More from Arambol

I thought I’d say a bit more about Arambol, as we’re here until 6th December at least.

There are no hotels, just guesthouses and huts. The beach front is lined with shacks housing restaurants, most of these are temporary structures, rebuilt each season.

There’s one main road which is lined with stalls and restaurants. There are a couple of general stalls, lots of internet cafes (mostly shared modems at Rs40/hr), and several travel agents.

There are a few places that will swap or sell books, handy as we’re reaching the end of our selection.

Each morning we sit by the sea eating our breakfast, and most days you can see dolphins playing in the sea. They jump clear out of the water, sometimes even doing backflips.

We’ve seen all kinds of other wildlife here too; a mongoose, kingfishers, woodpeckers, a dung beetle (!), and bee-eaters.

Since we’ve been here the place has got busier; new stalls have been set up, new shacks built, more beach-sellers have arrived and there are more visitors here. Ivon’s, where we’re staying was full up a few days ago, but there are now a few rooms available as people have moved on.

There are quite a few of the “hippy” types here, whirling poi around, smoking chillums, and playing out of tune guitars. There are also loads of Israelis, mostly straight out of doing their national service. They’re not very popular with the locals as they like too much “boom boom” (trance and techno) and sit around all day with their chillums.

Lots of people do yoga on the beach in the mornings, which isn’t too bad, apart from when it’s blokes in posing pouches…. enough to put you right off your breakfast.

We’ve even considered doing a yoga course ourselves, but haven’t achieved sufficient momentum yet, and if we move on on the 6th Dec, we probably won’t get around to it.

Now the good news… I’ve got the technology together to upload photos, so I’ll give that a go in the next few days.

Resting in Arambol

Still haven’t managed to find somewhere that I can use my card reader, so I have more than a weeks worth of daily diary to upload, and I really want to upload some of the photos we’ve taken. My search will continue…

We’re in Arambol, staying in an excellent guesthouse called Ivon’s Holiday Calm. Nice tiled room with balcony and attached bathroom. No air-con, but a fan.

We bought a Flying Carpet hammock from The Arambol Hammock Co. and that is proving very useful for chilling out in.

Our balcony overlooks the family compound of the owner of the guesthouse (a guy called Martin Rodrigues). The compound is filled with coconut palms, and is also home to countless pigs, chickens and dogs. The pigs eat any leftover food or other compostable stuff.

The guesthouse is about 3 minutes walk (through a coconut grove) to the beautiful beach. The beach is still used for fishing, but also plays host to the various visitors to Arambol; travellers, long term residents, beach sellers, visiting Indians etc.

There are loads of bars and restauants along the beach, and all the ones we’ve tried in the week and a half since we arrived have been very good. The seafood is naturally very fresh, though still more expensive than the great veggie Indian food we’ve come to love.

Our daily routine here tends to be:-

Get Up Early (7:30)
Wander down beach for breakfast (until 10:00)
Sit on beach for an hour.
Go for swim in the sea
Return to room for a shower
Sit in hammock reading until the sun cools down.
Wander down the beach for a drink.
Watch the sun set (about 6pm)
Go for dinner (usually until 9pm)
Back to the room for a read and then sleep.

Not bad really. Food and drink costs us about five pounds a day, our room is about two pounds seventy per night.

We’ll be staying here until at least 6th December, maybe longer, depending on how busy it gets…

And I’ll try to get some pictures sorted out…

Gone to Goa

Quick update as I’ve not managed to upload my notes for a week.

We flew to Bombay/Mumbai on Saturday, arrived at hour hotel and wandered a bit.

After a rather expensive (for India) meal at a Chinese restaurant, we returned to our room to find several cockroaches running about. Vic couldn’t face sleeping there so we did a late night move to the very posh Taj President hotel. Way above our budget but if it meant we could sleep it’d do.

On Monday evening, despite Vic feeling very poorly (upset stomach and sore throat) we got the sleeper train to Goa. That was an experience and one the guide books didn’t really prepare you for but we survived it well enough, and both agreed that it wouldn’t seem such a challenge next time as we’d know what to expect.

We’ve been staying at a lovely guest house called Panjim Pousada (owned by the same people as the Panjim Inn, which is next door).

