Wednesday, February 24, 2010

North Goa to South Goa; Palolem

We have only been here 5 days, but it feels like so long. From previous trips I remember that the first two weeks on a trip feel like they are so long, then the rest of the trip flies by. In the beginning days feel like weeks, but by the end months turn to days. India was a real shocker at first (which I'm sure you can tell if you've been following the blog), but it's funny that it's already beginning to mesh together and feel more comfortable. As crazy as everything/everyone is here, it all seems to work. For example, yesterday we had to take four buses to move from North Goa to South Goa (it would have been $40 by taxi, or $1.50 by buses).

Seeing as there is no real bus schedule or timetable you would think we might spend a lot of time waiting; but it was quite the opposite. We caught our first bus after about a 20 minute wait, and were packed in like sardines. It's pretty crazy here, because you squish together till you think you can't get any closer, but then the guy who collects your bus tickets pushes his way to the back and pinches you and grabs you, and literally picks you up and squishes you even more! (It's quite an experience, you have no control at all! haha).

That bus was an hour ride, then we hopped off we managed to find the next bus almost immediatly. It was creeping through the bus parking lot, and wouldn't stop for us, so we just had to jump on with all our gear. But it was pretty awesome because we actually got seats! We felt VERY lucky!

At the stop where we were to grab our 3rd bus we decided to walk around and try to book some travel plans for a few days in the future. We tried to get some train tickets, but the ticket office was CRAZY. We had to pay to get a number to wait, and there was one foreigner in there who said she'd been there for 1 1/2 hours and her number was finally next. She said they were going through less than 10 numbers in an hour! When we realized that our number was 20 numbers away, plus the fact that we didn't even know if there was a train to Hampi we decided to bail on that one, and head to the beloved Paulo Travels Bus Service to book another cozy bed for 2 for a 13 hour bumpy ride!

Anyways, when we made our way back to the train station our third bus was conveniently boarding and we were able to buy a ticket and hop right on...into a seat again!!!!! At the Fourth stop we decided to get some food and walk around a bit, then miraculously showed up at the buses once again right as ours was leaving; so we dodged the cars to cross the street and loaded up.

This bus was a little comical, because first of all they were bumping Bhangra tunes! (Our fave was a little ballad that was a woman singing in Hindi, then a man would come on and sing in English with a heavy accent "I don't know what you're Saying, I don't know what you're saying, but I want to dance with you!" It's our new theme song for the trip!) Also, we got charged 2 1/2 times what the locals paid for the ride, but all in all everything worked out so smoothly it was amazing!

So, like I said things are starting to mesh together and not feel so foreign and crazy; but that's not to say that there aren't at least 20 things a day that happen to us that make us look at eachother and just laugh out loud about how ridiculous it is. Here are a few examples:
-Constant Horn Honking....they seriously will hold the horn for 10 seconds at a time...or just constantly give little beeps. Apparently they honk when they want to pass a car, so trucks have signs painted on the back that say 'Horns yes please.'
-The cows on the beach! It's one thing to get used to sunbathing with cows, but as Kate learned the other night, you aren't expecting to have to dodge cow pies at night!
-We decided to drink a beer on the beach last night and a skinny Indian man in red undies (tighty whitey stylie), decided to stand less than 5 feet in front of us when there was no one else near us. He was staring out into the water, then turning around and staring at us. So finally I looked at him and said hi. He took this as an invitation to talk to us...but he kept telling us his wife was in the water and pointing to some people in the water. We told him he should go join her, but he just wanted to keep talking, so we decided to pick up and move. Of course, as we passed his "wife" in the was really just two white couples! He was icky.
-We think Kate may have been involved in some sort of drug deal on the bus! Some boys made her pass a bag with some conspicuous brown powder in it, then made her pass money to the other guy!
-The Constant hassling is too much. This new beach we are on is by far the worst so far! The women come up to and just stand over you, trying to get your attention by asking you questions. If you look up and say "no thank you," your trapped...they just keep talking to you and won't leave, it's totally ridiculous. This has been one of the hardest things for me, because the only way to get them away is to completely ignore them...and I'm not good at that. In one hour on the beach you will have 20 people come up to; each one offering the same things: jewellery, manicures/pedicures, henna, and sarongs. It's so hard to be rude, but it's all you can do. You will be reading your book and they just stand over you shooting questions at you!

