Wednesday, March 16, 2011

India (2010), part5: Goa



The route from Mumbai to Goa is tough. We have a bus at dawn, but the guy in the booth at the flyover's probably messed something, because we get one just at about six. And we were about to give up and return to the city... Our joy don’t last long. Instead of 8 hours, we are banging on the bus all day. We go by a circuitous route. We look through the window and see dozen towns and many villages. How beautiful India is! Quarrels with the driver are useless. He shakes his head and says that this is the route.

Hungry, dirty and evil, in the night we arrive to Panajim, the main town of Goa. Of course, rickshaw and taxi drivers stick to us. We try to haggle, but with no effect. Finding a cheap hotel is also difficult, and it’s already ten in the night. We manage to reach by phone one of the hotels at our beach. They will receive us no matter at what time we’ll get there. Finally, resigned, we take a taxi. We manage to beat the price, probably just because everyone else has already departed, and the taxi driver knows that if he’s not going to take us, he’ll return home with nothing. We're driving for about one and half hours, wondering whether he'll leave us somewhere in the woods. Darkness everywhere, dull everywhere. Finally we get to Palolem. The boy from the hotel is waiting for us. Place in the center, nice room, air-con, balcony with a view on banana trees and palms. What a paradise! All the anger leaves us. And what about dinner? "No problem" – there is a restaurant at the beach which is open 24/7. I love Goa! 

We spent several days in this heavenly place. Turquoise sea, burning sun, but it’s nice. All you need is close at hand. Palms over your head, it will look good on pictures. Some women come to us, they want to make friends with us just to sell us bracelets, necklaces, and other necessities. At the beginning, it amuses me. I don’t buy anything, but I can talk to them and practice the language. They don’t hide their surprise, a rare visitor learns Hindi, and I know not only "namaste" ("good morning" or "goodbye").
Sometimes we're accompanied by dogs, they’re quiet, peaceful, terribly emaciated, they hope to find something to eat. In the afternoon the ubiquitous cows sprawl next to sunbathers. 
This view shouldn’t surprise anyone in India. They can’t be found only in the main streets of Delhi and Mumbai, because if they only came there, there would be immediately taken out of the city. Generally, cows aren’t harmful. It's worse, when they come to the train station and don’t want to go. One must not chase them, so sometimes the train has to wait. 

In the afternoon the sunbathers are accompanied by the ubiquitous cows
Whole day at the beach, evenings in the pub with cheap (as for a resort) beer and cocktails. Maybe I should call my boss to extend my vacation? But re-booking the plane would be expensive...

Good to know 
For a tourist Goa means a paradise strip of coastline with beaches. But more and more often they resemble great parties. 
It's more and more difficult to find a quiet place, but you still can find some. It's best to arrive early, just in the beginning of the season.
Buses are the best way to get around Goa. 
They stop where someone wants to get in or out. You can also catch a taxi or a motorbike with a driver. At each beach there's always a group of young men offering a bike.
If you want to visit a place in Goa - Old Goa, for example, which is full of old churches, built by the Portuguese at a time when it was their colony - it's not that easy. You have to hire a taxi for a whole day. 
Buses are very cheap, but extremely slow, the roads are bad. Well, unless someone really wants to get fried.

Tourists mean business. At each major beach in this state there are hotels, hostels, restaurants and bars. Something nice for everyone: pizza, pasta, Indian dhali, seafood and all your heart desires. 
Beer and drinks are pouring in torrents. You can explore the ocean, watch dolphins (don't expect much), you can do scuba diving and dozens of other things. Tourist is a master. All good things come to an end. Heavenly Goa ends quickly. Time to move on. On Wednesday, October 27, we have an afternoon express train from Margao to Mumbai (ticket: 800 INR, class 3A). It's theoretically better than an ordinary sleeping, they give you a sheet (why it's gray, I don't know) and blankets. But in the sleeping it was more interesting. Here people are different, less smiling, and this chill. This class has air conditioning and if there's air-condition, of course it has to be turned on full and you can't do nothing with this cold.

Read also:

India (2010), part1: New Delhi
India (2010), part2: Agra
India (2010), part3: Gwalior
India (2010), part4: Orcha
India (2010), part6: Mumbai
India (2010), part7: New Delhi - again

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