Fun Way to Get Around Goa – The Dashing Pilots

If you are alone, and have just gotten off at the Panjim bus stand, and are wondering how to get around Goa, have no fear.

The dashing pilots are there.

Hello from Mr. Pilot!

Hello from Mr. Pilot!

No, the pilots do not have ANYTHING to do with airplanes or any other aviation related machinery. Proudly astride yellow colored motorbikes, these gentlemen will carry you swiftly to your destination. This gentleman happily posed for me at Panjim bus stand.

In Goa, the yellow color on the bike’s (or scooter’s or moped’s) number plate signifies that the bike (or scooter or moped) is for tourists. You’ll see this on bikes for rent, for example, as you can see on this lovely bike (my only long term relationship in Goa). She’s an Avenger and a lady, and if I ride her again, we’ll have to think of a name.

My lady in red

My lady in red

So back to the pilots. They can take you from Panjim to anywhere close by, like Dona Paula, Miramar, Candolim, Calangute (highlighted in blue in the map below). These are the popular areas, so I would recommend renting your own bike from here, if you want to go further to other places like Baga, Anjuna.

Place around Panjim highlighted in blue

Place around Panjim highlighted in blue

The pilots are pretty decent for the distances to the blue highlighted places. Any further and it becomes cost prohibitive/expensive. They should ideally charge around Rs. 100-110 (US$ 2-3) for distances upto 10km, which is more reasonable than auto-rickshaws in Goa, who charge Rs. 60-70 for 3-4km! My friend from Goa say Panjim to Mapusa (12km) is typically Rs.100(US$2), and a return journey (Panjim-Mapusa-Panjim) would be around Rs. 150.

However, its not recommended to go piloting, if you are carrying a lot of luggage (2-3 heavy bags). It’s cool if you have just your back pack and 1-2 light bags. 

Enjoy your pilot experience when you come to Goa, its one of those typical Goan things. It’s a fun way to get around Goa.

And here’s a sweet goodbye from our dashing pilot at Panjim.

Goodbye from Mr. Pilot

Goodbye from Mr. Pilot

Best Hostel in North Goa – Asterix

To Travel is to Live” – Seen on the wall of Asterix Hostel

After getting my trusty red Avenger at Panjim, I headed over to north Goa, to Vagator. My destination was Asterix, a hostel with rave reviews on Tripadvisor. I’d heard a lot about it and was curious to experience it for myself. Why miss out on visiting one of the best hostels in North Goa?

Asterix hostel entrance

Asterix hostel entrance

A couple of wrong turns, going back and forth on the main road looking like a lost tourist and I was there. A kind lady called Mary Ann sitting behind the desk took the registration details and then showed me around. I was pretty impressed by the relaxed ambiance, how clean and organised everything was.

My dorm on the ground floor

My dorm on the ground floor

Asterix hostel has two wings. The main one has a dirt track leading up to the hostel. You go down the path, past the gate, and reach a building with leafy trees all around. There’s a fun common area with books and board games, 2 hammock like seats/swings you can sit on and chill out with other guests.

Mary Ann showed me the dorm room which I’d selected. It was an AC dorm room at Rs. 500 (US$10) a night, to be shared with 5 others.  Quite a good deal. Mary also showed me the pantry, which has filtered water to drink, as well as a fridge with beer and snacks. The beer is cheap, just Rs. 40 (less than US$1)! The beer and snacks are charged, but on an honor system. Have what you want, just write your name on the notebook along with the quantity you had and you’ll be charged on check out. Mary Ann also explained the laundry system. They’ve got numbered laundry bags, 1-5. All you have to do is drop your clothes in one of the bags, and then they’ll be washed and returned. Then you have to hang them up to dry. It was pretty reasonable, I think around Rs. 50/100 (US$ 1-2) per laundry bag and lots of guests use it. Also their wifi password is really cute :P. Can you guess what it might be?

I took a lot of pictures of the kitchen and hostel, noting the messages various travelers had scribbled on the wall. Some of them were really creative; all of them had a whiff of adventure.

