there is nothing inside me but a large wound,
a hollow place where no one goes,
a windowless present, a thought that returns
and repeats itself, reflects itself,
and loses itself in its own transparency,
a mind transfixed by an eye that watches
it watching itself till it drowns itself
in clarity:
-Octavio Paz (Sunstone)-
Location: Agra, southern area below taj mahal, about 2km below.

My road trip in India all started with a vision to explore, to experience and to witness those things that might inspire our lives. If you want me to share my total experience in India, its like when you were there, you just feel like you can be satisfied with just a cup noodle.



Where is love in India, when both rich and poor are living in both extreams, it is a reflections of something worth discussing for humanity, about what we have done in our lives. For the rich, have we done enough contribution to support humanity in total? Or are we adding damages that might split both worlds event further. India has been living in old world modernization for many centuries, they used to have everything in the past, but what is left over now is purely for admiration and the more we look at the past, the more sour we felt in the present lives. People work for nothing, it is just purely for survival.

The first day I arrive New Delhi, I supposed to get a free hotel pickup which was stipulated in the sales receipt but when I got there, there no one to pick me up. I made a call to the hotel and said there was no taxi available and said that I can get a local taxi and they will reimburse back my money but they didn't, they just ignored it and said that my taxi fees were too expensive. In anywhere you stand in India, there is surely a con-man beside you, awaiting you to fall into his trap, but those traps were getting to very stupid. The longer I stayed in India, the smarter I became from getting con.

I still remember the first day of arrival, where I stood out the door of the hotel, I received a culture shock, indeed I was very afraid but it got better later. Since my next journey would be Jaipur and I have to take a walk to the train station. And while walking to the train station, my personal encounters revealed to me one by one. Everyone tried to con me. Even when I tried to ask for the tourist ticketing center the guy would point me to a wrong direction because he wanted me to get lost and able to sell me an expensive ticket. The only way to survive the battle is to explore! The moment I got into the tourist ticketing room is like home sweet home! I feel so glad meeting everyone from all over the world, those people were really nice and friendly, trying to help us to swiff through the hard times.

The que was very long, in order to buy the train ticket we all have to take a very long que in order to get it, and the ticket did not promise a good seat, the best possible seat is the one with AC (air conditioned), while in some of the route you got to eat dust. It is quite an amazing experience. But I was bad luck, I waited for the que for almost 2 hours and just right before my turn the ticketing person said the counter is closed and ask to come back the next day. I went back the next day, took the que again and got my ticket, yes I faced the same battle on the way there, again.

By the way, if you are a female traveller, please do not wear short pants or skirt during your visits in India, there are many incidence where girls being raped in groups over the streets of India. This is very common and girls please try to cover up every part of your body while travelling safe here. Do not try any food outside of the hotel, those things can give you a hard time, you do not need any vacination to travel India as long as you consume expensive foods which is 10 times more expensive than the local foods.

After got my ticket purchased for the rest of the destinations, woke up early in the morning, instead of venturing to the modern Delhi I went to the old quaters of New Delhi, where all the poverty lies beneath the beautiful surface. While slowly venturing into the heart of Old Quaters, on the street you see people praying, and further deep in those small narrow pathways you will start to see things flowing deep into your mind. If you went pass the river in the old quatters you might found dead bodies floating pass, and on the street you may find kids eating the worms off from a dead body, if you got lucky. The first impression in old quatter was mind blowing, and soul enlightening. It is very hard to take in. 

India built a very good underground transportation, but above the ground is dusty market place, with people's moving around in order to work for a living. New Delhi is dry, the more you see, the more you felt imbalanced. So I was more looking forward to the rest of the destination.

The first train I took was not so easy, I got an non-AC seat where I have to eat dust. All along the trip to Jaipur I met this guy in the train, we chat for a couple of hours, shared many things, and I was still skeptical about him. One thing that the guy told me that got me thinking for a while is that 90% of the men in India have had sex with men, that was an incredible number. I asked why is the cabin is filled with men and he told me that female doesn't share cabins and they have to use the other cabins instead. While arrived Jaipur, the scene was incredible, I should have snapped a picture of it. I saw people sleeping all over the road, every single space is filled, not leaving any empty spot. That was like 2am in the morning. The guy was nice, he got me into a taxi and we continue chatting until I reach the hotel. I was surprised that he helped me pay the taxi fares. For that moment I felt that there is love in India. He is the only I met that did not try to con me. And I felt bad that I was skeptical about him. I guess he is trying to prove something to me. But you know what, I got con later by the hotel receptionist. 

