Delhi Belly in Hampi, India :(

I am not feeling great today. I feel so lethargic & nauseous. I don’t know if it was the heat or something I ate but I feel terrible. I ventured out in the morning but when the midday heat arrived I retreated back to my hut to snooze. All my friends have taken guides to explore the area on tuk tuks & will be swimming in a waterfall or visiting the monkey temple right now while I sweat it out in bed striving for rehydration.

It looks as though someone just dumped the massive pile of boulders behind the palm trees

 
I feel limited to what else I can do in Hampi due to my monkey phobia & extreme heat intolerance. I’m mildly defeated that it is my time to move on when all my friends are having such a great time. Sometimes I have an amazing ability to suck things up & get on with it but monkeys & heat are apparently deal breakers. I venture out with the greatest intentions but as soon as I see a monkey I freeze then retreat to a monkey free zone. It’s difficult because the monkeys are fecking everywhere & I really freak myself out with them.

I took the peaceful afternoon to ascertain a plan in my head & have decided to flee to the cooler climate in the north. It is such a shame because the south of India looks incredible & I had hoped to visit but I know that it is even hotter there & I will be miserable. India is so vast I knew from the outset that I wouldn’t be able to visit everywhere I wanted to go but accepting this as reality is a bit demoralising.

The monuments were incredible but I was limited in what I could see due to the lingering monkeys

In being forcibly confined I have by default become productive! I have booked a flight from Bangalore to Dehradun (Jolly Grant Airport), via Delhi, in 3 days time. I will visit Rishikesh where it will hopefully be cooler & have less monkeys?? A girl can dream! Tomorrow I will take a night bus from Hospet, near Hampi, to Bangalore & spend a couple of nights there. I have given myself the deadline of tomorrow afternoon to pull out of this sickness. Wish me luck!

Hampi Sunset, India

The sunset in Hampi is stunning. Next to The Goan Corner is the most incredible haphazard boulder formation. It looks so surreal! It felt like desert yet there were trees & rice paddies & jungle nearby. Imagine the set of a star wars movie with temples from The Jungle Book & an Indiana Jones-esque feel. You’re close!

Before sunset locals & backpackers gather on top of these huge rocks to bask in the sunset. There are drummers, singers & even a guy who does a mean didgeridoo impression. Seriously, I was so impressed someone dragged a didgeridoo up the rocks & looked & he was just making the sound with his mouth. This is India!

My iPhone camera does not do the incredible scenery justice, stunning!

Unfortunately we rushed up to the sunset & I only had my iPhone on me, hence the quality of the pictures aren’t the best. I hope you can get a glimpse at what the area was like. It felt like another world to me.

This view though….

The massive boulders are so impressive! If you enjoy bouldering then this could be your happy place – & not just Hampi, there are other areas nearby with amazing bouldering. Unfortunately at 40 degrees I couldn’t function enough to learn a new sport. The area is full of people walking athletically towards the rocks with a crashed on their back. I enjoyed hearing people ponder whether they were spare mattresses to sleep on & whether they climbed with them attached to their backs, they don’t.

The rocks had been cooking at high temperatures all day so be prepared for a toasty seat once you get up there. I was sweating so much after sunset just from the heat being passed through from the rocks! I had to use my flip flops as a seat barrier to prevent me from poaching in my own juices. I’ll let you savour that visual.

The kids were so charming & all the backpackers were obviously impressed by them

There were small children on the top of the rocks selling Chai. They were adorable & each were astute business children! They sucked us in with small talk & always tried to double our orders. They were cuties, quick minded & confident. Such intuitive little salespeople! I really hope they reap the benefits of their child labour. I mean that sincerely. I see the benefits in that they are improving their english, they are confident interacting with people, savvy, clever & don’t seem to be miserable doing this – although they are very young, maybe under 10 years old!

The music continued long after the sun went down. I teetered down the rocks before it got too dark, showered off the day & curled up in bed for a proper good nights sleep. Bliss. Thank you Hampi!

The Goan Corner, Hampi, India

 

The Goan Corner is on the ‘other side’ of Hampi, if that makes any sense. One side of the Tungabhadra River through Hampi has the temples hotels & restaurants. If you cross the river to the ‘other side’, Virupapur Gaddi, you get more cafes & restaurants & some guest houses. I don’t think there’s much else really – Rice paddy fields & the most awesome place to watch the sunset!

One thing to note is the night buses can drop you at either side of the river. My friends arrived much later than me because they were dropped off in hospet & had to take a tuktuk to Hampi then wait on the boat service to start. It isn’t a big hassle, but nice to know beforehand.

