Sunday, March 7, 2010

Heading to Hampi

So, Kate and I have slacked big time on writing, but we finally managed to post a few pictures for all to see, and now we are working on writing about our past 10 days of India! Basically, from where I left off last time we were in Palolem (beach town in south Goa), and about to head to Hampi. A few days earlier on our way to Palolem (during our 4 bus day trip), we decided to be responsible travelers and book our travel plans in the hub city as we passed through there. So, we woke up on Friday morning, said our goodbyes to the beach and headed off around 2 pm to venture on some more awesome hot, jam packed government buses! We arrived in Panjim (the hub town where we had booked our bus tickets) after about three hours of traveling in the hot sun. We found a nice place to eat and kill some time before our night bus was leaving. We loaded up into our night bus (the tiny little space we came to call home), and tried to sleep for awhile. Before closing our eyes, we both noticed that it seemed like we were heading back the way we had came, but we thought that that couldn't be possible, so we just dozed off. Basically we woke up at 11:30pm on the exact street in Palolem that we had left at 2pm!!! We both looked at each other and started laughing about what idiots we were! We traveled all day in the heat, just to be back at the same place we started nearly 10 hours earlier! To add insult to injury we fell asleep once more and woke up in another small town. After inquiring where we were, we realized that we were in Gokarna, the town that is closest to Om beach! We had heard about Om beach from our first day in India; it's supposed to be super chilled out, not many people, perfect beaches, huts right on the beach...blah blah blah...yeah, paradise. Well, after looking at the map when we were in north Goa, it looked like we would have to back track about 7 hours if we wanted to go to this beach; and since we are thinking about going to the Andaman islands, we decided to bag the idea of backtracking just to kick it on a nice beach. So pretty much we realized that we were the biggest idiots in the world, because not only did we travel an unnecessary 10 hours to pick up a bus, but we were also in the one town that we had wanted to go to the whole trip. (And not to mention, the entire time we were in Hampi all we heard about is how great Gokarna is, especially Om beach. Everyone talks about how they got stuck there for weeks, met tons of great people, and just had the best chilled out yeah, we don't want to talk about it)

Besides our travel mishap, and the tumultuously bumpy road (which is a little creepy when you are sleeping with two people in a tiny bed 10 feet off the ground with only two metal bars to keep you in place), we arrived in Hampi happy and healthy! Driving into Hampi was beautiful; Hampi used to be a bustling trade town of about 500,000 people that was built in the 1300's, but was destroyed in a religious battle in 1565 (I think). So the town is scattered with ruins amongst amazing granite boulders. We hopped off the bus and followed a friend's suggestion to cross the river and try to stay at Bobby's place (thanks Gabi). You have to take a little boat to cross the river, and it just runs back and forth all day, with a cute little teenage boy that wears a cowboy sombrero conducting it! After walking for awhile in the opposite direction as everyone else, we arrived amidst the rice paddies at three little guest houses. Bobby's ended up being full, so we stayed next door at Manju's place. We ended up getting our own large room with shelves and a bathroom for 225 rupees (rs) ($5) a night (but sssshhhh....don't tell anyone, secret price! That is what they have said to us at every guest house we stay at. They always tell us that the person staying next to us is paying more, so we can have the room at our desired rate, but we can't tell anyone...funny huh?). We almost stayed in a mud hut with dirt floors and a shared bathroom for $1.50 cheaper, but because of all the bugs and the distance to the bathroom we decided to splurge and each pay an extra 75 cents each per night (it's funny because talking about it now is's just dollars and cents, but when you're haggling 75 rs seems like a lot!)

I know I started explaining the beauty of Hampi earlier, but this place is really something else! The landscape is just so contrasting and beautiful. There are guest houses scattered within rice paddies, palm trees, granite boulders, ruins, a big river, some lakes, and lots of temples. Hampi is one of those places that you end up staying longer than you planned to when you arrived, yet when you leave you feel like you could have stayed longer. It's pretty special!

Shortly after arriving we were hanging out at our little communal gazebo area and started chatting with a guy from Montreal. He had a pink cast on, and told us how he had broke his ankle a week back from bouldering, he also told us that one guy had just died from jumping off the rocks into the lake (I seriously still had to plead with Kate not to do it even after she knew someone died...haha), that his roommate compressed a disc in her spine from jumping off the rocks, and that another guy had Malaria in the guesthouse next to us. What a welcome right!

