My Favorite destination… GOA! anytime!! anyday!!!

I must say trip to Goa is best enjoyed with like minded people or to say whoever wants to freak out and shed their inhibitions, so you also need to have a good company along. Goa is very seductive with its Sun kissed and white sand beaches! I’ve been there four times now and almost know pretty much about most of the places there- in and out, every nook and corner, every road or gullies :).  First time I went by bus, then train and in the recent past, took road in my car with my pals, and the last trip was in Monsoon, which was by flight! Each trip was unique; but by train is a too good experience, with twists and turns on the hills and tunnels, and by water falls, but only after the train enters Goan region and you wish to capture all the beauty of nature at very instance, which is too gud and gone too soon!

The road trip is also amazing and the experience is too gud to cherish. We took road maps and travelled to differnt places all the way in and out, with songs playing on the deck, stopping in between, taking pictures at good locations. The ghat road is awesome! and terrifying too; it took almost 20 hrs to reach there and is truly an experience. Hitting Goa in Monsoon is total different experince since it will be turning into lush green everywhere and the sea is on high… it’s like refuelling itself and if you are a nature lover, you would fall in love for it’s greenery, waterfalls, sea and everything about it!

The season starts right from October through February ending, December is kind of peak season with many tourists. Its chilling during evenings and nights, and hot as the day goes on. Feb is still good but it gets hot during the last week. I have been to several beaches; some are similar, and some are unique and differnt, vary with water color, sand and crowd. The roads are good, and there is lot of greenery, rivers, valleys and of course sea! and not to forget, the bikini babes! 🙂 One can treasure more than their eyes can see as the beaches are full of foreigners who enjoy sunbathing and tanning their bodies, lying down and reading books for hrs together.

Goa Trip Day 5: Lessons learned

Day 4: Back to pavillion

Oct 5th, 2009 Monday: After so many encounters and adventures, the trip has transformed into something that was not planned. Though we made the best out of available time and situations all through, last day had it’s own challenge.

Remember the red point from the previous post about our probable location around midnight? That wasn’t a halt anyway. Though I was sleeping in the back seat, the navigators and the driver did their job as we were moving closer to Hyderabad, though very slowly. It was 3 am when we reached Solapur and the time I woke up. We stopped for a tea, and I was in the front seat from then playing the navigator’s role. Oh, looking for the uncommon part at that hour? Brake failure.

I learned that was the situation for about an hour or so then, and no help available. Most workshops were closed and few that were open had reluctant mechanics who were just not willing to wake up. We managed for a couple of hundred kilometers with minor tea breaks [to kill sleep] in between and repair work was finally done in Zaheerabad I guess. We also had breakfast around the same time and came back home safe with no more adventures.

View the complete trip photo album here.

Thanks everyone!

Points to be noted:

We learned a few lessons along the way. We had a few regrets and we were glad for some things. Though this is not an exhaustive list, a few points worth mentioning.

  • Initially we had planned the trip in my car, a Santro XING. After crossing a few water logged bridges, ditches and the 50 kms odd terrible road before entering Goa, we were glad we didn’t do it. After all, the ‘sunshine car’ is not a very good ‘off road’ vehicle
  • All the encounters with police and RTA at every check-post on state borders and otherwise made us fed up with the idea of a hired vehicle. It would have been more fun in our own vehicle. It translates into less-hassle if not a no-hassle drive
  • If a hired vehicle is unavoidable, make sure all the documentation, taxes and any other legal formalities are taken care before the trip starts. May be a own Innova next time, haan? 😉
  • We carried a few prints of the routes we would travel and that was changed just two hours into the trip. Google maps in my phone was very helpful a few times. So, if possible, carry technology along- may be it will will work, may be it will not, just have some around
  • Next time I go to Goa (I hope to get another opportunity) the fist thing I would do is buy Goa tee shirts. We couldn’t get them in time for beach fun this time for various reasons. The coconut tree-sunset print tees were not available at one beach, were way over priced at the other and didn’t fit at all on the other. We had to finally stop in the capital to search for a shop among the closed Sunday businesses and get a few as souvenirs. If you observe, none of our pictures show the coconut tree and sunset and I am sad 🙁
  • The most important of all: Sometimes, it’s not possible to click a lot of pictures because of many factors like rain etc.. Any intelligent photographer would just pack the cam and enjoy the moment. That is exactly what we did for most of our trip. Yes, we clicked a lot of pictures even on this trip but you should’ve seen the Goa Trip album if our trip went as planned!

In Goa

Boys, please add if I forgot to mention anything!

