Cricket, palace, temple and of course, food!

Trip Start Nov 15, 2004
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Trip End Nov 10, 2005


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Monday, March 28, 2005

Our luck with the Indian Rail system came to an end as we tried to leave Kochi - the first train was booked out and the next train was over 3 hours late. At 1:30 am we boarded the train leaving behind a hot (at midnight, it had dropped one degree from 35 to 34) and humid Kerala for the dry 'cosmopolitan' city of Bangalore.

Prime reason for visiting Bangalore was for Michael to catch the India v Pakistan Test Series. This was also a good excuse for Kate to learn some more Indian cooking.

Unfortunately the series was sold out, (despite the repeated assurances of the Karnataka (State) Cricket Association). Fortunately, Michael was able to find a scalper and was witness to a great day of cricket in a packed stadium. Sentiments between the Indian and Pakistan cricket fans were great and the crowd was extremely enthusiatic with drummers, horn players and dancers littering the crowd, and an almighty roar than put to shame any noise that an Australian crowd (however drunk) could manage. (Pakistan ended up winning in a major upset that has Indian cricket fan(atics) reeling).

Meanwhile Kate learnt some more secrets of Indian home-cooking and is particularly excited about knowing how to make naan bread using a saucepan instead of a tandoor, which as nice as it would be to have in the backyard at home, isn't very practical.

During our short visit to the city we went to the main shopping drag, M.G Road (every city has an M.G road named after Mahatma Ghandi), which could have been a street in any major city in the world with its designer clothes shops and flashing neon signs. After one month in India we decided to diverge from our usual Indian fare and eat pizza - tandoor style of course. In another strange Indian twist we watched with amusement as the Indian diners all ate their pizza with knives and forks - in a country where sloppy curries are eaten with the hand!

Our time in Bangalore was slightly jaded by the continual rip-offs from rick-shaw drivers who, despite all having meters, refused to use them and always demanded high charges from us.

Mysore - the Maharaja Palace and the Somnathapur Temple
From Bangalore we visited charming Mysore, known for its massive palace, market and sandalwood. The palace is spectacular and we were fortunate to be able to see it lit up at night and witness an excellent classical music performance in its grounds.

Prior to making it to the markets, we were befriended by a young boy, who after some time offered to take us to a 'incense rolling competition', which sounded interesting particularly given that he told us the markets were closed (the oldest scam in the book, which for some unknown reason we failed to realise). Of course he took us to an oil and incense shop were there was one lady rolling incense (the 'competition') and one man pleased to demonstrate his entire range of oils to us. We did buy some water-lilly oil which repels mosquitos, and despite some doubts it has proven very effective, and some sandalwood incense to send home, as this is the must get souveniour from Mysore. We then agreed to buy the boy a Thali for his 'help', which soon turned into Thali plus omelete plus chai for his friend! All part of the India experience.

We took a short daytrip to the Somnathapur temple of the ancient Hoysala kingdom. The temple has sceptacular and intricate carvings that are the best of any we have seen thus far. It was sad to see a lady encouraging her children to ask for '1 rupee' '1 pen' from us while we enjoyed the temple though.

Not much else to do in Mysore and it wasn't as atmospheric as we expected so after a couple of days we headed north to Hampi.
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