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Published: February 12th 2008
Although this one is much different, to say the least. Hampi, which I mispelled Humpi before (I read it written that way once, and assumed that was correct), is an 8 hour train ride east of Goa, and is an ancient temple complex up a little into the hills. There is a small town that has sprung up around the temple complex, and across the river is a bunch of hotels and restaurants. First impression: its cheap! A lot cheaper than any place we've been before. Second impression, its a very chilled out and relaxed environment, but with a lot more hippies than mixed travelers and tourists, like in Goa. Granted we're staying at a very hippie place, the Goan Corner Guest House, but like one out of every three or four people you see here has long dreadlocks. They all seem to be a mix of temple goers, rock climbers (there are some amazing rock formations up here!), and Israelis, which themselves are a mixed bunch, but the obvious majority in the Hampi area, when considering visitors. If you go to other hotels the ratio of Israelis to other travelers skyrockets, but our place still has quite a few. And the Goan Corner is certainly the place to be! Very relaxed environment, right in the middle of rice fields, with beautiful rock faces and "hills" a distant stone throw away. Its also one of the few places here where you get wait listed to get a room... everyone wants to stay here (and it took me two nights before I got my own room). There are a lot of mesquitos out here from the rice paddies, and they are very pesky, but dose up with deet and they are less problematic. But no matter what words I type here, I can't begin to describe how nice it is to be up here! This morning we made an hour hike over to the Hanuman Temple for the sunrise, but were disapponted by clouds... which eventually rolled our way for a nice shower throughout the afternoon. I met a couple of gals from the UK up there that I decided to hang out with, and we ate some breakfast down at the bottom of the hill that the temple sits on, served by a local family. This was at least the plan for waiting out the rain, which never seemed to end. Needless to say, the girls (who stay at the hotel right next door to us) got there by bike, which left me walking back to the Goan Corner by myself, in the rain, through a "pathless" canyon... seriously, it was an amazing hike! Took the shirt off, tied it around my head to keep the rain out of my eyes, and just went for it. The temperature was pretty warm, so I wasn't worried about hypothermia or anything, but I was worried about getting sick from being in the rain so long (I've heard of others getting sick if they didn't shower or dry up right afterwards). Needless to say I was 100% wet when I got back, but refreshed like never before! And of course I then took a shower. But someone also made a good point that we're up in the mountains, so the rain shouldn't be quite so bad up here. But the hike was amazing! For a country known to be so dusty and dirty, and with so little rain outside of the monsoon season, I got a rare glimpe of mother earth taking a bath, and cleaning all the dust off her bones. As I walked back there were newly formed "rivers" all over the place, that slowly turned from brown to clear as the rain went on, and as the dirt got washed away. An amazing experience indeed, all alone in the rocky valleys. Then, when I got back to the town area where we stay, there were literally hundreds of thousands of tiny baby frogs all over the place! Seriously the size of your pinky finger nail, and all over the place near the rice paddies... With every step you take walking near any rice fields, you see about 3-5 frogs jump away from the area your foot is coming down. With every step you seriously have to try and not step on them! I'm sure I got a few by accident, but it was that or stand still in one spot for a couple more hours until the rain left and they made their way back to the rice paddies. And then of course I get back to the Goan Corner where pretty much everyone staying there was together under the covered area, trying to stay dry... as I walk up without a shirt on and completely drenched! It was a good time...
As for the Hanuman Temple, it sits at the top of a huge rock formation, apparently 1,000 steps up a long rocky stairwell to the top. At the top you can look out for miles over the surrounding area, which consists of some rivers, a few small towns, temple ruins spotted throughout, an immense amount of greenery, and awesome mountians and valleys full of varying sized boulders. Think of the canyons in the southwestern US, and these looked very similar, except instead of massive rock or sandstone shelves, the hillsides are made up completely of "small" boulders. It was pretty breathtaking, but I plan to go again tomorrow morning, hoping to get a proper sunrise this time, and a lot better pictures as well!
As for the plan of attack of the trip, things have changed yet again, and mom, I need some help (email sent). Long story short, instead of 11 days in nepal, we're now going for about 14 days so we can trek up to the Annapurna Base Camp, which is at about 13,000+ feet, or about 4,100 meters. They say its a 10 day hike if you go slow, or take day-hike detours up other routes, but I imagine we'll go up and back, which we should be able to do in 6-7 days. Still, its better to have extra time before a flight, and also give us some time to poke around Pokara (yeah, I crack myself up!). And don't freak out, but I have plans to try and get a video interview with the Maoist rebels up there, which could be pretty awesome if it pans out right. Again, don't worry, they don't target trekkers, and have not for the last seven years, when they promised to keep them unharmed, albeit "taxed" for funds, sometimes by gunpoint. But we're talking about a "tax" of about 500-1000 rupees, which comes to about $7-14, split amongst the three of us. But if they will let me do an interview with them, I'll pay a little more (better to be on their good side, than bad, if I'm spending an hour or more hanging out with them). Don't worry, we're doing our research ahead of time, so we can say all the right things.
I've also decided to go back down to Chennai for an extra week to take care of business, and see what my honest chances are for maybe getting a foot inside the Chennai Film Industry (Kollywood). I'll just have to report back on that a lot later when that time comes.
Anyway, all is still well, we're all in good health, and we're having an experience of a lifetime!
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