A Travellerspoint blog

December 2011

1ND14 BY NUMB3R5

An Indian Conclusion from Kolkatta

sunny 26 °C

Disembarking from our mammoth journey across internal India we arrived in Kolkatta and were struck by the fact that this was not only our last longhaul trip on the Indian railways but also our last destination before we depart Indian shores for South East Asia. Kolkatta has hit the headlines in its history for all the wrong reasons, the poverty, the illness, the famines and the good reasons via the help of Mother Theresa (some may disagree that it was all good help - including Annie). However, we were both pleasantly surprised by what we found in the Old Capital of British India and thoroughly enjoyed exploring the new city.

New development stands next to the crumbling remnants of colonial residencies, left to wither due to poor rent control policies. The infrastructure is impressive by Indian standards and Andy was highly impressed by the sheer number of public transport choices, tram to underground, rickshaw to taxi. Now we had become used to seeing, sympathising and occasionally using cycle rickshaws, more out of a desire to help the poor bugger who waits for hours at a time to get a fare and then has to cycle around the chubby Westerners and equally chubby rich Indians from their hotels to shops and restaurants and back again. It is back breaking work. However, we were not expecting to see the hand pulled rickshaws still operating in modern Kolkatta that we had seen in the books and pictures of 19th century Kolkatta, it conjures up that famous Banksy painting with the fat Americans being pulled by a 5 year old Indian boy! Now that gives a whole new meaning to back breaking work! Despite Andy’s pleas to have a quick go, I did not want to actually damage the blokes back after all our curry feasts after the last three months! Actually I (Andy) wanted to have a go by myself to give the poor guys more business, but Annie looked unimpressed.

Kolkatta sites are spread across the city and we sampled a few including the Victoria monument. Needless to say, we had a look to see if the Victoria statue genital display was international (Liverpool and Manchester chaps will understand…). It is international. To experience this yourself, find any statue of Queen Victoria (you can generally find one in every British town or city). Walk around the said statue 360 degrees leaving approximately 5 meters between yourself and the statue. Keep your eyes fixed on the crotch of the monument as you walk in a circle around it. When you reach the angle where the staff she is always holding is pointed down from the crotch area… wallah! You have Queen Victoria with what appears to be a willy. It is massively immature, but equally as hilarious each time!

However, the strange highlight of our trip was when we wandered towards the ‘Mother House’. When in Kolkatta you feel as though you should have a trip to see what is left of Mother Theresa’s legacy. Now we were not expecting when approaching her house for it to be a convent (I know, it seems obvious now). Andy was also not expecting when we walked through the open door to be faced with who he thought was Mother Theresa herself back from the dead. He quickly remembered that all nuns wear the same outfit and therefore it was only another nun! We were quietly asked in shushed tones whether it was our first visit, to which we replied yes, and were quietly shepherded from the busy Kolkatta street, through the convent until we were in a room with Mother Theresa’s tomb and people worshipping her. In a matter of seconds our surroundings had unexpectedly and massively altered and we were at a bit of a loss. We followed the crowds, sat quietly on wooden benches until it seemed we had looked serious enough to leave. However, before departing we had a quick stop over in Mother Theresa’s bedroom which had been preserved from when she left it and then we were back amongst the beeping horns and crowds in the street wondering exactly what had happened in the last half an hour! All in all a very strange way to spend an afternoon!

A visit to the Kolkata museum in the Victoria Monument building summed up Kolkata for us very well. “Kolkata perhaps gained the most of any city in India from the British residence in it, but with partition it paid for its privileges with as many scars”. It was actually in 1919 when the British left Kolkata, due to pressure from the Indians and a tired British force when King George V announced a new capital city in New Delhi. Kolkata gained infrastructure, architectural gems and an intellectual community who went through many of the educational institutions established in the city. But it also suffered with the withdrawal of the British as the buildings and infrastructure were left to dilapidate under pressure of thousands of refugees and migrants fleeing the bloody partition and famine in Bangladesh. The city has come through this with a positive atmosphere and is all together a pleasant and friendly place to visit despite its hardships. I was thrilled to witness a little girl who nemasteyed us in the street with both hands, and it is this image that stays with us from Kolkata.

