Amritsar Day 1
Trip Start Dec 08, 2008
27Trip End Dec 24, 2008
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Where I stayed
The morning is fairly uneventful. A nice breakfast with tea and lots of amazing toast. Devika appears to be a little under the weather. Nothing horrible yet, just general fatigue and congestion. We chat for a bit and then go downstairs and repack out traveling bags for only a single overnight trip.
I spend a little time blogging, processing photos and I check in with work while Rebecca does some reading or something.
The time to leave has come, we've got to leave like 3 or 4 hours before our flight in order to make it the 20-odd miles across town to the airport
Anyway, we wait for about half an hour before our flight moves to the "Security Check" status, and we go through all of that quite smoothly, wait a little while and get on our flight.
The trip to Amritsar is quite quick, maybe an hour, maybe 90 minutes. I love short flights!
We get off and get in touch with the guy from the hotel. We meet up with him and walk out of the airport that looks like it's in all forms of construction. Then I see a sign that says "Amritsar International Airport" and I think "This is an international airport??" I mention that to the hotel guy and he's leading us to the car and he says that they were only granted the license or whatever to open an international airport like a year ago
We're driven across town and it becomes apparent right away why some people think of Amritsar as a dirtly little city. It just seems lots more compact that any place we've been too thus far. I know that Delhi has a population of a zillion, and I know it's really cramped in places, but there is an actual feeling of openess to it much moreso than Amritsar. Every street in Amritsar feels dark, of course maybe part of that is that the weather was overcast, but I don't think that's it. It has that feeling like you see in movies sometimes, or maybe more in comics or aniime... almost like they buildings are wider at the top than they are at the bottom, and they squeeze together 3 or 4 stories up and don't let the sunlight in. I really don't know how it works, but the place just feels compressed. Not that that's a terrible thing, I got the feeling that it's got it's own eb and flow to the way things work, it would just take some getting used to in order to stay there for a prolonged period of time.
We get to the hotel, and we're being shown to our room by the sme guy that met us at the airport, who is the owner's son
So we get all settled, then go downstairs to ask for help pin finding this restaurant that the Lonely Planet recommended. Some place called Sukrit, which is supposed to have amazing tandoori chicken. So we get a car over to where that restaurant is... which is in Nehru shopping mall in the newer portion of town. And have a pretty nice dinner. The tandoori chicken is very tasty, but even on medium spicy, it can kick your ass. Rebecca ordered a raita after the first couple of bites to help cool it down (worked very well), and we got ice cream for dessert, which also cooled us off just fine.
After diner we just decided to walk along the streets and look at all the shops and see what we coule find. The couple of shops that looked good to me, which had formal sarees and stuff in the windows, Rebecca nixed because she said they looked too expensive
But the real striking thing that caught us both off guard... is that there were no beggars. Nobody was looking for handouts, nobody was getting in our face trying to hock their wares, and if we did go into a shop, we were treated just like everybody else. And we both suddenly realized that while Amritsar seems a little rough around the edges to look at, we were both quite enjoying it because it allowed us to explore an Indian city and the Indian way of life without being stalked like walking money bags. So that part of the trip was quite nice.
We actually had a difficult time finding a cab or a tuk tuk to get back to the hotel. So we went back to the restaurant and asked them for help. They were happy to help and walked us out and found a tuk tuk for us and explained where we needed to go and we hopped in for the ride.
Once back at the hotel, we decided to walk over and visit the golden temple. It was already dark by this point, so we didn't know how it was going to work
Inside is like a giant marbel courtyard with inlay work everywhere. And a giant square pool in the middle that is considered to contain holy water. Then at one side of the pool there is a walkway to a little island in the middle and that is where the golden temple is. And inside the temple (during the day) is the original Sikh holy book. The Guru Granth Sahib. So we went through all the lines, and walked to the island and passed through the room with the book, and the people singing holy songs over it (they do that 24/7 as well) It was pretty neat, and seeing it all at night was kinda special too.
We were just about to leave when a very nice Sikh gentleman walked up to us and asked where we were from and all that. And then informed us that there was gonig to be a closing ceremony in about 15-20 minutes. Where they would fetch a golden chariot, and dress it all up and then carry it out to the temple and get the holy book, then take it back to the place where it sleeps for the night. So we stuck around for that, which was quite a spectacle (I got some videos I'll try to post soon) And after all that, we went back to our room to turn in for the night.