June 15 – 20th, Bangalore and Mysore
After our ordeal getting to Bangalore, on arrival things went pretty smoothly. Bangalore is the IT hub of India and is set-up pretty well in terms of infrastructure, a quick shuttle bus from the airport and we were in downtown Bangalore! The first hurdle was to get accommodation…and it proved harder than expected. We spent a good two hours tripping around hotel spots trying to get good value for money – clearly we’ve been traveling for too long and are just getting picky! Eventually we made an executive decision to travel across town in a rickshaw and it paid off, we found a good clean spot with a restaurant next door…India was starting to deliver for us!
“Best Curry EVER”, were the words we used to describe our first curry in India. We’d chosen a vegetarian restaurant and ordered something off the menu that sounded good (we had no idea what we were doing) and also selected a couple of breads (Naan and Parotha) and sure enough it came out, we took one mouthful and started exclaiming this was the best curry we’ve ever had – India was starting to deliver even more for us on the food front!
We were lucky enough to get invited to Nihar’s parents place for dinner, Nihar is a good guy that we worked at Telecom with and his family live in Bangalore. They had friends around and put on an amazing meal, all sorts of Indian dishes and a home comfort meal of Shepherds Pie – gold! It was an awesome night and we were lucky enough to get back to their place on our way back from Ooty (more on that later)
Tonsillitis…..for the next 4 days I get hammered with tonsillitis, pretty sure it was a result of two large nights in Phnomh Phenh and a general lack of sleep at KL airport. The body was telling me that I was pushing it to hard…so I listened and took it easy for a few days; but we still managed to carry on our travels…
We took a train to Mysore, the train was a real experience! Firstly, it took a while to work out what platform we were after, secondly we struggled to cope with the smells coming from the tracks…and then thirdly, once on board finding out seats was a debacle! One guy was in my seat but tried to tell me I had a general ticket so didn’t have an actual seat (turns out he was lying) – but in the end the 3 1/2 hour journey wasn’t too bad. We were the only white people on the train and thankfully a great English speaking guy helped us get off at the right spot! Throughout the ride, a number of lads would walk down the isles yelling things like “Garam Chai” (hot tea) and “Dosa, Dosa, Rice Ball, Rice Ball” (Dosa – a type of breakfast bread/pancake and Rice Ball…well just a ball of rice!) – Jono actually does a very good impersonation of the “Dosa, Dosa” line. Anyhow these guys would be up and down every 20 mins and if you wanted anything you could just sing out and they’d serve you up right there – great selling!
Mysore is a city south of Bangalore, it’s relatively small and is meant to be one of the cleanest cities in India (although we read in the paper that they’re not currently living up to that standard. It was time to man up and at least spend an afternoon exploring the city with Wilson – even if I was not to say a word (due to the tonsils) and Jono had to interpret my hand signals and speak on behalf of me to locals! We jumped in a rickshaw and tripped around the city, firstly checking out a place that made incense and oil (tried to sell us stuff, but we’re really the incense type of people). Next we were onto a Cathedral (in a 70% Hindu country), then it was time to hit the silk and kashmir emporiums which proved to be a lot more interesting than they sound. The owner took time to explain the difference in materials and how it produced higher/lower quality scarves – will be perfect knowledge next time I’m in the market for a scarf..! Finally we visited a fruit and vege market, this was a great spot people were selling every kind of vegetable and fruit imaginable along with Chai, powders, oils and anything else you could ever want. We soaked up the atmosphere there and enjoyed a Mango (keeping up the Vit C levels Bridge!).
The next 24’ish hours were a right off for me, tonsils stopped most things – apart from a small amount of eating. Turns out Dahl (lentil curry) is pretty easy to gt down with a sore throat! It was tough to watch Wilson tuck into a crispy Naan and down an ice cold Kingfisher; I sipped on my coke while spooning down my Dahl without bread! The highlight of the 24 hours was of course the All Whites 1-1 draw with Italy…funnily enough it was around the moment that the tonsils came right, nothing like a bit of national pride to sort the men from the boys! That night I did get the Naan but saved the Kingfisher for another time.
Next blog we’ll be onto Ooty, a hill station 2,200m above sea level!