Monday, December 10, 2007 

Vacation Planning

Seems like I have to take some time off from flying. I haven't used up my leave allotment for this year, so the company is making me take a vacation. So, I've decided I'll try for Angkor Watt again.

I've bought the tickets to fly to Pnomh Penh rather than Siem Reap because I'd like to take the long boat ride to Siem Reap. I've a general idea of what I'll be doing. Go Pnomh, wake up early, take boat to Siem, go see Angkor and other ruins and Tonle Sap, then fly back. Other than that, I'll cross the bridges when I come to them.

It's been a really long time since I've flown with an airline besides the company I work with. Should be quite interesting to see how different each airline takes people from one place to another.

Saturday, December 01, 2007 


Amritsar is an interesting place to visit. Mostly known as a Mecca for Sikhism, the Golden Temple is a sight to behold. What I found enchanting about the Golden Temple isn't the monument itself, but the atmosphere and the selflessness of the establishment. From afar you can hear chanting which fills the air, and fills you with a feeling of peace as the lyrical droning goes on and on. All around you, you see people bowing towards the temple, cleansing themselves in the lake, or just meandering about enjoying the architecture of the temple and the surrounding buildings.

What surprised me is that there's quite a bit of charity going on here. There's a kitchen which my guide told me serves roughly 5000 people a day. That's five thousand! Imagine how many chapattis need to be rolled out day and night! There's also a hostel nearby that lets people sleep for free for a few days, some public transport and quite a few other things which I didn't understand.

Besides the Golden Temple, there's also the closing of the gates at Wagha Border. This ritual at the India Pakistan border seems more like a fiesta than anything else. Hundreds of people come to watch the daily evening event. Before the ceremony starts music is blared out through huge speakers while people come streaming in onto the stands. Here and there people dance along to the beats, seemingly in a frenzy of joy and excitement. Some adventurous people run towards the border gate with an India flag before being turned back by the border guards. Young and old alike, run towards the gates and wave the flag about before following the guards' orders.

The actual closing of the gates itself is a sight to behold. Suffice to say, these guards have strong lungs ,and can raise their feet really high up into the air. The whole affair kind of seems as if India and Pakistan, in their small friendly way, are competing with each other as to who is the most professional at executing the ceremony. In the end, flags are lowered. India and Pakistan's flags cross each other exactly at midpoint, and everybody starts to leave.