Monday, 20 February 2012

Hey! Look! Goa!

So, I left you in the morning as we headed off to Fort Cochin. A wonderfully eclectic mix of old and new, noisy and peaceful, serene and hectic. Aya allowed herself to be dragged around Matencherry Palace and the Synagogue in return for browsing the Jew Town market stalls. A fair trade. I picked up a Ganesha which I now need to send home.

We visited a couple of cafes that were well regarded in LP, and then the 'Top Choice' restaurant, which well lived up to it's title. An unbelievable prawn curry. Mmm.

On the way to and from the Fort, we saw a large Oil Tanker called the Enrica Lexie. Amazingly enough, it's been in the news! http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-17093224 I have a picture of it! Small world.

We woke up at stupid o clock so we could purchase the last minute tickets from the train station. The reservation office keeps a tiny number of tickets back, so when we arrived with hopeful gleams in our eyes, our spirits sank slightly at the 200 odd people crammed into the reservation office already queueing. Luckily, it seemed all of them wanted to go to Bangalore, so even though it was almost an hour after we arrived, we got tickets! Cost an arm, a leg and Aya's first born son (a promise slip) to get them, but we walked out cheerfully knowing we had a way of getting to Goa.

The train journey was... interesting. Long, certainly. 15 hours, first watching the fields and trees go by, then the sun setting, and then just darkness. The beds folded down at about 10 PM, and we curled up to sleep with the clickety clack of the tracks beneath us. 4 hours sleep maybe? Yeah, not as great as we hoped. Waking up at 4:30AM wasn't fun either, and of course as this was an Indian train, there we no announcements, no signs, no timings and no people there to tell us which station we needed to get out at. We were told the train would arrive at our station at 4:50AM, but due to a delay, we actually pulled into the station before our station at 4:50. Woops. We were on the platform and starting to walk down when Aya checked with someone that this was the correct station. Good call by her, as we then had to make a dash back to the train and jump on board. Not as amusing as the backpackers down the other end though. I had asked them where they were getting off and they told me the same as us (Carnacoma), so when I saw them on the platform I called out to them.

'This isn't Carnacoma!'

'What?!'

'This is Karwar! Carnacoma is the next stop!'

'SHIT!'

The train was already starting to move at this point, and miraculously all 5 of them managed to get back on board by running full pelt down the platform and jumping for the footboard. This sounds quite a daring move, but compared to some of the maneuvers we've seen pulled at train stations it was really quite normal.

Turns out the backpackers meant to get out 4 stops before. Woops! I took pity on them and showed them where we were on my Lonely Planet map, and after some more cursing in some european accent they headed back to their end of the carriage.

After arriving at our station, finally, at 5:30 odd, we met two English and Swedish girls, who we split a rickshaw drive with. The drivers knew they had us by the balls, freezing to death in the darkness, and managed to rob 150 rupees from us for the 3KM ride. Urgh. Frustrating thing was the fact that everyone behind us was willing to pay it, so the drivers had no incentive to go lower. The three girls with the bags squeezed into the back (Aya sat on the Swedish girls lap) and I perched half in the front, half levitating over the road below. The English girl and I both wished us all luck, saying it was a nice way to go if we didn't make it, and off we went.

We survived funnily enough, and after the crazy ride we sat on the beach, waves lapping against the sand in front of us, and enjoyed the sunrise in relative luxury.

Since then, we've found a rudimentary beach hut, costing us 600 rupees a night (the owner was very nice, so we went a hundred over our budget) and I put my first aid skills to use helping bring two men up the beach into the shade. They were so drunk they couldn't move. Just made sure they were breathing and turned them on their sides so they wouldn't choke if they threw up. My good deed for the day. Every time I walk past I'm checking on them... how could you ever drink that much? They're lucky 6 of us good samaritans carried them out of the sun.

Well, that's the update. X amount of days in Goa, and then onwards to Hampi, Ajanta and Ellora. Looking forward to the ruins and the history! Woop! Aya is probably going to hate it, but she can drag me round cafes in Mumbai afterwards.

Hugs, kisses, and some Goa sun to you all.

Andy

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