Palolem to Mumbai…and everything in between…this is the end

for those who didn’t know, Palolem is actually in Goa, in the south…and Goa is a tiny state (one of the smallest I’m sure) but in true Indian fashion (the inefficient way) it took us 5 buses to make the massive 90km trip down the coast…nuts…but normal…for here anyway…

so Palolem was quite nice really, the beach was beautiful (much better than any in north Goa, but didn’t really compare to Gokarna – best so far) and we got ourselves a cheap crappy little bungalow on the beach…after the long ride down all I wanted was a swim, so I was insanely happy to be at the beach and swimming, and even met a Dutch couple in the sea (you really meet travellers everywhere) whom we later discovered had seen me rescuing a puppy a couple of weeks before at Gokarna train station – how random…and we spent 2 days hanging out together, lying in the sun, swimming and eating – tough life we have here…really, don’t know how it’s done, but someone has to do it!!

now after 5 weeks of never thinking of the lack of sanitation in crappy restaurants, knowing and ignoring the reality of the situation and being not too badly off for it…i made the huge mistake of going into the kitchen…

so at first it was pretty cool…the kitchen..is on the beach…the floor is sand! but the longer I spent in there (and i took photos…they’ll be up eventually) the more red flags were going off everywhere (i study hospitality management and after months of hygiene and workplace health and safety, not to mention actually working in hospitality and having a pretty high standard of cleanliness…it was awwwwwwwwwwful) i mean, the food was good. but jesus these guys have never heard of cross contamination.
without going too much into details ill briefly mention raw fish being prepared next to a big bowl of raw chicken, some enchiladas being prepared ON THE BENCH…then another guy walks in and slaps a raw fish onto that same bench…

anyway…it was bad. real bad. (the food was actually quite good, but how do you get those images out of your head?) and when you’re getting banana lassis that taste like onion, or fruit salad that’s just not right…you know it’s not cool.

if anyone’s been to India or even anywhere in Asia you may know that almost every menu (and they’re huge) have at least one unidentifiable item on them…and what’s more fun than trying the random dessert or main that you’ve never heard of? well, probably a few things, but really it keeps me amused at least to force others to try nasty things such as avocado shakes (Chris took that one for the team)…we all tried…i was super curious as to what an avocado shake would taste like…being a huge fan of avos myself – usually in a sandwich or with eggs though…in case you’re wondering it’s a mix between avocado (no surprise there) and…vanilla. yep. delish? not quite.

Emma got let off pretty easy with a dessert named Bebice…what is this you may ask? it was described to me as a jelly-pie… speciality of Goa…well in that case! it was ok…Emma actually preferred the ‘Hello to the Queen’ (this is a firm staple on Indian menus…not quite sure why…it’s biscuits, banana, and ice cream..and in this case, cornflakes…original)

what nasty thing did i try? well another Goan speciality…Coconut Fenny. the name alone suggests some awful thoughts i know…it’s a locally brewed spirit that smells quite like pure ethanol. not sure where the coconut comes in (there’s a cashew one too) but it appears you can ferment and brew it all here…it was nasty…

needless to say we didn’t have a great food experience in Palolem, and today (5 days later) my stomach is still not quite right…i must add that I cannot wait to be through with stomach and intestine troubles…the daily diarrhea diaries are well and truly over as of tomorrow when I leave Mumbai for Kuala Lumpur on the long trip home.

so dirty food aside, Palolem was cool, and after 2 days we took our 5 buses back and made it in time to shower, change and head straight to the Prem Joshua concert at hilltop (oh, and celebrate my birthday). the gig was awesome and out of this world. these guys are nuts (i can’t really remember where they’re all from but he’s German and one guy is Japanese) but really amazing mix of music and so much fun.

i may have mentioned our American friend Chris before..we met him (and quite a few others) in Varkala and ran into him a few weeks later in Anjuna…we all went down to Palolem together and over dinner one night we discussed the differences for single guys and girls travelling alone.

