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Palolem, Goa

22 Nov

Hey all, just a quick note to let you all know we haven’t dropped off the face of the earth! We moved down south to Palolem Beach on Monday and it is like a slice of heaven. Sure, there’s as many taxis, shops, and dolphin watching boat trips as you want to take…and as many touts trying to get their commission as soon as the whities step off the bus, but AHHHH…it really is paradise. I can imagine what it must have been like twenty or thirty years ago when the hippies happened upon the beach for the first time. Pristine jungle with swaying coconut palms, huge green mountains in the background, blue-green sea and blue skies that go on forever.

It is really beautiful here, the water and the beach is cleaner, there is more wildlife- like the hermit crab pictured to the left, and if you don’t want to, you never have to step foot in a polluting vehicle, everything is right there on the beach for you…as long as you want the ubiquitous “multi-cuisine” restaurants, (which we don’t) because while they may do multi-cuisine, they hardly ever do any of them well. Me, I much prefer a good curry and rice or for a real treat here in Palolem, walk off the beach and into the main part of town to go to either of the two health food restaurants there. Both Brown Bread and Blue Planet serve up tasty salads and GASP, tofu dishes like tofu with mushroom sauce, mashed potatos with grilled onions, carrot orange salad, and bread with cashew butter for $120 Rs., a totally fair price! Now I never thought I would say this, but give me a good grilled tofu with brown rice, steamed vegetables and peanut sauce any day of the week.

We are staying in a beach-front shack toward the north end of Palolem Beach called Brendon’s, it’s pretty good although a little over priced for what you get. I mean, it really is a shack, plywood walls, sloping floors, it rattles and creaks when you walk in it, but hey, look where you are, it’s freakin’ beautiful! If you stay out of the room all day as we do and close your eyes when you do come in, then everything is alright. Besides, the staff are the best bunch of guys we have met anywhere. Bobby, Kumar, and John are our favorites, but everyone is very nice. To the right is a view from our front porch watching the sunset over Green Island and the Arabian Sea.

We’ll be here until Thursday and then off to Chennai and Tamil Nadu.

Cheers!

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We’re in Gangtok…until tomorrow.

11 Oct

It feels more like China or Tibet than India- mountainous and incredibly lush.  The drive from Darjeeling to Gangtok was beautiful coming down off the mountain into the valley we passed through a tea plantation that sat nestled in the clouds.  At the bottom of the valley, the Tista River ran powerfully as it cut through the rainforest.

The roads were less than great, in fact there were many places where there were no roads- we would “detour” into the forest on a single-track, mud-bogged road that was difficult even for our Jeep, let alone the small Suzuki cars that were trying to drive on it.

Gangtok is a little boring- it’s an overnight stay for other places.  We are getting out of here tomorrow morning- heading for North Sikkim where we can be in nature a little bit- Buddhist monasteries, hiking, lakes, and hot springs await us.

We will be out of comunication for a few days, but will be back in Gangtok on Sunday for another night or so and then on to Pelling, Sikkim for a few more days.  We’ll post pics when we get back.

See you soon.

Street performers in Darjeeling

9 Oct

A quick video of the musicians that play everyday on Nehru Road near Chowrasta in Darjeeling. They may always play the same songs, but it is always nice to watch them.

Your health and safety is our main concern…

8 Oct

…is not a phrase that I have heard uttered anywhere in India.  I don’t even feel that the word safety is in the collective psyche of the country. In fact it is quite the opposite.  Busses are at a level of disrepair that borders on deadly.  Sumos (jeeps) from Siliguri to Darjeeling are riding on tires that are cracking and bald- I mean bald, as in NO TREAD left on the tire.  Power poles are a jumble of live wires feeding buildings in every direction. Workers don’t wear protective equipment when working with fire or caustic chemicals.  It is pretty amazing.

Right below our hotel room, the city- or some other municipal entity- has decided that the path that runs along Nerhu Road is in need of resurfacing.  Starting a few days ago, men started breaking the old asphalt- BY HAND and refilling sections with rock that they crushed themselves- BY HAND. Last night, two huge bonfires were lit near the hotel (we thought it might have been some sort of celebration, our hotel manager let us know that it was to heat up the tar for the repaving) – fueled by large timbers and rubber tires, yes, rubber tires!  The smell is awful and totally caustic, it kind of eats away at your lungs little by little.  These fires have been burning through the night and all of today.  Nevermind the fact that there are three hotels in this vicinity as well as four or five restaurants.

Amazingly, locals don’t seem to even notice the smell or the smoke, or the possibility that they might get sick from breathing these fumes.  They are just used to things being done in this way and a fire made of burning tires doesn’t even phase them.

It’s hard to fathom how things are done here when you are living by western standards, but all of those standards need to be thrown out the window, you’re in India and this is the way it is done- love it or leave it.  When it comes down to it, I’m beginning to love it.

Some sights in Delhi

13 Sep

Let’s face it, Delhi is a shithole.  However it has been interesting to see for the couple of days we have been here.  I’m ready to go now.

That being said, I took some quick video footage with our digital camera on an autorickshaw ride to the Red Fort this morning- check it out.

Here is a picture of the Red Fort, a 15th century Mughal fort in the middle of Old Delhi.  It is made of red sandstone like many of the forts in this area.  Surprisingly, the fort was a little bit of calm in the chaos that is Delhi- it was exactly what we needed. 

Red Fort DelhiRed Fort DelhiRed Fort Delhi

We leave for Agra tomorrow.  I’ll post more when we get there.