The rest of India..
Trip Start Sep 14, 2009
17Trip End Sep 14, 2010
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So here we are coming to the end now of India, after Kerala we crossed the border into the state of Karnataka and into the city of Mysore. The oh so reliable Lonely Planet said that Mysore is a cosmopolitan city I believe, well to us it was no different to the other cities we have seen in India, it has a lovely old palace which is more like a theme park set up than anything and a few old colonial style buildings but the heart of it is just another dusty, dirty city which we spent one night in before taking a 12 hr bus journey up to Hampi which is an entirely different story.
We woke up early thank God as the bus was due to leave at 7am but we thought be on safe side get there half an hour early, and so glad we did as pretty much as soon as we boarded it was off.. and it was only 6.45am so anyone expecting a 7am bus and didn't make it before hand was buggered really!
On board we met a lovely english couple Tom and Tilly, they are on a similar trip to us visiting India, SE Asia a bit of Aus and NZ and then central and south america the difference is they are doing it in 9 months compared to our 12. Incidentally they had been told an completely different time for the bus to us even earlier for them so typical India timetables I guess.
We arrived in the town of Hospet about 10km from Hampi, a bustling dust ball of a town, we decided to get rickshaws to Hampi instead of the state bus as the deal with Hampi is its separated by a river, on one side you have Hampi Bazaar (again LP book states busy and noisy town) and on the other is the more chilled area of V G where the majority of hostels are, we were planning on staying on the latter side, however the boat that ferries people over the river shuts at 6pm (although I thought 7pm ) we arrived in Hospet at 5.30pm... so it was a bit of a dash to Hampi, luckily for us even though our rickshaw drivers drove slower than a Sunday jaguar driver in the english countryside they got us there and managed to get the last boat to hold for us.. it was a dark and rocky walk over to where the boat lands and with 16 kilos on your back it isn't easy I tell you that much.
Finally we made it though and together we all found a hostel called Mowgli's, we had a lovely little and I mean little room with bathroom for roughly 2 pounds a night with a view over rice paddy fields and boulder strewn land it was a bargain and lovely little place.
First night we all had dinner together and then the next day me and Adam went over the river to Hampi Bazaar which in comparison is quiet and simple not chaos or noisy at all really! The View from the river whilst waiting for the boat was stunning, we couldn't see it at night but for as far as the eye can see there are giant, and I mean GIGANTIC granite boulders all over the hills and river beds its incredible, and its so peaceful. We went to the temple in Hampi Bazaar first and we were blessed by Lakshmi the elephant, very odd experience, you give her 1 rupee coin into her trunk she hands this to her boss and then she gives you a gentle tap on the head, its a bit smelly but very funny and she gets fed and bathed everyday and look remarkably cared for.. however when I said to the guy did you take her out the wild his reply was of course we did... hmmm Nice!!
Anyway just realized that I haven't told you what the draw to Hampi is... basically its a vast landscape of ruined temples and boulders, you can explore for days and find hidden structures which date back to 9th and 12th centuries and most of it is free to explore so even better! Its a breathtaking place, I have never seen anywhere like it in my life. The view from Hanuman hill which is behind the main town temple (the active one) is out of this world and all over this stone hill are ruins, not a sound either and you can easily be the only one up there its very magical in a way. The pictures don't do it justice but you can get the idea.
Hampi was roasting hot too so although the exploring was amazing it takes its toll quite quickly on you, so we went to something the LP did get right, The Mango Tree. This is a popular cafe situated in amongst banana plantations with a view over the river away from the town.. and the food was gorgeous too.. you can easily sit there for hours stuffing your face and drinking all the masala chai and coconut shakes you can, we liked it so much we went a few times.. hmmm yummy.
That night we caught our boat back and just chilled in our guest house restaurant with a beer or two, its not so secret here but in some places in the south drinking beer is a bit taboo so you have to hide it under the table or sometimes they put it in a tea pot or mugs so that the police don't kick up a fuss to much..
