The rain dashed my hopes of getting to see the sunrise in Hampi, but by mid-day it had dried out enough for me to try some bouldering. It’s possible my plan to go bouldering was one of my least thought through. As soon as I found myself face to face with the boulders it dawned on me that I had no spotter and no crash-pad (which means if I fell, I would be falling directly onto a very hard surface). I climbed around a little, but for the most part common sense and the threat of permanent paralysis kept me close to the ground. That said, the boulders are IMPRESSIVE, and I would love to return sometime with the proper equipment, and other people who want to boulder.
Figuring out how to depart Hampi was a challenge. I was told there were no buses leaving yesterday, and I would need to catch a bus at 5AM today. I was pretty sure the guidebook said there were ordinary buses running everyday between Hampi and Goa, but I couldn’t find anyone in Hampi who would admit as much. (I’ve noticed when you try and buy a bus ticket, most places won’t tell you about the ordinary buses, and will only tell you about the private buses. I am not sure if this is because they assume tourists wouldn’t want to take the ordinary bus, or if they receive a commission from the private bus companies). Google to the rescue: a quick Google search revealed that my memory was serving me correctly and there were ordinary buses leaving every evening. I know you might be wondering why I would do this after my last ordinary bus trip, but the deluxe bus from Goa had been underwhelming (it was freezing, most of the “reclining” seats were broken, and it was at least as dirty as the ordinary bus), and as far as I know there aren’t any mountain passes between Hampi and Goa.
And I had someone to take the bus with this time. I met Guy shortly after arriving in Hampi; we were both trying to dodge the hotel touts who had swarmed our bus. He’s from England, and traveling around the world for a year (something to think about whenever four months feels long). We ended up sticking together in our quest to find a decent, or at least passable, guesthouse and hanging out in Hampi. Fortunately even after hearing my story about the bus from Manali to Dharamsala, Guy was also game to try our luck with the ordinary bus.
First we had to get through Hospet (the place where the bus departs from, about half an hour from Hampi); we weren’t quite sure what time the buses left, or how early we needed to be there so we ended up arriving there several hours earlier than we should have. By this point it was pouring again, and not wanting to spend several hours in a cramped bus station, we set off in search of a restaurant that would let us sit for hours on end. Unfortunately we failed to find one. After finishing our food and sipping multiple refills of coffee as slowly as possible, we still had an hour left, and the restaurant staff was making it pretty clear that it was time for us to move on. It was at this point that we ended up in an Indian dive bar/ restaurant. It was very much your stereotypical dive; dingy, dark, dirty, and the type of place you could imagine a bar fight breaking out in at any moment. Still it was somewhere dry to sit.
One of the biggest challenges of taking buses while backpacking is what to do with your stuff. Under no circumstances do you want to allow your bag to be strapped to the roof, but sharing a seat with an oversize backpack is impractical, and trying to claim more room for the backpack will earn you some hostile glares at the very least, and might get your backpack strapped to the roof. There was a solution: the back row of the bus. Unless the bus is completely packed, the back row tends to remain empty, and you can take up more than your allotted space without anyone minding. Of course there is a catch: anytime the bus hits the slightest bump (never mind the hundreds of potholes and other road irregularities) you are launched out of your seat. I can’t say I got a lot of sleep, but I definitely have a few more bruises than I did before boarding the bus. All in all, the bus ride wasn’t actually worse that the “deluxe” bus to Hampi, and it was less than half the price, so I don’t regret the decision to take the ordinary bus this time. An added bonus: since they don’t expect tourists to take ordinary buses you rarely get swarmed by touts when getting off.
I’m in Goa now. It’s pouring here as well. However, spoke to the scuba place and they are still running the class, so tomorrow I will be doing my confined water training.