Category Archives: India
Maybe I am about to reveal a little secret now. Yab Yum on the beautiful northern Goa beach Mandrem is supposed to host quite a lot of Indian and foreign celebrities of the more spiritual kind. We learned this first when trying to find the place. No signs what so ever and no sight of a hotel where it was supposed to be. Finally we managed and learnt from the owner that this is how it should be to keep unwanted people away. People who knows about us finds us anyway was his statement.
Our little bungalow was sweet with lounge area outside and breakfast served on our own veranda every morning. But why were there fences in the way to let us gaze over the ocean? Aha…to keep all the wanted people safe and hidden…Yes, we paid a bit more than we usually do for those 4 last nights but so we usually add a little splurging at the end so not very outrageous at all. This was a paradise for chic bohemians and in fact the conversations people had over the mobile were quite often something like “OK, send me the script and I´ll read it through”. There we were, completely protected and taken care of, surrounded by funny cottages and disco balls dangling among palms. The coctails were great and close by our place we had the famous french restaurant La Plage. A true little gem where we went loose one nights and had a three course meal and a bottle of wine while thinking on how privileged we are. Although the size of my chocolate dessert gave me a sleepless night the evening was for sure very memorable. And the price no more than a beer and a pizza would cost me here in Sweden.
One late afternoon we left our little Yab Yum gem and its quiet surroundings to head a bit more north, to Arambol, to discover yet another ambiance. Arambol has a mix of spiritual backpackers looking to yoga and explore themself in different kind of ways, as well as Indian tourists looking to discover them 😉 The beach was not particular beautiful but very interesting for people and cow watching and for ordering the most ugly and bad tasting coctail on our entire trip.
This was it from India for the moment. I made a trip to India a few years ago which I still haven´t blogged about. I think I have to stop travelling for a while to actually catch up with the past 😉 But that travel break will have to wait a little because mine and Louise´s plane to Los Angeles departs tomorrow. A 30 day long Rd Trip are waiting. As I don´t like computers on my vacation I take a blog break and wish all of you out there a great summer or what ever season you have right now.
After spending five nights in lovely Agonda it was time to move north and spend our last four nights in yet a nice, quiet beach paradise – Mandrem. Our “move” took place on a Wednesday which is the day when Anjuna beach holds its weekly “hippie market”. And that we did not want to miss. After checking in to our chic bungalow in Yab Yum resort we hopped in to the taxi again and drove back the 30 minutes to Anjuna. We arrived just about an hour before closing time. But it was enough to get a glimpse of this huge market that sells everything from the typical Indian things to handicrafts made by foreigners living in the area.
Besides being famous as the old hippie mecca (not so much any more), Anjuna was also the birth place of Goa Trance and huge parties used to be held on the beaches. Nowadays music has to stop by 22:00 (this goes for whole of Goa which is why the headphone parties in Palolem, see my previous post). I am not much of a trance fan myself but it was interesting to listen to some as we were having dinner in a lovely roof top beach bar. Seated on the floor, enjoying a meal, a drink and some trance in the back ground we got to feel a completely different ambiance than southern Goa. After dinner (around 20:00) we even danced a bit as the DJ continued playing. It felt like in the middle of the night. At aroud 21:00 we were happy to jump in to a taxi and get back to Yab Yum. In Goa all taxis are private. Most of the drivers has huge loud speaker installations in the back of the car as it is not only the tourist that enjoys the Goa beats 🙂 The trance followed us all the way back to the hotel, where another world opened up which I will tell more about in the next and last post from this amazing India trip.
If you understand Swedish you can listen to my Anjuna report in below Youtube clip, with Goa trance beating in the background 😉
Palolem! We are very glad we did not stay at this exploited beach but we are more than happy we paid a visit this very special Saturday night! Saturday nights in Palolem means headphone party night! The famous Silent Noise of Palolem. I cannot describe with words how great this was. It was way above my expectations! Below you will find a serie of photos from this fantastic experience! Don’t forget to watch the video at the bottom to get “the feeling” 😉
We arrived to Palolem late afternoon, just an hour before sun set. Had a stroll and did some people watching followed by candle light dinner at the beach. A whole grilled fish and lots of four legged furry friends hanging out with us got us just in to the right mood. After this great meal and some local Honey Bee brandy to warm us up for the night, we started to walk along the beach towards THE place.
We had no expectations on how this would work but we pretty soon found out. The club was held outside. We were basically the first guests 🙂 After paying the entrance we were provided headphones and instructed how to use them. This night three different international DJ´s were playing. Depending on preference one could switch “channel” on the headphone to get ones favourite sound right into your ears at your own volume. House fantastics as we are, we loved all the DJ´s. The funny part was that you could watch which DJ your fellow partygoers were listening to by looking at the colors.
