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Something A Bit Different- Goa on the Arabian Sea
Published by Orson
04-02-2005
Contents
Icon7 Introduction

With the sunny beaches of Goa just across the Arabian Sea, I made this my target for a quickie visit. I arranged for the rental of a bike via the internet and upon my arrival in Goa, my hosts were waiting for me at the airport. A one hour trip through a maze of Goan roads led us to the home base. A sort of biker's country club for Europeans visiting Goa.

Now, mind you, while in Goa, there's a wide variety of two wheelers you can choose from. there's the modern Honda Hero single cylinder as well as a Yamaha single cylinder bike. A plethora of scooters or mopeds to choose from. But, if you're going to maintain your biker credo in Goa, anyone who is anyone at all will choose the Royal Enfield Bullet (pictured below). Yes, the mighty Bombay Busa...the Bangalore Bandit...the Goan Gixer...the...well, you get the picture. This is the two wheeled weapon of choice in the Indian sub-continent. With 24 raw, earth pawing horsepower at its disposal, other two wheelers quiver in fear in its presence. Nothing else even comes close for maintaining that all important cache of cool amongst the rabble. Its exhaust note alone announces to other two wheelers to move aside, here comes a *real* bike.

Unfortunately, its fearsome influence ends with the two wheeled set...for in India...might makes right. The bigger you are, the bigger the chunk of pavement you're entitled to. Where in the states and Europe, ultra powerful sportbikes dice and slice through traffic, here, the roles are reversed. Trucks and buses rule the asphalt with a heavy hand, often times occupying the center of the road leaving cars, bikes and rikshaws to scurry for the shoulders for whatever morsel of road remains. The big rigs aren't shy about taking what they assume to be rightfully theirs. As such, you ride extremely defensively. As soon as you see a lumbering juggernaut bearing down on you, you immediately assume the submissive "paws in the air" posture by diving for the 6 inches of asphalt left for you on the shoulder. As the behemoth roars by you whisper a silent,"thank you Mr. truck driver for not impaling me on you front grill", then you continue on your journey

My first day was just a half day so, I spent it learning some of the main streets around Goa then, I headed to the beach! The temperature was a balmy 80 degrees and humid. The water temperature was perfect! Not to warm not too cold. Just right. While lying on a lounge chair, gazing askance at topless European women, I found I had too easily succumbed to Goa's relaxed charms.

Dealing with a new set of traffic rules was just part of it. The Enfield sports right foot shifting and left foot braking. On top of that, the shifting pattern is one up, three down. Just like the latest GP bikes then Now, imagine trying to learn this new shifting and braking system while in a foreign land. I'm not the most prolific writer when it comes to painting a picture with words to describe something. The only thing that I can imagine that would come close to describing the experience is that, it was like trying to ride a bike on Pluto while wearing full scuba gear. It felt that awkward. Many times I would stab at the rear brake only to discover, to my horror, that I had just shifted up two gears rather than slow myself down. Other times, I would be pawing at the shiftlever, trying to find neutral, only to look down and see my foot uselessly trying to toe up the brake lever What was euphimistically termed the front brake was actually a front deccelerator. It didn't actually stop your forward progress, it merely slowed you down before impact with whatever you were slowing down for. You soon found out that the rear drum brake was your lifeline. If only I could remember to stop stomping on the gear shifter in panic stops. Oh, yah. Then remember you gotta drive on the left. Mercifully, with the poor road conditions and the harried traffic situation described above, I never got going too fast. A sense of pride & accomplishment overcame me whenever I reached 3rd gear. Selecting 4th gear teleported you into an unchartered dimension. A realm where angels feared to tread...inhabited by mad dogs and even madder Englishmen waiting to accost any unassuming newbie biker brave enough to enter their domain.

While all this bike and traffic learning was going on, I was also travelling. On the second day, I rode to far northern Goa to see Fort Tiracol. Originally built by a local ruler, it was taken over by the Portuguese when they colonized this coast in the 16th century. The beaches in northern Goa are less crowded than in south Goa making things a whole lot more pleasant. All the roads in Goa were single lane width asphalt. Center stripe? Hah! Shirley you jest!

Here is a pic from Fort Tiracol.


Coming back from Fort Tiracol, I stopped to take a picture of local fishermen fishing in the Tiracol River. The shadowy figure in the foreground is a street urchin who tried to strong arm me into giving up a few Rupees.



