Sleeper bus to Hampi, India

 

Unfortunately my friends bus was already full & I had to take a separate one. I was terrified the bus would be full of leering Indian men & I really didn’t feel comfortable taking the trip alone. I told myself that I would check the bus first & if I didn’t feel safe I would take a tuktuk back to the hostel. I have learnt how invaluable & precious my safety is & now I also have to nurture my peace of mind.

My bus pulled up ahead of schedule before 9.30pm & I was the only passenger for this bus line (there were about 12 other backpackers at the stop but naturally none were on my bus – where is my luck of the Irish!?). I was hustled on to the bus while it was still moving & quickly ushered into the wrong numbered bunk. I glimpsed at a few females & westerners so I felt a little reassured. For the record, I have never been racist or felt unsafe travelling but I have clearly been affected by my experience a few nights ago & as a result I now have a heightened sense of insecurity & fear with Indian men. I do not apologise in any way for this reflex response. I know that obviously not all Indian men behave like this or will endanger me, but now they illicit these feelings & I stand by my learnt behaviour to be cautious of them.

The trip to Hampi was super bumpy. I tried to sleep but keep being jostled around on my bunk. I was smug that I had some experience in a rocky cabin at sea & I tried to liken it to a rough night on the mediterranean. The smooth parts felt oddly similar to my old bunk at starboard forward.

My tried & tested method of only eating simple western food prior to a long bus journey & limit liquid intake ensured I didn’t have to endure any toilet breaks. I don’t really recommend the reduced water intake for hydration reasons but it makes for a smoother journey for me without having to leave the bus, experience dreadful toilets, or wee on the street etc with the added ambition hope of sleeping right through the trip – I wish!

I arrived in Hampi at 5am & there was a throng of tuktuk drivers awaiting our arrival. I was swamped with them offering their services aggressively & relentlessly. How many times do I have to say ‘no thank you’. I really try to be polite & clear but the incessant repetition brings out an aggressive side in me. I found a couple going to the same hostel as me & we paid 100R for the bumpiest tuktuk ride of our lives! We had to hold on for dear life as we accelerated over bumps & were thrown in the air & all over!

When we arrived at the Goan Corner hostel there was no one around so we curled up on the sofas & tried to get some more sleep before check in. I anxiously over analysed every sound & tried to convince myself that the monkeys would keep their distance….

 

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Time to forcibly remove myself from Goa, India??

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Goa has a surreal power over people. It sucks you in & leaves you powerless to leave her tight, relentless grip. I felt this my first day in Goa & realised it may be a difficult place to leave. That & the heat. I find everything difficult in the heat. So when two other people from Summer hostel made plans to leave I immediately invited myself along & used them as my crutch to escape the clutches of Goa*.

For some strange reason there are no atm’s in the busy beach area in Palolem. I went to the nearest one about 2Km from the beach but that was out of service. As were the next two I struggled in the midday sun to reach. I needed to pay for my hostel so I seemed to just be walking until I found a working atm. The fourth one was working & had A/C which was a pure delight! If you go to Palolem take enough cash to save yourself this heatstroke/time consuming experience.

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Can you see the two men chopping down the coconuts?

Other people in the hostel said Goan Corner was the place to stay in Hampi. We looked online but weren’t able to book everything so one of the guys rang them. They didn’t take any details from him & told him don’t worry, just turn up. He looked slightly bemused when he came off the phone unsure whether he had booked or not. This is something we have grown accustomed to in India! The laid back lack of urgency in all exchanges takes a while to get used to!

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A stray street dog seeking shade under the sun lounger. They dig into the sand to create a cool patch to lie in, so clever.

Sad but revived to be leaving Goa I spent my last day reading by the beach, wandering around, avoiding shops beckoning me inside & eating great food! There are great juice bars in our area & in the 40 degree heat the juices are so refreshing. I’m not sure if I’ll come back to Goa. I have really enjoyed it & it is very beautiful but my encounter a few nights ago has certainly soured my memory of the area.

*Not that I don’t love Goa – I want to explore more of India.

Wandering around Palolem, Goa, India

I’ve been in Palolem for about a week now & I initially scheduled just a couple of days here. It has been a struggle to leave & many of my friends here have voiced this issue. One of my friends had a month long trip around India planned but she has spent the entire month intoxicated by Goa, unable to leave. We laugh at her meek efforts of travelling India, although I am aware this is a very realistic occurrence when you get sucked into the Goan way of life. There are many expats here who live here for half the year then go home or elsewhere when the temperatures shoot up & rainy season comes along. It’s a lifestyle I envy & aspire to!

I spent several afternoons idling my time away at Bhakti Kutir, a health & nature resort in Palolem. I frequented the cafe/restaurant in the cutest surroundings that wash over you like a satisfying sigh. I relish the relaxed mood this cafe infringes upon me. It is a blissful utopia. If you visit you will totally agree with me. As you enter in the evening tea lights light the path to the restaurant & the ambiance is heavenly!

 

I herd them moove past my hostel – sorry, my misteak. These puns are offal! Pure manure!

Be prepared to share your space with holy cows in India. They roam around freely & are respected on the streets & roads. It’s funny how you can adjust to things so quickly. Cows are number one. Fact. Move on.

