With christmas around the corner, i thought i might as well right a post about the best place in India to be for Christmas,,,,yes,,,it is obviously,,Goa...Now everyone will talk lengths about how nice the place is, and the awesome beaches, and the natural beauty ( and of other types too... :D)..The ultra-bindaas atmosphere, adventure sports and cheap daaru make it one of the best places in India for a holiday. Christmas time makes it better, cos Goa celebrates Christmas on quite a large scale. And if not anything else, the place acts as an escape from the chills of North Indian Winters...
As you would've made out,,even i love the place.. But everyone knows how awesome a place for a Vacation Goa is and all. So i wont go there. This post about the adventures we had, when i went to Goa as a kid..Here's the story...
Dateline--> December 95 (Christmas/New Year time)
We made a family trip(Mom, sis and me) to Goa from Delhi. We had relatives there, so we planned to spend the week or so at their place. We were very excited, cos we ended up in Goa for christmas, and we would get to see some full scale christmas celebrations. Not the way they were in Delhi where in some place there would be a lone santa standing in the middle of some store. This time, there would be proper celebrations!!
The vacation was going like any other goa trip that you would expect, (keep in mind, we were kids, so no big adventure sports or daru). But still,,being Goa,, it was loads of fun. Christmas in Goa is an event i still remember! The vacation was coming to an end. We were to leave from Goa on 2nd January, by the train which left at around 6 in the evening. At this point, my mom got a great idea. She had a old friend of hers in Karwar. Karwar is place in Karnataka near the Karnataka-Goa border. After some quick verification, we found out that the place is about 3-4 hrs by bus. So the plan was made, and we decided that we'll all go visit this old friend. It would be easy, take abus from Goa at 6, reach karwar by 9 or 10, spend 2-3 hrs, and take the bus back, to reach back to the Goa station easily by 4-4:30 leaving an hr in hand as buffer. It was the perfect plan for optimum utilisation of time!! If only the world was so perfect......
Come Jan 2nd, we were all packed and ready before time, and caught the 6:30AM bus. Off we went across the western ghats, enjoying the great view along the way. The bus was nice, the journey was good, wether was pleasant, in short, everything was perfect. We reached Karwar a bit late, around 10:30. No problem, we would spend a bit less time there,,we thought. But to our surprise, my mom's friend, was waiting at the bus stand! After we got off, she found out what our plan for the day was, and when we were to return. When she got to know of our train from 'Londa'(place in goa, where our train was departing from), she got all worried, and said we might not make it back to the train in time!!!!
A rough knowledge of Goan geography is required here to understand the scenario here. Goa lies between the western ghats and the sea, and has a bunch of islands formed by many rivers flowing there, like Zuari and Mandovi. Because of the geography, the reach of railways is very limited, and even the capital(Panjim) has no railway station. Even the capital, Panjim, the capital, is an island. The place where we started, Panjim(West Goa), was not anywhere near where we had to board the train. Londa(Railway station) is at the East end of Goa. Refer to the Map.
Coming back, when we set out, we thought, that the station must be close to panaji somewhere, so we calculated the same amount of time to return. Little did we know that they'll be at different ends of the state!! And whats more, if u noticed in the map, unlike the Panjim-Karwar stretch, which is a National Highway, there is no direct road from Karwar to Londa!! This valuable knowledge,,like in most cases with me, we learnt the hard way!!
Puzzled at the whole scenario, we asked a few people around to confirm, all of them looked at us like mad ppl when we said we needed to be at Londa by the evening!! Then we asked around for the next bus to Londa,,THERE WAS NONE!!! We didnt even leave the Bus stand, we bade goodbye to mom's friend and hurriedly got on to the next bus which was going in the general direction of Londa.
After the bus ride in the rickety bus, we got off at this small town.It was already 3PM. This place didn't seem to have a decent bus stand, atleast, there werent more than 2-3 buses standing there, none of them in a hurry to move..With 3 hrs left for the train, we weren't gonna sit around waiting anywhere..We set out to look for other means of transport.
Some distance away, we came across someone shouting out that they're going to Londa. Slightly relieved, we went along with him. He took us some distnace, and pointed out to a bus. As we were getting in, he said, that that wasnt it,,it was the vehicle beside. But at first sight we saw none! When we went around the bus, we realised this royal means of transport was an old Tempo!!! The kinds they used to show in movies, IN THE 70's!!!
So we got in, only to see that the tempo was almost full, and only the front seat was empty. There was a lot of stinking fish in the last seat, and a few people sitting in the middle one. " Beggars can't be choosers", as the saying goes, and so we decided to go anyways! Soon after, i was sitting on an elevated block between the driver and the front seat. Soon after, i realised, that it was just above the radiator, with only a one of something layer seperating me from it!!!
We were moving at a decent rate, so for a while i was to adjust with my ass burning..The journey home was at stake. At a time like this, we passed through the "Dandeli wildlife sancutary". I dont really understand how, but we were getting all enthu seeing monkeys and deer on the sides of the road!!! We started looking and pointing out other animals we saw...We forgot all about the train and fact that we were in a rickety old Tempo, with stinking fish in the back!!
The tempo reached its destination, everyone got off. We got off too, only to realise that we still weren't at the station! And it was already 4:30. We found out soon enough that the station was 4-5 Km away, on top of the next hill. With no auto's around, this was another problem. We somehow managed to find a jeep guy willing to go in that direction and got on.
Finally, at around 5:15, we reached!!! We made it in time!! We even had time to go have something to eat at the station. It was only now that we realised we hadn't eaten all day!! We got on the train and returned to Delhi remembering all the madness,,all on a single day!
All in all,,one of the wildest and most unplanned trips ever! Maybe ignorance IS bliss, and because we were kids we enjoyed it.. Had we been a bunch of adults, being stuck in that situation, i'm sure there would be tempers flaring all around, not helping the situation at all!!