The sun hadn’t peered over the surrounding hills to burn the light fog that hung in the air. Shivering as I loaded my bike, I was hungry and felt dirty as I hadn’t been able to force my body into the freezing cold water for the entire time I’ve been here. There were only three guys to watch me today, two of which I had to wake up and ask them to move their car in order for me to get my bike out of the secure area. I warmed my engine and left town before anyone could miss me.
The rays of light laid its warm fingers on me as I followed the winding road higher into the hill, dipping in and out of the cool crevasse that formed the valleys. As time fell away I could see people starting to stir and move their stiff joints into the sun.
Arriving at the saddle of the hill, I peered over the edge down the steep road that wound its way to a plateau that open out in front of me. The road was so narrow and with one bend after another, I was forced to hold my thumb firmly over the horn to ensure people do not blindly come around the corner on the wrong side of the road. I was expecting to hit a wall of heat as soon as I arrived at the bottom of the hill, but surprisingly it was still really quite cool.
A barrier that blocked the road was lifted by a young man dress in a tidy crisp clean police uniform. Not know what it was for and I wasn’t about to stop and ask, I rode under the rising boom gate and kept on going. Passing one sign after another, stating ‘please do not to stop’, ‘Please do not get out of cars’ and ‘warning elephants may cross’. When I passed a ‘Warning tigers may cross’ sign I had to stop and take a picture as I just realised I had entered into a national park. I was trying to shove my nervous thoughts aside, as this was real life training for Africa. The problem was, I never saw a single piece of wildlife except for one bird doing the suicide dive in front of my bike.
Before I knew it, the barrier to indicate I was now leaving the park was in front of me, so I rode under it as it was starting to rise. Sadly, I hit the busy main road to took me directly to central city of Mysore.
Riding into Mysore, I instantly fell in love with the place. It was a nice, clean and quiet city. I found the hotel within minutes and a few moments later was shown to the last single room available. Again the room reflected the city, as it was amazingly clean and really cheap. Walking into the bathroom I discovered I had hotwater! Standing under the steaming water, I felt my muscles relaxed and the grime of three days dissolved down into the drain pipe.
Incense sticks, piles of colourful pigments, flowers and essential oils all leaped out at me as soon as I walked through the concrete arch into the central market. Between the smells and the visual delights, I couldn’t decide which alley way to walk down. Making a sharp right I walk down one, only to be pulled into a small store. ‘Your from Australia!’ A store owner exclaimed.’No, I work in Australia.’ knowing full well he was reading my Australian Geographic tee-shirt I was wearing.’Have you seen this before?’ pointing to the individual bins of neatly piled pigments.’No, actually I haven’t’, quietly dieing to take a photo but not wanting to purchase anything, I may just have my chance here.’Come, you mix these with water’ as he puts a small spoon into a bowl then mix it with a few drops of water made intense pink paint. Grabbing my hand he draws a small flower. Dropping my hand, he picks up a bottle on essential oil. ‘Here try this…’ Before he could dab my neck with this strong smelling stuff, I stepped back and said ‘ No, I’m allergic to that stuff’It was one small white lie but I really do not like strong smelling stuff. Walking off, I felt a bit bad as he tried his best to sell me stuff I just cannot carry on my bike.
The next aisle I came upon happened to be crammed full of people all trying to bargain hard, yelling over each other for a bag of flowers. Piles of white and yellow flowers stood high in each booth, with men sitting behind carefully stuffing them into plastic bags. Some people sat in the middle of the aisle, threading flowers onto a thin white cotton thread. The long lengths were also sold to people per centimetre. These were also for praying, for tieing into girls hair and to make your car smell nice.
The next day I walked down to the Palace, after I walked around the outside taking a few photos trying to capture the complete building. I was then forced to put my camera away in a special storage box. Moving onto the next storage building I deposited my shoes with the man and received my token. Following everyone into the palace, I found myself for once pleasantly surprised at how beautiful the palace was. The intricate details in concrete, metal and glass mixed with the perfect colour combination. I just stood there letting people pass me, as I stood gazing around me, sucking in all the details.
