Mission 17: Incredible India, part 2

Where: Goa & Hampi

When: October 2017

What: chilling, unwinding, relaxing, slowing down the pace

Goa

We almost delayed our trip to Goa as the forecast predicted heavy rain and thunderstorms every day, but we’re so glad we didn’t; in the three weeks we were there it only rained twice, both times during the night.

We started at Arambol, Goa’s northernmost beach, it was one of our favourites from our previous trip, and it is perfect for kids, with a large beach and fairly small waves. We spent a week here, before moving down to the south beaches, stopping for a few days en route in Anjuna, the beach here isn’t great for kids, when the tide comes in there is no beach, so after hanging around for the famous Wednesday flea market (where we bought a few things that cost as much to send home as they did to buy!) we moved down to Patnem in the far south, our favourite place in Goa by far.  It has such a lovely big beach, is really quiet and very chilled out.

During our 3 weeks in Goa we just enjoyed being outside and taking a break from sightseeing. The boys were so happy to swim in the sea every day, Dylan has got so confident in the sea now, at the start of our trip it was a struggle to even get him to paddle, now he’s the first in and the last out, and loves being thrown around by the waves, and Arto really loves it too. When we’d had too much sun, we retreated to the shade, played cards, made up new games, had a real laugh with each other, ate really well, and took full advantage of the fact that the Kingfisher in Goa is cheaper than most of the rest of India 🍻.

We did a lot of nature spotting, an early morning dolphin watching boat trip in Patnem, where we saw brief glimpses of dolphins, and lots of jellyfish, we saw a baby octopus bobbing around in the water near the beach, lots of crabs, a bearded dragon, tiny piglets and lots more.

Since arriving in Goa, we’d eaten at a beach restaurant for almost every meal, and even though it’s really cheap, we realise we need to try harder, to try local places and save more money. Jess finds Patnem Chai shop, and there’s no turning back! We go there for breakfast nearly every day to eat their delicious banana bread (when we’re not eating corn flakes out of the bottom of a plastic bottle in our room), for an omelette lunch most days, and Jess always finds a way to go past there to snack on their yummy 10 Rupee samosas. They also rent bikes for only 80 Rupees per day, which is much cheaper than getting a moped every time you need to go into town for the ATM, or to buy fruit or beer.

On the days when we want to explore a bit further, we rent a moped, just one for the four of us. It turns out we fit pretty well, and the boys love it, whooping away as we drive down the road. We drive to Agonda for a day, a few beaches north, a lovely beach, a lot like Patnem.

After almost three weeks in Goa, we plan our next move, and get on the wait list for the day time train to Hospet, to visit Hampi, our seats are confirmed the night before, and we’re off. Despite having been on a waitlist, our carriage is almost empty for the whole journey, and we have a very chilled out ride watching the amazing scenery go by.

Hampi

We decided to stay on the more chilled out north side of the river in Hampi, so when we arrived we went straight to catch the boat over, and were fortunate enough to catch Lakshmi the Hampi elephant having her bath.

Our guest house, Mowgli’s is perfect, it has a big space for the boys to run around, has a beautiful view overlooking rice fields, and the manager is super welcoming and friendly, and in the next few days becomes the boys new best friend.

As we only have a few days in Hampi, we plan an early start the next morning to see sunrise at Hanuman Monkey temple on the north side of the river. We drag the boys out of bed in the dark at 5am, we all get onto a moped and drive down the bumpy roads, until we arrive at the bottom of the temple steps, all 575 of them. It’s still dark so we have to go slow, but Dylan is determined to climb all the way on his own, and he does it. He does so much walking and climbing these days, his calf muscles are getting pretty chiselled! When we reach the top the boys are really excited to see dozens of monkeys jumping all around us, they barely notice the amazing view over Hampi. We give one of the boys’ bananas to a small monkey, and the other monkeys want in, a big one jumps on Jess’s shoulder, unzips the backpack (it was fully zipped up!) takes out the bag of bananas and runs off to enjoy them. Dylan got really upset, and failed to see the funny side, I think we got him up too early!

Later that day we ride out to Sanapur Lake. We see a lot of signs on the way warning that we shouldn’t swim here as there’s a crocodile in the lake, but we go and look for ourselves. We meet a group of tourists when we arrive, who have all been for a swim, and they tell us that there’s no crocodile, it’s a myth, and the signs are for the benefit of the locals that cannot swim, to deter them from going in the water. So the boys dip their feet in, and Jess swims out to a rock in the middle of the lake. Halfway over he considers what his chances would be if there really were a crocodile in the lake and he was swimming all on his own, I suddenly notice him pick up speed. I go for a swim too, but stay pretty close to the edge!

The following day we do the main tour of the temples on the south side of the river, our host organises us a driver for the day, and he takes us to the main temples, which are all amazing. We don’t try and fit in too many, as it’s pretty hot, the boys are tired, and are all templed out. We stop for lunch at the famous Mango Tree, which has changed location in the last 10 years to the bazaar, so they no longer have the big space and amazing view I remembered it for. After lunch we visit our last temple, Virupaksha, a beautiful temple where Lakshmi the elephant resides, and gives out blessings if you slip her a few Rupees.

We have an overnight train booked to Bengalaru on the next day, so, having seen all the temples, we see what else there is to do in Hampi for kids, and we head to Kishkinda Water Park. The boys are happy; it has a playground, it has water slides, it has a swimming pool, and lots of monkeys.

After almost 4 weeks of chilling on the beaches of Goa and laid back Hampi, we leave feeling incredibly relaxed, let’s hope we can stay that way during our next trip to the buzzing, chaotic, tech city that is Bengaluru…

Up4amission recommends:

  • Patnem Chai shop (Patnem, Goa), amazing banana bread, samosas, and chai
  • Renting a moped, it was comfortable for all four of us to get on one, and gives you so much freedom to go where you want
  • Renting a bicycle, for a cheaper form of transport and to get some exercise
  • Overnight trains, they are great in India, and such an easy and cheap way to get from A to B. Young children can share with an adult, and if you’re lucky they’ll sleep for most of the journey
  • Mowgli’s Guest House, Hampi. Great value accommodation, very friendly staff

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