Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Happy Hampi

So I just returned this morning from vacation to what I think may be the most beautiful place on Earth – Hampi. I went with a friend for the weekend and am having serious considerations about going back there for an extended period of time. I’d say I’ve been fortunate enough to travel many places internationally yet not a single place I’ve visited comes close to the beauty of Hampi.

It’s got the perfect mix of everything: foreign tourists and natives, warm and cool weather, bargaining and set prices, adventurous and relaxing activities, historical sites and modern day living. Any preconceived notions I had about what India must be like were pretty much brought to life in this town very much unlike the cosmopolitan, over polluted city I live in. What a literal and figurative breath of fresh air it was to be there...

We arrived around 11 AM, got settled into our amazing little guest house, and grabbed a deeeeeeeeeeelicious lunch on one of Hampi’s many rooftop restaurants. The food all costs between $1-2 per person and is some of the freshest and tastiest food. Menus at all the restaurants are pretty much identical in that they all have several selections of Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Indian, Israeli, and American foods – could it get any better? Maybe the most exotic thing I tried was a pineapple rose lassi – wow!

So after lunch on Day 1 we crossed the river and rented a motorcycle. We had no itinerary or set destination we just went with the method of ‘pick a road and go.’ We stopped a few times to take some pics, we ventured out of Hampi into nearby villages, and we passed rice paddies, ruins, and fields of all sorts of crops. Then, on our way back we opted to scoot on over to the monkey temple. While the hike up was caraaaziness and my calves still hurt now two days later, the view was soooooooo worth it! It’s a temple on top of a mountain and on the way up there were probably about twice as many monkeys boppin around as there were people. Despite my efforts to cling tight to my bag and exude no fear, a sweet little baby monkey wanted to play with me and hopped onto my back anyway! Startled, I ran up the stairs as quickly as possible so I got it to jump right off – pheeeeeeew!!!

After Monkey Temple we headed back across the river, meandered around the little area close to our guest house, and wrapped up the evening with a bit of shopping (yep… I’m officially going hungry now for the next week) and some good food.

Day 2 started at 7 AM with a quick breakfast at the rooftop restaurant of our guest house and then 8-10 AM Ashtanga Yoga – yaaaaaay!!! It was not only one of the most educational and unique yoga classes I’ve ever taken, but it was such a cleansing and healthy way to start out the day – it certainly complements my weekend with Detox Day well :)  Naturally, we followed it up with a light breakfast (apple porridge & honey, lemon, ginger tea – yum!) and moved on to rent another motorcycle for the day. Our first stop on the bike was out to the ruins just outside the Hampi Bazar (what they call the little central area where we stayed) – absolutely breathtaking! Even better perhaps was after the ruins we went somewhat off-roading on the bike into a giant banana plantation. We got off the bike and ran around the field with all the trees… ahhhhhh :) After we attempted to head back we decided to take a different turn which led us out into fields of more crops, mountains in the distance, and pure silence. It was truly an experience of oneness with nature. Wow! 

Pretty confident it couldn’t get any better, we crossed back over the river, rented another bike, and went for a quick visit to the lake. We were there right around sunset so the lighting and the weather were about as perfect as it gets.

Post-lake visit we headed back for some final shopping (I ended the trip with 2 pairs of pants, a dress, 2 scarves, and a pair of earrings!), snacking, a game of chess, and then unfortunately packing to head back home…

These pictures do absolutely no justice to the beauty of Hampi although I hope by now I’ve convinced you all to go visit so you can see for yourself :)

With love from a super relaxed and thankful lady,

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