For the next few days we went exploring the many temples, ruins etc... one of the days we hired some bikes, I knew my fitness levels had dropped somewhat but My Word... its gotten worse I would have thought lugging that backpack would keep me a bit fit, how wrong I was... it was such good fun though and the freedom to go off and find these beautiful places was very special indeed.
We had dinner again with Tom and Tilly and some beverages, on one of the evenings me and
Adam met a man we fondly refer to as cave man! He was having some drinks at our hotel one afternoon and we got talking to him about the cricket, well I say talking it was a bit odd, he was so Indiafied that he spoke to us like we were foreigners... despite the fact he is from Newcastle!! for instance we would say what is the weather like and he would respond with, “ its cold, you know cold, like brrrrrr” and at the same time imitating the feeling of cold... its hard to write how it sounded but it was pigeon talk that's for sure. He was probably about 40 odd, dreads, lives in a cave in Hampi for 5 months of the year and then in the mountains in Leh for 5 months then bizarrely works in Singapore for 2 months to get money... God knows what he does there... he cant even speak english!! he was a character though, a very old skool hippy I think and I kind of liked him for that.
After Hampi our plan was to head to Gokarna, its on the coast and just below the border with Goa, the beaches are less resort like and more backpacker friendly so we thought a good place to go before hitting tourist ville of Goa, it turned out Tom and Tilly were doing the same so we all booked ourselves on a sleeper bus and off we went. The Bus was pretty good really compared to the others we had done, it had a double foam bed very cozy.. the journey was meant to be about 10 hours but turned into about 14 I think as sadly there was a fatal crash on our road and we were stuck in traffic for about 3 hours.. terrible but not surprising as they drive like nutters in India, road accidents are very common..
Anyway when we arrived in Gokarna, Tom bartered the rickshaw driver down, turns out another set up on the goras but we did OK and got to Om beach by about 9.30am.. and it was lovely. Gokarna is set up along 4 beaches really, the main town being Gokarna beach, then Kudlee meant to be more resort like, then Om which is where we stayed, then half moon and paradise beaches are further along but very basically set up and a bit remote.
Om beach was great, a few guesthouses and cafes and a stretch of sand shaped into the famous Om and the waters were amazing.. not crystal clear or anything but luke warm and not too much of a rip current to make it unsafe..
Me and Tilly trudged the beach for accommodation and we all ended up at a small guest house with again a basic room cheap cheap, although it came with the extras of ants and cockroaches, lovely!
The place turned out to be a bit weird though, there was definitely something up with the workers there, they had some sort of coup I think internally and because of this they seemed to act very odd around us.. they were not happy bunnies when we had 3 beers oohhhh the shame of it, but they sell it so it didn't make sense! They even took my glass away and I wasn't even pissed!! maybe they thought I was, I mean I can be stupid most of the time.
We stayed on Om beach for 6 nights Tom and Tilly just 5 as they had to get to Mumbai to fly out to Thailand. It was a wicked 5 days together though, we all decided that on one of the nights we would get drunk as skunks and so we took a day trip into Gokarna and purchased some of India's finest rum, Old Monk!! as they didn't sell a big bottle we had to buy 4 little ones very funny all had our own one.. Tom our makeshift bar tender gave us some pretty holiday measures and by the end of the night we were suitably drunk!! We decided to get some beers to take out from the place we had food at and sit on the beach under the stars, however our hotel seemed to be on guard watching us and were not happy but we didn't care that night..
Some poor couple were trying to have a bit of a romantic cuddle I think on the beach too and I proceeded to run up to them and ask about the guys guitar which I then said Tom could play, (he is left handed though) next thing you know tom is strumming away on this random guys guitar and playing it upside down, the whole meeting/guitar thing was over in minutes and we just walked off after a quick thank you, I'm sure the couple must have thought us to be total idiots.. ha ha ha!!