All in all, we are destined to have fun and so… have fun!

Thanks for following the travelogue. If you have any similar experiences or even all positive fun trip stories, do add the link in the comments for everyone of us around. We will be glad to share the moment with you. (In case you don’t run a blog, feel free to post on this one as guest.)

Goa Trip Day 4: Back to pavillion

Day 3: Goa, baby!

Oct 4th, 2009 Sunday: ‘Back to pavilion’ is not the perfect title in every sense for this post. It’s apt in a way as we planned to get back from Goa, but it is not, as we could not. Why? Read on!

Goa Fun Dil Chahta Hai style

After a full fun [previous] day of rain, beaches and a nice dinner with beer, fish and chicken, we slept after 2 am and had to wake up as early as 7 am. We had planned to start early keeping in mind the time it took on the way up. Our objective was to be in Hyderabad by Monday morning, so that a few can catch up with regular work day. But we wanted to cover at least one more place in Goa, the Dil Chahta Hai fort, err.. the Aguada fort. For sure, there will be another visit to Goa, but not sure when. Why not visit the place so as to have no regrets later?

So we started off, with a Samosa and tea as breakfast. Aguada fort was good, overlooking the Anjuna beach. We didn’t get to the beach this time, just looked at it from atop the fort. Yeah, some obviously used zoom lenses to ‘scan’ through the beach but that was it. We wandered around for a while and clicked few pictures including the ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ shot. The first picture is what we composed and the second one is from the movie. Pretty neat, haan? Take my word, we’ll do it lot better next time!

Dil Chahta Hai

Done with the fort, we wanted to spend minimum time anywhere except on road. We already knew the route we travelled on the way up was all blocked in some location or the other and therefore had to dynamically change our way asking directions and gathering local information as we moved. We had to stop for lunch anyway in Panjim in Domino’s for about an hour. The route map below starts from Panjim- so am not including the path we traveled from our hotel to Panjim, to fort Aguada and back to Panjim, which was about 60-70 kms easily.

Route looks pretty simple on the map, a little long but almost perfect. Traversing that route was not very easy. Couple of hours into the journey, adventures began. First few were encounters rather adventures; the police, check-post and legal issues.

At the borders of Goa, there was a check-post. We were stopped for a check, not sure if it was security check or liquor check. On top of that the fact that our vehicle’s insurance had expired was still true. We were done in a couple of minutes and we breathed easy. We knew that mostly only the check-posts on borders were strict and we just crossed one. But our knowledge was only an assumption. Less than 500 mts, we had another one. We learned the former was ‘bye-bye’ check-post for Goa, while the later one was ‘welcome’ check-post to Karnataka. I don’t remember exactly why, but we slipped a Rs 500 note to the duty policeman and entered the state.

Then came another check-post I guess that was for Maharastra. As per our itinerary, we planned to ‘roam’ AP, Karnataka and Goa only. Due to all the floods, we had to enter Maharastra, which was not on the permitted list for the vehicle. After a heated argument between everyone, Rs 1500 did the trick. To take a permit then apparently costs almost Rs 8000, which we frankly didn’t have. These check-posts and dynamic route was the main reason we didn’t even carry liquor, though it is available at cheaper prices in Goa. Com’on, who would come back from Goa without a bottle of wine? We did.

Back on road after the encounters was again an adventure. I guess it was the Western Ghats; we had to drive through a steep ghat road for about an hour, at one time through the cloud, not kidding! Though we had numerous small refreshing waterfalls on either sides of the road, the visibility ahead was about 10-15 mts. The day light was gone so we had to stop ‘Rummy’ as well in the back seat. Confirming the route, inquiring about the road conditions ahead, we cruised endlessly into the night. I was tracking our location in Google Maps once in a while when the mobile signal was strong enough, but other than that we were lost for quite sometime.

I was up until we had dinner in a beer bar somewhere near Kohlapur and dozed off. I packed myself in a jacket, used a backpack as a pillow and tried to sleep in the back seat, while Navigator and co-navigator were doing research on the road conditions, digging up all stories under the sky to keep the driver awake and motivated, while the driver Anwar bhai was hitting hard to get us home as soon as he can.

As per my understanding, the red point on the map was our location by midnight. I thought I would complete the trip travelogue with this post, but as you can see in the map, Hyderabad is still far away and that makes me sleepy even now. Yaaawn!!

Day 5: Lessons learned

Goa Trip Day 3: Goa, baby!

