November 2014 | Lady & her Sweet Escapes

Nov 25, 2014

India: Agra Fort - Citadel of the Mughal Empire

On our third day in India, we embarked on a road trip to our third destination; Agra, home of the majestic Taj Mahal. We left Jaipur a few minutes past 7 am and reached the third corner of the Golden Triangle circuit at 12 noon.

Agra, a city in Uttar Pradesh, was ruled by Mughal Emperors centuries ago. It became the center of the empire, thus scattered around the city are astounding monuments showcasing majestic Mughal architecture. Three of the monuments are UNESCO World Heritage Sites; the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri. Having only a day in Agra, Fatehpur Sikri was not included in our schedule as it is located in the outskirts. 

Our first stop was at the Agra Fort. The colossal fortress made of red sandstone has witnessed the Mughal Empire's prosperity and hardship. It was built as a military structure during the 11th century, then was turned into a palace complex during the Mughal empire's heyday, then unfortunately became a prison for the great Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan

Agra Fort in India
Agra Fort also known as the Red Fort of Agra

Nov 19, 2014

Dubai Tram: Stations, Attractions and Trip Tips

I am thrilled with Dubai's new public transportation system, The Dubai Tram. I remember getting so giddy when I saw it on trial run for the first time. Although I won't be using it on a daily basis as I live and work far from the tramway, it still spells out comfort and convenience to me.

Having the tram simply means no more long walks to my favorite beach and no more expensive taxi rides to hard-to-reach attractions! So, it when it was finally launched last week, I excitedly made my way to the Marina to check out Dubai's newest mode of transport.

Dubai Tram
Dubai Tram

Nov 16, 2014

India: Jaunts in Jaipur - The Pink City

I longed to visit Jaipur more than I wanted to see the Taj Mahal in Agra. There's something about the old historical town that fascinates me, not just because it is endearingly known as The Pink City. Well, I wouldn't deny that anything in pink could easily captivate my interest, but it is Jaipur's regal splendor that lured me to come.

Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan. Found in its heart is the first planned city of India founded by Maharaja Jai Singh II in 1727. The old city of Jaipur was built in perfect symmetry, secured with a massive fortification wall and seven gates. It was in 1876 that the whole city was painted in terracotta as a part of the warm welcome given to Prince Albert, the Prince of Wales. The color which symbolizes hospitality was maintained, hence Jaipur was called The Pink City

The color of Jaipur is not the "pink" that I know. For me, it is more on the "rust" shade and a hint of coral. But I do agree that the distinct color denotes congeniality. I felt so at home the moment we entered the majestic Ajmeri Gate. Then, a bunch of school girls riding a tuktuk smiled and waved at us; a scene that touched my heart as I have never felt that warmth in Delhi. We made a quick stop in Hawa Mahal, Jaipur's most popular landmark, and quickly went on with our journey as it wasn't supposed to be our first destination. We headed to the exit gate en route to Amber Fort with a promise that we'd go back to see more of it in the afternoon.

Hawa Mahal in Jaipur India
Hawa Mahal: Jaipur's iconic structure

Nov 12, 2014

Zaroob: Funky Levant Street Eatery

The bright neon signs, the strings of light bulbs and the bizarre pushcart have caught my attention several times while I'm in Sheikh Zayed Road. That spot is too quirky and it stood out from everything along the busy highway. It sure is an eye-magnet, but I never felt the need to check what it is. Neon lights are a bit odd for my liking!

Early this year, I saw a photo of a restaurant with hanging paper lanterns, pink handrails and graffiti walls. I swooned over the eccentric clutter, so I went searching and discovered that it is a Levant Street Eatery called Zaroob. I was taken aback when I learned that it has hot pink and lime green tube signs plastered on its facade. Yep, it's exactly the same neon signs that I found weird along E11 highway!

Zaroob Levant Street Eatery
Zaroob: Levant Street Eatery along Sheikh Zayed Road

Nov 10, 2014

Panda Express: Fast Casual American-Chinese Restaurant

Panda Express, the largest and the leading American-Chinese Food Chain in the US, has arrived in the UAE. That's definitely something to celebrate. In a city with a fast-paced lifestyle and rising commodity prices, we need more casual restaurants that can quickly serve budget-friendly meals without compromising the quality. Panda Express is one! 

In the year 1973, Panda Express' founder Andrew Cherng, together with his father Master Chef Ming-Tsai Cherng, opened Panda Inn; a Chinese fine-dining restaurant in Pasadena. It was where they introduced the full-flavored Mandarin and Szechuan dishes to Southern California. 10 years later, year 1983, they launched a new restaurant with a different concept. It was where guests can have the same premium dishes, but served in a faster way and in a more casual atmosphere. That's how Panda Express started... and the rest is history!

Panda Express in Al Ghurair
Panda Express in Al Ghurair

Nov 7, 2014

India: Realization and Relaxation in Ramada Jaipur

The feeling of relief washed over me as I walked in Ramada Jaipur. Day #1 in India was mentally challenging for me. I was culture shocked in Old Delhi. I arrived in Jaipur extremely tired, although I only sat, slept and listened to India-related conversation for 4-hours in a fast moving vehicle. And on our first hour in Jaipur, in a gems store, I was persuaded to believe in things that I never believed in. I was there because I was curious on how the gems are made, not because I need one to shape my destiny or to help me transform into Darna! Hah! :)

I have been warned and I came ready, but I never thought that India could be so tough to my senses and even to my faith. 

So, after the long mind-boggling day, all I wanted was to be in a quiet room where I can share my thoughts to the person who understands me the most. I hurriedly jumped off the van, quickly replied to the doorman's Namaste greeting, zoomed into Ramada Jaipur's lobby and kept my fingers crossed for a pleasant two-nights stay.

view from Ramada Jaipur roof deck
Hello Jaipur! (aerial view from Ramada Jaipur's roof deck)

Nov 3, 2014

My Five Favorite Must-Eats in Bacolod

I come home for three reasons: family, friends and FOOD! 

Meet-ups are always fun with good food. And for me, good food is synonymous with Bacolod, my home province's capital. Aside from being known as the City of Smiles where Masskara Festival is held every October, Bacolod is a popular foodie destination in the country. 

Every time I come home, I always find myself in a foodie trail. I have my own restaurant checklist in my thoughts and my vacation would be incomplete without ticking each one off! I do have my classic favorites and I'm happy to share five of them in this post. :)

My Favorites in City of Smiles
My Favorites in City of Smiles

Nov 1, 2014

India: Half a Day in Delhi

"Don't ride the train." That advice from an Indian colleague lingered in my thoughts while I was planning for a short trip to India. With safety as my top priority, I drifted away from what could possibly be craziest train ride I'd ever experience. I made settlements with a travel agency that promised to tour us around India's Golden Triangle on board a private van.

Keeping true to their promise, an innova van waited for us outside our hotel in Delhi Aerocity right after breakfast. Mr. Bije, our driver/tour captain, discussed about our schedule as he drove through the streets of New Delhi.

Then, I found myself inside a tourist bubble.

India Golden Triangle Tour in Delhi
Golden Triangle destination #1: Delhi