To Travel is to Live

To Travel is to Live

Kingkisser: Definitely not Beer

Kingkisser: Definitely not Beer

I ran and I'm still running away

I ran and I’m still running away

The most fun part of the day was in the evening, when I headed to the main hostel. A couple of German guys, David, Alex, Benji, a Swiss guy and an English girl, Charlotte were sitting and playing a beer game. It looked fun and I joined them. The game’s basically everyone taking turns to ask a question. The question consists of giving two options and asking everyone what their choice is, for example; God or Nature. After everyone gives their choice, the person who asked the options tells the correct choice, e.g. God. So everyone who was said Nature, has to take a swig.

It’s quite a fun game to play in hostels, especially with new people and travelers. And you get to know a lot about other people, from the way they answer their questions. We moved from God or Nature to much more adult options, which I won’t discuss here. Go to Asterix and find out for yourself.

Asterix has a fun code of conduct which I found pretty interesting.

Code of Conduct

Code of Conduct

If you feel hungry, just walk out to Mango tree. It’s 2min away from Asterix, and has a bar. You can sit order Indian, Continental or Goan; lots of options. I stayed at Asterix for one day, and had breakfast at Mango tree on the next.

Mango tree restaurant with bar

Mango tree restaurant with bar

How to get to Asterix: Hire a bike at Panjim, and it’s a 25-30 min ride away. 10min from Anjuna. Ask anyone for Asterix hostel near the Mango Tree restaurant. It’s on the main road, you’ll see a sign with Asterix’s helmet on it. Be alert, the sign’s kind of small, but you won’t miss it.

Anjuna to Asterix

Anjuna to Asterix

Budget: Low – Medium

  1. Rs. 300-400 (US$ 6-8) per night for non-AC dorm room
  2. Rs. 500 (US$10) per night for AC dorm room
  3. Rs. 1300 (US$26) for a single room which can be shared by 2 people

Keep in mind that these prices are in the low season of June-August. Prices will be higher during the peak tourist season of Oct-March. Call ahead and check to be sure.

Asterix Contact Info

Asterix Contact Info

Goan Flavour Rating: Bombastic 10/10!

All in all, I would rate Asterix a 10 on 10 for the stay, experience and ambiance. Compared to other places to stay, this is definitely one of the best options in north Goa. I met a fun group of people, talked to this dude who’s a sailor from Turkey; it’s a great place to hang out if you are travelling alone, or with 1-2 friends.

My Turkish friend and I

My Turkish friend and I

30 Helpful Konkani Phrases to Use In Goa

When you do land up in idyllic Goa, chances are that you are going to run into the locals. And luckily for you, 90-95% of Goans can communicate in English and understand it quite reasonably.

Locally, Goans speak Konkani. It is very different from Hindi, the national language of India. Konkani is not exactly a dialect, not exactly a language; it doesn’t have a script. Like most Indian languages, it comes from Sanskrit.

It’s an exciting experience to try and learn a few words of the local language, especially if you get stuck in a far away village area (bound to happen when you adventurously bike around and run out of petrol). People will appreciate the effort, and look at you in a different way, because you’re not just another hippy tourist or city slicker.

Lots of Goans are expert bargainers in Russian, especially at the Saturday Night Markets. It’s not uncommon to see the locals call out to tourists in Russian. It might be fun to learn a few Russian words as well (I have, and its a great conversation starter. For about 2 sentences. And then its smile and wave, like the penguins in Madagascar).

"Only Rs. 200, Harashou?"

“Only Rs. 200, Harashou?”

The below given list of 30 fun and helpful English-to-Konkani phrases has been compiled for your viewing pleasure and designed to endear you to the locals.  Sure to be a big help when you want to give your stomach a rest from extra spicy food (no.9), hail a taxi (no. 27), or just tell people that you LOVE Goa (no. 28). Not to forget the most important sentence to learn in any new language, – “Where’s the toilet?” at no. 12.

You’ll get the hang of the correct pronunciation and accent, especially when you practice with Goans at the shops, cafés, restaurants and the beaches.

