Team Fodenvensel stepped off the bus in Hampi at 4:30 AM and was attacked. All participants are currently safe and in good condition. The next post will detail the barbarity that ensued. Until then, here’s what we did in Hampi, besides get brutalized.
We spent three days catching up on our sleep and enjoying the prehistoric landscape. Strewn with giant orange boulders and forested with palms and banana trees, we half expected to see a dinosaur lumbering through it. We found an excellent little place for dinner which we frequented daily and ultimately moved to another guesthouse that had a large herd of brand new baby goats outside (so fresh that they still had umbilical cords). We will admit that the goats were a selling point for us. One day we rented bicycles for less than a dollar and rode around the village to visit a few of the ancient Hindu temples in the area and then hiked up a mountain made of boulders to watch the sun set.
A tour guide lured us into his office near the main temple one day where he pitched us an offer for a bicycle tour taking place the following day. His explanation was lengthy and somewhat convoluted but we gathered that the tour would be an opportunity to learn a bit about the historic significance of Hampi’s many temples. We were quoted a price of 300 rupees (about $5) for a 3-hour tour and told to show up the next morning at nine. We visited the nearby resident elephant who offers blessings to visitors for 1 rupee, had a quick chat with a fellow traveler we met (who mentioned he’d been quoted 550 rupees for the same tour), and then returned to the office to ask some additional questions. Upon entering the office we found a different tour guide negotiating a different price with different travelers. We overheard him quoting them 400 rupees for the same tour and spoke up to let them know we’d been offered a lower price. A loud and definitive explanation followed, likely intended to convince all of us that his tour was much better than the other guy’s. The travelers were eventually sold on the deal and after they left, the tour guide turned to us and assured us we could have the lower price we’d been quoted earlier as long as we promised not to tell any other participants. We agreed. The next day while the group was getting outfitted with bicycles, one of the participants approached David, looked him straight in the eye and asked what he paid. He hesitated a moment remembering his promise. Would sacrificing his integrity be worth $1.50? Not wanting to forfeit his excessive need for honesty with even a white a lie, he told her what he’d paid. She looked furious and confessed she’d paid 150 rupees more than him. At this moment David felt a pang of regret for promising to protect the secrecy of the guide’s shady backroom deal. Gonzaga and David mostly enjoyed the tour which ended up lasting for over 5 hours. Austin opted out of the tour because she got a weird feeling from the tour guide. (He certainly hadn’t presented himself in the most honest way the previous day and Austin never trusted him from the beginning.) Instead, she spent the afternoon with Evan, a new friend we’d met the previous day. Evan treated Austin to a motorcycle ride out of town where they happened upon a beautiful temple that was hosting a big celebration of some sort. Greeted by stares and smiles (apparently tourists are a rare sight so far out of town), the two joined the party, got in line for the delicious free lunch that was being offered, and were then toured around the temple by a large and excitable mob of young men and boys.
Notwithstanding the attack, we all decided that Hampi was definitely the best place we’d yet visited. But Team Fodenvensel got on another overnight bus, this time bound for Bangalore.