Our final destination got us a’thinking about what we had seen and experienced and we spent some time reflecting on our time. As such our final Indian blog could have ended up being reflexive and dull. So we decided to take a different approach which is almost entirely accurate…. Andy and Annie Present…. 1ND14 BY NUMB3R5

Important Indicators
Time Spent in India: 91 days
Distance Travelled By Land: 10,006 km

Sleeping Statistics
Aeroplanes Slept On: 1
Deserts Slept In: 1
Trains Slept On: 6
Night Busses Slept On: 7
Beds Slept in: 32

Measurement of Things Mislaid
1 x 2 of Clubs Playing Card
1 x Jaipur Section of Lonely Planet Guide Book
1 x Pair of Diesel Sunglasses
1 x Multifunctional Piece of Leather Cord
1 x Victorinox Card Style Penknife
2 x Shoelaces

Animal Accounts
Big Cats (Wild): 2
Rats: 4
Snakes: 5
Elephants: 23
Camels: 17,321
Cows: 3 million +

Vehicle Values
Auto Rickshaws travelled on: 78
Boats travelled on: 14
Cycle Rickshaws travelled on: 9
Scooters travelled on: 6
Number of Breakdowns: 1 (Flat tyre)

Miscellaneous Measurements
Bad Hair Cuts: 1
Attacks of Delhi Belly: 6
Minor Allergy Attacks: 1
Curries Eaten: 276
Mosquito Bites: 421
Photographs Taken By Us: 6200
Photographs Taken Of Us by Random Indians: 3,250,004,221
Incidents of Police Brutality Witnessed: 7
Number of Helpful Policemen Witnessed: 12

Conclusions on India

Andy’s Conclusion: I have to say that our time in India was amazing. I was a little apprehensive prior to our journey starting due to the differences in culture and seeing the poverty. The poverty was horrific as expected, but Annie and myself felt at home in a number of places and we would certainly be back to do it again – possible to other places, and some of the same. My favourite places were Manali, Kochi, Goa and Jaisalmer, and my least favourite places were Hyderabad and Bangalore. I also believe that there is something for everybody in India, be it a honeymoon, family holiday, luxury retreat and of course a backpacker extravaganza. All in all, a unique blend of everything you can imagine.

Annie’s Wittering: What can’t be put down in numbers is the images that will be left with us from our time in India. Whenever I think of India I think it will be what remained my favourite time of day for the whole time we were there, the Indian sunset where the sun starts to sink in the sky and you clearly see what it is, a burning ball of fire lighting up the whole landscape as if you are literally looking through rose tinted glasses. The heat begins to retreat and the cows on the road begin to make their way home for their dinner as the road becomes congested with otherwise feral cattle who by day roam the streets. For a precious few minutes all the noise of the day seems to quieten as incense fills the air as sunset puja prayers are performed in temples and houses all around you and fresh marigolds replace those hung outside the houses which have withered before in the heat of the day. As soon as the sun sets the moment is gone and the hustle and bustle, horns and sirens, shouts and traffic all returns to the putrid smell as people burn the rubbish of the day on the road side… this is India after all! But it is that contrast that makes those few minutes each day so peaceful and fantastic. We will miss the spectacle that is India but we are happy that as one country comes to an end for us, we are now free to explore further afield.

Peace and Love Andy and Annie xx

Posted by Annie Thornton 05:58 Archived in India Tagged india rickshaw calcutta kolkatta Comments (0)

