The Pink City and the Gayest Structures of Jaipur

While waiting for the pre-ordered complimentary breakfast at the hotel’s garden, an Indian guy wearing a turban showed up. My observant eye focused on him because he didn’t look like one of the staffs. He was heading to the portable music bass amplifier positioned in the middle of the garden. He slowly switched it on and sat beside the bushes. He took out his musical instrument, a flute and started playing. I was expecting of a frightening snake show. His music seems taming a wild beast from the forest but my perception was wrong! He was serenading all guests which was normally an ordinary morning show in the hotel.

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The Pink City

Location: Jaipur City, Rajasthan, India

Where I Stayed: Anuraag Villa

Buddies: Group (3+)

Our tour in Jaipur started at 9:30am exploring first the city center. A joyride to the old walled town of Jaipur which was called the Pink City. “It’s an Indian pink”, as explained by our new local guide. The vibrant color has different shade when comparing it with the bright pigment of commercially bought pink crayon. The stores, offices, flats, temples, and all the buildings inside the city were painted with the same color.

We passed by at Hawa Mahal, a distinctive landmark inside the Pink City. It’s a five-storied high wall with windows designed for conservative women of the royal family. It looks weird especially if obsessed to things which has so many holes. Parking was not allowed so we didn’t have time to drop by.

We entered the City Palace which was the residence of the emperors in the 17th century. For a fee of INR500 each, we explored the domain of the complex. The complex is home for old palaces with halls and alleys. Some was converted into museums and I personally saw galleries of old and antique personal belongings owned by previous leaders of Jaipur. Some old collections of textiles, armories and jars were also on displays. Unfortunately, photography was not allowed so the great collections were up to memory keeping only.

Beside the City Palace, we visited the Jantar Mantar. It is like a village with invisible houses and the stairs are remnants for the naked eye. It is actually an observatory and an open physics laboratory which has huge instrument for studying stars and constellations. There is also an instrument which provide accurate timing using the sun shadow. An entrance fee of INR200 per head gave us access to the old but proven technology of the 18th century.

After the city, our guide brought us to the Shopping Paradise to see locally made handicrafts. One guy met us at the entrance and voluntarily demonstrated on how they put dyes and design their own made textiles. We didn’t stay long time in the store for our stomachs were shouting because of hunger.

At 2pm, we moved out from Jaipur City and visited the Amber Palace and Fort with a fee of INR500 per person. The palace is magnificent as it was situated on the hilltop with a lake that nourishes its beauty. A rain poured heavily when we reached the rear entrance gate. The rain paused all the movements of tourists and stacked us at the gate. But when the nimbus cloud cleared out the sky, everyone advanced to explore the grandeur palace. The site has with magnificent view of the Amer town and spectacular surrounding walls on the mountain which securing the entire palace. It is haven for a dreamed like royalty living. The most impressive building for me was the Mirror Palace where walls and ceiling is ornamented with mirrors.

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We wanted to see and ride an elephant so we headed to EleJungle for the elephant activity.  We availed a 30 minutes elephant ride within the village which costs INR1,100 for two persons. The elephants were scary big and domesticated animals but its slow swaying movement massaged my son to sleep while I felt boredom. The simple living of the villagers was seen as the route of the elephant ride covered it.

Before going back to our hotel at 4:30pm, we stopped by at the lake side park sighting Jal Mahal. A small palace in the middle of Man Sagar Lake. The shining palace was under renovation and by looking at it from the distance left my thought uncovered. I didn’t have personal evidence if the palace is really floating or just surrounded by water. Our local guide said that there is no natural bodies of water in Jaipur and lakes were man-made.

At 7:30pm, we were invited by our buddy for a dinner at Raddisson Hotel. A sumptuous Indian cuisines were attempted to love and enjoy. We felt special as the head chef visited our table to check the served menu. The foods offered on our table were prepared distinctively as they adjusted spices to suit our sensitive tongues. Though majority of the menus were served spicy, our rendezvous on the restaurant with unusual food on my plate was remarkably astounding!

We’re back to the hotel at 10pm and prepared for moving to Delhi in the morning.

We checked out from Anuraag Villa at 9:30am. Our two buddies were already left the hotel earlier and on their way to Agra for a day tour.

I took a last glance at the Pink City and visited Madhavendra Bhawan Central Museum or famously known as Albert Hall.  Unfortunately, it was closed for maintenance which was scheduled on every Monday. The architectural beauty of the building was furnished with noticeable numbers of pigeons which dominating the picturesque hall. Such assemblage of feathered friends was visually romantic to the camera but undeniably unhygienic to the actual scene.

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Pigeons Hall or Albert Hall

Before leaving the city, we dropped by at Blue Pottery and discovered the displays of handmade porcelains on sale. The travel to Delhi took us five hours because the road was consistently lane for slower big trucks. Industrial site is along Jaipur-Delhi route. We arrived in Delhi at 4:30pm and we checked-in at Hotel Clarks Inn.

( Day 3 and 4 of my customized tour to the Golden Triangle of India last August 25 to 30, 2017. )

Rushed to Lake Sebu

While seated together with siblings, we talked about foods and places we like to visit. At first, going to Lake Sebu was only a suggestion but it just like everyone packed things and prepared to go.

At 02:30pm, we left our home in North Cotabato and few minutes stop over in Tacurong City’s Jollibee to calm our budging stomach. We then continued our travel passing towns of Sultan Kudarat province. The Lake Sebu is one hour travel from the town of Surallah, South Cotabato.

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The lake at dawn

The Lake Sebu is a mountainous town where one of the country indigenous people, B’laan is living peacefully. The area could be compared to Baguio City because of cold weather, pine trees and rice terraces. The town’s name is derived from the natural and protected lake which is abundant of fresh water species especially the tilapia.

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Punta Isla Lake Resort

Location: Lake Sebu, South Cotabato, Philippines

Where I Stayed: Punta Isla Lake Resort

Buddies: Group (5+)

RESORT. We booked the Punta Isla Resort, the most known resort in Lake Sebu. The dormitory type costs 1,600 pesos which is good for eight persons. We arrived at almost 6pm and was surprised that we were the only group who has booking. They were obviously expecting our arrival because their restaurant staffs are waiting at the reception. They offered a lot of menu but most of them, the raw ingredient was tilapia fish. Their best sellers were chicharon and kinilaw. They also have floating restaurant but a staff told us that we could dine there in the morning if we want to. The Floating Restaurant is normally open for lunch buffet.

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The hotel has swimming pools but without water and not for use. They also have many guest houses and restaurants. The room price was cheap so we didn’t expect much amenities. The room was so basic with old and thin bedding, towels and blankets. Since the area was on the lake side, insect repellent should be applied all the times. There were many mosquitoes, so we directly closed the room’s door once open.

The fantastic view of the lake greeted us in the morning. We only stayed in the resort overnight and didn’t have enough time to wander the whole area. However, I have pictures as souvenirs.

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We visited the known seven falls in Lake Sebu for adventure. The first falls was accessible through the road. The 2nd to 5th falls could be seen by riding two zip lines for a price of 250 pesos. The sixth and seventh were so far and in different sites. This was my highest zip line adventure so far which claimed to be the highest zip line in Southeast Asia at 600 feet above the ground.

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The 5th Falls as highlight of zip line adventure.