So, now we are on Palolem with the constant hagglers. We have found the best garlic naan here that we've had so far! It's so delicious! We are staying in a cute little bungalow for $2 a night each! Unfortunately we are staying next to some Israelis that brought huge speakers travelling with them, and they love to bump techno and smoke hash all day long. They somehow manage to stay up talking till 4 am, which I have no idea how it's possible after the amount of hashish they smoke! But all in all the bungalow is great. We have pigs all over...about 20 piglets running around, plus chickens...tons of them. And last night we were sitting on our deck and a cow just strolled right through (they have carte blanch here). Also there seemed to be a group of rabid dogs attacking eachother all night, so I guess that dogs just seem to be nocturnal in all of India, not just Mumbai! hehe.

But everything is falling into place nicely. We are headed to a great town called Hampi tomorrow and we are really excited to post up for 3 or 4 night and relax in this ruin town.

I will be hooking up my camera in Hampi and posting some pics, so even if you've read the last blogs keep checking them for pictures!!!!

Love to you all, thanks again for listening!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

North Goa; Arambol

We woke up on Sunday morning to the shouts of "Mapusa, Mapusa!" Kate and I looked around at our home for the night (the small sleeper bed on the bus) and realized that we had our stuff scattered all over the place, and our stop was just seconds away. So we jumped down off the bunk found our packs and quickly started shoving everything we owned back into our packs. We finished with barely a time to take a deep breath before we were off the bus and getting attacked by people trying to give us taxi rides and auto rickshaw rides. We didn't really know where we were or what we were doing, so we really just needed a minute to regroup, sit down, open the LP and figure out what the hell to do next. Unfortunately we had the mob of drivers following us halfway down the block, so we ended up just ducking into a hotel to get a minute of silence! It's funny here, because most places you can find solace on a street corner or on a bench or in a park; but here, if you are in the open you're free game!

We figured out that we needed to get a bus, and we headed off to the famous beaches of North Goa! Upon arrival we were shocked that we weren't harrassed by any taxi or rickshaw drivers, and we just assumed that everything must be really close. The irony of it all is that the ONE time we would have enjoyed a taxi ride, no one was around to help! We ended up walking about a mile and a half in the blazing sun...then wandering down the beach till we found our new home! We got a sweet little beach bungalow for $7 a night between the two of us!

We were so excited to get to the beach after crazy Mumbai. I don't know exactly how to explain Goa because it is quite different than any other place I've been before. Not the's a nice beach, warm water, little waves. But I guess it's more the people that flock to Goa. It seems to be a sort of winter retreat for all the Euro Burners. The people are just totally whacked out. Kate and I were just constantly people watching, and totally amused by all the different outfits and hairstyles/lifestyle choices of the Goan Vacationers. First off, most people that were there seemed to be staying there on a long term basis. Lot's of Russians, Ukranians....people from all over Europe, looking for an escape. Also, most of India is very conservative; you have to have your shoulders and your knees covered at all times. But it Goa, that flies right out the's hard to tell who is wearing less clothes: the guys, or the girls? Literally there are guys on the beach in leopard print's a little much!

