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On a way to the Arabian Sea. Goa!

Dekan Plateau & The Arabian Sea

We decided to visit Ajanta caves, but the plan changed when, once we got 4km away, somebody told us the following day the caves were closed.. Well, so Ellora caves then. Even better because they're meant to be, between those two, more interesting and prominent ones. So nothing lost, we decided to head towards Ellora the day after (just about 120km in our S direction), the fate watched over us again wanting us to see the better caves at the end :) 
In a nutshell: those mighty caves were made between 350-600AD (that's how long it took to carve them into the steep rock, downwards: from the surface of the slope to the foothill!). There're 34 intricate and fascinating caves dedicated to Hinduism, Buddism and Jainism. I loved the Buddhist one which resembled an interior of a medieval church with semi-circle naves from both sides, the difference makes a big rock-cut Budda in the middle and the dome-alike ceiling with ribs facilitating the sound to overwhelm the whole hall, the whole inner-space. Terrific and breathtaking!

Buddhist's cave temple 

Closer and closer to Goa, crossing over Dekan Plateau – specked with sugar cane fields, heaps of straw domes-alike and overloaded trucks carrying enormous amounts of canes.

How surprised we were getting beyond the massive hilly area and, suddenly, finding ourselves in thriving with palm, tek and other types of tall trees, extensive green land! Subtropical landscape blew our mind completely. We got so excited about that change, in houses features as well, that we instantly felt as if we had set off a moment, not a couple of hours before, as if the journey just started ;) Definite kick of new energy! Once we got to the shore, we jumped off the bike and rushed to the nearest beach to at least feel the water and absorb the first views on the Indian Ocean in our lifes :) We were welcomed by a small crab watching us carefully, we grabbed a beautiful shell that we have never seen before and ate a quick snack.

First views from the bay :

First impressions of the Indian Ocean? Warm like a soup! 

On a way we met Matt – a british fellow who set off on a bike route somewhere around September, already in Europe, traveling with his massage-bed and camping equipment. After getting to India he started in Mumbai and his plan was to get to Kerala down the coast, getting additional money giving massages along the way (cause that's what his profession was). In the same time, at the same spot where we 3 met, just after a couple of minutes we were spotted by 2 passing girls, as well on bikes. So they joined us. Those two were going the opposite way, had started from the South and going upwards heading Delhi. Sturdy girls! They gave us nice hints for a cheap accommodation nearby, which actually turned out to be pretty nice spots just near the beach. Good one! :) 

We spent one night in a nice, small village (with its temples, as an unique  and only attraction for visitors), from where we popped out, with Matt, to have a bath on a nicely secluded beach. From there it was just a stone throw to Arambol, but to our grief, on a way, we noticed there was something fairly not right with our bike's suspension. On a first stop we found out what happened – left rear suspension got apart, totally broken. Just the spiral around was keeping the stem inside, but it was leaning towards one side. Since then, we were forced to go very slowly, looking around for a mechanic (which didn't want to emerge anywhere..) and with one backpack taken to the front (and held by J. in front of him, Indian style-alike;) ) releasing the weight in the back. Not a pleasant thing, especially when the temperature jumpes up suddenly around you. Some mechanics we found told us it's probable that for the nearest Royal Enfield proper mechanic we'll have to go to Panaji (the capital of Goa) which was at about 35km from Arambol. Not bad, but.. still additional kilometers for the bike with just one suspension working (and the front set in need of a genuine service as well). To A. we got on time and in one piece, fortunately, and moreover on the entrance to the town, we're stopped by some random guy who indicated the direction in where we could find the Enfield mechanic, hurray!, no need for spending a whole day in the busy city.
There we met our friends – Natalia, Kuba and Michal. The two latter ones were already finishing their stay in India, which underwent smoothly along and was nicely accomplished thanks to Natalia's (Nomaday travels' director) help and careful planning. We spent 3 chillful days together, indulging ourselves with tasty food, plenty of lassis, fun and barganing.

