3rd Class sleeper class train to Hampi
We were warned about children being above us on bunks and having little 'accidents' on us which had us on full alert!
We last minute decided to go to Hampi, we weren't going to bother as its a pain to get to but we re routed ourselves and could get from Hampi to Bangalore and from here we could continue south to Kerala, we also looked at lots of pictures on the internet and decided we had to go if we were near it.
Hampi itself is a small village built as close as possible to the sights and literally there to cater for the tourists, all the locals live up the road In Hospet near the train station. Hampu itself is a UNESCO heritage site as the ruins within it are from the Vijayanagara Empire. The historical sights can be dated back to 1343 - so VERY old. There are many Hindu temples, military buildings (including an elephant garage!) and civil building to explore. We had given ourselves a couple of days to have a look around the place and some of the main sights.
We travelled by train from Goa to Hampi in Air Con (AC) 3 tier which was more than Ok, this means bunks of three beds with the bottom bunk being used to sit on during
the day and at night they all fold down for beds. This is the last tier of ac compartments, the next step down is non ac and non booking of seats so a free for all and we werent quite ready to try that with all our bags. There with lots and lots of locals around us which was great, this tier of the train was very busy with people and luggage who have a little bit more money to upgrade to this class. One family kept coming down the train with boxes and suitcases and room was running very low, we put a couple of suitcases under my bed and they were all around us, then the family came down and there was around 15 of them all having different berths around the train but wanting to sit together which after some doing what they wanted to do and not backing down they won with other people changing seats to accomodate them. After around 30 minutes they started eating, they had brought the biggest spread lve ever seen, shopping bag full if cooked rice, chappatis galore and lots of curry and finally cakes and cakes and cakes. We decided
they must have come from a wedding and brought all the left overs. It did look delicious, and the mum fed all the men first and waited for them to finish before sorting her own food out. What dedication. We kept looking over hoping for a plate full but to no avail, we made do with the train food of a fried vegetable cutlet in bread and a masala tea. The train was so busy with people walking up and down and the tea and food sellers moving up and down the train. With this and the scenery ever changing from the green lush lands of south Goa turning into more baron landscape of the Karnataka area it was a good journey. The train took around 10 hours so we were in by dinner time to Hampi.
We got probably a very overpriced tuk tuk to Hampi and looked around for somewhere to stay. Coming into Hampi felt like being transported to another world and reminded me so much of The Flintstones and Bedrock. India's landscape is so diverse l would never of though the terrain in Hampi would be possible! It was very dry with HUGE boulders thrown
around, like marbles giants would play with. Then amongst these boulders were the number one attractions of the temples. We bargained down a decent room which had a roof terrace so we could watch the sunset over one of the main temples which was pretty much on our door step. Having had a delicuous nut curry we found a tuk tuk driver to take us around the sights the next day (the area is vast and walking is out of the question to do it all in a day or two), we agreed a pick up time and hit the hay getting an earlyish night ready for the next day.
Our guy rocked up 30 minutes late which meant we were worried he wasnt coming and we were panicking about what to do as we were aiming to leave the next day meaning we would miss out on seeing the temples we wanted to as we would have to find another driver. Whoops all round when he arrived and we started the day. We saw tons of temples and after a few they started to merge into one, same same but different. It was also BOILING!..we ate lots of
ice creams which lasted about 10 seconds before melting due to the heat, and drank lots of water, near the end we were just chilling in the tuk tuk with the driver as we were too hot and tired to move. Our driver was lovely and everything went well until he started telling us about his life and the guilt trip kicked in. He told us about how he was practically an orphan after his entire family had died from various illness's. We listened intently and was reminded of how different peoples lives can be, as well as thinking and hoping that his story was true and not a scam for more money out of us.
On the plus side he did help us out getting a package posted home so things werent too bad. Some word of warning - posting packages back to the Uk is a huge pain!...you have to find a box, take it to a tailors and have it sewn up, then take it to a post office to be sent away. As with India, a simple thing takes forever and is never as easy as you think and the time yo think it will
take will actually take 5x along. Our guy helped us with all of this and we probably paid more for the sewing up part than a local but still only cost a few quid.
One attraction l enjoyed was the elephant garage! it was huge, you know you've made it when you need a garage to keep your elephants in. Another highlight was meeting and talking to a guy selling sugar cane water. He even let Craig make our juice which was fun and surprisingly hard work.
Our last stop of the day was to climb a rather high hill to watch the sunset. This did not go to plan, we followed what we thought was the path- there were arrows but we still managed to take the wrong arrow ending up in someones back garden!..we thought we were back on track but got scared as l read about mountain bears roaming around and also we saw a LOT of HUGE monkeys (rabies alert) up where we wanted to be..we were also the only tourists heading up there which l wasnt loving. so we made it half way, decided we could get a good view of sunset from
there and thats where we sat.
