India Day 7 – Hampi

Arrived in Hospet at daybreak, and Peter and I ignored all the autorickshaw drivers and jumped straight onto a local bus, where for 5 rupees we could go to Hampi.  As we travelled, the sun rose deliciously over the mountains in the East, and the surrounding villages came to life, bathed in the soft yellows and pinks of morning.

Hampi Bazaar was a thriving place, a little village bustling with hippies, locals, and kids on tours.  We ate breakfast in the German bakery, and I ordered a special which came with a ‘harsh’ brown.  Unfortunately, this turned out to be a plateful of thickly cut scallops drenched in masala sauce.  It was all too much for me.  I decided then to book the night bus to Goa, and so booked a seat for 600 Rs.  Then, I had a traditional massage to relieve the aches and pains from the terrible bus journey.  The kindly woman who gave me the massage was the owner of a few massage centres in town, and some rooms also, so she let me dump my backpack at her place and go sightseeing.  I had a chai with a group of Europeans, then I set off on my travels.

I visited some incredible temples.  First stop being the Virupaksha Temple, the focal point of Hampi bazaar, built in 1442.  I saw the main shrine, dedicated to Virupaksha, a form of Shiva.  Too many local tourists were milling around and pushing for my liking, so I left pretty quickly.  Outside, I got talking to an autorickshaw driver, and he offered me a 5 hour tour of the main sites for 400 Rs, which seemed a fair deal to me.  I hopped into his lavishly decorated auto-rickshaw, with leopard-print seat covers, and headed for Hemakuta Hill, which has a scattering of early ruins and a good view over Virupaksha Temple.  There, I got talking to 2 Indian sisters who live in Bangalore.  We were on a similar tour, so we hooked up and chatted for the rest of the day.  We vistited the Zenona Enclosure and the Elephant Stables, the Underground Virupuksha Temple, and the Queen’s Bath.  The sights of the ruins throughout were spectacular, and it made for an incredible and breathtaking whistle-stop tour.  We had a late lunch, then I headed back to my makeshift room for a shower and a change of clothes, then back on the autorickshaw for the 30 minute journey to Hospet to get the 6pm bus to Goa.

At the coach pick-up point, at the side of a busy road, a motley crew were gathered for the bus journey to Goa.  Dreadlocked hippies, spaced-out fruit cakes, ageing wizards, tattoed, heavily-pierced ex-public school boys and girls, mad old women – in fact, all of whom I expected to find in Goa, completely living up to the stereotype.  The bus driver was a complete wacko, a thin, crazy chap reeking of booze, who didn’t really know what was going on himself.

We boarded the coach, and a large group of Israelis on their after-service world tour had taken over the back of the coach.  The bus promised ‘semi-sleeper’ and ‘sleeper’, with the sleepers being above us.  One Israelis girl’s seat didn’t go back, so they all demanded it be fixed or they wouldn’t let the bus go.  A Brit would have just dealt with it with a shrug a ‘typical’ look.  After 30 minutes, it was fixed, and their whining stopped.  One of them brought out a guitar, and played it out of tune, as the rest wailed Israeli songs of hurt, war. love and loss.  They’re a nightmare to travel with, Israelis!  Notoriously difficult, and unable to leave their national group, being incredibly patriotic…an ‘us vs the world’ attitude.  I remembered Vietnem, however, and how Lindsay and I made good friends with 2 Israeli girls, so I can’t be too harsh.  What was funny was as soon as the bus started, a group of them behind me started smoking a bong, and seemed completely unable to take it, smoking and spluttering for the rest of the journey.  In Gokarna, they got off, mercifully, which left some room in the sleepers, so I quickly climbed in for another very uncomfortable and bumpy 2 hours.  This bus journey rose to number 2 in ‘worst bus journeys ever’ with My Sore – Hospet sinking to third,and Liverpool down to fourth.

We almost got scammed at the second to last stop.  The bus stopped,and hordes of taxi drivers and autorickshaw drivers got on yelling ‘last stop’.  I wouldn’t have known, but luckily a more clued-up chap did, so I stayed on the bus.  We got out at the Northern-most stop, Mapusa, and from there, 5 of us bundled into a minivan for a 30 minute ride to Arambol, the most northern beach area in Goa.  It was quiet and serene and beautiful.  Villagers milled around, and so did travellers, aimlessly.  We arrived at 7:30am.  It took some time, but eventually myself and an English couple I’d attached myself to, Jake and Emily, found a place.  They got a place in the hotel next to me.  I’d arrived.  I was in Goa now.

Author: Neil

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