Ancient Medieval Times (Hampi to Mysore)December 14, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 1 °C
We had planned to wake at sunrise for a walk. An excellent plan indeed, with the minor flaw being that we neglected to investigate exactly when sunrise was scheduled to occur. Upon reliance that sunrise was one of the standard earliest occurrences each day we thusly set our alarms to go off 'early' so they might wake us and we might rise 'early'. We did and they did and we did, but the sun had beaten us to it.
We went for a walk regardless, enjoying the sight of further, larger monkeys of a different species to the ones we saw yesterday. I couldn't name the species of either of them however ; I only know of one type of monkey, the spider-monkey, and neither type we saw were those, which at least narrows the pool of potential species they actually were by one.
Though we'd missed the strict commencement of sunrise, the sun was still in the initial phase of its daily routine so we were still able to witness much of what we'd hoped for. The gently glowing gradually seeped through the morning mist to that perfect stage of illumination when you can look directly at it without harm, though for liability reasons must insist you don't and also I was wearing sunglasses. We captured some excellent pictures across the paddy fields and wove our way through the rocky roads and cliffsides toward a nearby lake. Here we met Roger, who was returning from a morning boat-ride he'd taken, having managed to be up before sunrise by implementing the sneaky tactic of checking when the thing he wanted to see would be happening.
We collectively wandered back to the 'resort' (read: collection of concrete outhouses assembled around a cluster of wooden shacks), followed by a dog. Experiencing some slight pangs of separation anxiety, having entrusted my mildly cat-shy housemate with care of Figaro, it was nice to be the target of a four-legged friendship, but alas I could not reciprocate. As loveable and needy as the little dog was he/she was as dirty and mangy as they come, looking like it had taken a tumble in a tussle with a hedge-trimmer. Like how dogs might look in The Walking Dead if the animals caught the virus, if they could afford animals in the show, if the comic animator could draw animals of if anything related to that franchise was worth paying attention to any more.
But as much as we tried to shoo the little dog away, he continued to follow ; I'd decided it was a 'he' by now. He didn't jump at us or pester, just followed behind or alongside with a sad yet hopeful, heart-breaking expression. I wanted to stroke him, but wasn't that committed to discovering the effectiveness of my rabies jab. Poor Benjy, I'd decided his name was Benjy by now, trailed us all the way back to the compound (a more accurate descriptor than 'resort'), where one of the staff violently warded him away.
Feeling a little sad, there was only one thing to cheer me up; as it cheers me up every day in every circumstance without fail - breakfast(!). Craving a proper English Breakfast I'd spotted a close approximation on the dining-shack menu; 'Enlish Breakfast', which I dutifully ordered. And an approximation it was - fried eggs, ample beans, a tomato and mushroom mixture and toast with butter and jam. Recalling breakfast was still on Oscar's tab and that I had brewing dislike for Oscar given his lies and false promises and how even a week after the event he's still failed to send me the cost-breakdown of the trip I demanded, I ordered a second breakfast of cornflakes and milk. The corn-flakes were Asda Smart-price quality but fine, but notably they brought me a jug of hot-milk for pouring onto them. They tasted great, bringing back nostalgic memories of when I used to microwave my corn-flakes as a kid ; unsurprising given they were the exact same concoction only with the heating applied at a different point in the preparation.
Side-note, as opposed to everything else being totally on-note, I only recently realised how irregular some people find the heating of certain breakfast cereals. There are genuinely people out there eating things like Weetabix and Shreddies COLD, and they act like I'm the weird one.
After breakfast we packed up the car, again having to relegate my bag to the roof, then travelled to Hampi. Well, I think we were technically in Hampi, the region, but we were going to Hampi the city, or former city given it was now an unpopulated expanse of former civilisation. We discussed whether this was an 'ancient' city given it 'only' dated back to the fifteenth century, and even now with the benefit of numerous online dictionaries I'm not sure. If it was on the other side of the world we'd call it 'medieval', so for ease, equality and to move on from this tedious contemplation I'll be doing that.
