India Part 3 GOA 2010
We arrive in Goa, and drive towards Baga, the party region of Goa, where we find a small guest house in secluded woods just back from the beach between Candolim and Calangute.
We go to Brittos, a well known restaurant on Baga beach, where we have fresh fish and tandoori chicken. After dinner we head to the night market; we at first try to get a rickshaw there but the driver is asking too much, so we decide to walk. We hear a band playing Ledzepplin in the distance and walk towards the music in the dark, which takes about 20 minutes. We arrive at the night market, which must be one of the most touristy places in Goa, filled with over-priced souvenirs, which are being lapped up by many westerners, not knowing the true value of the goods they are buying.
There is a live English band playing cover tracks in the middle of the market, who have been performing in Goa since the 1970’s. Many food and drink stalls surround the stage area and we stay for a quick drink.
The crowd is filled with drunk middle to old aged westerners; it feels more like we are at a Butlins holiday camp or in the Costa del Sol rather than the Goa we were expecting, so decide to head to the beach in search of some alternative entertainment.
As we head back around the market, it is mayhem; the roads are completely blocked, even trying to walk is an issue, we are knocked off the pavement by cars and rickshaws who don’t seem to care if they hit us or not.
We stroll down the beach where they are various bars, restaurants, and even a karaoke bar where there is the typical guy singing who is quite awful, but at least it is entertaining, so we stop for a quick drink. We walk part of the way home, and then grab a rickshaw the rest of the way.
We head to Candolim beach during daylight to see one of the famed Goan beaches; we find it packed with Indian tourists; with so many jet skis and boats speeding around in the water, it makes swimming quite hazardous. We find a nice roof top café where we grab some Biryani and cold drinks.
On the way back, we spot a hairdressers and book a haircut. I have never had such a good deal- I have a massage, a manicure and haircut all for £7! Later Martin comments that I wouldn’t look out of place in The Supremes-she went a bit overboard with the styling!
On our return we are stopped by a lady from a clothes store. Nicole has promised she would look at her shop on the way back. We are hoping to sneak by unnoticed but she sees us and runs over. We are both dragged into the shop, and pestered into buying something.
In the evening we take a walk along the beach to see the sunset, stopping at a shack called the Rovers Return, unsurprisingly filled with northerners from the UK. After a couple of drinks we head to another British filled pub/restaurant called the Hungry Horse, where most people seem to be eating roast dinners with all the trimmings.
Beware of the Coconuts! This morning we are told there is no hot water as a very large coconut has fallen out of the tree and broken the water pipe. We are not sure if it’s a joke or just a bad excuse for having no hot water!
Disaster strikes, Martin’s laptop hard drive seems to be corrupted and he can’t start Windows. He spends the day trying to fix it, having to fully reinstall windows, and try to recover the 8000 odd photos we have. He finds that many of the photos recovered are corrupted, and over the next week will have to check each individual file.
While Martin is panicking about the photos I decide to cool down in a local beach restaurant with a Banana Split.
In the morning we take a walk down the beach which is filled with shacks and tourist sun beds. We pass a large cargo ship which has been beached-the River Princess; it has been there for a decade and slowly rusting away- a surreal site on Goa’s beaches.
We’re aiming for the fort-Fort Aguada, but after an hour walk, we take a detour to find accommodation over Christmas. It’s peak season and all the hotels and guest houses are charging 3 – 4 times their normal amount i.e. 4000rp (£57) for a basic room; some even have no hot water or aircon. Others are quite shocking- how can they charge so much for something that is normally let for 400-700rp!
On the main road we stop for lunch a quick lunch of noodles and a milkshake. As I’m drinking the milkshake I get a burning sensation in my throat…. the restaurant seems to have contaminated the milkshake with masala! They without question offer to make me another, this time minus the masala.
As we head down the beach we are continually hassled for trying out jet skis, parasailing, sun beds etc.
Once we arrive back at our guest house we find the power is out and decide to head into town for some dinner and find a nice little restaurant, where we get king prawns & king fish.
We head for Bastora in search of a relative called Denise. We have no address, just the town name so as we enter Bastora we ask at the local shop if they know her. Thankfully they do and we are directed to her house. As we arrive we meet Merwyn, her son, who informs us she is currently teaching at the local school. He gives her a call and before we know it she arrives at the house on the back of a motor cycle.
Denise treats us to some home cooked Goan food- rice, chapattis, fish curry and spicy veg, which goes down well.
We next head to another relatives house, Salis, where we escape the teeth of an unhappy dog. We are again offered beer and snacks. We are invited to his daughter’s wedding on 8th January. However we are not sure whether we would still be in Goa then.
Finally we visit my great aunt Martha’s place.
In the early evening we continue our search for somewhere to stay. Driving down a quiet beach road, we see a sign outside a bakery saying rooms available. To our luck the room is spacious, has hot water and is 1000rp per night, cheaper than others we had seen.
This morning we check out of our accommodation, and head to our new room in Candolim. The room is just a short walk from the beach.
We have an easy day, popping out to the main street for lunch and dinner. The area is packed with bars and restaurants catering to the thousands of tourists who descend to it (but a little less touristy than Baga).
