Incredible India, India, India sleeper coach, Indian train journeys, Travel, Travel problems, Traveling, Travelling
We arrived in Bangalore at 5am after our overnight train from Hosapete near Hampi. Our flight to Cambodia wasn’t until 11pm so we had booked a hotel to spend the day in and to rest between one night journey and the next.
As we got closer to the hotel, the taxi driver asked us to phone the hotel for directions. The call was put through to a call centre/head office rather than the actual hotel, and they had no record of our booking, even though we had confirmation. The man on the phone refused to give us directions, even though we begged to be able to just go to the hotel and sort it out with them.
At the side of a main road in Bangalore, in the semi darkness, not knowing where we were, we gave up and asked the taxi driver to take us to a hotel. He took us to one that was far too expensive, then to another before finding one that had a room. Suspiciously, he rushed ahead in front of us ostensibly to translate or in case they were asleep.
The room we eventually got into was almost three times the price of the room we had booked into and was clearly overpriced. The room was small and smelled of paint fumes.
After we had checked in and taken our bags up I went downstairs to ask for the WiFi password and saw our taxi driver (who had said goodbye and left) talking to the man at the desk. We suspected that he and whoever was at the hotel had made some kind of a deal to overcharge us and split the money.
The hotel told us that breakfast was included, and lunch and dinner were also available although chargeable. So when the restaurant opened we went down for breakfast. We had masala dosas, which although tasty were almost empty they had so little filling.
The plan had been to try and sleep in the day, I did a little, but across the hall was a child with a very loud squeaky toy and then some building work banging started from another room.
We went down for lunch, but the woman on the desk told us that the restaurant wasn’t open for lunch, and there was nowhere obvious to eat nearby. We bought some bananas and some juice and went back to the room.
We found somewhere to eat and booked a tuk tuk online. It turned out there was a restaurant not far away just off the main road. The food was okay and the place looked clean. We felt better. After all we hadn’t planned that it would be any different than this; rest in the room, go out and eat, it’s just that it had seemed to be difficult.
The online booking people gave us some money back to say sorry, which covered about half of the extra expenses, and the day woman at the hotel gave us some money back and booked us a cheaper cab than the night staff had.
At the airport things went well until passport control where we were told off for not having registered; we hadn’t realised that we should have done that, although we have been in three times and out twice before anyone mentioned it.
It was the first time we’d really had a day like that. We had the delayed flight that meant we missed our night bus to Hampi but that hadn’t felt really stressful and solutions had flowed easily.
At the gate we met a British couple, one of them built narrowboats, which surprised all of us, since we live on one, and we exchanged contact details.
On the plane to Cambodia an Indian man sat down next to us and took our photos without asking or even saying hello and then went off and laughed with his friends. It was in sharp contrast to our first flight out of India, from Chennai to Thailand, where we met a young Indian man on his first flight who took selfies with us which we were happy to do.
There also was a lot of turbulence on the flight…
But maybe it was good that our leaving day wasn’t so smooth. It stopped us being too sad. Spending our last ten days in India in what was probably our favourite place was a bit of a double edged sword. I think we were both a bit emotional about leaving.
In the tuk tuk with our friend Anaconda from Hampi to Hosapete, day turned to night as we once again passed beautiful temples, shrines, and little houses with the interiors painted bright pink or jade green. On our last journey leaving Hampi, also with Anaconda, night had turned to day.
Our last few days in Hampi had been so wonderful, even the monkeys at our regular chai stall had been the most entertaining ever on our last stop there, flying from the temple across branches up the tree and back again, causing a commotion, and crashing into the chai stall’s (empty) metal oil drum bin and knocking it over just for fun. At the main temple we’d sat and watched the many monkeys, adults and babies, before being invited down the steps to the temple lake to feed the fish (and monkeys) from big bags of puffed rice that two men had brought along. Just like in Pushkar, where we regularly saw a man feeding bread to the fish, these were just ordinary local people feeding the animals.
At Hosapete train station we had a bit of time to wait for our train to Bangalore. There were a few stray dogs around, one came around the back of the bench, it went near our back packs and without really thinking I clapped my hands to shoo it away, thinking it might pee on the bags. I saw it had teats and was obviously a nursing mother. I had biscuits for the journey in my bag but thought I won’t feed it; there were a few dogs around, and I didn’t want to attract a lot of attention or for them to fight.
Later on the platform, I saw a man in a lungi feeding a stray dog a bread roll and felt I bad. Being in India can mean hardening your heart against things you see simply in order to cope. But sometimes you can get it wrong, and I realised I’d got it wrong with that nursing dog. The announcer was announcing our train over and over, using the new name for Bangalore, which is delightfully pronounced in a sing song way as Beng-ga-loo-roo.
My thinking brain said, Well you can’t help all the animals, you only occasionally help them anyway. You can just feed a dog in Bangalore to make up for it. But my heart said, Please give me another chance. We were way down the platform from the bench where we’d been, the train was overdue and the announcer was still announcing our train. From the distance a dog appeared coming towards us. As it got closer, I knew. Brown and white, slightly skinny, with teats. I waited until she was a little bit past us and emptied out two packets of biscuits on the floor for her.
We were in two tier ac, the train was an old fashioned model with burgundy seats. I was in the top bunk and lay there teeming with everything, as usual, and trying to write things down in my notebook in the dark. Our last night in India was on a train, which felt like a good way to end it.
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For photos of the trip see Instagram travelswithanthony
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