We arrived in Goa the next afternoon and were unimpressed to find that to get to the Asterix hotel in Vagator, where we planned to stay, we had to travel for another hour and a half at least, about £12 by taxi. Jade was also not feeling very well so even worse. We then found that we could instead take three local buses for about 45p each and so set off to the bus station. The buses generally went fine, apart from the standard slight unsureness if you are going at all in the right direction. On the last bus we met some other tourists (shock!) who were looking for the same hotel. This was a big comfort when we were dropped off in Vagator to find two closed looking restaurants and lots of lush greenery and a road. Luckily we walked a little way and found the Guest house, along with some slightly more open looking shops.
We checked in to Asterix (350 rupees each a night for a dorm, although Jade and I were the only ones in the dorm) and then headed off in search of an ATM. The only ATM in Vagator seemed to be closed indefinitely, but luckily I managed to change the spare pounds I'd bought with me in case of emergency at the travel agents for quite a good rate. We went to the Mango Tree and had a yummy dinner of huge veggie burgers and chips before going for a little walk to find Ajunda, the next town. We did a little shopping and stopped for a beer before heading back for a couple more beers and a very exotic Mango Tree cocktail in the Mango Tree before bed.
The next day we hired bikes and went down to see the beach. Goa is really beautiful and very lush in the monsoon, not to mention about 3 times cheaper, but the weather is really rainy and so there is not much to do. We spent most of the first day in Goa in Seaside Paradise restaurant, drinking chai and talking to our new friends we'd met there. We then went for a wonder along the beach, which was beautiful but quite dirty (apparently they clean it before high season) before heading back to Vagator and going to the Mango Tree for another dinner. Our new friend S something came to join us for a bit and we had a nice evening chatting away (Jade and my last evening together, end of an era). Then Jade and I went back to the guest house and met a group of just graduated Uni students from somewhere in England, who we ended up chatting with for a couple of hours.
The next morning I was up at 4.30 to go to the train station and off to Hampi. Said a sleepy goodbye to a sleepy Jade and then set off, hoping I could get a ticket. Luckily the fates were on my side and off I went to Hampi on the 7 o'clock train. Train journey itself was mainly good, with incredible scenery, although I did see something scuttling back and forth between the seats which was either a massive cockroach or a mouse. The chai sellers seemed like they were all particularly keen today, which made me laugh. I love India.
Arrived at Hospet train station and took a tuk tuk through yet more beautiful scenery to Hampi. I had confidently said the name of a Guest house I'd looked up in the LP on getting in the tuk tuk, trying to ooze the air of "they're waiting for me" only to find the river was too high to go to the side it was on so I had to sheepishly ask if they knew any good ones. I didn't like their suggestions (well, they were basically too expensive) but found one for 200 rupees a night that had it's own bathroom so settled in there. I went to get some food in the Chillout cafe which was indeed very chilled out and watched some little monkeys on a nearby tree eating it's fruit. The little monkeys are quite cute from afar. I then had to go down to the police station to register myself in Hampi, including details like my make of camera which was a bit bizarre. Maybe they're just super camera keen there. After I went to Gopi restaurant and as there were no free tables ended up sat opposite Lina from France who is lovely. We had some snacks and chatted for a while before an early night.
The next morning, well at midday (I'd had a reaally slow start) I met Lina back at Gopi which we'd arranged the night before. I had just got up really, she'd obviously been up for ages which was a bit embarassing. We had some food and then went to hire some bikes again for the grand price of roughly 55p. We set off to have a look at some of the temples surrounding Hampi. We didn't get that far on the bikes before we had to get off and push them up the massive hill, but luckily after that it was pretty flat. We went to see the Queens baths at first and then the Elephant Palace. We evaded paying a security guard a bribe to sneak in the back way by pretending Lina didn't understand. Such goody goodies but still apart from anything else no way to know we wouldn't get in there and find we had to pay again. The Elephant Palace was pretty impressive. A massive Fort. The first building we looked at this woman came up to me with her baby and tried to get the baby (in vain) to dance for me. Both the baby and I were looking a little confused and I eventually escaped. We went to the elephant stables then. I cannot believe that they had stables for elephants. It just seems crazy to think of elephants chilling in their little stables.
Later we cycled off again to try and find another temple, but discovered the river was too high to get across so we decided to just go for a refreshing lemon juice instead. Good choice. Just as we arrived back at Gopi it started pouring. We stayed here for a while and played Cheat with Ramesh (the cheatiest of cheaters) and Kieran, who ran the Guest house/restaurant. We later went up to Sunset point to see the sunset (crazy we are). I made poor Lina come back up the big hill to avoid the monkeys through the other route, only to find them waiting for us in the temple but oh well. We met the guys there along with two lovely German girls and sat and chatted for a while while we waited for the sun to go down with amazing views of palm trees and the river. Loved it. We headed back down for dinner. After dinner we went for a wander down to the riverside and lay down in the complete stillness to watch the stars shining brightly. Lovely. Then a frog starting croaking its mating sound, so we lay and watched the stars while listening to a horny frog. Some police came down and told us it was too late to be beside the river so we headed back to Gopi and sat on the roof for a while. Eventually pottered off to bed under my little mosquito net, which was a little dirty.
