Travel Journal

Shimla to Amritsar

(Tuesday 28 February 2012) by Andy and Babs
Hello again my faithful readers. Hope that doesn't sound too pompous!!

Well, here's to continuing from where I left off.

Our final time spent in Shimla was really enjoyable apart from Andy's continuing problems. I liked Shimla a lot, it was so clean and fresh after all the litter and dust and dirt we have encountered everywhere else. Plastic bags are banned and it made such a difference. I have decided that plastic bags are the scourge of the world. Travelling through the Indian countryside by train all you see is plastic bags, packets, bottles everywhere and I mean everywhere... even hanging from the trees.x-|

Shimla surprised me by having such a wide range of shops...Dominoes Pizza, United Colours of Beneton, Sony shops etc etc. Wasn't expecting that at all. Great bookshops where Andy managed to get himself some more reading material for the train.|:-)

We were up early had breakfast and were soon packed in to another 4 x 4 (our means of road travel everywhere) this time just a driver, kitted our in whites with peaked cap and white gloves. Very quaint. It took just under 5 hours to complete the descent down through the spectacular mountain scenery. Twisty winding roads didn't do a lot for Andy's queasiness. The driver was really considerate though and took great care not to jolt him about too much.:-x

We were deposited at the railway station and soon aboard the Express train to Amritsar...journey time just under 6 hours. Another twin berth sleeper, so Andy was quickly deposited to the upper bunk where he stayed for the duration.:-O

Me....well I made the most of a tinted window with about 4 inches of water slurping around at the bottom, so could only imagine what was going on outside.

Arrival in to Amritsar was in the dark, and dingy lighting everywhere sometimes makes it difficult to see. Thankfully our door was opened by our pick up rep who helped get the suitcases off and we were only a 10 minute drive up the road to our hotel.

Another Heritage Hotel, so again very very very quaint. Loads of stuff crammed in with walls full of old photos of past - who knows. Enormous room. Andy by this time was on his last legs so he fell in to bed and hoped that he would be able to withstand the following days activities.:-?

Our guide had been told we needed to see a Doctor at some point so it was with great relief that he told us his sister was a Doctor and he would take us to his home where she would see Andy.

But first could we manage the trip to the Golden Temple. We agreed and headed off.

As far as highlights of the trip, this had to be up there with the Taj Mahal. Stupendous....awesome...stunning...don't know what else to say about it. Spent over 2 hours walking round it and then joining the queue to enter the temple itself.:-)

We were taken round all the kitchen areas where food is prepared for anyone who enters the temple and is hungry. Chappaties by the thousands were being made by hand and also by machines. What a production!!! Andy got to stir one of the huge caldrons of vegetable curry. There must have been at least 20 of these huge vats boiling away. Everywhere was staffed by volunteers and seeing the lines of people sitting eating was just mindblowing.

Visit over we headed to our Guides house. His mother opened the door to us and hugged us and invited us in. His sister also hugged us and we were taken in to comfy chairs where we were made coffee and given an assortment of biscuits, nuts, sultanas etc.

While the doctor (sister) was finishing off some back massage on a lady, we were taken for a guided tour of the house. Fascinating....were shown Rajit's room and also his brothers', and then taken on to the roof terrace to look down on his street.

Tour over it was time to have consultation with the Doctor. She took notes of all Andy's complaints and then disappeared for 10 mins. Returning with lots of pills and potions, she proceeded to give him the first dose of everything and with a long list of instructions we were hugged, kissed and sent on our way once more. Whole thing cost just over £10.:-D

We were taken back to our hotel to rest for a couple of hours before setting off for the Wagah ceremony at the Indian/Pakistani border.

This event takes place every day and is attended by thousands. We joined a very very long queue and then eventually I was sent off to the ladies queue and Andy was left with the Guide. Keeping every one in order were Army men on horseback, riding up and down and I found the experience of watching how this was done very intimidating. Who is going to argue with a huge horse nudging you in to line. It was just the men I hasten to add that this was being done to.

Lots of security check points to be gone through, lots of body frisking etc, but eventually I was reunited with Andy and we made our way to the huge concrete stadium type seating. Surrounded by thousands of people we awaited the ceremony to begin. If any of you have watched the clip I put on from YouTube you will know what happens. Lots of high kicking, marching and strutting up and down on the Indian side and also the same going on on the Pakistan side. The gate between the 2 countries is opened while all this strutting and high kicking is going on and eventually the flags from both countries are lowered, gate is closed once more and it's all over for another day. What an experience!!!! Loved every moment of it.<3

Another 50 minute journey brought us back to the hotel where we said our goodbyes to our wonderful guide.:-(

Another dose of medicine for Andy and it was decided that when all else fails head off to a KFC. Spotted on our way back to the hotel. Unfortunately it was about a 10 minute walk from our hotel but!!!!! on the wrong side of the road. How to get across was the question as a 3foot wall went down the middle of the road. Now I have mentioned in the past how dim the lighting is and with cars hurtling up and down, we took our lives in our hands and having found a small gap in the wall we ran across like we had been scalded. Met up with an Indian guy outside who says hiya mate whereya from. He lives in Southall in London so had a chat about our thoughts on India etc.

Wow...they like their chips salty....chicken strips were as hot as hades but nontheless I tucked in while Andy still feeling sick only had a couple of chips. Evening meal over we headed back to the hotel, dicing with death one more time.

Booked an early call for the morning as we were catching the 8 10am train to train trip.

So here we are in our usual position...2 berth sleeper....Andy sitting with his head in his hands again, and me spending the time rabbiting on here.:-x

I am constantly amazed at what I see out of the window. Tinted again this time but no water swishing around so can see a bit better:-).

People picking their way through the rubbish on the railway track, talking on their mobile phones. Even some of the beggars have mobile phones. All of the countryside we are travelling through is devoted to growing rice or crops of vegetables. No spare greenery....all being put to good use. I just can't get over the amount of garbage that is strewn around, like I said at the beginning 90% is plastic carrier bags. So far this morning I've seen 6 men peeing hundreds of roaming dogs and guys sitting on their rooftops drinking tea or coffee. Old men just sitting about doing nothing. Interesting to say the least.

Now 2 hours in to our journey....only another 6 to go. Delhi final stop. Looking forward to it.:o)

To be continued.

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