The day of travel in Jaipur was alright, with all the training encountered from day 1. However, the guy that sent me back a day before had me realized something about the Indian society. I believe there is indeed a good part in everyone of them, but life made it hard and in turn they had no choice but to do something immoral in order to survive. After many years of suffering between the rich and the poor, those people belong to the lower status had began to give in and began to turn from the good, to the bad, without choice. However, I did not say that they are bad like a crime, but goodness only to those that are the same status between them. One thing I missed during this trip in Jaipur was to witness the children's wedding ceremony, which is forbidden to foreigners. Due to the fasting seasons there ceremony did not happened.

There is no train for the following night to Agra, where the Taj Mahal is. And so I took a ride to the bus station, bought a ticket and travelled all the way to Agra over the night bus, and I got the most expensive ones just to be safe. I was so worried about my luggage and I didn't manage to sleep well that night. The bus kept stopping and people kept exchanging, and after many hours the bus finally arrived Agra. Checked in an hotel and got con again. This time is a little funny, I asked for a room that has AC and gave me a room that claimed to have AC but in real it is just a fan attached outside of the room with an AC looking metal enclosure, damn. All night I have to listen to that loud noise and its not even cold.


Got up early in the morning for Taj Mahal. The ticket was a bit expensive but hiring a tour guide is as equivalent to the ticket price. At first they approach you and they made it sounds like its part of the package together with the ticket but actually is not, well I can always grab information by overhearing from tourist that hire one so I do not need one. Then there is this guy ask if he can help taking picture of me and have me pose a few and ask for money in the end, make sure you do not being fooled by him. And you can take along your shoes during the visit so that you do not need to pay the guy for watching out your shoes. The marbles are white in color so you gotta watch out for spits on the floor, it is awful experience if you step on one. :p If you hire a tuk tuk for a tour they won't take you to Taj Mahal on the first day and will place it in the next days plan so that they make sure you hire him the next day. if you hire a tuk tuk to purchase the ticket for you they will hold your ticket and never give you back so that they can transfer the ticket to the next person that hire him on the same day and he earn an extra ticket money from the tourist. Never feel that you can get a ticket at the entrance cos the ticket counter is 1km away so that they give business to those that able to transport you thru and flow. Gotta watch out for that.

I continue walking south until I am uncertain where I was lol. And I went pass a house and saw a few women waving their hands and asked me to walk in to their home, I gave them a smile and went in and we were unable to understand each other but we all laughed at it. They were happy to see me and had not asked me for anything and just wanted an asian guy to come in to spread the joy lol. A guy that knew little english did some translation for me.
Location: Agra, 3km south of town.

Women in India are mostly shy at heart and you hardly see women walking around on the streets, the most you can find them are in subways and most of them stayed in the house. I raise my camera on her and she refused but I got the shot anyways lol...
Location: Agra, 3km south of town.

Women are the kind hearted ones because the men are the ones who work. This kid made me laugh when I raise my camera to take a shoot and he immediately stood straight for me. lol.... the mom gave a smile for my action.
Location: Agra, 2km south of town.

This is behind the main street where the kids played and adults having their time. I got spotted by the kids and all trying to stretch their head to get a shot. You can see that I have been eating too much and they all are good comparison with their skinny bodies lol....
Location: Agra, southern area below taj mahal, about 2km below.

I got so much attention from the kids, over 50 kids were surrounded me and all the people came out from their house to take a look at me and smile. The lady on the left said that I am welcome to visit their home. I was so disturbed by the kids and I refused the offer, I should have stayed for a chat. Which I regreted not.
Location: Agra, southern area below taj mahal, about 2km below.

All the kids kept asking me to take a picture of them, I noticed a little ones glarring on me and i snap a picture of him. Lovely eyes he has, I think he deserves something more than a piece of chocolate (kids always try to ask for a chocolate there).
Location: Agra, southern area below taj mahal, about 2km below.

Met this old man who wanted to take a picture with his grandson. He love his grandson I can see. Behind him is his cow lol. I showed him the picture through my camera and he said if I can mail a copy to him. I said ok and he grab a paper that was torn apart and wrote his address, I will make sure I do it for him.
Location: Agra, southern area below taj mahal, about 2km below.

Kids showing me their books, it is indeed education is luxury for them, not everyone get to learn english as only private schools offer them. The fruit that this country need is education and health.
Location: Agra, southern area below taj mahal, about 2km below.