No. Type English Konkani
1 Greetings! How are you? Tum kosso assai?
2 What is your name? Tuchem naum kitay?
3 My name is Julie Majay nau Julie
4 Where do you come from? Tu koyee-sau yet-ai?
5 Thank you Deu borem korum
6 Sorry Maaf kor
7 Yes/No Hoee/Na
8 In Restaurants and Hotels I am hungry Maka bhook lagleah
9 I do not want it spicy Maka tik naka
10 Water Oodok
11 Can I have the bill please? Matshem bill hadshi?
12 Where is the toilet? Sundas khuim assa?
13 Can you help me? Maka modot korshi?
14 Do you have a room/house to rent? Tu jay shee room/ghor asa?
15 I’d like a room for the night. Maka eke ratik room zai.
16 What is the charge per night? Eke ratik kitle poishe?
17 Can I park here? Hanga gaadi dovrunk zata?
18 Shopping How much? Kitlay?
19 Too expensive! Ekdtom ma-araog!
20 I don’t want it Maka naka tem
21 Travel Does this bus go to (Panjim)? Ee bus (Panjim) voi-ta?
22 How much to (Baga) (Baga)vossoonk kitlay pot-ollay?
23 Does this bus go to (Anjuna/Baga/Candolim)? Ee (Anjuna/Baga/Candolim) bus?
24 Drive more slowly! Sossegarde solay!
25 Turn left/right Dai-an/ Ooj-an wot
26 Where is the (Police Station)? (Police Station) khuim assa?
27 Can you get me a taxi? Maka ek taxi haadshi?
28 Fun phrases I love Goa Maka Goeya boray lakta!
29 I speak a little Konkani Aoo thodee Konkani ooloyta
30 Food is good Jevon borem

You are sure to see the Goans smile as you stumble,err, I mean, maneuver your way through the Konkani words. You may even get a discount while shopping or negotiating for a room/beach shack :). You can definitely sing along to the Konkani radio songs, much to the delight of your driver (even if you do not understand a single word).

Have fun, go a little crazy! You’re in Goa!

Best Momos in New Delhi_Yashwant Place.

I was apprehensive of coming back to Delhi for a break; May is a mind-numbingly hot month with hot winds, locally known as loo. These loo winds are hot heavy winds which rob you of your vitality, and leave you feeling dry, weak and really sleepy.

Luckily, the rain gods smiled and blessed Delhi with a slight shower on Sunday evening that I headed out. I was going for a Couchsurfing Delhi meet at Lodhi Gardens, a beautiful park located in central Delhi. Couchsurfing is a great concept; basically you can reach out to travelers in your city or the city you plan to visit (India or abroad) and request to stay or hang out. Read all about it here. The members in different cities keep having fun get-togethers and meetings.

It was a pleasure driving to the park in a light rain, with music on the speakers. Though I didn’t see it, there was a double rainbow visible, which others showed me later:

Double Rainbow. Can you see it?

Double Rainbow. Can you see it?

The Delhi Couchsurfing meeting was nice, with a lot of different travelers from different countries. Organized by Karan and Charan, two enthusiastic and cheerful guys, everyone had fun. And of course, I carried a large box of Alphonso mangoes from Goa to share with everybody. Later, I was even quoted for a Couchsurfing article written by a Hindustan times journalist who’d come to cover the event :)!

After the meeting was over, I got talking to a girl from Hong Kong, Melody. She and a few of her friends were working in India, and had come to check out the CS meet.

So of course, I suggested going for some of the best momos in Delhi, before we all went back home. Momos are considered to be a Chinese fast food; they are little meat dumplings inside dough that is either steamed or fried. Very popular in Delhi. However, Momos are originally called Dim Sums in China. Like Chow Mein noodles (tasty noodles sold as fast food in almost every neighborhood of Delhi), there are certain foods which have become “Indian-ised”, and have names which you’ll never find in the original country. There are no Chow Mein noodles in China, as far as I’ve heard and confirmed from Chinese friends.

Melody and her friends enthusiastically agreed, and we all set out for Yashwant Place. Everyone bundled in my car, and we were on our way. We reached Yashwant Place in 10min, as it was not too far from Lodhi Garden. Here’s the map, giving easy directions from the closest Metro station:

Google map to Momo Heaven: Yashwant Place

Google map to Momo Heaven: Yashwant Place

Though there were a lot of guys inviting us in to their specific outlet, I went to my favourite one, “Bawarchi’s”.  Bawarchi means “Cook” or “Chef” in Hindi. The owner greeted us warmly, and we went inside.

Chi and Jay with pork momos

Chi and Jay with pork momos

I placed an order for 1 plate chicken momos and 1 plate pork momos. 1 plate had 8 momos. So we could order more of which we liked.

The momos arrived and we all devoured them. There was a delicious red hot sauce which tastes amazing.

