Valiantly, against the rays of the blinding dawn sunrise and the fifty or so hollering touts, we desperately tried to actually get off the dam bus in Hampi.
Finally off the bus and smiling
If they didn’t have a tuktuk, yet again, they had a guest house, a map for sale, a nice rooftop restaurant, a gem emporium or a scooter for rent. Refusing any apparent ‘ten rupee’ lift into the small town, (experience has taught us that the ‘ten rupee journey’ always involves calling at his mates guest house ‘just for a look’, a stop off at his mates tea house and a quick ‘I need to pick something up from my friends souvenir shop-free looking’) we hiked quickly in the direction of town, not turning to even vaguely make eye contact with the ever increasing curb crawling tuktuks who, unsurprisingly, had become half price!
These daily occurrences are just a breeze nowadays. It’s amazing how easy it is to drown out the hollering and bickering- even the odd arm grab goes unnoticed as also it seems, the slipping away of our over English politeness does to the touts. We continue on our way, completely unphased by everyone around us. The only thing bringing a cheeky smile to our otherwise determined faces, is a sympathetic glance at the hoards of gullible backpackers whom, unbeknowingly, have fallen deeply into the exact same trap we had done over a month earlier. You gotta love this place for entertainment, even buying a can of pop is fun!
If only the touts were as welcoming
Hampi is a ten hour overnight bus journey inland from Goa. A well deserved Unesco world heritage site, it once held the foundations of one of the largest Hindu empires in Indian history. Today, the unearthly boulder scattered landscape and ruined temples resemble a scene similar to Land of the apes come ancient Greece, albeit with a few turbans thrown in for good luck.
Following advice from the travellers bible, we hired some push bikes and attempted to get around these sprawling landmarks. Within the small print and what we failed to read, was that these landmarks actually ‘sprawled’ twenty six km so we didn’t get around many in the forty degree heat that day.
Chariot made of stone, this thing was impressive- the roaming hungry monkeys weren’t so much
One of many temples
Enjoying the underwater temples
View from the top of a local mountain Danny made us climb in 20 minutes just before Sunset
The following morning, the heavy hard going push bikes were traded for a 90cc scooter. Arriving at the hire shop early, in anticipation of the hot afternoon sun, his brother greeted us, toothbrush in hand, toothpaste spattering out of his gob. We grabbed a quick brew whilst we waited, surrounded by scruffy shoeless kids running riot pulling at dogs tails, wive’s and mothers frantically scurrying around with water butts balancing on their heads and the ever reliable husbands, squatting quite undeterred at the side of the road, relieving themselves of last night’s dinner (and yep, they use the left hand and nothing else)!
Exiting the village up our first hill it was apparent this scooter wasn’t built for two beer guzzling, curry loving Yorkshire folk. Turning around and free wheeling back down the hill to the hire shop, we were instructed to ‘take a faster run up’ so, begrudgingly, we headed back to the foot of the hill. Now, there may have been some kind of misinterpretation of a run up. What the fella actually meant was Claire get off the back and run up the hill whilst Danny does his best Fred Flintstone impression and pushes the bugger along in his flipflops- nevertheless, we slowly got to the top be it Indian style.
Danny on the ‘not very mean machine
Claire, minutes before she failed her CBT
Even the school bus over took us! Check the poor kid out puking over the side:(
Hampi washing day
The Royal Elephant stables. To be a Royal Elephant 6 parts of its body much reach the ground (work that one out, took Claire a while!)
The locals were teasing Danny as ever
Who said Wacko Jacko was dead? He’s in India!
Claire’s Elephant impression- can’t quite master the 6 points of contact
The next morning we had a stroll down to the river. 8am and this place was like Meadowhall shopping centre on Boxing day. Every single family from the village was here! Firstly there was Granny, a big chubby bird with wrinkles so deep in her face she risked losing the soap and a belly which would of given Danny a run for his money a few weeks ago. Then, there was Grandad, a slender gaunt looking chap, scrubbing hard at his feet and sporting a loin cloth that left nothing to the imagination. Behind them, resting on the river bank was the wife, metal plates and pans in hand, cleaning them with ash- we doubt her ‘hands that do dishes will feel soft as her face’ following that stuff still, we were told it puts fairy to shame. Then the husband, vest and loin clothed, he was busy chatting to his mates, scrubbing his backside and shouting at their ten kids who were trying desperately not to drown in the fast flowing river.
