We’re alive! Despite everyone worrying about us we have made it to Amritsar in one piece, even if the taxi driver was intent on committing suicide with us in the car…
We won’t bore you with all the details, but here are a few highlights;
Jade went native and urinated in what we later decided was a shower (hole in floor), even though there were completely normal toilets in every other cubical. (In her defence it was an easy mistake to make in Delhi Airport).
Curry served on the flight from London; Krispy Kreme and Subway served on domestic flight from Delhi to Amritsar.
We attempted bartering for a taxi, with somewhat mixed results. We managed to get 100 rupees off the price, but what we got for our money was a car with 1 wing mirror, an upside down steering wheel, and a driver that was clearly an adrenaline junkie. During the course of the journey we also learnt that the horn is a very sophisticated communication tool, to be used every other second without fail to get your point across.
Meeting Sanjay, our lovely hostel host, who immediately made us feel welcome and force fed us boiling hot Chai in tin mugs. Everyone in the hostel was very friendly and we sat around for hours chatting to people from across the globe (read ‘Australia’) before even considering settling in.
An evening visit to the Golden Temple. They serve 100,000 (free!!) meals a day and every one of them is delicious. As you walk up to dining hall you have a metal plate, bowl and spoon hastily passed to you along with the hundreds of other people flooding in to the hall. Everyone sits on the floor in rows and they come round with buckets of each food type which are rapidly dispensed to everyone.
Watching a Sikh holy ceremony, where every night they move their holy book in a golden palanquin from the Golden Temple, to its resting place a few hundred metres away. They do this as they believe it is in some ways living and as such requires rest. In the mornings (5am, we did not get up to see this) they do the whole thing in reverse.
We discovered that being white (and in Jade’s case the extra perk of being female and blonde) meant that everyone wanted to take pictures with us. On a separate occasion Jamie spent half an hour chatting to some Indian boys who were keen to practise their English, whilst Jade was sketching. It started with 5 boys and soon grew to 15, before we decided it might be time to move elsewhere.
A major highlight was a walking food tour of all the tasty treats Amritsar (the unofficial food capital of India, so we’re told) had to offer. Despite early fears of crippling dysentery we soon relaxed a bit and enjoyed a range of unpronounceable dishes; 18 in all, in 10 different restaurants – one of which had been serving food for 100 years!
Our first Tuk Tuk ride. By this point it was actually quite a calm affair, having learnt how to navigate the seemingly chaotic Indian streets. The way Sanjay put it is this, ‘everyone is trying to calculate where everyone else will be in 2 seconds, if you walk at a steady pace, no speeding up or stopping, you will be fine and no one will hit you’. Having mastered this we are now able to walk straight through busy roundabouts that have 40 other people using them at the same time on/in various motorcycles, Tuk Tuks, bikes and cars.
An introduction to Indian cooking. A nice lady that works at the hostel helped us to make what we think is called Butter Paneer (butter cheese). Whilst it does have a lot of cheese in it, the main ingredient was about 10 onions which had everyone crying and laughing in equal measure. Not only was it delicious but also a great end to our time in Amritsar.
We’re heading to Dharamshala (the home of the exiled Dali Lama) tomorrow with a father and son duo from Australia that we met here in Amritsar. It promises to be a bit of an adventure as we will be spending 8 hours on un-air-conditioned buses and starting at 6:00am. Night night!
Jade and Jamie x