We were unwilling to brave the sleeper train again so instead we stayed the extra night in the hotel and caught a taxi to Bangalore the next day. This cost us $50 each instead of the $20 for the sleeper train so it really wasn’t a bad deal and we would have had to waste most of the day recovering from the sleeper train in Bangalore anyway so a six hour drive in the morning wasn’t too bad. We stopped for lunch at a roadside restaurant whose power was out for most of our meal. They had really tasty vegetables which were kinda curried and pickled a bit. Might have been ocra but I’m not sure. Didn’t like their sauces much, but I had a fresh orange juice there which was really odd because it was an Indian orange which are more creamy and less citrusy. We then headed onwards and got into Bangalore around 4 and eventually found the little B&B we were staying in. We settled in, enjoyed the free and fast internet (internet in Hampi was 50 cents an hour for one device which wasn’t much but wasn’t worth the effort to get a passcode for more than an hour each night) to find a place to eat then went out shopping. I picked up the ‘unusual’ spices requested by my little brother as a present and picked up some chai spices and almond tea mix for me since that way I can make it non-caffeinated.

We ate at this great brew pub (which may well be India’s only brew pub) called Toit. It was my last night in India so we indulged. We had two appetizers of breaded and fried mushrooms and onion rings (a rarity in India). Both of us had two beers, and I was surprised to find one I really liked (I’m picky about beer) called the Tintin Toit which was a Belgian style beer. For dinner, R. ordered the hamburger with bacon and it was so massive she couldn’t finish it. I, after much deliberation, ordered the steak because how often do you get a steak for $6? It turned out to be an amazing choice. Whatever they did to marinate it and tenderize and cook it was just perfection. This was seriously one of the best steaks I’ve ever had in my life. After that, we ordered the desert fondue plate. We hadn’t realized how huge it would be (I think it was meant to be for four people) so we just had to pick our way, mostly devouring all the fruit dipped in chocolate and ignoring the cake bites. The marshmallows were pretty good though. The entire meal set up back about $25 each which is nothing compared to what it would have cost us in the US so we were pretty pleased, and a bit tipsy *L*

We went back to our B&B and took our showers. I repacked since I was leaving India the next day and we settled in for the night.
This was my favourite day of the trip. My digestive troubles were gone and we’d seen about half of the main places to see in Hampi so we could take it easy (the travel guides tell you that you need a week to see Hampi but I’m not sure how because even if you go to see the temples across the river we would have managed it in 3-4 days. And I’d suspect your average tourist would get a lot more bored of yet more temples than we did.) We hired another taxi driver for the day and this one only spoke some basic Hindi and even less English.

He took us first to the first of two Ganesha images in the area. It was surrounded by huge boulder so I left R. and her leg to rest and hiked over to see them and take silly pics. After that, he took us to a nearby temple which I think was the Sri Krishna temple. It was uncrowded for a bit until a massive group of school children arrived. Around the corner we walked down a pleasant path beside a stream to see the Ugra Narasimha image which was awesome and impressively intact for something carved in 1528 and left out in the elements. Right next door to it was Hampi’s 3m tall Shivalinga, surrounded by water because everyone needs to see a massive penis and vagina at least once in their life. We took a break then to have some fresh coconut juice (which I don’t like but R. enjoyed it) and get some freshly pressed sugar cane juice. When I was a kid, I once helped harvest sugar cane and make sourgum molasses so I must have tried the cane juice then, but I sure don’t remember it tasting so amazing. Might be the different type of cane too.

From there, he took us to the Hazara Rama temple which was on the other side of the King’s Palace complex. It had some decent sculptures including some black pillars inside, and the Ramayana was depicted along the exterior inner walls, though they were weirdly built over in places. From there, we asked him to take us to the Underground Shiva temple so called because it pretty much sits below ground level at this point. It was still a bit flooded from the monsoon which made it cool to explore, but didn’t have any of the beautiful carvings that the other temples boast.
Read more )
Our first day exploring Hampi we hired a taxi for the day for about $20. He drove us everywhere and waited while we saw the sites. This was a really good way to do it since he knew exactly where things were and took us to them in the proper order to get the most out of the day. The travel guy at the hotel was like, “Oh, you’ll get tired of Hampi by 4pm”. R. and I laughed at that a lot. It’s pretty hilarious to tell an anthropologist and an archaeologist that they’ll get tired of visiting a famous historical site teaming with people.

We started at Vithala Temple which is one of the temples with the most complete sculptures, a massive stone chariot, and musical pillars which we couldn’t figure out without a guide, but our taxi driver demonstrated them at a different temple (showing they’re not as unique as the brochure claims *L*). This was my first experience of an Indian tourist site and it was a bit disconcerting to have so many Indians want to take their picture with me, stare at us, and follow us around. We mostly ignored them but when it was a kid who wanted a pic I occasionally let them. It reminded me of the trip I once took to Nagasaki with a bunch of foreigner obsessed Japanese people who now all have me in their photos and probably still say I’m their friend. The temple really did have some beautiful sculptures and it was fascinating to see some of the color remaining on certain pillars. We then wandered down the road along a path that seemed to keep going all along the massive fortifications set up by the Vijayanagar Empire, but we decided to turn back and let our taxi take us to the next stop.

