Feeling very hampi

Trip Start Feb 03, 2006
Trip End Feb 21, 2006

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Flag of India  ,
Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The people of India are overall a friendly lot, although I have quickly learnt that if you ask for something specific in a shop, the sales people will confidently try to sell you something completely different, while making out that is what you actually asked for. An example: Anna wanted to buy her boyfriend a hanuman pendant; a hanuman being a little monkey. We decided that the Wednesday Flea Market in Anjuna would be a good place to look for a haniman so to the first jewellery stall we went. "Do you have a hanuman, a little monkey?". "Oh yes madam, here is monkey." "No, that's a poodle." The next jewellery stall: "Do you have a hanuman. A monkey?" "Yes of course madam, here is monkey." "That's not a monkey, that's a teddy bear." Onto the next stall: "Excuse me, do you have a monkey pendant?" "Here madam, here is monkey." "Um...no..that appears to me to be a clown."

Last Friday, when I was well down the road to recovery from my tummy bug, we decided to head down to the south beaches of Goa to a place called Benaulim: a peaceful, rural village with a beautiful white-sanded, clean beach. On our arrival in Benaulim, Orla and Anna were noticeably peeved that I'd booked us into a guest house that did not have a swimming pool, despite it being right on the beach.

In fairness, their lack of enthusiasm for the guest house may have been due to the fact that they too, had been struck down with the dreaded lurgy which kept them bedridden for the remainder of the day. I spent my afternoon basking in the beauty of a south Goa beach and formed a superficial friendship with a girl selling pineapples from a basket on her head. It wasn't long before I found myself surrounded by every tout in Benaulim as word spread that there was "fresh meat" on the beach. One of the first questions touts ask you is what your name is. For my own immature amusement, I have been telling all the touts that my name is Fanny. If you think that's immature, then let me tell you that Nicki told me that she introduces Colin to touts (when he's out of earshot) as "Wanker".

Evening fell and since Orla and Anna were still asleep, I decided to "rock on" down the beach to check out the nightlife. "Do you like to party?" I was asked by a friendly bloke on the beach. "Sure, where's the party?" I was directed to a place called Cocos along the beach a bit with the promise of live music which was to start at 8.30pm. And so followed a painful hour of listening to a local band called "Brothers in Arms" play one of the worst selections of soft '80s rock. I couldn't finish my food quick enough and legged it back to the guest house feeling traumatised and in need of a lie down.

On my return to the room, I discovered that Orla had, in one of her regular stupid moments, bolted the bedroom door on the inside ("I thought you could open it from the outside" she claimed later. What the....???) and since my knocks and shouts were unheard and I felt like I had woken up everyone else in the guest house with the exception of those intended, I soon realised that I would not be reunited with my bed or belongings for some time. I explained my predicament to the manager of the guest house who made a few calls and whisked me into the village on the back of his motorbike where I was put into a new guest house for the evening. As I sat in my tiny, mouldy room, with no bed sheet or pillow and only one wall separating the toilet from the rest of the room, I could hear the voice in my head: "Gillian Ruth Fraser, you have been sentenced to 20 years hard labour..."

I was collected the next morning to face two annoyed travel companions who had woken at 3am to find me not in the room, and had been worried enough to enquire about my whereabouts to staff at the guest house who had given about 5 different stories on where I was before they were told I was sleeping somewhere else in the village. There was no apology for locking me out of the room.

Unable to cope with any further sulking from Orla and Anna, I spent my morning ringing other hotels in the area to arrange for us to stay somewhere with a pool. We relocated to an hotel inland (shame, since I really loved the beach at Benaulim) and spent the remainder of the day beside the swimming pool, much to Orla and Anna's delight.

We were all keen to do a trip outside of Goa to a place called Hampi which is a 9 hour train journey east. Hampi holds some of the most fascinating ruins in India with temples dating back to the 12th and 16th centuries. We missed out on train and bus tickets for the days we wanted to travel to and from Hampi so decided to splash out and get a local bloke to drive us there. Orla got her period and decided on the morning we were to leave that she'd rather not come on the trip which was a blessing really because her stupidness and lack of common sense was stressing me out. (Example of frustrating stupidity: When I told her that I'd been for a swim in the sea, she asked if the water was salty.)

Hampi was great, but I really loved the drive there the most. It was great to see what I considered to be more of the real India. We passed incredibly beautiful beaches and drove through mountains in the state of Karnataka. We passed slowly through villages and saw camels, and lots of gentle-faced buffalos serenely walking along the side of the road. Our most exciting moment was when we saw our first monkeys. They are funny little things and I observed that they look both ways before they scamper across the road.

In the main temple in Hampi, we met many more monkeys. There was a poor, old monkey who looked like it had been in a terrible accident. We were feeling awfully sorry for it until a guide told us that the scarred and injured monkey used to pick on all the other monkeys, until all the other monkeys got fed up, formed an alliance, and collectively beat the crap out of the bully monkey.

After Hampi we spent another 2 nights and a day in Benaulim where the girls complained continuously about not having enough young people around and we booked a room back at Villa Anjuna for the rest of our holiday in Goa. Anna did not set foot on the beach in Benaulim.

Everyone's spirits were raised as soon as we set foot in Villa Anjuna again and we greedily downed our fresh OJs which we had missed so much over the previous 5 days. The girls are now at the flea market and I will meet them at Curlies for sunset.

My tummy still isn't quite right and I feel as though I'm living the life of a super-model, eating and then vomiting with the greatest of ease. I am now thinking of a conversation with Peter, one of the Californian stoners. "Have you been sick while you've been India Peter?". "Yeah." He drawled. "One day I felt shit. Then the next day I felt shitty. Then the next day I felt shitty. Then the next day I just felt shit."

I will complete this diary entry with a quote from Diane, Anna's boyfriend's mum, which should enlighten you as to what some of the tourists are like here: "Yoga seems to be all the rage here in India at the moment doesn't it."
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