Faces of children of Agra. Its hard to find such faces in India, often times in India children were educated to beg money in tourist areas, many times you even saw children's with a motive behind at their age in order to achieve the desire of adults.
Location: Agra, 2km south of town.

It is fortunate for me to found this area that filled with kids that learn less from adults, pure and naive, seeking for someone that pay attention to them. This is the only area I found truth in their eyes.
Location: Agra, southern area below taj mahal, about 2km below.

When I took a picture of the cow trying to find his food, the local commented why I want to take something ugly and said that I should take something pretty. To them it might be hard to understand, but I just want to be honest for what I have seen. This is the true condition.
Location: Agra, 2km south of town.

Took a ride down to witness how people actually wash their cloths by the river and you can see that things are pretty run down. By the time I went down, a few local people drove down to see what I am doing with their curious and threatening eyes, if the driver were not with me I might being robbed or hurt in many ways. It was a scary experience.
Location: Agra, cross the river of Agra Fort.

I asked the driver to stop by the road and wanted to venture into the poor villages, but I was told that this place is not allowed for tourist visit and it is prohibited to take pictures and visits. But I found that people here are the purest among my trip, people actually welcome you while the other places were filled with people trying to cheat your money.
Location: Agra, cross the river of Agra Fort.

Its hard to describe the feeling during my trip in Agra. Seeing beautiful Taj Mahal and at the same time seeing poverty from the other side across the river. It made me feel that every things has both sides, thats humanity, what had achieved from the past really has nothing to benefit the nation. Pride and glory is just a self disguise, their government really need to sit down and think about this. This is how they dry their cloths, it was spread all over the road.
Location: Agra, cross the river of Taj Mahal

I had enough from all the dusty train ride and hectic bus rides, this time I had to take a 13 hours train ride to Varanasi. Yes it is long. And guess what, there is no train direct from Agra to Varanasi where I have to take a taxi from Agra to another city 60km away from town in order to catch the train to Varanasi. I was glad to bumped up with few German guys along the way, at least they made me feel safe. These 4 German guys had been a good company along my journey to Varanasi. The German guy invited us all to smoke weed, for that moment I can't refuse but to have a taste of it, I had never thought I would smoke weed in my life but I did. Well its like nothing, everything seemed fine but it made my brain slow down. And we head to the sack. 

There was no sign of where to stop in the train, nobody will inform us, when I got up I was confused on which station to hop down, and by the time I discovered I found that I have missed the station 20mins away. I saw the other 4 German guys were still sleeping, they missed that station too! LOL. And so we hop down to this place not known by anyone of us, and by the time we all exit the train station, people gathered around us and staring at us like aliens from out of space. The German guys ask for a transport that can bring us back to Varanasi, and after 30mins the van came and it can only fit in 5 people. The German guys told us that the seat is full and we have to grab another transport, for that moment I was like "Oh no!!". However, because of money, the driver insist to fit me in the transport so that he can increase the amount of cash. And I was squeezed inside the back seat, piled with many heavy luggages, I could not move for 3 hours! And the worst thing was, the driver shuts off the engine during stops in order to save fuel. By the way, fuel is very expensive in India, it cost Rm5,50 per liter, I was shocked. After 3 hours of bumpy ride, squeezed body, finally made it to Varanasi. And by the time we all hop down from the van, here comes the next battle again~ LOL, 2 guys with the tuk tuk waited for us and wanted to send us to the hotel with an unbelievable price tag. After saying bye with the 4 German guys and exchanged our facebook, the tuk tuk tried to negotiate with me, I went to take another tuk tuk, by the time I hop on the other tuk tuk the ones that did not get the job had an argument with my tuk tuk, I was like "Come on, let me go home"... 


I had too much sufferings and brain damages and this time I decided to stay at somewhere grand! LOL so I went to this hotel that charged me Rm700 per night instead of those Rm50. Enough of funny encounters and miserable ACs. Well I can say that the hotel was quite awesome, also the price tag, when I entered the room, the bed feels just nice~ I felt like I was protected from the cruel world. I stayed in the hotel unwiling to step out but I finally did because it is Varanasi, the holiest city of India. By the time I stepped out of the hotel, I heard a whistle, its a tuk tuk driver. At that moment I said to myself "please don't treat me like a rich guy because I am not". So I walk further to the other street and took another tuk tuk to Varanasi river. This tuk tuk driver seem pretty nice and we had some decent chat. I told the tuk tuk driver that I wanted to see the dead people burning. The tuk tuk driver said that it is forbidden to see that but I insist and he took me there.