Surely “very cheap/best/good price/quality”, “yesssss sir/madam” “something?”, “have a look, sir!”, and many more (sellers uniform shouts everyhere around) will stay with us for long ;) Boys got sun-burned once, not feeling very well afterwards was involved), Pedrak again had some stomach problems and awkward digesting difficulties, so had to fast for a little while, but me and Natalia spent unceasingly great time together :) Will miss that! In the meantime, it took 3 days for the mechanic to sort our bike out, and we had to stay there one more night than we had planned. For the general overview - a new set of rear suspension and service of the front one, costed us around 5000 rupees (about 52 pounds). Not bad as for a new life for the relentlessly loaded 350 CC bike, I guess. 
Then we had to face a few more problems with the bike still... Something crashed with the electricity, we run out of all the lights except the front one. We had to come back and sort this out. Then it happened that the side toolbox opened and..J. lost his international driving license + some little replacement parts like fuses for instance. The lock of the box got loose and he didn't realise until he reached Morjim where we stayed back then. Anyway...not the end of the world. 

North Goa's views:

As for the features of Goa, which is meant to be a hippie hub and flower-power alike ppl (as all of you may imagine) one addnotation must be done at this point. N Goa (and probably all Goa in general) is taken over by Russian tourists, nothing further from hippies;). If the Rubel is strong and with accompaniment of direct flights, cheap flights, it's the most cliched place for their's holidays destination. That's how it seems at least. Natives don't even start talking to you in English, Russian comes first. Fairly weird impression it makes and I was not imagining Goa this way. But still different, very westernized doesn't resemble any other parts of India we've visited so far.

After about 10 days of chillout on the coast (and my 39C fever for 1,5 day and neverending, but not harshly severe, intestine's problems...) we went a bit mor towards inland Goa for our first workaway project. The place seemed cool enough with its mud and bamboo houses for visitors, garden ("under-construction") and cosy restaurant in the front of the whole facility. Saraya, because that's how it's called, is managed by a very extraordinary Indian family, quite westernized family though :) Mother - an architect previously living in Dubai, Canada and other different places, now conducting the whole place and harnessing it under reasonable regiment. Zora and Sidu - her two sons, the former one - an artist, the latter one - with the perma/eco-attitude who basically was carrying out the garden-project. Then there were 2 other sisters, not in-situ though, but another abnormality - one of them who came for visit (what she does every now and then, during her days off) is a pilot. Very uncommon for a young lady in her 20ties to pilot huge machines with 300 people on board, I would say.. ;) Lovely time there, planting, digging and helping out in the cafe. Moreover yummy food and homemade pizzas on sour dough, great accommodation for volunteers, friendly athmosphere and loads of doggies, what could be better!

Saraya in pictures:

Saraya's gallery entrance
inside the gallery
our toilet friend ;)
my favourites! Fluffy and Bobby, respectively
Jedrek's favourite one... ;)
our dormitory
our cosy nook :)

breakfast area
the back-yard garden
delicious pizza on sour dough!
J. taking his part in pizza making, in the clay oven

I have not to forget about J's kite-surfing course! In the same time while staying in Saraya project, a few afternoons were spent under kite in the Morjim beach, under vigilance of Philip - pretty well known instructor in the neighbourhood beaches. 

first steps under Philip's supervision
pure fun! :)

On the 1st of Feb I had my approved placement in the 10-days Vipassana Meditation Course*, during which period J. stayed in Saraya. After when the meditation finished we met in Hospet where he picked me up to go to Hampi straight away. My way to and from Kolhapur, where the meditation took place, I explored and experienced, for the first time in India, all random means of transport, as follows: company bus, local/government bus and a train in 3AC class. It went pretty good, there was not much to be worried about actually.;)

*The Vipassana meditation needs its separate post which you can expect to get to know about shortly :)


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