My Trips: India 2007

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Very interesting chat with a Nepali guy working in Colomb, Goa, India

After a swim I head to a restaurant near my hut. A guy there asks if I need a room, which I don’t but we start chatting and he says he is from Nepal. I tell him I went recently and we end up chatting for over an hour.

He is 19 and from the east of Nepal. He and 4 other friends spent 3 days traveling by train to Goa, where they will work for 6 months before returning home to continue their studies. They don’t make much money, but they are having a good time. It is the first time they have seen a beach, and tasted seafood. He said he thought lobsters were incredible creatures.

We talk about a lot of things, and he is an interesting kid. I carefully bought up the subject of the Maoists in Nepal. He says he is for them, as they are trying to make a better Nepal. I still don’t know what to think, but told him I thought their cause was good, but didn’t think their tactics were the best.

I checked whether he gets to keep his tips, which he does, and gave him a little.

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A trip to Patnem beach, Goa, India

I need cash and there is no ATM in Palolem, so I try to rent a moped, which just ends with some guy ringing his brother, so I walk away and eventually rent a mountain bike further out of Palolem. I ride to Canacona, get some cash and ride to Patnem beach.

It’s a lovely beach, smaller and quieter than Palolem, and it is has a good vibe. After lunch I take a walk and ask around at some beach huts. The prices are around INR800. This looks a good spot for me and I think I will return tomorrow to stay. I notice a guy has an NSP surfboard, but the surf is pretty poor. There doesn’t seem anywhere to rent a board. Shame.

I notice what looks like the headland were I am staying at the northern end of the beach, so I can just walk here in the morning.

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The paradise of Palolem Beach, Goa, India

The taxi driver drops me off, I fend off the touts and walk onto the beach. This place is backpacker paradise. Not commercial, no resorts, just beach huts, restaurants and outrageous scenery.

I take a walk down the beach and ask at a few places about rooms. One guy has a room, which is INR1,000, but the price goes up to INR3,000 over the Christmas days! I show my business card and get a INR200 discount. It looks like the business cards were a good idea after all.

I unpack and take a walk on the beach. I need to find other accommodation and walk all the way south, over the rocks and find a little community on the other side. It is much quieter here and has its own little private beach.

I ask about rooms and prices. They have rooms and the price is INR1,500 over the Christmas period. I pull out my business card and ask about a discount. The guys chat quickly and say I can get the room for INR1,300. I take a look at the room, which is good enough and has a wonderful view. He says this will be the room I have and offers me it for INR1,200. Bargain, well it’s probably the most expensive room I’ve had yet, but I paid INR9,85 in Mumbai for a windows cell, and nearly this price in Kathmandu. Considering this is paradise and other places are charging INR3,000 I think I’ve done pretty well. Good bless the business cards!

I grab lunch, buy some essentials, have a look around and go for a swim.

I’m pretty happy here.

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Funny taxi experience, Goa, India

After a walk on the beach, I give the stuff I don’t want from my backpack to the old lady in the guesthouse, and head down to the taxi stand. Typically a guy approaches me and asks if I want a taxi. He has a small van which is better than the auto rickshaw I was thinking of taking. I ask about the price and he says INR1,200. I say it’s way too much and suggest INR400. He eventually comes down to INR700, which is still too much. I decline and walk away, he comes after me and says he will do it for INR600 if I stop buy at a gift shop, as he gets a voucher if he brings people. I decide to go with it.

In the taxi we chat for a while, he is a nice guy. He shows me the voucher he gets from the gift shop. He has 10 at the moment, and he gets a free tyre for his van when he reaches 12.

We get to the gift shop, which has some wonderful things in. Lots of traditional Indian furniture, which I’m told is less than 100 years old, as it is illegal to sell to non-Indians otherwise. They also have some nik-naks. I see some Tibetan chimes which have a lovely sound. I haggle with the guy and get them for INR550, I could probably have got them for less (as always) but they are lovely and will go with my Tibetan singing bowl a treat. I have only bought these two items in 2 months of traveling.

Back in the taxi we head towards Palolem. The guy wants to take me to another gift shop, for another voucher, I say no, I’ve done my dead for the day. He says the minimum price for the trip is INR800, so I’ve done quite well. I’m not sure if it’s true, but I remember that a taxi ride from Margoa to Anjuna is INR900, so I think this is right. I day we had a deal, and he seems happy enough. So in retrospect I did quite well out of the deal today.

The landscape is typically stunning, palm trees, rice paddies and some small towns. The area is hilly, and the taxi driver rightly points out that the trip in an auto rickshaw would have been rough.

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A lazy day in Colva, Goa, India

I spend the day writing and organising my backpack. I take a long walk down the beach and I have lunch at the Hawaii restaurant again, this time an excellent Chicken salad.

Whilst walking down the beach I see a fishing catch being sorted on the beach. It was fascinating to watch. The main catch was carried up the beach by the fishermen to trucks. There were a lot of fish. The local villagers would pick up the small fish left on the beach and in the shallows. There were an enormous amount of very small fish left to die on the beach, which the birds took every opportunity to feast on.

