“What a shithole”, I thought when we entered Om beach in Gokarna at 8 o’clock in the evening. That was definitely not Goa. And even though Callum loved it after seeing an empty beach with few cows walking around I wanted to come back to Anjuna. But well, show must go on. We found a nice bamboo hut where we spent 3 nights. Fortunately Sean and Doirrean were there as well with their friends Sebastian and Kristin so we had a company, lazing around on the beach and playing shithead. Even though quite empty, the beach and the sea were amazing. The only thing was a smell of cowshit everywhere as these lazy creatures were the first thing you could see after the sunrise and the first thing before the sunset. Especially one cow made our life difficult staring at us for 3 hours and trying to eat our food while we celebrated Sebastian’s birthday on the beach. People call Gokarna “the new Goa”- maybe there’s something in it but what is “new Goa” without parties? And there wasn’t any. Instead of that we had lots of time to relax and visit other beaches in the area. Everything there was so cheap and the food- absolutely delicious. If you are ever in Gokarna you must try its sea food and “Hello to the queen”- the best desert in the world.
I wasn’t optimistic about night buses but the one we took from Gokarna to Hampi was better than I expected. We got there on time having a good night sleep in our cabin. Hampi completely surprised me. While the internet promotes mostly its temples, for us the best part was the landscape. It reminded me Cappadocia but with palm trees and green rice fields everywhere. I couldn’t put the camera down. During the first day we visited most of temples where we were the attraction of the day. There wasn’t many tourists there and the whole town looked more like a rural area with few souvenir shops. We had a nice walk around the hills and Tungabhadra river that served people as a bath and a washing machine. I guess they didn’t take a sign “Beware of the crocodiles” seriously. We spent the evening with a sound of an accordion in one of the restaurants where a waiter secretly offered us “a special drink of the night”. After finding out it’s just a rum & coke we asked why it was so special. The reason was that on our side of the river no alcohol and cigarettes were allowed, if you wanted to enjoy some “stimulants” you had to go to the other side. So we did.
After renting a bike we spent the whole day exploring hidden paths of Hampi. The view from Monkey temple, where we climbed after passing a bunch of merchant women trying to kill each other (low business?) was amazing. We rode through the rice fields, passing the farmers and curious kids until the lake where we decided to get a boat. A nice man who took us in a bowl-looking boat to the other side offered us “magic rosewood seeds” that would make us “relax and enjoy”. Well, why not. After an hour of swimming in the remote lake I started to feel something. And it was definitely not relaxing. Having a headache and nausea we laid down by the lake waiting for it to pass. After we thought it was over we came back to the guesthouse but then the proper faze begun. And we had no room as that night we had another night bus trip. We spent our afternoon in one of the restaurants where we could lay down and wait till the end of the day. In Hampi we tried to arrange the transportation for the rest of our stay but we quickly found out most of the trains were already booked. As we didn’t have any other choice, we took a night bus at 9 pm. Fortunately until then we felt alive again so we left Hampi with one resolution: Never take anything on the street, even if it looked like a million dollars.
Another night in the bus and a new city, Mysore. We planned to stay there just for one night and that was a good decision as there was completely nothing to do. The best part of our stay was our host and his flat or, I’d rather say, a palace. Everything modern, clean, in order, healthy food and protein bars in the kitchen. As we found out Panduranga was a millionaire, ex-owner of an amusement park and a club. Very cool guy, experienced motorbike rider, happy to share his travelling experience in south-eastern Asia. He also arranged a rikshaw with a driver who showed us the city for free. There wasn’t much to see though. In Mysore Palace we’ve seen just 3 rooms (Rs 200) so we didn’t even want to see “residential areas” with additional charge of Rs 250. Well, nothing for free in India. The only places worth mentioning were the Bull Temple and Karanji Park with a beautiful lake full of birds and butterflies. Well, I’m definitely not a city person. At least we could have a rest at home and use skype before we took another bus, this time to Kerala backwaters.