When in India, Go Goa!


That’s the rule that applies to any tourist, either an Indian or a Foreigner. Goa might not be a blue lagoon (out of the referential movie) but it surely has the charm of one. And I finally got to go on a Goa trip, dreamt of it for ages (. . . you can almost hear a sigh of relief from my mouth).  This trip was one unlike others – for starters, it was
the first trip outside the State that we managed to pull off on our own. I mean, it was easier relying on the elders (parents, relatives etc) so far but now that we are adults ourselves, we had no one to rely on but ourselves…that in itself is not just exciting but pretty darn scary sometimes and almost always stressful if not well-handled. It involved making a lot of mistakes and yes, a whole lot of fun for the same. It was much different an experience (or might I say: Experiences) this time round and I will tell you what I mean by that eventually.
We have been planning this trip for months now and dreaming of it for years. Goa is so very different compared to what I have come across and I have been to many a tourist spot. And that in itself put me in a dilemma, straight from the starting point and that is researching about the place. I clicked every possible website related to Goa and the number of places to visit was mind boggling. And my mind tends to freeze or becomes blurry when it’s faced by too many choices. So I narrowed it down to one thing – What is it I want to do in Goa? And that’s simple – SHOP! Trinkets, Baubles, clothes...you name it, I want it all! Anjuna Beach especially its Wednesday flea market fit the bill. And there’s Calanghute beach. Two places fixed on the map and we were good to go.

Stay and Travel:
We narrowed down the stay to Calanghute beach and Mapusa. Although Mapusa was still about 9 km away from the beach it was much closer than the Capital city, Panjim. With only a budget of 9400 rs., we could hardly afford a 3 star hotel to stay in for 3 days. So, it had to be Mapusa where there were better deals on budget hotels. After enquiring with Paulo travels and other Private tour buses, we fixated on long route KSRTC tour buses which charge anywhere around 110rs per person from Belgaum to Goa. And yeah, getting a bus every half an hour from the main bus stand made it a safer bet even if we didn’t reach there on time. Private buses started at 4 or 6 in the morning which was impractical as we couldn’t reach the place of departure on time. (Where am I gonna find autos at 4 in the morning??) And besides they charge at least 180 rs more than public buses. So, money saved! Still, waking up at even 5.30 in the morning to get ready was a bane as we had slept late at night playing board games. And my eyes were drooping so bad that they hurt. We were supposed to leave by 6.45 in the morning yet we were late by an hour. Somehow we managed to get the 8 o’clock bus and we were set to go.  The journey was exciting, and a bit scary. Fi kept going out to buy snacks and not coming a minute sooner than the bus left…which scared me throughout the trip. The constant turns around the hills of the Western Ghats scared me (scared of heights...and falling from heights) all the while otherwise, the trip was pleasant.
My first taste of Pork..Pork Vindaloo with Tandoori Rotis
Seriously good Prawns Fried Rice!
After the 6 hour travel through the Ghats, we reached Panjim. As soon as I stepped on Goan soil, I felt the blistering heat on my head. The place was steaming and to make it worse, travelling in a jam-packed bus to Calanghute with the noise, sweat and crowdedness…irony was that it was more daunting than the inter-state tour! Once we reached Calanghute, we started searching for a hotel to park in...All my research laid to waste, we roamed the streets for a good bargain. We finally ended up in the first place we visited and we checked into Calanghute Beach Inn at the Circle. The place smelled funny (probably coz of the owner’s dog) and the bathroom wasn’t spacey and neither properly built…take a shower and one would find the water splashed out into the living room. The AC kept dying on us, but Fi kept cranking it up to fix it.. it worked! No complimentary breakfast, no newspaper. It wasn’t a great place but at least a place near the beach and nearer to the budget of 1200rs/day. I took a look at mom’s face and it scared me to see how charred her skin was...from a decent light brown to a dark black! And this was just after an hour of being in the sun and the sunscreen didn’t help either. After relaxing a while, we headed out to have some food, we were famished...So much so that I could eat a pig! And eat a pig we did! At ‘Citrus  ...Something’ (Sorry, forgot the name of the restaurant), we had lunch. Fi and I looked at the menu and ordered Pork Vindaloo without the knowledge of mum (She being a Hindu, I wouldn’t want her making faces and scolding us in the middle of a restaurant) and rotis for us. And we ordered Prawns fried rice for mum (it was darn tasty, I tell ya!). We were so famished that we ordered another 2 plates of prawns fried rice for ourselves! (With the bill soaring at 700 rs...youchhh!!) 

After a walk back to the room, we decided to tease mum about what we had for lunch. And pat came the answer, “Pig”. Fi and looked at each other’s faces and I asked her why didn’t she say so earlier. She said, with an upset face that I didn’t offer her so she didn’t ask. I felt so guilty and told her that I didn’t offer assuming that she might scold. Somehow, she became very curious about something that she had always stayed away from and we decided to have it at least once before leave.  We returned to the hotel and rested well.