Southern Cities and Happy Hampi

The journey through the inland center of India

sunny 26 °C

Hydera(very)bad and Secunderabad; the Twins

I'm writing this blog on the train from Hyderabad to Kolkata since there is nothing else to do other than drink cheap dark rum and sprite, or watch another chick flick on my laptop (acquired from a traveller – honestly). The reason for our trip to another city you ask was out of hope, intrigue and a desire to learn about the cities in which my Grandfather John Lancashire spent 10 years here from 1920-1930. My Grandpa unfortunately died in 1961 from the onset of malaria which I presume was picked up from India whilst serving King and Country keeping the Indians under the control of the British for entirely exploitative reasons. Now I am not one to get on my high horse for anything which seems perfectly reasonable to the political masses (crescendo of laughing ensues) however, I will actually agree that the British were success in India, and my Grandpas efforts were not in vain. The slowly moving, intelligent elephant and massive beast that is India, is loving, inspiring, forward thinking and diverse. I love India, and I admit that most of this is not down to the British, in fact we only gave them a kick. The Indians are peaceful, morally loving, righteous and have more drive and energy than the average Brit, not to mention more intellectual. However, there are issues with gender inequality... pervs a plenty!

Moving onto the delights of Greater Hyderabad and I'm told that it is the fifth biggest city in India that is also called Cyberabad on account of its technological and computer wizz kids in the city. I cant help think that the city probably looks better in cyber world if I'm honest. The city wreaks of excrement and urine, but there are a few little gems tucked away. The Charminar is quite an imposing mosque which is set 50m high on four columns and is a certain highlight of the city. Golcanda Fort is another fort on the outskirts of Hyderabad.

Secunderbad is where the old British Army Cantonment used to be located. Annie and myself went to the original site called the Tremhulgherry Cantonment (now Indianised and called Trimulgiri), as expected, it is now inhabited by the Indian Army and appears to be a mega army base with lots of facilities from officers training, houses, shopping complexes, HQ, sports, recreation and lots more. We of course were not allowed to enter the base but Annie took a few happy snaps from outside, including one of a very British building which is the old Officers Mess. This now appears to house a museum of engineering for army personnel only. Apparently the old British Fort was pulled down years ago which is a shame. It seems that the legacy of the British is actually something that has been erased without much love lost. Unfortunately there was not a museum in the city which advertised military history, or anything about the British here, but there is an area called 'Little England' on account of the amount of Anglo-Indians in the city – possibly the reminisce left over from prior to independence in 1947.

Secunderabad also has quite a few street names which are clearly English, such as James Street which is the main high street and source of fanciful culture (any inspiration for calling my Dad James?), Wellington road, and a club called 10 Downing St. I only wish I knew more about Grandad John, but as I collate my thoughts, he must have been a brave soldier to travel half way across the world (as all soldiers are) and to hold out for 10 years against a very determined country to free themselves.

Bangle Bore (Banglore)

Don't go to Banglore unless want to get ripped off by Rickshaw drivers and/or you want to do some clothes shopping and then get drunk in the city's many bars and clubs. Banglore is just another city that fails to excite so we got out as soon as we could book a bus to Hampi.

Hampi Fantastic

Hampi is a world heritage site on account of its many monolithic temples, structures and archaeology sites. On top of the historical activity there is lot of cheap hotels (about £5 per night!!) overlooking the river which are so relaxing and chilled out places. We spent a number of nights just eating food and playing cards which is very important for the soul – ie. Doing nothing, vegging around!

My gorgeous and delightful better half Annie Louise Thornton turned a quarter of a century whilst in Hampi, which was a cause for serious celebration – temple walking and cavorting!! The highlights of the birthday day can easily be summarised;

1) The fact that the main temple in the complex has its own sacred elephant who will bless you if you cross it's trunk with silver. What that means in practise is you put a ruppee coin in its trunk (which it sucks up and then fires at the mahout sitting in the corner who pockets it... safekeeping for the nellies retirement fund when it is planning to get a nice bungalow in Eastbourne). The elephant then strokes you on the head with its trunk for good luck. It can also peel bananas with its trunk in a matter of seconds.
2) The impromptu party on a rock by the river. Sitting down in a quiet spot for a can of coke and an orange we were quickly mobbed by a group of kids who were swimming in the lake. Led by us in a rendition of heads, shoulders, knees and toes they then treated us to a series of songs and dances in Hindi... all enjoyed the Bollywood dancing talents of Lancashire and they returned the favour by proudly demonstrating how they could count in English up to 37. When they found out it was Annie's birthday they promptly took all our possessions away from us and then took it in turns to give them back to Annie saying 'Happy Birthday!'. One little girl immediately took off her Bindi from her head and put it on Annie as a birthday present. They were a little upset we didn't bring any sweets to the party so next time some better preparation on our part!
3) Chilling out around the temples and getting up close with all the sculptures, almost unbothered by any other tourists, or any other people.

