Well I have got increasingly worse at writing these. I guess because we are having such a lovely relaxed time but also because we have been doing NOTHING! Well actually nothing by the standards of people reading this that have jobs and lives and washing and things to do etc.We left Varanasi and jumped on a flight to Mumbai. It was the first flight we had taken for a long time and felt a bit like cheating but it is a long old train and we want to make the most of every day (as fun as Indian trains are!) Mumbai is actually a really lovely city- as most that are by the beach are.I'm afraid to say that in our 3 days there we didn't really do any sight seeing per se- we just wandered around, got a feel for the place, ate well and people watched! We will visit there again as it is where we come home from so left the more touristy things for then to keep our minds busy and off the tears!From Mumbai we caught an overnight train down to Goa.I for one was very reticent about coming here as I thought it would be super touristy and like Magaluf with British Breakfasts everywhere.In fact it is like Mallorca where there is the dreaded hell hole but all around are absolutely beautiful places seeped in history. We also picked where we wanted to stay really well.We booked into a place in Anjuna for 3 nights. It is in the north and we had heard that it was the most relaxed and hippy with not a massive party scene- just what we wanted. It is beautiful- a lovely long quiet beach, nice little shops and the best thing of all- a fantastic beach place called Shore bar with big areas for lounging that serves food better than a lot of the most expensive restaurants- fresh prawns and fish cooked different ways with different sauces etc.Safe to say we have spent a lot of time there and are on first name terms with all the dogs and kittens that also call it home and lounge away all day.
We also hired scooters at a grand cost of under 3quid a day.It was the most casual rental I have ever undertaken- the guy turned up at our guesthouse and gave us the key."Um don't we have to look round it and note down scratches?" I said. He looked at me strangely- "Scratches no problem." "Um ok" I replied expecting him to produce at least something to sign but he turned on his heel and went to sit and watch TV.As worrying as that all sounds they have been fantastic.We have zipped up and down the coastline sometimes for up to 30km.We drive through tiny local villages where they are drying out minute fish on blankets in front of their houses and stop to sit by the river in the shade. We have driven to the other resorts and had a look round, breathing a sigh of relief that we are in quiet Anjuna, and also to two old forts.The First, Fort Aguada was very impressive perched on a peninsula. Even more interesting for us was when we drove down the other side though.We could see old buildings set into the side of the cliffs and went to investigate.When we got to the end of the road there was a sign saying "Central Aguada Jail." It is still a working prison with 500 inmates the guard at the gate told us.Although it is one of the most picturesque prisons I have seen I cannot imagine the hellish conditions inside that sweatbox- it would make Wandsworth seem like the Hilton!
Originally we were planning to stay 3 days here and then go to Hampi which are some supposedly stunning temples inland.You have to get an 18 hour bus there and the temperature at the moment is around the 42-44 degree mark. From there we were going to go onto Bangalore to visit Kerala.We were so happy here by the sea that we decided to extend the time here. Twice!We will now go to Cochin tonight.Hampi is supposed to be stunning but we reasoned with ourselves that we have seen a lot of temples and what we really want right now is some time by the sea.Our world tour has been a lot of sightseeing and not much relaxing- we have only lain on the beach for about 2 weeks out of it so we felt that we deserved it.We felt even more happy with our decision when we switched on the news on the day we were supposed to be in Bangalore and there has been 2 bombs there- it seems that we are getting luckier by the minute.
Goa is very quiet- especially now that it is the end of the season- some businesses are closed already and the others will shut up for monsoon within the next month. This is why it is an ideal place to ride a scooter.We are loving the wind in our hair and the freedom to explore and have thoroughly got into the Indian way of driving- I will outline the basics 3 golden rules….
1)Anyone can go anywhere at any time- there is no 'right of way' or priority. Don't worry about stopping anywhere, anytime, even in the middle of the road.
2)USE YOUR HORN. As much as you can. It is imperative to beep when you pass anyone (pedestrian, car or other scooter) whether overtaking or just going in the opposite direction.You must also beep when passing a cow, dog or goat as well as at regular intervals (Indians would recommend every 30 seconds) just to check it is working.
3)NEVER ride or drive in a straight line- the idea is to take up as much of the road as possible and only just avoid any obstacles or potholes.When overtaking get as close as you can to them and beep continuously.
Don't worry! We are being careful and wouldn't dare to rent bikes anywhere else but it is a lot of fun- we will be sad to return them tonight and it will be weird to go back to being transport-less.Right must get back to the beach….