Got back from Goa really, really early this morning. Props to Shiva, our cab driver, for driving the Toyota Qualis (6 person SUV) like an F1 car – allowing us to make the Bangalore/Mysore run in 2.5 hours (150 km).
All of my photos are up on Flickr and were all post-processed using Picnik – I think it did a pretty good job. The videos are up on YouTube as well. Now, it’s time to tell the tale of one wild weekend in Goa – tough to define it in mere words. Click below to read the full entry!
We left Infosys Mysore on Saturday morning after some required exams/project stuff. Traffic was pretty good until we hit Bangalore – then it got a bit hairy. The taxi driver had to navigate a 12 person mini-bus across town to Bangalore/HAL International Airport and in the process he hit someone’s car – not good. We had an extremely angry Indian guy yelling at the driver, while the driver is telling us to give him 300 INR to bribe the guy to let us go. Meanwhile, said guy attempted to open the door to get in the van – possibly to pull the driver out. We finally gave him 300 INR and told the driver to gun it, as we were already late. We rolled up to the Arrivals Door with 30 minutes until departure. We then had to get our checked bags pre-scanned, then get checked in, then get into the circuitous security check queue – with 15 minutes left before departure. We somehow moved our way through using the “I have a plane to catch!” excuse and got our bags scanned/our bodies frisked by Indian Air Force personnel. Before I could get my bag, the screener pulled out my American football and told me to explain myself. He then wanted me to deflate it, on the spot. I told him to keep it (if you see anyone playing catch with a Wilson NCAA sized football at BLR, you’ll know whose it is), grabbed my bag, and ran to the gate/last bus out to the tarmac, with maybe 2 minutes to spare.
We arrived in Goa aboard Kingfisher Airlines (amazing experience, not going to lie) and had a hotel arranged taxi waiting for us. We then took the 45 minute drive towards Anjuna. We were amazed – both by the amazing tropical scenery and by the death-defying driving on narrow roads with blind curves (with two lanes of traffic). There is a very heavy Portuguese/Roman Catholic influence in the state – thanks to the Portuguese colonization – so we saw a lot of crucifixes, stone crosses and churches.
Our hotel, Villa Anjuna, turned out to be a great place – the people couldn’t have been more nice, the rooms were pretty decent and the 24 hour restaurant/bar was cheap and good. It was also within walking distance of a good place to eat that some of my colleagues knew of – Biriyani Palace. I was able to have some shark – which was extremely good. We also met some really chill guys from Italy who played guitar and the bongos for us by the pool.
The next day, we wandered down to Anjuna Beach, taking time to see the flea market. That was definitely an experience – nothing like an 8 year old girl putting a steel grip on your wrist in an attempt to drag you to her blanket of items. They drove a very hard bargain – they must be used to dumb tourists shelling out a ton of money for overpriced handicrafts. I bought something from one vendor, because I took a video of his shop/him putting the sell on – I figure it was only fair.
After escaping the clutches of the marauding sellers, we made our way down Anjuna Beach – which was a bit disappointing. There was a lot of garbage and a lot of abandoned buildings overlooking the coast. We did find a really nice bar to chill out at for a while and look at the ocean. We finally took a cab over to a “nicer” beach – Baca Beach. That decision turned out to be very fortuitous.
Looking out at the Arabian Sea from Baca Beach was one of the most amazing things I’ve seen. Beautiful sandy beaches, waves crashing in – it was majestic. We then wandered down to Coco Joe’s Beach Rest – a place where we were able to recline on chaise lounges and drink Kingfisher Beer (and a Coke for me). We relaxed there all afternoon – a few people got massages, everyone got to swim in the ocean – it definitely made the last few months of craziness and stress that I’ve dealt with feel a lot more “worth it”.
Sadly, we had to leave the next day and go back to Bangalore. We arrived in Bangalore around 5:00 PM (with no madcap flight issues, thankfully) After wrangling with transportation – we finally headed over to “The Only Place” for a steak (I needed that). Afterwards, a few people went to the bars for a couple hours – but our other cab (they didn’t have a 9 person cab, so we had two) headed back to Mysore. We had a really cool/intelligent conversation about music, life, etc. amongt ourselves – the high caliber/quality of people I work with always astounds me. We also engaged with Shiva, the cab driver – talked about cricket, his job, where he drives people, etc. He was a really friendly guy, so that helped pass the time.
In conclusion, I felt it was one of the highlights of my time here in India thus far. I came feeling a bit burnt out from work, but came back refreshed. It was almost like the Spring Break trip I never took back in HS/College. I also enjoyed that we went off-season – there weren’t as many “OMG SO CRUNK RAVES!”, but I don’t really do that scene. I just enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere/non-inflated prices. I hope to be able to go back some day and spend a week or so – really soak in the beauty.