20.10.2014 - 23.10.2014 35 °C
So where were we...ah yes. We'd just been woken up at 6am by some serious pumping Indian disco music, and thought enough is enough, Mysore can suck it and go to hell. We checked out and walked to the local bus station and hailed a bus to Kushalnagara (a 2 hour journey, and just 85p). The bus was packed, smelly, uncomfortable and 100% male, us aside. We almost missed our stop, and ironically wished we had. We jumped off and did a quick scan of the main street, I spotted a couple of signs for hotels and we made our way over to one that looked kind of nice. It had a restaurant below it and we enquired about rooms at the desk. Our questions were met with utter confusion and much head shaking. 'No rooms madam'....'but the sign says hotel?'....'no not hotel madam'....well that's f**king handy. Again, there's another fine example of the idiocy in this country.
At another hotel, we were taken up some stairs and to a magnificent view, but with a room that wouldn't have looked out of place in a grisly horror film. We were both desperate for a shit and for that reason, we told the young lad we would take the haggard room for the pricey sum of £5 for the night. The boy for some inexplicable reason thought 2 beds werent enough for us and began offering us 3 beds? WHY!!!
Looking around the dusty, dingy, room with the somewhat questionable stained mattress, we got the hell out of there to look for a laundry place. Asking a couple of lads on the street, we were directed to what appeared to be a disused chicken shed. Out of the filthy shack came an even filthier man, wearing filthy rags, and behind him, a rogue filthy chicken. It wasn't exactly looking promising. The man understood no English but we had somehow unwittingly acquired a translator who spent several minutes discussing what we wanted (simply, our clothes washed). The man's head wobbled violently and continually, and was still going as we walked away, never expecting to see our clothes again.
Back on the road again we took a rickshaw to the nearby Bylakuppe - a small Tibetan community which was our sole reason for visiting, and a pretty much Kirsty-influenced idea (something I now feel responsible for given the crapness of this part of the trip). I wanted to visit to remind me of my time spent in upper Dharamsala 3 years ago. I had read that many of the Tibetan monks in Dharamsala would migrate to Bylakuppe for the winter, for the climate. Yvette and I were also both looking forward to being somewhere a bit quieter and more peaceful. Our rickshaw assho..I mean, driver, confusingly dropped us off at the side of a dirty rode, where plucked chicken carcasses were being hacked up. Well this didn't look like a golden temple. It seemed he had thought we wanted to go to the outskirts of Bylakuppe, rather than the more central touristy area the region is famous for. Logical.
Anyway, we got there in the end and walked around this amazing golden temple, which becomes the Dalai Lama's residence for a small portion of the year. It was absolutely stunning and brought back floods of memories of Dharamsala, McLeod Ganj and all the beautiful ornate temples in the North. We also got to watch on as young monks were chanting and playing Tibetan instruments...it was a hair raising, moving and almost eerie spectacle. After we saw the main sights, we spent a good couple of hours walking through 8km of the 'Tibetan' countryside. It was just what we needed...the only passerbys were delightful smiling monks, walking in groups, alone, or occasionally on motorbikes, robes billowing behind them. Monk-on-a-bike monkeybikes.
I began feeling the all-too familiar rumbles and told Yvette to keep eyes peeling for stray rickshaws. We managed to get one, and with utter disdain climbed the stairs to our awful awful room. We opened the door and before even stepping inside, turned to eachother and agreed that this was no place fit for human habitation. We would have to leave. We were concerned about offending the young lad by going to another hotel and told him he could keep our £5. The thought of staying there was unbearable and we had earlier that day clocked a big shiny multi-storey hotel offering a/c rooms for just £10 a night. They had to be better than this. We began walking over and realised the hotel was just next to the 'laundry place', and as we got closer, to our absolute horror, noticed all of our clothes, delicates and all, were strewn across barbed wire fences, walls, and even roofs!! Well our natural reaction of course was to run. And run we did. We ran away into the nice shiny hotel and tried to forget about the horror. The room was actually amazing and one of the nicest hotels I have stayed in. We jumped straight for the shower, and got into the lovely clean bed, and watched lots of tv and read books n stuff. It was great. The toilet was also fantastic. We decided to eat on the rooftop restaurant that night, as it saved leaving the safety of the hotel and we thought we might be able to get nicer food. On first glances, it seemed like a USA style menu so we ordered chicken wings and fries. Unfortunately when they came, they were both coated in chilli sauce. Not ideal for an upset tum! After a couple of beers, and laughing at the sight of monks playing games on their iphones, we called it a night.
