Category Archives: Kids Blog

Agra & Taj Mahal!

We arrived in Agra at the wonderful Coral Tree homestay; it’s very nice and comfortable and we had the 2nd floor that we shared with our Australian friends (we met back in Jodhpur). Plus, the owners, 2 brothers and their families live there too. One night they cooked a homemade Indian dinner for all of us with the most amazing dahl I have ever had. They also served us an awesome dessert called petha that is unique to Agra and delicious.

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A homemade dinner with friends is always a nice treat!

Why was the TaJ Mahal built?

It was built for the king’s dying wife after she gave birth to her 14th child. She made the king promise to build something massive and amazing for her, and clearly, he did. Did you know that unlike most royal marriages, theirs was truly one in love? Yes, now that is a Prince Charming! Unfortunately, this love story doesn’t have a fairy tale ending as King Shah Jahan was in the process of building his own burial palace across the river but one of his son’s overthrew him from power; the King was imprisoned in the fort and sadly, he could see the Taj from his cell.

We woke up at 5:00am the following morning to go to the Taj Mahal and it was definitely worth getting up early for. We walked a very short distance from the Coral Tree and were in the first group of 50 people to get in, so we got some nice photos before the crowds. The Taj looks infinity times more beautiful in person than in photos, and so much bigger! We went inside but spent most of our time outside. We walked around the beautiful garden next to the Taj and mostly took and endless amount of photos that it would take years to upload all of them for you to see! But one unique story happened when we were walking about…

The Monkey story

Background knowledge to know before reading ‘The Monkey Story’: A few days ago when we were in Jaipur, we wanted to visit the Monkey Temple there and asked our driver if he could take us. He said that he could, if we wanted to, but it may not be a great idea because a couple years ago he had a Canadian customer who visited the Monkey Temple and got bitten by a monkey! He immediately went to the hospital for rabies shots! (My dad says Canadians attract monkeys and tigers – see earlier blog on Tigers!)  That, without a doubt, convinced us not to go.

So back to the Taj Story: Mom and I were walking around the Taj when we saw a stampede of monkeys running and jumping along a fence. We kept our distance not getting too close because of the earlier incident that our driver shared. But suddenly a monkey came up from behind and grabbed my skirt! A large papa monkey, not a cutesy little baby one. I immediately started running, crying and screaming, “MOMMA!! Get it off of me!! MOMMA!!”  I was still running to my mom and the monkey was still hanging on tightly to my skirt. When I finally got to her, he let go and went off in his group. I had no scratches and he did not touch my skin so the worst that happened was all the other tourists around me saw my undies! But it took us both awhile to calm down and was super scary considering the rabies shots alternative!

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Family Photo

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Jump shot!

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After what already felt like a full day, we came back to the house and ate a yummy Indian breakfast. The Aussie family arrived later that morning from their overnight train ride from Udaipur. We played lots of games that day and also went to the Agra Fort in the evening (where the King was jailed). The two teenagers, Jasmine and Sebastian, were sleeping so the tweens, Isabelle and I, went with the parents to the fort. We had a ton of fun running around and taking jump shots.

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It was so fun to hang out with our friends again and we got to see them one last time before we left when we were in Delhi; one of the highlights of our travels has been meeting and playing with new friends like Jas and Issy – I hope we get to see them again soon either in Florida or Australia!

Next up: New Delhi – where we only chilled out at the JW Marriott with our Aussie friends. 🙂

Stargazing Camel Safari!! ⎮ Thar Desert, Jaisalmer

We stepped out of the car to some welcoming peach/beige colored sand.

“Hello, Thar Desert!”

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Beautiful Thar Desert – no filter, I promise!