I wish I could go into further detail about Arambol, but it would take a long time, so Kate and I jotted down a list of some of the most memorable things that we saw:

-We saw a guy with a mohawk that was short in the front, but then turned into a dread mullet in the back
-A guy walking down the beach with tight bright blue pants that bell bottomed, with a fanny pack, and blonde dreads down to his butt
-Weird Moon Boots....(who travels with moon boots right?)
-Sack Pack Attack Everywhere (for those of you who aren't familiar with this term, yes, they are speedos....thong ones too)
-Sack Pack with a Fanny Pack
-Trans Euro Hippies EVERYWHERE
-2 guys juggling in speedos
-1 guy juggling butt naked....and yes, he kept dropping the balls and bending over...GROSS
-A group of about 30 people standing in a circle with a "leader" in the middle, doing what Kate and I call 'Kelp Dancing'...very weird
-We saw a bald guy sitting on the beach balancing a crystal ball on his head (I think we was David Bowie's crystal ball double guy from the Labyrinth)

Those were some of the best ones that stick out in our minds! (I have some good pics to prove that we really saw these check back soon; my plan is to edit some of the posts and add some pics in the next few days!) Also, it's pretty crazy trying to walk on the road here. Everyone rents motos, and the streets are so small, but everyone thinks they own them, and it'a a constant movement of cars, rickshaws, and bikes. It's crazy because they literally aim for you, and when you hear the horn you have to jump out of the way as they speed past you only inches from your body. It's hard to get used to!

We spent two nights in Arambol, and decided it was time to move on. We were really hoping that we were going to head somewhere with Indian food (All the restaurants in Arambol had huge menus with every kind of cuisine from Israeli to Italian to English, then a small section for Indian food) but unfortunately that didn't seem to be the case.

Anyways I'll write about our next adventure in the following blog! Thanks for Reading!!!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mumbai cont.

So, let's see here....where did I stop last. Oh yeah, so we stayed the night in the shoddy Salvation Army hostel...which was quite a trip...Literally, right after I wrote the last post I was trying to pay for my hour of internet and ended up getting in a fight with the internet operator from our hostel. He wanted me to show him my passport, but all he needed was the number. So I kept trying to tell him my number, but he wouldn't accept it. When I told him that it was locked in our locker and my roommate was out with the key, he just threw the book at me and said, "fine, but next time no passport, no internet!" Anyhoo getting on with the rest of our trip...We were so tired from the travelling that we fell asleep kind of early. Our night was filled with endless dogs barking outside the window. It's funny because in India the dogs are nocturnal. They literally sleep in the street and on the sidewalks all day long, then when night arrives they all seem to wake up. They stand on the street barking and attacking anything/anyone who dares to walk by their precious plot of concrete. Then to counteract the attack from the dogs, the cars and auto-rickshaws honk incessantly; so pretty much, sleep in Mumbai is a wee bit difficult.

We had read about a big market north of Colaba (where we were staying), and in the morning we decided to try and walk there. On the LP (Lonely Planet) map it only looked to be about 3km or so. We started walking and got completely turned around at our first roundabout. Only about 1/5 of the streets are actually labelled with a street name, so it makes it pretty difficult to get around. We kept asking people where MG Road is (one of the MAIN roads that runs in this part of town), and no one seemed to know. When people would ask where we were going they would say "oh no, too far walk...must take taxi...too far." Kate is reading 'The White Tiger' by Aravind Adiga right now (a book that takes place in India) and when we read this excerpt after our excursion it seemed to sum it up perfectly:

"And then another thing. Every road in Delhi has a name, like Aurangazeb Road, or Humayun Road, or Archbishop Road. And no one, masters or servants, knows the name of the road. You ask someone, 'Where's Nikolai Marg?' And he could be a man who lived on Nikolai Marg his whole life, and he'll open his mouth and say 'huh'?"

So after the third person we asked for directions told us that it was too far to walk we decided to finally get in a taxi. The driver must have taken us about 5 blocks further down the same road we had been walking on for 45 minutes. Literally, his meter didn't move from the starting off price of 14 rupees (about 30 cents)! Ha...

We walked around the streets in awe. Unfortunately it wasn't the fun markets filled with sarongs, scarves and jewellry, but it was more of a local market with everything from electronics to tools to chai. The street were filled with so much life that we were just walking through in awe. Men and women alike were carrying loads 5 times their size on their heads! I have some great pics that I will figure out how to upload onto here soon! Unfortunately it's not always kosher to snap photos of people, so we had to do a lot of sneaky shots. But I was just wishing that I could have an hour there of free photo time where I could take pictures of anyone/thing; it was a beautifully ugly sort of place if that makes sense. The people have so much beauty and stories in their face and dress, that I just want to capture it all on camera, but I'm trying to not step over the boundary of being rude.

