Today was so busy!
On the itinerary was a trip to Panaji to watch a presentation about Goa and then a meet and greet session with various hoteliers and others in the tourism industry. After that was lunch at the Mandovi hotel, tea and dessert at a Chinese restaurant, a bakery visit and then back on the bus to see the Calungute Beach. Following the beach trip we headed back to Panaji to go to a handicraft market, and then dinner and gambling on a casino boat. It was a big day.
Panaji - primary school visit
Whilst the travel agents met with potential contacts, I was able to visit a primary school. Sanjeev's wife is a headmistress and she came and picked me up and took me back to visit her school. I stayed for an hour while she showed me the classrooms and we talked about the differences in education between India and Australia. It was great to hear about the things that she does at her school, and I particularly liked her buddy system of getting students to support each other with their difficulties. She liked the idea I gave her about calling students parents once a week to tell them something good that they have done.
Then it felt like we ate for about three hours – we went to the Mandovi Hotel, a very old hotel with quite a grand restaurant (including a lady playing the piano). The hotel would be convenient for anyone wanting to go to the casino, the rooms were not elaborate, but contained all one would need for accommodation that is central to the casinos. We then went to a Chinese restaurant for tea and dessert, and then a bakery where we were all given a basket of goodies.
After all of our eating ventures, we got back on the bus and went to Calungute. We visited the beach, which is renowned for being the best beach in Goa. Whilst it was nice, I felt like Colva beach and the beach at the Ramada resort were nicer and had less rubbish around. One of the things I felt was quite different between the beaches in Goa and Australia was how people make use of them. In Goa, it seems that there are more people standing and watching the water than are actually in the water. I am told that this is because a lot of people (including us) visit the beach as a tourist destination so come and look, but don’t necessarily come for a whole day trip to enjoy the beach. There were people in the water, and they seemed to be having a good time. There were also lots of boats, one of which was set up for parasailing – that looked like lots of fun! Having seen the beach today, I don’t think that I will plan for a day of relaxing on the beach when I come back, I might see what else there is to do in Calungute instead.
Handicraft Market – Kala Academy
The handicraft market at the Kala Academy was something most of us had been looking forward to since the start of the trip. Sanjeev had told us that there were over 500 stalls there and he wasn’t wrong. We had lots of fun wandering around, bartering with stall holders and picking up some great bargains to bring home. After an hour and a half, we headed back to the bus. I believe that this is an annual market so if you are in Panaji in January definitely check it out!
Deltin Royale Casino Boat
By the time we left the market I was exhausted and not overly enthusiastic about spending the rest of the night in a casino. It was a five-storey boat that is situated just off the land, along with four or five other casinos doing the same thing. For some people I’m sure this would be fun, but gambling doesn’t interest me and so I spent most of the time there in the bar with a couple of other group members and we had a good time listening to the music and chatting. Others went off and tried their luck at the tables for a couple of hours.