ruins, boulders and tourists in Hampi

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January 12th 2010
Published: January 12th 2010
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I left Goa, finally, and travelled by train to Hospet, then by rickshaw to Hampi. The train ride was not too long and quite fun, with LOTS of great food on the way. All the indian specialties, I arrived with a full belly. Which was a good thing because by the time we arrived in Hampi (I say "we" because I was travelling with 2 yoga students from Goa), it was getting dark, we still had to cross the river on a little boat, and then we tried to find a place to stay. I really didn't expect to see so many tourists, the place is FULL of guest houses and they were all full too... We walked and walked and looked everywhere and couldn't find a place to stay except for one small jail-type room, quite far, and we actually couldn't see anything really, there was no power either. So we backtracked to one of the guest houses, where the friendly staff offered us to crash in their restaurant once the movie and dinner would be over... The restaurant was very pleasant with lots of mats on the floor where people were sitting to eat and getting ready to watch
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fascinating stone monument
the daily movie. We were prepared to do that, although I was so tired I could not imagine staying up until the movie (which of course ended up starting a few hours late...) was over, but luckily the guys also offered us another option: we could stay in the storage shed. That was pretty basic but actually we thought we were quite lucky and we put our stuff there and went to the restaurant for food.

We looked at the menu and ordered something. After an hour, we still hadn't received our drinks-not to mention the food-, so we asked the guy in charge if he had forgotten. He said: "Oh, so busy here now. I take many orders, I dont have time to tell the cook. Some people wait 2-3 hours. What to do!". He said that in a way that we just could not hate him nor expect things to be any different... So we waited. THe film finally started, it was "INto the Wild", how strange to see images of Alaska, I suddenly missed the Yukon! I ate my food and went to "bed", too tired to watch it until the end.

The next morning we found another place, with a great view on the river. The rooms are actually little square concrete shacks, with (cold) shower and toilet inside, in a very pleasant setting. It also includes the mosquitoe nets (guess why...), dirty bedsheets, and a lot of dirt and garbage from previous customers. I had to lower my cleanliness standards a bit but the people are nice, they are actually the bakers here so I get up with the smell of fresh bread when I come out of my shack. The guest-house restaurant is not great but good, with a nice view on the river, cushions and all. Not bad.

So I explored Hampi on foot. The nature around is really beautiful. Palm tress, rice fields, banana trees, boulders, rivers, etc. Really nice. Local people are extremely friendly, and I get extra smiles and comments because I am one of the very very few tourists wearing a salwar kameez. People, old and young comment on it all the time and it makes me happy that they appareciate it so much. I can not recommand it enough to women travelling in India. Plus, it is very comfortable in the heat. One old man told me: "Your indian culture is very good"! A young one said:"nice indian dress, you look like indian", etc. People in buses waved and shout with huge smiles, man driving by smile and nod, appreciatiev. It feels great.

The first day I went to the reservoir (looks like a big lake) with my two friends, then we had food at a guest house. The owner was funny, when Betto asked if the coffee was strong, he said:"full power"! I laughed. The next day I walked to the ruins and explored many temples, it is so ancient, so amazing, the carved stones, the monuments, etc. Of course after a day visiting temples, I got a temple overdose, and decided to skip Badami and go straight to Mysore after I am done here.

Another day I went with Wendy and Betto to Hospet to book some train tickets. It was nice to get out of Hampi for some time. Be in INdia again because Hampi is just like some other places like Thamel in Nepal, Goa, it is tourist-oriented with all the chinese, israeli, italian and mexican food but not great indian food. The shops sell stuff made for tourists. In Hospet, the shop sell stuff to Indian people, therefore you find all the real indian things that I like, the textile, the tiffin boxes, the saris, etc. Hospet also has great restaurants, and the local people are super friendly. Of course Hampi is also indian but mixed with this neo-hippy culture that I have trouble with at times...

That night sitting with a British guy at the restaurant, I made a third-failed-attempt at trying to understand the rules of cricket. I think you need to be British or Indian to understand. I didn't get it at all, I only understood that there is 2 teams and 11 players in each and that the short version takes 4-5 hours and the long one 5 days. Maybe in 5 days I could eventually get it?

Today I had breakfast in an indian restaurant speaking Spanish with a Russian guy (how strange...), the cook apologized for putting one too many chilly in my upma and gave me a banana to extinguish the fire. I was sweating, my nose was running and my eyes tearing but I survived and ordered curd to help my stomach. Then I explored another small village nearby. It was a few kilometers of walking, but I was offered a ride part way to get there and to come back. This village sees very few tourists and it feels like real India again. But it is a very poor village, although people seem to get by, but they sure have simple lives. It was nice to walk around though, and see the women washing the clothes, cooking, the men working in the field, and the kids in school.

What I really like too is the language. The "Hinglish" as they say, the way people talk. They call me "Catrina" here. "Which country please?" I have to remeber some of the things I hear here, it is so loevly.

So this is it for Hampi, nice place, great to chill out if that is what a person wants, I am more in need of moving around and seeing things right now, so I'll be happy to be on my way tomorrow. Night train to Bangalore, then a bus to Mysore, the birthplace of Ashtanga...


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