We had planned to make a trip to Old Goa. A taxi to both directions would cost 1700 Rs, in order to safe some money we considered taking 3 busses, but as it was Sunday there would be only one bus per hour, which would leave us with too much uncertainty for the rest of the busses, especially when coming back. So we decided to stay local and rent a motorbike. And we loved it!
The start was quite scary since the whole circulatory system in India is very much as in UK – you drive on the left side. Next to that, don’t expect anyone to use signals. So a little extra challenge for Stijn. This was also only the second time riding a motorbike ever. Though the first time experience dated back from the trip earlier this year to Vietnam, best place to learn. You score extra points for every honking and double point for avoiding the wondering cows, dogs and pigs on the road. Breaking before many unannounced speed bumps gives you extra bonus points from the passenger on the back seat (me). 🙂 Stijn adapted to the system very fast and by the end of our half day trip he would honk like a local.
We first took a ride to Chapora Fort – I have no idea of its historical background, but it was quite big, located on a hill and with a beautiful view to the sea bay and river. If we would have come a little earlier we might consider a little hike on the nearby hills that would take us closer to the hidde beaches, but by 11am it was too hot already. We experienced the first photoshoots with passing by Indians, who wanted to have photos with us. Why? I wouldn’t know…
The next destination was a randomly selected temple on the Goa Tourist map that we borrowed: Shri Shantadurga Temple at Dhargalim. On the way there we filled up the fuel tank. First we just stopped at one of the shops right next to the road. There immediately we were offered a one liter water bottle filled with fuel. Without thinking too much we agreed to take the offer. When we stopped at a gas station we learned that the guy with the bottled fuel has been very honest and charged the same – approx. 80 Rs for a liter of fuel as in the station.
The advantages of riding a motorbike are various – you get a better insight of the local urban and rural life; get a glimpse of nature; you are better prepared for the sudden turns and breaks and avoid the car sickness, but most of all – you get to cool down and enjoy the road breeze.
On the way to the temple, google maps took us to Goa – Mumbai “highway” – a rather bigger road in bad condition with extra trucks and cars on the road. Suddenly most of the motorbike & motorcycle riders had helmets on… We didn’t have any. When we saw a police car driving just few cars in front of us, we decided to stay as invisible as possible, since we did not know if driving without helmet is punishable. Just before arriving at the temple we saw our first Indian monkey raiding a roof of another temple-like building.
The temple itself was not too exciting. Don’t expect anything spectacular here, but a serene calmness when wondering around. Not many tourists find their way to this little place, which makes an interesting off the beaten path stop when you would be on the road between Goa and Mumbai. We are still not very accustomed to the rituals and processions going on in the temples, so we stayed rather in the background and observant. It was just a good moment to rest in the shade.
As we were getting hungry we headed back to Dunes. The road took us more then an hour, but on the way we saw few more temples, ancient trees, hundreds of goats being shepherded. Still made a few stops on the way. Somewhere near Pernem we did have a look to what a local claimed to be the largest tree of Goa.
We returned very hungry and rather exhausted, so after a good indian meal we took a nap. Just before the evening sun was going down we profited once more of the bike. After all we paid for the full day and we did completely fill up the gas tank. We drove to the nearest town Arambol. As this time the book shop was open I could not resist buying few yoga books to read on the road and Stijn found a travel novel. That should keep us entertained for a while. The beach of Arambol is less appealing than the one of Dunes, since there are more people, more holiday makers and more salesman offering you clothes, jewelry and drugs, if you fancy… Too much for us. Before it got completely dark, we took off to go back. Riding in the approaching darkness wasn’t Stijn’s favorite activity, but we got back to our hut safe.