Our swimming pool at Holiday Beach Resort
Taking the risk of moving from the relative comfort of Panaji, we arrived in Candolim after a 40 minute journey on the local bus passing through what we can only describe as genuine India. By that we mean shabby, busy, dirty villages. We had a sense of impending doom as we arrived and set off to look for accommodation. As usual it was as hot as hell and typically we arrived just after noon so the sun was beating down on us. Our walk was accompanied by the usual shouts of taxi which we ignored as per usual. Once we'd got our bearings we headed towards the beach thinking it might be a little nicer than the main road.
Adam at our hotel restaurant
It was but only a little. We saw a place with a pool and out of curiosity thought we'd check it out to get a guide price for other places. As soon as we entered we realised that some good deals were going to be available as the staff were very keen to do a deal and offered us discounts straight away.The off season was apparantly beginning to bite and our hosts were pretty desperate. A double room with aircon was supposed to be 1190 plus another 100 for a fridge. After some haggling it was reduced to 1000 fridge included. We made a show of walking away but as soon as we got round the corner and realised how far it was to the places we had earmarked in the guidebook we turned back and took the deal.
The hotel was called Holiday Beach Resort and the room was clean and the pool inviting which was more than enough for us.
The taxi mafia hanging around doing nothing
It had a veggie restaurant attached which was very average but ok. That was the most disappointing thing about Candolim, compared to the food in the rest of India it was really poor. We figured it was due to the package tourist nature of the place. Normally we would run a mile from any package destination but the sight of bare chested northern Brits was strangely comforting to us given our distate for the whole India experience. That said it was a feeling that wore off pretty quickly after a few meals out and seemingly always sitting next to people ordering chicken and chips with no spices. As far as we were aware Curry is the official national dish of the UK. Maybe it's just in the south!!!
According to the guidebooks the beaches of Goa were supposed to be like paradise.
Steph on Candolim beach
Not quite our experience it has to be said. True we didn't see anyone peeing as we had in Mammalapurum but the shoreline was littered with washed up rubbish, the horizon was full with huge containers and oil tankers who were obviously dumping all their rubbish straight over the side and one huge rusting hulk of a ship was actually grounded just off shore. We took a stroll and were a little surprised to see some westerners braving the stares and jaw dropping gawps of local men by sunbathing topless. Much more shocking was the sight of Indian men playing volleyball in very stained and saggy once white but now brownish (don't ask) Y-fronts. Yet another example of the double standards of modesty here. We actually decided that Indians don't have a problem with nudity or scantily clad bodies at all.
Rusting hulk on Candolim beach
In fact countless products are advertised with the use of women in bikinis and underwear. The proviso is that it has to be a western woman. It's not that all Indian women are mingers but the Indian stereotype of western women as being wanton sluts fits their marketing profile. As we walked along the beach tip toeing through the rubbish we were shocked to see no less than three corpses being lashed by the surf. Worse still there were people swimming in the water just yards away!!!!!
Over the days we got into quite a routine of swimming but stayed in the pool and gave the beach a bit of a wide berth. The pool was behind a nice big fence and kept all the hassle safely at a distance. The condition of the pool gradually worsened and it began to appear slightly green which we had to have a word with the hotel about.
Thankfully they treated it but it was too late for Steph who succumbed to another bought of Indian Fever for want of an official diagnosis. Another high temperature and this time it was more prolonged and lasted until we left. A dodgy stomach accompanied the fever which probably wasn't helped by the restaurant across from our hotel called Teama. We sat upstairs one evening as the breeze is always better the higher you go and as we waited for our order we watched a succession of chefs and kitchen staff come out of the building stroll across the road to an area of scrub land and urinate in full view of the diners. They generally then wiped their hands on their aprons and wandered back inside. Really got our juices flowing that did!!! Thankfully we didn't see any of them disappear deeper into the bushes as we all know what would have been happening there and given that bums are wiped with hands here that would have been even worse.
That's another weird thing about India. The locals wipe their bums with their left hand and therefore only eat with the right. We as westerners are expected to adhere to this convention and utensils are not always forthcoming. If you think about it though westerners will use toilet paper and presumably most righties will use their right hand and lefties will use their left. It therefore makes no sense for me to use my right to eat with. If any hand is used being a rightie I should use my left!!! Do that though and you draw stares and shocked looks.
To combat Steph's illness a trip to the pharmacy was needed. One great thing about India (there has to be one right!), is that you can buy any drug you need over the counter and they are unbelievably cheap. A five day course of anti-biotics was R's 60 or 75p in UK terms. The drug companies sure make a killing out of us in the west. Having rushed back with the meds we did however notice that some of them were a year out of date!!! When we returned them there was no apology but they did change them over. Another lesson always checks the dates!!!
To make our escape we had to give in and use the taxi Mafia and the R's 550 trip from the airport suddenly becomes a R's 700 for the return. Very frustrating but what'ya'gonna'do as Tony Soprano would say. With Steph ill and us both being desperate to get away we paid up and headed for the airport and a nervous journey to Delhi and whatever horrors India has to offer us there.