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Mark's World Tour 2007-08

Day 48: A visit to Palolem

INDIA | Sunday, 23 December 2007 | Views [783]

Monday 23rd December

I was awoken by the sound of Pete knocking on the door of my hut, a surprise in itself given that Pete hadn't made it up before lunchtime (a generous estimation, I might add) the last two days due to a severe bout of jetlag. It was good to have him back in Standard Indian Time with the rest of us. Shortly after I was up, a small group of us - made up of me, Pete, Conor and Conor's friend Manos from London - were off again to Palolem to see what was going on there.

I had heard reports from various people I had met in Agonda that Palolem was a lot busier and nastier than Agonda or Patnem, so I was interested to see the place for myself and to make up my own mind. Apparently, just ten years ago, it was a quiet, idyllic place with only a few shacks along the beach. Today, it resembles a small resort on the Costa Del Sol, with restaurants offering fried breakfasts (which I won't knock) and even Sunday roasts to the largely British holidaying population. Shops are crammed together behind the beach, selling all the usual stuff, while the beach itself - although still clearly a naturally beautiful curved bay lined with palm trees - has been damaged by the increased in tourists. To me, it was the least appealing of the places that I had visited in Goa.

We spent the afternoon moving from cafe to cafe, availing of the fantastic fresh fruit juices that are sold everywhere in Goa. My daily fruit and veg intake has gone through the roof since I arrived in Goa. I usually get my five-a-day before lunch these days and feel suitably pleased with myself for it.

After a few hours of lounging, we returned to the beach for an afternoon swim. The best time on the beach is between 16.00 and 18.00, when the intense heat of the day has disappeared and the sun is beginning to set. Later in the evening, our group took a rickshaw to a local restaurant at the Hotel Mangalore, a spot where Pete and Conor had been a few years previous and were keen for us to try out. The food was fantastic, quite different to the standard curry offering, and it justified the good words that had been heaped on it from the guys. The trip to the atrocious toilet out the back was another treat, as it was accessible only by walking through the busy kitchen. Thankfully the shit from the toilet hadn't over-flowed badly enough to make it into the kitchen!

Although the food was the highlight of the evening, we were treated to a surprise carol service from a bunch of local kids who were touring the area on the back of a truck. Some were dressed as characters from the Nativity, Santa sat at the front, while loudspeakers blared out the usual Christmas songs. Just as we were about to eat, the lorry stopped outside the restaurant and we were treated to a rendition of Boney M's Mary's Boy Child. Some of the girls couldn't help but dance and sing along. For the first time, it properly dawned on me that Christmas was just a few days away. It was all very surreal but also very funny.

Tags: Beaches & sunshine


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