now the perks and perils of women travelling alone have been talked about for hours (at our tables anyway) the one perk being that women don’t queue – hello straight to the front of a massive arse line…love it…
but little did i know that men don’t have it so easy either…or at least, that Chris has had some rather interesting, confronting and let’s not forget down right hilarious encounters over his 3 months in India alone…
it seems that Chris is getting more sexual attention off the guys than women here…and in one awesome line I absolutely must quote…he was walking down the road in Sikkim one random day when a guy comes up and say “I WANT TO FUCK YOU”.
talk about a welcome. now i won’t write about the rest of them, needless to say he’s been put in some awkward positions (no pun intended there Chris) with guys coming onto him a few times…must be sending some signals out there mate…

the night of my birthday i was to travel to Mumbai by train, however I tried booking at was wait listed – meaning it’s full…taking a chance (and not really having much choice as it’s full for another 2 weeks apparently) I bought a “space” at the station and got onto the women’s carriage (no reservation) finding myself a hard wooden bed.
as a no reservation carriage, it kind of means you have to share the tiny space you have with anyone…so with some potato cakes for dinner i attempted to sleep, sharing my tiny, super hard bed with another person.

she apparently took a liking to me and though she spoke no english, woke me up to have a chat (lovely) it appears i was quite a hit on the ladies carriage, and everyone wanted to know more about my husband and job (you do get sick of these questions pretty quickly…it’s been 6 weeks now…) but i really had such a great time chatting away with translators and with about 3 terrible hours of attempted sleep, i was woken early by the chai walla yelling…yea now there’s chai everywhere at 3.30am, but when you want it, there’s none to be found…with about 6 invitations in Mumbai (i had to tell them i was flying that same day – not quite true) i was off and navigating my way around Victoria Terminus to find a taxi to my guesthouse.

after being told it was closed, under renovation, and full, i walked up 4 flights of stairs to my guest house (it was 6.30am) woke up the guy, and left my bag there to go for a walk in search of food.

Mumbai is so fresh and cool in the morning, a lovely change from Goa, and the sunrise over the harbour in front of the Taj hotel was stunning. it was difficult to find a place open so early for breakfast (8am? seriously? people are up, don’t they eat??) but eventually ended up having milk coffee and a disgusting omelette sandwich (seriously, how do you mess that up? it was foul) with 3 new zealanders who’d just arrived here 2 days ago.

the people on the street are so friendly, greeting you as you walk past with a cheery Good Morning, hash? what a good morning indeed if you’re starting with hash..not subtle (that’s really not a strong point here as we’ve established) but still far less suss than those muttering “pashmina shawl” so dodgy you’d think it was a drug…

you really can buy everything here, and indeed they sell it all on the street with welcoming sales pitches such as “Yes, watch?”…enticing hey…

but more seriously after only a day (and a deliriously exhausted one at that) here in Mumbai i really really like it. it’s got a vibrant feel to it, the European gothic architecture is stunning, and the wide boulevards in this area make me think i could be in Europe…or Vietnam…either way it doesn’t feel so Indian…then you see the clearly defined (by the smell) urinal street and you remember that yes, you are in fact in a country where people will shit where they eat.

i managed to run the last of my errands here, and treated myself to an amazing massage for my birthday (after torturing myself last night) due to being still sick i’ve barely eaten in the city renowned for the best food – this is a crime in my books…but after one last night in yet another crappy guest house (my single room, is the size of a single bed..it’s awesome) I’m off tomorrow morning to Kuala Lumpur (where i spend a night, then another in the plane) and i’ll finally reach Melbourne 2 days later!

i can’t believe this trip is already over, i have mixed feelings about going home as it feels like it’s just flown by…at the same time i can’t wait for that bacon & avo sandwich….red meat…mmmm laaaaaaaaamb! and being back in my beloved Melbourne, in my bed, around my friends…

India I’ll definitely be back soon!

the remainder of my photos will definitely be loaded online when I’m back, it’s hard to describe the insanely slow rate these computers and “super fast adsl internet” work at, and why it takes hours to load not many photos…i can’t understand it myself…I have managed to update photos to Gokarna…so the start of the beach photos are there…you’ll just have to wait for the rest of them.

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