Apr 8th-14th, 2017
The bus ride from Ooty to Mysore took around 5 hours, and for a good 3 hours of it, the bus was winding down the hairpin turns like a bat out of hell, causing 4 different passengers to be throwing up simultaneously and for the rest of them to be green in inadvertent envy. Luckily for Tracy and I, we have pretty good nausea control and made it to flat ground unscathed.
Once down, the ride was flat and rather quick and before long we arrived to this famous palace city.
Mysore was founded in 1399 by the dynasty that bears its name, but the royal family were in service to Hampi’s emperor until his fall in 1565.
Mysore is famous for its numerous palaces, silks, incense and sandalwood production, claiming to be the only place in India authentically producing these much desired products.
Since we had just arrived, and weren’t too far from a coveted McDonald’s, something we were very excited to see since we were curried out, we decided to treat ourselves. I had a Maharaja Mac and Tracy some McNuggs, the only meat she had indulged in in all of Sri Lanka, Maldives and India. She nearly had an orgasm.
On our way there, a rickshaw and an overly friendly guy had offered to drop us off for only 50 rupees if we visited his oil shop. Since Tracy wanted to discover Mysore’s sandalwood oils, we figured it wouldn’t hurt.
After our McD’s, the tuk tuk driver brought us to Mysore’s Muslim quarter and first stopped at a wood working shop. The things they made were absolutely beautiful and they smiled for pics, not even trying to sell us anything!
Next we went to the man’s shop who initially greeted us on the tuk tuk. We knew it was all a ploy for us to buy goods but we entertained him anyway. His name was Raj and he was apparently popular with foreign tourists based on the raving reviews he had written on his walls.
He showed us a variety of oils and told us what each are good for and, before long, tried to lure Tracy into buying a bunch. We were both reluctant to buy anything, seeing as though we would have to schlep it around for another 10 months and the likelihood of a glass bottle breaking in our bags was very high.
After his hard sell, we said we’ll call him if we change our minds. He gave Tracy some sandalwood incense, hand-rolled by a woman in his shop (she rolls 8000+ per day) and then he invited us to a party the following night, maintaining that if we needed any weed to contact him (apparently it’s legal in Mysore). We smiled, nodded, and hopped back in the tuk tuk.
We then went to a local spice market located in a beautiful old building and then we made the walk back to our guesthouse through Mysore’s old quarter.
On our walk back, we stopped at the wonderful Davaraja fruit and vegetable market, and marvelled at all the colours and produce that was being sold. After Bangalore, easily my favourite market thus far.
We later stopped in a small square and admired all the action unfolding around us. From cows wandering the streets, families enjoying a fountain, the calls to prayer beaconing in the background – Mysore was quite a cool place!
We were staying at Comforts Hostel, not far from the Palace, and enjoyed their wonderfully clean room and, for the first time, satellite TV.
The following morning I woke up and didn’t feel so good. Since McDonald’s was literally the only thing we ate the day before, I figured it had to have been that. To spare you the details, my trips to the bathroom weren’t the greatest, but I said the show must go on!
I took an Imodium and we made our way to the Palace. This palace is absolutely beautiful and is massive.
We first toured the outside and took some pics in front of it while the lighting was still good.
An early palace once stood there and burned down in 1897. This current palace was constructed in 1912 and was designed by the English architect Henry Irwin.
For some reason no photography was allowed inside and you had to remove your shoes while walking around inside as well, something we were used to at religious monuments but were quite pissed off to walk the hot palace grounds barefoot, with thousands of foot fungus-ridden Indians around us.
The central hall is literally awe-inspiring and I wish I could have taken a picture of it to give you an idea.
The interior is really impressive, but I still think the exterior is the real draw here and, luckily, I could snap away to my heart’s content.
Fortunately, my stomach held up for our exploration of the palace but I started to get a fever and full body aches pretty early on. I had to sit down on numerous occasions and take a breather because I thought I would pass out.
Tracy had wanted to see the live-action new version of Beauty and the Beast ever since it had been announced by Disney as a remake and research told us it was playing in Mysore. We had therefore planned to see it and since I wasn’t feeling well I figured it would be a better time than ever to lounge in an air-conditioned theatre and do nothing. Although Tracy was willing to pass to let me rest, I wasn’t having any of that.
Tracy adored the movie and I thought it was pretty good too, although I felt like the theatre was way too cold (probably just the fever talking).
The theatre was in a mall at the other end of the city. Since we hadn’t eaten yet, we decided to grab some food- court style eats to get something in our stomachs before we headed back.
Since it was right around the corner from our hotel, we went to the Jaganmohan Palace, which now acts as an art museum. I had to check in my camera so we couldn’t taken photos, and because of my body pains, I really wasn’t feeling it.
Afterwards we went back to Comforts and I passed out for a few hours. Upon waking, my fever had broke and I actually felt pretty good.
Since it was Sunday, they illuminate the palace for 30 minutes in the evening and we made our way there with little time to spare.
Shortly after we arrived, and thankfully after all our photos were snapped and the lights just turned off, Tracy felt like she was going to explode so we made our way quickly to the exit. We got back to the hotel and hoped that her illness would end as quickly as mine had (less than 12 hours). However, along with diarrhea she also vomited.
The following morning, I felt more or less good as new, but Tracy felt pretty horrible and was unable to pry herself from the bed. She had a bad fever, was still physically getting ill, and describes the pains throughout her entire body as some of the worst she’s ever experienced.
We spent the day watching America’s Got Talent, Friends, Shark Tank and the hilarious Impractical Jokers. Who would have known that our first TV would come in so handy!
I occasionally wandered outside to get some light food, cold drinks, and to get a change of scenery.
I also booked our onward ticket to Gokarna, located on Karnataka’s northern coast. We both figured that Tracy would be fine within 24 hours and we could resume our journey north.
Her stomach, body pains and fever seemed to only get worse, however, and I moved the bus tickets to the following day.
She was still unable to do anything but wanted me to continue exploring and so I went to Chamundi Hill, a local pilgrimage site.
There was a local bus that brought you right to the top of the 1062m summit and this was the sacred site of the Sri Chamundeswari Temple.
The staff at Comforts were aware of Tracy’s state and the manager had offered to call in a doctor. Tracy was already taking antibiotics that we got back in Canada and they weren’t really helping.
Another Indian guest put me on the phone with their doctor friend and he gave me a list of things she could try. They assured me she didn’t have Malaria or Dengue (worst case scenarios) and that she just needed time and rehydration.
One of the staff from Comforts gave me a ride to a pharmacy so I could pick up some meds for Tracy and we spent the rest of the time watching TV in our gloriously small but TV ready room.
I had to postpone the bus for a few more days before Tracy was well enough to travel. We had only expected to stay in Mysore for a night or two and ended up spending six.
The staff at Comforts were absolute legends and we couldn’t be more appreciative for their help and concern.
Unfortunately, our bus to Gokarna was a 10-hour non-AC night bus but it was the only option and there was absolutely no way Tracy could have handled it in her sickly state, particularly since the ride ended up taking 12 hours due to the bus breaking down and then having to rescue passengers from their broken down bus. The heat was enough to make anyone sick again.
Lesson learned: Just because food comes from an international brand (McDonald’s!) does not make it safe in India. Eating in India is like Russian Roulette, it isn’t a matter of if but a matter of when you will get sick.
Thankfully we got sick in a city that had the facilities we needed and we still got to see the palace on our first day. It is also pretty coincidental that not only did we get sick in a city called Mysore, but it has previously been voted the “cleanest city in India” for several years now…