Myles Harrington

Posts Tagged ‘Border Crossing’

An Illegal Border Crossing and a Wild Snow Leopard

In India on June 7, 2010 at 2:32 pm

Sadly, of the two most exciting things to happen in the last 72 hours I have a picture of neither. I do have lots of lovely photos of flowers though because we (we being me, the German bloke and the British guys I met on Thursday night) went on a two day trek.

The beautiful flowers of the Darjeeling hillside

The crazy bloke we booked the trip with seemed to be on cocaine for the whole time we were with him. hespokelikethissobloodyquicklyitwashardtoworkoutwhathewassaying. Although he showed us his new swanky office in the centre of town I am half unsure whether he’d arranged a trip before. We arrived on Saturday morning and took over this poor native family’s house, don’t have a clue where they slept considering we took all their beds. On the car journey there we stopped off and picked up a chicken for lunch. It was still alive and it kept flapping under Barney’s seat. The two fellow tour guides that came along for the ride had a great laugh at the scared westerner. From the smell that filled the car shortly afterwards I think it shit itself too, poor thing.

Lunch - Nepalese style

After a couple of Darjeeling chais we set off on the main attraction of the trek, a walk down an extremely steep hill, via a non-existent village to a tea plantation we were not allowed to visit. We hung around the river at the bottom for half an hour taking more picture of flowers and the occasional snap of the stream and trekked back up the hill for more chai and the poor chicken’s insides cooked to a traditional Nepalese style. boiled in its own juices with rough amounts of chili, garlic and random brown spices. I think the coke head boss kept the breast for himself.

A post dal lunch nap ensued and we were so desperate for coke (not the boss’ favourite type) and chocolate upon awakening we managed to persuade one of the Nepalese blokes hanging around he should drive us to the nearest village so we could stock up on some supplies to see us through the night. After buying Red Bull, Coke and various types of cheap Indian chocolate we were shown to the border point the town was based on by our guide. It was just across the otherside of the street under some unguarded barriers, the type that are normally at level crossings, so we tentatively took a stroll towards them and ducked under into Nepal. Our guide was a bit worried to say the least and kept muttering “this is very illegal” “this is not allowed” but we survived without a bullet in the head so that was good enough for me. Then the journey home got even more exciting as half way back on one of the numerous bends, a grey and white animal, roughly the size of a big fox, sprinted lowly across the tarmac in front of us. Our guide informed us it was a snow leopard. It looked much happier than the one we saw at the zoo on Friday. The guide didn’t get my sarcastic remark about going back to the house to get the gun.

Once back at the wooden house the camp fire was in full swing, so we sat around sipping the home brew wine, whiskey and coke and chewing on yet more burnt chicken for dinner.

The next day we took a trip to a small village monastery, that the guide eventually found. It was built on a beautiful spot and the drive was quite cool. The locals loved seeing us too and they made some great postcard style photos. Back to the house for yet more chicken.

Feiste inder (Max came up with this caption)

The Amazing Golden Temple of Amritsar and a Patriotic Display to Remember

In India on May 4, 2010 at 6:02 am

When we arrived in Amritsar off the bus we were standardly besieged by a bunch of rickshaw drivers all vying for our business. We chose one and tried three hotels that were all full so we ended up in the delightfully scummy Hotel Paris. Champes Elysee chic it was not. After a quick shower we were off out to the Jewel in Amritsar’s crown, the Sikh Golden Temple. It really is an amazing sight, especially as we visited at dusk. I was surprised there weren’t actually that many tourists in the complex so we had to have our pics taken with quite a few Indians. After perusing the temple at a leisurely pace we went to the infamous free dining hall for a respectable meal of dal, chapati and come delicious rice pudding. We then got a two hour tour of the kitchen area and were told all about Sikhism but an ethusiastic volunteer guide. The best bit about the Golden Temple is not the forty odd pillars they stole from the Red Fort in Delhi, It’s not the intricate gold carvings and marble inlays, it is the chapati machine! That beast is working 24 hours a day to feed the 60-80,000 visitors per day. It can make 7,000 chapatis an hour. All in a Bertha style fashion.

eeeeyyyyyyy theeerrreeee, I’ve found the building of gold mi hearties

Sunday morning we were up early to hit two more essential Amritsar tourist spots. First up was the Hindu cave temple, the Mata Temple. Compared to its Amritsari brother the Golden Temple, the Mata Temple seemed a bit gimmicky. Perhaps it is disrespectful to say so, it is a holy place after all but I think I was expecting some kind of underground network of caves with stalactites and natural pools. It was good fun climbing through the man-made cave like walkways and the paintings were vibrant but I wouldn’t say it was a must visit. We did however get some amazing naan bread style snack smeared with herb butter stuffed with what I think was parsnip from a street restaurant just outside.

Theme parkesque caves at the Mata Temple, Amritsar

The afternoon was taken up with a trip to the India/Pakistan border for the daily border closing display. A fantastic demonstration of patriotism that the English can only muster 10 tins down during an England semi-final. Perhaps it is because we were sat for over an hour and a half on concrete but I think the festival like build up to the event was actually better than the leg throwing antics of the soldiers.

Flying the flag for Hindustan

Of course the draw of free food at the Golden Temple could not be resisted for too long, so we headed back there for Sunday’s evening meal. After stop offs at a chicken restaurant in the dodgy alcoholic area of town where Minja got a rock thrown at her and Dominos pizza for a one pound margarita. They change the menu every four hours at the temple so it was aloo gobi for supper followed by a spot of volunteering. Filip and I handed out the chai bowls to visiting pilgrims for 15 minutes which was greatly appreciated by the old sikh men and mad me feel not so bad for taking the extra chapati and double round of tea. 

Paying for my chapati