Hello everyone! It’s now Sunday morning as I write this, on the bus from Mysore to Ooty. Quite a bit has happened since my last update on Wednesday. Juliet and I left Bangalore to head to Mysore on Thursday morning. We had been planning to catch the bus to Mysore, but our cab driver recommended that we take the train instead of the bus because it’s faster, cheaper and more comfortable. We trusted his recommendation and, after an hour of crawling through heavy Bangalore traffic, ended up at the railway station.
Bangalore City train station is impressively large, especially considering it only deals with long-distance (intercity rather than commuter) trains. We bought second-class tickets for the Mysore Express which we were told left at 3pm, and sat around waiting. Around 1pm, we heard announcements on the PA telling us that the Mysore Express was on platform five and about to leave. We got there, grabbed a seat, put our luggage away, and then Juliet had the presence of mind to ask if we were on the train to Mysore. It turned out that we were not – we were on the train that had just arrived from Mysore and was about to continue on its way to Jaipur. Whoops!
After considerably more waiting, we ended up on the correct train. The platform was very crowded when the train arrived, and our second-class tickets didn’t guarantee us a seat, but luckily we were one of the first to board and managed to grab a seat. Indian trains are surprisingly fun – people all around us enjoying themselves in one way or another and regular visits from vendors wandering up and down the aisles selling food, water and chai. Two and a half hours later, we were in Mysore. We walked to the youth hostel (which was out in the sticks, almost an hour away!) and found ourselves a place to stay, ate dinner, chatted with some of the others at the hostel and went to bed.
At this point I should probably mention that Juliet and I hadn’t been getting along particularly well. I was optimistic that things might get better after we left Bangalore and started having fun in India. Unfortunately, things got worse and worse. The hostel was pretty full and we couldn’t stay there for more than one night. But at breakfast we met a very friendly Quebecoise woman named Elodie who also needed to find somewhere to stay the next night, so we set off together and after trying a couple of places, found a pleasant and cheap hotel to stay at.
After that, Juliet and I made another attempt to find ourselves local SIM cards. Unfortunately the hostility between us was continuing to grow and it was pretty clear that Juliet would rather be alone, so I went off sightseeing instead. (In fact, in retrospect I think she would have preferred to go off separately after we left the hotel but I didn’t pick up on that at the time.)
Mysore Palace was quite impressive, although the Rs.200 entrance fee seemed a bit exorbitant. Never mind that this works out to just under $4 – I’ve got used to everything being insanely cheap here. But entrance fee aside, the palace grounds were beautiful and the architecture and interior were quite impressive. Unfortunately the tour of the inside was a bit disappointing – not that much to see, and we got to walk along the prescribed route only, and weren’t allowed to take pictures.
Then I went to see the temple on Sri Chamundi hill. The bus ride up there was fantastic – amazing views of the city below – and passed by a massive parade of people walking up the hill, presumably for some religious ceremony. Apparently the temple is one of the most important for the Hindu religion. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see inside it – the gates were shut and the ticket office was closed. Perhaps there was some kind of ceremony about to take place when the people arrived from walking up the hill! But nobody was willing to explain to me what was going on.
In the evening Juliet decided to move into a separate hotel room and Elodie and I went out for dinner at a fantastic restaurant on the rooftop with nice views of the town.
Saturday I went out in search of a SIM card for my phone, made difficult partly because Indian SIM cards require a lot of proof of identity and a local address (and many vendors won’t accept a hotel address), and partly because I have an iPhone which requires a micro-SIM rather than a normal SIM card. After a few hours of being told to go elsewhere and being given incorrect or vague directions, I eventually found the Vodafone showroom who were able to sort me out.
Afterwards I had a quick lunch and caught the bus up to Brindavan Gardens, where I wandered around briefly and then lay in the shade for a couple of hours reading a book. Pleasant and relaxing but I was starting to feel a bit over Mysore.
After dinner I made the mistake of catching up with Juliet again – being around her just made me feel like crap again and I found out that she was also planning to go to Ooty the same day as me. Feels very awkward!
But now I’m on the bus to Ooty with Elodie, making plans for the rest of my trip through India and feeling very excited about being up in the hills, around tea plantations and places to go hiking. Bring on awesome new adventures!
No photos for now because I’m using my phone’s internet connection, which is slow and has a small data quota.