Perfect Combination = Momos + Red Chilli Sauce + Chilled Coke

Melody and her friends loved the pork momos, and we ordered another 2 plates. These took time to arrive, so one of Melody’s friends Chi, asked us how to ask the waiter to bring the food faster in Hindi. So when he came past our table, she said “Bhaiiya, mujhe khana khana hai” (Bhaiiya, I want to eat food). The look of bafflement on his face was priceless.

Momos and us!

Momos and us!

We had a good time with momos, and conversation. Steer clear of too much chilli sauce; delicious though it may be, it can cause trips to the bathroom the next day if taken in excessive amounts.

Yashwant Place is well known for its momos. Many embassies are located in the nearby area, and they cater to them for lunch/dinner. Do check it out if you happen to be near Central Delhi.

Perfect Place to stay near Saturday Night Market, Arpora

Last weekend, I was at Arpora, in time to attend the last Saturday Night Bazaar of the season.

I found a the perfect place to stay. Called Maitri guest house, the rooms are well furnished, comfortable and spacious. The owners built it recently, and I doubt that you will find it on any of the booking websites. A sweet old lady holding her grandchild greeted me and showed the rooms. I liked what I saw and negotiated a Rs.300 decrease on the price of Rs. 2500, ending up paying Rs. 2200 (US$ 40). If you stay for longer than 1 night, you can bargain for a higher discount.

Relaxed ambiance

Relaxed ambiance

The place is located a 2 min bike ride away from the Arpora Saturday Night Bazaar, going towards the Baga bridge. You’ll see a sign on the road pointing you towards the right. I liked this place as it was at a convenient mid point between Baga and Anjuna, making it easy to travel either way.

Welcome to Maitri!

Welcome to Maitri!

It’s a great place, and relatively cheaper than others, being newly opened. Some renovation is still going on, and the entrance is undergoing work, but as you saw, the rooms are great.

Booking a place is really handy because then you can leave your bags and stuff in the room, and not worry about it when you travel or go to the beach. It is advisable to look after your belongings, as laptops, phones have been known to be taken from hotel rooms. This was more like an apartment, so no such worries here.

Call Sudesh (or Sudi as his friends call him) at +91 9822138002 to book a room at Maitri. Do tell him you got to know of the guesthouse through this and he’ll offer you a special discounted rate :). Alternatively, you can book your Goa holiday here.

After keeping my stuff at Maitri, I headed to the Bazaar down the road.

A Goan who I contacted on Couch Surfing advised me to carry some extra cash to buy stuff at the Bazaar. It turned out to be great advice (thanks, Kapil Biyani). Things were being given away at throw away prices as the people prepared to leave Goa for the season.

Vast variety of junk jewellery

Vast variety of junk jewellery

I picked up a couple of nice t-shirts (around Rs. 2000 or US$ 40), different tea flavors (mango, strawberry, coconut, Darjeeling, Kashmiri, rose and more for Rs. 500 or US$ 10), as well as a bag (Rs. 100 or US$ 2).

Tea, tea everywhere

Tea, tea everywhere

It was kind of sad to see the Saturday Night Bazaar so empty.

Where are the people?

Where are the people?

It’s usually brimming with people, excitement and energy. It wasn’t for a lack of spirit though, as you can see from watching this enthusiastic barman preparing me a Macky’s special (have it only if you like thick sweet syrupy liquor).

He knew all the words. He must have heard the song over a million times, and still he was relaxed and happy :).

The Saturday Night Bazaar closes from May-July for the summer and heavy monsoons. I was told by a shopkeeper that they would be back again in October.

Make sure to stop by the Saturday Night Bazaar when you are in Goa. It’s an experience not to be missed.

Goan Getaway Uno – Bangalore to Goa, April 2013

This April, I had two awesome guys come over from busy Bangalore to relaxed Goa.

Neel and Ayush

For best effects, click below and listen to song while you read this post :P!

Boyz in town

Da Boyz in town. Mission: Relax, Party and Freak OUT.

Ayush was my roommate in college and Neel is our batchmate. They’re both working for very nice companies in Bangalore and were in Goa to chill for the weekend. And chill, we did. From Morjim to Ashvem, from the Vagator beach to the Saturday Night Bazaar and finally from Baga to home, we had a blast. 

The two days were packed! We found a new way to Vagator beach after following the wrong signboards, had awesome food at Sublime (post here), Britto’s and more.  Both Sublime and Britto’s have great reviews on Tripadvisor (click on the names and check them out).

