Onwards to Goa, Mandrem and Arambol Beach’s

Today will be all about the trip down to Arambol in North Goa. I’ve booked 7 nights there and from what I can make out it’s a nice resort with a good beach and popular with tourists.It should take around 14 hours to get there on the overnight sleeper bus from Mumbai. As I write this we’ve just set off from Mumbai central bus station right on time.

This morning I hung around at the YMCA till 11.30 as it was a 12 o’clock check out and the bus to Goa didn’t leave till 5.30, Ive gotten use to spending long periods of time in Bus and Train stations in India as often they go overnight to destinations and with check out in the morning and with bags, I would generally just head for the station after checking out. With the communication problem due to my lack of Hindi, I usually get a bit anxious about being in the correct pick up place for buses  as it’s not always clear on the ticket but so far I’ve managed to be in the right place with lots of time to spare.

I’m looking forward to spending some time in Goa and relaxing a bit, it’s my intention to be down there for a couple of weeks till travelling back to Mumbai for my flight back to the UK, so will need to book some more accommodation there but will see what Arambol and the place I’ve booked is like before I decide.

I arrived in Mapusa this morning around 7 o’clock which was the scheduled time so I was pleased with that but way too early to check into the GOYM resort that I had booked.The bus journey down to Goa was pretty good and the bus was nearly full, you do get shaken around quite a lot so can’t sleep properly but it’s not too bad. I thought I had made a mistake that I may regret as a couple hours into the trip I bought some food from a vendor that came onto the bus and as these buses have no toilets if it didn’t agree with me I might of been in trouble but I was fine and I needn’t of worried. We made a couple of short stops along the way and I saw a couple of westerners at one stop travelling the other way.

Mapusa is the closest stop the bus gets to Arambol and about 12 miles away.It was just myself and one other that got off there with the rest heading for Panaji a little further south. There was one Tuk Tuk driver that approached me in Mapusa and I was happy with the 700 hundred rupees he quoted me, he was friendly enough and asked a few questions along the way, I immediately felt the relaxed vibe being back in Goa on the way over to Arambol, it feels so different to the rest of India, I think I’ll really enjoy relaxing here. I was able to reset my phone and get a connection so I could guide the driver to the resort via the maps app.

I walked the final little bit to the resort and arrived around 8 and asked to drop my large bag until I could check in, they offered me breakfast which is what I had planned anyway and had a great pot of coffee and porridge with banana, afterwards I had planned to just walk along the beach and find somewhere to sit until I  could check in but as I was paying for breakfast the owner came along and arranged for me to check in. The room has everything I need and the resort is just behind a sand dune about 50 metres from the beach. After sorting my bag out ( it feels good to be able to just wear shorts and T shirts again ) and packing  away stuff I probably won’t need here again I went for a walk along the beach.

Mandrem and Arambol Beaches stretch for around 3 miles and is also much wider than Patnem and Palolem Beaches in the south of Goa and although there’s quite a few people here at the moment it doesn’t seem crowded, I think I’ll be able to do a few runs along the beach here and get a little bit of fitness back before returning home as it has been difficult to find anywhere to run safely since being in the Andaman islands at the beginning of Janauary. Although I’m sure I’ve still managed to lose weight which perhaps I didn’t need to do.

Speaking to a lady here today Serinda about travelling and india, she runs her own clothing business in China and sources products and materials from india, we chatted about travel, Belize, Central America where she started travelling at age 18, the corona virus and our love of the Indian people.

Spent most of today walking along the beach and just relaxing here. I went for a walk along the beach this evening at sunset and it is a people watchers dream, the tide was higher so compressed the beach a bit and there where probably thousands of people out ( the first place I’ve been here where western tourists outnumber Indian tourists.) It was an eclectic mix of people doing yoga, mediating, Tai Chi but I didn’t recognise it as Taoist Tai Chi that I know, playing instruments, kite surfing, and some just getting ready to party. It was interesting to watch some of the Indian tourists watching the westerners and I wondered what they made of it all.

Loving Goa today and so glad I made it back down here, so much choice of restaurants almost too many competing with each other as a lot end up empty. The food has been great although I haven’t had any of the seafood it is famous for yet and Goa is one place you can sit and enjoy a drink with your meal and not feel out of place, I enjoyed a kingfisher with dinner this evening for the first time in awhile and it added to the relaxed mood of the place.

I was up for a run this morning before it got to busy or warm out there, I hadn’t run since I was in Darjeeling in January and it didn’t feel easy but I did just over 4 miles along the beach so was pleased with that for a first run back, I’ll try and run every other day and get back into it slowly. Breakfast here was very good and it’s nice to have nothing planned but may visit the nearby market later and get a bit of sun, there’s also a yoga studio set up here with mats provided so will try to get back into that as I haven’t done much since Mysore.

