I arrive in Hampi at 6am. I step off the bus, groggy. After attempting to use google maps to figure out where I am and having no luck I decide to hire a tuk tuk to take me to the river. I had been told to cross the river to find accommodations. Once at the river I finally have enough of my faculties up and running to realize that I’m already on the north side of the river. I back track a bit and start visiting various hostels and guesthouses trying to find a bed. This is one of the few times that I did not book ahead. Most of these establishments do not have an online presence, so I couldn’t find any to pre-book.
Unfortunately all of them are booked up. After a couple hours, feeling defeated, I finally find a vacancy. The good side is, it’s super cheap - about 400 rupees - and I have it all to myself. It’s a quaint little thatch hut with one bed in it and a desk fan strapped to the ceiling. The outhouses have only squat toilets, so I finally have to make that leap. It isn’t too bad and, as I have read, it’s supposed to be better - The human body evolved to crap that way. Luckily I have my own toilet paper with me so I do not have to figure out how to use the cup in a bucket of water thing.
Accommodations secured, I set out to explore. I have to take a tuk tuk about 25 minutes away to get to the closest ATM. On the way back I spot the “Monkey Temple” and decide to have the driver just drop me off there. I’ll see the temple then just walk back the rest of the way to town. I climb the 250 steps up the mountain to the temple. It’s an amazing view, huge boulders and palm trees and rice paddies as far as the eye can see. Oddly, no monkeys. The temple got its nickname because of the huge amount of the pesky little primates that hang out there but I don’t see a single one until heading back down the steps and then I only see two. The other strange thing is tons of people ask me to take their picture and even though I explain that I have no way to give them the picture they don't care and insist I take their portrait. I have tons of photos of Indian families of all sizes.
Back down from the temple I walk along the long winding road back to town. It takes forever but it’s a beautiful walk.
The following day I grab the ferry to cross to the south side of the river and explore the ancient ruins of Hampi. Very picturesque stuff. In the heat of the day, I stop, grab a fresh coconut from a roadside stand and take a break before continuing on. Again, many of the Indian visitors ask me to take their picture. (I have included one in the slideshow below that I find particularly striking. A little girl with her baby brother that I meet at one of the ancient temples).
My next to last day, I go explore north of my guesthouse. Down the road is a bunch of hills and giant boulders. I spend the afternoon hiking through the very serene landscape, away from the hustle and bustle of the more touristic town. This place is a dream for rock climbers. I decide I want to come back on another trip with some friends for a bouldering excursion.
My last day I check out of the guesthouse and spend most of the day exploring more ruins on the south bank that I didn’t get to the first day - all before catching a ride to another town, Hospet, where I have to catch the night bus to Bangalore.
The whole day, strangely, I have no appetite. I eat one banana, that’s it. I know something is not right. On the night bus I manage to sleep for most of the night, but at 6am I wake up. I’m nauseous and I can tell I have a fever. Then as I get into Bangalore and step off the bus, the stomach starts to churn.
I’m supposed to be couch-surfing here, staying with a guy I met back in Goa, but I decide I don’t want to be sick as a dog in someone’s house. I get a tuk tuk to take me to the nearest hotel. I need to be alone to ride out the shit storm that I know is coming. Unfortunately the first two hotels I go to are all booked up. The third one I hit has a vacancy. It is pretty fucking sketchy - sickly, flickering, fluorescent lights; a dead roach right in front of the reception desk; and some guy sleeping on the floor in the corner. I thought it might be the clerk. I say “Hello?” a number of times pretty loudly, trying to wake him up. No luck. Finally a man comes out of the back room and helps me. So… still not sure who the guy on the floor was.
I book one night, but they don’t take credit cards and I’m out of cash. I have to hunt down an ATM and all the while my stomach is churning more and more and the nausea is building up something fierce. Every step is a struggle. It takes about ten minutes to find the bank.
Finally with cash in hand, I return and the clerk shows me to my room. He tries to walk around the room showing me the TV, the AC, etc. and all I can think is “Get the fuck out, man. I have some business to attend to and you don’t want to be anywhere around when it happens.” Finally he exits and I head straight for the bathroom.
I’ll spare the details, but the term “from both ends” should suffice. At some point I know I need food and water and manage to stumble down the street and buy a few snacks that I think I might be able to stomach. Then I retreat back to my hole to sleep.
The next day I check into a less sketchy hotel and I ride out the bug or whatever it is for the next couple of days. Finally my appetite starts to return and I feel like venturing out. My next to last day in the city I go out and explore. I see Cubbon Park and Lal Bagh Botanical Gardens.
The last day I meet up with Peter, a guy I met back in Madrid. We catch up over a beer at one of the many local breweries that are popping up in Bangalore. That night I’m on a yet another night bus - this time to Kochi.
I spend a full day in Kochi but get no pictures as I venture out with a dead camera battery. The heat there is so exhausting that I don’t do much that evening. The next day I wake up and catch a 8am flight to my next country: Malaysia.
By 4pm I’m in Kuala Lumpur. My appetite is back in full force and it's a good thing because I discover Jalan Alor...