We had been invited to Denise’s for Christmas, and so dash to Panjim, the state’s capital, to look for presents, and to pick up to solenoids from DHL for our gear box.
We search high and low for presents but have no idea what to get everyone; we end up looking for handbags, fishing knives, T-Shirts etc.
Once we have the parts we drive to Toyota. We are shocked to be told that they are not qualified to fit the new solenoids and have no experience working with automatic gear boxes, despite selling automatic cars including Landcruisers. We’re told they could try and fix it but that they would not be liable if it went wrong. Considering the gear box fault is intermittent, we decide to not to take the risk.
We head back late to Candolim, without presents for every one……
In the morning we are lucky to find the shops open and have last minute dash for presents before driving over to Denise’s for Christmas lunch; family from Bombay are also there.
We have traditional Goan dishes, of chicken Biryani, sorpatel, mutton chops, potato and egg rolls, fish curry and lamb and potatoes. All is very delicious.
After opening presents and a few more drinks, we do the rounds and see the rest of the family and come back for dinner.
We have a great day and go back completely knackered.
We take a stroll down the beach and find a nice restaurant shack for lunch. In the evening, we head to Inferno and get sea food rice and curry. There is a big festival happening over 3 days with international DJ’s-a random guy invites us in and we take a look at the preparations-big stages and huge sound systems accompanied by a castle and foam mushrooms everywhere. We consider buying tickets, but at 5000rp (£70) each decide to give it a miss.
We spend a couple of days seeing more family and drive to Denise’s. We are surprised to find out it’s actually her birthday and are not dressed for the occasion. Lunch is local crab, king prawns, fish and mixed fried rice. Given Goa has a strong Catholic society, there is a blessing before lunch. This is followed by chocolate cake, singing in Konkani and English, then later Goan rummy, with rules we do not understand!
Drive to Fatima and Anthony’s place in Aldona. With more Goan sweets and wine later, we go back to Denise’s and finally home.
Five of us head to Margao to Tony & Maria’s and have spicy pomfret which are delicious. Meet a couple from Perth who used to live in Oman. We head to the popular Martin’s Corner for lunch, which is so packed we end up waiting half an hour for the table and an hour for most of the food. Martin never did get his kingfish!
Stop to buy coconut on the roadside then head back to Denise’s. Getting back is chaos due to the sunburn festival-later on we go out for a few drinks and try to sneak in or buy some cheap tickets outside but security is too tight. We can hear the music from outside and it sounds pretty good.
In town we have some dinner of xacuti and rice and some port wine, which I surprisingly enjoy.
Pack up early and leave for South Goa. On the way we try to find Uncle Anthony’s house in Candolim. We are pointed to a purple house but it is the wrong uncle! Some tea and biscuits later, the guy gets the family elders who know the family we are looking for, and we are finally taken to my dad’s uncle’s home. Unfortunately he is not home, but his son, wife and their cute little boy are.
We have some tea with Francis and Piedade and agree to come back another day. We also visit my mum’s cousin, Maria in Cortalim and have a drink.
In the afternoon we lie on the beach in Margao and have some tasty fish fry after a swim.
We have dinner overlooking the beach and watch the sunset.
We pack to head south and unexpectedly meet Francis in the morning. We are taken for a breakfast of omelette and pourris with them and then go with Francis and Gail into Margao to look for a dress and suit for the wedding. I am in heaven as there is lots of choice and it’s all pretty cheap. All seems to go smoothly for once for Martin-he chooses the material, chooses the style, has his measurements taken and we are out in a flash!
We drive south to Palolem, where the beaches are much less touristy and cleaner than the north. We have trouble finding accommodation; everywhere is full for new years. After searching for about an hour, we find the last available coco-hut with a great location on the palm-lined beach.
In the evening we have dinner on the beach. Just before heading to bed, we are invited for drinks with some English tourists we had met. I decide to get some rest and let Martin have just a couple of beers. He arrives home a couple of hours later tipsy after drinking local cashewnut and palm feni.
We have a lazy day with Martin waking up with hangover. It doesn’t seem like he will be going far today!
We head out early for dinner on the beach; the beach is packed with hundreds of tables lit up with candles from one end of the bay to the other. We’re lucky to find a free table outside a small restaurant bar where we have a few drinks while watching the stream of fireworks going off during the evening. We give a few friends and family a call to wish them an early new year.
After dinner we walk along the beach head to Neptune’s Point where the town’s main night club is. It’s normally a silent club I.e. people wear wireless headphones and dance. However tonight they will have music playing full blast throughout the night. When we arrive, the queue to get in is absolute mayhem, people pushing and shoving everywhere, and just one guy trying to control them all. It’s just before 11pm, at which point, the price of entry doubles. However there are probably about 300-500 people queuing and all trying to get in before the price goes up. We meet quite a few friendly people whilst waiting, and Martin does well making sure we get through the crowd.
There is a bar area under cover leading onto an open-air area where the DJ’s are playing. We meet a few people, including some overlanders and bring in the New Year with fireworks, some of which go sideways instead of into the air spraying everyone with sparks-well it is India after all, you have to be prepared for the unexpected!
We wake up to 2011 on a serene Goan beach- couldn’t ask for more, apart from Martin not been so hung over maybe….
Martin & Nicole