Goa – Destination known for Beaches, Shopping and Awesome food

Goa the pristine beach location is situated to the West of India. The beaches are running alongside the Arabian Sea. Goa has a long history and was also under the Portuguese rule from 1510 to 1961.

Languages spoken in Goa: Konkani, Marathi, Kannada, Hindi, English

The two things that come to your mind while thinking of Goa are Beaches & Beers.

Goa is clearly demarcated in to South Goa and North Goa.

South Goa is pretty much laid back with lot of five star resort properties. The resorts here will give you an option of private beach. The beaches here include Varca, Benaulim, Palolem, Bogmalo, Mormugao, Majorda beach, Colva, Varca

North Goa is the happening party place. Starting with Sinquerim beach at one end to Ashwem at the other end – you can enjoy the best happening beaches here.

Sinquerim, Candolim, Calangute, Baga, Anjuna, Vagator, Morjim, Arambol and Ashwem are the main beaches stretching from one end of North Goa to the other end.

Sinquerim has the Agoda fort and Taj Agoda on the beach side. It is a good sightseeing spot. Watersports activities can be done here.

Candolim beach is normally not crowded, but it is a clean beach. Kids can have a good time here as they will feel the whole beach is for them.

You can find some good roadside shops while traveling from Candolim to Calangute where you can get beach accessories, dresses, etc.

Calangute beach is one of the most crowded beaches of Goa. Watersports activities can be done here. Lot of street shopping also can be done in and around this beach.

Baga is adjacent to Calangute and is similar to Calangute beach. There are some good pub joints at Baga namely Titos, Kamaki, etc.

Anjuna beach – enroute to this beach place known as Arpora hosts the famous Saturday night bazaar. This is a must visit location on a Saturday night. Bazaar will have lot of stalls (shopping) and live music performances happening. It also has some good food stalls. Taking kids here may be a task but they may enjoy the variety of food they can enjoy here. Anjuna has a flea market that has stalls but the prices are exorbitant here. Curlies Shack is located on this beach.

Chapora fort is also on the way to Ashwem beach.

Ashwem is one of the beaches not frequented by many tourists who visit Goa. This beach is some 20-25 kms away from the main happening beach destinations. Ashwem offers you a clean pristine beach with literally no crowd at all. So this will be like a private beach with enough shacks to fuel your stomach and quench your thirst. You can walk 150-200 m in to the water as well as the water levels are shallow. At right end of this beach you have shopping stalls. Once you walk past these stalls you will be happy to see a small beach on the other side of the rocks. The beauty of this hidden location is that you have beach on one side and a small fresh water lake opposite to the beach. Paragliding can be done at this location.

South Goa stretches from Monkey beach near Panjim to Cabo De Rama towards the end of Goa. Monkey beach, Palolem, Bogmalo, Mormugao, Majorda beach, Colva, Benaulim, Varca, Cabo De Rama beach.

Palolem beach offers you white sand beach and if you can persuade the fisherman then they may take you to spot dolphins. Only few shacks are available here.

Bogmalo offers shops selling local handicrafts.

Varca is one of the beautiful beaches of Goa. You will find shacks offering Goan cuisine at reasonable prices.

Colva is the main beach location of South Goa. It is like the Calangute beach of North Goa. The Church of Our Lady of Mercy is famous here. You will find resorts, food joints, seashell artifact shops, etc. in and around this beach.

What Goa has to offer other than the beaches:-

          Tropical Spice Plantation tour:-http://tropicalspiceplantation.com/index.php

          River cruise – Goa tourism also conducts cruises – evening cruise is approx. 200 INR per head and dinner cruise is approx.. 650 INR per head. Private operators are also available.http://www.bettysgoa.com/cruise.htm

          Basilica of Bom Jesus, Panaji

How you can plan your Goa trip ? 

Itinerary:-

Day One: – Arrive at Goa by afternoon. Have lunch and then Check in to the hotel. Settle down at the hotel and take an evening tour to nearby beach. Arrange for a buffet dinner with cocktail at the hotel itself or depending on which side of Goa you are planning to stay you can visit a good restaurant for dinner. If are staying at South Goa then I would suggest you to check out Martins Corner restaurant (http://www.martinscornergoa.com/ https://www.zomato.com/goa/martins-corner-betalbatim Good seafood restaurant). Slightly costly but worth visiting. If you are staying at North Goa and you would like to try Greek food then visit Thalassa, Vagator beachhttps://www.zomato.com/goa/thalassa-vagator or if you want to have South Indian cuisine then visit Gunpowder, Bardez https://www.zomato.com/goa/gunpowder-bardez

Day Two: – Finish your breakfast by 10:30 am. Enjoy the water sports preferably at a nearby beach location so that you can go back to resort to change your dress. Lunch at the resort. Take rest till evening. Visit nearby beaches and dinner at local restaurant. Since it will be Saturday for you – suggest you should be at North Goa to enjoy the night life/ Saturday night bazaar / pubs, etc.

