Last week I was in Malaysia and India, teaching in Kuala-Lumpur then on to Bangalore for a one-day business agility class.

In K-L I was working in Cyberjaya, a purpose built hi-tech community, the centre of local offshore services. The place is new with great roads and infrastructure and all the big name global organisations seem to have a presence there. It is a hub for business process outsourcing with a limited amount of software development.

I stayed at the Cyberview resort – very comfortable, great service, friendly and helpful people. They run a shuttle service which takes guests to and from the places they’re working at.  This was the hotel the APEC leaders stayed at in 1998 and the gardens are named for the event.

APEC Garden at Cyberview The Spa at Cyberview

 

One example of the excellent level of service was the way they treated me on my last day, I had checked out of the hotel on Thursday morning as I was flying to Bangalore that night, after work I caught the shuttle bus back to the resort to collect my bags, but I had a couple of hours to spare. They invited me to take a shower in the spa and then relax in the lounge, with full internet access and attentive service. Low stress and comfort, just what is needed before flying out in the evening. I heartily recommend the Cyberview Resort as a great place to stay.

One disappointment on this trip was Malaysia Airlines – I booked on them because they offered the best connections for the route, and the mechanics of the flights went fine, all flights on time. They are part of one-world so I had access to the lounges, Premier Lounge in Auckland (not great) Malaysia Airlines in K-L (nice) and the Green Lounge in New Delhi (mediocre). The food on the flights was some of the worst I’ve eaten on plane trips and the service attitude not very good. The entertainment system is fair, but it’s not available until well after takeoff and switched off 20-30 minutes before landing – totally unnecessary today. Unfortunately I would not recommend Malaysia Airlines and will try not to fly on them again.

I flew into Bangalore late in Thursday night, stayed at the Zuri Whitefield again and delivered the class on Friday. The Zuri also offer a shuttle service and the driver collected me from the office and took me to the airport for my evening flight on Air India to New Delhi.

Bangalore and Delhi airports are brand new, examples of modern airport design. In New Delhi I was met by the people from Adventure World (Highly recommended – great service and really helpful people) who took me to my hotel (Raddison Blu close to the airport, comfortable, nice breakfast) and arranged to collect me in the morning for the day trip to Agra.

Promptly at 07:30 the next morning Ravid, my driver for the day, collected me at the hotel. Bags in the boot we set off for the three hour drive to Agra. I was lulled into the false sense that traffic in Delhi was more like I am used to as we drove through the embassy area, then reality struck as we got into the more heavily populated  areas – this was the chaotic Indian traffic I was expecting.

Family transport Refreshing breeze Make sure you carry a spare IMG_4123

 

After we got out of town we took the new toll-way and again I would not have believed we were actually driving in India – everyone sticks to their lane, the traffic flows smoothly and people even move out of each others way. The road is monitored with cameras and at the toll booths they check your average speed between stations, overspeeding can get you in trouble.

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The area is very agricultural with small farms growing a wide variety of crops including mullet, potatoes, rice and grapes. There are places where the soil is clearly clay and lots of small brickworks have been built – the kiln chimneys popping out of the landscape.  It looks in places like the whole landscape has been lowered by the removal of the clay and then topsoil re deposited.

Kilns

After leaving the tollway I was reminded what real Indian traffic is light as we made our way through Agra to collect the local guide (Lelet) who escorted me around the various sights, smoothing the way past security checks and avoiding queues.

We started the tour at the Taj Mahal, my primary reason for taking the day out – it truly is a bucket-list place, and no pictures can give the true feel for the place. It truly is magnificent. The craftsmanship that went into building it is amazing, the work involved to build a monument to one person almost beyond belief. Many subtle things have contributed to the overall excellence.  For instance the size of the lettering inlaid around the archways, lower down the letters are smaller than higher up so that when you look up at them from the entrance they appear the same size, and the slight outward lean of the four towers so that if there is an earthquake they will fall away from the central building.

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From the Taj Mahal we went to the Agra Fort where the Mogul Kings had ruled from. The fort is another example of the architectural excellence and craftsmanship that India achieved in the 15th and 16th centuries.

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From here we visited a craft store where the craft of carving and inlay is still carried out using the same methods used to make the Taj. They have scale models of the Taj which are amazing in their detail. I did buy a small table, which made the baggage somewhat heavier.

From here it was lunch at a very nice restaurant and a final visit to another tomb before starting the trip back to Delhi.

It was a long and exhausting day which I am really glad I was able to fit into this trip. If ever you get the chance to visit Agra it really is worth it.