Friday, April 13, 2012

Delhi and Amritsar


I originally wanted to write a blog in each place on the All India tour, but staying in Delhi seemed like it came and left faster than the blink of an eye. We did a lot of walking in Delhi, we saw some major sites, and we learned to navigate the metro.

@ Live
We stayed near the New Delhi Railway station in an area called Paharganj. The place was bustling with life and I loved the main bazaar area. You could see a shop filled with amazing spices, fresh fruits, and authentic hand carved treasures right up next to internet cafes and tourist traps. It was a cool mix of old and new. The vehicles reflected that as well. A sports car around one corner and a mule pulling a bullock cart around the next. The cows lazily sat in the middle of the traffic every once in a while, causing everyone to simply pause and weave around them.

Our first day in Delhi was overwhelming to say the least. I would recommend staying at least 3 days in Delhi to other travelers because we needed one full day to adjust to the completely different atmosphere. Kerala is a laid back place and generally a place filled with warm and friendly people. In Delhi, it was confusing to find out that many people were trying to scam us simply because we were travelers. We had a lot of outrageous offers and instances of people following us after we refused. It was also really difficult to be irritated at these people. They clearly needed the money they were trying to get us to pay. They clearly were asking for some sort of reason. The people got inside my head a little bit, as did the poverty juxtaposed with extreme wealth.

Red Fort
That first night we relaxed for the evening at a cool place in Connaught Place called @live. There was a very nice Malaysian band that played stuff like....Eric Clapton, Billy Joel, Bob Dylan. It was a nice place to unwind and enjoy ourselves after a pretty stressful 24 hours.

The Second Day we traveled via Metro to The Red Fort, Humayun's tomb, and the Lotus Temple. The Metro was a great way to get around.

The Red Fort was so astoundingly huge, we wandered around through the crowds of people just kind of dritfting from place to place.
Humayun's Tomb

Humayun's Tomb was definitely the favorite of the day. The architecture and marble work was so detailed. Walking up to this place we were both just completely struck by how immense the main tomb area was. It was also a lot less crowded.

 The Lotus Temple was also a good experience. A nice example of modern Architecture. lt was also a great opportunity to meet volunteers at the temple from all around the world. We met a guy named Taylor who was only 19 and had been living and volunteering at the temple for 3 months who was from Baltimore, Maryland. The Lotus Temple is a Baha'i holy site.
The Lotus Temple

The next day we headed to Amritsar in a 12:45 train. We were projected to arrive around 10:55 at night. We wasted time by talking to people, reading, and laughing at a really cute kid named Sacshem who ran around the train crying "doo dooo dooo dooooo." Suddenly at around 10:20, our train came to a stop....a long long stop.

Once we hit about 10:50, Ian got up and asked one of the train workers what was going on. Through a lot of Hindi and confusion, Ian fugured out that we were supposed to get off of our train and on to a passing train to Amritsar. Apparently our train was going to be stuck for a while. I trusted his judgement and we just grabbed our stuff and went for it. We hopped off of our train and onto the rocks. When the train came on to the neighboring track it didn't just kind of crawled. So I can now mark "jump on to a moving train" off of my Bucket List. haha.
The Golden Temple

We arrived pretty late to the hotel and passed out. The next day we woke up and met some friendly fellow travelers. We decided to go to the Golden Temple with Iris, a French girl who has been traveling around India for Six months.
Ian and Iris in a traditional rickshaw!

Sree Durgyana Temple
She has been a great friend here to both me and Ian. She is so young, only 20 years old, and so brave. We ate lunch at the Golden Temple in the Temple kitchen which was SUCH a crazy/awesome experience. Afterwards we got slices of coconut and took a rickshaw to the Sree Dugyana Temple (also called the silver temple) nearby. It was equal to the Golden Temple in it's stunning intricacy. Sree Durgyana is a Hindu holy site, and The Golden Temple is a Sikh holy site.
Flags at the Border Closing Cermony
In the evening we traveled with a big group of travelers to the India/Pakistan Border Closing Ceremony. It was a serious display of patriotism including long loud hooping and hollering, border guards doing high kicks and lowering the flags.

Today is a new day and Amritsar is wide open. Tomorrow we will be heading to Dharamsala/ McCleod Ganj with our new friend Iris!

 "The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page."-St. Augustine

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