After getting used to the headphones, and filming & photographing ourselves for this peculiar night, we hit the stage. More and more people arrived until the place was filled. The atmosphere was wonderful. Everyone smiling and dancing on their spot. When removing the headset all you could hear was just some distant low volume music from the bar and the sound of a big bunch of happy people. This concept clearly makes people loving and open minded 😀
There was also a big VJ screen in place and Dancing Queen as I am I had to take the challenge to dance behind it. First I was accompanied by another guy but soon I had the screen for my self and my inner diva could come out 😉 This evening was one of my best party evenings ever. Unfortunately only held Saturdays during high season. To read more about why this concept, check out the Silent Noise webpage.
Kind of funny noises appears when a bunch of people are dancing in the silence 😉
After two cold but awesome weeks in Rajasthan we had landed in paradise – Agonda beach, Goa! Look no further!
I did a lot of research on Goa before our trip since I had understood that each beach has its own ambiance. The ambiance we were looking for was a quiet, beautiful and clean beach, inviting for long peaceful beach walks, great dining by the beach at night and a relaxing atmosphere. We found all we searched for in Agonda.
We spoke to a guy that had been to almost every single beach in Goa who said this was the best! Before the popular beach Palolem, close by, used to be like this to. But that had changed. I wonder how long Agonda will stay as it is. It is true gem.
Louise & me had four beautiful days here, before we moved on to North Goa. One afternoon and night we went to Palolem for some action. (I will blog about that separate ;-)) However, most of our time was spent simply like this….
And another day with same rythm….I want to go back!
Appendix 😉 Thank´s Louise for not giving up on getting that perfect “jump” shot.
The wonderful two weeks Rajasthan adventure had almost come to an end. Now it was just one stop left before heading back to New Delhi from where we would catch a flight down to Goa for 1 1/2 weeks well deserved warmth and relaxation.
After a rushed ride from Jaipur we finally reached Taj Mahal not too long before closing time. Even though I personally don´t have Taj Mahal as my highlight memory from those two weeks, it is a truly magic moment when you catch the first glimps of this mausoleum that took 16 years to build (ready 1648) and that frankly has no other purpose that being the grave of an old emperor and his wife.
My fingers almost froze as I tried to get a few good shots of the Taj in haze and surrounded by herds of tourist. As we circled the buried couple inside the Taj the guards shouted “move on, move on fast”. I felt like we were a crowd of livestock. But I have been there and yes, it is a beautiful sight!
Before heading back to New Delhi we stopped by a silk shop for some final shawls shopping and Sari trial time. We also stopped by yet another nice park with great architecture. Agra is supposed to have so much more to offer than Taj Mahal. But the truth is, we had seen so much and at this stage we only had one thing in our minds – the next destination – Goa, sun, sea and warmth!!! Once again thanks to Diana Tours and Travel for a very personalized and memorable tour through Rajasthan. Read more about Diana Tours and Travel in my Rajasthan summary post.
On above and below picture you see the Nahargarh fort – one of the many star attractions in the “pink city” Jaipur. We arrived here in the afternoon and only stayed one night so we had to rush through this magnificent fort, then quickly have time to take picture of some other attraction before the sun was about to set. The Nahargarh fort was one of the most interesting forts on our trip with lots of secret passages and interesting alleys.
After the quick but nice visit to the fort we stopped by the lake Sagar to get a glimpse of the Jal Mahal water palace.
No visit to Jaipur is complete without seeing the Hawa Mahal whose name means “Palace of Winds”. Here the woman of the palace harem could look out at the action on the street through the almost 100 small windows, without being seen.
After this the sun started to descend but before it got complete dark we had time for a short stroll along the Jaipur streets, watching people and monkeys and trying to avoid getting hit by vehicles of all kinds.
The next morning it was time to leave Rajasthan and head to Agra in Uttar Pradesh for a day. This is where you find the famous Taj Mahal.
We had decided to see the Taj Mahal the same day but as allways the ride was longer and more time consuming than planned. Therefore we where not happy at all when we had to visit yet another palace along the way to Agra. Below pictures are taken in this place which I don´t even remember the name of since I was just able to think about whether we where going to reach Taj Mahal before sun set or not. Looking at the pictures I actually find them quite interetsting now afterwards. It was a more pink place than Jaipur. And there where lots of the cute little squirrels all over. Animals allways cheers me up 😉
The next stop after wonderful Udaipur was the small holy town Pushkar. Pushkar has a tiny lake in the middle of the town where so called bathing ghats leads in to the water. Locals are not very happy about tourists on the ghats and their hostile approach made us decide to stay away. I have been to Varanasi a few years ago which was a wonderful and very welcoming experience so I could live without seeing the cleaning rituals close up this time. What Pushkar is most famous for though is actually the annual Pushkar camel fair that is visited by thousands of humans and camels every year.