I went to explore the local area this morning and afternoon and found myself in Arambol market and town looking though some of the stalls and at what’s around, Arambol town is fairly small and hasn’t got too much traffic with mostly tourists walking around. In the afternoon I managed a swim in the sea which seems to get rough as the winds pick up in the afternoon but nice never the less. I managed some yoga as well and could immediately feel the muscles that have tightened up because I haven’t been doing it but should be ok if I get back into it slowly, there is a yoga class on here on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons  but is advertised as some sort of tantric yoga and I’m not sure what that entails but I’ll give it a go. Also went for another walk along the beach this evening before dinner.

I managed to book the accommodation here for another week today as well as a flight from Goa to Mumbai and a hotel near the airport for my last 2 nights in India so that’s sorted out now, I’m glad I managed to stay here until I go and flying to Mumbai will mean it’s a lot easier than another overnight bus and should be able to keep the relaxed Goan vibe going  until I get home that is providing the Coronavirus doesn’t disrupt flights too much. It doesn’t seem to of affected India to much yet and I haven’t noticed anyone coughing or sneezing here in Goa yet.

Did 30 mins of yoga when I got up this morning and was amazed at how stiff my hamstrings were, usually if I do a yoga class somewhere it would involve some sort of walking and I’d be a little warmed up before I got there but the yoga room here is only a few steps away, I tried doing a seated forward fold and could hardly move but eventually loosened up after a few slow sun salutations, it feels good to be doing it again.

I went for a walk before breakfast of coffee and a green omelette made with spinach and mushrooms, there was a prominent flavour that I couldn’t work out but eventually realised it was coriander, it was very nice, the restaurants here in Goa do cater a lot to tourists but it makes a nice change after travelling around.

I went to take some laundry to be done after breakfast in Arambol and walked along the beach, I realised how relaxed I felt and have slowed down since arriving back here. It’s given me  more time to think and reflect on my travels again which is nice, I’ve been very fortunate to be able to do this but also thinking about friends and family in the UK and Canada, I’ve been able to keep in touch via social media and messages but it’s not the same as spending time with them and I’m looking forward to catching up with most people at some point this year. ( Love you all ! )

As well as dropping off laundry I went into Arambol with the intention of picking up some peanut butter ( one of my many favourite foods ) as the resort here does some great home baked bread that I thought would be great at breakfast with some peanut butter. I nearly forgot though as I got distracted by looking in all the touristy shops, in particular for a T shirt that I first saw in Patnem and last in Jaipur, it has an outline of Gandhi walking with his staff and the slogan “keep walking” on it, I thought it would be great to take with me on the PCT later this year, but I think I should of got it when I saw it as down here Bob Marley and Che Guevara seem more popular, nothing against either of them but not what I was looking for. I may be able to find what I want online before I set off on the PCT with a bit of luck, I’ll keep looking. It was nice to look around Arambol at a slower pace than yesterday.

I went down to the beach at 2 o’clock with the intention of getting an hour of sun before the yoga at 4. It was so windy that lying down felt like you were being sand blasted so after 15 minutes I gave  up and just walked along the beach to get some sun instead.

It wasn’t long before I started thinking and reflecting a bit and my mind finally settling on the person I am now and how I got here. Initially thinking about how I was my in  final few years in high school and living in North York in Toronto during those year’s, I considered myself a bit of a loner at the time with a survival technique of avoiding eye contact with people, it was the seventies but I wouldn’t of considered Toronto an unsafe place it was just down to my own lack of confidence and perception of people.( Although there were a few incidents that would make you think North York wasn’t a safe place at the time.). I wasn’t a total loner though as I belonged to St John’s Ambulance for some of those year’s and enjoyed Cross country skiing with family, playing hockey in the street and skating, typical Canadian things.

I know that I wasn’t a loner at heart as when I was younger and I believe it was Newmarket we were living in at the time I had so many friends it was like our own little gang. I continued to reflect on these things as I walked along the beach and some turning points in my life as everyone must have at some time and a main one being my decision to go to the UK with my parents and younger sisters after High School although I had the option of staying in Canada.