Because this is going to be long )
We had to wake up at 6:30am to catch a taxi to the airport. I had about 2hrs sleep total but we showered and made it there. The security for the airport is really odd in that they have separate men and women’s lines to go through the detector but there are twice as many men’s lines so the women’s ones always back up. They make you walk through the detector but they don’t really care since they run a wand over your body in a little blocked off room to protect your modesty or something. Ugh. Once through, we stopped in the bookstore again and I bought a really popular detective novel called The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken which is part of the Vishpuri Series which is kinda the number one ladies detective agency novels of India. I finished it on the trip and it is very good though much more understandable if you’ve been to India. We then headed to the plane. It was a two hour flight to Bangalore and the vegetarian food on the plane was particularly tasty. I tried to nap but it wasn’t taking. Once there, we caught a taxi to the main train station and stored our luggage before heading off into the city again. After checking out the rather sketchy places near the train station we headed to Mahatma Ghandi road instead. There, we were looking for a café but got sucked into a handicraft place. We were fine in the sculpture area because they were overpriced but then we went upstairs and the textiles and jewelry were really cheap *sigh* So now I have a gorgeous handwoven silk scarf and a few beautiful silver earrings.

After that, we wandered into Café Coffee Day where I had an absolutely bizarre strawberry lemonade which inexplicably had breath mints in it. Their chocolate cake was nice though and we just chilled for a bit before figuring out where to eat. We were looking for non-sketchy local food but ended up in a restaurant called 20 Feet High which served steak amongst other things. R. had a delicious sheppards pie with Indian spices and I had vegetable stuffed pancakes which were rather weird but not bad. I also had a margarita (not frozen) which was very nice. We then headed back to the train station and ended up waiting on the platform for a few hours before our 10pm sleeper train arrived. We were in the third class air conditioned car which meant they gave us scratchy sheets, a blanket and a flat pillow. This was not really enough to make it comfortable especially since there were no more curtains and people refused to go to sleep for awhile. I felt a bit like I’d gone back in time a few decades. I managed to fall asleep by lying on my back wearing a sleep mask and earplugs around 11:30pm. I woke up at 2am and had to rush to the really disgusting train toilet with diarrhea. I then tried very carefully to get some more sleep while not having any accidents, but was awoken at 5:30am when the top bunk guys (R. was in the middle bunk and I was on the bottom) decided to have a very loud conversation. After another run to the toilet, I gave up on sleeping as did R. who was also feeling poorly. We huddled on the bottom bunk, playing games on our phones and ignoring the guy in the opposite bunk who was perfectly content to stare at us for hours on end until we arrived in the tiny town of Hospet. Hospet was really interesting with tons of people living in one room houses, chickens and pigs browsing in piles of garbage and dirt roads. We were hounded by the rickshaw drivers through the whole 5min walk to our hotel since we were the only foreigners who got off the train there.

Luckily, the hotel we’d booked for about $40 a night each was pretty much the equivalent of a 4-5 star hotel anywhere else. We checked in early since the train had arrived at 7:30am or so, then I showered, suffered on the toilet and crawled into bed and went to sleep. R. fell asleep while I was in the shower. I woke up again at 2pm. Ran to the bathroom then went back to sleep until 4pm since I had pretty much had almost no sleep for the past few days. Since I could not be far from the toilet (despite Imodium and pepto bismul) we decided not to venture out that day and ordered some plain rice for me since I was still inexplicably hungry. I gave up and took some antibiotics I had for severe diarrhea and despite being quite gassy for that meal and some food we ordered later that night that seems to have done the trick regarding the diarrhea part. We had cauliflower (gobi) Manchurian that night which was delicious. Manchurian is Indian Chinese food which is packed with Indian spices and I think it’s delicious even though it’s really not Chinese food.
The next day I slept as late as possible but the room was noisy because Indians use their horns on their cars all the time, and my earplugs just muffle sound not block it completely, plus it was really bright so I only slept until 11am. We took our time waking up and showering before heading out for lunch at The United Coffee House which is about a 15min walk from the Fulbright house. The Coffee house is pretty posh but clean and the food was good. R. got a tomato lamb couscous dish while I had badshatti kofta which was a tomato curry with paneer cheese balls in it. The cheese dumplings were nice but the curry had less tomato and more cumin than I prefer so I ended up dipping our garlic naan into R.’s lamb dish. I really liked the achar they had on the side which is pickled veggies in oil and spices. Apparently most foreigners don’t like it but to me it tasted like spicy olives. From there, we were on a mission to find the local pharmacy and replenish some supplies like ibuprofen which is only sold in small quantities in Korea. That took forever for some reason but we got what we came for then ended up wandering into the levi store and buying jeans. Mostly because not only were they cheap, but they tailored them to your height for free when you bought them. We headed back to the Fulbright house to rest for an hour then took a rickshaw to pick up the jeans before heading out to get dinner.

