Just when I thought that this blog will never be consistently updated (what with the long hours I spend for studio work and illustration projects in-between), by some miraculous twist of fate, I have somehow found a way in my current schedule to allot days devoted to blogging. Having said that, this post is intended as a final hurrah to summer. Yes, even if the rainy season has already set in.
A summer ago, I and my friend, Evan, found ourselves in Bali after exploring temples around Yogyakarta. While it was scorching hot in the latter, Bali weather was erratic, much like the current weather condition here in Manila – one morning we’d be sweating while taking photos and marveling at temples, the next thing we know we’re running and looking for shelter from a sudden downpour, usually settling for the nearest cafe (with Wi-Fi!) we can find. We arrived on a rainy night; our flight from Jakarta was even a couple of hours delayed. A one-hour cab ride took us through lush rolling hills and rice terraces to the town of Ubud, Bali’s center for arts and crafts, dance, and music. We had difficulty looking for our guesthouse as it was tucked away in a narrow residential area, a good 10-minute walk from the main road where most of the other guesthouses, curio shops, and restaurants are located. The best part of our room was the huge terrace overlooking the guesthouse’s garden. I would wake up early each morning and enjoy my quiet time alone, having breakfast and sipping a good cup of coffee. I brought my handy sketch pad with me, and I would draw away during lazy afternoons and evenings, listening to Beirut and Florence and the Machine. That terrace is just perfect!
Jaipur was next on our itinerary after a day trip to Agra. A 2-hour train ride took us to the Pink City on a cool April night in 2011. We stayed at Baba Haveli, which was just a quick tuktuk ride away from the train station. The owner, Mr. Vijay Gautam, was an excellent host – a relief after an exhausting and quite a bad day in Agra. Albeit not so spacious, the rooms and hallways are quaint and charming, lavishly decorated with elaborate frescoes and tasteful furniture that exude old world charm. Our room has a tiny balcony facing the street. Despite that, we didn’t have a problem with noise and were able to sleep soundly.
Early the next morning, we started our tour. Tuktuks (autorickshaws) and local buses are the best modes of transportation to get around the city. But for time-challenged people such as I and my friend during the time we visited, private cars are available for rent. I highly recommend Real Rajasthan Tours. Aside from English-speaking drivers, they offer various tour packages and even customized ones for your convenience and travel satisfaction.
Dubbed as the “Pink City,” Jaipur takes pride in its distinct pink-painted buildings, which were intended to resemble the red sandstone Mughal architecture. The capital of Rajasthan is a bustling city filled with magnificent forts and palaces, and bazaars teeming with varied textiles, shoes, and Rajasthani jewellery – the latter being its famous commodity. It boasts of being India’s first planned city, known for the width and regularity of its streets. The city is at its most picturesque during late afternoons when its rose-colored architecture glows vibrantly under the rays of the setting sun.
Glorious decorative patterns can be found on almost every wall and structure, whether painted, carved or etched. I tried to capture these in photos as best as I could for future painting references. Composite tickets are available at a reasonable price of 300 INR for tourists that would grant you access to five monuments – Amber Palace, Nahargarh Fort, Jantar Mantar, Albert Hall, and Hawa Mahal. Additional charges apply for some sites if you’d like to take pictures.
It’s usually during these times, when I’m cozily cooped up in my studio on quiet, lazy evenings that wanderlust strikes hardest. I sincerely do not believe in that cliched adage, “Money can’t buy you happiness.” Other than a warm cup of coffee with a dash of cinnamon sprinkled on it, happiness for me comes in the form of plane tickets and a travel itinerary for that next big trip that could go on for weeks or what ever span of time I feel is necessary for me to temporarily escape the mundane daily grind. Not that my day to day activities are boring; it actually gets pretty spontaneous and exciting most of the time. It’s just that travel has always been number one on my priority list, and it is during these trips, when I lose myself in strange and exotic new places that I feel that I am most alive.
But since I have sworn a vow of poverty in preparation for a trip on September, I content myself by musing and browsing through photos of past travels. As I type this, I am trying my hardest to stop myself from packing my bag and disappearing for the the rest of the week into the rustic town of Vigan. Yes, despite the rainy weather.
Udaipur in Rajasthan, India is currently that one place I fondly recount memories of when I’m wanderlusting – the sights, the sounds, the food. The romantic White City isn’t called “Venice of the East” and “City of Lakes” for nothing. This vast expanse of scenic beauty is home to temples and Rajput era palaces of utmost elegance, and four picturesque man made lakes – Fateh Sagar, Pichola, Udai Sagar, and Swaroop Sagar.
When I feel alive I try to imagine a careless life A scenic world where the sunsets are all Breathtaking
Scenic World (Beirut)
While it is a must that one should experience travelling from one city to another via Indian Railways, I and my friend took a quick flight from Jaipur to Udaipur due to time constraints. We had limited time to explore the Rajasthan area as we had to be in Punjab at a certain date for a good friend’s wedding.
A piece of advice when taking train rides: It’s best if you book at least a day prior to your trip so that you can get to pick the best available sleeper coaches. But if you don’t mind squeezing in at the fan-cooled general coaches, then by all means, book on the same day. Don’t forget to be friendly with the chai wallahs walking through train cars. Especially for long overnight rides when you experience difficulty sleeping, you’ll find that fresh cup of masala tea they would readily serve you with a smile most soothing. Continue reading →