Here are a few shots of Calaghute beach..
Calanghute beach..kept on visiting it


The crow that kept playing with the tides
One of the boats commonly found alongside Goa beaches
That eve, we went to the beach, all walking of course. Mum and I kept window shopping all the while…there was so much to gawk at! One thing I would like to advice to all people coming to Goa, BEWARE of the Water Sports guys who will take you on rides for a cheap amount of money but there really is no guaranteed safety on their vehicles. Calanghute beach was beautiful, serene and peaceful if not for these pesky people coming every half a minute asking whether we wanted to get a photo taken or dragged by a parachute or a jet ski. The only way to say no to them (so that they might listen) is to look into their eyes and be shrill. And ignore every person trying to sell trinkets on the beach, coz if you pay the slightest interest and decide not to buy later…they tend to be mean and tell you off! Other than these short trips of migraine and lewdly dressed foreigners, it was the cool calming breeze, the sun and the sand and of course, the splashing waves that really made the trip worth-while.

Many such shacks dot the roadmap of Goa..Bargain well!



Day 2: Anjuna Flea Market
The rocky beach at Anjuna
We woke up late..Alright, I woke up early, but it was all Fi’s fault that we were late as he kept slumbering right till 10 in the morning. My umpteen efforts to wake Fi up turned into a complete failure. After getting ready, we were out by 11.30 in the morning. We dropped by the nearby Udupi Hotel for a cheap breakfast (cheap by Goan standards).


Dosas and Cutting Chais, a really crackling breakfast!

 One Masala Dosa, One Plain Dosa and One plate of Idlis sufficed an entire breakfast plan that was budgeted around 150 rs. It was all nice, my Plain Dosa tasted superb – crackly and thin..I enjoyed it wholly.  Back home, we would have got the whole thing below 80 rs. But better this than some steeply priced rip-off restaurant.
The view past 'Sunset Paradise' Restaurant at Anjuna
The exuberantly charged Pepsi at Anjuna
After a trip to Anjuna via Mapusa, we landed right where the bus took us – Anjuna beach. The beach wasn’t as I expected it to be but a rocky thin strip of land with roaring waves of the Arabian Sea.  I took a left turn as I wanted to visit the much anticipated Wednesday Flea Market.  As we strolled along looking at the merchandise, I realized that this “flea market” was anything but! It was hardly the lanes of goodies I had imagined it to be. Instead, I found it to be rather disappointing...just a few shops here and there. I was so thrilled to go to this place and here I found nothing matching up to my expectations. Nonetheless I managed to buy my favourite things to wear – earrings and also some bracelets. Mom bought a necklace (and also some hats for some shade in the heat).  Then we scoured the place for some food. The ‘Sea Paradise’ restaurant up on the cliff was ideal but the prices were certainly not. So all we did was order a bottle of Pepsi (charged at 40 rs which is actually 25 rs), clicked some photos and headed to the next place. We found a much reasonable place where we ordered some prawns pulaos which were more than filling and a Pepsi (still charged as exuberantly) and then we headed to the beach. 
Crab Eggs (probably) all over the edges of Anjuna Beach








After managing to get on top of the eroded rocks, we played around searching for some sea fauna..Some small crabs caught our eyes, also some eel – like fish which were about 5 cm in length and lots of tiny green eggs (probably crab eggs) covering the rocks upfront. Fi kept gashing at the fish with a thick stick yet unsuccessfully. It was still very hot mid afternoon but we tried to enjoy as much as we could. After making a walk up to the base, we saw that the bus was gone! 
View atop the hills beside Anjuna beach

After refreshing ourselves with lime sodas and ice creams, and attending to nature’s call, we figured out that the bus comes every half an hour. So we passed time on the hill side, lounging in the heat watching the waves and the wavering coconut palms so dangerously hanging from the hills.
At the end of the Wednesday Flea Market, near the Soda shop
Then we got on the bus that arrived at 5.30 pm and spent the journey munching on some local boiled & spiced corn cobs which were very tasty...20 rs a piece. Once we reached, we made way to Calanghute again and then made way to our room after a few buys.

Boiled & Spiced Corn Cobs..Yumm!


In the evening, Fi and I ventured out for a stroll and also to buy dinner. My calves were undergoing severe spasms (probably coz of dehydration and excessive walking) but after walking a few blocks, I was relieved of the excessive pain. Again, I bought some trinkets and for dinner, we bought some local snacks – Prawns Samosas. To keep the budget under a cool simmer, we bought 3 udupi thalis from that nearby hotel. After enjoying a wholesome meal watching the Finals week of Masterchef Australia, we dozed off...Snoring.

Day 3: Where to?
It was an early morning but we still hadn’t decided upon where to head the final day. Fi was suggesting the nearby water-park but I wasn’t so gung-ho about getting completely soaked in front of strangers. So, we finally decided to take mom out to Calanghute to let her buy whatever she wants and then head out for a bike-ride in the evening. Goa, I must say, is not just an experience with beaches and food laid all around you but also when it comes to the people. And when it comes to people, there’s a myriad. For starters, there are the rude auto-rickshaw drivers who have no sense of hospitality and there are the complete opposites and according to me, true Goans – The Catholic Christians who define the word ‘Hospitality’. There was one such couple (an elderly couple) we came across when we were heading to the beach. I wanted to buy guide maps/travel guides and we dropped in this shop run by one sweet mild-natured couple. They were truly hospitable and a genuine people. The lady guided us about the ways and works of Goa, and I was very surprised at her helpful nature. It surprised me coz in India, you will come across ruder, careless people than never. And I am used to people not being helpful, let alone put an honest smile on their face to greet me. To have met her, made the whole day tolerable and in itself, the whole harsh walk in the sun.  Fi told me that more of such people can be found in parts of old Goa side. Beach side is all about business to most people. And that money-mindedness might have got the best of them.


