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[Comments] (3) how low can you go?: The family jaunted up to Hampi over the weekend. We left Friday night around 7 pm and arrived at the train station just after 8. Our driver was amazed at the lack of traffic and our ability to arrive so quickly. The train station is quite the hullabaloo! So many trains, so many platforms, so many coaches, so many people, so many hagglers! Luckily Sandeep told us to stay in the car while he found our train, then he helped us with the luggage to our train. Finding the right car took time but we had time. At first Sandeep dumped us in first class, which was fine, but incorrect. We quickly found our second class sleeper. Maggie was slumped over asleep in the car, the carrier, and when we got there, unlike Dalton, who would not sleep.

The train actually departed on time! Maggie had fun looking out the window making up things she could see in the dark and dutifully went to sleep quickly thereafter. Dalton took his time going to sleep but still went to sleep before the people next to us, who kept their daughter up well past midnight while they partied on the train.

We took our own sheets and used their blankets to carpet the floor in case Dalton fell out in the night, which he did, only he fell out into the main aisle out of the curtain so all our planning went to waste. The first night on the train was horrid. The people across from us kept the light on forever, our curtain did not block it out, and it was too hot even though we had an A/C sleeper. This made for a first rough day in Hampi.

My coworker told me to book second class. First class isn't worth it, he said, because you pay a lot more for a door. He's delusional. First class has a door and more. Their beds are plush, not vinyl, and there is not two seats across from your two seats, meaning a bigger berth and MUCH more privacy. Oh well.

We got to Hampi at 7 am to find our driver holding a placard with our name! I felt so special. He took us to the hotel, which had a very nice room for us but otherwise was not so great. Once again, my coworker told us check in was flexible so we checked in at 8 am, freshened up, and went to Hampi. Unfortunately this left us to check out at 8 am the next day, even though our train back was not until 8 pm that night. Susie negotiated for our room for free until 10:30 and then they gave us the $15 room from 4-7 that night after our day was done to freshen up for the train. We put up the crib to keep Dalton from getting filthy in this room and all sat on the couch and watched Winnie the Pooh. Then we showered and left. The shower in that cheap-o room was still great but just looking at the beds left me cringing, thinking about bedbugs, etc.

Anyway, our two days in Hampi were great. The weather was very pleasant in the shade, of which there was plenty, and of course the kids made tons of new friends. We saw bats, Dalton was blessed by and elephant, and we saw monkeys and cows steal bananas out of people's hands. We also rode down the river in a Coracle boat, which was awesome but WAY overpriced, and had fun running around the elephant stables. This place is way cool, and the climate and atmosphere reminds me of Southern Utah, with red boulders everywhere.

We lunched both days at the Mango Tree, which was fab! We got to walk through a banana plantation to dine with all the foreigners, who all eat here, because it's the only safe place with good sanitation practices. The food was way cheap and awesome. We had coconut shakes, coconut pancakes, banana fritters, cashew curry, cashew fried rice, etc. And the restaraunt leaves you eating on the floor on mats that are steeped in a hill overlooking the river. The ambience was so peaceful and we never wanted to leave. But the place gets quite crowded so we eventually did.

The middle night at our hotel we all crashed at 8 pm and slept until 8 am the next day, being thoroughly exhausted. Also, the train home was much better. Both kids fell asleep at the station, since the train was 45 minutes late, but the Hospet station is fool-proof and it was super easy to find our berth and dump the two sleepy kids on the same bed. And this time our bunk mates all retired reasonably early so we all enjoyed a good night sleep, until 6 am when all the lights came on simultaneously and they ordered us off the train. Luckily, once again, Sandeep was there to help us back to the car. We thanked him but letting him go at 11 am today.

I came home and slept until 10:30 this morning I was so tired. But driving through Bangalore at 6 am only took 20 minutes to get home! That drive is normally 90 minutes so it's amazing what you can accomplish without traffic! It was an amazing trip, for which we will post many pictures soon. Incidentally, anyone that comes to visit will get a trip here with us; it's that amazing. But we'll stay at a better hotel and maybe opt for a first class train. I still need to check the price difference there.

We keep our expectations extremely low here and we therefore normally end up quite happy when things go well. We expected horrid food, a hot day, and mishaps on the train. None of these things happened. This was one of those times when our actual experience was much greater than our expectation.


© 2003-2015 John Chadwick.