Monday, January 31, 2005


I arrived in Madikeri in Coorg. just as the sun was going down. I had planned to arrive earlier but was late dragging myself out of bed. Then I decided to walk down to the bus stop as I thought I new where it was, however I went to the wrong bus stop! Only private buses left from here and I needed a goverment bus. So I hopped into a tuk-tuk and caught the correct bus. Four or five hours later I eventually arrived in Madikeri. The last fifteen kilometers took over half an hour as the bus slowly crawled its way up the road.

I got a room in Hotel Cauvery but it wasn't that great. At 23.00 the room became mysteriously illuminated. It turned out what I intuitively assumed was a wall actually had a window looking through to the dining hall from where the light and noise of the staff came. That would explain the two set of curtains!

I moved into Hilltown Hotel the next day a pleasant hotel for not much more dosh. You even get a free paper slipped under your door in the morning.

I decided to try and find a hotel listed in the Lonely Planet which has a terrace and is a good place for a sunset drink. I stumbled across it and wandered in. The terrace appeared to be next door to the garden I was currently in and the view back across the valley was obscured by hedges. So I traipsed back indoors and asked the staff for the terrace where I was pointed up the stairs and to the left. I appeared higher up, but on a building site! I guess the terrace is being reconstructed. I just can't see being allowed onto a bulding site in Britain, never mind being directed by the staff! But I guess that's what makes India a bit different.

I had a look about town coming across a typical Indian corner shop where I wondered if the cat was also for sale. I found the macros button on my camera and took some closeups.
Later I came across an even better cat with execellent eyes.
I went to a museum where they had a couple of large elephant statues. Then I went for a walk out of town into the greenery with big spiky plants.

I headed back to the park for a good view of the valley. Coorg covers only 2% of Karnataka but has 40% of the ecological biodiversity. The landscape is a mixture of forests and green fields set in rolling hills.

Next stop is into the forest!

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Munching in Mangalore

I arrived in Mangalore after a quick 5 hour train journey. I was sitting in the wrong compartment for the first hour until the ticket collector informed me, so I trotted off and I had a bed to lie on and snooze. I still haven't entirely worked out the different classes on the trains. I thought I would only get a seat but the train was coming from Delhi to Trivandrum in the south of India a long, long way.

I was staying at Manorama, a huge 7 floor concrete monster of a hotel. I was up on the fifth floor in line with the tops of the palm trees. I could almost lean out the window and pluck a coconut, well maybe if I had go-go gadget arms! Anyway the lift worked everytime I got it which was a bit of a suprise as Mangalore seems to be quite prone to power cuts.

I had read in the Lonely Planet about the "famed Mangolrean seafood" so I decided to head off to a posh hotel, Taj Manjarun, to sample said decilicacies. I opted for "Catch of the Day" and was presented with one bowl face up with fish soup and another face down with the rice along with a small side salad. I can't say I was overly impressed with the meal, decidely average. Still after eating the fish I realised I didn't actually know what type it was and so asked the waiter...
Colin: "What's this?" pointing at large fish bone.
Waiter: "Catch of the day, Sir!"
Colin: "No but what type of fish?"
Waiter: "Yes fish." looking perplexed
Colin: "But what type of fish?"
Waiter: "You want fresh??" looking more perplexed
Colin "No, no what TYPE of fish?"
Waiter: "Aaah, it is sharkfish"

After that the waiter brought a small dish of warm water with lemon in it and so I washed my hands, halfway through I had the worrying thought that it might be lemon tea! Still, I think, nobody noticed.
The next day I decided to try the restaurant beside my hotel, this was much more earthy and busier. I had some mushroom masala and some sort of raitia, a good mix, as the raitai cools down your palate nicely. Also had a couple of chappatis which after, watching other people, I awkwardly tore using only my right hand.
I've still to try some south Indian thali's which is a mixture of small dishes with rice. Rest assured when I do I shall pen an immediate report. hmmm, who would of thought that this blog would turn out to be so full of culinary insights.

I also vegged out in my hotel and watched some footy Liverpool-Man U. I even had a fruit & nut chocolate bar to enjoy. Although room temperature chocolate in India isn't so great, unless you like eating your chocolate through a straw.

The next day I had a mission to accomplish, get some more malaria tablets. I wandered around and found a chemist and he said come back in a few hours. Suprisingly easy! Well except from getting AWAY from the chemists!
He was curious about me travelling around India, and about my family. He gave me some food which tasted like chewy cornflakes, he called it prasad. Then the conversation turned to religion and he asked about my God, I explained that I have none and he just looked at me pityingly. He then asked me if I could get him a visa, and so I spent about about 5 minutes trying to explain how you have to apply to the goverment. After that he says "Aaah, I think your father can help." So get to it Dad, put in a quick word with Immigration please.

The next night I could hear music getting louder and louder I opened my door and the volume increased I popped my head out the hall window and there, in the dark, was all sort of people marching along the streets singing and dancing with a calvacade of cars and trucks intersperced by more people jamming up the streets. I headed down to the street to have a gander. I asked a nearby spectator if this was a festival, but he replied only temple and pointed in the direction they were heading. One thing I've noticed after being in Goa for a while there is a lot less English outside, spoken and written. A lot of signs are in Telu a curvy script or Hindi or Keralan or one of the other 15 languages! Not so handy when your trying to get a bus somewhere. I tried to take some pictures of the festival but it was quite dark and they didn't come out so good.

Next stop is Madikeri, in Coorg (The Scotland of India apparently!)

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Palolem & around

I've spent a bit longer than I intended in Palolem, it's once of these places that is hard to leave!