It was quite a big move looking back at it and living down in Falmoulh in Cornwall although beautiful felt very strange and forgein to me but I fairly quickly found a job but how I ended up working for a construction company that was building an estate as a surveyor without any qualifications I will never know ( it was my job to tell them where roads and curbs should be put as well as house boundaries and walls. ) I keep meaning to go back and see if the estate is still there and what it’s like but it is over 40 years ago. Arriving in Cornwall I was confident enough to go out and buy a car though and drive on the other side of the road at 18 years old although probably buying a front wheel drive Austin 1100 after only having driven rear wheel drives in Canada was’nt the best idea, I had and car for maybe 6 weeks before I rolled it and wrote it off on a wet dual carriageway in Truro ending up in the central reservation and having to pay for the flowers I’d destroyed as I only had third party insurance, still it could of been worse, ( it was pre seatbelt law and I ended up in the back seat with the car on its side and climbing out of where there used to be a door ! ) I initially told my mom the car was in the garage having new tyres as I didn’t want to admit I’d screwed up but confessed after about a week ( sorry mom )

Still reflecting ( sorry ) ( Canadians say sorry a lot ) my second turning point was walking past an RAF  caterers office in Truro and deciding to go in and enquire about joining up ( I think I knew my job as an unqualified surveyor would eventually catch up with me ) ( As it turned out I later heard that the company lost out to another firm who completed the estate, I hope it wasn’t my fault. ). To my surprise after doing amplitude tests and proving my British heritage the RAF were keen to get me in and Six months later on 4th April 1978 just after turning 19 I had taken the Queens Shilling and basic training commenced. Looking back it’s probably the best decision I ever made and I don’t think I’d be where I am today, if I’d chose differently, fate ? maybe,  i’d had never thought about the armed forces when in Canada. Would I of ended up here today without those decisions?  met the same people? same two wonderful kids ? It doesn’t bear thinking about, needless to say I wouldn’t change a thing about what has led me to where I am now.

Anyway this is going on a bit now ( sorry, told you ) but later thinking about that teenager that avoided making eye contact with people then somehow ended up working in the prison service and for the last 15 years of his career sat with groups of mostly life sentence prisoners or prisoners doing over 20 years and with many of them scoring High 30s on the psychopathy scale frequently on his own facilitating groups and feeling comfortable there talking about there lives and offences is quite a turn round. It was the forces for 20 years that started that confidence building though.

Just got back from picking up my laundry and walked the other way along Arambol Beach this time and yes it is a very different person that walks along the beach now, maybe some of the present confidence comes from traveling around a country for 5 months where you don’t speak the language and only have a vague plan of where or how your going, travelling in the forces was very different with lots of back up and support if things went wrong, travelling on your own it’s down to you, I must again thank the Indian people though for making this trip so memorable.

The yoga class didn’t happen in the afternoon, I turned up but no one appeared so I did some on my own and feel I need it at the moment, looking forward to getting to some classes back in the UK.

I had a good run along the beach this morning before breakfast, just did 5 k to keep it going. Breakfast was amazing and I was right about the peanut butter it made it along with a pot of decent coffee and porridge, felt like heaven sitting in the sun. I’ve just watched a short BBC comedy sketch by a female Indian comedian ( that my cousin shared ) comparing the upbringing of children in the West and in India and she was saying that their way would be considered illegal in the West but I can’t help but feel in a way India have got it right and we have gone a little to far in the West but I understand there have to be safeguards. Not every thing here has caught up yet though and equal rights and treatment of women is one thing but I hope I’m right in saying it is moving in the right direction, perhaps not quickly enough for some but attitudes take time to change.

I spent most of today just getting a bit of sun and relaxing, after breakfast I walked further along Mandrem beach and waded though a couple of cuts that separate the beaches it probably takes around 45 minutes to walk to the end but there’s always things going on and it gives you lots of time to think which I’ve actually missed while travelling around the rest of India as I was always needing to be doing something or planing how to get somewhere or where to stay so this is nice. On the way back I made use of a sun lounger outside a beach cafe expecting to at least have to buy a drink but no one came round so stayed for an hour then wandered back.

There’s a lot of Russian’s along the beach I expect escaping their harsh winter ( can’t blame them ), so many in fact that a lot of the signage and menus are in Russian. As I come on to the beach from my resort to the left is Mandrem Beach and to the right is Arambol Beach each with different vibes in the evening and Arambol is considered  more Bohemein or Hippe beach with lots of stalls selling trinkets, food and offering massages.

Whilst I was down  in Kerala I downloaded and subscribed to an app called Astana Rebel which is a yoga based fitness app and used it daily whilst there but I’ve not used it since until today and followed a yoga stretch session on it that felt good, another thing I need to get back into the habit of doing is Tai Chi that I started whilst in Toronto but not done since the start of my travels around India, I’ve never been able to complete even the first 17 moves ( there’s 104 ) on my own without getting lost but now I’ve even forgotten the first few, so some more work for me there.