All in all a birthday to remember!

On another note, have you ever felt like a complete knob for doing something which was a little bit dangerous but you do it to look cool or adventurous but then it backfires? Well, we went swimming in the lake and noticed a current, so didn't swim far from the sides, then saw someone attempt to swim across to the other side (error – big error) and yes he got sucked under the bridge whilst screaming HELP with about 30-40 Indians just stood still watching (not that Indians need an excuse to gather and watch)! He did manage to cling on to a rock and then had to endure about 20 minutes with people pointing an laughing whilst a boat came to get him – gutted!! This was possibly made worse for him when he did get out as he had not gone swimming in trunks or in shorts, but in tight red underpants. From his landing point to his clothes storing area he had to cross back over the main road and through the crowd of congregating Indians. He got a round of applause from the English at this point.

Hanumans party
Hanuman is Monkey God and is recognised as a very important a Hindu diety. Legend has it that he used to be really small, until he was powered by the gifts of strength, wisdom, and courage from Vishnu and Parvati. Hanuman then grew so tall that he created the mountains and put the sun in to the sky. Hanuman is worshipped by Hindus for this great feat, and also honour him with a party for the end of the crop season. Whilst Annie did not come with me to the party, I attended with some friends from the hotel to witness the locals burning wood in a huge fire whilst dancing around it. Not a bad way to honour Hanuman I would say.

Posted by Annie Thornton 01:28 Archived in India Comments (0)

Backwater wandering...

Alleppey, Kerala

semi-overcast 26 °C

Expecting a mammoth journey we set off from Kochi to Alleppey. Two hours later, surprised and amused, we arrived in the town which has one major claim to fame... the starting point of the Keralan backwaters; a maze of canals and lakes that stretch back from the coast for a mammoth area connecting villages throughout the state, inaccessible by means other than boat.

Now we have been a bit savvy when it comes to arriving in bus stations. Everyone who approaches you is a guesthouse owner/tout ready to say anything they think you want to hear in order to get you to their accommodation. When we arrived in Alleppey we were expecting the harassment of “Hotel? Hotel? Guesthouse? Rickshaw?”... what we were not prepared for was a friendly bloke politely approaching us and asking us if we would possibly like to visit his home which is a guesthouse and whether we might want to stay there? He assured us that the rickshaw there would be free and he would bring us back to the bus station if we changed our mind. We went with it which is against the grain and ended up in an absolutely lovely homestay near the lake which was absolutely amazingly clean, really cheap, ridiculously comfortable four poster beds, real pillows... with free wifi and a hilarious little pug dog called Jacko. The place was like an oasis after some of the rat pits we have ended up in. The owner and his wife were lovely, and Polish. This all goes to prove one thing which I have been told before and continue to prove true, I can locate the Polish community of literally anywhere we visit without even trying!

As soon as you arrive near the canals you cannot avoid seeing luxurious house boats floating down the river. When I saw luxurious I mean double glazing, LCD TVs, on-board cook and outside veranda. People we have met have told us that you can spend 24 hours cruising the backwaters to see the villages and wildlife from the water. Now as lovely as this sounds... it was a little out of our price range... so instead we opted for a canoe. Perhaps the canoe was not quite as luxurious... no TV, bit less leg room... no sides so no double glazing... but it was more our scene.

The canoe floated down tiny canals flanked by palm trees and the occasional isolated village. Snakes swam in the water around us and Kingfishers perched on trees and lines over the water. Women were washing clothes and pots in the canal water every ten meters and every so often a local lad would pop up from under the water next to the boat to shout boo and giggle at your surprise. We stopped off a couple of times at villages where we accidentally crashed both a funeral (we kept our distance although I think we may have been invited in) and a christening (to which we were warmly welcomed to meet all the guests). We then stopped for dinner at the home of a relative of our boatman. We were served delicious food, fish, spicy potato, rice and papaya... all served up on a palm tree leaf rather than a plate.... saved on the washing up perhaps but pretty entertaining. Ignoring the rain storm which soaked us through it was the most relaxing experience. In fact Andy was so relaxed with the sway of the tiny boat he fell asleep on the return journey...

