Leaving Hampi, I had left the badminton set for the daughter of the Hostel owner, since she seemed to enjoy playing so much. So we bought some new ones on the way through Hospet, the next town. On the way out we got lost, so Aidan found a shortcut (!) back around to our road. It turned out to be a hard sand road with ruts and potholes so deep, they swallowed whole trucks. You basically drive into the hole and then out the other side. Of course it never looks that bad on pictures (other riders who have tried to take photos of difficult off road tracks will testify to that)! Nothing our little toss-around bikes couldn’t handle though, so we had some dusty fun. Truck drivers struggling to carry their load through the holes on broken suspension waved us past and we emerged on the other side with huge grins on our faces 🙂
We reached the town we thought we’d stay the night in far too early, so we decided to ride on to the next one. The road was good, so we reached that one too early as well. All right, Huliyar it is then! Of course we couldn’t find a single hotel in that town. Lodge, actually. For some reason they call restaurants Hotel here, and there was plenty of those. We asked a tuk tuk driver (they usually know where everything is), but he just smiled at us confused. Hm…. Well, we could always wildcamp… I had seen a few promising looking places on the way, so I suggested it to Aidan.
We pulled over at a little kiosk and I carefully contemplated the biscuit and chocolate assortment before making my choices and grabbing some crisps and water as well. A healthy dinner! The shopkeeper must have worried about that too. He popped a couple of bananas into the bag, confirming “there are two of you, right?” while counting out one each. He asked about our trip and sent us on our way with a big grin.
We rode back the way we’d come, keeping our eyes peeled for those likely spots I’d seen. But it was dusk and the seemingly empty landscape had filled up with workers and shepherds coming home from the fields. Each previously empty dirt track now had someone walking down it. And they’d no doubt be curious and bring all their friends if we attempted to pitch a tent. About to give up, we found a deserted dirt road and quickly turned down it, only to find mini bus had followed us. We pulled over and I pretended to be busy with my bag but of course they stopped. Was everything ok? Were we lost? Real nice of them of course, but for once not needed. We managed to convince them that there was no problem and we’d be on our way. As soon as they’d turned the corner, we gunned the bikes through a shallow dry ditch and into the bushes and giant grass bushels on the right. Engines off and breathe!
Aidan’s foot had swollen and was hurting quite a bit now, so I had to hold his bike while he climbed off. We waited if anyone would follow us or if the shepherds in the distance got any closer. Time to munch our dinner. But no one came. So when it was dark, we picked a spot for the tent and Aidan hobbled about putting it up, limping about, while I carried all our stuff over and pushed the bikes deeper into the bushes, breaking off branches to cover them. In the dark there was just no telling, if they’d be seen if someone decided to shine a torch in our direction.
“There is a light over there!” came a whisper from Aidan. We froze and peeked through the branches. It was further up the path and the grass swayed in the soft breeze. Was the light moving, someone walking with a torch maybe? Or did the shadowy brush just make it seem so. We decided not to hammer the pegs into the rocky ground, it would be too noisy. Instead we lay by the tent, watching the stars. After a long time the light still hadn’t moved. Sod it! We moved into the tent and curled up writing diaries. The plan was to stay awake till 11pm, when most Indian people tend to have disappeared to bed, just in case. But we passed out long before that.
Undiscovered, we woke in time for a pretty sun rise. In daylight it transpired we’d been better hidden than we thought. Packed up in no time, we struggled the bikes back out of the brush. How the hell had we gotten in here last night? I was really loving the fact this bike is small enough for me to handle on my own, even in difficult places! With the BMW I would have needed Aidan’s help for sure!
Back in Huliyar Aidan pulled over to check the way on the Navi. A little man arrived, proudly announcing over and over that he was an ayurvedic doctor (could he see through Aidan’s shoe?!?) and trying to convince us to ride to his friend’s place. Said friend has a camera so he could take a picture of us. In the end we got our camera out and took down his address, promising to send him a picture. A crowd was forming, so it was time to make our escape.
The ride to Mysore was fun. Aidan was high on painkillers and I’d had too much coffee, feeling at peace with the world a silly grin on both our faces. We’d got away with a night of wildcamping! We passed by some pretty awesome termite mounds. I’d never seen one before and these were hip high! I had to take a closer look.