From Mumbai to Mysore
Mysore, Mumbai, Goa and Hampi, India, 2008-10-31 12:00 by Martin
After a long wait at Mumbai International airport we finally spotted them; 3 blonde children and one blonde mom looking very out of place among all those Indian travelers. Lærkes siblings and her mother had landed and were now, at last, in India. Cheering and hugging commenced and maybe a single tear of joy was shed – it was indeed good to see part of our family again. We spend a few days in Mumbai, simply walking around the streets of downtown Colaba. There were many impressions to get used to, many smells and tastes to be sampled. Asbjørn had uttered something similar to the following some months previous when we were planning their visit: “What is the point in going to India, if you don’t eat the local food? I’ll only eat Indian food while in India”. And he certainly liked it, the Indian food, as spicy as it might be to our European tastebuds. We soon headed south along the Konkan coast by car, stopping on the way at Murud and Ganpatipule. There the kids had their first rickshaw drive, which were a mere 5 minutes long and only taken because they could not wait any longer trying those funny looking “cars” with no doors and only three wheels. They also tasted their first fresh coconut; but as exotic as they might look, the taste wasn’t to anyone’s liking.

We reached Goa a couple of days later, our first stop was the north; more specific Arambol. Here we rented 3 bamboo huts at the “secret” beach and the fresh water lake that lies just 15 meters from the sea across the beach. Days drifted by, time seemed to vanish so quickly while we lazed at the beach, swam in the ocean or played in the refreshing sweet waters of the lake. We had big fish dinners, appreciating that six people could eat for less than one person had to pay back home. Shopping at the small stalls that line the cliff or the small streets were a favorite pastime as well. In no time the children looked like they had spent ages in India, wearing baggy colorful Ali Baba pants and of cause cheap plastic flip flops.

Our bamboo huts

We went on to Palolem; which offered a little less laziness. A couple of early mornings were quite rewarding. One took us dolphin spotting in a fishing boat; the other gave a look into the daily life of Goan fishermen. Seeing them unpack their nets, unloading crates of freshly caught fish or shrimp and feeling the fresh chilly breeze from the sea, was a great experience. From Palolem we also took a daytrip to the Dudhsagar waterfalls and a nearby spice-plantation. The falls were quite impressive, but the trip to them in a battered 4x4 was the greatest experience. We raced through the jungle on a very bumpy track, driving through two big rivers; the water rising to above the lower parts of the car doors – some feet getting wet. Here the children had their first encounter with monkeys; Amalie unknowingly entered onto a monkey’s territory (a nearby bench) and must have looked threatening. She got a punch on her back to pay for her deeds. No harm done; she quickly moved.

Next destination was Hampi. We took the train there – an experience in itself, when you are new to India, but everything went smoothly, except when we finally arrived with rickshaw from the train station in Hospet. We had expected what we had experienced on our previous visits here; a somewhat quite city, with only a little of the bustle that all Indian towns have – we were to be fooled. We had tumbled into the annual Hampi festival, meaning hordes of Indians, mostly male, visiting the town! Everyone who has traveled around India should know that this was not good. One rule of thumb that all foreign travelers in India should know is this; do not go into crowds of Indian males, especially if you are female or have children on your tow. Hampi is divided into two parts by a river, so we quickly sought the far and less developed bank, where luckily the nicest guesthouses are located and none of the festival activities were taking place. The festival was to last one more day (and night, which we were to learn), so we walked the beautiful countryside and visited the queer Hanuman temple that boosts a spectacular view from its location on a cliff top and are surrounded by more or less friendly monkeys (Martin got scratched and bitten by them...luckily the kids were spared this time). As the festival ended, by a thunderous firework at four in the morning, the crowds thinned out, and Hampi was almost back to its laid back self. We visited the local buzzing temple and wandered out amidst the ruins that are so famed – the first were to the kids more exciting than “pretty old rocks”. We saw the temple elephant being bathed in the river and got to do some more shopping...increasing the size of our luggage even further!

Next was another train ride; from Hampi to Bengaluru and on to Mysore. Once more everything went according to plan, though the train switch in Bengaluru was a bit intense due to lateness of one train and the general chaotic state of major Indian train stations.
In Mysore we splashed out and stayed at the über nice “Windflower Resort and Spa”. Our rooms were so beautiful and luxurious and way bigger than out apartment at home (!). Amalies favorite thing was the big four poster bed and the chocolate massage she had at the spa, Lærke’s Mom fell in love with the outdoor bathroom – there really is something special about showering under the open sky surrounded by palm trees and exotic flowers. Asbjørn made friends with the resident pet cockatoo while Asger and Martin played giant chess in the beautifully sculptured garden and Lærke sipped a cup of tea on our own little veranda while a flock of geese waddled by. But we didn’t just laze the days away while we were in Mysore. One day we spend at the zoo, where we saw white tigers and a ton of other animals and birds. There were also lots of wild monkeys running around – outside the cages, a beautiful peacock also strolled by and stopped so we could hand feed it peanuts. We even saw a pretty big snake lurking around outside the parrots’ cage.

We found time to shop as well at the dazzling Devaraja market, where we had to fend away a couple of pretty persistent drums salesmen. The glittering bangles stands got a lot of attention, and Amalie ended up buying a box full. We also shopped for some beautiful local outfits for Amalie and Asbjørn. They ended up looking quite stunning in a sari and a kaftan. That night we all dressed up and headed for the Lalit Mahal Palace where we had a splendid dinner, the children looking like rajas, fitting in perfectly in the posh atmosphere.