What’s his beef?

 

 

Spicy poppadoms with a soda lemon juice

The food has been amazing here! I absolutely love Indian food & I haven’t been disappointed! It has been incredibly reasonably priced & is delicious. A bit heavy, so I have been alternating meals for smoothies & juices to maintain a balance. I haven’t ate as much Indian food as I expected due to skipping meals due to the combination of the massive portions & the heat has kept my appetite at bay.

Potato korma with a nan bread

 

 

Litter is a big problem here in India. There is rubbish everywhere. I love this sign warning people, it says: Notice – If anybody found dumping garbage here, fine up to 5000 and a free bamboo massage.


Massage! Great!

 

What’s a little nail polish between friends?

I can be a slightly ridiculous packer – as we all know. I have, of course, taken 3 nail polish & nail polish remover with me. I’m not vain, I just feel really grubby with plain nails. I think this stemmed from working in massage where I spend much of my time looking at my hands & I would despise my nails if they weren’t clean, tidy & polished. I have a silver for my toes & white & duck egg blue for my fingers. Nothing fancy, just clean & simple. Yes, my new companions have taken water filter tablets & uv sterilisers & I have nail polish… But hey, it makes me happy!

The cleaners at Summer hostel are lovely & chatty. They laugh with me everyday as I keep extending my stay & even join in my Skype calls to my friends & family. One day I was getting ready to go out when one of the ladies ran up to me saying “I’m sorry, my god told me in my dream that I had to tell you what I did!”

I was so confused as to what was upsetting this sweet & usually smiley lady. She held out her hand to me & I look it assuring her that everything is ok. Then she turned her nails to me to show me we had the same nail polish on. The exact same nail polish!

After I polished my nails the day before I left the nail polish on my bed & the cleaner seen it & clearly quite fancied it! I told her it was fine & laughed with her. Then the other cleaner came in – with the same nail polish on her fingers! I laughed louder at these two ladies sneaking my nail polish on when I was out. I took a picture of our identical manicures & whilst I was doing so I glanced to the floor & seen that they had done their toes too! Hilarious! We all laughed & admired the colour. I gave them my white polish & I couldn’t find the blue one again… I presume they are stilling painting their nails with it.

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We all have great taste in nail polish!

Attacked in Goa, India

This evening I went to a Silent disco with my friends at the beach. We had a great time & the majority of the crowd wanted to party afterwards so we walked together to another bar. I had 3 drinks throughout the evening & I don’t feel like drinking a lot so when they wanted to continue the party at another bar I did my classic ‘Irish goodbye’. This is when you just slip away so no one notices you & no one can persuade you to stay. When I do this I tell one person that I’m leaving just so the group doesn’t assume I’m missing.
It was around 4am which wasn’t ideal although my hostel was a 5 minute walk away so I felt it would be fine to walk alone. There was another couple in the distance & the odd bike so I felt like I wasn’t completely vulnerable.
Within seconds of getting to the road a scooter appeared by my side & a completely expressionless man was staring into my face & grabbing at my body. I screamed & beat his hands off me shouting at him. He took off & I was shocked asking myself what the fuck just happened. The couple passed me without so much as a glance of empathy or concern. I turned to go back to the bar but I was unsure of which path I had came from so I felt the road was my safest option & continued to my hostel.
I presumed I had scared the motorcyclist away but he had circled & came back for me. It was the exact same ordeal accept I hit him harder & shouted louder. I could see my friend walking towards me in the distance from my hostel. I was initially embarrassed to be in this situation then I called to my friend for help. He (frustratingly to me) continued at his same slow pace towards me. The guy on the scooter left again & I power walked to my friend shaking asking him if he seen what happened. He said yes – which made me wonder why he didn’t run to help me…. Although I can’t complain because I was lucky he even happened to be there. He said he was looking for the others & I pointed him towards where I came from. He teetered off & I thought ‘wow, he doesn’t give a shit’. Presuming my ordeal was over I continued back to the hostel.
The road seemed empty & I picked up speed to get back to my hostel quickly. A motorbike approached again from the distance. I froze in case it was my attacker. He turned & sped up behind me so I fled to the nearest building with lights on. It was a guesthouse & the door was locked. I ran back to the street & he made to get off his bike to come for me & I ran from him. He drove after me trying to corner me & force me by some empty buildings. I fell to the ground trying to run away & my flip flops snapped. He stopped his bike in front of me to catch me on foot. I knew I had a friend in the distance & I screamed & called to him knowing I was in danger. Why my ‘friend’ didn’t come when he heard the commotion & seen what was happening to me, I will never know. It was obvious I was in danger by this predator. I ran to my friend & the man on the scooter drove away. I begged my friend to walk me back to the hostel, defeated that I can’t look after myself. He agreed & I was so grateful, despite his overall lack of support throughout my scary what-could-have-been ordeal.
I am a kind, good person. I put faith in the good of people & never contemplated I would be in this situation – or worse. Right now I am ready to leave India. I will sleep on it & see how I feel tomorrow.
I have so much anger towards this man. He was obviously patrolling the area for a lone vulnerable female – who happened to be me on this occasion. I fear for his next prey who may not be as lucky as me & escape with a few scuffs. I am fucking infuriated.
I don’t even think it is relevant, however, I was not wearing anything provocative (a sports bra under my top which makes my breasts look smaller) & I had 3 drinks over the course of 6 hours. I was not drunk or slutty. Not that these minor details justify any sort of intolerable abuse & hence my hesitation to include them.
I should not trust my judgement on an area I feel safe in. I know horrible people exist all over. I hate this person for destroying my sunny carefree disposition. I dread to imagine what may have been around the corner for me.

