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Portugal - Indian Style

Thumbs up despite letting the bed bugs bite!

View Around We Go on LauHot10's travel map.

ur shortest journey between destinations so far saw us arrive in Panjim, the capital of Goa. The bus ride from Margao only took about 30 minutes and it was a welcome change. We decided to stay in Fountainhas, the Spanish district of the town as it was described by our guide book as atmospheric. First impressions of Panjim are that it definitely has a Latin feel to it, which is due to a visit from the Portuguese for a number of years. The general architecture of the place would sit nicely in any sea side town in southern Europe.
There is obviously an Indian twist but generally if someone plonked you in Panjim and removed all the people you'd be slightly hard pressed to decipher where you were. Especially with there being a number of churches dotted around the place, something we haven't encountered too much since being here.

Another Portuguese influence which has taken roots, this was highlighted when a beggar said 'God Bless You' to Adam when he gave him a 10 rupee note.

Not saying that I haven't enjoyed the authentically Indian cities we have visited, the fact that they have been so far removed from any where I have experienced before has made them both fascinating and I suppose at times a little daunting. It was almost comforting to arrive somewhere that was a little more familiar and with the colourful buildings and leafy main boulevard, Panjim is a pleasant place to be.

We settled on a room at the Comfort Guest House, which I suppose was fitting. The man running it was a little dictator-ish, but he provided us with some good information even if it was delivered in a fairly abrupt manner. After settling in we decided that we would go for a wander around and see what the place had to offer. We discovered a nice centre to the town with some shops and a market area selling lots of shoes and clothes. Then we stumbled across the cinema but were gasping for a drink and something to eat so went in search of some sustenance.

Adam decided to try something new, which thus far has proved a fairly unsuccessful option when it has come to food and unfortunately it was the case again. His Goan Special Thali (a kind of taster of lots of different Goan foods – bit like Tapas) was fairly hit and miss and he ended up feeling pretty unsatisfied, I chose the safer and more boring option of a Mushroom Masala which was good. Over lunch we discussed the option of going to the cinema, a little guiltily actually, it seemed kind of naughty to do something you could do at home. In the end though we decided it would be interesting to see what it was like here and bottom line we just fancied it.

We saw The Fast & The Furious 4, it was really the only option and we'd both seen at least 2 of the others. For the fourth instalment it was pretty good, definitely better than 2 and 3 in my opinion, so we weren't disappointed. As for the Indian cinema experience, well no big cultural differences to divulge except that before the film starts they play the national anthem and you have to stand up. I think Adam was almost waiting for this because he was quick to tell me stand up, turns out they did the same when he went to the cinema in Thailand. They also had a short intermission and people seemed quite happy to leave mobile phones on and answer them when they rang. Apart from that though it would seem the cinema is a fairly universal experience, based on my limited research!

After the cinema we went to an internet cafe and booked our next flights. We now fly out of Tiruchirapalli on the 22nd May to Kuala Lumpur and then to Manila in the Philippines on the 27th May. Both flights are with Air Asia. With that little task ticked off our to-do list we headed back to the guest house and this is when I began to itch!

I have now experienced bed bugs and I can say with no reservations that it was downright horrible. After a fairly fitful sleep due to the bouts of half conscious scratching, I woke up with about 20 little red lumps on me. Despite my lumpy exterior we headed out to catch a bus to Old Goa. This was the capital of Goa until some date which I can't remember, but basically until the Portuguese realised it made more sense for their capital to be close to the sea where all the importing and exporting was happening. Old Goa is set back into denser forest/jungle about 20 minutes away from Panjim and consists of a couple of fairly impressive churches (one of which is now a museum) and a ruin called St Augustine's Tower.
We got there in the middle of the day so walking around was pretty hot but it was a good place to visit and the church of St Francis Xavier was impressive with the gold facade behind the altar.
There were also some very colourful flowers which contrasted nicely with the white of the buildings.
Ofcourse there were a few shops to lure in the tourists and we allowed ourselves a couple of purchases, I bought the obligatory magnet (have to buy one in each country) and Adam settled on the tackiest plastic Jesus he could find.

In the afternoon we went back to the market and loosened our purse strings. I bought myself a watch because now my mobile is not so prominent in my life I have no way of telling the time, well apart from asking Adam and he was getting bored of that. I also bought myself some new flip flops, as did Adam which claimed to be produced by both Reebok and Nike! He has since regretted buying them as they have already come apart and look about 10 years old. I think he blames me a little because I thought the boy selling them was sweet and felt a bit sorry for him, so may have encouraged him just a tad!
He also bought some trousers but thinks they need some tailoring – it was a successful trip in varying degrees!

That night we pushed the two beds apart (this is how a lot of doubles in India are) and we both squeezed on to Adam's single so that I could avoid the scurge of the bugs. Thankfully I woke up the next morning with no new bites and was ready to move on again. Our next port of call was Anjuna and we planned to get the bus there, we just had a few things to deal with first. The purchases we'd made in Nepal were beginning to way us down so we decided it was time to unload a few things and send them back home. We found our way to Deepak Stores which is where it was all packaged up. It was a little like stepping back in time, not a jiffy bag in sight, instead our belongings were put in a little cotton bag and hand sewn up. The man was so lovely, he gave me some free postcards of Old Goa and flitted around his little shop like a butterfly. As Adam said it was like he'd never had a customer before, there was no haste to his movements, I almost had to thrust the money in his hand as we left. I'd rather deal with him any day though above the man in the post office, who has to be the rudest person we have encountered so far. I almost shouted at him but decided it wasn't worth it, he was definitely in need of some customer service training though!

We forgot about him though and made our way to Anjuna.

Laura & Adam

Posted by LauHot10 01:36 Archived in India Tagged round_the_world

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