Everyone goes on about the “top backpacking sights” in “city x” and in truth, if you know me, it’s all a bit tongue in cheek. There is no “top 5 sights” in any city. It’s a load of excrement I typed over over my morning mackerel and so did every other travel writer – no top 5 is correct and no top 5 is wrong. Everywhere we go, the best sights and things that happen are what are special and mean something to us on a personal level. It’s a selfish world my friends and it shouldn’t be anything else.
And while Hampi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and packed full of ace temples, my highlights were probably watching the sunset from Mowgli Guest House in Virupapuragaddi, visiting a Hospital in Gangavathi to watch my backpacking buddy Ilona get an anti-rabies injection (ouch! brave girl!) and me – getting my beard trimmed in Hampi.
Late afternoon as the sun was bouncing its way downward, I walked into a blue hut which seemed to be the only barber in town. The main man asked me if I wanted a haircut. I pointed to my beard, and said “beard only please”. “How much do you want to pay?” he asked. I said “50 Rupees (about 50 pence)”. And sometimes I’m the cheapest backpacker you’ve ever known and a tight ass cheapskate, but he upped it to 100 Rupees and since I liked his style and manner, and wanted this experience, I went for it. £1 to get my beard completely slashed in India? Worth all one hundred pennies for the wacky experience! I was delighted to pay him that for it.
There is no shaver here, no electric. It’s all natural. He gets some Indian shaving foam, whacks it onto my beard which by now probably had traces of every type of Indian cuisine within it and he started to trim it naturally by hand with a sharp razor. My backpacking buddy Ilona from the hostel was touring with me and was on hand to capture some photos of it.
The entire ordeal lasted about 8-9 minutes and I was now feeling fresh and was fully clean shaven! It felt like I had just got rid of a beard full of Indian spice and curry flavours into my third week backpacking in India by now. It was yet another crazy Michael Palin copyist moment as I remember Palin did the same thing when he backpacked through India for a BBC documentary.
On with the show but if you’re ever in Hampi, don’t forget the number one backpacking sight for men – shaving your beard. For ladies – shopping or watching the sunset will probably suffice.
There’s no real need to go backpacking through temples “ticking them off”, nobody was impressed…I digress, been in this game too long I think…