We’re sitting on a train (our first Indian train journey) on the way to a new state, Karnataka where we’re off to visit the world heritage listed site of Hampi. We’ve been in India for a week and a half and have spent the whole time in Goa.
We had a pretty lengthy journey to India, we drove to Melbourne from Phillip Island, narrowly made our flight to Sydney (we were held up by road works through Melbourne), then to Singapore, overnight in Singapore (we stayed inside the terminal and had to trust that Air India would collect our bags from BA lost property and get them on the flight!!), Mumbai, Goa and then a taxi journey to the capital city, Panjim. All in all it was pretty tiring but basically uneventful. We arrived with all our luggage, in one piece!
We spent a couple of days based in Panjim, wandering around town, doing a bit of clothes shopping (trying to make sure we dress properly, ie. cover up!) and getting over our jet lag. We spent a day exploring Old Goa which used to be the capital of Goa. A beautiful place, and not at all what we were really expecting from India, old Portuguese churches and monasteries set in beautiful palm tree surrounds.
Next we headed for the beach. We decided to go north first so got on the bus to Candolim beach. We were drawn by the description of the old Portuguese fort and the relatively new ship which had ran aground just off the beach. We spent 4 days in Candolim, enjoying the time to relax but put off by the other tourists we saw there! It seemed to be full of a mixture of package tourists and people who must have been going there since the 60s. Most of them didn’t wear so much on the beach… I’ve never seen so many thongs in one place in my life!!! We saw one rather large middle aged lady get up from her seat in a beachside restaurant to be confronted by thonged buttocks with an eye tattooed on each cheek! We had a hard time keeping that meal down.
After 4 days in Candolim we went to Margao which is the capital of south Goa. We liked it a lot more than Panjim, but maybe that’s just because we were slowly getting used to being in India! We had a trip out to Ponda to visit a spice plantation which was pretty interesting and then just wandered around the old quarter and the bustling markets. We’d been taking buses for a while by this stage and figured out how to deal with the fare collectors who inevitably try and charge you too much. Give them the right amount and ignore them, they just leave you alone, can’t really blame them for trying!
From Margao we went to Patnem beach in the south. We loved it! Much more our type of place and we found ourselves wishing that we had 4 days in Patnem and had only spent 2 in Candolim! We had a hut directly on the beach and there were plenty of places to get great food! After 2 days we took what we’ve dubbed the ‘Disco Bus’ back to Margao. The bus was probably the calmest we’ve been on so far, but it was all chrome with flashing disco lights and had dance music blaring from the speakers!
We headed out to the train station at about 7am for our 8am train, we were a bit unsure about how it was all going to work! The platforms didn’t have any numbering so we had to trust what we were told. We figured out where we were supposed to stand on the platform for our car, but unfortunately the info was wrong so when the train arrived we had to sprint down the platform, packs on backs, to our car. Even though Margao isn’t the biggest station in the world it was pretty hectic, children begging, tourists (like us) trying to work out what the hell was going on, Indian travellers with bags stacked high on the platform. But here we are, we made it onto the train and we have seats and our luggage in view. 5 hours to go of our 6.5 hour journey…