Hello again! Last time, having arrived in the jungle surrounding the Goan beaches, we said that we hoped to spend some time soaking up the sun in between the rainy weather. We can now confirm that it is completely possible, and in hindsight very likely, to get sunburnt on an overcast day… Nothing major, but considering we have spent 5 weeks in the sun without so much of a hint of burn (thank you factor 50!), it was a tad annoying. As a result we both reverted back to our childhood ways, and had to go in the sea with T-shirts on and ‘sunbath’ in the shade.
From Goa we hopped on a bus back in time, to a place called Hampi. Despite everyone we met telling us it reminded them of the Flintstones we were both still pleasantly surprised when the bus stopped and we got out in Bedrock.
After a blissful few days in
Hampi Bedrock, we moved on to a city called Mysore, where we spent a few days relaxing, sightseeing, and over indulging in the local cuisine. Feeling rested we caught our last Indian train; a 13 hour sleeper to Madurai, our final destination. Whilst very comfortable, the bunks were a tad cramped for Jamie and the carriage had the pleasant (read – highly concentrated, overpowering and noxious) aroma of urine.
Now, here are some of the more interesting moments (we think) from the last week and half;
On one of our more active days whilst staying in Goa we decided to catch a local bus to the centre of town, called Panjim. As the bus pulled up we could already see that it was rammed, nonetheless we squeezed our way in, safe in the knowledge that at least it couldn’t get any more crowded, right? Wrong! Every 5 minutes the bus would stop and pick up yet more passengers, without ever dropping anyone off. Fast forward 20 minutes and we were both feeling a little distressed to say the least; squeezed in the middle of a mass of sweaty, human flesh, with the overwhelming feeling that there wasn’t enough of the sticky, humid air left in the bus to be shared around. By the time we staggered off the bus at our destination we were both soaked through (not entirely with our own sweat) and ready to drop. As it turns out the advertised capacity for the bus was around 35, including standing space. What we experienced was closer to 70, something a Tetris master would be proud of. On the bright side the heavily Portuguese influenced town centre meant we were able to feast on an array of tasty treats, which if we were being honest were mostly delicious little cakes….
Meat cravings hit once again, so much so that moments after seeing a drove of piglets (we googled the correct name for a group of piglets so you wouldn’t have to!), Jade was having fantasies about crispy pork belly, emphasis on the crackling! Whilst we couldn’t find this (and didn’t have the heart to make our own) we settled for Goan curry. Traditionally made with fish, we wimped out and went for the chicken version which was amazing. The only sad part being that we waited until our last night to try this signature local dish.
Hampi Bedrock, we didn’t see any dinosaurs, but there were plenty of monkeys. Jade wanted to do her bit for the local wildlife, and thought they might enjoy some of our unwanted apple skin. Standing on our balcony we threw the food over to a tree some monkeys had called home. In quick order we saw the smallest one climb down, and start gorging himself on the feast we had provided. We both smiled at each other and having considered our good deed for the day done, went inside to get ready for our own dinner. No less than 5 minute later we head out and stumble across a scene of chaos. Having been fed our new friends had grown bolder in their wanderings and were now encroaching on a local’s back garden. His response was to throw stones into their midst, with varying degrees of accuracy. We may have been slightly responsible. The screeching will haunt our nightmares… Having in no way learnt our lesson from the first incident, we tried again, this time with banana skins. After watching the sunset we wandered back down the hill to our accommodation and stumbled across a tribe (don’t worry, we also googled this for you) of monkeys. Jamie had the bag of goodies on him, and at Jades request got them out. No sooner had he retrieved the stash, they all became very interested in us and rapidly started heading our way. Feeling a bit overwhelmed by the sudden rush of rabies laden primates, Jamie, in what was one of his braver moments, immediately threw the bag of banana skins at Jade, and got well out of the way as they all turned their attentions on her. Jade, having just received a not so welcome package, immediately realising that she was heavily outnumbered and deep in enemy territory, resorted to the only course of action left available to her; she hurled the bag, unopened, at the troop (googled…), and retreated as quickly as if she had just thrown a live grenade. Monkey mania once again ensued as it turned in to every monkey for themselves, and they squabbled over our offerings. There is a chance we have learnt our lesson this time; maybe.
