Sunday, December 18, 2005

End of trip: I arrived in Delhi last night. Have to work on getting a flight home this week (long story) .

My week in the state of Goa was fantastic. What a place. The closest thing to hedonism there is I think. It is 100km of beach and all along there are small villages which the local beaches are named after. So there is Baga Beach and Calungute, Arambol, Vagator, Anjuna, Colva, Palalem etc. I got up every morning and walked to the beach to have a swim. My hotel was on a quiet road the ran along a small river. There were some small shops selling typical beach stuff and some very good cafes and restaurants. So a bit quiet compared to the hussle / bussle of the beach and the local town - Baga. Each evening the thing to do is go to the beach, grab a chair, order a drink and watch the sun go down. Everyone here rides a scooter or motorcycle to get around. They are very cheap to rent and I drove all over the place on one.

Got to go to a full moon party Dec. 15 which is one of the things Goa is famous for. I think the venue had past its real prime and the true partiers are in places no one can find but it was still fun. Stayed up till 5:30 a.m. Haven't done that in the past 20 years. The place was built into a cliff and had many levels. Lots of techno music and the locals set up small stalls within the complex and sell an array of things - food mostly but also paraphanelia that helps with the partying. To sit and watch the full moon over the Arabian Sea, talk to people from all over the world, drink Indian chai (which is tea with a lot of milk and spices) is truly like a dream.

Had a blast at the local weekly flea market in Anjuna Beach on Wednesday. It is very famous, very big and incredible. Ended up in a beach bar with many strange people and some not so strange, just a very weird mix and there was live music. This group called Kundalini Airport played this sort of techno/jazz/fusion stuff with sitar, drums and an Australian diggerdoo (sp?) and a singer and it was hypnotic and amazing. Watched the sun set, kids play, people smoke pot, drink beer, listen to this stuff in a beach shack and it was like being in another world.

So now I am in Delhi and it is cold, grey and smoky. I'm staying in an area called Karol Bagh and it's really quite a nice place. I went to a local market today and it was great because all the locals shop there, so vendors leave you alone, there are no beggars, and you can just blend in.

Well this is the end of my trip. Hope you have enjoyed reading all about it. I've had a great two months and plan to return to India as soon as I can and take a motorcycle to Kashmir, Jammu, Darjeeling and Sikkim (all in northern India). Have to start saving my pennies for the next trek.

Friday, December 09, 2005

India South and Sri Lanka: Since my last posting I've traveled from the south west coast of India, to central south (Bangalore, Mysore regions) and then on to the south east coast of India and Chennai which is India's 4th largest city and has about 6 million inhabitants. The train trip from Bangalore to Chennai was 7 hours but really memorable because I got to stand at an open door between train cars for much of the trip, which got me out of the stuffy and dingy interior and really enabled me to watch the world go by. The sunset was great that evening.

Chennai is on the Bay of Bengal in the state of Tamil Nadu and I dipped my feet in the water. The surf was so rough, no one could go in. The city has 13 kms of fabulous beach front and everyone in Chennai ends up there on hot days. The city is busy and polluted like all the rest. The British East India Company established one of its earliest seats of power in Chennai (formerly known as Madras). There is a fort and churches, plus the usual host of Hindu temples. I traveled to a wonderful site about 60 km south along the coast called Mahabalipuram, which has great century old temples right on or near the beach. During the drive south I also saw where the Dec. 26/05 tsunami came ashore and washed away homes. Eight thousand Indians either were killed or lost. Now there is temporary housing for people but the push is on to get them permanent ones. That is taking longer then expected. Beach front property is cheap here and there's lots available. hmmm.... would I like to have a little hut on the Bay of Bengal? Maybe not.

Leaving India we flew to Colombo, Sri Lanka around December 1st. What a very different county! Such a reprieve from the chaotic activity of India. More like Indonesia I would think. It has 19 million people and is very laid back, relaxed, green, tropical, rice paddies, elephants, gentle, shy people, tea plantations, more wretched dogs then India, 80% Buddhist so lots of temples. We were able to do more hiking and that was good because I needed the exercise. So a couple of treks to holy sites / temples were done . You can't be in this part of the world and ignore the temples. I swam in the Indian Ocean just north of Colombo so now I've been in the Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean. Sounds so exotic. The lushness of the country side is delightful and there is something very charming about the entire place. Traveling into the hill county, the tea plantations are stunning colours of green and you can see the tea pickers busy at work and then stop at a plantation for tea and Christmas cake! I've seen more elephants than I can count and monkeys galore. At night I must keep the windows shut or they will invade the room and take things. I actually have grown to not like them at all. They are nasty animals.

The internet service was dismal in Sri Lanka hence no blog during my time there, but I would recommend it as a place to see if you are this part of the world. Not so sure you should make a trip just to see it (many people do like the Australians and British) but it's a great way to wrap up a trip to India. So now I am recounting my travels from Baga Beach in Goa, India. Only took me 21 hours to get here from the interior of Sri Lanka yesterday. 7 hours by car, then a plane trip to Mumbai from Colombo at midnight, waited for 6 a.m. plane to Goa from Mumbai and then an hours car ride from Goa airport to hotel. Whew - crashed for a few hours after that one. Now I'm in Goa for one week to chill out and watch sunsets. Ta, ta for now.