Solo in India: Shit Happens in Hampi
They can be white all over, dotted with little brown patches or even an almost-ginger colour. Some have knobbly humps on their necks, others are so skinny you can see through to the other side and some of them are laughing-Buddha fat. La Vache Qui Rit indeed. Wherever you find yourself in India, Hampi included, a cow is never far away. Or a goat or a starving dog. But let’s focus on the cows. I regarded them with mild amusement initially and only started to keep my distance as I overheard other travellers’ stories of being head butted by them. The ones with little stumps for horns are fine but then there are the cows with menacingly pointy ones that you want to steer clear of. With a little bit of diligence on my part, all was going surprisingly well.
I was particularly excited about visiting Hampi, a village in Karnataka and a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its beautiful temples and monuments. I had befriended three Dutch ladies on the night bus from Goa and after sorting out a rather pleasant mud hut to sleep in (Bobby’s Guesthouse on the other side of the river – recommended if you don’t mind crossing a rice paddy to get to your bed), we crossed the river once more for a spot of sightseeing.
As we walked up some steps, five cows in single file decided to cross our path and take their sweet time in moving on. Not very interested in watching them chew on weeds and rubbish, I decided to walk a little further along the step and cross behind them. And then it happened. The poor cow on the end must have had Delhi belly because just as I passed behind it, its rear end exploded. Explosive diarrhoea. Explosive cow diarrhoea all over my trousers and feet. D’you know what? No more “poor cow”. Fuck you, cow! Could you not have waited a second longer to let me pass? I cleaned up as best as I could with some heaven-sent wet wipes while the locals looked on and laughed. Luckily that was as shitty as my stay in Hampi would get. The rest of it was quite enjoyable.
I only planned one night’s stay in Hampi but in hindsight I could definitely have spent a few more nights there. There are quite a few temples to see and it’s hard to fit them all in on one day. We did hire two motorbikes which helped with getting around.
One of my favourite moments was waking up at 5am, crossing the river in a coracle and hiking up Matanga Hill to get a beautiful view of the sunrise. Ok, the hike wasn’t a ‘favourite’ moment, particularly as my fear of heights stopped me from getting the best view I could, but it was amazing to sit there for a while as the sky gradually got lighter and all the ruins and temples strewn across the landscape below were unveiled.
Another memorable moment in Hampi was when the man who hired out the bikes to us invited us to his sister’s house for lunch. Nothing beats homemade chapatti! It was my first experience of using my hands to eat and I felt desperately uncomfortable until I was shown what to do. I’m quite used to it now but initially it was such a bizarre feeling to ‘play’ with my food. I’m pretty sure I was told off for doing the very same thing when I was little! Indian people will tell you that the food tastes better when you eat with your hands. I’m inclined to disagree. It tastes the same and is messier but at least you don’t have any cutlery to wash.