Melaka or Malacca in mainland Malaysia is a fusion of Malay, Chinese, Portuguese and Anglo architecture, tradition and cultures. I remember when I was in grade school and high school, Malacca is always mentioned as part of Filipino and Asian history, but mostly underscoring it’s importance as a spice capital and trading post. When I found myself actually in Melaka, there was barely any evidence left of it being the choice port of call among galleon traders. What remains, however, is a beautiful and rich mixture of multi-cultural influence from its former leaders and/or colonizers — Malay food, Chinese temples, Portuguese and Dutch churches, imposing forts, and cobbled stone streets. Not to mention the arts (several art shops and paint-on-the-spot street artists), crafts and cuisine that can be seen and had while going through street after street of historical buildings and establishments. A mere 2 hours south on a private car (thanks to Rajie for bringing me and my two friends traveling at the time), perhaps 2.5 hours when riding tour buses) from Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur, the UNESCO World Heritage Site that is Melaka can be a quick and easy side trip to include in your vacay travel itinerary.;
Reblogged is a series of blog posts on my life in India coming from the weblogs I set-up. It’s an attempt to put the stories all in one place! The post Old Delhi Red Fort – seat of the Mughal Empire was originally posted on May 29, 2012. I visited the Red Fort with my VSO co-volunteers Kevin and Rosie on March 12, 2012.
There was a time, long long long ago, when Muslims thrived in India. However, hundreds of years later, the Muslim population is now considered as one of the minorities in the contemporary Indian society. Nevertheless, the era of the Mughal Empire has been marked with several monuments like tombs, mosques and gardens.
Apart from these monuments and places of worship, the Mughal Empire also built the Red Forts to serve as their seats of power. I heard there are many red forts in India. One of the most famous is the Red Fort (Lal Quilla) found in Old Delhi.
Last night, I went down memory lane as I tried to find some pictures from my volunteer life in India and among the thousands I have to check, I saw pictures from the Prince of Wales Museum, officially known as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya.
I’ve seen the Prince of Wales Museum several times during my touristy trips to Colaba (aka South Bombay) area. But I never went inside. So one fine day, I checked with my friend, Leah who’s a couchsurfer from Canada, and since she also hasn’t been (you know that thing about places being close but never go to?) we both decided to learn more about Indian history, culture and the arts!
And since we held residency cards, and perhaps with some of the Hindi we managed to learn, we only paid Rs 50 to get in instead of 300. There’s a camera fee though. As it’s cheaper, I got the rate for the iPod/mobile phone (can’t remember the exact price) instead of my camera. Results are still ok, though might have been more spectacular if I had a better gear. Oh well, that’s done. What’s left now to do is to share the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya with you. Enjoy your photography-based virtual tour! Continue reading FotoFolio: Virtual Tour of Prince of Wales Museum (aka Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya)
The most iconic monument of Hyderabad in Andra Pradesh (south India), Charminar is said to have been built between 1589 to 1592 BC (dates are not still debatable). It was supposed to be a monument to commemorate the founding of a new capital and the end of a plague. Charminar was commissioned by Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, the 5th ruler of the Golconda Sultanate. Learn more about Chaminar at Wikipedia.
Beside Charminar is the Mecca Masjid (Makkah Masjid), one of the oldest mosques in India. It is called Mecca Masjid as Qutb Shah ordered the soil from Mecca to be made into bricks that were used in building the Masjid. Learn more about Mecca Masjid at Wikipedia.
Reminder: Women going inside the Charminar are not permitted alone, for some reasons I did not understand, nor explained. My CouchSurfing host Bhavesh for my Hyderabad/Secunderabad trip also was not able to explain. However, a dark secret was shared while we were on top: it’s a suicidal area, much like the famous bridges where people jump! Scary! This is also why visitors were limited to only the “first landing” area of the Charminar, which by the way is about six-floors high! So get ready! (I wasn’t as I was still carrying my weekender pack with additional sarees I just bought!)
The view from the top of Charminar lets you see the other major landmarks of Hyderabad like the High Court and Patel Market (garments and pearls) on one side, Laad Bazaar (bangles market) on another, then the Makkah Masjid area, and a former palace turned into a college and hospital. Hyderabad, actually, is called the City of Palaces, among its other monikers!
Last night, at the Thirstday Thursday CouchSurfing Manila meet-up, there were two CouchSurfers from Vietnam and with other Filipino CS members, we talked about Cu Chi Tunnels, perhaps one of the most visited and most popular tours in Ho Chi Minh city.
Together with Indians-but-Singapore-based Sid and Sulabh, whom I met in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, I went to Cu Chi Tunnels in the morning (it’s a half-day activity) to see for myself how the Vietnamese lived underground for years during the Vietnam War. Continue reading Backpacking South East Asia: Vietnam – Cu Chi Tunnels Tour