Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Boating and Hydera-bad

Boarding for our (not) three hour tour
Our motorbikes got to go for their first boat ride leaving Hampi!   There is a river, and there is a bridge under construction (it looked like it had been a work in progress for quite sometime), so the only way to cross it is by ferry.  There are two types of boats crossing from Hampi to Anegunda: coracles (woven, round, reed or bamboo boats) and small, narrow, wooden, motor boats.  We took the motorboat.  Colin negotiated a price with the ferryman, who then directed us to turn the bikes around in order to back them onto the boat.  Colin went first and made it on board with no problem.  I was a bit nervous about backing down the steep, slippery grade to the boat, but the ferryman and his assistant guided the rear end of the bike while I manned the handlebars, also making it onto the boat without mishap.  We each sat on our bikes for the crossing, nose to tail, and slowly rode the distance across the river, where we landed with a small bump and rode across the narrow (it seemed like two feet, but was only a few inches Colin says) gap between the boat and the shore and then up the steep hill on that side.  But we made it (there really was no question that Colin would, the only doubt was regarding me) without incident!

Our destination was Hyderabad, and we made it there by about 5:30 pm, right in the midst of rush hour.  Hyderabad is a city of 6 million people, and they all were apparently on the roads at that same time, honking their horns, vying for the right to creep forward to their destination at once.  By the time we got to the hotel, we were fried.  We checked in and got our  bags upstairs, and then went out to find some dinner.  We both just wanted something in the way of comfort food, preferably in the meat category after eating only vegetarian meals for the past several days.   All I have wanted for quite some time now is a hamburger.  Not a veg burger, not a potato burger, but a big, juicy, beef burger.  As we walked down the street looking for someplace to eat, Colin spotted a kid carrying a McDonalds cup!  We walked a couple blocks farther, and there around the next bend were the golden arches.  Unfortunately, McDeath here doesn't serve beef, so my burger craving could only be semi-satisfied with a two all-unnatural pink chicken patties, special even pinker sauce, lettuce, cheese, purple onion slices, no pickles, on a sesame seed bun Chicken Maharaja Mac.  But the fries were authentic.  And it actually did taste pretty good, just not like home.  It's funny, the only time we ever eat at McDonalds at home is if we're on the road and want something fast.  Here though, when we see one, we seem to be drawn inside by the desire for something familiar (even though it's not). 

Veiled Rebecca by Benzoni
The next morning we got up and rode the harried several miles to the Salar Jung Museum, which was the huge, 35,000 piece collection from all over the world that belonged to Salar Jung, a member of royal family of the area.  We arrived just after 10:00am, which was opening time, along with what seemed like two-thirds of the population of Hyderabad.  The lines wound through the driveway, and half the people in line were schoolteachers purchasing tickets for 75 or more students.  Once we had our tickets and checked our bag (absolutely no cameras allowed, they said) we walked around to the front of the building and into two more queues (one for ladies, one for men) of hundreds of people waiting to pass through security and enter the museum.  The security guard motioned for us to jump in front of the hordes of kids in line, and we followed the arrows to the galleries, which were already packed to the rafters with people, pushing and shoving to move on to the next display.  Hoping that things would clear out at least a little once the schoolkids got going, we found the cafeteria and sat over coffee for twenty minutes.  When we made our way back to the galleries, they were just as full as before.  We joined the procession of people moving past the displays, trying to stop to read the signs and/or appreciate the pieces.  Many things weren't my cup of tea, but we both really enjoyed a lot of the Chinese pieces in the collection.  The carving, be it jade, wood, or ivory, was beautifully done and with such expression, and the silk tapestries looked like paintings.  Seeing the Chinese arts and crafts made us both want to go there too some day.  Probably the most amazing piece in the museum was in the “Rebecca Gallery.”  The entire gallery was full of marble statuary that looked like it belonged in a garden next to a fountain in an Italian restaurant.  But the showpiece was a sculpture called, “The Veiled Rebecca,” by GB Benzoni. It was a life-size, carved, marble sculpture of a woman.  That's it.  But she was wearing a gauze veil draped over her face and her clothes.  I normally don't go for this kind of stuff, but the skill with which it was done was beyond anything I have ever seen.  The texture of the surface, the translucency of the stone, it looked like she was really swathed in a sheer piece of gauze.  Amazing.  I don't have the patience to carve a bar of soap.   

After many hours fighting the crowds in the museum, we'd had enough and battled our way back to the hotel.  Our GPS, at one point, sent us the wrong way down a one-way street (this happens with some frequency).  Unlike at home, where we would pull off the road and turn around ASAP and find another route, we proceeded against traffic (as is the norm).  The only thing that seemed to trouble the oncoming vehicles and pedestrians about this scenario was the fact that our headlights were on.  For some reason, people in India are very concerned that our headlights are on during the day.  Every time we ride, oncoming motorbike riders, car drivers, pedestrians all either signal to us that they're on or yell, “headlight, headlight!” at us.  When we pull out of a parking lot, onlookers yell the same thing.  Colin tries to tell them they are always on, we can't turn them off, that it's the law in the USA, but I have just taken to nodding and saying, “thank you” (it's easier than explaining). 

We spent the next couple of days in Hyderabad.  Initially, we'd planned to visit some of the other sights the city has to offer, such as the palace, the fort, and some of the old tombs, but after our fun at the museum, neither of us felt like dealing with the crowds or the ride to get to them.  Instead, we caught up on blog posts and ride reports, figured out the rest of our time in India, and started planning for Nepal.  We did find another place for dinner and actually ate there two nights in a row.  Kabab Corner lured us in with their case of spinning rotisseries of chickens.  The first night, we split a whole bird, two naans, and a dish of biryani rice.  It was all so good, we returned the next night for mutton kebabs, some different kind of bread (I can't remember what it was called, but it was huge, very thin, and kind of stretchy) and chicken biryani.  Everything was delicious, and we gorged ourselves silly. 

1 comment:

  1. Hey There guys! Was checking our feed and saw you all had a recent post. Hope all is well on your trip and you are enjoying your New Year!
    Take care and enjoy!
    Love, Kristina & Michael