In February 2009 I was happy to escape the European winter for a trip to a country that is so much unlike anything else I have seen before - India!
Slow traveling with a couple of friends, from Kerala via Karnataka towards Goa. Traveling India is something you'd either love or hate, according to an old travelers saying. For me, it was like flowing in the middle of the river of live, even though I wasn't sure I would enjoy traveling in company rather than traveling on my own beforehand. On the trip, everything developed pretty much automatically in the best possible way - an experience that I haven't had that much before and which still keeps me going the right way if I focus on happiness rather than on worries. We met the right people at the right time in the right places, even though (or especially because) we did not even try to plan to much before. Let's just say, it has changed my life in a nice and chanti way. As for some of the less known places we've visited, I hope they can keep their original and friendly spirit and abstain from building up ugly hotels for mass tourism.
Om nama shiva ya :-)
- Category: India 2009
From Kumili to Gorkarna, an famous Hindu town it takes another long journey by bus. We leave Kumili in the late afternoon and reach Bangalore very early on the next day. From there, we should get a bus to Gokarna. Some guys at the bus station "take care" of us, and bring us to their office. The bus goes in 15 minutes, they'd tell us. So it's enough time for a breakfast - Chai and cookies. After half an hour or so, they'd still tell us "bus go in 15 minutes". Indian way of business we suppose and stroll around the huge bus station. Eventually, one hour and a number of times asking for the bus later our lad shows up: "bus go now, bus go now, hurry hurry!!!". They'd take some money and ask two rickshaw drivers to catch up with some bus that has obviously left the station already. We're hunting the bus in Bangalore traffic, and eventually catch up. The bus stops, and we are placed in the last seat row. Happy we are on tour again. However, last row is a pain in the ass to travel by bus. Every bumper on the street lifts us up to the roof and smashes us back on the seats again. Sort of uncomfortable... However, watching the life on and beside the motorway we are riding on is fun. Men sleeping on the cargo area of nicely painted and noisy trucks. Out of Bangalore there are small wooden houses and crop fields, giant rocks and coconut plantations. Herds of cows and woman in colorful clothes beside the road. With all windows open in the bus, there is enough fresh air and enough road dust. At sunrise, our bus breaks down nearby a small village. The driver tries to fix the problem himself, and our hope to reach Gokarna tonight starts to fade. We ask the locals at a street shop for a taxi, but even though it was probably a really good business opportunity, they cannot get us a cab. However, one hour later the engine of the bus starts again, and we are back on track. Reach a town with no name (hmm, I forgot) at 10PM, and still some 50 miles to go to Gokarna. It's full moon, Jean's birthday. None of us is in the mood to hang out in this town, and so we take a taxi to Gokarna.
The winding road leads over to mountains. From the taxi, we have a very good view on the Indian traffic at night. Trucks with no light come towards us. On a dusty resting place in the middle of nowhere, we have some late diner We reach Gokarna after midnight, finding a town completely asleep. Our driver manages to get a hotel room for us. We are happy we survived :-)
Early bird next morning, swim on the Gokarna beach with the Hindus at sunrise, talk to a biker gang and have Chai and smokes with a baba (a holy Hindu man). When my friends awake, we leave town for some remote beach with a few barely developed bungalow resorts. Hippies and Rastafarians hang out here, after sunset there are Djembee and Digderidoo sessions on he campfire on the beach. People dancing, and the tiny stones the waves are playing with glitter in the light of the full moon when they roll back into the sea. Paradise! Tai Chi in the morning, swimming to distant beaches after breakfast. Chill out at noon in the hammocks underneath the coconut trees. We stay about a week and enjoy ourselves, the good company and life itself.
One afternoon, my mates go for a walk to a neighboring beach to watch dolphins there at sunset. I decide to swim there instead of walking. Its a nice evening there, and outside the bay we can see the dolphins playing. Yet it is to late to swim back and foolish me forgot to ask my lads to carry my sandals. After diner we walk back the hiking trail in complete darkness, 5 guys with candle lamps and 4 pairs of sandals. First it is funny, yet after a while only two or three of the lamps are functional and the horny skin of my feets sole is a past memory. Every stone and thorn on the path reminds me to my stupidity. The hike would taken less then 30 minutes on daylight, yet we utterly loose our direction in the hills. Reaching our beach again, I'm not in the mood to join tonight's Goa party no more...