In the afternoon I caught up on my writing.

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Reorganised by backpack and took a few things out

I have a 60 litre travel pack which has slowly been getting heavier since my trip started. I travel light, but have a few items that are weighting my down. In particular I am carrying a guide book to Nepal (which I don’t need, but want to take some notes from), a big guide book to India, which I will loose in a few weeks, and a guide book to Southeast Asia (for when I visit there in a few weeks). So I will loose 2 heavy guide books over the next few weeks, but I still have a number of things I really don’t need. My back is also getting a bit disorganised. Time for a clear out and a sort out.

I bought a jumper from home, but I will now be in the tropics until I return home next June, so I don’t need it. Even though it’s my favorite I will give it to the guest house owner tomorrow when I leave. I’m not sure it’s any use to him though, its winter now and he just wears shorts! Maybe he can us it for rags?

I also have a pair of Indian style trousers that I have only worn once. I bought them in India, but they have no pockets and I’d rather wear shorts anyway. I’ll leave these with the guest house also.

I am carrying a sleeping bag, from camping in India, but don’t need it now. I kept it in case I stayed at budget places with a motorbike, but didn’t get a motorbike in the end, and it’s so hot its the last thing I need. I hope the guest house owner can make use of it also.

I’ve traded my reading books here at the guesthouse.

I have a pair of light’ish trousers, which I don’t want, but need to keep in case of visiting temples. I’m looking for a nice lightweight replacement, but until I find them I need to keep hold of them 🙁

I’m going to keep hold of everything else for now. I’ve rearranged my pack, and stored the things I little use (shoes, rain jacket) in the bottom part of the pack. I have removed the mosquito net from there and will now strap that to my day pack when in transit.

Hopefully my pack will be a bit more manageable tomorrow when I set off.

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Not sure where to go next in Goa, India

After a few days in Colva I’m looking to go somewhere else, but I don’t know where, or what I want. I can be a very indecisive person sometimes. I longed for the beaches of Goa for some time, and now that I am here I am feeling a bit unsure what to do. I am enjoying myself, so I think it’s just a case of unwinding and enjoying myself.

I don’t want the party scene of the north, and I enjoy facilities such as Internet access that are only generally available in slightly developed areas. I think tomorrow I will take a taxi to Palolem, from where I can easily go to Patnem a little further south, which has some surf, but I should think the chances of renting a board would be fairly slim.

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Relaxing and writing, Colva, Goa, India

Bananas for breakfast and after some writing out to the beach for a swim. The water wasn’t as hot as I was expecting but was about the same as the Mediterranean in summer, but I have longer to get in the sea since my trip started. In the last 4 years, the last 4 weeks have been the longest period of time I have been away from the sea.

I sit on the beach wondering what I want to do with myself here in Goa. I hadn’t really thought about it that much. I knew I wanted to come here, and I know I’m a bit old for partying late at night. I think I will spend a few more nights here and then head south.

After lunch I head back to the guest house, and do a lot of writing. I think tomorrow I will rent a motorbike and explore the northern area.

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My favorite sights in India

India is a constant offering of sights, some you would expect and others that perhaps you wouldn’t.  Here are my favorites.  It would be easy for me to list the obvious tourist items, so I haven’t.

  • Children playing cricket – normally on a dusty field, sometimes by the side of the road, often with the fielders playing in several games concurrently.
  • A road worker mixing concrete on the tarmac, the only flat surface he could find.
  • School children seated in neat rows under the shade of trees
  • A camel on the highway – following the road’s edge, whilst the driver sleeps on the carriage behind.  Cruise control!
  • Someone in the back of a rickshaw holding a full-sized house door.
  • Trucks with no cab or body – just a driver sticking out of the chassis.
  • Children waving
  • Women dancing -seated in the back of a tractor trailer, whilst we dance back from within our bus
  • Temples – big and small, everywhere
  • Cows – just wandering, but never mooing?
  • Women driving – I have seen only three women driving in India.
  • Fruit and vegetable stalls and markets – such a colourful and beautiful sight.
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Many Indians speak English with each other

I have noticed that a lot of Indian people talk to each other using English. I particularly noticed this in Mumbai, and later realised that in Mumbai there are a lot of different cultures of India and English may be their only common language.

The family I met on the train to Goa were speaking English with each other when they first got onto the train. When chatting with them they revealed that they family are originally from Gujarat, which is their first language, but they also speak Hindi and English.

Whilst walking on Elephanta island I noticed an India couple with 2 small children. They all spoke in English. The parents spoke English with a Indian accent, but the children were almost accent free. I assume that the parents have raised their children speaking both Hindi and English. It think is a very good thing to do. Children speaking fluent English will have a wealth of options available to them as they grow older.

Of course the only common language in India is English. Hindi, Tamil and Urdu and very different languages. When people from the north and extreme south of India met, English is the only common language they have.