Tomorrow we’re heading off to Arambol, on the North Goa coast for a bit of hippy beach time :)

More (and more detail) whan I get a chance…

Nigel reaches Thirty-Eight

My birthday(Or something along those lines). Vic had drawn and painted a lovely birthday card for me, complete with a picture of a monkey riding on an elephant. My Mum and Dad had given me a card when we left the UK which I opened on my birthday as instructed to find some cash (always useful!).

We decided that it would do us both some good to get into town so we walked the short distance to the town centre and visited a pharmacy and bookshop. It was a pleasant walk in the sunshine and we both liked Panjim (despite the repeated offers to sell us wallets and drums). Vic took me to the Baskins Robbins ice cream parlour for a birthday ice cream. Very good it was too.

Vic still ill

With little sign of Vic getting better we had a quiet day in resting and reading, eating at the Panjim Inn again.

As Vic was still rough, we opted to stay an extra night at the Panjim Pousada so that we would leave for our next stop, Arambol on the North coast of Goa, on Saturday morning.

Getting to Goa

Morning arrived, and the train still had a long way to go. We talked to our neighbours and their children, Gavin and Gail (the whole family spoke very good English), and read our guidebooks, occasionally looking out of the window to glimpse the changing landscape. As we got closer to Goa, the land became greener, with river and streams and eventually palm trees.

We arrived at our destination at about noon, and made our way off the train with crowds of Indian passengers (very few Westerners seemed to get off at that stop). Passing along the platform we found that to reach the station building with its associated taxi rank etc, we had to climb down onto the tracks, walk across them and then clamber up the other side.

We quickly found a taxi to take us to Panjim (also known as Panaji) where we had booked some accomodation. Vic’s voice had started to go, so we needed to get her to somewhere clean and relaxing.

Arriving at Panjim, the taxi dropped us outside the Panjim Inn, which is owned by the same person as the neighbouring Panjim Pousada where we had booked. We were soon ensconced in our room, a large airy room with a fan and air-conditioner and balcony overlooking a quiet garden courtyard. Just what we had hoped for.

We spent the rest of the day relaxing and eating and drinking at the Panjim Inn’s restaurant.

Night Train to Goa

Our train wasn’t due to leave Victoria Terminus (VT, now renamed CST) until 10.40pm so we had some time to kill. We packed up some of our belongings which we had decided were surplus to requirements (clothes and the paintings we had bought in Jaipur) and arranged for the Business Centre at the hotel to post them home for us. That lightened our luggage enough to let us carry the clothes we had bought in Udaipur.

Vic came down with food poisoning, possibly from the previous evenings prawn risotto, and followed that up with a sore throat, so the rest of the day was spent resting and trying unsuccessfully to postpone the train journey.

The hotel Duty Manager kindly let us stay in our room until 7pm and then we had a last meal at the hotel restaurant before catching a cab to the station.

Vic’s sore throat had developed into what looked to me like tonsillitis, so she wasn’t feeling too happy. That wasn’t helped when we found that the train to Goa was two hours late.

We dumped our bags down on the platform and sat down on them to wait. Time passed… slowly.

Many of the men wjpho walked past took a keen interest in Vic, a little too keen in most cases, staring blatantly at her. One man was staring so intnently as he walked along that he walked straight into someone coming in the opposite direction.

I found that if I stared back at them they’d soon look away; some kind of possessive male thing I guess. That kept me entertained for some of the time while we waited.

The train finally turned up at 12.20am, and we found our carriage easily.

The train carriages had a corridor down one side with a two-tiered bunk on one side and an open compartment of two three-tier bunks on the other. We had the top and middle of one of the latter bunks. The rest of the compartment was occupied by a very nice Indian family with two kids who were all going to Goa.

We arranged our bags and said hello to the family and sat quietly for an hour or so while the train started its journey. Throughout the journey, men would walk along the corridor selling sandwiches, coffee and chai. As people started to look tired we pulled the bunks down and made our beds before climbing up the frame at the end to reach our bunks.

The night passed slowly and we slept intermittently, at first the motion of the train and lack of space keeping me awake, eventually the constant rocking putting me to sleep, to be woken by the cramped space making a limb go numb.