It’s hair-raising! After seven weeks, I still couldn’t figure out who has right of way at roundabouts. Taxi drivers drive their vehicles into oncoming traffic when crossing a dual carriageway! Indian road rules (are there any?) completely confused me. Everyday hazards encountered are large cows which suddenly walk across the road, dogs, people on pushbikes, motorbikes, pedestrians, large potholes, cars, and trucks belching out clouds of black exhaust which would fail emission tests in most countries.
I took a taxi to South Goa and spent most of the journey with my eyes closed, hands gripping hold of the seat and praying as the driver raced along at high speed. He overtook on corners into oncoming traffic, constantly tooting his horn at anything that moved or didn’t. When I asked him to slow down, he pretended he couldn’t understand me and turned the volume of his radio higher. I decided not to tip him…
Beware of Booking.com. The photo of the room I booked looked completely different to the photograph online, one of their favourite tricks is to make it look bigger by using a zoom lens. My room resembled a cell, a bed in the middle, a small window with a curtain pulled across it and no room to move. It was the first room on my travels I hated! The thought of staying in it for 12 days filled with me with dread. Time to negotiate and speak to the owner. Two nights later I had a nice room on the top floor with a balcony overlooking a coconut tree.
To get to the beach involved a ten minutes’ walk from the guest house to the beach through shacks, rubbish, red dust, malnourished cows, and dogs with sores on their bodies. I used to stop and stroke a black and white cow, who dragged one of her rear legs behind her. Had she been hit by a car? The owners don’t seem to care about the condition of their cows.
Do beaches in Goa rival beaches in NZ?
Agonda Beach is stunning, long and uncrowded, and yes it could. It costs 400 rupees to ride there from Palolem by tuk-tuk. I loved Agonda. It has a more relaxing vibe than Palolem. I found the locals smiled and seemed more helpful. After I left the retreat I became to have pain in the top of my legs. Instead of reaching for more tablets I decided to continue Ayurveda treatments, but I couldn’t find a place in Palolem. In Agonda I walked along the street and came across a small prefab cabin which advertised Ayurveda massages. I chatted to the owner who fortunately spoke good English, and for 1500 rupees (NZ$33) I had an hour and a half massage on alternate days. The first massage was excruciatingly painful, as my muscles had tightened up, probably caused by the high-speed taxi ride! However, the next day the pain had lessened considerably.
While waiting for my massage one morning I sat under an umbrella and saw a beautiful white horse wandering along the edge of the water. I returned to reading my Kindle, when I looked up she stood over me and stared down. Then she laid down, rested her head on my feet and closed her eyes. What an amazing spiritual experience!
Palolem beach stretches for miles, and is bordered by beach shacks which are available to rent, cafes and restaurants with rows of sun loungers under umbrellas. It gets crowded at high season, and is popular with the Russians. To get to Palolem beach, you walk down a road filled with cafes, shops and crowds of men hanging around staring at European women. This was one of the reasons I avoided the beach.
Turned right, I headed down the quieter end of the beach towards an estuary. A fisherman beckoned me over, and pointed to his boat. Did I want to see sea eagles? The night before I listened to Yoga Nidra. In the visualisation eagles are mentioned twice. The old Jaye would have declined, but I hopped onto the boat and for the next hour I watched these amazing birds fly across the sky and suddenly dive into the sea. A coincidence or another sign I’m on the right path?
Want a more relaxed vibe? Then Patnem beach is an excellent choice to chill out for the day. A hundred rupees tuk-tuk from Palolem will take you there. Again, beach shacks, cafes and restaurants line the beach, and I discovered three yoga studios there, and lessons were 200 rupees each!
Here are my top travels tips for India everything is negotiable, even pre-booked accommodation.
Always agree a price before getting into a tuk-tuk or a taxi.
Next blog is entitled The Russians are coming!