Relaxed and recharged from their weekend break, they were kind enough to answer the following questions, really helpful to all the folks coming from Bangalore to Goa for the perfect Goan holiday.

1. What was the budget for the trip?

Neel: The trip being a last minute, unplanned vacation overshot the estimated budget of Rs. 10k by around Rs. 2-3k (Rs. 12k or US$ 225 approx). For a weekend spent in Goa, Rs. 10k (US$ 185 approx.) per person should suffice if planned well in advance without factoring in the cost of air travel which is highly recommended.  

Ayush: Our budget was around 10k but it got shot up to 12k per person 🙂

2. How many days did you plan to spend in Goa?

Neel: 3 days, Friday to Sunday . My suggestion would be to extend your trip by another day, give some leeway to take in the sights and sounds of Goa.

 Ayush: We had a set itinerary- 3 days and 2 nights in all (2 nights in the bus as well)

Vagator beach

Vagator beach: an ad was being shot there

3. What was the mode of travel and how was the experience?

Neel:  We took a Volvo seater bus from bangalore to Goa. It is not a very comfortable journey but more importantly the bus travel eats up on your vacation time. The 12-14 hour ride along with the time taken to recover cuts down on significantly on your time spent in Goa. 

Ayush: We traveled by bus and it took 12 hours on each side. The journey was alright but I would advice taking a flight if one can plan out one’s trip well in advance.

4. How was the hotel/guesthouse you stayed at and would you stay there again? Especially in terms of cleanliness, safety, etc.

Neel: We spent the first day at Montego Bay Resort which is right on Morjim beach. Highly recommended to those seeking to be Far from the Madding crowd. Proximity to good eateries (Sublime) and pubs (Cabana) made it an ideal stay. The second day was spent at a resort near Vagator beach. What it lacked in ambience it made up in comfort and facilities. 

For fellow vacationers , it is highly recommended to plan your place of stay in advance. 

Ayush: Both our guest houses were comfy. Our first guest house was along the beach and that was a plus point. They were priced slightly on the higher end but I guess you more or less get what you pay for :p

5. Overall, how would you rate your Goa holiday – Horrible/Ok/Good/Great/Awesome??

Neel: Great 

 Ayush: I would rate our trip as good. Unfortunately we did not have chances to make new friends 😦

Band playing at Saturday Night Bazaar, Anjuna

Band playing at Saturday Night Bazaar, Anjuna

6. Was there any bad experience (e.g. taxi/bike overcharging), and if yes how did you overcome it?

Neel: Searching for a resort the second day. Good old Google helped us overcome it. 

Ayush: Nope, no bad experience

7. What would you recommend for other working guys to do/not do if they were travelling to Goa?

Neel: Plan it out guys and don’t forget the sunscreen. 

Ayush: Definitely go to the Saturday flea market. Hire a vehicle for most of your stay since you’ll be travelling around a lot.

Strawberry Daiquiri at Britto's

Strawberry Daiquiri at Britto’s

8. What was the best part of your Goa trip?

Neel: Time spent on Morjim beach, Saturday Night Flea market .

Ayush: I think the vast variety of food available was a treat in itself!

Here’s a breakup of the expenses of around Rs. 12K (US$ 225 approx.): 

Ze Goan Getaway Uno Budget

Hardly any was spent on shopping. Room, food and travel were major expenses. Renting transport is pretty cheap unless you go for a huge open air jeep (which would be awesome and I plan to do so, soon).  If you are travelling with ladies with a propensity to dip into your pockets, you might want to consider additional budget for picking up various souvenirs and knick-knacks that all the cute little beach side markets have.

For all you readers, here’s a special sneak preview of a fun GGC (Goan Getaway Calculator) that I am preparing to make budgeting a Goa holiday fun :):

Bombastic Holiday Rating from GGC

Bombastic Holiday Rating from GGC

Bombastic Holiday Rating: 5

Goan Flavour verdict: Neel and Ayush had a great trip, planned the stay in advance and really enjoyed the food :)! They’ll be back for more. 

So forget your excuses, and plan that Goa trip!

What are you waiting for :)?

Walk away with the magic of Goa

“I’ve been giving it out
But it’s not coming back to me, baby!”

I’ve been humming the words of this song by Above and Beyond featuring Zoe Johnston. For better effects, click here, and listen to this song while reading this post.