The entrance to the hostel

This hostel is really laid back & caters fantastically to backpackers needs. They were quite casual when we tried to make a booking & told us just to arrive & they’ll sort us out. We are a small easygoing, optimistic, group of 3 so we were happy with this arrangement. Maybe during busy high season people would prefer confirmation. There seems to be a lot of decent (read ‘backpacker decent’) accommodation in the area, I wouldn’t have worried if they couldn’t fit us in as there are many other options.

We got a little hut with a double bed & they put an extra mattress on the floor for us. Altogether it cost about 500 rupees per night. The toilets & showers were dotted around in separate blocks, they were average clean & a mix of traditional & western toilet style. The huts were dotted around & gave a real community feel. We quickly became friends with our neighbours & chilled out on their hammocks. The electricity cut out during the day which was a killer when you were relying on the fans to keep your temperature at non fatal levels, however I have come to expect the power failures. The internet was ok but it was cut off all night so no late night facetimes….

The Goan Corner has a big outdoor restaurant area which is really sociable. I found that if you rock up at a table of strangers they happily welcome you & chat easily to you. Equally when anyone approached a table I was at we, of course, quickly invited them to join us. I know this is down to individual attitudes, but this spirit is actively promoted by the staff as though we are unconsciously influenced to adopt the demeanour of the hostel.

The staff are really nice & attentive. I told them my name once & they remembered it for my entire stay. They make a tab & all your food, drinks, laundry, bus ticket, & accommodation goes on it until you depart. The main lady Shamila is lovely & welcoming (at home she would be described as ‘dead on’ or ‘sound’. For 3 nights accommodation, meals, lots of water & laundry & a bus ticket to Bangalore I paid a grand total of £11.

The food is really good!

There is an entourage of dogs & cats who are really cute & friendly. Some of my friends grew very attached to their newfound live in pets! I was less lovestruck when the pug kept using my leg as a leaning post to attain the perfect leverage to stick his nose up his asshole…

The Goan Corner offers exceptionally cheap rooftop dormitory accommodation at 150 rupees per night. I wouldn’t even consider this option due to the manic morning monkeys who like to run around this rooftop in the morning grabbing what they can & making mischief. I would have a heart attack if I woke face to face with a monkey!!!

My friends on top of the boulders, I’m watching from the comfort of the hostel & my chai!

You can definitely put in plenty of lazy days at the Goan corner & I can see how people get stuck there for a while. Personally Hampi is getting far to hot for me. I cannot function well above 30 degrees so all productivity ceases & I go into survival mode at 40 degrees. I have to flee somewhere cooler!

You can find their contact number HERE on their Facebook page.

Exploring Hampi, India

Due to the excruciating heat & my Irish constitution I need to work by a tight schedule to get the most out of my day! I get up early to explore, before midday I am at melting point so I am either back at the hostel in shade or chilling out in a restaurant with a book i.e. not exerting myself if it can be helped. Around 4pm I can brave the world again & go for another wander. This pattern really works for me!


Yesterday, on my first explore around the village, my poor Haviana’s snapped apart to irreparable status – so my first steps around Hampi in daylight were barefoot & rather desperate for new flipflops! Luckily there were shops nearby & I picked up a pair of nondescript flip flops for 150Rupees (£1.50). It’s cheap, but at home we are spoiled by Pennys/Primark which offer similar prices & quality. Hopefully my new footwear will last until I can find a pair of trusty Havianas.

Today post blistering middy heatwave I ventured towards the monkey temple – obviously with no intentions of going to it, but to explore around it. As a pale blonde people really enjoyed waving at me! They were so friendly I happily waved back to men, women, children, families on a scooter & this lorry load of workers! They are so friendly & seem genuinely interested & happy so I gladly reciprocate the waves.

I was enjoying my stroll & excited to venture to the unknown but then….. Two scary looking monkeys in a tree! Without thinking I instantly back peddled, my upper body frozen in the position it was in when I spied them. I was terrified they would see me & come near me. I wanted to scream & run away but I was afraid it would draw attention towards me. Once I got a safe distance away my breathing started to resemble a somewhat normal pattern again & I was able to act like a regular person, or try my best to. Clearly shooken up, the men I had previously overtaken regarded me with confusion as this merry power walker had retreated back this path for no obvious reason with a look of impending doom etched on her face. Embarrassed by my fear of monkeys I passed them awkwardly & wished I was back in the safety of my hostel room. I ventured off the path again but I couldn’t help thinking it was a bad idea in case I saw any more monkeys. I made my mind up to go straight back to the village & to accept that I’m not brave enough to venture out & face monkeys….

Hampi, India

I have woken up & checked into my room, showered & had breakfast. I feel a thousand times better & I am keen to explore Hampi!