We ate dinner at Amichi Café in Khan Market, though first we stopped in at the bookstore there since I’d already read through my English language books which I brought. Then we headed to the café which had some amazing pumpkin ravioli in an anise sauce which I thought I wouldn’t like because I don’t usually like licorice but it was really nice and didn’t really taste like licorice at all. We also had some pasta carbonara which was good though it was too much to finish. We then got milkshakes to go which was a mistake on my part since I haven’t been having much dairy in Korea due to hating their milk so my stomach was a bit upset that evening. I took some pepto bismol and it settled down but it’s wedding season so it was particularly noisy out that evening, plus all the cars so even with an eye mask and earplugs I barely slept.
deralte: (stardust expect me when you see me)
( Dec. 8th, 2014 11:02 pm)
Gimpo airport is only a half hour away from where I live by the airport train so I actually only left for the airport about an hour and a half before my flight. Check in went well and I was able to read for a half hour before we boarded the plane. The flight to Shanghai was only a few hours so I arrived in Shanghai at the Hongqiao airport fairly quickly since going through luggage check and the immigration took quite awhile. I was transferring to Pu Dong airport on the other side of the city but I had a little over eight hours before my flight to India. So I caught the subway to People’s Square in the center of the city and dragged my luggage around until I figured out where the Shanghai Museum was. By this point it was about 3:30pm and the museum closed at 5pm so I stored my luggage and prioritized what I wanted to see. This wasn’t very hard though since they had halls devoted to the two materials I study – bronzes and jade. The bronze hall was really interesting. They had a wide variety and a display on how various bronzes were made, plus a mirror which reflects a hidden picture which I’d never seen in person. There was also a display of recently excavated bronzes from the area. Next I headed to the jade area which was also interesting and had a great video on jade manufacture which I wish I could have gotten a copy of. After that I checked out the silk road display which was small and not very interesting, briefly looked through the pottery and porcelain areas, and bought a pin which is what I collect when I visit places. I tried to get into the main museum shop but it had already closed so I shrugged and headed out the door to Nanking Road the main shopping area of Shanghai. It’s a pretty interesting place with tons of people and shops along with an odd selection of international shops like a whole shop devoted to M&Ms. I was looking for a place to eat some local food preferably duck, but when I wandered off into side streets the options were street food which I was not risking or restaurants full of smokers which my asthma couldn’t take. So I ended up in what was basically a mall devoted to food with restaurants on its third floor. There I had a very tasty crispy duck with rice which was the best duck I’ve had in my life, and a honey, pear, jujube and something else hot tea (it being about 35 degrees in Shanghai that day). I then bought a delicious cream puff and headed out into the street again. I walked around a bit then spotted a place which made real hot chocolate with real milk which I miss very much in Korea so I got a small hot chocolate and took advantage of their wifi for a bit. Then I headed back onto the subway which was quite crowded since it was rush hour. I could have taken the subway all the way there but it seemed more fun to take the maglev train because how often do you get to ride a train floating on magnets? It only took 8min to get to the airport on the train because it sped up to 301 km/hr. Once at the airport I almost was in trouble since they’d overbooked the flight by several people and wanted to reroute me through Singapore making me arrive in Delhi several hours later than I should and with no way of informing my friend. I told them this and was very lucky since I was traveling alone, there was one empty seat and it became mine. I had to run through the airport to catch the last bus to the plane but oh well.

The flight was weird because it went overnight but they fed us food at like, 11pm and I ended up with vegetarian Indian food which was pretty good. I had an asthma attack once I got on the plane from all the pollution, running, smoke, and cold no doubt so I didn’t really feel up to trying to sleep until about four hours in. Instead I read my book and watched part of a movie before dozing uncomfortably for awhile. We landed in Delhi at the ungodly hour of 2am. I then found one of the more reputable taxi companies my friend had directed me to, and I was given a particularly clueless driver to take me into New Delhi where I was staying with my friend in the Fulbright house (since we both have Fulbrights). After getting lost, calling my friend, not understanding her directions, asking a rickshaw driver to show us, then driving past it because he didn’t give me time to read the house numbers, I ended up at the right place and met up with R. We headed into the house which had a communal kitchen and a nicely appointed room with a shower and really fluffy towels. The bed was rather hard as expected and the room was too light for me to sleep but I was exhausted so after chatting for a bit and giving her my presents from Korea (oreos, fluffy panda socks, pizza chips, and croissants) we went to sleep.


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