After that market we walked over to another market where a guy wouldn't let us inside because there was a sign that said foreigners had to pay someone to take them through the market. Instead we walked down 30 feet and walked in on our own. The market was beautiful, filled with fruits and vegetables, and teas. The weirdest thing we saw there were little puppies in cages....lord knows what the plan was for those cute little guys!

Our walk back consisted of your average walk down an Indian street: Non-stop hassling, dodging cars, and honking horns. All you hear is "excuse me miss", "Hello miss", "very good price", "where you from"...then a few will even reach out and grab you. Especially the children. It's so sad because they are so dirty and living on the street. I saw a baby girl standing next to a wash basin and she grabbed a pair of wet dirty undies out and started sucking on them. A few blocks later there was a little boy taking a poo in the street drain. It's really hard to see. And the kids are the most persistent with the begging. They grab you, and will follow you a whole block just tugging at your arm then pointing to their mouths. It's super sad! The saddest part about it too, is that any money you give them just goes to someone else. It's a bad situation.

Once we got back to Colaba all was good, except that we got followed for half a block by a religious guy who kept pestering us, then finally he got me by saying that we was a Hare Krishna and wanted NO I got suckered into a minute long prayere that, of course, ended in a plea for a donation. When I said no, he got super upset and mean and wouldn't leave us alone for another block. It's pretty crazy. You really want to just trust everyone and talk to everyone, but there are so many alterior motives that it's difficult. Even when you go to buy something, you ask for a price, then they say something too high, so you say how much you want to pay and they say no, but when you start to walk away they ok, that they'll give it to you at that price. Typical haggling right? Almost, except when you go to pay them for the item, they guilt trip you saying, oh pay me more i make no's a little weird; you either get ripped off or guilt tripped. haha.

Anyhoo...we ended up meeting up with Kate's cousin's girlfriend and her friend and got some good advice about travelling and odd things like never pay more than 10 rs (25 cents) for 4 bananas, and watch out for people that will come onto buses or trains and tell you it's your stop, then you get outside and they say its a 500 rs taxi ride that they will take you on... always gotta be on your a game here.

So, after an attempt at ripping us off from the taxi driver, we ended up getting onto our bus ready for our 15 hour bus ride, and we were shocked at what we found. First, we had each paid 800 rupees ($18), for two sleeper class bunks. When we got there every Indian had their own bunk, but what the driver said was ours was one bunk about 2 1/5 feet by just 6 feet...smaller than a twin size bed, for 15 hours for two people! We thought that for sure we got taken! All we could do was laugh at how naive we are...but then an Indian passenger assured us that the bunks were for two people. Then we realized how fortunate we were that we were travelling together, bc those are too close of quarters to be with anyone that you aren't very close to. After the shock had settled, we ended up making a pretty cozy little area for ourselves, with a comfy bed comprised of all our sarongs and a sleeping bag. With the help of some pills, we ended up having the best sleep we had had the whole trip on that ride; and by the end we fell in love with our new little home. (It's the little things when you travel).

I'll write more tomorrow about what we found when we arrived in Goa! I would love to get into it now, but it is such an adventure filled with crazy people that I will wait till tomorrow when I am motivated to keep typing. Somehow everytime I try to write about one day it ends up being a novel!

So, I hope you all are enjoying the craziness that India has brought to us so far, and keep checking back for more stories from the road!

