Monday, March 22, 2010


After a lovely week of doing not much on the beach in Palolem, I finally made the move to head North. I took 4 different local buses; for the eqivalent fare of about $1.50, and a few hours later ended up in Anjuna. Anjuna is another hippie infested beach side village in Goa. I was pretty comfortable in Palolem and once I got off the bus it took about a 10 minute walk on a road, and then a 20 minute hike on the beach in broad day, 30 plus degree sun, with my backpack and so I ended up staying at the first guest house i came across. Slightly over priced, but worth it just so i didnt have to keep on walking!

The day after arriving I actually picked up and left and went back south to meet the diving crew back in Calangute, near Baga for the day. It was nice to see familiar faces. We spent the diving "Suzy Wreck", which was the sunken ship Jess and I had attempted to dive first time round when the visibility was pretty much nonexistant. I had a great day, all kitted out with their equipment and jumping right back into my role as an underwater Lara Croft with my dive watch, a huge knife strapped to my leg and a few other bits and bobs hanging off of me (ive always been an accessories kinda girl). On the hour and a half boat trip home we saw tonnes of dolphins off the boat and the ocean was calm and peaceful (the total opposite of my experience with Jess doing the same route a week or so back).

We went out for a cheap, spicy and fantastic lunch at a local joint and then I loitered around the dive shop until it closed for the day. We gathered a small little crowd and Richard, one of the dive masters guided us through a great night visiting the shadiest back alley bars and food joints in Calangute. I loved it! I would never even come close to setting foot near these places solo, but with this bunch it was safe and a good glimpse at a more local side of Goa.

I made it back to Anjuna but not back to my own place. A few of us crashed at one of the girls' places who was actually living in a local house. The owner of the shop asked me to dive again tomorrow and help out cause they had a big group and were short numbered, so I got to dive the wreck again- on the house!!! What a life. I loved being back under water again. I usually only do a few dives a year, depending where I am travelling so having 6 back to back dives, I was SO at ease under water and able to pick out lots of different things and really be comfortable with the experiences.

A few days later I got back to Anjuna, and the landlady at my guest house looked so relieved when she saw me. She had been worried cause she noticed I had come back, and it felt really nice to have someone worried about me and looking out for me, even if it wasnt really necessary!

From Anjuna I headed further north on more local buses, which i am becoming a pro at navigating (though I almost did miss my stop cause i was too plugged into my ipod), to Arambol.

Same, same but different. Another beach town, more shops, bars on the beach and cows wandering about. My plan is to stay here for a few days, sucking up all the beach sun and sand I can and then head to Mandrem, apparently pretty close to here, to do some yoga.

Although I feel like Goa is a little un-India, I can't help be swept up by the ease of life and how nicley one day rolls into the next.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


After just a few days we headed away from the madness of the big city south to Goa. Another crazy 10 hour train ride and we finally caught sight of the ocean. We picked Baga (not the best choice) to arrive at because there was a Dive Shop there, but Baga itself was pretty crappy. The ocean was lovely but the beach was composed mostly of aged, wrinkled, gigantically overweight and oiled up Europeans getting waited on hand and foot by Indians.

Ya it was quite the site. Anywho, we did our dive with Goa Aquatics and met some great people. Unfortunately the day we went diving the visibility was NON EXISTANT! It must have been less than a metre and Jess and I actually had to hold hands not lose eachother at the bottom. We were almost holding on to our dive masters fins also, not to lose him!!!! Needless to say we didnt last long. The second site was a bit better but not much. We had planned on diving a ship wreck and I am was so disappointed cause we just barely got to see it and mostly just kept crashing into it. But I think I will return to Baga later to redo the Wreck Dive.

We just barely wet our whistle with the dives, and the guys at the shop were headed on a road trip down south to another site called Mugudeshwar a few hours south, so we ended up tailing along with them and a small diving entourage for a few days. So nice to travel in a group and with a few locals who actually knew where they were going (more so than us, anyways) and what they were doing! We all stayed together in a dodgy guest house, had meals out, went boozing in the evening and lived with a pack for a few days.

After the dive, we all headed back up towards Baga. Jess and I parted ways with them and jumped off the train in South Goa. Jess was with me for a few amazing days in sleepy Palolem. The high season is pretty much done so now its blissfully quiet this far down south. Palolem beach is relatively empty but we walked a few beaches over to Patnem and it was basically EMPTY, so nice to see after the disappointment of Baga.

