After a strange feverish travel of 1 taxi, 1 bus, 3 tuk-tuks, 1 train and a boat we finally arrived in the peaceful place of Hampi. I write this sitting in ‘The Laughing Budha’ restaurant overlooking the river and intricately carved temples on the other side. Sitar music with devotional chant is playing on the speakers and despite my travel bug, I’m feeling very calm sipping on lemon & ginger tea.
Arriving here was much easier than expected, the trains are pretty self explanatory and local people have been so helpful if we get lost or have any questions. Backpacks strapped on, we manoeuvred our way off the blue train and onto Hospet station. Following the flow of people moving to different platforms we headed in the wrong direction until a man pointed us towards the exit and started making offers for a ride to Hampi.
We piled into his rickshaw and set off on the rickety journey across busy roads, with the city well into the swing of late afternoon hustle and bustle. Soon enough we had reached the country side and passed banana plantations with their vibrant green jungle leaves flapping in the breeze. A breed of cow I’d never seen before walked with purpose past the road. They had grey, tough skin and low hanging skulls with thick horns balanced on top.
When we reached Hampi, we rolled down rocky, winding roads to reach a river where we clambered into a packed rowing boat. Women in brightly coloured saris washed their clothes, slapping the wet fabric off the rocks and laying them out to dry. Once on solid ground we had to sneak past a pack of growling dogs kicking up dust to mark their territory.
Next, we had a bit of that travelling synchronicity that makes you wide eyed with disbelief yet also gives you a simple knowing smile because things have a habit of fitting into place in unexpected ways. We stumbled upon exactly the person we were hoping to see but were doubting we’d actually bump into. Timo, a guy we met in the hostel in Vagator (12 hours journey away) had left his ID card and we picked it up for him, thinking we’d post it or try to organise finding him. As it happened he was leaving with his bags in tow at the same moment we were arriving with all our luggage and just like that we gave him back his ID card, exchanged news and said our farewells.
And so we ended up here at The Laughing Budha, with a lovely little hut and settled in for the night, anticipation bubbling away for the upcoming days spent in Hampi.
After a trip to the local doctors I took medicine for 3 days and got better. One day when I was having an afternoon nap JJ came to get me because there was an elephant crossing the river with a man, we sat in awe watching the huge animal plod up a steep, stone staircase in the distance.
We spent the days relaxing, eating delicious food, drinking fresh coconut water and seeing all the local sights like beautiful temples, natural lakes and ruins. Our three friends from home came to meet us so we spent some fun days with them, catching up on our different adventures so far and sharing meals together. It was good to spend some time socialising and having a holiday before getting stuck into out next month of workaway placements where we will be working with local projects in exchange for food and board.
Before we knew it it was time to leave again. I had my last Astanga yoga class with a great teacher I’d met in Hampi and JJ chatted on to some other travellers before we got ready to pack our bags. Leaving on a high, just like in Vagator, we stepped back onto another blue train and spent the night sleeping on a hard bunk in a busy carriage, waking up to the sound of a man shouting ‘chai, chai, chai, coffee?’ doing his rounds for morning teas.
Mysore here we come.