I found this link on the internet, which will give you a 360 deg view of the palace.http://www.mysorepalace.tv/360_Eng/index.html
While I was gazing about me, I stood in a small puddle. Shaking the droplets off my bare foot I looked up and saw a woman pull the pants off a small crying child. Slightly disgusted, but at the same time remembering my younger brother doing similar stuff when he was that age.
Here are some internal shots stolen from the internet – since they didn’t allow me to have the camera
Faster than I wanted I found myself in the bright sun. Hopping across the hot pavers, I wanted to head to the armory. I had heard and read that the armoury was really amazing. But as I stood outside the entrance hopping from one foot to the other I was disappointed and annoyed that I had to pay another 250 IRP on top of the 200 IRP I paid to enter the building (locals only pay 20 IRP for each). This I think is a massive scam and I wasn’t going to be a part of it. My feet burning on the hot pavement, I ran back into the mayhem of the shoe deposit to collect my shoes.
Before I left the next morning, I met a couple who spent last year travelling around the north on a Royal Enfield. Leaving India three months later completely hating the traffic, the people etc. Only to return this year to try it again, as a normal tourist, and now they love India, finding this way a much better way to travel. I couldn’t argue with them, in fact I was already thinking I don’t think I will bring a motorcycle into India again.
That day I had a short ride to Bangalore. I didn’t want to go to this large busy city, but I wanted to drop into a special shop that deals with Indian block printing from the north states of India.
I did some research and found a local hotel that has secure, off the street parking. Got into a tuk tuk and drove to the shop – the tuk tuk driver didnt take my instructions, he drove slowly past a golf course and repeating ‘Nothing is here look!’ I knew that there was a golf course and we had to go past it, it would have been easier if he turned when I said so. Then he stops just before a large busy intersection. ‘Look there is nothing here”Just drive, its over there’ pointing past the intersection.’No that just goes to airport’Impatient I leaped out of the tuk tuk and storm straight through the middle of the intersection. He must have realised he didn’t get my his money and chased me across the intersection, pulling up next to me yelling about his money.’No way, you didn’t take me to the place, so you get no money. I clearly showed you the address, I have a map and you still don’t take me to the right place. So no money!’ This isn’t normally what you would do but I had completely lost it. Built up stress about the traffic, crazy drivers, mixed with a shitty city and a lazy driver just tipped me over the edge. He then agreed, ok, ok I will take you just get back into the tuk tuk. I get back in and he drives me 10 meters to my destination. Even more upset, I get out slam the money hard into his hand and said ‘You do not deserve this money’
Walking up to the shop, I tried to calm down and be normal. The shops guard saw everything, I hang my head in shame and force a smile and a quick hello to him. As soon as I entered the shop, all my tension dissolved as I was stunned at the amazing fabrics, clothing and bits and pieces that were for sale. Finally I found something that was a nice mixture of traditional technique with western taste.
Later I walk back to my guest house, I was asked several times along the way if I need a tuk tuk but when I said I just want to go to a hotel, they refused me and said we only do shopping trips.
Coming from a peaceful town of Mysore to this horrible city, all I felt like doing is hiding in my room. So that’s exactly what I did, I hid in my room watching tv and only ventured out for dinner. I set my alarm for 6 am the next morning, and left 30 minutes later. The best thing about leaving this early, was the fact there was no traffic on the road and I was able to take it easy guiding myself out of the city, stopping to ask directions from time to time.
I had a long day ahead of me, it was around 340 km to Hampi. The first 2/3 of my day was on a wide open motorway. Completely boring, but necessary to complete the kilometres I was hoping to do. When I stopped to fill my motorcycle up with fuel I found out that either I was suddenly using more fuel or someone had taken some the night before in the hotel parking lot. This just added to my pile of grudges against Bangalore.
The last 70 kilometres was on a small local road, worn with years of heavy trucks. Dust filled pot holes made the trucks slow right down, but I was able to dart around them fairly quickly and arrive into Hampi at mid afternoon. Completely exhausted and dusty. I fell asleep on my bed waking just in time to watch the warm sun set behind the beautiful smooth stones.