Travel Journal

Benaulim to North Goa and back

(Friday 3 December 2010) by Timo and Jon
We hired a scooter (Scotty the scooter) for a week in mid November (no need for a driving licence or ID - just the money will do) and sampled the local traffic. 7-)

Rule number 1 - do not wear a helmet (only the driver should wear one on the national highway)
Rule number 2 - 'blow horn = ok' (in every situation)
Rule number 3 - blow horn again
Rule number 4 - cows sitting in the road are very difficult to spot in the dark
Rule number 5 - don't turn on your lights when it's dark
Rule number 6 - take as many people on board that can fit the vehicle
Rule number 7 - drive on the left (if it's not possible, the right will do)
Rule number 8 - expect the unexpected
Rule number 9 - size matters. The biggest vehicle always wins.
We went up and down the South Goan coast checking out the lanes and beaches which varied from very busy with locals (Colva Beach) to practically deserted resorts (Varka), and Majorda where we thought we had landed in Russia with a heatwave (all signs in Russian - Timo thought we had got a bit lost and driven to the Black Sea).:-?

After 7 days of sampling the traffic, (see rules above) we handed Scotty's keys back to the hotel - unharmed and relieved.B-)

Buying a SIM card here is as easy as it is in the UK (passport and visa copies required) - however, whilst we can send text messages (which is very cheap) we cannot receive them from overseas. We can send messages from our India number (+91 860 592 5830) and only receive them on our UK mobile (+44 759 113 2201). Jon's Jersey mobile will not work after 4 December when contract finishes.|:-)

We have also tweaked our trip we can only stay in India for 90 days (we had hoped to stay for 97 days), and have to leave earlier than planned. On 26 January we will leave for Singapore then onto Kuala Lumpur for a week or so.

North Goa: towards the end of November, we decided to explore some of North Goa...while keeping our accommodation in Benaulim, we packed our small rucksacks and hopped on the local bus system Benaulim to Margao, Margao to Panjim (state capital) then to Calangute for lunch, (via Candolim), then bus number four to Baga.

Baga is incredibly busy, the beach and sea were full of jet-skis, parasailing, banana boats - many local looking folk were sipping Bacardi breezers during the afternoon as if they were going out of fashion. Baga is geared up for party-hard tourists...with sports bars and live european football with screens as big as a cinema. There are also nightclubs (£20 entrance fee) - women are exempt from the drinks til the small hours....We weren't persuaded enough (nor did we have) the right clothes to get in for we found ourselves in a local late night karaoke bar...with a few western tracks and words on a big screen so everyone can join in...we've suddenly had a flashback...Gloria Gaynor, I Will Survive....0:-)

We stayed just on the north riverside in Baga (50 metres from Baga Beach) in the 'Divine Guest House' thanks to our Lonely Planet guide (AKA our Indian bible). Divine it was, 'Praise the Lord' above the door, and an open air church right beside our room and at 6pm each evening mass and psalms....followed by a frantic game of bingo...the congregation were much louder at bingo than they were singing....a quiet nap before dinner was out of the question! :-^

Next stop...Arambol...about 20km north of Baga but took about 90 minutes to get there, via the local bus to Mapusa and numerous stops in every village en route. Plastic seats, blaring music and +35C, no air con but only 10 rupees (12p) we can't really complain....:-D

In Arambol, after looking at quite a few rooms and local versions of beach cocohuts we found a room with the most amazing view on the cliffside with a small terrace, with loo and shower for £4.50 a night. Wonderful.

Here we saw 'fortnight hippies' (you really can buy clip on dreadlocks and burn as many incense sticks as you like) dressed in brightly coloured linen. The fortnight hippies then shave off their beards and remove their clip-on dreadlocks before boarding their return flight home. There were obviously a few old-timers from dear old Anjuna who looked like they may have overstayed their visa 20 years ago. Arambol is also a big hit with Russian nouveau-riche tourists.:-?

Four buses later we are back in Benaulim, wondering where can we find the genuine Goa...all the beach workers seem to be from Tibet, Nepal, the Kashmir region (north) or from Karnataka in the south....however...Goa is predominantly Christian due to the Portguese rule up until 1961...where we are staying the family running it are Portuguese descent...Rosario's Inn and their white wine in the fridge is called 'Madera'.

We will be here until 12 December, then we board the Indian Railways train to Ernakalum in Kerala with a plan to sample the backwaters, starting in Alleppey.

We will take Minna and Jaska's advice from their travel log to help with the planning....(a really lovely Finnish couple we met here in Benaulim with lots of Indian experience and a travel blog)

And just when we weren't expecting it, our brand new credit cards were changed without notice and no longer's a good job we weren't relying on them in thousand thank-yous to Phil and Christina for forwarding them on to us...we'll let you know if/when they arrive!:-^

Hola...ahora...the Spanish lessons are happening daily and going very well....also looking forward to English teaching opportunities in Kerala..|:-)

  • news from Blighty by Dad and Barbara
    • Graham minus hair? by Jon and Timo
    • cards by Timo Jon
  • Hi! by Minna and Jaska
    • Moi by Timo et Jon
    • Moi by Timo et Jon
  • alan anderson by alan anderson
    • warm greetings! by Timo et Jon

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