From Agonda, we moved south by train - just 2 hours late - to the hippy hangout of Gokarna and Kudle beach (aptly pronounced cuddly, I don't know if the hippies named it).
Here we stayed for a few nights just lazing on the beach, being harassed by hawkers to buy necklaces and watching the antics of the hippies at sunset gathering on the beach to drum, chant, twirl fire and sticks and balance on each other in various poses.
The walk to Om beach was a welcome distraction from the sellers despite the heat and also provided us with more cows on the beach shots. My one regret would be we didn't realise how close we were to Gokarna town, which looked worth a wander to buy cheap beach clothes and souvenirs.
Our whistle stop tour continued with a 14hour train ride overnight up to the city of palaces, Mysore. The train ride was fairly uneventful, unless you count Otto having a major malfunction around 9pm just as most passengers were getting off to sleep.
Tantrumtastic was kicked off by not wanting to wear his pants! And continued for about 20 minutes of full scale screaming, hitting and stamping up and down.
The situation was not helped by our pre-ordered food turning up, after we'd long since given up on it and filled up on crisps and biscuits. The vendors (in typical Indian bureaucracy) insisted I produce the SMS verification code before they'd hand the food over. Screaming child in one hand, phone in the other, a coach load of Indian passengers looking mightily irritated at being kept awake…Perfect!
Ah, the joys of travelling with toddlers!
We reached Mysore on time (unfortunately as it meant 5am). The city vastly surpassed my expectations. Despite my initial intimidation at our first taste of an bustling Indian city, by the time we'd left I was really rather taken with it.
Yes, it was smelly and the traffic was chaotic, but it was also beautifully serene in part too. Crossing the roads took nerves of steel as did ignoring the many street sellers and beggars, but in retrospect, apart from one particularly pushy tuk tuk driver , everyone else was very friendly.
We whiled away 4 hours at the clean and well run Mysore Zoo, which had everything but polar bears and penguins (at 37℃, I'm guessing housing Arctic animals would be ill advised).
We were the only white people in there on a busy Saturday before Holi (the religious holiday where the paint throwing happens) and as such were inundated with selfie requests. But it was all in good spirits and I couldn't fault the zoo, the animals were well cared for in carefully thought out large enclosures and even the canteen was good!
We took in the other sights of the city of Palaces, of which the most impressive was undoubtedly the Mysore Palace by night. Lit by thousands of individual light bulbs, the huge Palace glows with a Midas touch that is well worth seeing and it's free! But only on Sunday's between 19:00 - 19:30.
On wandering the city, I got happy Holi'd much to the amusement of the market stall owners when some young lads asked if I would take part. The boys offered me some paint dust to throw first, so I took a tiny amount and sprinkled a little on one of the boys and in return got a huge handful from them hurled smack in the face. Bleurghh. I was eating paint all the way to the bookshop, where I then had to leaf through the books with green paint stained hands.
The staff just laughed and wished me 'happy Holi'.
Next stop the communist state of Kerala and some animals at Wayanad National Park.
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Kelly and Mikey (but mostly Kelly). We sold up in the UK to travel with our two littluns for a year or so. If you want to know more click the about us!