Sunday, April 03, 2005

Tasting the waters of river Kali

It has been a while since I updated the blog. I've promised to myself that I will be more regular in writing still more useless stuff about my shenanigans. A lot has happened since the trip to Auli. Or so I would like to think. In the two months since then, I've been involved in a nasty road accident, had a chance to explore Goa once again, and now have been kayaking and rafting on river Kali. In hidsight, maybe not a whole lot has been happening. :(

For anyone who is not familiar with Indian traffic laws, here is a piece of sincere advice: Do everything your intuition and feeling of goodwill tells you not to do, and do not do anything that seems right in any civilised country. Yes, there is a long story here, and I am not yet ready to say it, but will write about it soon. One more lesson learnt -- when you move to a place where you don't know the local language, you should probably have a driver who speaks one, or put in the effort to know the language. It helps.

But this post is not about that story. A week or so ago, on the long weekend, we decided to head over to Goa once again. The last time we were there, the beaches were isolated because the tourist season had yet not started. This time I hoped the tourists would have left. Wrong. Goa seems to be a place where no one wants to leave. The season was ebbing, but still tourists swarmed the beaches of Goa like ants.(Ever since Navjot Singh Siddhu started putting out analogies, I have been making an effort to avoid them, but can't resist the temptation sometimes.) Anyway, Goa seemed very different from last time. We stayed at the Bagha beach again, this time at Baia do Sol, at the very end of the Bagha beach. The hotel was ok, charged us about Rs. 1700 for an AC room for two people, including breakfast and one meal. It seemed like a reasonable deal, given that most other hotels were sold out. The hotel also hooked up a motorcycle, at Rs. 200 a day (pretty reasonable, especially since the travel books said that we should expect Rs. 250-300), and that made a huge difference. Equipped with a map (Rs. 30) and a motorcycle, we explored beaches away from the crowds. We chanced upon the Morjim beach, to the north of the Anjuna and Vagator, and it was the most perfect place. A small local shack (quite unlike the very commercialized ones on Bagha) set us up with umbrellas and chairs and drinks and food, at one-third the prices on Bagha, and much better beach with much more seclusion. Needless to say, we were there the next day as well. This time, the shack owner made us a prawn curry with three bigass tiger prawns floatin in it. If you have not had prawns sitting in the shade under the Sun on a beach in Goa, with the beautiful empty beach around you and waves crashing in front, I can't relate the experience in words that will do it justice. It was one of those times that Wodehouse would describe as feeling all is well with the world and you are on top of it. Sigh..

We also happened to land at the Saturday night bazaar in Arpora this time. It is a huge flea market. Most of peddlers and visitors are foreign tourists. It is easy to doubt if you are actually in India while roaming the bazaar. The prices are about 50 times what you would find outside the bazaar, but not for everything. Variety is interesting and huge. You hear just about every language and accent you can think of in a span of 100 meters. The place very much adds up to the whole atmosphere of impending doom that lurks about Goa.

Back from Goa, I found out that Hemant and others are planning for another trip there. Tempted though I was, I couldn't join them for that. But I did jump at the chance to do some kayaking on river Kali enroute to Goa. We hopped on to a bus on Friday night, and found ourselves having breakfast at the Jungle Lodge in Dhandeli by 9am the next day. We hooked up with Andy, our kayaking guide/instructor for the day, and spent the day getting a taste of white water kayaking. "White water" is a bit of an exaggeration though. I didn't actually hit any rapids on the kayaks. Most of the time we spent learning to roll and keep our kayaks going in a straight line, both of which I found to be pretty difficult to perfect -- not that I did perfect it. In the process I gulped down a lot of river water too. I am almost expecting something drastic to happen to me as a result, but nothing yet. The next day, we joined the white water rafting trip with other folks staying at the lodge. Soon we had 5 rafts with about 7 people each heading down the river and hitting the rapids. Out guide -- Ravi -- was probably the most fun rafting guide I have met. He was throwing people overboard for a swim, was doing somersault dives off the boat and had us stand up and "jiggy-jiggy" on the boat in the middle of a rapid. These guys surely knew how to have a good time with a somewhat wild river and an inflatable raft full of tourists.

I've been very impressed with the stuff Jungle Lodges and Resorts have done for eco-tourism. If you haven't checked them out, pay them a visit:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hi, it is nice to know your experience at dhandeli actually i planned for a tour to dhandeli but since it's season time i didnt get any rooms at resort there but i will go there any other time for sure. i will share my experience with you that time