India has never been a destination that would come across my mind for travel. But well, when the opportunity arises, I said why not. At the beginning of August, together with my ex colleagues from foodpanda, I headed to Amritsar, a northwestern Indian state of Punjab.
Due to my limited exposure to the Indian culture and several negative news on India, to be frank, I was kinda scared when I embarked on this journey. Haha, for the first time in my life, I felt intimidated.
However, I am very thankful that my ex-boss has everything planned for us. We even had a mini van waiting for us when we arrived.
If there is one thing that I learnt from this trip, it is to be very very thankful. As compared to Singapre, the streets of Amritsar are full of potholes, buildings under construction, dust and rubbles.
However, despite the not so optimistic living conditions,
people in India most people that I have met were generally friendly. The service in the hotel (Ramada Hotel, review will be up soon) we stayed were impeccable too.
As we explored the streets around our hotel to get a sim card for data roaming and local calls, we also discovered many interesting signages. Just a small tip here, unlike our neighbouring countries such as Malaysia, it is super hard to get a sim card in Amritsar. The best way to stay connected online is to get a wifi router from Changi Airport or simply activate the data roaming.
The water supply in India wasn’t the safest to be consumed so it is also best to drink bottled water. According to my Indian ex-boss (who is from India), it is best to even brush teeth with the bottled water. While I thought it was funny of J to ask me to shower with my mouth closed tight in India, my ex-boss told me, it is one of the better measures to prevent tummy upset.
While like I mentioned that the locals are friendly, try to be more careful no matter where you go. My ex-boss, Amit was very serious when he told us to stay in a group and don’t wonder off at night. As Amritsar is generally not a tourist spot, the locals can be
overly friendly and curious with the visitors. As we were travelling in a big group, somehow we attracted some attention and several of my colleagues got requested to be photographed!
While we explore Amritsar, it was hard not to hunt for food. Amit said that we must be very selective when it comes to street food. So during the trip, we have only tried the charcoal grilled corn which was rubbed with lime and salt before serving and the yogurt popsicle. And we survived the trip without anyone falling sick or suffering from tummyache.
Another street food that I tried was the Golgappa but we were “cheated” by having it in the hotel lobby. Lol. Golgappa is actually a street food with Puri (golden hollow shell) and is filled with ingredients such as diced potato, chickpea, onion and such before it is topped with flavoured water (spicy/ non spicy). The way to eat it is to pop the whole puri into your mouth and continue eating it till you are filled.
One of the places of interest in Amritsar is the Golden Temple and this is also a place that I feel everyone should at least visit once if you are here. Informally known as Golden Temple, it is actually known as Sri Harmandir Sahib (The abode of God) and Sri Darbar Sahib.
It was built with the intention to allow men and women from all walks of life and all religions to come together and worship God equally.
The Sikhs believe that you can be cleansed of your sin/ sins if you take a dip in the pool. So why not take a dip if you are here. If you think dip is too much, you can also wash your face/ hands in the pool.
Everyday, there are over thousands of people visiting the holy shrine.
I kid you not, there are really a lot of people, regardless of race, gender, age and social status who visit the Holy Shrine. The queue to the Holy Shrine was unceasing. Do note that you need to cover your head with a scarf or a cloth in order to enter the premise.
You can also make donation, partake the holy food (tasted like sweet cous cous in a sticky form) or dine at the community kitchen (Langar) for free vegetarian meal. As this is a holy place, do not drink alcohol when you are coming here ok. In fact, it is prohibited to smoke, drink or having any motorised vehicles around the temple.
Don’t forget to at least stay back till the night falls. Besides the sound of the prayers, the glistering reflection of The Golden Temple also provide you with another experience of the splendor of The Golden Temple. So remember to at least stay till you see the stars ah. Coming up next, I will also share my experience at the Wagah Border ceremony.