Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Workout in Hampi

Got up to watch the sunrise, had an expresso, and threw down a dollar to rent bikes for a day. We wanted to get an early start so we could see as much as possible before the sun got to us.

We made good work of the morning bouncing around throughout all the scattered granite ruins. Many were large and impressive with detail in fine condition. It reminded me of King Lou's temple in the disney cartoon movie The Jungle Book and I could not help but sing at lot of it during our outing. "well, I'm the king of the swingers, man, the jungle VIP..."

We planned on taking a break during peak heat hours, but there was no place to find shelter and refreshments. We ended up throwing our bikes on a ferry (which was a tiny row boat) to take us to the other side of the river where we thought we'd find a town. There were small farming villages where we could get some water, but no place that we wanted to spend much time.

The ride took us through the rice paddies and banana plantations and it was a wonderful way to see the area. We were about to give up and find another ride across the river to get back to Hampi when we came upon the town we heard of directly across from it. We had a couple of beers and a snack lounging on a covered deck talking with a couple from Romania until we decided we had enough energy to explore a little more. It was 4pm and we had been riding in the heat for nearly eight hours.

We went to a nearby lake where I jumped in to get a good cool down before talking the long hike up to the Monkey temple at the top of a cliff that overlooked the whole valley. The 570 step hike looked daunting after using so much energy for the day, but it was there and a perfect time to catch sunset.

The Monkey temple was exactly that. It was loaded with plenty playful and mischievous little rascals. The locals put red bandanas around the necks of the more "aggressive" guys and I watch them plot and scheme eyeing bikers backpacks wit a keen knowledge of how to open the zippers quickly. While sitting and gazing at the sunset one such little critter crept onto my lap as if to snuggle with me. I jumped up through him off without giving the monkey the benefit of the doubt. I don't know what he was really up to, but others around me pointed out that I was wearing a read scarf around my neck and I just might be mistaken for the father of the rapscallion monkeys. I guess that would be quite apropos.

Knowing that dusk was short the further south you are we scrambled town the cliffside steps and jumped on our bikes before it got completely dark. We arrived at the ferry boat side just as they were tying up the last shuttle of the night. Everything we had was across the river at our hotel and we only had a handful of rupees between us. Begging for one last ride over the river was to no avail as it was illegal after 6. Eventually some of the locals conjured up one of the round basket boats to smuggle us and our bikes across.

s we loaded our bikes precariously into the basket the boat was pushed away from the shore. In a moment of bravery Asiana run off the dock crashing onto the basket thing the guys were taking off with our rented bikes. Although I don't believe that was their intention I commend her on here swift action. The boat guys freaked out thinking she was crazy and trying to break the basket or something. Halfway across we got into the argument about money. We have found no such thing as generosity or sympathy on India. No one is interested in doing a favor. Money is all that matters. While in the middle they wanted to row us back to the wrong shore once they found we only had a hundred rupees (twice as much as what it cost us to get over initially in a normal boat) when they like to charge tourists three hundred for the novelty of being in a basket. This river is small and did not take more than a couple minutes of effort to get across. I am disappointed that nobody cares about real worth rather they are concerned about what they can get out of any deal. They knew we were desperate and had few choices. Our last option was to lock the bikes and swim across in the dark hoping not to get my camera wet. I would have done it but opted to promise that we would return the next day with the remaining part of the rip off.

I very nice man visiting from Karala had been whispering into Asiana's ear while rowing across telling her not to pay. All the locals got the ride for ten rupees. This poor nation has it's greedy side and we are not feeling guilty about catching our train with returning to the river to pay thirty times more than the ten times we already paid.

Location:Hampi India

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