The experience on the backwaters has given me and Andy a new business plan to put in place if we ever return home, Leeds Liverpool Canal backwater canoe trips for American and Japanese Tourists. Imagine, a canoe down the canal driven by a local resident who knows the water like the back of his hand (Steve Thornton, if the post office doesn't take off...), getting up close to the wildlife (the amazing Armley water rat which has reached a size incomparable to the rest of the UK) and taking in local fishermen and local sites. A stop over at Armley Mills is the historical element before stopping off for a traditional meal with a local family (Aunty Andrea? You fancy boat loads of international tourists paying over the odds?) before being dropped off at the Granary Wharf for a traditional ale in easy transfer distance from the train station. For the adventurous groups we would take a two day tour with night stop over in a traditional Yorkshire/Lancashire home further afield into the lands of Barnoldswick, otherwise inaccessible but by canal. A night in the Green Street with James Lancashire as local tour guide will bring the tourists into contact with a community who has never seen outsiders before (I'm not sure about this quote Annie!- Andy). The highlight of this section of the trip would be the trip to Fouldridge where Annice Brown will meet the group to show them the location of the internationally renowned cow that swam the mile tunnel and survived to be worshipped by the local community (this will have particular resonance with the Indian tourists). The rest of our family and friends should not fear, we have jobs for all... we need touts to jump on moving buses as they pull into Leeds National Express Station to spot tourists and provide them with flyers of our service etc... commission is offered. So at least we have a plan b if Australia doesn't work for us...

Back on dry land and with another amazing sleep behind us we decided to head to the Alleppey Beach, 2km from town. Wandering down the beach was a simple but relaxing day which swiftly became entertainment for the locals. When on the sands we slipped very easily into gender stereotypes. I relaxed on the sand soaking up a few rays. Andrew took up tools and began to construct a sand replica of Jaisalmer Fort just in reach of the waves. Searching back to Geography GCSE he decided to construct comprehensive sea defences for his prize building. Andy's seemingly simple activity swiftly became beach entertainment and proved to us two points;

a) We can attract a crowd of Indian men by doing actually anything. 'White man building sandcastles' initially attracted a crowd of two men. At its peak there were 15 spectators.

b) Indian men will do absolutely anything to have their picture taken with us. This includes becoming a labour force for Andrew's constructive vision. I am sure that a meagre photograph is below minimum wage levels even in India.

Returning back for a swift shower we departed our little sanctuary of a homestay for the lights of Bangalore...

Posted by Annie Thornton 22:16 Archived in India Tagged elephants kerala alleppey bawaters Comments (0)

Seas, Teas and Fishingnets

Kochi to Munnar and Back again

semi-overcast 26 °C

You can't watch television for more than 12 minutes in India without an advertisement for tourism in Kerala popping up. Lush palm forests, elephants, luxurious boats passing through grids of canals and lakes and diving kingfishers (actual ones this time and not the beer) are all pulled out by the marketing gurus to encourage tourism. Needless to say, it worked and we headed South from Goa totally drawn in by what the Indians call 'God's own country, Kerala'. Now, we have slanged Indian media a little since we have been here... particularly the advert that suggests you become a giant by using Anbuja Cement and the body building shops everywhere that claim that their treadmill can make a body builder of a skinny Indian youth in ten days. However, over the last week in Kerala I can admit that the Indian PR men have got this one spot on! Kerala is beautiful.

We headed out on a night train to Kochi. The city is based on a number of islands and peninsulas linked by bridges and ferry boats. We jumped the ferry to Fort Kochi, the historical peninsula where goats are plentiful and people wander freely down the winding roads with only the occasional rickshaw and truck full of spices to block their path. It didn't really feel much like a major city as we wandered through the eclectic mix of buildings and cultural centres that has developed through the cities time as a major port. It was a nice change for us when, in one day in an Indian city, we visited a Dutch Palace and a Jewish Synagogue as well as hanging out by the Chinese fishing nets.

