Getting into Goan Groove...!
This morning started with a failed attempt at hot air ballooning. On the way back to the Ramada we made a quick stop and I was able to visit a clinic where polio vaccinations were being administered which was great to see. We returned to Ramada for breakfast and showers, and I ended my part of the FAM trip there. I was picked up at 12:30 and driven to Calungute where I stayed for the rest of the trip. I met up with Geoffrey and Anita in the evening, we went to St Anthony's on Baga Beach for dinner, and then headed to LPK nightclub to finish off the night.
A failed attempt at hot air ballooning
After four hours sleep we had to be up early to go hot air ballooning, leaving the resort at 6am. After a 40minute drive, and then about the same time waiting at a church where we were supposed to be meeting someone who would take us to the balloon. A car arrived, and we followed it for some time until we came to a road block. The driver of the car removed the road block sign and continued to drive, a couple of local ladies advised us not to follow so we waited. Unsurprisingly, the car came back to tell us we couldn't continue in that direction. More driving and spotting of the balloon in the air followed. We soon realised that what we were doing was chasing the balloon so that we could get in it once it had landed. It was all a bit strange. We waited in a field for a while, and impatience got the better of us and we opened the bottle of wine we had brought for a post flight celebration. Once we found the balloon and talked to Trish the pilot we had the option of following her, and waiting for her to set the balloon up in a different location to do a tethered ride. Collectively we decided against it, but had the option of trying again tomorrow. Goa Tourism offered to come and pick those of us who were travelling north up from our hotels so we agreed and crossed our fingers that it would work out the second time around!
Sanjeev went and spoke to the nurses giving polio vaccines and asked if I could come inside to talk to them and take some pictures. They are currently running a campaign to vaccinate all children against polio and have administered over 160 vaccines since November.
I arrived in Calungute at about 2pm and checked in to the Calungute Grande, a 3-star hotel about five minutes walk from the main street in Calungute. It was clean and had everything I needed for the next couple of nights. The only downfall was that I had to go downstairs to the restaurant to access the free wi-fi, but that's not really a big deal.
After checking in, I went downstairs to the restaurant and had a beer and made use of the wi-fi. Then I went for a walk to explore Calungute on my own a bit. It was busy and dusty and fun. I managed to find a chemist, a shop to buy a card reader, and get some cash out so all of my jobs for the day were done nice and easily. As I expected the shop owners are all very keen for you to come and spend money in their stores. I learnt quickly that avoiding eye contact is the best way to avoid it if that's what you want.
Dinner at St Anthony's on Baga Beach
I caught a taxi from Calungute to Baga Beach to meet up with Anita and Geoffrey for dinner. We gave our calves a good workout along the beach as we rejected the many offers from staff working at the bars and restaurants trying to persuade us to eat at their place. Eventually we found what we were looking for and had a great dinner and beers by candlelight on the beach. The beach was busy and well lit up with many restaurants to choose from. I can see why many people say that this part of Goa is where the tourists flock for the nightlife.
After dinner we headed for LPK (Love Passion Karma) where we had been given names to drop (thanks again to Sanjeev) for VIP entry and treatment. We were able to skip the long line and get straight in. We found a table and paid for a drink each but after some discussion, went back to the bar and showed the barman the text message we had received. In a few minutes, we were greeted by two men who showed us to our reserved table, collected the money we had paid for our drinks for us, brought us two plates of finger food, and advised the bar staff to provide whatever we asked for. Anita and I hit the dancefloor for a bit and had a great time. Despite there being a much larger proportion of men to women, I found that people generally stuck to themselves, and it didn't appear that the few women in the room were being hassled (unlike the clubs I've been to back home) so that was good. Knowing that we had to be up early we left at about 1, got home at 1:30 and was up again at 3:30 to be picked up for our second attempt at hot air ballooning. It was a very cool venue with interesting architecture. I would go back there again, and more than likely stay longer than I did this time around.