Waiting for the early morning train we bumped in to an american guy we had met on our first night in Delhi, he commented that we are looking a little more travelled now as we have a slight tan and dirt around the edges of our clothes! The seven hour train ride took us through a beautiful changing landscape from dense misty forests with high waterfalls to scrubland with animals grazing and finally in to the landscape of Hospet and Hampi that is dominated by rocky hills. We were met by many tuk tuk drivers outside the station on our arrival who were very eager to take us anywhere and everywhere, we chose one guy who took us to our hotel and we decided to use his services as a guide for the next couple of days as we explored the numerous temples of Hampi from the old Vijayanagara empire, starting with a sunset view from Matunga Hill. On our way in to Hampi we travelled down a newly built smooth road that had ornate street lights but this only lasted for a mile and we were back on the uneven, pothole ridden roads we had come accustomed to. We travelled through one small village that looked like the scene of a natural disaster; all the buildings on the roadside had had their fronts completely removed and the rubble was piled high with only dust paths leading to front doors as a sign that normality laid behind. People were still living and working from these homes that must now be half the size they once were, interior doors had become front doors and paintings were still hanging on the nails that they probably had for years but now for all passers-by outside to see. It was a surreal sight and had been done intentionally to build a larger road to improve the tourist transport link from Hospet to Hampi.
Our full day of exploring Hampi took us from temples to statues, palaces and ancient shopping sites all in different states of repair. There were so many sites that we found ourselves exploring some ruins on our own, where we did come across other tourists they were mostly Indian and would ask for our photographs, we even picked up email addresses of complete strangers who wanted us to stay in contact. At one temple dedicated to Lord Shiva we picked up an unauthorised guide who looked to be in his eighties and didn't speak a word of English but sprightly rushed ahead of us pointing out everything he thought we would be interested in. The last site we visited was our favourite, Vittala temple built in the 15th century which houses a full size stone chariot and the Mahan-Mantapa open hall which has musical pillars, if you pay the guards who protect the site enough money they would play them.
On returning to our hotel we paid our driver who had resisted giving us a price for his services and had told us to pay him what we thought was a fair price. When we handed over the cash you would have thought we just killed his favourite dog and slapped him around the face a few times after setting fire to his tuktuk. He didn't say much and just starred at the ground like a sulking child, obviously we caved and gave him a couple hundred more rupees, our first major lesson had been learnt.