Photography by Trisha Toh
If not now, when?
I always try to make time to stop for a drink at the local bar or cafe and observe the locals. It comforts me to know that we are all the same, just with different passports.
I LOVE TRAVELING BECAUSE…
More often than not, it reminds me to be grateful for being alive and able to travel to a destination that I’ve grown up watching on the tele or read in travel books.
What made you decide on this destination?
My mother who is also a keen traveller had been wanting to check out the “Mirror in the Sky”, also known as Taj Falaknuma Palace in Hyderabad, and asked if I would be interested to join her. Seeing that it would mark my first entry to India, it was without hesitation I said yes! Shortly after that moment, the almost abrupt decision finally dawned upon me that India is a whole different ballgame. But what my mother said totally struck a chord with me. “You will never know until you go”. And so for 5 days we travelled and I have never felt more inspired and alive.
How did this trip come together?
We booked our flights a few months prior to the agreed date but it was not until a few weeks before our departure that we got around to booking our hotels and airport pick up. We really had the go-with-the-flow attitude about this trip and that made it a whole lot more fun for us.
Best form of transportation?
The local auto motors! They’re dead cheap and the drivers are seriously experts when it comes to navigating the busy streets.
Highlights and favorite things?
Shah Ghouse has hands-down the best Biryani I’ve ever tasted. For a mere MYR13, you get a pot full of fragrant, spicy, fluffy rice that can easily feed 4. Our driver, Paul, recommends eating the Kebab first before the rice. And to finish, the Thumbs Up drink to help with digestion. Take it from the locals, they know best.
The jewellery shop behind Birla Mandir. We found this by accident while waiting for our auto to pick us up. This one-man run shop sells the most exquisite jewellery for far way cheap prices as compared to the commercialised Laad Bazaar.
We stumbled across this standing bar for breakfast and lunch that looked like a cinema from the outside if you ask me! It was the best experience from getting your colourful food tokens from the cashier and collecting your made-to-order food from the open kitchen counter to standing among locals and indulge in hot and filling masala dosa, washed down with a hearty cup of masala chai.
Under the radar must-see or do?
The Paigah Tombs! An architectural marvel of artistry and craftsmanship. Love the intricate hand carvings and motifs along the walls and tombs. Totally underrated but so worth the drive. If you are planning to stay at Taj Falaknuma, head there first as it’s on the way.
Mum and I decided to head out in the evening after a post-food coma nap and asked one of the local auto drivers to take us to Birla Mandir again because we can’t get enough of those beautiful cheap bangles. Instead, the driver tried to convince us to go to his ‘friend’s’ jewellery shop where he claimed has better quality and options. After what felt like half an hour of rounding in circles and multiple phone calls later, Mohamed led us to this dodgy underground marketplace. Mum thought we were going to be kidnapped! Honestly, it was both funny and frightening. The shop was disappointing though and we went back to our initial plan the next day.
Did you encounter any challenges leading up to or during the trip?
We got our visas online so there was a separate entry check upon arrival at the airport. Just be sure to print everything: flight details, boarding pass, visa, copies of everything. Lines can be long so be sure to be early at the airport in case you don’t wanna miss your flight!
3 words that sum up your experience.
Gratefulness. Fearlessness. Biryani.
Looking back, what do you miss the most?
Without a doubt, the food! If I could, I would have masala dosa and biryani everyday, and never tire of them. So good.
Keep an open mind and a positive attitude. That said, also keep your head low, dress appropriately especially when visiting Muslim sites and try not to entertain the locals who’d ask for photographs to be taken with you. Give them a polite no and walk on.
Trisha Toh takes a different approach to prop and food styling in her home base of Kuala Lumpur. She is inspired by solidarity and organic placements. When she is not photographing still items, she embarks on journeys around the world. She loves visiting local markets and has an eye for detail. She believes that “there is beauty in all things”.