Ayurvedic Massage in Goa, India

I am contemplating learning about Ayurvedic medicine & massage. Logically I know I should try the treatment before I sign up straight away to do a course. I priced a few places but it seemed to be mainly male masseuses. I never had an issue with male therapists before & throughout university I was mostly paired with males so felt no real difference with gender. An excellent therapist is an excellent therapist. My last two treatments by males, however, have been sub standard. In Malaysia I had a massage from a male who I’m sure was not trained (& it didn’t help that we had a language barrier & couldn’t communicate) & in England I had a Crania Sacral treatment from a male therapist & I could sense he was incredibly awkward & he made me feel so uncomfortable I didn’t enjoy any of the treatment & wanted to stop him during it. Keen for an easier life I am making the executive decision to stick to female therapists. As an open person, this is a shame, but I don’t want to sacrifice my comfort, time or money to prove I’m an open person.

The place I selected seemed to be busy & reputable with good reports from two of my friends. They had female therapists, a relaxing environment & it’s close to my hostel. We booked for later that day & chilled out on the beach before our treatments that evening. It was another beautiful day in Goa where we went to the beach, had a swim & didn’t do much else. This is the life!

When we arrived for out massage we were hustled to out treatment rooms. It was very dark & grubby with bugs crawling on the ground…. The therapist spoke little english & indicated for me to take my clothes off while watching me intently at close range. I felt very uncomfortable being rushed & oogled. Since language wasn’t an option for communication I made a few faces to convey me questioning why she was standing so close but this was also lost in translation. I just got on with it. She put paper sumo pants on me & ushered me to lie on the plastic treatment table which had no covers. I blocked my mind to all the hygiene issues.

The therapist started the massage using a lot of oil. It seemed that the strokes were mainly long, sweeping, full body moves. I requested several times for more pressure but gave up when she failed to respond. I don’t know whether this was a communication issue or she had applied too much oil to generate pressure. At the start of the treatment the therapist had to leave to get a mosquito coil & throughout the treatment I could feel new points where the mosquitos were biting me.

Halfway through the therapist stopped & indicated for me to turn on to my back to which I laughed. She had used so much oil I would surely fall from the plastic table to the dirty concrete floor & break my skull. I worried about what they would do with my body & if police would come to take pictures of my greasy naked contorted body at the scene*…. The therapist assisted my vulnerable bare body into position. I grimaced as she did the fast massage, surely she would snag my nipple piercing. This was not relaxing. Or deep & therapeutic. She used so much oil I felt saturated & dirty. I was glad when the treatment was over & I had to be helped off the treatment table.

She helped me wipe off the excess oil with a dirty rag then proceeded to use this to wipe off the treatment table ready for the next person. Gross. I quickly put my clothes over my oily body & scratched my nine new inflamed mosquito bites on my arms, torso & legs as I handed over 1000 Rupees/ £10.

I am certainly less tempted to study Ayurvedic massage after this. It wasn’t the worst massage but I did not enjoy it. Of course I won’t base my opinion on one massage, but it wasn’t a great introduction.

*I don’t have any pictures of my ordeal, luckily, but you can use your imagination if you like!

Goa

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I love how the palm trees lean to the sea as though they want to dive in for a swim too

I feel so happy! Goa is stunning!!! My hostel is lovely & the people staying at the hostel are really friendly. They are all solo backpackers which is so refreshing & the majority are in their late 20s which is also a nice change. It feels so comfortable to be surrounded by like minded people with the desire to travel but no long term career plans. We tell each other similar lines of ‘I’m not sure where I’m going next’, ‘I don’t know how long I’ll travel for’ ‘I don’t know what I’ll do next’. To say those lines & be met with understanding is so precious. To not feel judgement, jealousy or confusion is unusual & reassuring. I didn’t realise how much negativity I associated with people’s perception of my lifestyle until I felt this alliance with these fellow solo travellers. They are a breath of fresh air.

We aren’t travellers with no ambitions, we have the desire & capabilities to be successful yet rate experience & travel as more valuable.

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Samosa breakfast at the hostel

I had the nicest day meeting everyone in my hostel over a laid back group breakfast of samosas, yum! Then a few of us went to a beautiful hidden away cafe for Chai. Afterwards we laid on the beach & went for a swim in the deliciously warm sea. In the evening we went home & got ready for the first Indian meal of my trip! I was so content after an amazing first day & having incredible Indian food in India with great company. My first day flew in as a blur of super interesting open people from varying backgrounds, stunning surroundings & food that lived up to my particularly high expectations.

Night everyone x