Friday, February 19, 2010


Hi Everyone,
Just thought I'd let everyone know how I'm doing! I was able to find Kate pretty easily in MN, and our flights were pretty painless, It just started to get super long towards the end. 20 hours of flight time and 30 hours total with airport waits...kinda lame! Anyhoo, we were pretty stoked bc when we showed up there was a guy with a sign with kate's name on it, which was promising. We though all was well, until the driver started taking us down the most random back alleys you've ever seen! Literally....I thought we were headed straight for the black market. Luckily I had kate with me and all we could do was laugh! Even when we got there, it seemed so sign, it wasf pretty much just an apartment that they had turned into a hostel. It was a little strange, but all good. Apparently she tried to book a room in a double hotel room, but it ended up being two hostel beds for $15 (which was good bc it was going to be $60 for the room), but it just sucked coming in so late (1 am), then wanting to shower and kick it, but having to be super quiet. I fell asleep ok, but then I woke up in the middle of the night and could NOT go back to sleep. I think I was just filled with nerves, excitement, and fear. So, yeah, I've pretty much been up since about 3 am which sucks...I read a bunch in my book...but it was just so weird laying in an uncomfortable hostel bed in Mumbai reading about all the crazy shit that goes down in this city! So, after a long night of missing you we finally woke up and were trying to figure out our shit. Since we were literally in the middle of nowhere we decided to get a taxi and head to Colaba (the budget travelers destination).

We managed to share the 45 minute taxi with another girl fromt the hostel so it was a pretty cheap ride; far from boring though! Everyone uses their horns here like they are going out of style! LITERALLY, apparently that's the signal for I want to pass you...who knew right? Also, half the time there aren't any lines in the road so instead there are just hundreds of cars attempting to navigate down a four way freeway.....all the while honking....while people are trying to cross the street. Which is really a whole other story in itself. Crossing the street is like risking your life in a game of frogger. You literally don't know if you'll make it to the other side or just be crushed by a tuk tuk or a bus. It's a wee bit freaky. Let's just put it this way...Kate and I have become great runners!

So, anyhoo, we got to Colaba and booked some dorm beds in the Salvation Army hostel....pretty bare and basic, but I guess it works! There were no sheets on the thin little mattress so we went out and bought some fabric to act as a bottom sheet (2 yards for $4), and a little extra to make a pillow out of (bc I don't know what is growing in that pillow, but it makes airplane pillows look super sanitary)! We also decided that the city is a little crazy for us gals, so we went to a travel agency to help us make some sense out of the nonsense that surrounds us, and make an escape south to the pleasant beaches of Goa! Unfortunately all the trains are booked for a few days and we don't really want to wait that long, so we decided that we are going to take a night bus tomorrow night (only 15 hours!!!!), and that way we'll arrive in Goa in the morning! We are pretty pumped to leave the craziness of Mumbai.

And crazy it is, let me tell you!!!! Besides the crazy ass drivers, there are people everywhere; begging, selling, trying to give you things in exchange for money. Everyone has something to say to you its crazy! You literally cannot walk 100 feet undisturbed. If you look at anything at all in a street booth they start yelling and grabbing you, it's a little bit to get used to that's for sure!

Kate and I decided to walk around for awhile, just perusing the streets....of course I ended up with a new sarong, earrings, and bangles (and I am trying HARD to resist shopping even more). We found a place to eat thanks to the LP (lonely planet). It was nice, ac....clean, and cheap. Unfortunately we didn't really know what to order, so kate ordered something she remembered was good, and I just kind of blindly chose another option. Our food ended up being pretty good! The spices are delicious...and most of the food is vegetarian, which is great when you don't know what you're ordering! Our meal consisted of a huge crepe with a yummy potato/onion curry thing inside, a big bowl of rice with two chapattis (tortillas pretty much), and a plate with 5 or 6 different sauces and stuff to eat with the rice and chapatti. We also got a large bottle or water, and our bill was just under $2! And this place was one of the nicer places to eat! It was awesome!

So, that about sums up where we are at right now. Kate's cousin's girlfriend is staying at the same hostel, and she has been travelling around northern India, so we are hoping to bump into her and get some tips. Other than that, we are going to find someway to occupy ourselves in the a.m...then we take the night "sleeper" bus at 5!

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Getting ready for our 30 hour adventure to Mumbai on February 17th!!!! Woo-Hoo