Don’t miss visiting the Casino on either of the days –http://www.casinoroyalegoa.com/ ,http://www.bestgoacasino.com/casino-pride.php ,http://www.deltingroup.com/deltin-jaqk/ , http://goindia.about.com/od/nightlife/tp/goacasinos.htm ) – cover charges include unlimited food and drinks plus live performances. Check the dress code as shorts and flip flops may not be allowed. Some of the casinos even have a kids area so that they can also be with you.

Day Three: – Finish your breakfast by 10:30 am. Drive down to Ashwem beach covering the spice plantation (along with lunch) or local sightseeing on your way.

If you want to get a massage done then you can try SNIP Saloon & Spa (located between Candolim and Calangute beach – North Goa)

If you are planning for a day long cruise then you can alter the itinerary accordingly.

The Leap of Faith : Bungee Jumping

“30 seconds is all it takes to let go of your fear and take the leap.

It takes couple of minutes for the feeling to sink in. Even before you realize that you have jumped from a 200 ft high bridge it is all over. You start to realize that you have dared to do this when the swing comes to a slow stop.

But the whole experience will stay with you for a life time.”

The moment I realized that I will be daring to jump of a bridge with just a string of ropes holding me together was a scary thought.

In the first place I was not planning to do the jump and was not going to join the group who had to travel almost an hour to reach the location. But I knew that this is going to be a once in a life time activity that you will dare to do (I know about people for whom bungee jumping and other adventure sports are just like turning the page of a book but trust me it is not an easy decision if you are not an adventure enthusiast).

I was put up in Athens and the Bungee jumping location was at Corinth Canal – which was one hour’s drive away from Athens.

‘Zulu Bungy’ – the organizers of Bungy / Bungee jumping in Corinth Canal looked very pumped up to help us do the activity. It is very crucial for the organizers to show that they are in control and make you feel comfortable. This will help you gain the much required Confidence.

Zulu Bungy – right below you is the scenic water body whose magnificence will captivate your heart and in front of you the open sky which will pump your adrenaline.

I was made to wear all the required harness and boot straps. Once the whole group was ready we were taken to the jumping location. The view was spectacular with a calm Corinth Canal beneath you. I realized that it is better to do the jump when you are in a group as this will help to strengthen your will power. The first person in our group was all set to take the plunge. He was made to wear couple of more harnesses and was also locked to couple of ropes. Lot depends on how the first person in the group jumps. In our group the first person jumped with ease. He came up after the jump and was smiling when he said “the jump was exciting but nothing to worry about – it will be all over even before you realize”. One by one each person started to jump and then came my turn.

First I was made to wear the GoPro camera to capture the whole experience Live. The Zulu Bungy guys then went on to make me wear the remaining harness and locks. I was made to move closer to the edge of the bridge. The view from the edge of the bridge was spectacular with the mild breeze hitting your face. There were lot of instructions coming in from the group members – “just look in front when you jump, jump hard, push your body out of the bridge, etc.”

I took a deep breath before I looked beneath to ascertain the depth. I was at ease and was not anxious & felt that this is going to be an easy one. That is the moment when one of the Zulu guy stood in front of me. He started counting the locks that were put on my harness. He was saying “lock 1 okay, lock 2 okay, lock 3 okay,…” . This was the moment when I started thinking whether he has actually put all locks or did he miss any ? Suddenly I had my whole family in front of my eyes. What will happen if I don’t come up, what if the ropes breaks, what if all the locks were not in place ???? All type of weird questions popped up in a fraction of a second. This send a shock wave through my entire body. The fear of losing everything was right on my face. Do I really want to do this and lose everything ? That is when I heard the sound of the Zulu guy again. He told the other Zulu guy “all check done” and the other guy who was standing behind me whispered to me “don’t think much – just jump at the first instance, trust me” and he counted 1,2,3. 

I had two options 1. To turn away without attempting the jump and be Safe 2. Trust the guy who whispered to you , trust the harness, ropes, locks and jump in to the canal… In the blink of an eye I decided to do the ‘Leap of Faith’. I trusted everything and somewhere in the corner of my heart I said “Oh God bring me back safe” . It was indeed a Leap of Faith. It was a breath taking experience – From the time I jumped & till the time the ropes stretched my legs and made me realize that I am hanging Safe. That’s when the feeling start sinking in that you let off your fear and did once in a life time activity.

