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Om Beach and Birthdays

INDIA | Friday, 5 September 2008 | Views [2044]

02/09/2008 - 05/09/2008

Om Beach, Gokarna, Karnataka.

While it should have been easy to reach Gokarna, this is of course India. We had inadvertantly decided to travel the day before the Ganesh birthday holiday, which invariably meant lots of people travelling home for the holiday and hence, full buses. I won't bore you with all the details - you hear enough about Indian travel from me. Needless to say, we spent a lot of hours waiting in various bus stands, and a lot of time crammed into dangerously overcrowded buses. More lessons from India - enjoy the wait. In life, we are always waiting for something, and in India, you will always wait for everything.

Due to aforementioned waiting, arriving before dark was no longer on the cards - we watched as the light dissapeared, and pulled into Gokarna at about 19:00. Arriving at night is always a pain. You can't see where you are, and when checking out guesthouses, you are at their mercy. We caught a couple of auto's to Om Beach, where we were told there was only one place. They wanted 400/night, and assured us that nothing else was open, due to the off season. It was a bit strange, and we couldn't shake the feeling that we were being screwed. But, it was dark, raining slightly, and we were a long way from town. They had us by the balls really. We managed to get them to finally admit that they did have cheaper rooms - 150/night for simple rooms, shared bathroom. For now, we would take the cheap rooms, and look for something better in the light. The gardens of the Namaste Cafe were fantastic, the cafe right on the beach and the food reasonably priced and good. But no matter how nice the place was, the staff were rude, and the beds as hard as rock. Literally, the worst bed i have slept in in years. Over dinner, we resolved to search the next morning elsewhere. If nothing else at Om was open, we could check out Kudli Beach; about a 20 min walk back towards Gokarna.

We awoke the next morning to a lovely day - the sun was shining, and the beach was something from a postcard. After enjoying chai and breakfast, it was time to find another residence. The walk to Kudli was enjoyable - a clifftop walk through the scrub, then a descent to the sand and water - yet it was unsuccessful. The beach wasn't as nice as Om, and the only place open was a resort, asking 800/night. Defeated, we wandered back to Namaste. Didi and i continued walking however, past Namaste and past the bluff dividing the north and south beaches (Om beach is 2 crescent beaches, divided by a rocky bluff in the centre - hence the name). 15 minutes of walking saw us at Moksha Cafe and resort, right next door to Ganesh Cafe and resort. At Namaste, they certainly had lied to us - Both Moksha and Ganesh were open, and much cheaper. We secured a few rooms, and went back to tell the others. We had found a place for Didi's birthday, at long last. There was a good menu, we were almost the only people there, the family running the place were accommodating and friendly, the beach was nice, and had enough wood for a fire; it was perfect!

Easily as stunning as any beaches in Goa, we spent yet more time in the sand and sun, enjoying great food and better company. And Didi's birthday turned out to be pretty special. We managed baloons, presents and zee Germans had even got her a cake from Namaste! We had more arrivals, and everyone ended up joining the party. A night of great food, new friends, lots of laughs, a fire on the beach, music, dancing, happy birthday sung in 4 different languages... Simply put, a shitload of fun! Unfortunately, 'zee Germans' had to leave the following day. We witnessed an emotional farewell between Shai and Francesca, said our own goodbyes to her and Mathias, and they were off to Mangalore. It's amazing how quickly bonds can form; it was quite sad for us to see them go. And as for Shai.... He'll get over it, i'm sure.

As for us, from Gokarna it was time to head inland. Hampi was Shai's last stop before going to Bangalore and flying to Thailand, and after 2 months of beaches, i was keen to see some hills again. We said our goodbyes to our other friends with a night of drinking. Didi, Shai and i, Karen and Derek from Bangalore, Alex and Franz , the surrogate Germans, the two French/Czeck guys (who i could never remember their names), and of course Johnny the pom, along with Indian rum, Indian whisky, beer and Bavarian fruit liquor - things got messy pretty quickly! It was a fitting farewell to Om Beach and the Moksha cafe, one which would have been made so much better if we didn't have to leave at 6 in the morning. Luckily, we had paid and thanked our hosts the previous evening. We managed a few hours sleep, and with throbbing heads (ok, so maybe it was just mine) we walked the kilometer to Namaste, jumped in our taxi to Gokarna, found our trusty Tata, and prepared for 10 long hours in a public bus.....



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