Monday, February 07, 2005

Goan Holiday

Let's just bring you all up to speed .... went to Goa for 2 weeks December/January. Stayed at Candolim on the northern coast of this Indian state.

This is my first experience of India and I must admit to being overwhelmed on first arriving. Well, from my middle-class, white, coziness in Chichester I guess a 'real live', in your face, 3rd world country is bound to be a little different from home?

Took about an hour to transfer, by bus, from the airport - Dabolim - to our hotel at Candolim, Prazeres Resort. Very basic, but spotlessly clean - the young lads who service the rooms work incredibly hard (as do all Goans) and long hours too.

Fascinating place to visit, the hassle you get from stallholders is at first wearisome - especially when passing 4 times a day - but by the end of the trip we were enjoying a nice bit of banter with shopkeepers,

As usual, certain Brits just spoil beautiful places like Goa, by 'demanding' continental foods and Sky sports. Why can't they just go abroad and experience that country for what it is and what it can offer in terms of its unique culture? Why do they have to abuse it and make it another Blackpool or whatever? Makes me so mad!

Anyway, despite the fantastic beaches and the guaranteed sun, we took a couple of days out to travel about (check out these pics that some kind soul has posted on the old WWW). We went to:
  • Tropical Spice Plantation in Ponda
  • Mangueshi Temple (Hindu)
  • Shri Shantadurga Temple (Hindu)
  • Basilica of Bom Jesus (Christian)
  • Se Cathedral (Christian)
  • Panaji - the capital city
  • Morjim beach - stayed in 'colonial' style tents
  • Tiracol Fort - northern most tip of Goa (now an exclusive hotel)
  • Animal Highlights - obligatory photo with elephant, bored looking snake charmer and plenty of cows (ox) roaming around too, oh, and a monkey ran in front of our taxi!
The two main religions in Goa are Hindu and Christian. Goa was a Portuguese colony until 1961 and its history and influences remain in Old Goa particularly. Fascinating to have had the opportunity to visit two very different places of worship. Taxis are so cheap and the driver is like your free guide for the day, they are obviously very knowledgeable. Expect to pay around £10 per full day travelling around.

We were still in Goa for New Year, which was awesome. All the beach shacks move their tables/chairs outside onto the beach to make way for dance areas, DJs and buffets. The atmosphere was amazing and very friendly too - come midnight the 6km stretch of the beach where we were just lit up with fireworks. Cool!

Great place to really relax and wind down - and get a great tan to boot! The curries are amazing, you must try all the local dishes. Having a take-away at home will never be the same again.

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