Darwaza, an exclusive royal gateway. Stylistically, it marked the absorption of Gujrat into the Mughal empire and reveals a successful synthesis of pre-Islamic, Hindu and Jain architecture with elegant domes and arches of Islamic building.

(Domes and arches of the building)

Taj Mahal

(The Mughal palaces)

The world famous Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan in 1630 in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. The monument said to be one of the most elegant and harmonious buildings in the world, is the manifestation of the wealth and luxury of Mughal art as seen in its architecture, garden design, painting, and calligraphy.

(The majestic Taj Mahal)

The 144 foot double dome of the Taj is capped with a finial and the four minarets each 131 ft high are crowned by an open octagonal pavilion, highlighting the perfect symmetry of the tomb. The filigree screen, meant to veil the area around the royal tomb, was carved out of single block of marble. Mumtaz Mahal's cenotaph, raised on a platform is next to Shah Jahan's. The actual graves are in a dark crypt below and closed to visitors.

The Mughals believed that flowers were the symbols of the divine realm, thus in the Taj pietra dura has been extensively used to translate naturalistic forms into decorative patterns that complement the majesty of its architecture. Inlaid calligraphy in black marble was used as a form of ornamentation on undecorated surfaces, with the size of the Quranic verses increasing as the arch gets higher, creating the subtle optical illusion of an uniformly flowing script.

(Another beautiful palace)

Agra Fort

Agra Fort is a massive structure on the bank of Yamuna River. The entrance is from the south through the impressive Amar Singh gate. To its right is the so-called Jahangiri Mahal, the only major palace in the fort that dates back to Akbar's reign. This complex arrangement of halls, courtyards and galleries was Zenana or the main harem.

(The Agra Fort)

Along the river front are the Khas Mahal an elegant marble hall with a vividly painted ceiling, characteristic of Shah Jahan's style of architecture and two garden pavilions with bangaldar roofs. The Sheesh Mahal and the royal baths are to the northeast, near the gloriously inlaid Musamman Burj, a double storied octagonal tower with clear views of the Taj, where Shah Jahan was said to be imprisoned by his son Aurangzeb.

Monday, 29 December 2008

Jaipur, India 2008 - The Pink City...

"If you are bored with life, if you don't get up every morning with a burning desire to do things - you don't have enough goals..." - Lou Holtz


(29 – 30 December 2008)

(Decorative marble walls)

We passed 6 checkpoints before we boarded the delayed flight from Srinagar to Delhi. Due to bad weather, the flight passed Jammu without stopping. Our driver Santosh waited 4 hours for us at the airport. We had dinner then started our 265 km journey to Jaipur braving the dense fog and icy night. Along the way we met with 2 accidents. We arrived safely way after midnight at Maharani Hotel in Jaipur.

(A painting of a dancer)

Jaipur also popularly known as Pink City is where modernity and tradition exist side by side. The walled pink city, vibrant with colours, houses the City Palace, an astronomical observatory and a bustling bazaar where artisans displayed colorful puppets, silver jewellery, bangles and other handicrafts in their shops.

(Light snacks by the road side)

The Palace quarter encloses a sprawling palace complex of Hawa Mahal, or palace of winds, formal gardens, and a small lake. Nahargarh Fort crowns the hill in the northwest corner of the old city. Another noteworthy building is Sawai Jai Singh's observatory, Jantar Mantar.

Amber Fort

(Blending Hindu and Muslim Mughal architecture)

Amber Fort is known for its unique artistic style, blending both Hindu and Muslim Mughal elements, and its ornate and breathtaking artistic mastery. The fort borders the Maota Lake, and is a major tourist attraction in Rajasthan.

(Modern Art Museum)

Amber Fort is a well preserved 16th century built on 4 levels surrounded by ruins. We had a choice to either drive up by car or ascend on elephant back.

(Elephant ride in the fort)

The Fort is the ancient capital of the State until 1728. Among the many splendours of the fort, we visited the Jagmandir or the Hall of victory glittering with mirrors, Jai Mahal and Temple of Kali.

Maharaja City Palace

(The pink Hawa Mahal)

The focal point of the city of Jaipur is the Hawa Mahal or the Palace of Winds, a five storey high Baroque- like structure built to enable the veiled ladies of the harem to observe the street scenes below and remain unnoticed. The side facing the street outside the palace complex has 953 small windows, and the breeze (hawa) which circulates through these windows gives the palace its name, and keeps it cool even in hot months.

(Circular arrangement of guns)

The City Palace, a wonderful combination of Mughal and Rajput forms of architecture, is now partly a museum housing miniature paintings, manuscripts, Mughal carpets, musical instruments, royal costumes and weapons, giving invaluable insight into Jaipur's royal past.

(Colourful Indian puppets)

Jantar Mantar

It is the 18th century astronomical observatory with several incredible sundials and sun clocks. Some of the instruments at the observatory are still used today to forecast the weather and the turns of nature.