After I made it to the burning ceremony, the moment I stood there and old man came to me and explained to me all the history I wanted to hear and I know that this won't be free and I was right, since I heard his story, I got to pay, got con again. For that moment I just don't care anymore, just pay up. I went beside the Varanasi river to observe the rituals and a guy came to me and asked if I am interested for a boat ride. Since my stay in Varanasi is short so I paid a good price to him. He told me that because of the water is steep so they are charging more that day. It was during sunset and got to see Varanasi river finally. When I headed back to the piere the guy said that it is going to be different for sunrise and asked if I am interested for another ride in the morning, I was like "hahaha.....", no that's enough for me. 

The next day in Varanasi I got the same driver again, this time he told me that Varanasi is the main distributor of quality silk, so I thought that I haven't bought any good souveniors back home so I paid a visit to the silk store. The driver showed me the silk making machine, it is the business belongs to the muslim community in Varanasi. He introduced me to the sales guy and he showed me many decent silk and said that all these are real silk, and claimed that Varanasi manufacture good silk. I didn't know it was a con statement that had me believed that Varanasi manufacture silk, it was later when I went back Malaysia where I asked my Indian bride while shooting an Indian Wedding Ceremony that Varanasi is not the main city of silk manufacturing. The main ones are all down south. Doink~. So I started to wonder if those silk were real that I bought and gave to my cousin sisters. And I recalled my trip in Jaipur, the guy on the street also showed me some silk and claimed that it was the finest quality. 

On the same day I head to the holiest places near Varanasi where the Bodhi tree is, where Gautama meditates in the buddhism teachings. It was quite a peaceful city, people just go there for a great purpose. I went inside to this temple near where the Bodhi tree was and saw some nice buddhist beeds, where were 5 different series, I thought of buying one for my mom and asked what was the price for one the beeds and he told me 100k, and I gave him 100k for the other beeds and he told me that one actually cost 500k. Doink~ got conned again. Oh my God!

So I had enough for all the train rides, in fact I had all kinds of rides for this trip, plane, boat, trishaw, tuk tuk, camels, man-pulled, train, all you can name it. The moment I am going to face another long journey from Varanasi to Kolkata I gave up, I bought an air ticket instead. The tuk tuk driver said that the airport is 60km away and he refused to send me there and said that I need to get a taxi to the airport. I said that I am willing to pay and he said ok in the end, and guess what, he didn't show up the next day. So I took another tuk tuk to the airport which cost just alright. By the time I reached Kolkata things totally different, everywhere requires taxi. So I bought the ticket for the taxi and turned out a white colored Suzuki Swift that picked me up. The ride was extraordinary. The swift had a tough time passing through the small lanes and it scratched a few cars along the journey, I was surprised that noone asked him to pay for his damages, his bumper dropped off the car and he managed to fixed it back and continue his journey. I was amazed, really. 


And so reached this hotel that has a good rating in lonely planet. The owner had some good chat with me, she is a foreigner so I feel comfortable at that moment, Kolkata do not have alot of con man but the room is scary. Inside the room is a greenish painted wall with a drawing of the indian prince facing me. I just can't sleep that night. However, the overall service was quite good. Well, I was glad that I am going to hop on my flight back to Kuala Lumpur the next day and bought a few indian pants that night. The next day after checked out it was raining, I hop on the taxi and the taxi said that there is an alternate way which is much faster than the normal route but I have to top up more. Well I found that its no difference than the route I took back from the airport, I got conned again. While I reach the airport I was running out of Indian Ruppees and I asked the driver if he willing to accept Singapore dollars, I told him that the amount after exchanged is more than what he is getting now. A few drivers came over and being skeptical of me, I think they wanted to con me again. And I found that the statement they made was very funny, the driver said that Singapore dollars is not valuable than Indian Ruppee and wanted me to top up more. I was like "hahaha....." again. Thats a funny statement. They even wanted to con me again even I am about to leave this country. So I said fine, I will go to use the Singapore dollars to exchange Ruppee for him, and the driver gave up and said is ok and he is willing to accept the Singapore Dollars. 

I felt so different when I managed to hop on the AirAsia flight back to Kuala Lumpur. For that moment, I felt that my view had changed and escalated to another dimension. I felt so glad about what I have back home, my families, friends and my career. After back home, I cooked myself an instand noodle, I felt that this is indeed the best meal I have ever eaten for a long time. Its not about the meal, its the things surrounded me that made this meal taste so great.