30 December 2009

Feet on the sand and hands in the air - must be Sunburn

As we've mentioned on a previous posting , the reason that we've come to Candoliom is to visit the Sunburn music festival. The festival takes place on Candolim beach and is billed as Asia's premier music festival.

It's a little bit like a mini Glastonbury only with more palm trees and less mud.

It's primarily a dance music festival and features a lot of international DJs including John 00 Fleming (the happiest man in dance music), Roger Sanchez (excellent as always), Armin van Buuren (dull), Sultan (an excellent Canadian DJ) and some bloke called Nick Rafferty from Lichfield.

We had a great time over the three days of the festival. The only down side was the usual festival problem of toilets, or in this case, the lack of. 16 toilets for 5000 people doesn't go . . . and neither could you without a long wait!

27 December 2009

Costa del Candolim

Candolim is only about 10 minutes drive down the coast from Anjuna but feels a whole world away.

Anjuna has a very laid back and fairly relaxing atmosphere, where Candolim feels like it's smack bang in the middle of the Costa del Sol (but with more Russians). The whole resort feels like it's packed full of chip eating, loud mouthed package tourists.

We're not sure why someone would choose to come here for a holiday as Candolim is famous for being home to the rusting tanker the River Princess which was grounded on the beach during a storm in June 2000. It's not exactly what you'd call picturesque.

The only reason why we've come here is to visit the Sunburn music festival which happens on the beach over 3 days between Christmas and new year.

26 December 2009

Christmas in Anjuna

We've come back to Goa so that we could spend a week at Christmas relaxing on the beach at Anjuna.

Well, that was the idea before I got bed-ridden by a mystery illness. We're not quite sure what it was but initially thought it was a monster hang-over as we had been up until 4 in the morning having a wee drinky after meeting back up with Leigh and Nicola. However, when it hadn't cleared up after three days we realised that perhaps I hadn't gone soft after all but had picked up a seriously debilitating man flu type virus.

By Christmas eve I was beginning to feel better and was helped along by some of that wonder medicine called beer! We again met up with Leigh and Nicola and tried to make our Christmas eve night out as festive as we could.

It wasn't easy though as this was the first time that we can remember a Christmas without any Slade!

We didn't see any reindeer flying through the sky on Christmas eve but we were lucky enough to see some dolphins from the beach at sunset.

On Christmas day I was well enough to venture out for some sun bathing (and to put a Santa hat on a cow).

We could only find one restaurant in the whole of Anjuna where you could get a traditional Christmas dinner. However; it was a bit of a grubby shack stuck on the side of the main road so we decided to give it a miss. Instead we had to settle for that other traditional Christmas meal . . . a chicken and paneer tikka kebab - very festive!

25 December 2009

Merry Christmas from Santa Cows

You wouldn't believe how difficult it is to get a Santa hat on a cow!

19 December 2009

Happy in Hampi

After our week on the beach at Palolem we took the train 350km inland to Hampi.

Hampi lies on the outskirts of the city of Vijayanagar which was founded in 1336 but abandoned in 1565 when it was sacked by Muslim invaders. Before it was abandoned Vijayanagar became
one of the largest Hindu empires and had much of southern India under its control. The plains around Hampi are littered with the ruins and abandoned remains of Vijayanagar.

One of the more unusual buildings is the elephant stables which were used to house the royal elephants of the city.

The area around Hampi is also famous for its rather strange granite boulder landscapes that resemble something out of a Road Runner cartoon

We've had a bit of rubbish weather for our first few days here as we caught the end of another cyclone (Cyclone Ward) which was affecting the eastern Indian coastal state of Tamil Nadu. Thankfully we only had to deal with heavy cloud this time and managed to avoid the horizontal rain which lashed us when we encountered our last cyclone when Paul and Sarah visited us in Ranthambore.

We're not actually staying in Hampi but in the village of Virupapur Gaddi which lies on the opposite bank of the Tungabhadra River. We're staying at a place called Shanthi Guest House where there's only a sporadic electricity supply, no TV or air con and your shower is a bucket of hot water! However; despite the fairly basic conditions it's been one of our favorite places that we've so far stayed in India. We have a little thatched hut on the banks of the river in a really picturesque spot just behind a field of rice paddies.

Once the cyclone cleared we were treated to some spectacular sunsets.

Next we head back to Goa for christmas.

14 December 2009

Cows on the beach . . .

You don't get this in Torquay!

Silent Noise at Palolem

After 24 hours on a train (or two) we made it from Ellora to Goa, the former Portuguese colony on the Indian west coast. The Portuguese arrived in 1510 and retained control of the area until 1961, 14 years after the rest of India gained independence from Britain.

We're planning on visiting three or four different resorts along the Goa coast but our first stop is at Palolem, the most southerly of the developed beaches. We've not seen a beach since we left Aqaba 4 months ago and it's also only the 2nd time in 4 months where we've stayed in the same spot for a week. Hence we're making the most of sitting on the beach, not moving and doing no sightseeing! Essential tan topping up time before we head home.

Palolem is a really nice little village that hasn't been spoiled by over-development and retains a lovely ramshackle, laid back feel. There's no international hotel chains (all the hotels and beach huts are locally run) and there's no buildings over two stories high. It also has loads of great bars and restaurants. Best of all a big bottle of Kingfisher beer costs Rs60 (that about £0.78) and a glass of gin costs less than a tonic!!!

A few years ago Goa became well known for its night life and the party scene here got really popular. However; in order to calm things down the government banned loud music in open air locations after 10pm. To get around this problem the local promoters have opened several silent discos. A silent disco is a club that has no speakers, instead everyone is given a set of radio headphones which they use to tune into one of the 3 DJ's that are playing.

On Saturday night we went to an event run by Silent Noise who have an open air club at Neptune Point, on the cliffs overlooking Palolem beach. It was very strange when we first walked in to see several hundred people who appeared to be dancing to no music.

We had a great, if slightly surreal evening!

07 December 2009

No sweeming!

Cave Temples . . . Like busses!

After spending yesterday at the Ajanta Caves today we headed for the cave at Ellora, a collection of 29 Buddhist, Hindu and Jain temples cut into a 2km long section of cliff.

The caves were built during the 7th to 11th century and are home to the Kailasa Temple reputedly the worlds largest monolithic structure.

It is estimated that 7000 workers took more than 150 years to cut the temple from the cliff cafe and carve out the interior. This resulted in the excavation of a quarter of a million tonnes of rock.

The guide books rave about Ellora but we didn't think that it was anywhere near as good as those we saw yesterday at Ajanta. However; we may have been a little bit "caved out" by the time we finished there. This guy appeared to be thoroughly enjoying it though (check out that cheeky hand!) . . .

Whilst we we at the caves we bumped into Leigh and Nicola who had our space on the African Trails overland truck when we left it in Zambia. We had a great evening, helped along by a few Kingfishers, chatting about our various escapades and comparing horror stories!

06 December 2009


We've spent today at the Ajanta Caves, a complex of 30 ancient caves that are carved into a horseshoe shaped gorge.

The caves are a little bit like a Buddhist version of Petra and are cut directly into the rock-face. They were constructed from 200 BC to the 6th century AD and feature some pretty amazing feats of carving. They are considered to be one of the masterpieces of Buddhist religious art.