We like to use the local buses and trains when we’re in big cities, get a feel for how people commute, have a bit of an adventure working out the system to get us places.
However nothing beats walking. Walking really lets you explore neighbourhoods, buildings, shops and people. We’ve walked for miles through many cities across the world.
Yesterday we set off walking to Chamundi Hills that overlook the city of Mysore. Our plan was to walk to the entrance at the base, and then climb the 1001 steps to the temple at the top, taking in the smaller temples along the way and the beautiful views over Mysore.
With the benefit of hindsight, it’s extraordinarily apparent that neither of us had any freaking concept of a) a walk across Mysore or b) what 1001 steps is like.
“How far is it to the steps?” Don asked in the morning.
“That’s good, we can walk that.”
“And then 1001 steps to the top.”
“Ok, no worries.”
And off we went.
Google maps has done a lot for walking in foreign cities. Via what I can only assume is magic, you can track where you are without needing the internet. I have no idea how this works, nor do I care, I’m just grateful that it does. And so we tracked our walk to the hills – out the front gate, down the street filled with Levi jeans shops that aren’t actually Levi jeans, past the busy markets and around the glorious Mysore Palace.
Unfortunately Google maps magic shows you the way, but doesn’t tell you what the way is actually like; the roads, the terrain or the neighbourhoods.
On we trekked, past the bus depot and some government offices, across a busy roundabout and onto a major highway. Over a guard rail and down an embankment to an access road. Through a small local market. Over some ditches. Past some goats. Onwards towards some fields, now only 2km into our walk.
An auto-rickshaw driver who was parked by the road spoke as we trudged past.
We were in the back seat faster than anybody could say how much, where are you from or how about that cricket, happy to be driven the final two kilometres to the base of the 1001 steps.
Now I’m going to be generous here and say we made it roughly 100 steps before our first rest. Those steps were randomly short, tall, deep and narrow. They sloped left, then right, and wound back and forth up the hill. Our next rest stop may have been after 80 steps. Then 60. I’m sure you can see what’s happening here.
As the number of steps we could manage decreased, the amount of rest we needed increased. We stood to the side each time, panting, sweating, our hearts thundering. Barefoot 80 year olds flew past us, teenagers stopped to take selfies.
On we went.
We’d been sitting on a step close to number 600 for quite a while when one of us finally cracked. I can’t remember who, doesn’t matter.
“Screw this, we’re on holidays.”
And straight back to the bottom we went.
This was not defeat, this was astute holiday decision-making in action. There will be plenty more temples available for visiting.
Ones not at the top of a fucking mountain.