Oh my god I almost forget to mention, the naked man.. On our first morning on the beach we witnessed a dread-locked hippie go swimming completely in the buff... and so proud of it too... (not that we could see why if you get me! ) but this was just totally wrong, Om beach is not short on its Indian male gawpers and for them this guy was a total insult I'm sure, later in the week we saw him to it again!! a bunch of Indians stood waiting for him to get out I think to have a go at him but gave up when he wouldn't get out,only when his girlfriends got out did he dare.. Also we saw a woman topless too!! crikey! It just got worse..
There was a bit of a funny vibe though there, it seemed that the hippies or yippies all had some sort of rights of passage or so they thought where as the locals just didn't agree, then there were some boys who were just on one every night it seemed, and everyday, we saw them with beers in hand at 10am and they would play their music (well some sort of MOS crap) on the beach and do a manc dance beer in one hand, ciggy in the other, ashamed to be British at this point! I'm sure they mistook India for Thailand or something!
One day we witnessed a young girl in t-shirt and knickers, Ipod on dancing or raving to herself on the beach, probably off her tree I think but hilarious to watch, all she was missing was the podium and fluffy boots... whooooohooooo
Moving on from Om was a relief in the end, the tension of the different travelers, locals, and Indian tourists got too much in the end and the constant staring and picture taking whilst in bikinis took its toll too. So we moved on, said goodbye to Tom and Tilly and we caught the bus up to Agonda, Goa.
What a difference, a HUGE strip of sand, only very basically and subtly developed not what I thought Goa would be like. The beach was so big you could sit somewhere and not see anyone for hours.. it was lovely. We had a great room for great price for Goa, and there were plenty of places to eat but it wasn't hectic or commercial really at all. The crowd was that of long tearmers not really holidaymakers.
;We stayed for about 7 nights, our friends Dav and Wayne arrived on night 3 to Palolem another beach about 10km away so me and Adam hired a moped and went to see them there, Oh my the difference from Agonda to this, Palolem is what Agonda may become give 2-3 yrs time.. its a benidorm of India, it was pretty grim the moment we got there we wanted out.. luckily Dav and Wayne felt the same and so moved locations and the next day they came to stay in Agonda. We had a great time with them, so good to have a mini holiday it seemed in amongst all the traveling and dirty clothes, budget buses and trains we forgot we were on a backpacking trip almost. On our final night together Miss Davinder insisted (and yes I blame you entirely Dav) that we get 2 HUGE cocktails basically gold fish bowls usually between 4 but we got one per couple of long island ice tea again holiday measures.. my god I was half cut by the end of that then we had 2 bottles of wine.. we were steaming drunk but happy drunk.. and so the frolocks began and low and behold yes people we all went skinny dipping... Oh dear me.. my worst nightmare stereotype I became cant believe it.. Dav its your fault, have I said that already! Ha ha taking advantage of us poor backpackers who have only been drunk once in 3 months.. hmmmmm ha ha it was hilarious though.. although now I think of it very dangerous and kids don't try it OK.
Next day, Hangover central and a lovely 16 hr bus journey to look forward to, I couldn't move without wanting to vomit it took up until 5pm that night to feel better and even then I had the remains of what had occurred swimming through my head!! However we survived and got on our bus up to Mumbai where we would spend a 2 days and 1 night before flying onto Singapore.
Our last port of call in India, not chaotic as Delhi that's for sure of maybe it just seemed that way after 3 months of India. First day we arrived we were pretty knackered having just got off the bus so we went to the cinema, now we should have seen a Bollywood movie but to be honest we have seen a fair few on the buses etc and fancied some home comfort well Hollywood comfort so we went to see what can only be described as possibly the WORST movie of all time... 2012.. If you haven't seen it DONT!! I swear its a piss take, it cant be a serious film its just too bad to be, the acting is shocking mostly and the effects Oh my.. don't get me started.. we heard some lad come out and describe it like so “that wasn't a disaster movie the movie WAS the disaster” that about sums it up..