Started the day here with around 30 minutes of gentle yoga just to get me moving then sat in the sun at breakfast and couldn’t help but notice how nice that first coffee was !, My mind frequently goes back to how fortunate I am and this was another of those moments. After a great breakfast I went for another walk along the beach ( I can see a pattern forming here ) . To walk to the end and back takes over an hour but I can get a good bit of sun along the way.

It has become apparent to me that these next couple of blogs will contain more reflections and ramblings than recent ones as the beach walks take my mind to some odd places ( one friend says she prefers my reflections to my done this done that narrative anyway ). One observation from this morning though, there are quite a few young families here with young children, and I noticed one toddler of probably between 2 and 3 as I walked along and she had what looked to be a permanent tattoo on the side of her abdomen, it definitely wasn’t henna and looked like a black ink tattoo that had been there some time, that got me thinking, surely a permanent tattoo is a personal decision and cannot be made by a child of that age and will she be angry with her parents when she’s older ? How will it change with so much growing to do ?.

Also i’m aware I have a major dilemma, that being if I buy myself some of those loose fitting yoga pants that look extremely comfortable or harem pants will I look too much like an ageing hippie ? I’ve thought about buying some for a while now and actually looked at some the other day but decided not to, and to make matters even more complicated a beach seller offered me a sarong this morning but after thinking about that briefly it was easy to say no as I’m comfortable in shorts as beach wear and where do you keep things in a sarong? I like to have pockets, and the use would be limited to the beach I couldn’t see me walking around Buckingham in a sarong ! It might be ok for David Beckham but not me. I’ll probably get some yoga pants though and may put a picture up if I can get a random stranger to take one. Then you can decide if it was the right decision or not.

Outside the resort next to this one is an old surfboard planted in the ground as a tombstone on it are details of a man who died back in 1977 and it says ” death by coconut ” and it made me think that at least he must of been happy up to that point lying under a coconut tree until the coconut hit him, note to self always check what’s above you or don’t lie under a coconut tree!. It’s amazing the little tips you pick up from other peoples mistakes, hope this doesn’t sound to insenitive. I think by the use of slogan and surfboard they must of had a sense of humour anyway.

This mornings run felt unusually difficult, I think because the tide forced me up into the softer sand but I still managed to do 5 k so I was happy with that, I’ll do some yoga later to stretch out. At breakfast it was nice to sit and be relaxed enough to notice the birdsong, it’s so peaceful here in the mornings, there were probably around 5 or 6 different breeds of birds chirping away although I couldn’t tell you what they were, it’s the first time I’ve just sat and noticed them in a while, quite often city traffic would drown anything else out.

An update on the Bunker Spreckels death by coconut story .apparently he was an American of German decent who inherited daddy’s fortune at 21 then living a life of excess for another 6 years as well as becoming a  very good surfer and is credited with  being responsible for the ” fish style design of surf board ” he also had Clark Gable as a step father but unfortunately died of a morphine overdose in Hawaii. I still prefer the coconut story so im going to remember him as the coconut guy who fell asleep under a coconut tree although I know the truth now. 

I went into Arambol yesterday afternoon and bit  the bullet, eventually finding some yoga pants I liked and surprised myself buy  getting 2 pairs of fairly colourful ones when i’d gone with the intention of sticking to boring pastel colours, I’ll see if I can convince someone on the beach to take a couple of pictures later and put them in the blog tomorrow.

I spent a couple of hours on a sun lounger this morning but that was enough as it gets so hot even though there’s a breeze. The waves are idea here for people learning to surf, just the right size to paddle onto them and jump up to stand briefly and the waves break fairly close to shore so they were good to watch. There’s quite a few beach sellers coming around if your on the loungers  and it was strange to hear the Indian women speaking what sounded to me like fluent Russian. I was offered more sarongs and other stuff but declined but will pick up a couple of things for Becca and Jake before I leave, I was looking at singing bowls yesterday but not quite got the hang of playing them yet but think I know where I was going wrong so will return to have another go soon.

I emptied everything out of my bag here the other day to clean it as it is amazing how dirty they get travelling around on the buses and trains in India and I found a small wooden elephant that was given to me by Arty, a stall owner I had met in Patnam at the start of my journey in India, she said it would be It bring me luck, I accepted it and thanked her and thought no more about it and it has  remained in my bag until now, I don’t know if it has been luck but I’ve travelled thus far around around India without incident and had an amazing time. I wont be returning to Patnem but thank you Arty.

I’m going to finish this up now as it’s getting late here and I’ll try to get it on line first thing in the morning. That will leave me just over a week left here before I head back to Mumbai.

Hoping you are all well and wishing you a good week

Speak to you again soon

Take Care   regards Chris

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