Day 2: Mission accomplished

Oct 3rd, 2009 Saturday: I wonder who woke up first in the morning after such a tiring 36 hours journey; I promise it was definitely not me! Anyway, the heavy feeling in the eyes soon disappeared when I realized that the actual time to have fun would just begin. It was almost 48 hours since we had started, and 36 hours were spent in the car itself. A few hours sleep did give us new energy for the excitement that awaited us.

This is the actual time we were longing for. Goa, beaches, beer, no rules and more fun! We freshened up in a jiff and hit the Colva beach in two minutes. It wasn’t very ‘colorful’ early in the morning, but hey, we had all day to roam along the coast. We stepped into the sea waters, wrote names and messages in the sand, clicked few pictures, had a running competition and couple of them got the temporary tattoos on their arms too. We were slowly getting into the jolly mood.

We know playing in water needs a lot of energy and we had to charge ourselves a bit. So, had a quick bite and tea in the nearby food joint and got into water again. We played for a good hour or so, forming human pyramids and posing for mid air shots. Oh, we also clicked a couple of ‘Happy Days’ shots on the beach! No one cared what time it was but we couldn’t escape the fate that was chasing us since we started our journey- it started to rain and the lifeguards restricted everyone to just sand; no stepping into waters.

Goa fun Happy Days Style

Well, it could have been almost lunch time. Completely drenched in salt water, we walked in the rain to the nearest restaurant Kentucky (I guess it was spelled differently, not sure now) and had a beer with ‘fish dynamite’ and chicken. We discussed our schedule for the day over the beer. Given the weather catastrophe, we decided to start to Hyderabad early in the morning on Sunday, the 4th so that everyone can catch up with offices on Monday (hopefully!) That left us with just the remaining day to make the most out of Goa. We decided to hire bikes and cover two more beaches by the evening. We completed our snack, hired bikes and started off to Panjim. The two beaches on the Agenda were Calangute and Baga.

Our bikes- one Bajaj pulsar, two Honda Activas and another Honda Dio. We drove to Panjim in rain. It was great as long as it kept raining, and we felt cold for the few moments it stopped. I guess I was the only one who changed into a dry tee shirt and wore a jacket; everyone else were in the same shorts and wet tees we played in the Colva beach. It was about 40 kms to reach the first beach Calangute. We didn’t get into waters there like we did that morning. We toured the coast line and clicked a few pictures. This beach wasn’t very different from the Colva we dove into that morning, except more crowd and few colors here and there. This was a little busier too, I guess it was that right evening timing to watch the sunset. Oh, by the way, while everyone who visits Goa clicks awesome sunset postcards, we didn’t even spot the Sun that day- bad timing but more on that later.

Goa fun human pyramid

We started off from there and rode to the hip hop Baga beach. Actually, its the next beach to Calangute; we could have actually walked along the coastline to get there. Of course, we realized that only after getting to Baga. This is what I can title as a ‘Goa beach’. There are a few others, not to mention the nude beach accessible to only whites as I was told but among the three beaches we covered, Baga was baagaa ‘colorful’. I wish we had time to cover all the [accessible] beaches.

We looked for the local KING’S beer but it was not available, so settled for the international Budweiser. As usual, we clicked some pictures, sat in the sand observing the crowd and it was dark already. We had to ride back 40-50 kms and return the bikes on time too. We thought we would shop for some Goa tee shirts in Panjim or Margao (the place near to Colva beach where we stayed) but it was too uncomfortable with salt-drenched bodies and sand everywhere in the clothes. So we hit the hotel directly, had a shower and set out for dinner.

We tried ‘Good Man’ restaurant and service is awesome! you can take this as a pointer when anyone visits the Colve beach. We also had the local KING’S available. So, had a happy dinner and it was past 1 O’ Clock when we got back to our rooms. We played Rummy for an hour or so and hit the bed after 2 am.

I wish we had more time to experience Goa. Generally speaking, it would take a day or so to get used to the environment there and then we can start freaking out. Hum logon ka vacation tho shuru hothe hee katam hogaya! But, am still happy- we had great fun. It was the group that made it a great experience. The reason we didn’t get disappointed is that we have not planned the schedule. We wanted to take everything as it came and we were able to handle all that was thrown our way!

Day 4: Back to pavillion

Goa Trip Day 2: Mission Accomplished

Day 1: Dampened spirits

Goa trip bus accident

October 2nd, 2009 Friday: Though things didn’t go pretty well on day one, I still think we were better off in the given situation. While it wasn’t very comfortable to fold up and sleep in the car, at least we had a roof of the inspection bunglow portico for the car to save us from rain and dripping water. And, couple others who couldn’t catch a nap were exploring around the campus and discovered a rest room facility we could use in the morning! By the way, I was told it stopped raining around 1 or 2 in the night.

