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  • Day50

    Temples, temples and more temples

    January 7, 2019 in India ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

    Having agreed to go early to Hampi with Sam and Tess, I got up bright and early at 8 am to get ready. I headed to the bathroom, only to find that the water was out. Turns out that the night before the staff had been doing some gardening and accidentally put a hole in the water pipe. Cue 5 men scrambling to construct a makeshift pipe to get the water running!

    So, with nothing to do I sat and waited for the girls. Alas, despite my early start the girls had decided to sleep in! Eventually the girls awoke, the water was fixed and with everyone ready we headed to out usual breakfast place where Shahna and I had Egg Dosa and coffee for breakfast. Shahna headed home for some more R&R, after giving me permission to explore Hampi with the girls. As they had bikes they headed towards the next nearest village Anegundi where there was a cheap ferry crossing, while I had to get myself a bike still. So I hitchhiked on the back of a local's bike up until the dirt road which headed to the ferry crossing. After walking for another minute I found an Austrian man called Frederick riding a Royal Enfield, so I jumped on the back of his bike to the crossing, before crossing over the river and negotiating for a pedal bike - down from 200 to 120 rupees.

    I'd agreed to meet the girls at Queen's Baths, around 40 minutes ride away. So in the burning midday heat I cycled to the Queen's Bath (aptly named as it was a queen's private bathing quarters). There I waited under the shade of a tree while several people asked me if I wanted to buy magic mushrooms... I politely declined.

    Unfortunately the girls had decided to visit the Vittala temple first which was on their way. Had I known I could have gone straight there, but a 50 minute ride was too much for me, so I sat and waited. Eventually I got bored enough that I decided to visit the baths and the royal compound while I was waiting. Finally the girls arrived at the royal compound and we went and explored the compound (including an intricate step well and a hidden underground meeting room) and an intricately carved temple nearby.

    We then proceeded to the Lotus Mahal and Elephant Stables. These are two of the "star attractions" for which you need to pay entry. I duly paid my 600 rupees ("how much?!?" asked incredulously the local in Hindi on hearing this, who only had to pay 50 rupees) and we entered. The Lotus Mahal is a small building with some lotus-shaped archways. The elephant stables, as the name suggests, we're stables used for storing elephants in. Neither attraction was really worth the money - the free temples were far quieter and more atmospheric and at an unbeatable price!

    With the sun lowering in the sky, the heat dissipating and the time of the last boat drawing near we headed back along the main road towards the ferry crossing, stopping once or twice to see some minor temples briefly along the way. Being lazy I didn't want to get off my bike, so I cycled down a dirt track towards one, stopping in a courtyard in front of a statue of Lakshmi. Somehow I'd failed to notice that I couldn't ride there, so cue the locals shouting at me while Sam, clearly wiser than me, had parked safely just to the side. Whoops...

    All hungry, we pressed on to the Hampi Flea Market where we all ordered Gobi Manchurian (cauliflower fried in crispy batter with sweet and sour sauce) rice and a nice glass of masala chai. Then I dropped off my bike, met the girls at the ferry terminal and we took the ferry across the river.

    Sam and Tess returned their rental bikes and decided to rent a scooter so they could explore the following day. Their plan was to go cliff diving. Again, not knowing how Shahna would be in the morning, I declined to rent a bike and decided to walk.

    The prospect of a long walk wasn't, in fact, very appealing. Generously the girls agreed to try and fit 3 on one scooter and so, crowding on, we set off for home. After a couple of minutes riding, some locals warned us "no three person, police!". Getting the message I got off the bike, resigned to walking back.

    All of a sudden two tourists shouted to us from a rock in the rice fields "Hey, are you looking for a phone!? We found someone's phone. Do you know anyone Portuguese?" As a matter of fact we did. "We know someone Portuguese called Anna. She's staying in our hostel."
    "This phone belongs to an Anna!"
    "Do you have a photo"?
    "Yes, there's an ID in the phone"!

    Running over, we discovered with great fortune that it was indeed the Anna from our hostel. Disbelieving, we took the phone, excited at the prospect of reuniting phone with owner.

    Sam and Tess headed off with the phone, while I started walking. Luckily, not twenty seconds later a local drove past on a bike. I stuck out my arm, "Hannumanhali?", "Sure, get on". My local driver was faster than the girls, and I quickly overtook them to return home.

    I found Shahna still in her tent suffering. Still, she revived enough for us to all go out for dinner. I wasn't feeling 100%, so I just stole some of Shahna's Thali and then shared a banana and chocolate dosa with Shahna.
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