Wednesday, 20 January 2010
Malwan to Goa
Tonight I am staying at the tip of, effectively, a sand bank, near Malwan. It is very pretty here and I went for a swim in the sea just as the sun was setting. The sea was neither too warm nor too cold. I am staying in a big house all to myself, which probably usually sleeps 10-20 Indian tourists. I paid Rs. 400 for a night and a meal, which is more than I can afford to pay every day. Last night I stayed in Devgad for Rs. 200 and paid Rs. 30 for a meal.
Yes, as you see, I have not exactly stuck to my plan of heading to Goa from Ratnagiri in one day. I have found, that despite all the locals telling me that there is no coastal road, that in fact there sort of is and it is the MSH4, and there are many pretty places to visit along the way. I only once had to make a diversion because a bridge was not complete and I had missed the 7am ferry. Another location where the bridge was also not complete the small passenger ferry was willing to carry my bike on board. I was greeted by a policeman coming the other way at this point and he asked me where I was going and to see my documents. I was happy that they were complete as I expect to meet many more inquisitive police entering Goa.
Tomorrow I shall embark on the rest of the supposedly non existing coastal (or best kept secret) road to Goa. I'll also be hoping not to be bitten too much by mosquitoes, which are also not supposed to exist here - hence the glass and mesh free windows. I think I shall burn some insect repellent just in case. I have already killed two mosquitoes.
[Tue 19 January 2010]
So I finally arrived in Goa yesterday. I had no difficultly in following the MSH4 and there was only one ferry to catch where the bridge was not complete and the ferry was big enough to take a few cars. I'm not sure what to think of Goa now. It is very exciting returning, trying to remember my way. I thought that my memory of where everything was was more complete, but things have changed so much in five years I wonder how easy I would have found it if I had been here just the day before. I am staying in Vagator in the North of Goa. When I explored North of Vagator five years ago there were very few tourists about and I'd pass an Indian on a motorbike just every couple of minutes. Workers along a river bank were intrigued to see a foreigner. Now the roads North of Chapora have lost their innocence and there is a constant stream of foreigners whizing about on scooters and motorbikes, lorries kicking up dust and a new bar or small hotel on every corner - already looking weathered. Chapora, itself, has been further developed into a commercial trendy image. In many ways it reminds me of Newquay in England, which I think has lost its charm and is more of drinking hole were people go to get laid.
Most people here seem to be concentrating so much on their image that they never look around and smile. Where as five years ago most tourists here were Israily now they are 70% Russian. Maybe the Russian don't smile much!
Perhaps I am biased, coming from rural India where I am accustomed to being a celebrity. There I am obliged to wave to the children and call out "numuskar" (greetings) in order not to be rude. Greeting the locals usually has the effect of turning the most suspicious stare into a big smile. In Goa of course every one is used to seeing foreigners, and I expect many either are annoyed with them or simply see them as prey - or a way of making money.
I took my bike for servicing today and they adjusted the idle speed, which was set to high, and it now is running very well. I could have done that! I also ran out of petrol which enabled me to get my mileage, which I am proud to say was an impressive 87 km per litre (kmpl). I can't quite believe it because my total average is just 61 kmpl so I hope I haven't made a mistake. If it is correct I expect it is down to my free-wheeling down all the hills!
I am staying with my old land lord's house, which was a challenge to find even with my GPS, amongst a maze of other other houses. It was nice to meet him again. He now has a 5 year old daughter who was born shortly after I left. If anyone is passing through Goa and wants a cheap simple room call Sam on +91 9881201127.
[20 January 2010]
Today I explored Goa a bit, where I saw a lake and many many churches all on the same hill. I've never seen so many in once place before. I think they must have been having a competition with the temple builders who had also gone crazy on the neighbouring hill. I also returned to the seaside restaurant, now called the Fish Tail, then called the Disco Valley Restaurant, which was my old haunt five years ago and has also become more trendy. I was surprised that the landlord instantly recognised me and he gave me a free cocktail. It was even more nice of him when he insisted that I should not pay for my salad or mineral water! I guess he knows that I will feel obliged to continue to be his regular customer. :)
Photo: where I was staying near Malwan with a river on one side and the sea on the other side.