The next day we attempted to leave Hampi...we had tried to book train tickets to Bangalore and were on the waiting list - we started at 10 and moved down to 2 during the course of the day we were meant to leave, with a couple of hours to go before the train left we were at 1, so we crossed our fingers and after a bit of a mad dash through the roads of Hampi fearing for the tuk tuk to roll over after a couple of hair raising bends we made it to the train station. We checked with the booking office and we weren't on the train - Plan B was to go in unreserved class. We had done this once but it was empty and was during the day, we decided if we got on (after the stampeed of people) we would have to take it in shifts to sleep and not take any food or drink offered to us as it would most likely have some sort of sleeping drug in it so we would fall asleep and wake up very robbed. If we were lucky we may
be able to buy our way onto the AC tiered sleeper. The train arrived and after looking through the windows of the un-reserveed class and lack of seating and any space, followed by the hundred people trying to get on we abandoned Plan B and had a pep talk/team meeting on the platform to form Plan C.
Plan C - As we left the train station still with no idea what to do, a tuk tuk driver started to talk to us as we thought we had first arrived and needed a lift to Hampi. After explaining our situation the very well spoken Tuk tuk driver suggested we get a sleeper bus to Bangalore from here we could catch a bus down to Kerala, so we headed to Hospet for a look and see if this was possible. Hospet as l said was more where the locals live and was all hustle and bustle, real Indian restaurants, homeless people and really more like India than Hampi. The bus for that night was full but our guy sorted us on the next nights one and was so kind and helpful to us. Next plan was to find somewhere to stay,
Instead of heading back to Hampi we deceied to stay in Hospet and take in the authenticity of it all and thought the money we would save on going back and fourth to Hampi and difference in food cost would get us into the ONLY hotel in Hospet. This was the BEST decision we had made and our second EMERGENCY hotel for a night situation since arriving in India (in the whole trip so far we have only needed one other emergency night in a hotel and that was in Bolivia, but i think twice in India isn't too bad..i mean this is India where things can go wrong and not to plan all the time). The hotel was clean, the room cold, the shower hot, a computer where we could print things off and there was a television with english channels!..The staff werent as good and the tuk tuk driver was x10 nicer with much better english language but it was great and we relished it for the night!.. This hotel was a 24 hour hotel which worked very well for us, so the time you check in the time you leave 24 hours exactly. After a lovely sleep
and nice breakfast we chilled in our room then headed our to see what Hospet had to offer. One great thing was eating in a real indian restaurant with prices to match. We ate a delicious Thali meal which cost around £1 and was very filling. We stayed in our room and watched some english tv before walking over to the bus station to catch our sleeper bus down to Bangalore.
The bus to bangalore was a unique and new experience for us, this wasn't a regular coach in that you sat in a seat, oh no, you got a double bed to share!..WOW!!!. this actually was a great experience and facilitated a rather good kip and a cuddle which is unusual on a night bus! I didnt want to think about the health and safety aspect but we made it no problems whatsoever, probably best we were able to sleep so couldnt hear all the horns and feel the swerving of the bus all night making our minds race!
We arrived in Bangalore at 6am from the sleeper bus. The hotel we were checking into was a 24hour hotel which meant we would have to check out
24hours later with our next bus at 7pm that night. We asked to add some hours on and the reception man responded with somewhat a dr.Evil laugh followed by a firm 'NO', great!...As not to dwell we got to our box room and had some kip, we were going to need it!...we got a few hours kip and headed out to see what Bangalore had to offer.
First thing was not being able to get a tuk tuk, then the one we found refused to even agree on a price anywhere near what we been advised to pay by the hotel...this wasn't looking good. Finally after asking about 5 taxi drivers and arguing over 50p and 1pounds (it's the principle) we got moving to the main shopping area for some air con action and 'stuff'. Stuff to us means anything western we can look at or even eat. Just as a change from what we had been having, and the ability to buy toiletries. We decided Pizza Hut would be a nice treat -I have no idea why when I don't eat Pizza Hut at home -but it was there and it was western, we had had local food
for 6 weeks so we gave it a go. We ordered the royal pizza, what a mistaka to maka!..YUK! we regretted it almost instantly, our poor tummies were not used to processed rubbish in those pizza's. We felt sluggish, full, had cramps and generally came to wonder what they actually put in processed food! I think we have been eating lots of pure foods for a couple of months that our bodies could not handle the crap found in a Pizza Hut pizza...lesson learnt.
We relaxed the rest of the day in preparation for the following long day to come. We got an early night and set our alarms for our 6am check out time.
At 6am we were up and ready and decided to have some breakfast then hang around the lobby for a couple of hours in the vain hope they would just give us a room...this was not going to happen so around 8am we headed to the botanical gardens and had a lazy wander looking at the pretty flowers and relaxed sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of Bangalore. Another treat today was going to see the new spider man movie in 3D
which was showing at the local cinema...getting there, walking around the mall, having lunch and watching the film killed some more time and before we knew it it was time for the bus.
This time the bus was a regular coach and it turned out to be a regular Indian journey, by Indian standards. This meant, lots of swerving whilst driving, emergency breaking, playing very loud music all night which meant we generally spent the time not very relaxed and feeling like we were being tortured as the music was so loud you couldn't sleep. I honestly think that 37 hour bus journey in Argentina killed my bum and sitting down for long time skills. After a couple of hours I couldn't do anything to get it not hurting-maybe if l eat some more pies/curry/masala dosa it will become more cushioned?
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