Poor Yvette had another bout of trotty botty during the night, but by morning it was my turn again and after 9 consecutive toilet visits, I sucked up the energy to go to the local shop and see what food I could buy. I bought peanut butter, jam, shit bread, olives, crisps, and even ice cream. I unloaded it on our coffee table and we sat on the sofa gorging ourselves. It wasnt until Yvette noticed a lump of mould in the jam, that we discovered literally everything I had bought was at least 1 year out of date. What actual hell was this!!? I mean....HOW!
We spent all day in bed watching tv and eating out of date food, until 5pm when we were due to collect our laundry. OH GOD. Nothing could have prepared me for this. We turned up and whilst the filthy man fannied about in his shed, began inspecting our clothes that lined the alleyway. Yvettes skirts and shirts now had new stains, complete with holes and poke marks from being hung on F**KING barbed wire! I mean really...
We peered inside the crap shack and saw that the man was painstakingly folding each of our items with about as much efficiency as a sloth. By this point, Yvette was a well and truly getting pissed off now. We signalled to the man that he didnt need to fold our items, as they were pretty much ruined already and what difference would it make. But the stupid knobhead just wasnt getting it and continued this excruciatingly slow process. I was torn between laughing hysterically, sobbing, or just punching the wall. Instead I turned around and spotted my demin shorts on a nearby roof which I then plucked down. Yvette basically lost it when they tried to ask us for around $7 which was normal for that amount of laundry, but far too much considering our clothes were now about as much use as Anne Frank's drumkit. We stuffed our clothes into a bag and stormed back to the room where Yvette continued her seething. Admittedly it was annoying, but I was secretly enjoying Yvette's rage as I didnt think she had it in her and it was most heartwarming to know I was wrong. We had some calm time in the room before checking out and meandering over to the bus station for a 6pm bus.
We tried unsuccessfully to get a bus for about 30minutes. The process, quite frankly like everything in India, was ridiculous. The empty bus would pull up, and then there would literally be a surge of people, frantically struggling to scramble inside, the desperation showing on all of their faces. People were literally being squashed into eachothers armpits, asses, you name it, in their struggle to board the bus. The bus would then sit there for 10 minutes before leaving, and there was space for everyone provided you didnt care where you sat. So basically, the whole process was completely unnecessary. We tried 4 different buses, but short of having someones ass in my face, there was no chance of getting on the bus. My irritation only grew when I was approached by some guy who began reeling off the usual barrage of now boring-as-shit questions. 'Hello madam, what your name? Where you from? What your job? How much you earn?' Finally we managed to get on a bus after a lot of pushing and shoving, and were thankfully seated together. I'd like to laugh about that journey and only need to comment on the general scruffiness and stuffiness of the bus, however, it was truly awful. It had started getting dark, and being the only 2 women on the bus, with more and more men pushing through the doors at each stop despite not having anywhere to go, it was getting very very intimidating. Trying to look away, it was hard to avoid the gazes of so many dark unsettling pairs of eyes. I had various different men sat next to me during the 4 hour journey and I was very aware of each of them being so close to me, given my past experiences in Sri Lanka. I was virtually on the point of tears for the last hour of the ride, as terrifying thoughts (probably instigated from things I had read in the news) plagued my mind. It didnt help as well that we passed at least one deadly road accident.
By the time we got back to Mysore, I was holding myself back from kissing the goddam ground. We lugged our bags to the local dominoes and tucked into a peperoni (chicken) pizza...probably the only food we had eaten in days that wasnt out of date. It made a nice change as being so off-and-on-again ill during the trip, it was hard to keep eating spicy food all the time, regardless of the deliciousness.
Finally we were ready to get on our bus which was around midnight. As the seats didnt go back, and as we were in India, driving on Indian roads, with other Indian motorists, it was difficult to sleep at all, and I spent much of the overnight journey pining for bhang lassi.
I 'woke up' early and hoped that we'd either arrive soon, or at least get a pee-stop somewhere. I was wrong. Poor Yvette was absolutely desperate for a toilet and told me around 8:30am that she was starting to get pains. The poor lass had to hang on for 2 further hours before we finally arrived in Kerala. What a champ. I told her to run to a cafe and I would follow with the bags. The first cafe she tried simply said they didnt have a toilet - to be fair, they were probably telling the truth and shitting in a gutter. We struck gold at the next one though and I sat with some drinks whilst Yvette enjoyed her 30minute toilet trip Feeling much better, and much more positive, we hailed a rickshaw and got taken to Yvette's hotel. Yvette's main reason for coming to India was because her friend was due to be married here in Kerala. The bride-to-be's friends were all staying together, but not knowing them, and also wanting to do my own thing, I was to find my own place and hang out on my todd for a few days whilst Yvette got caught up in some wedding fever. Thankfully I didnt have to wait long before I made a little local friend .... more next week.