Friday, January 30, 2015

Gurgaon [19/01 - 29/01]

It is my first visit to New Delhi, and my second visit to India. This will be my longest stay in India, spanning 10 days. I arrived at New Delhi airport and breeze through the customs. My driver waited for me past the gates and I proceed to my hotel - Trident Gurgaon. 

As I walked past the security gates, I am amazed by the palace-like design of the hotel. 

There are fires burning on the water.

The hotel reception is spacious.

And here is my room.

I walked around the hotel and noticed the pool is one floor below. At both sides of the stairs are lamps.

Let's contrast it with the morning scene.

This is the breakfast dining area.

Besides having dinner in hotel, we can either visit DLF Cybercity, a commercial district with ample restaurants. It is a short 3mins drive from our hotel.

This is part of my regular Indian cuisine diet.

The other area where I can hang out is the large Ambience Mall. Depending on the traffic condition, getting here can be as quick as 10mins to as long as 30mins.

A short distance from my office is the Kingdom of Dreams. It has a theme-park style design. But there are two main highlights here.

The first highlight is the food street. It features cuisines from all over India.

One of the afternoon, we had Indian Muslim cuisine.

And on a separate day, I visited the Kingdom of Dreams to check out the other highlight - musical.

They have a few musical shows throughout the week. I bought the 2999 INR Zangoora - The Gypsy Prince show. They have an English audio set which cost 250 INR. The translation is a bit out of sync with what's happening on stage. But the dance and performance is worth the money.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Old Delhi Bike Tour [25/01]

My good friend John recommended us to sign up for the Old Delhi Bike Tour. A quick search online return with the one and only Old Delhi Bike Tour ( They have a few packages but we went for the original Shah Jahan tour (Old Delhi). It cost 25 Euros per person and we registered for it a few days before the trip. As we approach to the actual date, we were concerned that Obama visit will have some parts of the city being curfew off. But the tour organizers told us not to worry about it. The rendezvous time is at 6.30am around the Old Delite cinema. 

We left our hotel at 5.45am and arrived at the Old Delite cinema by 6.20am. It was darkness around the Old Delite cinema. There were a large number of tricycles parked in front of the cinema. I recce around the area first, trying to figure out the exact rendezvous location. The website gave very detail description on how we can walk from Delite cinema to the carpark area. 

And below is our gathering point. I noticed all the participants are ladies except for me.

We began our journey into the Old Delhi streets. We zipped past the Delite Cinema, past Turkman Gate and arrived at Chawri Bazar. The route takes us through small winding and uneven paths. You will need pretty good bicycle skill to manoeuvre your way through. The Chawri Bazar is like a circular town square right in the heart of old Delhi.  

People were still fast asleep at this time and it's quite quiet.

We continued our journey and arrived at the residential area of the Spice market. We parked our bikes along the road and climbed up 4 flights of stairs to the top of the building. It gave us an astonishing view of the surroundings.

Our guide told us this is also a member of the Old Delhi Bike Tour group.

After we made our way down, the Spice market is starting to come alive with hawkers pushing their wares to the shops.

We continue our cycle through the busy roads and arrived at the Civil Lines. They wanted to show us the contrast between the Old Delhi district where people live in poverty to luxurious mansions just across the main street. We had a short chai break at this time.

Here I am with my bike.

Finally, we arrived at the Jama Masjid and is dazzled by the majestic architecture of the mosque. The guide told us people who could not visit Mecca, will visit the Jama Masjid.

It is lunch time and it is Indian food at the Karim. They told us this is one of the original chain restaurant that serves very good Prata with Mutton curries.

Here is our brunch spread.

I walked back to the main street to have a quick snap of the Jama Masjid.

And we continue our journey down the busy market street.

As the Delite Cinema is quite a distance from the subway, I decided to hop on a tricycle to bring us over to the nearest subway line. It cost 60 rupee for the 10mins ride.

Thank you to our driver.

The Delhi metro is remarkably clean and advanced.

Prior to returning back to our hotel, we visited Delhi Haat which sells a variety of handicrafts.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Taj Mahal [24/01]

A visit to New Delhi is never complete without a visit to the legendary Taj Mahal. Coincidentally the weekend we were there, there was also a planned schedule visit by President Obama. We did all the necessary checks to ensure the Taj is not closed on the Saturday which we planned to visit. 

The entire journey from Gurgaon to Taj Mahal plus the entrance tickets and guide cost me 10,000 INR (S$222). We departed from our hotel at 7am and begin our 3 hours journey towards Agra, where the Taj Mahal is located. 

As luck would have it, the car we were in has its tyre pressure running out. The journey was delayed by an hour to 2 hours. By the time we arrived in Agra, it's lunch time. So we have lunch at the Oberoi hotel which is by the Taj below.

The restaurant has quite good view of the Taj.

From the hotel, we took an electric car to the entrance. We have our tour guide to the right below.

Here is the main doorway leading to the Taj.

And viola! Check out the majestic Taj Mahal.

Here is our group photo.

The tour guide told us to take a photo of the Taj from this perspective, and so we did.

Here is another photo close as we walk by the side gardens.

We will either have to remove our shoes or wear shoe protective covers as we go into the Taj Mahal.

There are two mosques by the side of the Taj Mahal.

Behind the Taj, is a long beautiful river.

Let's take a closer look at the elaborate design and inscription on the walls.

There are still endless stream of people coming to visit the Taj as we left the area around 3pm.

From there, we made our journey back to hotel (skipping the Agar Fort) and got back to the hotel at 9pm.