Wow.. It was Awesome..!!! “I Did It”

The Leap of Faith (video)

We change the rules of Flying” 


 


 Once upon a time in Mumbai : A 1983 Mumbai Taxi Driver

I was lucky to get a ‘kaali peeli’ taxi from the international airport departure terminal yesterday night. I had to literally jump in as taxis were not allowed to pick up passenger in front of the terminal. I was happy as I saved the walk as well as the wait to get an Uber / Ola. 

When you imagine a ‘kaali peeli’ taxi, the image of the driver that pops up in your mind is that of an aged driver with a long white beard. I was using the KPT ( kaali peeli taxi) after a long time or rather I cannot instantly recollect when I had hired one in the near past. So I was happy to see the driver with similar features. 

The pressure to get inside the KPT before airport authority guy stops him made me jump into the co-passenger seat rather than the rear seat. This quickly helped me to get into a conversation with the Driver ‘Chacha’. 

Driver Chacha was quick to comment ‘aaj hum dono ki kismat acha hai beta, mujhe airport se savaari mil gaya air tumhaara time bach gaya’. I responded with a wide smile and a big nod of head. But I felt that he was expecting a better reply from me. So I ended up saying ‘sahi bola aapne , aap mujhe nahi pick karte toh shaayad 10-15 minute mera kharaab ho jaata’. Bingo I had given him the reply as per his wish and now it was his turn to respond with a wide smile and a big nod of head. 

I asked him if he owned the taxi. ‘Mere seth ke paas 104 gaadi hai aur ye gaadi sirf mein chalaa tha hoon, din ka 400 rs. detha hoon’ was his instant reply. 

I knew that it will take at least 40 minutes to reach my destination , so I continued the conversation. There were two reasons:- 1. I was curious to know about his driving experience as he was easily and patiently negotiating the the potholes in heavy rain  2. I didn’t want him to doze off while driving.

I asked Driver Chacha the brands of cars he had driven till now. The list included Fiat Padmini, Ambassador – poora darwaaza khulne wala and couple of the latest which had come up in the last 10-15 years. 

Nawab Chacha (as he introduced himself) came to Mumbai all the way from ‘Illahabad’ in 1983. He has been driving taxi for the last 34 years in Mumbai. As per Nawab Chacha in 1983 meter charge was 6 Rs for a trip and petrol price was 5 Rs per litre. It took me a while to digest these numbers. I ended up asking again – ‘just 5 Rs’ ? . The “Yes” came up with a thumping authority. He continued saying that those days the number of trips were less but each driver had a set of regular customers. He mentioned that there used to a special bonding with the customers of that era. Customer will book the cab the previous day by giving him the building number and directions. For a 4 am trip it was the responsibility of the driver to reach before time and wake up the customer in case he is still sleeping. Once the customer comes back after his trip or business meeting where things went off well then the driver used to get a special tip in addition to the taxi fare. Value of 100 Rs was on a very high side during that time. He said “Barkhath hoti thi woh zamaane mein 100Rs ka lekin aaj kal 50k – 1 lakh ka koi keemat hi nahi hai”. I was telling myself that how times have changed and valuations have changed drastically. Since he was from ‘Illahabad’ the home town of Amitabh Bachchan I did ask him ‘aap bhi Amitabh Bachchan ke jagah se ho?’. “Woh toh civil lane mein rahthe the..Ganga ke paas” as though he knows Big B very well. But as he was from ‘Illahabad’ he definitely can say this with pride. 

I was 15 minutes away from my destination by now and I asked him the obvious question. What is his take on Ola/Uber? His reply was very interesting. As per him everyone can co-exist in Mumbai. In a city like Mumbai everyone will get enough trips to meet ends. Only issue he had was that many of these taxi aggregator drivers don’t know how to drive a car and they are learning it on the job. He also didn’t like when one of the taxi aggregator tried to convince him to fit their meter – “Bhagaa diya unko mein ne” he said. 

Just before we ended the trip he gave me a tip that there is no point over speeding your car. Hardly you will save 5-7 minutes in Mumbai. Everyone should enjoy their ride and drive safe. This coming from someone who had the experience of driving 34 years in Mumbai was a good point. 

Nawab chacha wished me good luck and I told him to drive back safe, keep driving & enjoy life.

Uber Talks : Driver gives you earning opportunity tips

Uber has become one of the best transportation support system when you don’t want to drive your own car.