The next day we decided to rent a motorbike and see some temples. We met some funny guys that were renting out bikes and managed to get a good deal on a bike. Little did we know that our bike was a piecer! One of the guys was obsessed with Kate, and wouldn't stop calling her Kate he wanted to marry her! haha...all in good fun. Anyhoo, Shortly after our first failed attempt at riding off, we hit our first hill...and let me tell you, that didn't go so well! The whole day was spent with Kate getting off the bike on every hill and literally pushing the bike up to the top. Riding a bike in India is quite an experience, even in the countryside. First off you are constantly running into herds of animals; our day began with 2 herds of goats, then a huge herd of buffalo, then the cows...endless cows. It's difficult because the herders don't help get them out of the road, instead you just have to go slowly and hope that one of the animals you are passing doesn't decide to turn around and spike you with their horns!

We managed to overcome the bike issues, and ride all over looking at temples. Luckily at our second temple we were 'adopted' by a sweet Indian family that drove us around to a bunch more temples, while their 16 year old son drove our bike! We ended up being able to go to a super spiritual place that not many foreigners go to because it's difficult to find, and it's not really clear what it is without some explanations. So, after a long morning in the sun we decided to head out to the lake that everyone was talking about. On our way out there we got lost twice, and spent about 20 minutes looking for the swimming hole. As we were driving around we got stuck on yet another hill, and I was waiting at the top for Kate to hike up, and there was a guy standing at the top. Half of his body was behind a rock, and I didn't think anything of it until Kate got on the bike and looked back at him while he gave her a huge smile. Kate screamed and said "Go, Go, Go!" Apparently the guy was playing with himself as he watched us! GROSS!!! It was kind of scary too, because we ended up driving past this guy two other times that day, and both times it was the same thing...and the last time he started chasing us! We were really freaked because we were on a hill, but our bike must have sensed the urgency because luckily it sped off just fine and we left the creeper in the dust!

So, we eventually ended up finding a nice swimming hole with a group of English tourists, but still the vibe was a little creepy. Whenever you get in the water in Hampi loads of Indian guys gather around and just stare at's super creepy. We were trying to enjoy ourselves because it was so hot, and the lake was so refreshing, but it was just not a good scene. Luckily a nice little Indian boy helped us out and told us to cover up because those were bad guys, so...we decided to leave.

In the afternoon we headed up to the Hanuman (Monkey God) Temple! There are 577 steps that lead you to this amazing temple high up in the sky. It is probably one of the most amazing views I have ever seen! It's one of those places that makes you think that no matter what care in the world that you had, it would go away once you got to the top of this temple. The temple is situated on huge granite formations, so you can just walk around and find a chilled out place to kick it! The contrasts of the granite and the rice paddies are unbelievable! And, I'm not sure if this is true or not, but someone told us that the Flintstones movie was filmed there, and I wouldn't doubt it because the scenery doesn't look real! I think these pics will explain it better than my words:

The pictures don't really show the complete beauty of the place, but it gives an idea! The funniest/scariest part about the Hanuman temple we are the cheeky monkeys!!! As we were walking around Kate had a bottle of water, and a bottle of petrol in her pack when two monkeys attacked her! One jumped onto her backpack trying to steal the bottles, and the other one crawled up her leg and onto her pack...Someone had to help us get rid of them, it was a little freaky! They are small but super strong. They all look cute from a distance, but the rest of the time we were really weary of them!

The rest of the time in Hampi was really chilled out. We were staying at an awesome place where we were able to chill everyday. We also rented Motorbikes and swam at the lake (with a group of people this time to avoid the creepers) almost everyday, it was awesome. We met a great couple from England Melody and Dev (Mel's actually from Zimbabwe, and Dev is Indian so he's been here a few times) who have already been traveling India for 3 months at the beginning of two years of traveling! They gave us some good insight for northern India, and we have actually made plans to meet up later this trip! So, all in all Hampi was one of the best places we visited so far! Super chilled out, awesome hiking, bouldering, temples, lake...just perfect! Our last full day in Hampi was a festival called Holi (pronounced Holly), that Kate is going to write about! It was complete madness. The pictures are pretty insane!!!! So, sorry it's been so long since our last posts, but we are working hard on catching up on everything! Thank you all for your wonderful comments, it is great to know that people are reading this! Love to you all, and I hope this message finds you in good health and happiness!


(This computer isn't allowing me to post anymore pics from Hampi or the Hanuman Temple, so next time I'm online I'll post some more pics!)

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