Waiting for the ferry to cross the Tiracol river. As the ferry approached the landing, the captain made a stab at the landing but, the river current dragged the boat on by, nescessitating a second attempt I don't know why I was laughing. I was about to put my life in his hands. We boarded and prepared for the journey but, the boat crew walked off to the nearby snack kiosk for a break. So much for a schedule. When they came back on board, I noticed that one crewman took his position down below to resume bailing. Always comforting to know they have someone assigned to bailing duties. Thankfully, it was but a five minute journey to the other side.



A Hindu shrine/temple on the way back from Fort Tiracol. Goa is crawling with westerners on all manner of two wheeled conveyances so, I didn't stick out like a sore thumb when I stopped to take pictures.



After a long hot day fighting my way thru Indian traffic, i found myself lured back to the beaches again for a swim and a late lunch. I didn't have a bad meal the whole time I was there. Excellent seafood currys would burn the roof of my head off. Even the biryani rice set my head to smoldering. good stuff

The second shot is the road along the Mandovi River. There were billions and billions of palm trees in Goa. They must have been invented here.

The third shot is approaching Candolim Beach. This is about the typical width of a Goan road. Even the main roads were this wide. Now imagine trucks, buses, cars, cows, rikshaws and a billion scooters






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  #1  
By Fastfar on 04-02-2005, 07:48 AM
Re: Something A Bit Different

WOW Awesome travelogue Will, exotic places antiquated (modern) motorcycles, fine photography and engaging details of a trip most can only dream of. Any pics of the naked European, uh, motorcycles?

Do something like this again real soon, OK?
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  #2  
By demenshea on 04-02-2005, 08:19 AM
Re: Something A Bit Different

Well Will, u have done it again. Another amazing and entertaining read. I enjoyed it with my cup of strong and rich java, however was ready to put it down for a cup of Masala tea!!
I envy your diversity and daring. The roads looked way too scary for this newbie, but i get to live it vicariously through your tales.
Hats off to you and your wordsmith ability. I have come to look for your posts knowing i will have a fun and exciting vicarious travel log!
Your pix are fantastic! I feel like i have been there. When i worked for with Indian engineering group, several of my co-workers espoused retirement to Goa. It sounded very fairy tale like as long as u have some money stashed. Now seeing the pix it looks quite inviting.
Cheers to u Will and thanks so much for the transportation to a new land!
donna
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  #3  
By Neeley on 04-02-2005, 04:26 PM
Re: Something A Bit Different

I have to say that is the coolest thing ever. Much envy.
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  #4  
By that_guy_you_know on 04-02-2005, 05:38 PM
Re: Something A Bit Different

Orson--

I am green with envy. I was planning to check out Goa this coming winter, but I foolishly assumed that my school (Arabic Language Institute, Cairo) would give me an American length Christmas break. Doh. Awesome pics though. Next best thing to being there!
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  #5  
By Toyuzu on 04-03-2005, 12:12 PM
Re: Something A Bit Different

Another epic journey that had me glued to the monitor. You are giving those of us who can't travel the world a little taste of it. Thank you!
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  #6  
By vnsfxr on 04-03-2005, 01:42 PM
Re: Something A Bit Different

Will, thanks again for another travelogue.

I always drag my wife in to share your posts with. I think India is a bit out of our future travel plans. I did introduce her to the cuisine a few years ago and she fell in love with some of the dishes. She will eat and enjoys things that will make lesser men/women melt down on the spot.

Thanks again,

Vince & Sue
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  #7  
By Mehran on 04-06-2005, 05:14 PM
Clapping2 Re: Something A Bit Different

Great road story .... thanks
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  #8  
By pashnit on 05-10-2005, 12:36 PM
Re: Something A Bit Different

Ya know Will - you keep this up, and we'll need a separate forum just for Will's World Travels !!!

Consider this a sticky. Pashnit Forum required reading.
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  #9  
By Orson on 05-11-2005, 11:59 AM
Re: Something A Bit Different- Goa on the Arabian Sea (*pashnit edit* required reading!)

and here I was thinkin' Pash went over every post with a fine toothed comb as soon as it was posted, proof-reading it, checking for spelling mistakes and negative references about Hayabusas

one more from the pool at the eco-resort in the Ghats mountains at sunset.
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