Tuesday 7th - Friday 10th August.
07/08/2012 - 10/08/2012
We leave our guest house and head to Jaipur train station. The lack of care by people is unbelievable, the train station is filled with bodies lying on the ground waiting for trains, spitting, pissing, flies covering their babies, the contents of the toilets pouring out onto the track while the train is being filled up and stall tenders would throw rubbish straight onto the tracks.
We found our cabin which had space for 4 people to sleep. The cabin was clean and had fans, electricity sockets, pillows and blankets. We set off for our overnight journey. The cabins in the next train down were cramped and full of locals, children hanging off the ladders to the higher beds, 12 people were crammed into our 4 seated space, the windows were barred to let the air in. We wouldn't transport animals in these conditions in the UK. We had a comfortable cabin and tenders selling ice cream, vegetable sandwiches, cutlets and a dinner package of dal, vegetable curry, rice and salad. The train pulled into Mumbai at 8am and before we were out of the station we were surrounded by people wanting 'help' by the means of porters, rickshaws, taxis, hotel, hostels and places to eat. We found a quiet spot to discuss our plans away from the hassle. We had pre-booked the hotel - Hotel Moti, but we're greeted so rudely we left and decided to head to Goa instead of staying in Mumbai which was comparatively expensive. We spent the day seeing the sights, the Gate of India; Ghandi's house and museum; the slums; the hanging gardens. The poverty was in such close proximity to the rich, behind the Taj Mahal Palace - a 5* hotel there were homeless families sleeping on the pavements with their half clothed babies begging and pissing in the streets. It was heartbreaking seeing these tiny, dirty children near such busy roads and affluent people not being noticed! We had a family ask us at the Gate of India if they could take a photo with us and their children. The children were smart, healthy and happy with their parents dressed in beautiful saris and smart men's wear. We had two photos which the family bought from the photographer, whilst they were purchasing their pictures of us - the white people, a tiny girl who was painstakingly thin in a dirty dress that was too big for her came to us with hand cupped signalling for money to feed her. The distances between them were gigantic and very sad as she gazed at the family and one of the children stared at her looking slightly confused as to why she was like that.
We treated ourselves to lunch at the Taj Mahal Palace (to stay was 27000Rs - £339.28 per night) and had the nicest lunch we had had in a long time! It was a real treat as we sat amongst business men and looked out onto the pool. I ordered 'tenderloins steak with carrot purée and pepper sauce', Tommy ordered 'Parmesan crusted rack of lamb, with olive mash'. Wow it was amazing - I don't think we spoke for the entire meal apart from to describe how nice our meals were ... I have to say it was unanimous I won the choice selection!!
My evening was spent arranging Tommy's birthday present with a man called Perry... All will be revealed!
Our sleeper carriage tonight was a class down from last night, blue beds, no pillows or blankets, 6 people per section, no AC; table; plug, 3 fans and open barred windows. We met a Belgium couple Jolienne and Brekt who we chatted with, they had been travelling for 1 1/2months around India, they showed us some fantastic photos of Elephant Island with some amazing temples. The night was not bad at all, the temperature was just right but the beds slightly thin, the most annoying thing was the sellers shouting 'Coffee!', 'Chai!', 'Cheese sandwich, cutlet, omelet' at 6am. Brekt woke Tommy and Jolienne up at 7am panicking as he thought we'd missed the stop, luckily my top bunk was out of reach of this.
We rolled into the train station and shared a taxi to Anjuna. We drove through greenery and little villages it was really refreshing. We were greeted with a shack like bar on the sea front where we sat all afternoon drinking Kingfisher - it was time to relax! We watched the monsoon roll across the sea and lash the coast with torrential rain and wind. Brekt and Tommy went to search the beach huts for somewhere to stay and came back with a choice of three. We chose Guru Guest House with a basic room with a toilet full of mess, after a quick freshen up we met and headed out in the wind and the rain to a restaurant. We sampled the local cuisine of fish curry and rice, fried spiced fish and calamarie and noodles but the best part was the cheese naan bread! We watched the sun beating down on the Olympics, Germany vs Australia hockey followed by the wrestling. We dipped in and out of power as the wind beat the tarpaulin that protected us from the monsoon.
After a disturbed night of Delhi Belly targeting Tommy, now totalling nearly 3 weeks of a very quick digestive system shared between us, Tommy decided to take the plunge and finish the antibiotics I had started (confirmed and described by the lovely Dr Greg Mellor). Luxury was calling us so we searched Calangute for something a little more up market, for the nine weeks away we had gone economy apart from the three days in The Castle Resort, Pokhara so for our last week we checked into The Citrus Resort as a little treat and to celebrate our engagement and Tommy's birthday.