Jal Mahal

(Foggy day at the Water Palace)

The Rajput style 'Water Palace' sits in the center of the Mansagar lake. The lake is often dry in the summer but winter monsoons frequently turn it into a beautiful lake filled with water hyacinths.

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Kashmir 2008 - Paradise on Earth...

"Sometimes it takes sadness to know happiness, noise to appreciate silence and absence to value presence..."


Kashmir Trip
(26 – 29 December 2008)

(A painting on the wall)

The economic down turn had severely damaged the tourism sector, the catastrophic Mumbai incident made matters worst. Since the Mumbai attacks, several countries have cautioned their nationals against visiting India, while others have asked to review holiday plans. There were no guarantees against repeat attacks.'But this had not dampened our enthusiasm to visit India and Kashmir…When we arrived at Indira Ghandi International Airport in Delhi we were met and assured by our ground tour agent that our security is their utmost concern, especially at tourist attractions in Jaipur, Agra and Delhi and we were also informed of the current plight for independence and the unstable political condition in Kashmir.

Cradled in the lap of majestic Himalayas, Kashmir is the most beautiful place on earth. One of the Mughal emperors, is said to have exclaimed:'“If there is paradise anywhere on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here... “'

(A lone shikara on Dhal Lake)

The Khyber Boathouse

The flight transited in Jammu and reached Srinagar an hour late. We were met upon arrival by Farouk and Gulam, our personal guide and driver. In Srinagar we experienced a 3-night stay on one of the houseboats on the vibrant lively Dal Lake situated at the edge of the city. The transportation used on the lake was the shikara.

(A neat row of the boat houses)

The Dal Lake sustains within its periphery a community so unique that it has a complete infrastructure that one can find almost anything from doctors, tailors, bakers, sundry shops on tiny floating wooden houses, surrounded by vegetable and lotus gardens. The Dal Lake is famous not only for its beauty and tranquility from night to dawn but also its vibrancy bustling with activities during the day.

The boathouse stay was a unique experience for us. The serenity of the lake, with its beautiful sunset, a picturesque scene we often see only on postcards.

(A typical water street)

The 3-room boathouse is equipped with heater and warm water bed at night. With Abdul, our personal butler and a cook to attend to all our needs, we were treated like a Maharaja and Maharani.

Mughal Gardens

We visited 2 Mughal Gardens, Nishat Bagh (Abode of pleasure) built by Asif Khan, brother in law of Jehangir in the 16th Century and Shalimar Bagh (Abode of love) built by Jehangir for his wife Noor Jehan. The gardens are situated on the bank of Dal Lake with the Zabarwan Mountains in the background.

(A beautiful winter garden)

The gardens comprise of terraces, containing canals supplied with water from the river from the mountain. The top garden, unseen from below, was reserved for the ladies of the court. The garden is considered to be very beautiful during autumn and spring due to the color change in leaves and the blooming of flowers.

(The garden at dusk)

Sonamarg - Meadow of Gold

Sonamarg is a tourist resort situated at a distance of 84 km from Srinagar. Our trip passed through the scenic town of Ganderbal, Kangan and Gund of the Sindh Valley. At Ganderbal beyond the Mular Lake is the point where the icy Sindh River leaves the mountains and enters the plains. 'Spectacular views of the Harmukh range dominate the horizon all along the route. Sonamarg is at an altitude of 2730 m, with a backdrop of snowy mountains against the blue sky. The Sindh River that meanders through the valley abounds with trout.

(A long ride on ponies)

We hired ponies for the trip up the mountain which can lead to Thajiwas glacier. This place is a major local attraction during the summer months. During winter there are less people crowding the resort.

(A river full of ice)

Sonamarg is the base of a major trek that passes along several mountain lakes –Vishansar, Kishansar, Gadsar, Satsar and Gangabal. It is also the take off station for the drive to Ladakh across the Zojila, a major pass in the Great Himalayan Range, through which the Srinagar-Leh Road passes. But during this time of the year, the pass was closed for a few months because of heavy snow.

Gulmarg – Meadow of Flowers'

Gulmarg is at 2650 m above sea level. The distance of 65 km was covered in 2 hours. The view enroute from Tangmarg to Gulmarg is fascinating. It has one of the best ski slopes and claimed to be the highest golf course of the world with 18 holes. Gulmarg also prides itself as one of the highest lift-served ski resorts in the world with a Gondola Cable Car Lift to Apharwat top. The first section of the Gondola, from Gulmarg to Kongdori gives a downhill ski run of about 3 km.

(Scattered mountain resorts)

After the cable car ride we tried the not-so-smooth sledge ride which caused my injured back to ache again. We had a hearty, hot lunch at the Pines Resort Hotel at the top of the mountain.'The Mosque of Hazratbal'Reminiscent of the Mughal rule is the mosque of Hazratbal, made of white marble with a dome and a minaret. Hazratbal Mosque is the repository of a single hair of the Prophet Mohammed, exhibited to the public on certain days of the year. When we visited the mosque, only the men were allowed in. After reciting the ayat kursi I stayed outside and watched the kids feeding a flock of pigeons.