The next day I met Lina again and we went to climb in the rocky hills of Hampi. Hampi literally looks like something that has been created as a setting for a Flinstone's film, full of these massive rocks, it's amazing. We tried to find the path to the hills but having climbed up the arrows were leading us down and so we changed route and ended up at another temple full of picknickers. Had a little stop over there before heading back to go shopping. I'd been struggling to find good presents to buy back home and Hampi had a few shops so I was very excited for a half day shopping. Unfortunately the shops all turned out to be full of the same tacky stuff noone at home would want so the shopping trip ended up being over in less than 15 minutes. Instead we went and had another drink at Gopi before cycling back up to Sunset Point to sit in a temple there with a little lake and read. I read about 4 lines before we got chatting to a German guy who was up there and this local boy trying to sell us postcards but also singing the names of places and taking me through his whole guidebook telling me the names of places. I had to stop him when he started from the beginning again.
It started raining and we were glad to be under shelter, but my relief decreased a little when I noticed some thuggy looking monkeys on the rocks nearby. Luckily they kept their distance and when the rain finally eased off Lina and I zoomed back to the safety of Gopi. Later Lina and the German girls headed off to their next stops and after saying goodbye I went off to get myself a pedicure. I forgot how ticklish my feet were and the majority of it was spent trying really hard not to kick the woman (which I just about managed). It was OK but not exactly brilliant, I was about to complain that she didn't then paint my toenails when I caught sight of her three polish options and decided I'd be better off without. Later I went for a last dinner on the roof, Kieran thought it was hilarious because I was "an English girl ordering an American pizza". Ramesh came up and sat with me for a while offering "Gopi's free company policy". Way to make me feel like a sad case. But nice little chat, and then I sat with some lovely Chinese girls for a while before watching the stars for one little while. Hampi has such a tranquil feeling, I think it's one of the most peaceful places I've been. As Kieran said "You can't not be happy in Hampi".
The next morning I met my prearranged tuk tuk Javed and we set off to the early morning train. Luckily this time I had a middle berth so slept for the most part. Then watched the beautiful scenery. A chai seller who'd sat down for a rest took great joy in pointing out to me the waterfall I was looking at already, but quite sweet he was obviously quite keen I should get to see the incredible scenery. Arrived back in Hampi in the afternoon and on the advice of the Enquiries man at the train station got on a bus to Bogmalo, which has a beach but isn't too far from the airport.
Arrived in Bogmalo, which isn't in the LP, hoping there would be guest houses openn which luckily there were. Most quite expensive (a whole £5.50 a night) but managed to find one for 300 rupees a night, mainly because the owners brother who brought me was a taxi driver and wanted me to take his taxi to the airport I think. The owner was not impressed at his brothers bargaining skills, complaining he's never rented it for less than 450, which made me feel quite smarmy. Later I walked down along the beach and had a lovely dinner on the seafront of a mocktail and crab (which I semi worked out how to eat).
My last day in India I was not feeling very well, having managed to pick up a cold (a cold in INDIA!). I got up and went back to bed, deciding to stay another night at the guest house rather than wait at the airport. I eventually wandered down to the beach for breakfast and then lay on the sand for a while. An Indian couple came up to me and were upset to find I didn't speak Hindi, while I was quite relieved not to have to make awkward conversation if I'm honest. Another unsuccessful attempt at shopping and then I went and got my eyebrows threaded and a manicure at a beauty shop (I felt so decadent). The manicure was nice in terms of a lovely hand massage but not great nail painting (and at least I got some) or very nice nail varnish (the lady thought it was amazing it was shiny, I was less impressed). Later I got an Indian head massage which was pretty amazing, improved by the dramatic Indian soap playing in the background, which sadly I didn't get to see the end of. Had a final curry and off to bed.
So the next morning up at 3 to get a taxi to the airport. Had such an incredible, amazing time but by this point so tired and looking forward to getting home. Couple of cockroaches appeared in my room as I was getting up, come to wave me off and encourage me to get a shifty on. Flight a lot of waiting around and the long flight the in flight entertainment broke so no wonderful films but all in not so bad. And now I'm home sweet home. As sure as I can be that I'll be going back to India sometime in the future, absolutely love it. And couldn't be more true what people say about it being the best and the worst, such a country of extremes. But at least one thing you'll never say about India is that it's boring!
Hope this hasn't all been too boring, but then I imagine if it is you'll have stopped reading by now so a bit pointless! Lots of love xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx