Distance: 6.5km (Mysore bus station to Gokalum)
Traffic: Moderate (much better then a national highway)
We left Hospet at 11:53, only 53 minutes behind schedule, which is pretty good…I think. The bus was pretty nice, only three seats in a row, and above each seat was a bed. We didn’t get out tickets early enough to get a bed so we were stuck with a seat. I met a guy from Ottawa (first Canadian that we have met on the trip) and he was working in Bangalore. We had a good talk about all the usual stuff you talk about with some one from Canada (beer, Christmas, snow, and the differences between the east and the west). As soon as the bus started I tried to fall asleep.
When I awoke, we were coming into Bangalore, which is nothing special, pretty smoggy, and dirty, kind of like Delhi, but I didn’t see too much of it so I could be wrong. We got off the bus and tried to find another bus to take us to Mysore. It was a major pain (avoid this if you can, but if you need to it is do-able), folding bikes would have been the way to go, but you can do it with normal bikes. We took a Volvo bus to Mysore. You have to pay extra for the bikes, you do this at the bus, and the extra money goes right into the drivers pocket (so make sure you bargain with him, you can talk him down, we paid Rs150 a bike, but probably could have got both bikes for that price).
After arriving in Mysore we put our bikes together and got on them and rode to Gokalum (6.5km away). It is a pleasure riding though Mysore, the place is laid back and very clean, and once you get to Gokalum you forget that you are in India (it kind of looked like an Indian version of Old Glenora in Edmonton). Booked into a bed and breakfast that was expensive (the place alone is Rs200 over our daily budget). We have over a 100 reasons to justify this over expenditure though. There is free internet, free breakfast, free laundry, it is very clean and we can use the kitchen. Over all it is great. There are a lot of great people staying here as well (it’s called Alia’s Guest House) which always makes the stay interesting. We made pasta the first night we stayed here and it was so good, just a simple tomato sauce (the trick is add a small pinch of cinnamon and lots of butter…just trust me with the cinnamon). We even found some cheese at the Loyal World Supermarket. It was a great dinner (I would hate to say the best in India so far, but I just might, however we were missing the wine).
The next day we woke up and went exploring in this suburb, and had a pretty relaxing afternoon (utilizing the free internet) then we went to see the Mysore Palace. On Sundays they light the palace up with thousands of light bulbs and you can get in for free, so we did. It is silly, there are hundreds of people trying to get into this small gate, everyone pushing and trying to get ahead, the only ones that fall behind are the polite westerners (which we are not when we are in India). It was pretty neat when the turned on the lights, everyone got excited, like fireworks were going off. There was a lot of energy in the crowd and it was a pleasant experience. I took some pictures and then we went to eat some dinner.
A note to anyone that stays in Gokalum, take good mental notes of the main roads that you need to take to get back from downtown to you guesthouse. I had to show the rickshaw driver the way to go (it would be like not knowing the way to the Hart in PG or not knowing the way to Riverbend in Edmonton). Luckily I have a great sense of direction (thanks forestry). Sorry that all the pictures all have the brightly lit up Mysore Palace, I just haven’t taken many shots; tomorrow we plan to head the market and see more of Mysore, so there should be some more then.