05.12.2011 - 08.12.2011 30 °C
Day 67: Mysore, Karnataka 05/12/11
After negotiating a check out time of 9am (not the 7am the hotel originally requested of us), we head down to the train station to book a ticket to Mysore. A quick breakfast at the hotel sees Gemma presented with an omelette, which naturally was met with a mature and welcoming reaction.
The train ride to Mysore is fairly uneventful and far less demanding than yesterday’s quick ride in Bangalore. After arriving we have a little trek around with our stuff in search of accommodation and end up taking a rickshaw to one of the hotels in our Rough Guide. It’s not the best place we have ever seen and far from a decent price so after being collared by someone on the street outside we end up checking in to a nearby hotel.
Take a stroll to the nearby market and wow, what a place to spend some time. The market is packed full of incredible sights, sounds and smells and an amazing array of colours – blues, purples, electric pinks, and fluorescent yellows – in the form of the powdered dyes on sale. Some of the touts and market traders have some superb catchphrases to entice you to their stalls. A personal favourite was the guy who nonchalantly explains to us his stall is ‘Asda price’ as he turns to walk away.
We find it difficult to find somewhere to eat, opting in the end for a tandoori house miles from the hotel. Inspection of the book reveals a whole host of places to eat nearby…
Day 68: Mysore, Karnataka 06/12/11
Still feel less than 100% and after reading about the symptoms and effects of malaria the previous evening, a paranoid trip to the doctor ensues. Examined at a hospital that specialises in fertility treatment, and proudly boasts of the first ‘test tube babies’ in the city. How PC. The doc diagnoses a urine infection and prescribed antibiotics. Examination and prescription costs around £6.
Visit Mysore Palace in the afternoon, a spectacular and splendid old pad built for the Maharajas. No shoes are allowed in the palace but better still is the complete ignorance of all signs, barriers and ropes by almost all the Indian visitors. There are a number of elephants in the grounds, and nursing a headache, I receive an ‘elephant blessing’ that sees me slapped forcibly on the head by its trunk, a hugely welcome manoeuvre, thanks.
Take a tuk-tuk to the Forestry Department, where we are told we can book accommodation in the nearby National Park. Turns out it is a public holiday and the offices are deserted. Oh well, end up playing cricket with some local kids in the street.
After Gemma walked straight into a hanging display of Mazaa (mango soft drink [very good]) bottles, we have tea at the swankiest place we have seen yet, an American road trip themed restaurant with a great menu, where Gemma naturally opts for the chicken biriyani.
Day 69: Mysore, Karnataka 07/12/11
Up and out and back to the Forestry Department, where today we are able to find people. Find the accommodation office, see their prices and reassess – too much for us!
Head to the station and look to book a ticket to Mangalore, where again we are forced to reassess by some very unhelpful staff and fellow customers, all of whom are deserved recipients of the sarcastic treatment. The only train to Mangalore being an overnighter is a deal clincher and we decide to head into Kannur in Kerala instead. On the way to the bus station for enquiries, we pass the hospital and college playing fields where there is quite a crowd watching some students pretending to play volleyball (pretty sure you are not allowed to catch the ball every time it goes over the net).
At the station some more helpful staff receive some more helpful comments, and after filling in a reservation form and waiting in a queue we are told morning buses cannot be booked. Eat at the bus station, a definite no-no at home but some surprisingly high quality food fills us right up. On the way back to the hotel we visit the Indian equivalent of the pound shop. You may be surprised to hear it was full of tat.