As Kerala is mainly Christian most people we met were Sebastians or Abrahams which was a massive change from everywhere else in India. It is also the first place we have visited where people have understood Andrew's name without question and can pronounce it. In Kerala it is the name of a Christian disciple and therefore “Very Good Name Sir!”. In the rest of India, Andy is a Hindi word, meaning 'big wind'.... I will let you all make your own conclusions as to whether this is appropriate or not. No fear! It is not only Andrew that became accepted as like a religious icon in Kerala. Kochi is the location of the first, and probably only, time in my life that I have been told that I resemble the main woman, the Virgin Mary. Chatting with six fishermen on their fishing platform they wanted me to stand under their photo of Mother Mary so they could admire the resemblance. I left the platform pretty swiftly unsure as to whether I was upset or flattered... well Grandma Thornton would be proud I suppose! We stayed just long enough to help them haul up the net and admire their catch from earlier in the day, the toothiest fish I have ever seen!

We had heard rumours that Kerala was a popular destination with elephants and when we had the opportunity to visit the elephant sanctuary to see the nellies who had been rescued from the forest as babies be bathed and looked after we were straight on the road. Chilling out by the lake whilst elephants were having a wash next to locals brushing their teeth was a pretty memorable morning. One of the elephants took a liking to Andy and came up for some stroking. Both Andy and Trumpy were pretty pleased with the affection. We then went to visit the elephants at home and saw babies that were 45 and 65 days old that had fallen down holes in the forest and couldn't get out. Their mothers had left them as there was no way for them to survive in the wild if they couldn't escape. The mahouts had found the babies and brought them to the centre to bring them up, feeding them with elephant milk (I am still not sure how they got hold of it to be honest... I don't envy the elephant milking wallah after seeing the big elephants up close).

Now with our elephant fill for the day we headed up to Munnar in the Keralan hills. Munnar is the tea capital of India. Heading up into the amazing scenery of the misty mountains you are suddenly faced with deep green tea fields as far as the eye can see. The blanket of green is punctuated with tropical flowers of every colour and women picking tea like machines moving from one bush to another picking the freshest leaves to take to the factory. It makes you appreciate where your morning brew comes from when you see the speed that these women work at! The journey was amazing; driving past working elephants wandering up the road, then stopping at waterfalls, next to crowds of monkeys and men climbing palm trees to get to bees nest to nick their honey and sell it at the side of the road. Topping off the day was a visit to a spice farm where we took a tour round finding out what plants herbs and spices grew on, their medicinal properties and how to spot them. Andy was in his element dreaming of the past days of his allotment.

After a mad day we got dropped off at a guest house in the middle of a tropical forest, about 10 miles away from civilisation. We took off up the path for a wander so that we could put our new coffee and cardamon spotting skills to the test. We had a vague idea the path led to a waterfall. We were wrong! It actually led to a cow farm where a little old lady met us at the gate and chatted away to us in Malayman as she presented to us her dogs, her rabbits, her chickens, her cows and her prize bull. We chatted back in English and although neither of us had any idea what the other was saying we did manage to come to agreement that one of the dogs was a Corgie. The lady seemed highly amused by my hair and my face and touched both quite a lot. If you wandered uninvited onto a farm in the UK speaking a strange language and started having a look around there is a major possibility that you might get a gun pointed at you... in India you get welcomed in, no questions asked and an impromptu tour. You then get offered chapatti. You have got to love this country.

We headed out the next day to the Tea Museum. Set up by the Tata Tea Company you are guided round the whole tea making process and surrounded by machinery. You are also provided with a healthy bit of propaganda on the social welfare put in place by the company with a compulsory VHS viewing. It is a bit like an Indian version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ( perhaps; Tamwar and the Tea Factory is more fitting) and you are given a cup of Chay and tea at various stages of the process to have a sniff of. A day out that I think the whole Lancashire family would have enjoyed!