Goa trip tractor accident

It was around 6 am by the time we started from there. We first got into the town to inquire and collect as much information as we could about the prevailing situation. We talked to a few RTC bus drivers to rely on the first hand information. One guy scared us when he took a back step, gave a skeptical look at the sides and tyres, finally nodding that we could ‘manage’ to cross the bridge we were supposed to take on the route out. It wasn’t happy news to hear that our main route as we planned was blocked and we had to take some other way to reach our next major milestone.

Goa trip bridge fury

We started anyways, fingers crossed. Less than 10 minutes into the journey we came across a bridge much like the one we witnessed the day before. One good thing was day light which gave us time and scope to analyze the situation. I guess the picture below is the best way I can explain the scene. The picture adjacent shows the water flow under the bridge. Just to add, a tractor was washed away (above picture) hours before dawn which is still visible, stuck in trees nearby and apparently a two wheeler too, which was still being searched for. We got down for a while and saw few heavy vehicles cross without much difficulty, but were still wondering if a Qualis could do it. One look at the team for an indication whether we have to go ahead at that cost or turn back and head to Hyderabad was replied with a loud ‘Goa, baby’ cheer. Let be it. We followed an Indica that gave us more courage and crossed the bridge safe. We all were just hoping there wouldn’t be many such encounters in the long journey that lay ahead of us.

Goa trip dangerous water level over the bridge

We kind of had the rough idea of how our journey would be till we reach the destination. So, except for a brunch near a dhaba, we didn’t even stop for lunch. The idea was to cover as much distance as possible in the day light. We picked something or the other to munch on and continued our journey while few were ‘show’ing Rummy for 201 game count in the back of the car. We covered a good deal of distance, thankful for not raining all day. It did start around 5 pm again but compared to the experience we had the previous day, we almost ignored that it was raining at all.

All was well until we reached Goa borders. The road was terrible for about 50 kms with mud logged pits and concrete diches all over. Due to heavy vehicle traffic like trucks and lorries, and the added bonus of flood rains, the situation got worse. It is unbelievable and unexpected road condition on the way to an international tourist destination. As we were almost there, we were patiently waiting to reach the hotel and stretch our body and mind satisfactorily. Why would it be an adventure if all went well? There was a twist awaiting already.

Goa trip brigde crossing in dangerous high level of waterApparently the insurance for the vehicle we hired has expired a few weeks ago and I learned later that Goa is very strict about everything legal except booze. Unaware of the expired policy, driver flashed all the documents at the check-post confidently and we were pulled over to take care of the formality. The policeman insisted that we pay insurance to get the clearance to get into the state. Contacting the insurance agent then to take care of that on a rainy night from 650 kms away from home is not easy. Anwar bhai (driver) invested about an hour calling the travel agency to produce some documentation over fax that resulted in vain. We were finally let go with an agreement that the policy will be taken care the first thing in the morning.

Time for dinner. Everyone who knew we were heading to Goa had the phrase ‘off season’ at least a few times used in their conversation. We realized it was not true only after reaching Goa. All hotels were full and we didn’t make a reservation either (considering it’s off season, and given the floods and heavy rains). Though I was tired and was taking intermittent naps, my buddies got down a dozen times to find a nice place to eat and another dozen times to find a place to stay.

Our dinner was at a Chinese fast food center, and our hotel was Colmar, near Colva beach. Ah, there is more to the hotel location. We learned about this hotel while still in Hyderabad, a week or so before the trip. It was recommended for its close proximity from the beach- hardly 2 minutes walk. Pricing is economical too and what more to dream of, than waking up early in the morning and sitting in the beach (right in front of the hotel) with a beer in hand? It’s Goa, baby! But our decision had to be assured then because of the weather conditions. A few calls to friends who have cousins in Navy placed in Goa brought in more surprises. One was out in the sea for a 4 day long stay- in case fishermen need rescue due to bad weather and predicted storm/ depression in Arabian sea. While that itself is an alarm, the other warned boldly not to stay anywhere near the coast- he explained ‘gail winds’ were blowing, which is a sure sign of danger. Little choice we had because of all the fully occupied hotels, and we got in to Colmar. On the sea coast with predicted ‘disturbance’ in the sea, after 1 in the night, we slipped into boxers and hit the bed.

Mission accomplished! Destination reached!! 🙂

The top picture: we came across the washed away bus somewhere along the route in Karnataka. We ran into similar accidents a few more times through out the trip.

Continue reading: Day 3: Goa, Baby!