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crazy, crazy Amritsar

Hi everyone!!

So, I made it back from Amritsar in one peice!! I really enjoyed the time we spent there, even though it was overwhelming to say the least. it was a 4 hour drive to Amritsar, and once we got to our guest house (a really nice little place just outside of Amritsar) and settled in, we went to a massacre site right by the golden temple. It was very interesting, but there was a group of young men who were facinated with the whilte girls. They followed us around and touched alot. The followed us all the way to the golden temple. I must say, the boys in our gruop were fantastic and kept us really safe by putting us in the middle of the group. We're so lucky to have them on the tri with us. Once we got into the Golden Temple, it was a bit frustrating because we were being stared at,, and Mati insisted on stoping and making sure we were all together. I understand why she was woried, but everytime we stoped, we just drew a larger croud. After going around once, we were all going to go for dinner, but one of the boys wanted to stay. Mati said any one else who wanted to stay could. I decided to see if it was any better, not being in the whole group so I stayed. It was sooooo much better. Mind you, I was the only white girl, and I was with three other boys, so that helped. I really enjoyed the time just sitting there, being able to be silent and still. We had dinner at the temple (there is a free kitchen at all temples). They are so efficient. You sit in lines with your plate and bowl and they come around and dump food in your plate. I know there was alot of staring at me when we were sitting and eating, but I just kept my eyes down so as not to provoke it. I felt like a girl from another time: head covered in a scarf, and eyes on the ground.

The next morning we got up at 3 to go see the sunrise at the temple. It was early but well worth it. We stood in line to get into the temple with all the pushy old ladies. In india, it is polite to push someone out of the way of you need to get by. I must say, I was really good at holding those old ladies back. You all better watch out for me on the skytrain when I get back home. My elbows will be out and ready.

After that, we came back to the hotel to nap. Later, I went out to the market with a few people. We had a great rickshaw driver who took us to a beautiful hindu temple with glass mosais walls and beautiful statues. We then went to the India Pakistan border to see the border guard ceremony. We got there a bit late, and to tell you the truth, all I could see was backs of heads, and alot of men staring. alot of people (people being men) were taking pictures of us after we asked them not to. I was kind of grumpy by the end of it. That night, we went to fancy restauraunt with some western food so we could have comfort/thanksgiving dinner. I had chicken and mashed potatoes and vegetables. In an equivalent restauraunt in Vancouver, you would have paid somewhere around 25 or 30 dollars. Our meals cost, on average, 3.25 dollars.

The next morning, I decided to go back to the golden temple (after the frustrating experience at the border) at 6 30 in the am. Again, I was the only girl, so I was well looked after. It wasn't nearly as bad though, because in the morning, most people are there to pray, not grope and stare. The boys all went for a dip (females had to go into a special room to wash in the pond) and while I was siting there watching, a few younger girls (6-15) came up and started asking where I was from. We had a lovely conversation and took some pictures. I gave them my email, and we are going to email back and forth about our countries. It was nice to have people coming up to me not to stare and grope, but to have human interaction.

All in all, I really enjoyed Amritsar, even with all the uncomfortableness. That being said, it was nice to get back to quiet Chandigarh. I really, really like my homestay (hurrah!!) and still love the group I am traveling with. I am so lucky that it is with this group instead of last year's group.

So I put a few pictures in my photo gallery, but used up my free space. I'll maybe delete some and put new ones up later this week.

Hope all is well with you guys, and that you all had a fnatastic thanksgiving!

xoxo jess

p.s. i just tried to upload more photos, but I've "exceded my monthly upload limit". Maybe I'll put some photos on facebook, since most people have that.

Posted by jchapelski 05:02

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Hey Jess,
I am inspired by your travel updates. Sounds as though you are truly taking in as much as you can...what memories for you! I love the fact that you are making the time to experience local customs, the people and the country.
We all miss you in the Great White North (well...maybe just a sprinkle of white on the Lions). Stay safe...I'm looking forward to the next journal entry!
Luv & hugs
Melissa

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