It has a postcard picture beach in a curved bay fringed by swaying palm trees. I had a wander down to the beach south, Patnem, which was slightly quiter and then continued south onto the beach which is owned by a big fancy hotel called Intercontinental and then doubled back through the roads, it was close to exercise. The owner at my beach hut said that for one night in Intercontinental I could spend a month here. Although my beach hut doesn't have a private golf course or tennis courts, it does however boast a waiter who does a great Michael Jackson impersonation. This mostly consists of him saying "Michael Jackson!" and maybe raise an arm in the air.

Over the rickety bridge to my shack, in amongst the rocks I spotted a crab. Probably end up on somebody's plate tonight.

Back from the beachfront you can see pigs scavenge around through the trees.

Sitting in a cafe, I took some photos of the plants and a cactus & moped.
As I was in a cafe, I deem them art!

Exiting the cafe, I walked past a large white tree
and a painted rock. The sun set on another day as a few straggling fishermen came back in the fading light giving a warm orange glow to the beach as the sun finally dipped below the horizon.

I decided to rent a bike for a couple of hours one day. This was a clunky "Atlas" Indian bike with no gears. It didn't like going up hills, me neither. Still I managed to trundle down, past brilliant green rice paddies, to the next beach along, Agonda. This beach was absolutely deserted! Definitely the place for peace and quiet. Although when I arrived I was beetroot cheeked and dripping in sweat, not quite as serene as the beach demanded, so I proceeded back to Palolem....well that was the plan. But it seemed boring to come back the way I arrived so I took a different route. However the new route got less and less road like and more like a dirt track as it rose upwards. I ended up pushing my bike over red dusty rocks among green vegetation. Soon I was lost in the middle of the vegetation and the path kept dividing. After a few wrongs turns I eventually escaped the dusty mountain and made it back to the main road and fairly zoomed along back to Palolem. It was fun going over the speed bumps on a bike with no suspension, a bit like holding a pneutmatic drill I imagine.

I finally got round to looking into leaving Palolem, after taking even more sunset photos, and heading down to Managlore. It turned out that to get the express train I would have to head back north to Margoa. I then decided I would be better staying on the coast at Colva beach instead of in Margoa town. I had a walk around there and the next beach down, Benaulim, which had some people out fishing and carried the fish back from the small boats. Walking along the beach I came across this little fella in amonst the sea gulls. In the back paths of Colva, you may notice a whiffy smell I turned the corner and there was the answer. There is lots of dead fish lying drying in the sun!

I had "Dave's Super Special Steak" at the Lucky Star hotel where the menu was translated into German for some reason.

However after much research I can exclusive reveal that the winner of the Colins Goan Steak award goes to....

Domingoes in Baga!
Smugglers Inn at Palolem also gets a honourable mention for having giant folded steaks.

Back at the Lucky Star it was my lucky night as the entertainment was on tonight. This consisted of a one man band with a casio keyboard playing bad songs. I left Colva the next day.

I have now arrived in Mangalore and added adverts to my blog so I can soon rake in the millions, sweet! :)

Monday, January 03, 2005

Lifes a beach

I arrived first in Panaji and had a quick look around. I stumbled across the
Church or our Lady of Immaculate Conception. And the view the other way looks like this.
I've spent the past few weeks in Anjuna, Goa. It was good to settle in one place for a longer time and not have to bother about packing bags, hopping on trains and getting new accommodation every few days. I even share my room with a lizard and the occasional sighting of a frog in the bathroom. Anjuna has a large flea market every Wednesday. I went along and it seems like the usual junk they were trying to sell. The most interesting thing I saw was a decorated bull (nandi) dancing to a tune played on the flute. Okay it was quite dancing like Saturday Night Fever but it was bouncing it's head back and forward to the music.
I ventured down to the next beach Baga a few times. One time I had a steak and after 6 weeks of mostly veg or chicken it tasted supremely delicious mmmmm.

In Goa there is also the addition of fish dishes to the menus, I've had some nice mackrel and kingfish food. I tasted calamari but it was like fishy chewing gum, eurgh.
As you progress along south from Baga to Calungute things become more commercialised with big brick hotel unlike the wooden hut I was staying in. There is also a big increase in Union Jacks and strangely named restaraunts such as Rovers Return and Only Fools and Horses.

I met a few people who came and went when I was staying there. I'll try a quick memory test and see if I can name them. Donnie, Will, Paul, Sam, Paula, Steve, Simon, Helen, Mark, Dan, Damien, Shaleen, Ty & Daaaaave. hmmm my memory is better than I thought! A few people returned to Anjuna at New Year which was good.

We went to a club called Nine Bar for the bells. Somewhat bizarrely it shut at 00:10am. There is strict licensing laws in Goa, that loud music can't be played in most places (except clubs) after 10pm. Still we moved on to Disco Valley and then Hilltop which was open all day & night on the 1st, too much for me! As the first day of 2005 dawned on India I went to my bed. The next day in Anjuna from my guesthouse in the shade of a palm tree, I could see a cow talking a beach side stroll, not sure if it knew it was being followed.

A group of Indian guys tried to get me into some sort of gem scam. Where I can make a 100% profit! Yeah, right.
I don't think there math was too good, they claimed that they had to pay 250% tax, but if I was to fly back to England (they use Scotland and England interchangeably) then I could double my money and they would only have to pay 150% tax (which would still make any export loss making!). They would pay for my plane ticket and accommodation at home and then I could do another flight! Anyway I just told the guy "I'm not interested, it's a scam and I don't trust you" which seem to shut him up.... for a few minutes.

I've now moved down to Palolem which is another white sand, blue water, swaying palm tree sorta place. Yep, it's a hard life sitting on the beach reading a book, drinking cheap beer and eating good food (disclaimer: a friend ate a dodgy curry yesterday!) . Still someone has to do it and why not me? :)