Tuesday and Wenesday was Holi - the festival of colors. But before that, another update. Pre-Holi weekend was spent enjoying in Goa - the tourism haven of India. Actually, once in Goa, especially Panaji city and its environs, it doesn't look much like rest of India. Its like being transported to a foreign land - there are so many forigners out there who are either relaxing or holidaying. The fact that the summer sun was beating pretty hard didn't seme to make much of a difference. Actually, most took the opportunity to take their clothes off and get a good tan. We were just so jealous coz we could see ourselves turn darker and darker day by day frolicking on the beach sands or the smooth paved roads in Goa. That is one the main things that you - especially if you are a Bangalorean - the absolute absence of traffic signals, traffic cops, traffic jams and the biggest peeve, potholes. We did not find even one of them in all our 4 days of tripping around town. We had rented 4 good, powerful bikes - 3 Pulsars and a Karizma for the 4 days. And I got the honor of riding the Karizma :-D the machine is just awesome - compared to other bikes I have ridden - its pickup it just so fast, blink and you'll miss it! Was a real pleasure riding it around. and Goa provides th long, empty stretches to really give a rip on the throttle! Biking was one of the high points of the trip for me!
Travelling in the train was time for chatting and discussing all sorts of topics under the sun. While on the contrary, travelling in the buses (from Londa to Panaji) was for catching forty winks and reading up the Outlook Traveller's Guide to Goa :-)
The infrastructure difference was starkly contrasted in the state of the same National Highway in different states. NH 4A goes through Londa in Karnataka onto Ponda in Goa and further onwards to Panaji. The highway on the Karnataka side was so bad, even the roads here in Koramangala seemed better. And as soon as we crossed over into Goa state, the roads were as smooth as they could get! We were really shocked by this contrast!
Another great thing was the accomodation we rented out (West Horizon) - it was as close as we could be to the beach - the last house before the town gives way to the sand and water. And very light on the wallet as well - it was big enough to easily accomodate 8 of us in one single room. Additional facilities included 2 hammocks right outside hung on the trees surrounding the house and hardly 5 metres walk to the beach! Each of the nights were spent lying on the beach reclining chairs gazing away at the almost-full moon and the waves glistening under the moonlight with a (sipping either a beer or vodka acording to preferences ;-)).
The beach shacks lining the beach too provide cool comforts agains tthe hot sun with nicely thatched roofs, cushy sofas to sit and watch the waves crash into a surf, with a pool table to pot stripes and solids away!
Parasailing was another thing we literally got high on (lots of other stuff you can get high on as well :-D). We are taken about a kilometre into the sea and then set aloft with the boat doing a ballet in the water and you synchronize the same high up in the air. For many, it was a great experience. But if you have done the bungee jumping or been already airborne glider/microlite, its not as much thrilling. But once up there in the middle of the sea, you can't hear any sounds and its a very beautiful silence that engulfs you! And the sea does not actually look threatening from up there. Since I was the first person to go, I was skeptical to take my camera up there - who would want to let an S1 IS just go plunk into the water (Sath, Vikas and Vyb would have all killed me just for that!). But it seemed safe and now I regret not taking the camera up there :-(
We also went to the Saturday Night Bazaar at Arpora between Calangute and Anjuna beaches. Once inside, it was as if we were transported to a fairground in Europe - there was not an Indian in sight except a few Rajasthanis who were selling stuff a the stalls and the security guards. The place was filled with foreigners. Even the foodstalls were stacked with cusines ranging from American to Thai to authentic Chinese to Continental. We walked around a bit there and bought some stuff from the stalls there.
Sunset is another attraction on the beaches in Goa. Friday's sunset was a Calangute beach sipping beer, Saturday was at Anjuna beach which was an awesome sight, Sunday was in the interiors of Goa perched on top of a hillock watching the Sun go down in between the hills. The sight was great and the photographs completely do justice to it as well. We had 4 cameras between us - my Canon S1 IS, Vinay's Canon A210, Aravinth's Sony Cybershot and Niru's Sony again. Had about 200 pictures per day/night!! Man was it difficult going through the pics.
A few of us also visited the trendiest nightspot, Tito's. Man, it sure does live up to its tag. The people were trendy and hot and the dances even more so. We too shook a leg along with the crowd amidst all the smoke and alcohol flowing like water out there.
For drinkers, Goa is absolutely heaven with cheap alcohol prices than in the rest of India. Though, if you order at the beach shacks, they do cost quite a bit!
The big disappointment was the cruise thingie. They just take you for an hour on the Mandovi river with some people dancing on a stage erected on the boat. We regretted not planning to go to the casino instead. At least could have got a first hand view of what a casino looks like! Wonder when I'll go to Las Vegas and see the original one though! :-D
Finally, tanned and tired we returned to Bangalore but not without fond memories of white sands, crashing waves, sun bathing foreigners, winding country roads and amazingly architectured buildings.
The 4 days were hardly enough to cover North Goa. We would need another 4 days to go exploring south of Panaji beyond Margao. All that for next time though!
Here is the lowdown on the trip:
9th March - 13 March 2006
Bangalore-Londa-Ponda-Panaji-Calangute-Baga-Anjuna-Vagator-Arpora-Candolim-Aguada fort-Sinquerim-Old Goa-Mayem Lake-Mandovi-Panaji-Ponda-Londa-Bangalore
Prashanth, Ajay, Vinay, Aravinth, Niranjan, Praful, Bharath, Badri
See the pics of the trip at http://www.flickr.com/photos/djgraphite/sets/72057594083889853/
Here are a few choice pics from the lot:
Current Music - All around me i can hear the nasal Himesh R singing "Jhalak Dikhlaa Jaa". Also Dont Cha by the Pussycat Dolls and In the Shadows by The Rasmus