Hannah's Great Adventure
Ok - So I've finally left Goa after a rather 'extended' stay. The Plan was to stay for a couple of weeks, now 5 weeks later I'm ready to go. It all started with a text message from Alex, telling me he'd spontaneously booked a last minute holiday out to Goa and would be arriving in a couple of days. At this time I was just finishing a 2 week tour of Rajasthan and was due to spend a week in Mumbai with the girls before heading down to Goa. Due to Alex's surprise visit I decided to jump on the first train down to the 'sunshine' state. For my first few days in Goa I took full advantage of Alex's 'luxury' apartment in Calangute (luxury compared to what I was used to). We sampled the local 'killer' spirit, Fenny and played lots of cards. I discovered another side to Alex, an extremely competitive side, which was particularly unpleasant! Being a 'package holiday destination' we both took an instant dislike to Calangute. It is the Costa del Sol of Goa! Full of fat 'Brits' in football shirts and 'Red Lion' pubs!! After a few days we hopped in an auto-rickshaw and travelled to Arambol to meet the others, who had by this time left the hustle and bustle of Mumbai and found themselves a secluded beach in North Goa. We all had an absolute ball in Arombol. We stayed in 'beach huts', bodysurfed the waves, drank far too much Gin, ate ridiculously cheap 'kingfish' and had some intense water fights. Most nights ended with us all going for a mid-night swim (yes mum, I know it's dangerous) and being attacked by giant toads - well that's what it looked like! From Arombol we head north to Anjuna, the 'party' capital of Goa. Where we were offered every kind of illegal substance you could imagine. Apart from an awesome night out at 'Club Cabanna', Anjuna was a bit of a dive so we soon left. This was the point the group separated, Nadia and Logs headed down to Palolem whilst Abs and I continued to slowly marauder down the coast. Two smelly state buses later and we were in Panjim. Panjim is the capital of Goa and is an ex Portuguese colony, a truly beautiful city. We stayed in Panjim for a few days before continuing on down to Benalim. Benalim is a small beach resort, where we did little more than chill on the beach for a few days. Abby then headed back up to Mumbai to meet Chris and I travelled down to Palolem to catch up with Nadia and Logs. Having spent a couple of days in Palolem Logs and I caught a train down to the most southern state in India, Kerala. Where we had a fantastic couple of days. We stayed at the mosquito ridden YMCA guesthouse, which was full of young Indian men. We hired our own personal boat and driver and went on a trip through the backwaters, complete with a trip to a 'drive through' coconut shop, and watched the traditional Kakalani dance. All the 'Lonely Planet' must-do's. On the train back up to Goa Logs and I met some cool Aussie guys, Troy and Sam, and an awesome Swedish girl, Turin. We convinced out new recruits that where we were headed, Om Beach was well worth a visit. So at 3.30am we all jumped of the train at Gokarn. After a long 'discussion' with the taxi driver (long enough for a few games of cards) we agreed a price and headed into Gokarn town where we proceeded to find the only place serving Chai at the ridiculous hour. As it started to get light we all set off on the 10km hike to Om Beach. Stopping at the top of the first hill to watch the sunrise - it was truly beautiful. Om Beach was great!! With just a few shacks we found a beach hut for just 50Rps a night (60p), which Logs, Turin and I shared. The only drawback being no electricity. However, I had a fantastic couple of days on Om Beach. To make thing's even better Rob had arrived in India 2 days ahead of schedule; I met him at Margoa station 3 hours after leaving Om Beach - perfect! Rob and I had a fantastic Christmas week at Palolem. Christmas day began with a boat trip out to see the dolphins, followed by a day on the beach. Then as the sunset we enjoyed a fantastic seafood platter, washed down with a couple of bottles of champagne, courtesy of Rob. New Years Eve was fantastic!! It evolved far too many Gin & Tonic's and loads of partying. We ended up doing a pub (well shack) crawl along the beach staggering from party to party. Ending up at 'Neptune's Point', which was playing 'Goan Trance music' (oh no) to watch the sunrise. Our last week in Palolem was great - this year started of with a bang! Abs and I met some really cool kiwi guys, Tim and Grant, who live in Auckland. They made us both so excited about visiting New Zealand, there's so much to see and do. They were also able to help us out with questions we had about work. When we arrive in Auckland its perfect time to start the fruit-picking season, which takes you down the coast. First you pick kiwis, then avocados, then peaches etc. You cover the length of the north island in a couple of months, your food and accommodation is paid for and you earn really good money. Most people then move on to South island in time for the ski season. Perfect! We met so many people in our last few days, as is always the case. We also started Yoga. One of my New Year's resolutions was to 'get in touch with my spiritual side'. So on the 2nd January (the 1st was a wipe out) Abs and I went to our 1st ever Yoga class and we both fell in love with it. We continued to go every day until we left Palolem, but we have every intention to carry it on throughout our travels. Through out my time in India I've spent over 100 hours on some form of public transport and I doubt I've spent more than the price of a taxi into Birmingham and back. Although as you can imagine, India's public transport is not great! The putrid stench of urine on the trains, a smelly armpit in your face on the bus, or the disgusting habit the men have of snorting all their snot up and then spitting it on the floor (or on your foot), does slightly put you of - but it's so cheap! We arrived in Chennai today after a surprising pleasant train journey - no really! We departed at 4pm yesterday, after a 2-hour bus ride from Palolem to Margao. Abs and I were asleep by 9pm and then woke up today at 12pm (an hour before we arrived). I have never slept so well on a journey. Well, we had a 'few' interruptions (I told the train conductor to Shhhhhhhhh, which didn't go down well) and even more cups of Chai but we made it - happy as can be. Our hotel, 'Hotel Paradise', surprising doesn't quite live up to its name but it has a TV with BBC World so we're happy. So my time in India has almost come to an end. I've had some amazing times, along with times when all I've wanted is a hot bath and a hug from my mum. I have experienced so much and look forward to continuing on with my travels - next stop Thailand.