Hampi is a village set on either side of Tungabhadra River. The surroundings are incredible. To me it seems like a screen shot straight out of Game of Thrones! Truly fascinating & captivating scenery. I was visually stunned & in awe.

The history of the area is immense. Hampi was the Imperial Capital of Vijayanager, a 14th century empire – the ruins of which are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At its peak it was renowned for its massive population (0.1% of the global population), incredible wealth, architecture, art & literature before invaders destroyed it….

You can feel the history running through the area & almost feel how it used to be hundreds of years ago. Excavations are continuously carried out to uncover more sites & archealogical wonders. I’m sure Hampi is an exceptionally fascinating area to work in this field.

There are many hidden wildlife in the area – leopards roaming the boulders, crocodiles in the river, sloths in the sugar cane fields, as well as not so hidden wildlife such as monkeys EVERYWHERE & Indian street dogs & cows come as standard!

You can see Lakshmi the temple elephant get bathed in the river every morning. I abhor any kind of animal exploitation so I was sure to keep my distance, as much as I wanted to be interested & get closer to see the beautiful creature. It’s a sight to behold seeing this elephant get washed down while children swim nearby & the women do their washing, stretching it across monuments & the river bank to dry. In this 40 degree heat I’m sure it dries instantly!

 

Hampi has plenty going for it from a backpackers prospective, fantasy-like surroundings aside! The people are friendly, well used to backpackers, chatty & non-threatening! Bonus! There are many restaurants offering all backpacker favourites including fruit salad, curd & muesli, pancakes, very cheap Thali, curries, lassi, fresh fruit juices, & fried snacks for people into that! Everything is cheap & delicious! I used TripAdvisor as a shortlist of where I should try & I really liked Mango Tree & Laughing Buddha, as well as the food in my hostel The Goan Corner. I love the style of the cafes here. They are so laid back with on floor seating surrounded by cushions, fans & chill out music. My mind relaxes in this environment – especially in the knowledge that I am about to be fed!

Hampi is a religious area & alcohol is banned – although it is not too difficult to get alcohol. I’m currently not interested & more than happy to go without. There are lots of yoga classes happening in Hampi as well as Reiki & massage on offer. Motorbike rentals are everywhere & obviously very popular amongst backpackers & locals. In the evenings many of the restaurants show newly released movies on a big screen/projector. As if you couldn’t be more relaxed & chilled out in mesmeric Hampi….

Sleeper bus to Hampi, India

 

Unfortunately my friends bus was already full & I had to take a separate one. I was terrified the bus would be full of leering Indian men & I really didn’t feel comfortable taking the trip alone. I told myself that I would check the bus first & if I didn’t feel safe I would take a tuktuk back to the hostel. I have learnt how invaluable & precious my safety is & now I also have to nurture my peace of mind.

My bus pulled up ahead of schedule before 9.30pm & I was the only passenger for this bus line (there were about 12 other backpackers at the stop but naturally none were on my bus – where is my luck of the Irish!?). I was hustled on to the bus while it was still moving & quickly ushered into the wrong numbered bunk. I glimpsed at a few females & westerners so I felt a little reassured. For the record, I have never been racist or felt unsafe travelling but I have clearly been affected by my experience a few nights ago & as a result I now have a heightened sense of insecurity & fear with Indian men. I do not apologise in any way for this reflex response. I know that obviously not all Indian men behave like this or will endanger me, but now they illicit these feelings & I stand by my learnt behaviour to be cautious of them.

The trip to Hampi was super bumpy. I tried to sleep but keep being jostled around on my bunk. I was smug that I had some experience in a rocky cabin at sea & I tried to liken it to a rough night on the mediterranean. The smooth parts felt oddly similar to my old bunk at starboard forward.

My tried & tested method of only eating simple western food prior to a long bus journey & limit liquid intake ensured I didn’t have to endure any toilet breaks. I don’t really recommend the reduced water intake for hydration reasons but it makes for a smoother journey for me without having to leave the bus, experience dreadful toilets, or wee on the street etc with the added ambition hope of sleeping right through the trip – I wish!

I arrived in Hampi at 5am & there was a throng of tuktuk drivers awaiting our arrival. I was swamped with them offering their services aggressively & relentlessly. How many times do I have to say ‘no thank you’. I really try to be polite & clear but the incessant repetition brings out an aggressive side in me. I found a couple going to the same hostel as me & we paid 100R for the bumpiest tuktuk ride of our lives! We had to hold on for dear life as we accelerated over bumps & were thrown in the air & all over!

When we arrived at the Goan Corner hostel there was no one around so we curled up on the sofas & tried to get some more sleep before check in. I anxiously over analysed every sound & tried to convince myself that the monkeys would keep their distance….