Monday, March 16, 2009


The strange looking rickshaws in Pathankot, made by Mercedes apparently

Wow a long night and day on the train until we arrived at Pathenkot where we caught an onward bus to Amritsar. We arrived there pretty late in the evening and were ambushed by about 30 rickshaw drivers, touts, guesthouse owners and just curious people. A crowd formed around us (getting 8 people organised is much harder than when you are on your own you can slip away unnoticed). Anyway back in the day when i arrived in india first i probably would have found this pretty intimidating but i just couldnt stop laughing at the situation, a big hearty laugh, all the guys around us were blocking the whole main road, causing even more chaos with the traffic becoming totally backed up, and patience is not a word associated with indian driving!... all because some tourists stepped off a bus.

Oh gosh i couldnt stop laughing although some i was travelling with didnt find it so humurous! The only thing i had to fault was that it had to have been the most polluted air i have ever breathed. It was like inhaling directly infront of the exhaust of a bus, the air really cut into my throat and lungs. It was dark but it looked like there was smoke in the air. It was just maddness, the air so thick and smoky you couldnt see anything, just the cars lights which were coming from all directions and beeping like crazy...not at us in particular just slam on the horn its rush hour! We eventually found a dindgy room that did the job and just settled for some quick food then sleep....a great sleep!

It really looks like something from a movie!

Two beautiful indian ladies who asked me to take their picture (oh just spotted the lady at the back getting in the westerners photo too!) and have no idea they are on the internet now.....
The next day we headed off to the very famous Golden Temple. This is run by Sikhs, i dont know much about this religion except the men wear turbans, and both men and women carry knives at all times. The men have a big sword and the women a dagger in a case by their belt. I was wondering why so many women on the train on the way had daggers with them i was getting worried we were entering a very dodgy area!
Thats an impressive turban dont you think? not sure whats up with that chappy in the yellow turban on the left!!

Yep its a catchy style i know...

The golden temple provides free accomodation and food to all. yes ALL. Its crazy and quite heart-touching how these people voluntarily work like crazy to house about 5000 and feed about 40,000 people a day for free! Our accomodation was great! Tourists are fast-tracked to the luxury accomodation of being indoors, yet anyone who wants to stay is provided with blankets if they wish to sleep on the ground, and the weather certainly was nice enough to sleep outside. In the tourist section beds lined the wall which reminded me of the orphanage scene in Annie!...which made me like the place even more! Hot water for a shower, clean drinking water and a washing machine...not even just bare essentials are provided!

Our lovely room

The food hall you might see me there with my big shawl!

Sleeping all over the place

The food you can go to 24 hours a day. You have to take off your shoes and cover your head to enter. You grab a tray and sit down in a row. A guy runs past slopping a ladle full of dhal onto your tray, next a guy with marathon speed spoons out the rice all along each row. The food here also was not just basic and boring, it was the most delicious rice ive ever tasted and everytime i went the meal was different.

Its crazy this goes on non-stop, 24 hours a day

The temple itself was like something from a theme park, it shined like a big gold chocolate bar wrapper! Gentle drum beat fills the air as you walk around the temple and its so so relaxing or possibly ment to be a kind of meditative beat that you just float around and feel very refreshed!

We met this mad mad lady at the temple, she had worked with us on the movie in Jaipur. She was Tina from Germany a lady who spent a lot of time in Goa...a lot!!...first time in 83! She was a middle aged lady, absolutely crackers but very kind hearted, she was surprisingly kind of on the ball and had a hilarious sense of humour. The men and women bathe in seperate areas at the temple. To bathe in the holy water you just get in and kind of dip down so that you have covered yourself with the water. Tina was telling me she gets in the little pool every day and starts doing laps in the pool under the water like in a normal swimming pool! The one night i shared a room with her and another guy in the temple i fell asleep while she was telling me about a guy she met who had been to Goa in the 60's and wow how she wished she could get in a time maching and go back to Goa in the 60's oh she was wishing and wishing this as i fell asleep. I woke a few hours later to hear Tina completly in stitches the dark...when both myself and the other guy had been asleep! She is one of a kind for sure!

The temple at night

Amritsar wasnt a bad little city either. It had great character, very friendly people and the same naiveity (jaysus no idea how to spell that....) to tourists as in Bikaner and so although every 5 minutes you were being asked to be in the photo with the whole extended indian family (and i dont know why they want a foreigner in their family pic!!!). The people where great, i walked one day all around the city for about 8 hours just stopping at the street food vendors to have some sugar cane juice or papaya and just enjoying the maddness!

It was time to leave the temple and head further north to the nice cool mountains, an indian guy recommended the little town of Dalhoosie so off we went!

Bye bye crazy Amritsar

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