india chronicles: agra fort

after my visit to taj mahal, I have planned to see agra fort which was part of my itinerary for the day.  I realized as I went out of the mausoleum that I used a different gate  and it was not the one where the tuktuk dropped me off early morning.  I found myself walking on narrow streets and not even knowing where to go.  for a few minutes I just kept on walking, occasionally a tuktuk will stop by my side and the local driver offering me a ride but I just sort of ignored them.  I then saw a  tuktuk stopped in a corner street and I noticed that there were already passengers inside.  I assumed it picks up passengers (same in philippines?!) so I approached the driver standing beside it and told him – “agra fort”?  he nodded and I added – “how much”? he said “10 rupees”!

I then told him “noooo special! I go with them!” ( as I pointed a finger at the guys cramped inside his tuktuk.)  he looked surprised, I asked again how much and he blurted out – 2 rupees!  it was fun bargaining, it’s really not because I wanted to save 8 rupees but getting him convinced for me not to pay the “tourist rate” was a funny experience.  I then sat inside the tuktuk, took out my camera, positioned it infront of me and announced “picture”!!!”and here’s the result. 😀

after a short ride with my new-found indian friends I made it at agra fort.  the fort is a unesco world heritage site.

it wasn’t a friday so I have to pay the 50 rupees “pathkar” – whatever that is, hehe.

a welcoming structure at the entrance.

sometimes it also gets lonely being alone.

it shows here that part of the fort is under military occupation.

this is the hall of the public audience or diwan-i-am.

the octagonal tower, mussaman burj which actually offers a view of the taj mahal from afar.

macchi bawan, which used to have fountains, marble tanks and there were fishes.  also called as the fish enclosure – it’s all green grass now.

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india chronicles: humayun’s tomb

humayun was a mughal emperor who ruled parts of northern india during the mid-1500’s and his tomb is in one of unesco’s world heritage list.  it was built by the order of humayun’s widow, nine years after his death.

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i walked towards the tomb’s portal entrance and there were a lot of tourists like myself either just starting or just have finished their visit.

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there were water channels like these around the structure.

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the site plaque and the tomb.

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the structure is mostly made of red sandstone.

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the six-pointed star is a common feature on its designs.  it is actually a hindu symbol as i have read in some mistaking it as the star of david.  additionally, the hexagram is one of the oldest and most universal of all spiritual symbols.

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 cenotaphs in the entrance.

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humayun is actually buried in the basement below, this is his cenotaph.

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the chamber dome.

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more cenotaphs inside the tomb.

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intricate inscriptions.

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the jaali, are architectural decorations done by carving geometrical shapes on the stones.

vietnam chronicles: ha long bay day cruise

ha long bay, a unesco world heritage site and one of the new 7 wonders of nature is found about three hours ride away from hanoi.  mr. duc, the manager from the hotel i was staying on, arranged a day cruise for me which costs $25.00 that included the tour, transport and lunch.  i was ready by 8:00 in the morning and the tour guide personally fetched me in the waiting area of charming hotel and directed me to a van parked nearby.  when i boarded the vehicle, there were already other tourists inside because it was a group tour.  we were asked by the guide to introduce ourselves and which country we were from.  our group consisted of a french couple with their three adolescent children, a middle-aged british guy  and some local vietnamese.  about mid-way to our destination, we had a short stop at a restaurant and souvenir shop where some handicrafts are mostly made by disabled people.  it was not allowed to take pictures but when i was in the lacquerware workshop, they let me snap a few shots.

made from inlaid duck egg shells, these lacquer finished paintings are a work of art.

i would have bought a piece but i did not want to go beyond my travel budget.

this snake and scorpion wine was along the oreos and other chocolate cookies in the snack bar of the restaurant.  it is actually fermented rice liquor (plus a preserved dead snake and scorpion, lol!) and is supposedly health beneficial.

we continued our travel to ha long and we arrived the port.  the tour guide distributed our tickets and we waited for our boat.

our tour boat, manhan.

we boarded the boat and it started to slowly ply the waters of the bay.  i enjoyed the scenic view of these limestone karsts and cliffs in various sizes and shapes.  they were similar to the ones found  in puerto princesa in palawan which i visited almost two years ago, the difference is these are many.

we were served lunch and stopped by in one small fishing village.  i took a picture of one local woman selling some fruits and vegetables from a wooden boat.

some of the villagers also sell fresh seafood that they farm which can be prepared in the boat.

we then visited one of the caves of ha long and before that the tour guide gave us an introduction about ha long bay itself.

the cave we visited is named as thien cung , a recent discovery as told by our guide.  it was illuminated with different colors of lights.

there were shops selling souvenir items outside the cave where i bought some ref magnets.

we then travelled back to the port and started a three-hour ride by bus back to hanoi where i was dropped off near the hotel i was staying in hoan kiem district.