Hampi

After arriving at Hampi I set off to find my guest house. I checked the sat nav and to my disappointment it read 45 mins walk away. Ouch. I couldn’t get a tuk tuk as I only had 50r in change.
I did enquire as to the cost but I was advised by someone I can only describe as a ‘wanker’ that it 600 rupees but I should pay in dollars as locals use rupees, tourist pay in dollars.
So I said fuck it and walked. It might have been ‘a bit’ unsensible considering the heat, the distance, and the weight I was carrying, but it wasn’t ‘very’ unsensible because I had water, suncream and a sat nav :-)
Anyway as i waked through Hampi I was blown away by its beauty. I have got into the habit of expecting to be disappointed, but in truth all of the reviews of Hampi’s beauty don’t prepare you for the reality. It is a true paradise.
Upon reaching my guest house I discovered that I’m staying in a mud hut with a bambo roof. This isn’t a bad thing but it has an authenticity and character to it. I could probably do with out the cockroaches though. I still have a month before I need to get to kolkata, so I pretty much immediately decided to extend my stay from 4 nights to 7.
Time to do some landscape photography and chill in a place in India that IS actually nice. Well blow me ;-)
I’m going to need to hire a scooter to sus out this place. Turns out that although the guest house is 35 mins walk from the town, its only about 5 minutes walk from the prime photo locations that I’m going to be want to be visiting at dawn. So everything all worked out in the end. Bloody hell ;-)

It turns out that Hampi is a chilled out place. It has to be because of the heat. Apparently the thing to do is get stuff out of the way in the morning, hide away from the heat between 1pm and 4pm then get more shit done in the late afternoon, early evening. Suits me.
At some point today I decided to do some high altitude landscapes from the innocuously named ‘sunset point’, or more accurately Mathanga hill. From the name sunset point I imagined (which was obviously my first mistake as its the expectations thing again a gentle road to the top, with american teenagers making out in 60′s automobiles.
I had to take the scooter from my guest house to the local town, park up, hop across the river on the boulders. Climb the steps, go through the market and then look for the big fuck off pile of rocks. By this point I was beginning to think that I had miscalculated time. I reckoned it’d take me about 45 mins to get to the top and there was about 30 mins of sun left.
So I flagged down a tuk tuk and said “take me to the top of that” I thought I was getting a great deal at 50 rupees. However I he drove me to the bottom of the steps which took about 60 secs. I guess he saved me about 5 mins walk. Oh well I paid him his money and set off.
The steps were huge curbs of granite which had been wedged in place. They were not flat, not equally spaced and not easy to climb. And as for me and my imaginary roads, ha!
I raced up the steps stopping every 5 minutes for a water break and mini heart attack. As I got higher and higher something inside of me suddenly reminded me “I don’t like heights.” This hasn’t been a problem for a while, I had almost begun to think that my fear was cured, but oh no.
Eventually I got to within about 10-20 meters of the summit and noticed that the steps stopped. Instead the was one huge boulder right on the edge of a huge drop that someone had kindly etched out some shallow foot holes. I think my words to myself were ” you godda be fucking kinding right?”
I firmly decided that I was going no further. After a few minutes rest I realized why I was not letting myself proceed. It wasn’t the fear of hights, it was that I was weak at the knees with exertion, dehydrated, shaking with fear and had a huge camera bag.
So not proceeding at the point was completely rational, not irrational. Eventually my heart rate slowed down. I drank some water ,had a breather and thought “fuck it”
There were no hand holds, no rails , no nothing. So I did it. very slowly and very shakily.
I reached to top and i’d loved to say I felt exhilarated and like a hero for challenging my fear.
The truth is that I felt so sick with fear that I wanted to vomit. I tried to take photos but I couldn’t hold the camera straight because my hands were shaking so much.
I couldn’t relax at the top and calm down because I knew that I had to go through it again but in reverse.
I took a few photos and hung around to just before sunset, but didn’t stay for it to completely go down. It felt more of a survival priority to have more light on my decent then to watch another pretty sun set.
I descended on my bum shaking like a leaf. The two kids that had been selling water on the summit offered to help me which was nice of them, but I needed to do it on my own.
Needless to say i survived. All I had to do to get home was a cross the river again but in the dark which was fun (not). Luckily I had a torch. An then drive the scooter for kilometers of stony sand track in the complete dark avoiding other vehicles, which usually would have terrified me in its own right if I wasn’t so fecking relief not to be stuck on a boulder hill in the dark!

Today after Holi I decided to risk another sunset point. This time it was the one at Anjanhalli.
What is it they say about assumptions? Well I assumed that sunset points on Google maps meant at least they had a path leading too them.
I asked some random guy where the path was and he burst out laughing saying “You make your own path”
Bloody hell not again. So this cluster of huge boulders was rather smaller than the last one so I was less afraid of the height, but I wasn’t about to set of into the Hampi boulderscape with out a least a trail to follow.
So eventually I found what looked like it could possible be a trail and followed it. Got lost, started again, found another trail which seamed more promising. Eventually I got to what I thought was the top.
As sunset approached more and more people appeared. In hindsight I should have just waited at the car park for people to turn up and followed them. Ah well we live and learn.
I also realized that these young energetic people that obviously weren’t phased by heights one jot were higher up then me. There was another level up.
It couldn’t be that hard could it? Technically it probably wasn’t that difficult but it did involved jumping from one fuck off massive boulder to another fuck off massive boulder with a deadly drop between them.
The gaps were only a meter i reckon, but a meter starts to look a lot bigger depending on the size of the drop. The worse thing was that cursed voice in my head “what if my back foot slips as Im pushing off to jump?”. As i made this jump I started feeling scared and sick again and just said to myself “no, no, no more heights, enough is enough”
The chasm, jump looked even more scary on the way back because you were jumping a ‘v’ shape and the sides were steeper on the return. As I thought about doing it I felt myself beginning to panic, and started to believe that I could not do it, At that moment I just did it, because I had realized that thought was my enemy.
The journey down was a lot easier than the decent because I had others to follow. From now on I’m staying low down, unless there’s a road, a path, steps or a helpful Sherpa.
Today Tristán White and Sharon payed me a flying visit at my guest house in Sanapur. I went with them to see some cave paintings. After this we parted company. They are on their way back to Goa and then home. I am on my lonesome again. Thanks again you guys for keeping me company in Jaipur, Jodhpur, Anjuna and Hampi.
On my way back from Anegundi I stop of to climb up to Anja matha temple (Hanuman temple)
I remember someone saying “575 steps, I’m not doing that”. My internal dialogue however was saying “575 steps, steps?, its got steps!!! ” :-)
It really wasn’t too hard, but then again I adopted the intelligent mature persons method of climbing the steps . I.e a 30 second break every 50 steps and a 1 minute break every 100 steps. Its not like it was a race of anything.
The view was just breath taking, awe inspiring, beautiful and magical. Yes, all of them. Its worth the over description. Luckily for me someone had put little cement walkaways in between the boulders, so I didn’t have to worry about jumping chasms or heights on this one.
I hung around long enough for golden hour but I couldn’t be bothered with the sunset. I think I’m all sunsetted out after the last two days.

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