Pushkar to me was sandy, cold and full of con artists. Still it was something about this place that made me like it on the second day. Maybe the fact that there was nothing special to see more than cute pigs, more monkeys, camels and dogs. And lots of touristic shopping which can be nice sometimes. I never understood what this town had about pizzas. But it was famous for tasty wood fire pizzas. The days were pretty warm but the nights were freezing and after two ice cold nights a caught a terrible cold that lasted for the rest of my holiday 😦
New Years Eve 2012 was celebrated in a alcohol free restaurant (common in holy Indian cities). Lots of men where going wild to Bollywood disco as some more where watching the “wild once” throwing of their shirts and entertaining the rest. A few confused tourists, including us, were wondering if we had ended up in a male gay disco since no women where to be seen. But physical affection between male friends in India is common.
When me and Louise started dancing we too were drawn in to this chaotic experince. It was a peculiar night, yet fun. But we were very happy when our sweet guide picked us up shortly after midnight since there was something creepy about the small Pushkar streets at night.
Udaipur is many´s favourite spot in Rajasthan. It is known as the romantic white lake city. We spent three nights there just relaxing. The weather was great as allways and we spent the days just walking around. We watched the main attractions, the beautiful hotel Lake Palace situated in the middle of one of the lakes and the huge palace situated opposite on the mainland. We also had time to get lost in small alleys, taking the rope way to a look out point (the long queue made us miss the sunset but it was nice anyhow…) We ate well, slept well and just enjoyed not being in the car for a change. One day we went to a great arts & craft festival held yearly, called Shilpgram. More about that below.
The James Bond movie Octopussy was shot in Udaipur, something which was notable here and there. Another thing that was very present, especially in Udaipur, was the restaurants attempts to let customers know that their food was hygienic 😉 And they also had “snakes” on the menu. But maybe not snakes as we know them…
Shilpgram is a festival organized by the government once a year where local vendors from the western part of India are gathering for more than a week to educate about their lifestyle and sell their handicraft. The area is huge and after around 2-3 hours we had not even seen half of it. While me and Louise enjoyed ourself (mainly by buying scarfs for normal Indian prices and still regretting we didn´t by even more…), so did our guide and driver. They decided to try an attraction which looked very outdated. As they where seated to enjoy the ride a technical problem was discovered and two boys started to climb the carousel to fix. This however didn´t seem to bother our dear Indian friends.
Since Shilpgram is a very local event not that many foreigners find their way there. So naturally me and Louise also became an attraction. We were approached many times to have our photos taken or to chat, evidence below. A lovely day which ended with a yet another lovely lake view, sunset over lake Pichola.
And then the road trip continued with great curries along the road sides for about 2 USD a meal. Next stop the little holy town Pushkar…
The reason for cutting one day from Jodhpur was to let us experience mountainous and green Ranakpur, famous for some incredible Jain temples. The Langur monkeys with their long long tails are seen all over Rajasthan but never as many as in Ranakpur. I just loved them! But they are a bit aggressive and best viewed from inside the car with windows up.
Most hotels we stayed in during our Rajasthan adventure were very nice. Especially the outside usually looked kind of royal. The one in Ranakpur however stood out. It had a pool and lovely green sourroundings and the sheets were clean and blankets warm. Yes, Rajasthan nights are really cold. A few times I even had to wear hat and hand gloves in bed. Fleece jumper was standard. And no matter how nice the hotels were, the sheets were often broken and full of stains (even though relatively clean). But in Ranakpur Hill Resort everything was great 🙂
The main attraction in Ranakpur is some marvelous marble Jaintemples. The details on those temples are amazing. Not seldom you can spot Kama Sutra, Indian love art, on them.
The Langur monkey is a beautiful, rather grumpy, monkey with an enormous tail. They are often spotted along the roads in some parts of Rajastan. For professional National Geographic pictures check out this page.
Ranakpur is situated in the Aravali hills. On our second day, before setting of to our next destination, we took a walk around the area. We looked at picturesque lakes, strolled through simple farm villages and spotted hords of goats. It was a great walk.
I had noticed that many poor kids asked for “cream & cookies” instead of money. I soon understood that “cream” meant schampoo. Since schampoo in the cities are sold in small “one portion” packages I had brought along some on this walk along with some cookies. The villages kids were unbelivable happy for those gifts. It is amazing how small things for me can mean so much to others. After this I allways carried along cookies and schampoo for moments like this. Below an older girl is distributing my gifts to the younger kids.
The whole drive from Ranakpur to Udaipur was very beautiful. On the way we stopped by another fantastic site, the fort Kumbalgarh, wherefrom the views over deserted landscape were breathtaking.
Despite having less than 24 hours in the blue city Jodhpur, I managed to take more interesting pictures of Indian street life than in any other place we visited. Louise and I managed to persuade our guide that we should leave later for our next destination since we wanted to take a morning walk. He agreed and after a quick breakfast me and Louise headed out on the streets to watch the beginning of a new day in Jodhpur. I feel love when I watch those pictures, they are true India for me. In the 1 1/2 hour that we walked around in the morning I had eyes big as saucers as I tried to take in all the beauty. I hope you will enjoy this Jodhpur morning walk through my eyes 🙂