The experience in the cinema was good though, the seats are like the lazy boy armchairs, whilst you wait for your film they blast out some good old Indian disco music, then you have to stand to attention for the national anthem which I had to hold my laughter in during out of respect.. don't you just hate it when you get the giggles right at the wrong moment!!
We also had a matinee which was another blast of disco music... and of course it wouldn't be India without everyone playing music on their phones and shouting most of the time mind you that was more entertaining that the film. It was a good little experience though.
In a way you could mistake Mumbai to be London with all its old Victorian buildings, they even have pedestrian crossings although the traffic pays no attention to this and red lights and its a matter of take your life into your own hands at times to cross a junction.
We took in some sights, including the Taj Hotel, which is surrounded by scaffold as they are rebuilding the wing which was bombed back in November 08, its right by India gate too and just to round off our time in India again I got asked to pose in various family outing photos same same but different as the Indian saying goes..
Driving out of Mumbai I felt ready to be on our way, we went past some of the slum towns and saw the endless poverty that India unfortunately is famous for. It really is a hard life for them, women mostly I noticed sleeping on the side of the dual carriageway roads, where everyone drives like a mad man.. mind you we went past some slum houses and they had bloody televisions!! they are only the size of a closet but I reckon most of the space is taken up by these monster tellies they had..
Once at Mumbai airport it was about 10pm as we had an overnight flight and it was chaos.. not so much inside but trying to get inside, they have queues of people and you have to have your ticket didn't help that our online check in thing wasn't working so we had to be taken by a man with a very big gun to see if our names were on the list, thank god they were as I was starting to panic what would happen to us if not.. would we be shot at dawn!! …
Once through security and boarding pass firmly in hand we decided to have a coffee and the first coffee shop we had seen, this turned out to be the single most expensive drink we have had in India.. 2 coffees = 590rupee... WHOA!! unbelievable, that's more than the rooms we have been paying for and our meals.. Adam had asked for a large mocha that's what did it, it turns out a large equals a pint!! there's a picture to prove it, take a look, he was feeling pretty sick afterward s I can tell you.
Now our flight ticket is under the Qantas/British Airways umbrella so we fly with different carriers for this flight we were flying with Jet Airways, we thought maybe it would be a bit shoddy being an Indian airline but how wrong we were. We got the most amazing plane I have ever been on, it was pristine, and we had just 2 seats so no one to scamper over for the toilet. The movies were great and the seats sooo comfy I was so excited I couldn't sleep.. luxury at last.. when we landed I partly didn't want to get off.. but so glad I did as Singapore awaited us and Ill tell you all about it next time.
Just to sum up India, how I feel right now about it and the experience.
I feel that we have achieved something, I don't think India is the easiest of places to travel and so not a lot of people do it in the same capacity that we did, it took us so long to meet any other westerners that it really was like just us and India for a long time and at the time I felt very differently, I was angry and my patience was tested to the limits, I was sick of the attitudes and rudeness of some of the people we came across and the hassling was unbelievable, however I look back on it now and I'm so glad we did it and went through all the ups and downs, it has hardened us I think but at the same time I we kind of feel a bit of inner peace, Its difficult to explain but now were in SE Asia and were seeing other backpackers everyday doing the Thai and Aussie thing I don't feel like they do or what I think they feel, I feel separate almost like I'm carrying a little secret pocket of knowledge and experience which they cant share with me/us. Its not a hey look at me I'm better than you kind of thing, its just a different plateau I guess and as I have traveled before I have a comparison to back then and now and I definitely am getting so much more out of things now. I appreciate things so much more and make an effort to see and do and speak to people from the places were visiting.. confidence has grown I suppose but also my respect for others has increased.. but then my disrespect for some is more apparent (I'm talking about the boys drinking and vomiting everywhere on someones front porch type of people)
I hope that SE Asia will continue to I guess help me grow and become a better and more understanding person as I hope all our experiences will. Time will tell.
Check out the rest of our photos from India, especially the Hampi ones using this link -
Take care everyone.. xxxxx