On the way back to Kochi we had one more stop off and it was the highlight of the trip... we needed another daily elephant top up and this time decided that washing was not enough. Today we wanted to be on the beasts and go for a meander through the tropical forest. Andy was holding out for a bull with big tusks but we ended up with Maneesha, the most dependable elephant in the world. Maneesha's mahout chatted away to her throughout the trip and at any point he just had to mutter something and she turned or lifted her trunk as he wanted. No worry about mistreated elephants here. Where other places we have seen working elephants being hit by sticks when they misbehaved... our elephant carried her own stick to free the mahout's hands up as he fancied himself as Jans Artur Bertrand when he got his hands on our camera. No worries about our elephant riding not being documented there then! Feeding our nellie a few pineapples and corn on the cob we were back on the road to Kochi and snoozing all the way after our active time in Kerala!

Kochi was a stop over before our next essential Keralan experience.... the Backwaters....

Posted by Annie Thornton 22:11 Archived in India Tagged elephants tea kerala munnar kochi Comments (0)

Sea, Sun and Sand in Goa

sunny 35 °C

Goa
If Mumbai is the slick modern city, a symbol of India's wealth and prosperity, then Goa is colourful party state, a symbol of the cultural diversity, especially the mix of religions creeds and colours. Arriving in Goa was a refreshing change from the hustle and bustle of the big smokes and desert landscapes. Goa has a clean and enticing coast line, many rivers and lakes (filled with Crocodiles!) whilst the rest of the landscape is made up from jungles, forests and scrub land.

Anjuna
We wanted to stay in Goa for a week, and we didn't really want to travel around so we flipped a coin as to going North to Anjuna, or South to Palolem. Heads it was, so we headed to Anjuna via Mapusa. Anjuna was lovely, a little bit rough around the edges, lots of bars and restaurants and lots of beaches – all within walking distance or a quick trip on the scooter.

Within the first day of being in Anjuna, I learnt how to ride a scooter, which is pretty simple if you know how to ride a push bike: go, stop, left, right. The Indians drive on the left hand side of the road and I didn't need to worry about traffic because Anjuna and the surrounding areas were very quiet. The scooter was fantastic. It enabled us to ride to Vagator beach and Mojim Beach which was quieter and the sea was calmer. The sea at Anjuna was quiet dangerous owing to the ferocious current and amount of rocks on the sea bed, it didn’t deter me though, I still swam in it!

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Whilst at our little hotel, we met a nice couple from London (Jaime and Becky) who had been in Australia for two years working, so we got chatting and ended up going to a nightclub (£10 a couple all drinks included!) so we got wasted and chatted cod shite all evening! Needless to say we didn't see the next morning due to our hangovers.

I would recommend North Goa to anyone wanting a package holiday type experience with nice beaches, beer and food (the fish is amazing), but its nothing more than that.

After 6 days of sun sea and sand we headed to the Capital City of Goa; Panjim, with many water ways, Portuguese colonial buildings, casino boats and little parks.

Old Goa
A day trip from Panjim was advised by the Lonely Planet, and our own tourist advisor back home in England Stevie T. Old Goa is an abandoned capital city due to an outbreak of disease in the 16C. Apparently it used to be larger than London in the 16C before it was abandoned, which seems a little exaggerated to me, however Old Goa is a world heritage site owing to its historic, architectural and archaeological importance. There are so many large and grand churches here. Its like having the Vatican, St Pauls Cathedral and a few Kirkstall Abbeys all within a few hundred metres of each other. Annie got excited by all of the figurines of St Francis of Assisi and the local hero St Francis Xavier, but did not buy one; I think she's holding out for a Gandhi figurine.

It seems that the Old Goans are also good at carving larger models of world heros and religious icons because there was also a Multiethnic Wax Works Museum including sculptures of the last supper, Gandhi, Genghus Khan, Mother Tereasa, Sai Baba and my personal favourite scene called 'DRUGS ARE BAD'.

An overnight bus (14hours) awaits to the state of Kerala and Capital City Kochi.

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Posted by Annie Thornton 21:54 Archived in India Tagged the goa old last supper anjuna panjim Comments (0)

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