Location: Norbulingka to Amritsar

Yesterday, we woke up pretty late, and then ate breakfast at the Norbulingka cafe. It wasn’t as good as the breakfast from Common Ground, but the parantha and pancakes were still quite good. We packed up, and all got in the taxis. Aisha, Teo, Rabsel and I were in one taxi, and the ROGPA crew and Wen were in the other. It was a long 4-hour taxi ride. We slept, listened to music, talked and close to the end Aisha and I played chess on a magnetic chess board. It was hard. Anyways, I’ve got to admit, we got to our new hotel, the Golden Tulip, and I was very pleasantly surprised. It was decked with expensive-looking purple furniture, glass tables, and the floor was made of clean white marble. It was the first taste of luxury we’ve had during this trip. Don’t get me wrong, the trip is awesome, but it was nice to get hot water without turning the switch on and having nice plush beds. We ate lunch there, which was also amazing: butter chicken and naan and butter paneer. We all tried eating the traditional Indian way (with our right hand), but it was hard. Most of us couldn’t rip the naan apart with one hand, so we cheated a little. We relaxed for a bit in our luxurious rooms, and then we were called down so we could have a tour of the Golden Temple. Surprisingly, all the girls were respecting the rules, but all three boys had to put long pants on because they changed the dress code last week. Anyways we went there, covered our heads and took our shoes off, and only then were we allowed to enter the temple. It was gorgeous. There were white parliament-type making a square shape around a square pond (it was pretty large), and in the middle of the pond, there was a gold building. The pond is considered holy, and the golden temple in the building is where the religious book of the Sikh religion was kept during the day. All around us, there was a man’s voice blaring out of the speakers, reciting chapters of the holy book. The book is never actually opened or anything, its covered in cloth. The people read giant copies of it. Anyways, we visited the entire temple and took lots of pictures. Our feet felt a little gross at the end because we were also shown the kitchens, where the floors are greasy and wet. We left at night and returned to the hotel. Dinner was a buffet, and then we all went up to bed after a long day.