A 05:00 alarm is never welcome. Especially when you are up all night, anxious about missing said alarm. But today was the day I finally got to do some exploring- so I bounced out of bed and jumped into the shower so quick that I’m not actually sure I got wet. I threw on some long trousers and a top that covered my shoulders and headed down to the lobby to meet my colleague, in denim shorts. We were heading to a temple and didn’t have time for her to change as we have been advised by locals to leave very early in the morning. Meaning we could avoid the crowds, the traffic, the heat and hopefully see a beautiful sun rise. So we got a bit inventive and tied her scarf as a sarong and hope for the best.
We set off in the pre-dawn through the outskirts of Bangalore, already waking up for the day. The further we drive, the quieter the roads become and we start to get a better idea of what life is like in “normal” India, outside of the big cities. The vegetation slowly gets greener and lusher until huge palm trees are swaying above green fields. Cows are everywhere, either tied under shelters by homes or wandering the streets. We pass a few villages and attract the usual stares, somethins that seem so normal now!
The sun is starting to rise just as we make it into the Nandi hills area. The hills are covered in mist and I manage to snap a quick picture out of the taxi window. It’s then that I notice that my phone only has 20% battery, even though it had been plugged in night. So I vow to take as many pics as possible before the battery dies on me!
We carry on, through small towns and villages, speeding past mopeds with entire families and smaller cars as we go. The further we get from the City, the more stares we get (I wasn’t even sure this was possible!) Nearly every building is painted a bright colour, no matter the apparent poverty the family were in. I think if anything stands still long enough in this country, it will get painted!
We arrive at the temple and the driver tells us that he will wait for us in a parking spot next to the temple entrance, and he settles in for a snooze. Well we did start out early! We snap a few pics of the sign (mostly so I can accurately explain where we visited, before I butcher the name!!)
We head through a small door in an ornate iron gate and emerge into a wide peaceful avenue with the occasional tree with lilac flowers. A small tan dog comes up to greet us. I try to avoid the dog as quite frankly I haven’t had a rabies vaccination since 2010, but the dog is determined to stick around so we name him Ted. We head towards the temples, take off our sandals and pad in barefoot between the quiet ancient walls.
According to my research, the original temple has been dated around the 9th century, however much of the larger aspect of the temple has been added on later. The morning light is warm and the temple is peaceful and it looks as like we are the first ones here. We explore the outer temples, marveling at the intricate carvings that have lasted so long. Ted keeps us company, occasionally lying down when we take too long to frame a shot. We eventually find our way to the Shiva temple in the middle. A monk waves at us to come closer, waves some incense near us and blesses us, which is a little eerie and we pad out barefoot again to find our sandals and the taxi. As we head out people start to wander in through the gates, and suddenly the 5:00 alarm seems justified. We head back into the city, chatting about all we see around us. When we get back to the hotel, I inquire about calling the doctor out again and my colleague heads for a sun bed.
A few hours later, the doctor appears and inspects the fly bite on my leg. He says I will need oral antibiotics and he needs to dress the wound- OK fine. What I did not realise was this involved me lying facedown on my hotel bed, with my leg propped on the wheelie chair from the desk, while the doctor cleans out and disinfects my leg with what I think from the smella is iodine. This is one of my least favourite five minutes of my life, as a hotel receptionist hugs me and tells me that it’s almost over. Normally I don’t get homesick, but I will admit to feeling quite far from home at this point!
I sulk in my room for about an hour while a member of staff from the hotel gathers all the drugs from a nearby pharmacy. I then eat my first lost of antibiotics and wander off in search of my colleague. I find her just staggering in from the sunbed and I realise that she has been sat in the sun for approximately 6 hours, without water or sun cream and is suitably sun-stroked. I find her a few water bottles and order her to have a cold shower to bring her body temp down. I crash back in the hotel room and binge watch Chicago Fire until it’s time for dinner.
We have a rock and roll dinner -two sprites and two tandoori chicken roti wraps and the hotel staff make fun of us for not drinking. I can no longer drink due to the antibiotics and I haven’t used the pool in a week- the outlook is bleak. But another colleague with a tonne of energy is arriving at 07:00 so we are hoping she will give us the energy boost we need!
The Budget Explorer