Whilst exploring all the sights Hampi had to offer, we spotted a large rocky outcrop that looked like it might offer up a great view. We scrambled up, around, and over huge boulders to finally reach the summit; no sooner did we reach the top, bad things happened… Jamie placed the rucksack on what seemed like a stable perch, only to see it immediately jump off its seat and tumble down the slope, finally sliding off the edge. Luckily after a bit of boulder hopping the backpack was retrieved intact, with relative easy. Jade, feeling a tad left out by these events, took the opportunity snag her flip-flop on a rock and watched in horror as it tumbled down a 4 metre cleft in the rock. After an initial bought of laughter, Jade was insistent that we didn’t need the flip-flop, despite a 40 minute walk over rough terrain being our only option to get back to civilisation. A discussion ensued, the result of which saw Jamie cramming himself down into the crack in the rock, in search of the missing flip-flop. After a few iffy moments the footwear was retrieved and no one was worse for wear apart from a few scraped knees.
When going back in time to the Stone Age, one thing that we did not consider was that maybe the widespread ATMs we had previously seen, might be a bit harder to come by in Bedrock. However we were soon forced to consider this problem when we found ourselves down to 9 rupees (roughly 12.5p) and no way of replenishing our cash supply. After asking a few locals we found out that there was a nearby ATM, however it was 4km away. With no funds in order to help us get there we opted to walk; the path (which at one point, Jade refused to believe was actually a path due to the fact it was so overgrown) took us over a mountain, through a banana plantation, across a river, and through ancient ruins. Up until the moment we started running out of water it was actually quite a pleasant hike, however having cooked ourselves (factor 50 our only lifeline) during our sweat inducing forced march through the midday sun, we were understandably a little worse for wear. We finally arrived only to find the ATM was out of service (Shit!). We sat down, dejected, to weigh up our options. A friendly local kindly told us that there was another one a bit further down the road, so we excitedly headed off in search. We came across two machines next to each other. The first one definitely did not want to be our friend which left us only one left before defeat. Luckily this one did work and we were able to get some cash out. The first thing we did was excitedly run to the nearest shop to get a 7UP; we honestly cannot remember ever tasting something so nice.
In Mysore we took a trip to India’s first Sand Sculpture Museum and the zoo (pronounced ‘Mysore ZOOOOOOO’ by the chirpy bus tanoy). To our amazement the prices for entry did not differ for Indians and Foreigners, another first in India. After a long debate Jamie decided that his favourite animal was either a Wolf or a Giraffe, whilst Jade, inexplicably decided that a certain breed of Pheasant was the one for her… In her words ‘it was pleasing on the eye, the colours were great!’.
As well as seeing the first Sand Sculpture Museum in India, we also came across the first bed in India that Jamie actually fit in. India, we now know, is a nation of diminutive people, who have no need for beds that are longer than 6 foot, so finding one that was actually of a normal size was quite a pleasant surprise.
On our last afternoon in Mysore we took a long bus ride (13 miles – 60 minutes) to an out of town park, that promised to offer flowers, trees and fountains, with the added spectacle of an illuminated fountain display in the evening. We spent an idyllic afternoon enjoying the sunshine, whilst reading and playing cards. This all changed when the sun went down. As the sun slid beneath the horizon, millions of insects appeared from some sort of bug hell (this is sadly no exaggeration). This was most definitely a situation that called for trousers, long sleeved shirts and copious amounts of bug spray; the problem, we had none of those. Armed with nothing but our exposed skin we rushed off to see the light display, but after 10 minutes we admitted defeat and retreated to the bus. Only there was no bus… When we got dropped off earlier in the day we were very particular about finding out when we would be able to get back, and were promised buses ran very frequently and until late in the evening. What we did not count on was traffic incident which had blocked all traffic coming our way. After waiting 10 minutes we were assured that it would only be another 15 minutes, after the 6th time we received this answer, it started to sound a little less genuine. In the end we waited 2 hours for our bus, by which stage quite a crowd had gathered waiting to be liberated from the isolated park. As the bus pulled up, at some unseen signal, everyone, whether they be old, young, skinny or fat, stampeded towards to bus, all with the hopes of securing a place. We were lucky, so were about 60 other people, so whilst it was a relief to finally be heading home, it was not without a small measure of discomfort as we retraced the hour long journey.
Tomorrow we will be flying to Thailand, via Sri Lanka, to start the next leg of our trip. We plan to write a brief (honestly!) summary of our time in India, before moving on to the myriad delights of Thailand.
Until then, Alavida (you can google this one yourself)
Jade and Jamie