After a short tour around the camp, we chose our camels. I happen to choose the one with a purple saddle (it’s name is Disco). We began our safari and after a little while, we got to the top of the sand dunes to watch the sunset. Sebastian, of course, was the first to start rolling around in the sand. I did not want to but I got pulled in anyways and it was pretty fun too! We would go to the top of a dune, roll down, climb back up, and do it all over again; now these dunes aren’t like any that I’ve seen – the roll down takes minutes not seconds and it’s a big hike to get back up. After the pretty sunset over the dunes, we all made our way back to camp by camel. In a few minutes we sat in a big semicircle with the other guests in front of a roaring fire for our dinner and entertainment show.

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Playing in the dunes!

 

The dinner was great – Indian Rajasthani food varying from curries and lentils – and the show was fabulous! One of the performers did some amazing tricks with a bicycle wheel. She would spin it round and round on her hand and toss it up. Then she would catch it on her foot. The same performer also balanced about eight pots on her head while dancing. Near the end of the show, the dancers pulled all of us up from our seats to join in the dance; my mom and I had a blast dancing around the fire pit. After the show, we made the decision to sleep under the stars instead of in a hut; oh, and did I say out in the Thar desert on the dunes under the stars? Yep!

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At first, I really did not want to sleep under the stars. I didn’t have a reason why; I just did not want to. It might have also been because we were the only ones going there. Why did all the other guests stay back in the huts I wondered? But I had no choice anyways because the rest of the family wanted to sleep under the stars and if you ask me, I would rather sleep with everyone else rather than alone. We took a wagon out to the dunes to find a good spot with our guide; not to close to the huts but just far enough so that the lights do not distract us in our star gazing. Our spot in the dunes was actually a lot nicer than we had all expected. We all got our own beds, yes, frames and all. The beds were actually pretty snug and comfortable and as a result, I had a good night of sleep.

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Our sleep spot on the dunes. Pretty nice, eh?

 

I like to call the stargazing a book. Whenever I cannot sleep, my dad always says to take out a book and read. Most of the time, it works. When we were under the stars, I would  fall asleep and wake up. The stars would be my book and cradle me back to sleep like a baby. All the stars are a great reason to make this one of the best nights of my life. At home in Florida, we have different constellations. Most of the time it is really just Venus,  the big & little dipper (if your lucky enough to even see stars above the city). But on this desert night, there were no lighting distractions and all the stars you could ever imagine. We got a constellations app (you have to pay, but totally worth it) and we got to see Jupiter, cancer, aquarius, orion and a LOT more!

When we woke up at sunrise, we packed up our stuff, hopped on the camel cart and our guide took us in for some breakfast before we headed back to the city. It turns out we were really close to India’s border and the country of Pakistan – pretty cool except that these two countries are not really close and have jet fighters flying to protect their countries. The more I learn, the more I question why borders are any good since they seem to cause a lot of anger and stress for people. But that’s a story for another day! We loved our time with Disco and her fellow camels, the dancing, and the sleeping under the stars on the dunes of Rajasthan.

Next stop: Jaisalmer — The Golden City!

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The nice camel that carried four beds, all the bedding, two adults, and two children, there and back!

 

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A nice rest before the walk back.

 

Vishnu the Saviour – Comic book review

The comics in this book are entertaining to read. You remember some of the characters such as Shiva, one of the top 3 gods in Hindu with Brahma and Vishnu; Shiva is otherwise known as the destroyer. These stories are adventurous and teach you life lessons. Here are a few samples from the book:

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Shiva

For example, there was the story of the boy who meditates his entire life to the god Vishnu. Vishnu comes down from the heavens to visit and help the boy with his quest to be reborn as the King’s son. The wish is granted and the boy lives many years in this role before rising to the heavens to sit next to Vishnu.

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Vishnu

A second story is about a boy’s father that was in a duel with another man. Unfortunately, the boy’s father lost. The boy trained and grew up longing to defeat the man that dueled his father in order to free his father from the punishment of the lost duel. The punishment was drowning to near death that is similar to the water boarding torture that the CIA conducted on captured people. The good news is that the boy in the story later duels against the ruler and frees all the men whom the ruler beat and they no longer have to live with the burden of torture. I hope that our government no longer does this inhumane treatment either.