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.

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….

Time to forcibly remove myself from Goa, India??

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Goa has a surreal power over people. It sucks you in & leaves you powerless to leave her tight, relentless grip. I felt this my first day in Goa & realised it may be a difficult place to leave. That & the heat. I find everything difficult in the heat. So when two other people from Summer hostel made plans to leave I immediately invited myself along & used them as my crutch to escape the clutches of Goa*.

For some strange reason there are no atm’s in the busy beach area in Palolem. I went to the nearest one about 2Km from the beach but that was out of service. As were the next two I struggled in the midday sun to reach. I needed to pay for my hostel so I seemed to just be walking until I found a working atm. The fourth one was working & had A/C which was a pure delight! If you go to Palolem take enough cash to save yourself this heatstroke/time consuming experience.

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Can you see the two men chopping down the coconuts?

Other people in the hostel said Goan Corner was the place to stay in Hampi. We looked online but weren’t able to book everything so one of the guys rang them. They didn’t take any details from him & told him don’t worry, just turn up. He looked slightly bemused when he came off the phone unsure whether he had booked or not. This is something we have grown accustomed to in India! The laid back lack of urgency in all exchanges takes a while to get used to!

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A stray street dog seeking shade under the sun lounger. They dig into the sand to create a cool patch to lie in, so clever.

Sad but revived to be leaving Goa I spent my last day reading by the beach, wandering around, avoiding shops beckoning me inside & eating great food! There are great juice bars in our area & in the 40 degree heat the juices are so refreshing. I’m not sure if I’ll come back to Goa. I have really enjoyed it & it is very beautiful but my encounter a few nights ago has certainly soured my memory of the area.

*Not that I don’t love Goa – I want to explore more of India.

What’s a little nail polish between friends?

I can be a slightly ridiculous packer – as we all know. I have, of course, taken 3 nail polish & nail polish remover with me. I’m not vain, I just feel really grubby with plain nails. I think this stemmed from working in massage where I spend much of my time looking at my hands & I would despise my nails if they weren’t clean, tidy & polished. I have a silver for my toes & white & duck egg blue for my fingers. Nothing fancy, just clean & simple. Yes, my new companions have taken water filter tablets & uv sterilisers & I have nail polish… But hey, it makes me happy!

The cleaners at Summer hostel are lovely & chatty. They laugh with me everyday as I keep extending my stay & even join in my Skype calls to my friends & family. One day I was getting ready to go out when one of the ladies ran up to me saying “I’m sorry, my god told me in my dream that I had to tell you what I did!”

I was so confused as to what was upsetting this sweet & usually smiley lady. She held out her hand to me & I look it assuring her that everything is ok. Then she turned her nails to me to show me we had the same nail polish on. The exact same nail polish!

After I polished my nails the day before I left the nail polish on my bed & the cleaner seen it & clearly quite fancied it! I told her it was fine & laughed with her. Then the other cleaner came in – with the same nail polish on her fingers! I laughed louder at these two ladies sneaking my nail polish on when I was out. I took a picture of our identical manicures & whilst I was doing so I glanced to the floor & seen that they had done their toes too! Hilarious! We all laughed & admired the colour. I gave them my white polish & I couldn’t find the blue one again… I presume they are stilling painting their nails with it.

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We all have great taste in nail polish!

India!!! I have arrived!!!

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I have arrived in India & I am so happy! I can’t believe I’m finally here! I am so excited to get out of the airport & take in the scenery, people, colours & (most importantly) the food!!!

It was always a foodie dream to come to India & I am eager & ready to taste some curries!

First to clear customs….

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I’m welcomed to India!!! *happy face*

Farewell Bali

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After a rapid 2 weeks it is time to move on from Bali. Bali was a slow starter for me. It took me almost a week before I eased into the Balinese way of life. It went from being somewhere that felt like just another sunny island to a place where I enjoyed the people, the pace of life & I could see myself wanting to return. It’s funny how your mood completely affects your opinion. I am so easily swayed I wonder are my opinions even legitimate or just based on fleeting emotional states & exchanges.
I met people on this trip who were spending 6 weeks to 2 months in Indonesia & even just Bali alone! I have a feeling Bali may be a place where the more I explore & delve the more I will fall in love with it. I know now to completely avoid the main tourist hubs which bring me unheralded stress.
As much as I grew to enjoy Bali, I am not to sad upon leaving it as my next stop is somewhere I have dreamt of going for over a decade! India! I am so excited that I am finally coming to see you!
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Book Club: The White Tiger

Imagine my joy when I picked up The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga at a hostel book exchange. Yes, book exchanges are my free book shop & I love them! After reading Shantaram I am keen to get immersed in India & I was delighted to find another book set in India.

The White Tiger is a tale of an Indian man’s rise to success told via his letters to the Chinese Prime Minister. He delves into his past & tells the story of how he came to be a successful entrepreneur coming from humble beginnings of poverty & little prospects due to his caste. It is a dark story sprinkled with humour & honesty.

 

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A summers night overlooking Wellington from Brooklyn

The White Tiger delves into religion, the caste system, corruption, crime, morales, family & poverty. It is honest & lingers on your heart & soul. How difficult & frustrating it appears to grow up in India locked in the caste system.
I found this book easy to read & intriguing. If you want a manageable book (a third of the length of Shantaram) that takes you to India this could be for you.
The White Tiger is currently available on Amazon for £8.99.