Further upstream was lovely Lakshini, the temple elephant. Everyday at 8.30 she strolls down to the river with the rest of the gang for a morning swim and scrub. Give her ten rupees and she will happily bless you, give her five and she hands it back unless you are an Indian as ten is the ‘tourist price’.
Having a morning dip
Ten rupees for whites
This fella confused the poor bugger a little
Only a basket case would take one of these boats
That evening we settled onto our ‘sooper dooper’ night bus to Mumbai which excitedly sported our very own LCD tv! Although sky sports wasn’t on the listings, we were completely enthralled in the Bollywood love triangle of Rahul, Pooja and Nisha. Explicit innuendos between the three were merely followed up with a sultry second of eye contact and the absolute no touch policy was adhered to throughout. What was baffling was, once this Bollywood bonanza of bad dancing, mimed singing and strictly look but don’t touch escapade finally ended, was how the heck the birth rate in India remains so high!
We arrived in Mumbai at the opposite end of the city to which we expected to be. Stepping over the morning steaming piles of shite we managed to barter the taxi down, fasten our rucksacks to the roof and travel 25km across the city for £4.
Our ocean front guest house was merely a 100 metre stroll from the Taj Mahal Palace, listed as one of the best hotels in the world and visited by every conceivable royal family member. We couldn’t afford the nightly rate but Danny took full advantage of the rest rooms and returned coyly with a ‘quilted 40 ply’ souvenir roll.
The Taj Palace
The view from our palace
Danny testing his souvenir
The Gateway to India
The famous railway station as viewed on Dannys walking tour of Mumbai
Big Ben Wannabee
More British influence
Mingling with the locals down at Chowpatty beach
Those drinks will only lead to trouble later on!
Certainly not troubling the bookies at Mumbai racecourse
Ovals galore in Mumbai, watching these guys they need plenty of practice
Recognise anyone Dad?
Coming to a Maccers near you!
Mumbai Monster Munch
Churchgate station- how much was a taxi again?
Hmmm choices choices
She opted for the Tandoori Chicken Kebab
A night on the town
Travelling in Style
Strange spot for a brake light
Always insisting the Tuktuk drivers put the meter on, the following day we had booked a tour of the Dharavi slum made famous by the film Slumdog Millionaire. Whilst some of you may think this is weird, this tour, run by the people of the slum was one of the best places visited so far. An astonishing 55% of Mumbai’s population live in slums and being home to over one million people, Dharavi is the biggest slum in Asia.
Up close, life in the slum is completely normal, it’s like any other village. Residents pay rent, have electricity and live in homes either made from corrugated iron or from bricks and mortar. Generations of families live here and now, most of the youngsters work in the city- some attorneys and doctors even live here refusing to leave their community. It’s a fantastic place and pretty cool looking at how they have built their lives and made it work so well for them. Oh, and those expensive Louis Vuitton bags some dream of owning- some 5 year old kid knocks them up for 20 pence and then they are shipped out directly from here to the suppliers. The annual turnover of this slum? US$665 million.
Aerial view of the slum
The next stop on our route that day was Dobi Ghat. The oldest and largest human powered washing machine on earth. Claire was in her element, picking up tips from the villagers of this tiny hamlet and staring in complete ore at the ‘whiter than white’ pants hanging from every conceivable angle above the 1026 washing troughs. Jeez, ‘R lass’ is easy to please.
As happy as a pig in shit
Mumbai is a beautiful city and we were quite shocked by all the lovely colonial buildings amongst the chaos. Home to Bollywood, there is little evidence of that fact and despite continuously copying Rahul and Poojas dance moves along the streets of Mumbai, we have yet to be scouted for the next Bollywood blockbuster. Leaving this great city, refreshed from our three good night’s sleep in probably our best guest house yet, we were gutted to hear that for the next seventeen hours, we would be sharing one seat on the overnight train- Only in India right?
Our route on this post:
|1||Hampi, India||March 16, 2013|
|2||Mumbai, India||March 19, 2013|