Whenever I travel alone in such taxi app cab then I try to get into a conversation with the driver. Normally I start of the discussion with what is the current incentive system they have in Uber / Ola ?  Is the cab owned by the driver and if yes how much does he earn a month ? Depending upon the responsiveness of the driver I tend to divert the topic to understand Consumer Buying Behaviour. Since I work with an automobile company I always try to understand the basic points considered by him before buying this car. So my set of primary research questions include : Why he bought this particular brand of car ? What is the USP? Was he offered any special discount by the automobile dealer? Whether service support was kept in mind while finalising this brand ? etc.

So as usual, I took an Uber today afternoon, and got into a conversation with the driver. I started off with my regular set of questions and the driver was very happy to answer all my questions in length. The moment I finished my set of questioning then he told me that ‘those who say that Uber drivers are not earning don’t know the earning opportunity’.

The driver with whom I was having the conversation turned out to be a Software engineer (small time as per him) with a reputed software firm. He was driving the cab as his driver had taken leave. He said that Uber / Ola (as drivers keep switching from one app to another ) is one of the best way of earning money.

Tips to earn maximum from Uber :-

– Don’t buy SUV and put in Uber / Ola. The smaller the car the higher is your chance of getting trips. Also the mileage of SUV will be much lower than a hatchback.

– Ask your Uber driver to Start the trip by 3 am . This is the best time to get trips towards airport. Continue the shift till 11 am. This will help in getting the morning office going trips as well.

– Ask the driver to take rest till 4 pm

– Start the second shift from 4 pm to 8 pm. This again will cater to the evening commuters.

– 8 pm end of duty.. Both the driver and the cab owner are happy.

– Driver earns around 1000 INR and the Owner earns approx 2000 INR per day

– The other tips given by this Software engineer to his driver “Don’t wait near a taxi stand or a kaali road but instead wait near a posh locality -the chances of getting trip will be on a higher side”

Further discussions help me to understand that he earns around 40k from his Software job and another 50-60k from Uber. I told him that this will help him grow faster in his life.

I was taken aback when he revealed the next two points particularly the second one.

1. He owns a SUV and he has deployed that on monthly basis with the same company with which he is working. Smart…!!! So that is additional income.

2. He told me “Sirji to grow fast in life and to earn a lot you need to be smart and think out of the box”. By this time I was awestruck calculating his earnings per month. The next thing he did to earn that extra money was interesting. He bought clothes meant for female customers from all the major e-commerce websites at a low rate /  whenever Sale is happening. He has employed few tailors . The job of the tailors is to add some glamour factor in to these dresses bought online. The dresses are then sold to shops at main markets of Mumbai like Lokhandwala, Powai and some boutiques in the suburbs. The dresses were bought at around 400-500 INR and after doing the ‘touch up’ work was sold to the boutique shops for 2000 INR.

My trip got completed and I told the driver that it was a pleasure speaking to him. I was telling myself “here i crib of the salary I earn & only way i could think of earning more was with a job shift and then this guy gives me numerous tips to make money of you are ready to stretch yourself and think loud” .

It was indeed an interesting afternoon drive.

I will finish this article with a tip from this software-driver-fashion designer :

“Sir.. if in case you ever think of getting in to this cloth / dress business then make sure you cater only to female customers as they will be the ones who will keep buying clothes every month” haha… That’s true…!!!

Unwind : Travel to a Beach destination with an awesome photographer

Everyone needs a break from their hectic lifestyle or mundane work.

The search for the perfect family destination ended up when we found out a superb beach resort near Chennai. This resort was cut off from all other resort properties and still had all the required facilities to enjoy our stay.

The location was around 40 kms away from Chennai en route to Mahabalipuram.

The drive from Chennai to Kadal Resort took almost one hour. Once we were out of Chennai city traffic the drive was smooth. Good roads and less traffic helped us to reach our destination well on time. The resort was overlooking the Beach. 

The view itself is so scenic that you forget your busy life and your mind will relax instantly. The resort was clean and had all basic offerings. The place also had two tents and couple of hammocks as well. It was a different experience to sleep in a tent just next to the beach with the sound of the waves constantly hitting you. The resort is like a dormitory (hall is converted in to a dorm in the night) with an additional bedroom. This place can accommodate up to 12-15 people.

Kadal1

The next day we decided to visit Mahabalipuram which was just 15 kms away from our resort.