So Jess left 2 days ago and I am now, quite happily, flying solo. I LOVED every minute spent with her and she made it so easy cause when I was lazy and couldn't be bothered to figure anything out Jess totally stepped up to plate. But I don't mind being on my own now (ask me that again in a week, and i might not be so keen).

I'm only just starting to take out my guide book and piece together the next few weeks and where I will be. Its looking like a few more days here, then back to Baga for the wreck dive and then up to the north to do a yoga retreat. But who knows....that could all change at the drop of a pin. So for now I'm here in Palolem, happy as a cat!

Udaipur and Onwards

We left Udaipur the day after the Holi Festival, March 2nd. We loaded onto a sleeper bus for 16 hours to Mumbai. I was missing Vikram (our driver)like there was no tomorrow. Jess and I were in the very last, 2nd storey, compartment at the back of the bus, stuffed into our little make shift bed and flying all over the place like popping pieces of popcorn! I came out battered and bruised with next to no sleep, meanwhile I had to wake Jess up once we got to Mumbai, she was out like a light, almost the whole time, shocking, huh?

We headed to Colaba, an area in Mumbai and did a few touristy things. We went to the India Gate, similar the Arc de Triomphe, then took a very long boat ride to Elephanta Island and saw some cave temples, and met a lovely young Indian girl who took to us on the journey.

I was adamant to make it to Chowpatty Beach in Mumbai for the sunset and we had a lovely dinner from the food stalls watching all the locals parading around enjoying the evening.

From there we decided to beelineoutta the big city and head south to catch some sun and beach in Goa......YEAH!

Happy Holi! The Festival of Colours

Okay its been awhile and I have to jog my memory and do a bit of back tracking. I blame it all on Jessie that I haven't written in anything in so long. Not only was it difficult to tear myself away from her lovely company to be a computer nerd, but she also kept me on a back breaking tight schedule during our time going through Rajasthan. We spent 8 nights in 6 different places. Agra, Ranthambhore, Jaipur, Pushkar, Jodhpur and then Udaipur.

Udaipur was the last place we were delivered by Vikram, our driver...then we were left to our own devices. We arrived in Udaipur on the eve of Holi Festival, which is the Festival of Colours. It is supposed to represent all the different people of India with all their different shades of beliefs and traditions. What a festival!

The night before there were crowds of people gathered, both foreigners and locals, to the town centre where a stage was set up with a HORRIBLE cackling sound system and an odd Indian drag queen dancing to a mix of Indian music, hiphop and Shakira....suprisingly the crowd LOVED it! There were a few other randon performers, a procession from a temple overlooking the square and a HUGE teepee like structure set up to be lit to conclude the evenings events (think Burning Man Indian style).

Jess and I had a good view of the concert part but the sound was so horrible we went for a breather and came back for the finale. The second time round though we stayed towards the outskirts (with an escape route) cause there were masses of uncontrolled crowds and fire involved. There was a display of fireworks that was soooooooooo unsafe yet no one seemed concerned, then the teepee thingy went up in smoke directly under a set of electrical wires which eventually caught fire. Again, no one seemed remotely concerned (though the power later in the evening did get cut off to an entire grid). I was happy to watch it all from a safe distance away.

The next morning was a free for all with this herbal natural powder that everyone kept in little baggies in the most magnificent shades of blue and purple, pink and green. Traditionally, these colours were diluted with water and people used water bottles and squirt guns, but now it has changed to just sprinkling the powder due to environmental concerns and water shortages (one point for India). I say sprinkling cause the powder is soft like fairy dust, but in actuality people were dumping this powder. With it comes a little blessing, a hug and a "Happy Holi". Unfortunately we were warned by the guys who ran the guest house that the men get quite unruly (there were NO Indian women on the streets celebrating....literally NOT ONE!!!), and it gets a little unsafe as the day progressed and the men got drunker and rowdier. So we stayed in the stoop of our hotel and used these guys as bodyguards. It was such a scene. I posted loads of pics from it on faceook and am trying to upload a videos of the fire display.

All in all, it was a beautiful festival minus a few scenes I could have lived without witnessing. Jess and I were covered from top to bottom in this herbal powder and looked like walking pieces of artwork! A lovely festival to both watch and take part in!

Next stop MUMBAI!