Cranberry/Orange Breezers and Goan Street food


On the way back, we found a road-side stall catering fried fish and fried rice. We got a few parcels, some lassi packets and many bottles of water to the room and had our lunch. To tell you, it surely wasn’t the best meal of the day...or ever. The fish were stale and the rice was dry. Fi had tummy problems after that so we decided never to buy roadside food after that no matter how cheap it might be. I also looked into a local book store where they were charging an Archie’s Digest at 120 rs. I refrained from buying it as it was not even new, yet charged 20 rs higher than what we get at Bookworm’s at Bangalore. 
It was hard to decide in the eve, whether to go out or not as we were completely drained out. But we surely didn’t want to spend our last evening in Goa in a hotel room watching TV. So, we rented a bike although I was firm about not giving the PAN card as an identity proof, we had not much choice but to do so. Fi suggested going to Mapusa although I wanted to go to Baga. Mapusa it is.

Mapusa and the Market place:


Spooky looking Church on the Mapusa-Calanghute Road

The scooter wasn’t pleasant for a back-seater like me and I surely will remember never to get on a Dio ever again.  After paying 280 bucks to the owner (including 80rs petrol), we headed to the City. Although midway, Fi changed his mind and wanted to go to Panjim...I was against it as I was hardly dressed for the occasion (Tee and tracks...get the idea?).  Our roadmap to Mapusa was hardly used as all we did was take the help of locals at every turn.  After reaching Mapusa, we ventured out into the commercial part of the town in search of meat in question. The roads uphill were something out of my nightmares (truly!). They were so excessively steep that I had to literally grab hold of the back rail of the bike, to prevent any accidental fall. While on the lookout for a recharge shop (DOCOMO has almost no recharge shops in Goa..what a waste!), we tumbled across the Municipal Market and headed straight towards it thinking we would find what we came looking for. After enquiring with the locals, we were told that Xavier’s (a famous bakery) was the answer. After walking 2 lanes to the left, there it was...a huge bakery lying in wait. I was hesitant to enter but Fi convinced me saying that most Goans dressed just as me and therefore I had not much to worry about.  Yay! We found Sorpatol (Pig in Konkani)! While waiting for our order, we sat drinking some refreshments. And then we headed into the market to explore the area for other goodies. Mapusa Market is good for 5 things: Masalas, Sorpatol, Wines, Cashews and Goan hospitality.  After buying some Rechiado masala, fish and chicken masalas, we headed for Shawn’s shop at the market that provides homemade Sorpatol.  The dude was a typical Goan, very well-mannered and helpful with the directions for our way out of the market as we had ventured deep inside.
As we made our way back, we realized that it was getting dark. And in Goa, with most of the highways or other roads ill-lit, it was pitch dark soon. I was getting scared as I haven’t been out on unknown roads in this manner. After asking some passersby and with a bit of guess-work, we journeyed our way back safely in the chilling weather.
Sorpatol and buns...
Dropping off the bike to the owners was a bit of a task as the guy would hardly be at his place. We roamed around for a while in search of food, things to buy and sometimes just for the fun of it. Mum was getting worried as we were late. Then we had a good dinner of Sorpatol with bread, with Breezers on the side. The Homemade Sorpatol was tastier in comparison yet spicier..I suspect if they added any blood to the dish as the traditional cooking method involves...I hope not.

Day 4: Heading Home
We were confused about whether we wanted to stay for another day or head homewards.  Funny thing is that I did miss home, and I have never missed home as much before. Fi felt stronger about that than I did. We concluded that we were too exhausted to enjoy any further and frankly, we hadn’t really liked the place all that much. Besides, work was pending and we had to get that going. So we took the bus to Panjim after a final Dosa and Idli breakfast at the Udupi hotel. After arriving at the Kadamba Bus Stand at the Capital, we realized that the only bus heading home at that moment was completely occupied. We had to wait an hour more for the next bus to arrive. I prayed in my heart that we didn’t have to wait as long. To pass time, we went to the bakery and bought some cake, chocolates and other snacks. And then suddenly, a KSRTC bus arrived! Yay, finally we get to go home! After a journey around the hills (which wasn’t as scary this time around) and on rough terrains, we reached home at sharply an hour earlier than predicted.  It seemed like we hadn’t been home for ages, yet we had been away for hardly 3 days. It was fun while it lasted, but I am glad to be home. 

2 comments:

  1. kewl.....its a real gr8 fun in goa/\

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow! Amazing Goa,I have already visited Goa with my friends via Paulo Travels. It really makes me very fun and enjoyable..Such an awesome outdoor destination.

    ReplyDelete

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