Thursday, May 30, 2013

Hot in Hampi

The following morning saw us with a bright and early wake-up call of 7:30 to beat some of the heat on a bicycle tour of Hampi.  The tour was run through Hampi’s tourist board/group, and took in most of the main sites in the area.  Jon, Koen, and I were the only people on the tour…it would seem that most people are too sane to bike around in 38C or 100F.  Clearly, the heat had already scrambled our brains a wee bit.  In honesty, I was pretty nervous about the biking ‘element’ of the tour, because it transpired that our guide was riding a motorbike, and 1/3 of our group hailed from the Netherlands.  Everybody knows that Dutch people aren’t born, they simply hop on bike and peddle out of the womb.  Notwithstanding, my spirits were feeling pretty high after I mounted my metallic purple steed, which was complete with a faux license plate on the back that said, “Miss India.”  However, I was knocked a bit by an early hill and a defective kickstand, a feature that was much less concerning than Jon’s lack of braking power.

Despite the heat, we enjoyed the tour, the guide was very knowledgeable and quite passionate about the site; it was evident he felt the destruction of the Hampi temples quite keenly, even though it happened about 450 years ago.  We did pick up an extra member of the tour partway through, a solo female backpacker who seemed fairly interesting, but her unfortunate proclivity for ranting at the locals made me keep my distance.   I'll let a few of the photos do the talking now.  

Underground temple.  This was completely buried until 1960s I believe.

Queen's summer palace. Well water sent through pipes built into the walls kept it cool.

We saw a really big millipede.  It was REALLY BIG.  But don’t worry, he didn’t eat us.
Interestingly, the historical, religious, and sexual elements of the culture were integrated in the temple carvings.  Please avert your eyes if you are under the age of 18, or my parents.
By midday, we had all nearly melted into the pavement, so we headed back.  At which point things got exciting when Jon nearly pedaled himself into an early grave.  Whizzing down a hill with 10% breaking power, a rickshaw pulled out in front of him.  Jon dinged his bell furiously.  Collision felt imminent, and in that moment, I would like to imagine Jon thought, “Hmm, it was really responsible of my woman to perform extensive research into the most suitable travel insurance policy available to us.  I think I made a wise investment decision when I put a ring on that.”  But, behold, the power of the bell manifested itself, and Jon skirted pass the rickshaw with two whole inches to spare.  (Please note, the retelling of said incident is not as dramatic as the incident itself.  I wanted to have Morgan Freeman narrate, but he was not returning my calls.  Again.)  
Before the big payout.

By the end of the tour, we were seriously short on cash.  This situation arose because I drink water like a camel and that shiz ain’t free, the bank was closed with some crazy opening hours, and the undeniable fact that we are notoriously bad for keeping cash on hand.  When the bank opened, we discovered they (a) did not exchange other forms of currency which we had thoughtfully stored away for such thoughtless emergencies, and (b) did not possess a cashpoint/ATM.  So we had to travel 12km to the nearest cashpoint.  Thankfully, our rickshaw driver was a gambling man, because we told him if the cashpoint didn’t pay us, we wouldn’t be paying him.  We hit jackpot on our second ATM, and there was much rejoicing all around.  

 After lunch and some R&R, we headed out for dinner at a rooftop restaurant, where we had to bid adieu to Koen, as our new friend was pushing on toward Bangalore.  The next morning we planned to get up early to visit Hampi’s Children’s Trust, a school for some of the kids in the area, followed by some more sightseeing. 
After getting to sleep sometime after midnight, things got a little crazy in the predawn hours.  I awoke to find Jon flopping around like a fish, which I promptly ignored.  It was only when he stuck his head under the mosquito net and began flailing about that I became interested in what might provoke such peculiar nocturnal activities.  (In the interest of providing an unbiased account of said activities, Jon, for the record, stated he was not “floppy like a fish” but rather, he was “tense, alert, and ready to hide behind me.”) 

Um, yeah, so at this point, you might be wondering what could make the typically calm and collected Jon behave so?  Oh, he might just be underreacting to an intruder in the room.  One with four legs, a tail, and a suspiciously simian stance.  MONKEY (!!!?!!!?!!!?!!!?!!!)  Naturally, I immediately thought, “Does the monkey intend to rob us?”  Because you never know, some of them look really shifty.  And some of them have a pretty big banana habit to subsidize.  Whilst we did shell out 180 GBP for rabies vaccinations, I had no real desire to test their effectiveness.

I decided the best course of action was to shoo the monkey, which consisted of me shrieking in a terrified voice, “Monkey, go away!  Monkey, go away!”  This was, of course, completely ineffective.  So Jon grabbed the bull by the horns (monkey by its tail?) and retreated from the safety of the bed to hit the light switch.  Partly because he was closer to the light switch, but mostly because there was no way in hell I was going to do it.  When the lights flickered on, we discovered that monkeys are not the only creatures with four legs and a tail and fondness for climbing through windows.  Cats apparently possess these traits as well.  (Jon opened the door, and the would-be cat-burglar shot out of the room like somebody lit a firecracker under it.  Poor thing!) 

Needless to say, it was a rough night’s sleep after that.  After our visit to Hampi Children’s Trust, we headed off to Vitthala Temple, which featured musical pillars and a stone chariot whose wheels—at one point in time—actually moved.  It was a lovely walk there due to the myriad temple ruins that littered the site, the scenic beauty of the walk, and the fact that a lovely little old lady with a kiosk up the road from our guesthouse hooked us up with some bottles of frozen water.   (She knew a junkie when she saw one.  As soon as we started walking down the road, she’d start rummaging around in her freezer for some sweet sweet bottles of the good stuff.)  

We saw some more baby monkeys (!!!), who were adorable, and—thankfully—not in our room.

On the walk home, we ran into some really stupid people.  A couple of guys had a motorbike accident, which was apparently related to the lack of braking abilities on their motorbike.  One of the guys had a fairly serious looking wound on his foot, and the two of them were both rather bloodied.  Jon was able to put his first aide skills into action, (winning!)  but his patients were less than cooperative.  After figuring out a course of action that best suited the situation at hand (i.e. a rickshaw takes them to a doctor while a bystander phoned their rental company and returned the bike), we tried to communicate this to them as effectively as possible.  While the badly injured guy may have been in a bit of shock, the other seemed fine, yet he apparently took umbrage with logical reasoning.   Fending off additional attempts at assistance, they climbed back on the brakeless motorbike, and drove off into the sunset where, presumably, they still occupy a place of residence in the gene pool.    

On the whole, we really enjoyed our time in Hampi.  Yes, it was quite hot, but the natural beauty of the site combined with the fantastic ruins really made for a wonderful experience.  I’ve got two more posts in the pipeline before I hand the microphone back to Jon, who will do his best to raise the overall tone of this blog…he’s classy like that.  Well, relatively speaking.  In the meantime, we offer the photos below.

Oh that Hampi Monkey!

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