The main attraction was the Shore temple. The temple was built in the 8th century AD during the times of Palava dynasty. The marble stones still adores the beauty of the temple. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This temple even withstood the 2014 tsunami. This shows that the structure was built keeping in mind the impact of the huge water body next to it. The temple is called Shore temple because it is on the Shore of Bay of Bengal. 

Best time to visit the beach and the temple is in the evening. This is also the best time to capture some amazing photos of the temple and it’s surroundings. We were fortunate to have an awesome photographer with us who captured the architectural beauty through his camera lenses.

shore temple4

mahabalipuram

For those who want to learn or try Surfing can give it a shot at Mahabalipuram. There is a small Surfing adventure cafe say 2 kms before the Shore temple.

_MG_3096

Of course as every tourist destination have a shopping street, Mahabalipuram also has couple of streets full of shops where you can bargain and buy artifacts, dresses, accessories, etc.

_MG_3126

 

artifacts bw


Overall it was a great vacation spent at the Kadal Resort. 

While we always think of visiting international destinations, this Indian destination is definitely worth trying . 

Fun, Travel and Unwind near to nature’s Whirlpool (the Bay of Bengal).

Trip to the God’s Own Country – Kerala is always full of thrills and smiles

The moment you think about Kerala, the first thing that comes to your mind is the scenic surrounding and the serene environment.

I was treated to nothing less than this during my trip to Kerala in the month of December 2016.

December is a good time to visit Kerala as the climate is pleasant at least during the morning and evening times while afternoons are slightly hot.

Kerala has got everything to offer from hill stations to beaches to wild life and the ever flowing backwaters. In addition to this when Kerala is your home town and you are heading to your ancestral house then you are surely in for a blissful holiday.

My ancestral house is now almost 90 years old. It withholds lot of memories. I was happy to reach home during the period of traditional ‘Karthigai Deepam’ function. This is a festival where in lamps are lighted by sisters for the well-being of brothers.

I always make sure that my visit to Kerala is spiced up by doing the best adventurous activity.

The best adventurous thing you can do in Kerala is to take a bus ride in any of the famous routes which are known for Bus racing. Yes you read it right: ‘Bus Racing’.

Most parts of Kerala’s transportation is managed by private buses. There are specific routes in which you can witness or experience (if you dare) the so called crazy ‘Bus Racing’.

Bus drivers are super skilled to maneuver through the small roads of Kerala with utmost ease. I have always felt that the Bus Racing route that is near to my house is similar to F1 Monaco Circuit. The distance from my house (Wadakanchery) to Thrissur is 20 km. The complete stretch of road is single lane. 15 stops (which you can compare it with the F1 pit stop) are there between these two destinations.  Passengers also play a crucial role in helping the bus maintain the lead or overtake the competing buses.

From the moment I enter the Bus from my bus stop, i get involved in the Racing. Bus conductor enquires as to which stop I have to get down. In case I have to get down at a Stop where no other passenger is getting down then there are situations where in the conductor gives back the money and ask you to get down in the next stop. This is to make sure that the bus doesn’t have additional Stops. This helps the Bus driver to maintain the speed. Some passengers even help the bus to maintain the lead position. They inform the driver that they can jump out of the bus. So the driver slows down the bus giving an opportunity for the Passenger to jump out of the bus. This helps the driver not to completely stop the bus and to maintain the momentum.

There is one straight road with a stretch of 2 km. This is the main place to make the overtaking move. Buses attain their maximum speed in this straight line and the driver who has the best skill in braking the bus late and curving it in has a better chance of taking the lead at the end of this segment. If this segment is missed then the Driver has to try the risky overtaking maneuver in one of the many curves. In many a situation I have been in buses which have almost ended up touching the near-by paddy fields before steering back to the road. Yes I have ended up closing my eyes and praying to God: “No accidents plzzzzzzz”

But the thrill and adrenaline pumping I get out of this bus ride is beyond words. I have taken the best of the best roller coaster rides at Disney Land. But the goose bumps, blood rush and the whole experience I get out of this Bus ride makes me rate my native “Bus Racing” way above all the possible Roller Coaster or adventure rides in the world.

If someone wants to enjoy this ‘Bus Ride’ then please do take a bus drive from Thrissur to Wadakanchery or vice versa. I am sure you will enjoy the 20 minute adventurous ride for just 15 INR.

So while the serene, scenic background gives you a peaceful holiday this “Bus Racing” experience will surely make you think that there are awesome talented drivers in this part of the World.

Truly Kerala is God’s Own Country: God has to keep a watch on all these Bus Racing and make sure that every person involved in this adventure activity come out unscratched.

Keep Reading,

CV VIJAYKRISHNA