Hampi is a gorgeous series of medieval monuments, medieval ruins and medieval temples set amongst a picturesque backdrop of rocky hills strewn with boulders, many of which I'm sure pre-date medieval times but I can't be sure (Mark, where are you when I need you?). Features of particular note include the former medieval bazaar, the medieval elephant stables (sadly lacking in present-day elephants) and a medieval stone chariot shrine/sculpture they ensure is impossible to take a tourist-free picture of to support their sales of souvenir postcard-packs (which a couple of us did actually buy). There were also several large statues where the 'big deal' according to our guide, whom we'd picked up on the roadside en route, was that they'd been carved out from a single stone. Personally I'd have though that would be easier than determining some medieval method of fusing together multiple stones. I suppose there was risk of an error meaning starting-over, which might be a problem if there were a shortage of massive stones to carve into but, trust me, that wasn't a problem.
We weren't the only visitors to Hampi today; far from it! As a historical and thusly educational site there were an abundance of school-trip groups from schools presumably quite far away, given we could see for miles around and there was no civilisation, barring the ruined possibly-ancient possibly-medieval one, in sight. Whilst Indian history was clearly on their syllabi, one topic I'd infer from behaviour was lacking from their curriculum was 'white people'.
We were fascinating to them; particularly Charlotte whom yeah, objectively of the lot of us, showed decent taste. We couldn't work out whether it was her blonde hair or her freckles or her female-ness, but she was clearly the favourite, posing for more pictures on the day than...I'm going to say 'Kim Kardashian' at a 'movie premiere', presuming that's something she'd do at somewhere she goes for reasons she knows. I've really never understood nor cared to look into who or what or why she is.
Not to say we, her bodyguard contingent, weren't popular too ; our pasty faces in steady selfie demand and our hands being shook more often than...I'm going to say 'Donald Trump's' at a 'campaign rally', this being something I know he does at a thing he unfortunately goes to for reasons pertaining to the downfall of western democracy. Dick. Still, we were but the sideshow to the main event, our little meet-and-greets routinely wrapping whilst Charlotte's crowd of adoring public continued to swell. I'm going to ascribe it to novelty mathematics; as a group of three guys and a girl we would only ever be, at best, the first white guy they see for a brief moment before becoming one of three, sapping our specialness, whereas being the sole female amongst us enabled her to retain and even enhance her uniquity. I'm sure if I was the only bloke with three ladies I might have been in equal demand. Yeah...I think I can convince my self-esteem to buy that...
By early afternoon we'd had our fill and were starting to burn, so got back in the car for our onward journey. The roads were far better than the previous day's though still very long; a necessary feature, I was told, to stretch the distance between where we were and where we were going. Possibly tired of listening to our chit-chat, or just tired in general, the driver decided to play his music over the car speakers for this next stretch. The first tune that blasted forth from his playlist was a little ditty by Justin Bieber, which I was proud to not recognise as such. I put in my headphones and watched Brooklyn Nine-Nine, that show I saved, on my phone.
After battling through traffic, animals in the road and this one point where we literally stopped right in the middle of active train-tracks playing chicken with an oncoming truck, night fell and we stopped in a small town to try and get some dinner. This was far from a tourist spot, with no English spoken by the locals and few clues as to the composition of the delicacies on offer, but we took a gamble on a nearby bakery and lucked-out with some delicious pastry bakes that looked and tasted a bit like spicy filled-croissants and some slices of cake that looked and tasted like cake.
We arrived into Mysore late in the evening at a beautiful hotel that both reminded us of the West and hammered home just how shabby our previous day's accommodation had been. Roger tried to get a drink, without luck, whilst the rest of us attempted to catch-up on the sleep we hadn't quite managed to accomplish the night before. This wasn't difficult; it was a truly lovely establishment with proper thermostat-driven A/C, consistently warm showers and a mini-bar; like, not just a selection of items on a counter they called a mini-bar or some bags of nuts with price-tags on them but a proper plugged-in fridge keeping things cool and everything. There were no Kit-kats so I gave it a miss, but it was still nice.Read more