It perfectly sums up my feeling at efforts of promoting this blog and the results :)!

However, never fear. I am an eternal optmist :). To be fair, it has just been two months and I’ve got lots to learn about posting great content.

So I’ve been working on some very cool items for all the visitors to this site. Here they are:

  1. Goa News – Will be covering more about whats happening here, how it is going to affect tourists coming in and opinions on the same.
  2. Goa Getaways – This explains the milestone countdown to your right. It’s gonna cover interview of people who
  3. GGC – Goa Getaway Calculator. Under development. A fun Excel tool to calculate the budget for your Goa trip.
  4. Goa Videos – Of the beaches, Restaurants and parties in Goa
  5. Hotel/Restaurant/Food Reviews – Will continue in ever snazzier forms!

Other than these, I’d love to hear more from you about what you’d like covered on this blog. People Power!

With fellow travelers at Saturday Night Bazaar, Goa

With fellow travelers at Saturday Night Bazaar, Goa

I love meeting new people and hearing their travel stories! And am happy to help out with any Goa related info – whether it’s a hotel, restaurant or beach, let me know and I’ll check it out for you! Or at the very least point you in the right direction.

Goa magic.

Goa magic.

You come to this blog, you gotta walk away informed, entertained and with a little bit of Goa with you :).

“I love deadlines…

“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”

– Douglas Adams

Hey guys.

Douglas Adams is one of my most favourite authors, and this quote from his book is perfect for describing the past week. I set myself a goal and was busy preparing two kickass items for Goan holiday goers buuuuut there was a slight delay.

But no worries!

Very soon, you’ll get two detailed itineraries for having a killer time in Goa.

1. Killer Goa Trip by College Students

2. Killer Weekend Goa_Bangalore edition

This will have detailed information with everything regarding travel, budget, best parts of the trip as well as what to watch out for in Goa.

These interviews take place with actual people who visited Goa recently. I promised the Bangalore guys that their names are going to be up in Neon lights for being the first to contribute :)!

Hope you enjoy reading as much as I am enjoying writing!

Keep watching this blog.

Ever missed a deadline? How did you cover up for it?

5 Simple Steps to Booking a Volvo from Goa to Bangalore

3 months into work and no break.

Despite visiting golden Goan beaches on weekends, it was time for Bangalore. I wanted to visit DJ Tiesto’s concert next week, however all my friends were going home that time, and I didn’t want to go alone. So this weekend, it was.

Since college days are over, I prefer to now travel in relative comfort, especially for long journeys. No more teeth rattling journeys on state transport with fellow passengers drooling over you shoulder.

Booking a return journey from Goa to Bangalore, roughly 11-13hrs one way, is relatively simple nowadays because of the Internet. I booked an a/c Volvo leaving on 22nd March and returning to Goa on 24rd March 2013.

Here are 5 simple steps to booking a comfortable bus journey from Goa to Bangalore, especially if you are new to booking in India:

  1. Go to redbus.in
  2. Select From (“Panjim“) and To (“Bangalore”). You can choose Mapsa as well, if you are based in North Goa. However, routes may not always be available. Panjim is a central location, easily accessible from North and South Goa, with a higher frequency of buses.
  3. Select dates of journey and date of return. I prefer to leave on Friday nights and return on Sunday nights to make the most of weekends (good for working people).
  4. Choose the buses suiting your budget and timing (prices range from US$10-20/INR 600-1100 for a one way trip). You can choose your seats as well. I chose a Sea Bird A/C Volvo Multi Axle  because of comfort and early arrival timing, 8 am, in Bangalore.

    Sea Bird Tourist A/C Volvo

    Sea Bird Tourist A/C Volvo

  5. After finalizing the buses and seats, all you have to enter are your name, gender, age, Mobile No and email id (required for confirmation messages). Finally, payment can be made via Credit Card, Net banking, Debit Card and Cash Card Options.
Redbus confirmation message

Redbus confirmation message

Practical tips:

  1. It is a good idea to reach the boarding area at least 15 min before the reporting time. It can be confusing with so many buses around, but people will direct you in the right direction if you ask. I made a slight detour to have a chicken dish and almost missed my first bus. Luckily, my Goan colleague was with me and he dropped me in his car.
  2. It is a good idea to carry a printout of the e-ticket. I accidentally deleted the confirmation message on my phone. On the return journey, I called the Sea Bird Office, and they said something about me having to get a boarding pass to get on the bus, even though I had a e-ticket printout. This was nonsense, and once I had found the bus, there was no problem boarding it after showing my ticket.
  3. Helps to have a local friend drop you to the bus stand. Can save time and anxiety, especially if you are new to the place. I don’t know Bangalore that well and was happy to have my friend accompany and point me in the right direction.
  4. Carry earphones with a music player/your mobile phone. Good to listen to music for long journeys, and also drown out wailing babies and Kannada action movies (they were playing one on my return journey, and I didn’t get a word single word. All the songs were reminiscent of the hilarious Benny Lava video.  Watch it here, if you haven’t already!)

I have used Redbus a couple of times now, and am pretty happy with their service. No major problems so far, and I would recommend it for simple, easy booking in India, especially to travel between major cities. For journeys longer then 15 hours, trains would be a better option.

I hope this was useful. Have you ever had any trouble with Redbus bookings? If yes, do share your story of how it was solved (or not) in the comments below. Thanks.

Susegad! – About Goa and its flavours

Susegad!

That apparently does not mean good sausage, as I thought when I first came about it.

Derived from the Portuguese word ‘sossegado’, it is understood to mean a state of relaxed contentment which is often attributed to this beautiful land of coconuts, cashew trees and beaches.

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Lazy Sunday at Candolim beach

It has been nearly a month since the inception of this blog and I have not yet introduced you to the amazing state of Goa. It is my humble privilege to bring the best of this coastal area to your attention.

In ancient times, this place was called Govarashtra, which is a Sanskrit word for “Nation of Cowherds”.  It was ruled by emperor Ashoka as part of the Maurya empire in the 3rd century BC. It came under Portugese rule in 1510 and finally became a part of India in 1961.

This is a short version, and glosses over much of the history of wars, conflicts that inevitably happened here.

Today, Goa is known as a destination for fun and relaxation. Around 2 million people visit Goa every year, drawn by its laid back pace. Most Indians consider it a party destination, ideal for weekend getaways from Mumbai, Delhi and other metros. Foreigners consider it a backpacker destination which is easy on the pocket.

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FTV party at Candolim beach, Dec 30, 2012. Entry US$ 40 and unlimited beer.

Goa is one of the smallest states in India, with a population of only around 1.2 million people. The infrastructure and quality of life are rated as one of the best in all of India. Konkani is the local language, however almost everybody understands English. Important signboards are also in English, and it is very easy and cheap to rent a bike/car/jeep and roam around. A decent bike will cost like US$5 (INR 270) per day to rent. And you can negotiate for a cheaper rate if you are hiring it for a longer period.

May is the hottest month, with temperature reaching a peak of 35 °C (95 °F). You can see more weather related info on links given at the bottom of this post.

So nearly 500,000 party goers descend on Goa every year, with the top markets being UK, Russia, Germany, Finland and France. I had a little fun with the latest available figures given on the Goa tourism website (www.goatourism.gov.in/statistics) and put them down for you over here.

Top 5 nations of partying tourists coming to Goa and the total tourist arrivals in Goa from 2006-11:

Goa partygoers 2010-11

Nations partying through 2010-11

Visitors to Goa from 2006-11

Visitors to Goa from 2006-11

Kidding about the partying, many people come for yoga, relaxation and meditation as well. In fact there’s a great place called Yogamagic which I can’t wait to check out. It is an eco retreat offering yoga packages and healthy food. Check out their website here.

Goa is easy to get to from Delhi, Mumbai or Bangalore. I had no problems booking a flight here from Delhi, and nowadays you can get air tickets really cheap, there are a lot of promotional offers going on. Check them out here.

I will be going to Bangalore this weekend from Goa via bus, so will let you know how the connectivity and service works out. As per redbus.in (online bus booking service), the fares as of March 2013 are around US$10-15 (INR 500-900) for a one way trip. A guy’s gotta rest from all the partying!!!

This blog is under constant evolution, and I am going to keep adding useful updates about everything Goan.

Do let me know if you have any questions regarding stay, travel, and I will do my best to assist you as per my personal knowledge and experience.

Some useful Goa links:

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/india/goa

http://www.goatourism.gov.in/

http://www.goatourism.gov.in/statistics