The famous straw…

This morning I was looking for a title for this entry and I couldn’t find it.  I was about to call it “Untitled” until I arrived at my hostel in Goa. 

But let’s go back to the beginning. 

My train to Bangalore was pretty much on time so when I arrived there it was really early in the morning.  After checking my backpack at the train station I met a CSer (not my host) for breakfast.  He then had to leave and there was another CSer waiting for me. Nirmal is a very nice and polite guy.  We walked a bit around the city and then we went for lunch at a mall.  Food was OK but nothing worth writing home.  At three he had a meeting so we parted our ways and I spent the rest of the afternoon in the mall trying to recharge my phone (that always takes centuries) and waiting for Dan,  my host, to let me know where we could meet.  He finally got off work earlier than expected so we met at the Metro Station and went together to his place.  By the time I was exhausted so went to bed straight after shower.  

The next morning with Dan we roam around the town and had lunch at this beautiful and quiet place called Yogisthaan,  an oasis in the chaos of the city.  The rest of the afternoon we chilled at home and went out for a walk and early diner before catching my train to Hampi.  So far Bangalore is one of my favorite cities as it looks very european in a way and has plenty of nice places to eat and chill. 

I arrived in Hampi after the usual night train ride and I almost immediately fell in love with the place.  Hampi is a village known for its amount of temples.  And they are very nice indeed but to be honest I fell in love with the place itself and it’s surroundings.  Hampi was founded by the river Tungabhadra,  in the Karnakata region.  Although a very touristy spot it still preserve its village essence and life is quiet and easy there.  The area on the river bank it’s absolutely astonishing. There is a lot of greenery and at the same time it looks a bit like the desert.  Enormous rocks and banks of sand intermingled with spots of forest where people have built their temples and shrines dedicated to their gods. And it’s so peaceful and relaxing… I could have stayed there forever!  

And the good thing about this place is that it came at a moment in my trip that I really needed it.  Even Alfredo,  a guy met on the train that was staying in the hostel in front of mine realized that it’s time for me to go home.  My patience is really exhausted and every single twitch in my every day life is cause for big discomfort and stress for me.

The hostel I booked was OK.  1985 hostel and restaurant is where every other hostel is.  In the center of Hampi,  very close to Virupaksha Temple. I wouldn’t say it’s OK for western standards but it was OK for me.  Single room with private bathroom for 8€ was a bargain. 

So with Alfredo from Madrid (but that actually lives in Lanzarote) I roam around the area for the two short days I spent there. Close by there is also a waterfall (if you wanna call it like that…) hidden in a banana plantation that we found thanks to a local guy who guided us there.  

My time is running out so the night of my second day I took a bus to go back to Goa where I planned to spend a couple of days before heading to Mumbai to spend my last 2 days before heading back home. 

The bus ride was as good as it gets and by 6 o’clock I was back in Goa bus station.  I had made a reservation at JUNGLE by thehostelcrowd as I had such a good time at its twin in Palolem (there is was called SUMMER).  I arrived by local bus and had to wait a bit to be able to check-in as it is not allowed before 2.30pm. And here,  although India they are as precise as a Swiss watch.  2.30pm it is.  Not a minute before. And what an unpleasant surprise!!!  I paid for a bed in a hostel and I  have been guided to the west (shitty) wing of the same hostel.  Basically JUNGLE has 2 buildings.  One is nice,  the other less… and very much so… I was furious.  So I complained a bit about the “maintenance manager” (as he called himself) that took me and a couple of other guests to the “west wing” and thought that I would have written about it in TripAdvisor and booking.com and that it’d be it.  But then I decided that no,  I really wanted to complain with the manager as he also refused to cancel the second night I had booked as there is a policy of 48h advance cancellation (when I made the reservation yesterday…) 

So after taking a good shower and having thought of what to say I headed back to the main building and asked to talk to the manager.  And then and there I lost it… In the end he admitted that I was right,  that nothing about the second building was specified on the website and he agreed to upgrade me to the nice building without any extra charge (this dorm is actually for 4 people against the other that is for 6).

It’s then that I realized its really time for me to stop this trip and head back home.  After a beer and some French fries (comfort food!  Great invention!!!) at The Mango Tree restaurant nearby I went back to the hostel and apologized to the manager for the foul language and the aggressive attitude.  I think he understood my reasons even if not the way to express myself and the fact that after 7 months spent in Asia being “attacked” non stop one can take only so much. 

So in the end I will only stay one day in Mumbai and honestly I think it’s better this way.  I will try to take advantage as much as I can of my time in Goa and let go all the stress and anger accumulated lately.  I wanna be as fresh as a rose for my homecoming. 

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Far from the madding crowd… in god’s own country 

Palolem.  I could have stayed there forever.  The bus dropped me (for once) in front of my hostel.  SUMMER by thehostelcrowd has recently opened its doors.  It’s a bizzarre construction with the chill out zone outside the hostel itself on a mezzanine level. But the rooms are clean and spacious, and the only bathroom is close to the European standards.  The included breakfast is also very generous and the guys adapted to my dietary restrictions. 

But I went there for the beach so I was curiousto check it out… and this time it was more than decent.  It is a big and wide streak of sand, with very shallow waters.  It didn’t give me much of an opportunity to swim as I’m used to but I was still very happy.  And although Palolem is a very popular place for tourists the place is very quiet and peaceful.  There are a few very nice restaurants.  I tried Magic Italy,  an Italian (doh!) restaurant where both pizzas and pastas are very good.  Then I also tried Zest that is a very cosy place and even if the food is very good an interesting is far too expensive.  Then I had lunch once at Avocado Garden where I tried the vegan burger and I had a hard time to finish it.  

During my days in Palolem I spent some time with Chim a very pleasant girl met previously in Jaipur.  Chim has a shop in Palolem where she sells her own design clothing,  soaps and most interesting she sells pure coconut oil.  And although this was not time to make it she took me to the “mill” where she gets it done. The mill is still built of stone and until recently it was operated by bulls.  Now they modernized and it’s a small tractor that does the “dirty” job.  But it is still oil cold pressed and it couldn’t be more natural than that. 

So I after extending my stay in Palolem twice and getting some sun tan I was ready to leave otherwise I would have stay there for the entire time I had left in India.  On the night of my fourth day I boarded a train at 12.40am (one hour late of course…) and got off in Cochin in the afternoon of the following day.  I left Goa to Kerala,  god’s won country as they call it here.  The landscape is beautiful but it is more trafficked than Goa and I had time to get used again to honking and traffic after the peaceful break of Palolem.  

Hostel by the Sea is a hostel located in a kind of government building. Very curious by all in all not bad.  They don’t have hot water (because the temperatures outside are hot!) or PoS machine but it is very cheap and very conveniently located.  Cochin (or Kochi) is a very small town on the sea where Vasco de Gama landed first when he arrived in India.  There is really not much to do and after a couple of laps the tour is done but still a nice place for a couple of days. You can take the ferry to the mainland for 4 rupees each way and it’s a 20 boat ride but the mainland Cochin is just another big city not particularly interesting.  After 2 days there I was supposed to go to Alleppy to your the backwaters but if I wanted to visit the east coast I didn’t have time.  I had to decide what to do.  Alleppy?  Munnar?  Madurai  or Pondicherry?  I decided for the last one and took a direct bus at 4pm scheduled to arrive at 6am the following day.