We left sleepy Hampi at 8.45pm on the over night bus to Bangalore, which will be referred to as the ‘Benga Bus’. This was after the most terrifying rickshaw ride. Under the cover of darkness and on an empty tank of petrol we were taking on the lumps and bumps of the mean roads of Hampi before challenging the trucks on the high way to Hospet. While John was clutching our rucksacks to ensure they were not left behind along the way, Karen was breathing deeply to try and get thru her Delhi belly…this journey to Bangalore was going to kill or cure her. To add to the mix, the driver suddenly stopped in the middle of the country side and got out… Thankfully he just needed a wee wee. Later we were stopped again as a train was due to pass. Rather than wait patiently the driver jumps out, Karen was convinced he was trying to consider manoeuvring the rickshaw thru the bollard but no he was off to buy a wee wee bag pakora. Finally we made it to the bus stand in 1 piece and all luggage secure and present. Next was the sleeper bus.
The Benga Bus pulled up and looked ok, until Karen noticed a flattish tyre. The driving expert John assured her it was the one of those modern buses with self inflating tyres. We boarded the bus along with our Indian companions. Onboard there was a double bed and room for our small day packs. Sleeping bags out, pashmina over the pillow and the travel light on (Thanks Colette!) and we were settled in.
The benga bus pulled away and we could feel every lump on the road, we were being tossed around, Karen was hugging John to keep herself in the bed. Finally we both fell asleep…soon to be woken by the driver shouting and walking up and down the aisle and everyone jumping off the bus. What was going on??? Finally we were told the bus was broken… Do you remember that flat looking tyre? Quickly we had to gather our belongings and head to the new bus but what about our big bags? John had to try and explain to the driver we needed them out the old bus, the raging Irish man was out.
“These bags go in this bus! No. I am not getting on bus until these bags are on this bus” No not that bus, this bus”
The second bus was like a chariot- smooth and comfy and we fell asleep. Well Karen did, little John Junior was scared out of his wits!
Would we reach Bangalore before he reached the end of his teather? Thankfully we did. We were met by eager rickshaw drivers, we agreed a price and headed to our palace, the Elenza hotel. We had managed to secure a room half price, this was our treat after Delhi belly, sleeper buses and rickshaws. It was luxury to us, comfy bed with a duvet, a hot shower, fancy shower gel and fluffy towels.
Although we were flash packing that night, we still stuck to our roots and Karen borrowed 100 rupees from the reception of the posh hotel to pay the rickshaw driver rather than give him the 500- he claimed to have no change.
We enjoyed our overnight retreat in Bangalore. The main mission on this trip was to get the camera fixed- the lens was throwing out an error so we couldn’t zoom…right across the roads from the palace was the Nikon repair shop- easy.
With a new lens we headed to MG road by foot to browse, we were in need of some chill time and no more sight seeing. Lunch was par taken in a small non-descript restaurant (we walked past it twice trying to find it).
Karen enjoyed wandering the streets and shops to see how much had changed since she was last here in 2008 for work. The city had become so much more developed and western. There are still the hourly power cuts though!
The biggest changes were the number of non Indian brand cars on the roads and the airport. Karen was one of the last passengers to use the old airport, boy that was an experience. Business class lounge comprised of a rusty chair, a voucher for a lassie and samosa. The duty free had 3 dusty bottles of perfume and discoloured whiskey. Now the western roads to the airport where lined with Palm trees, the airport was gleaming and with so many shops. Karen spotted the French connection shop- got excited then remembered we are backpackers now.
Bangalore was a short stop over but it was so lovely to go back and see how much it had changed.