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Beached as!

Goa, India

Sorry about the lack of posting lately, but there's not much I can write about lying on the beach, drinking beer, and generally being lazy. So I thought it'd be best to wait a while and collate my stories.

On my last day in Hampi I was sitting with a morning coffee when Ingrid, one of the girls at the guesthouse sat down in tears with a friend of hers. Turns out she'd been for an early morning walk to the Monkey Temple, and had been sexually attacked by a local man. He got so far as to climb on top of her before her defence instincts kicked in, and by gouging at his eyes she managed to get away. Lucky girl.

This was bad timing for me - on the day Glen and I separate to travel alone, I'm confronted with new questions about my safety. Yes, it was silly of her to go walking on her own. But all along this trip, I've laughed off male attention as being a sign of the incredible sexual immaturity here, but harmless. With someone I know being attacked, this view is hard to hold on to. I still feel safe in the tourist centres and while walking with friends. But some of my favourite times are those when I am alone, such as my early morning beach walks. I'm not sure how safe I feel about those anymore.

Ingrid was sadly in the first 3 weeks of a 4 month solo trip, and decided that while she wants to come back some day, she cannot continue with this trip, because she just doesn't feel safe. Fair enough. We were heading out of Hampi to Palolem that night, and I invited her to come along for the trip - she has some friends still in Palolem, and from there she could arrange a flight back to Mumbai, and home. Between the Swiss folk, Ingrid, Olivia (an English girl we met and invited to travel with us too) and me, we started to have quite an impressive sized group!

Once on the bus, I arranged to switch seats with a man to keep Ingrid company. But the poor girl just didn't have luck on her side, and got sick on the bus. I negotiated with the bus drivers to stop the bus for her to be sick (not an easy task), and by her request accompanied her upstairs in a tiny local restaurant to use the family's toilet. Once back on the bus I gifted her the last of my anti-naus which I take on particularly threatening bus rides. She managed to keep it down, and was ok for the rest of the trip. Poor girl.

We arrived in Palolem very early in the morning, and set up camp in a restaurant/bar which was still raging from the night before. We got coffee and breakfast, and waited it out for a few hours until a decent time to go asking about accommodation. While waiting, we got news that there were bombings in Pune, the main city in Goa. The bombings were aimed at tourists, being at the popular German Bakery. 10 people were killed, and there were suspicions of further attacks across Goa. Within 24 hours so much changed! Crazy. Still, we weren't too worried, and nothing seems to have come of it in the meantime.

I spent 5 days on the beach in Palolem, which is stunningly beautiful. It's beautiful white sand, fringed with coconut trees and blue water. The beach itself is quieter than I'd expected, but still shoulder to shoulder lined with restaurants, guesthouses, and shops. Women with armloads of jewellery patrol the beach during the day trying to convince you that you need just ONE more anklet, and make you feel guilty when you say that you really don't need anything. I made friends with one of the women, Shanti (yes Jaz, like Shanti on Shortland St), who promised to bring my puri baji for breakfast, and at the end of the trip I bought a few simple pieces from her, and gifted her some clothes I no longer need on the trip.

We found good, cheap accommodation, and most importantly, the beer is cheap! A 600ml bottle of Kingfisher is 80Rps at most restaurants($2.60), and 50Rps at our guesthouse ($1.60). Awesome! A German man who is taking over our guesthouse next year owns a Thai restaurant behind the place, so we went for dinner one night - real Thai food, cooked by his Thai wife. It was amazing! The best Thai food I've ever had! They made sure it was nice and spicy, and that we had lots of beer. Real thai food is quite unlike anything you can get back in NZ. They can get many of the ingredients in India, and what they cannot get they fly in from Thailand.

One of the guys who works at the guesthouse declared his love for Olivia. You could see from day 1 the way his eyes widened when he first talked to her. Perhaps going too far though, he found her name from the hotel register, and looked her up on facebook! A little creepy...

After 5 days in Palolem, I headed to Anjuna for a few days, mainly to go to the local markets in Mapusa on Fridays. Anjuna beach was dirtier and less pristine, but had surf like down in Varkala. A nice change, but I wasn't going to stick around on a dirty beach. So after getting to the markets (and failing to pick up most of what I was looking for), I headed up the coast once more to Arambol. The beach here is marginally prettier, with the same surf, but feels cleaner. So I have one more real beach day before I finally head to Mumbai, then home. The fact that it's so close is really starting to sink in.

I'll be seeing you all very soon!


permalink written by  Capto on February 22, 2010 from Goa, India
from the travel blog: Two months in Limbo
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