I am writing this sitting on my balcony, spiced rum and coke by my side and the sound of the ocean not far away. It is incredibly relaxing. Today started with a fabulous breakfast, I had a young man make me an omelette to order and it was super yummy! The waffles with mango sauce were a special breakfast treat – I’m going to have to go on a diet when I get back, the food here is hard to say no to! This resort is amazing, my room has everything I could need and is so nice that I could simply stay here for a relaxing holiday and not go anywhere else. But, I want to experience all that I can in Goa and today was an excellent start to that. We visited temples, and I think that anyone visiting these temples should consider going with a guide because it definitely added to the experience having somebody explain the deity’s and the way that the temples are used. The view was excellent too! A school group were also there and the children instigated the taking of many photos, they seemed pretty excited to have their pictures taken with us which kind of surprised me. I have always thought that is was tourists that prompted such photos but in this case, that was certainly not how it happened. One of the highlights for me was seeing monkeys jumping through the trees, there were a lot of them and they bounced around from branch to branch, with the younger ones looking like they were in training – clumsy and awkward, but still making it work.
We ate at three different places and the food everywhere is fantastic. I must admit that eating in hotels is not my preference, and although the food is good, I would still rather be trying actual restaurants and local eateries.
Today’s highlight was seeing the monkeys in their habitat, and hearing that we’re going hot air ballooning on our last day! I also really enjoyed the short time we got to walk along the street tonight and to go to the chemist. Everything seems quite cheap here as well, and the mini bar drinks are cheaper than buying drinks at the bar. It’s a shame this place doesn’t have free wifi in the rooms and that it’s expensive. As a result I’ve decided to just use the wifi in the lobby. It works well and is all I really need.
Sri Chandranath Temple
After breakfast we got on the bus, which by now we had nicknamed ‘Gus’. There were a few phone calls exchanged by Sanjeez (the excellent Goan historian who was our guide for the trip), who was organising for a man to help a couple of the group members out with Indian sim cards. That happened as we left the temple. It was pretty funny to see how someone could just get on our bus and sort it out, that would never happen at home! We learnt that you have to have a visa that is longer than 30 days to get a sim card which is helpful information for anyone planning to travel. Although it would have been helpful, on such a short trip I managed by using wifi when I had access which was fine.
On the way to the temple we stopped once and while we waited for Sanjeez to copy our itinerary we took lots of photos. One thing that we noticed was how many men are around, it was basically only men, except for one woman I saw on a balcony, and two others that we saw in the street. I noticed (and took a photo) of the front page of the paper today that said ‘20% of Goan married women are childless’, I wish I’d taken the time to read it – it looked interesting!
The temple was pretty cool. Sanjeez is giving us lots of time explaining things, which I am forgetting quickly. We first walked down to one building and took photos – and lit a firecracker we found on the ground. It didn’t go off, so we assumed it was a dud, until about a minute later we heard it go off and gave most of us a good scare!
Then as we began walking up the stairs to the temple, there were a couple of school groups, the kids were super keen to have their photos taken with us. I felt kind of weird about it, I’ve always had a bit of a response to photos of people on holiday with kids from the country they are in. Now that I’ve experienced it, it feels less exploitative than it looks – these kids instigated the photos and were very excited and happy about doing it.
The temple was interesting, something about it being built around meteorites, although there is some question as to whether or not they are really meteorites – it’s never been proven. Either way, it was a nice place. There are enormous trees in many of the places we have been. And it was hot! A good walk for us given all of the food we’ve been consuming. And we got to see monkeys on the side of the road as we were leaving.
Lunch at the Raddison Blu
This looked like a nice place to stay, I particularly like the look of the villas. There was a wedding on but we didn’t see anything (except a sign for the same couple at another place we went for dinner-evidence of the long and multiple events involved in an Indian wedding!) Lunch was very nice, so much food, including a very elaborate dessert table. I’m sure I’ll go home about 10kg heavier at this rate, I feel like all I’m doing is eating sometimes!
After lunch we went to the preparations of a festival at another temple. We wandered around and looked at the different stalls being set up. We tried some food – roasted chickpeas and an orange dessert like thing that I liked. There were also dogs and cows on the roads which was something I hadn’t expected.
Hotel visits Royal Haathi Mahal and the Byke Cavellosim
We returned to our hotel to freshen up before heading back out for a drink at Royal Haathi Mahal and then dinner at Byke Cavellosim.
At the Royal Haathi Mahal we inspected a room which was very spacious but had a damp/stale cigarette smell. We were told that they don’t have any non-smoking rooms at all and all of the rooms ‘smell like this’. The bar on the other hand was great, it was well set up and the drinks and food we were offered were excellent. We later realised that we should have eaten more of the snacks we were offered because where we went for dinner was pretty bad!
We arrived at the Byke Cavellosim and were given a drink that tasted like strawberry quik. Nobody wanted it, and it didn’t help that we’d all been drinking – the thought of milk didn’t seem to sit well with anyone. We were shown a few rooms, with the ‘deluxe’ room coming first. It wasn’t very nice at all. The next rooms were ok, but nothing special. Others commented that even if the rooms were free they wouldn’t be recommending it to their clients. Once we’d seen the rooms we moved on to the restaurant for dinner. They didn’t seem at all ready for us, and eventually when we sat down, the tablecloths were dirty. It was all a bit unclean looking. The food was actually not bad though, it was all vegetarian and I tried everything that we were given and nothing was awful. Still, I don’t think I would bother going back there.
We also found out this morning that we’ll be going hot air ballooning on the last day!!!!!!! I’m super excited about that as I had it on my ‘to do list’ for myself.