So our second day in Goa we decided to rent a scooter for the day and scoot around to other areas. Goa was settled by many Portuguese people in the 1800s and has a really strong Catholic background. We were pretty interested to see some of the old churches and some of the countryside, so we headed out to Old Goa which is in the middle of this very small state. We had breakfast at our hotel and headed out around 10:30.
We were a little nervous about driving a scooter around, the traffic in India is crazier than in China and to make matters worse, they drive on the "wrong" side of the road. That turned out to be pretty easy to remember since everyone else was doing it, but the traffic was a little scary, people pass on the inside and it doesn't matter if there is a curve in the road or a hill or whatever, they just go and blow their horn to warn oncoming traffic. I took some video that will completely terrify you all!
We didn't get too lost, suprisingly since road signs are scarce. The scenery was amazing, lots of rice fields and palm trees, and this is the dry season, I can't imagine how it looks in the rainy season! People don't really wear helmets on their scooters here, so we didn't either, I guess you are supposed to though because we got pulled over and ticketed for not wearing a helmet (just Nate, I didn't have too, weird huh?). As I said, Goa is mostly a Christian state and it is interesting to see the Hindu influence in the religion. Hindus often set up small little shrines of different gods along the roadside, and this tradition has influenced the Christians in Goa as well, all along the road there were small little "booths" with a cross or Jesus statue and people go there to pray whenever they want, sometimes lighting candles or leaving flowers, very interesting. We got to a small city, Ponda around noon and stopped for some ice cream, it was quite a hot day, like 90 in the sun. We pushed along to our next destination and arrived in Old Goa around 1:30. It was a beautiful little city and we were able to tour a few different churches including the Basillica of Bom Jesus. This is a very famous cathedral in the Roman Catholic Church as it holds the body of St Francis Xavier, the chief missionary of the Portuguese church. It was very ornate and beautiful, as were the other churches we saw. We spent a couple hours wandering around the village and then decided to head home, we didn't want to have to navigate our way back in the dark.
We made excellent time on the way back, which was a hot and dusty ride! We got back just in time to take a sunset dip and cool ourselves off. We had dinner and drinks at our hotel and did a little shopping, arranged a taxi to the train station for the next day and then (yet again!) packed up our bags for the next move.
The next morning, we got up early and waited FOREVER for our taxi which never showed up. We were getting pretty anxious and luckily we were able to flag a taxi just as panic was about to set in, we arrived at the train station about 3 minutes before the train came! This train ride was not as cool, Nate was sick with a fever and nausea and we sat by an Indian family this time, which was nice, but not as relaxing as our last ride. In typical (I am learning) fashion, our train stopped in the middle of the tracks for over one hour for reasons unknown to us. We finally got to Hospet around 5pm, about 2 hours later than we expected. Nate was still really sick so I found us a rickshaw driver to take us to Hampi (rather than mess with the bus). We had no reservations anywhere but had recieved a recommendation from a guy on our train to Goa and we headed there. All the rooms with bathrooms were sold out and I checked out the no bathroom one (dirt floor with bed on ground) and decided to look elsewhere. We found a place nearby and it was clean and cheap. Nate just rested the rest of the night and I was able to explore by myself (something I could NOT have done in most of the cities we have been in in India). The city seemed great!
The next morning, Nate was still not feeling tip top, luckily for us, all the ruins are less than 1/2 a mile from our hotel room so we spent the day exploring and coming back to the room to rest as necessary. There is also a river and lots of boulders around so we spent some time just wandering by the water. The atmosphere in this town is SO relaxed, people do things at a slow pace and it was just what we needed, especially with Nate feeling sick. The ruins are absolutely amazing and I know that all of you back home would just love exploring this area. The only complaint we have in this city is the bugs! We are in a hot and humid area right next to a slow moving river, there are flies and gnats and mosquitos everywhere (luckily our bed has a mosquito net!)
Today was a great/exhausting day. We got up early and had some breakfast at the local German bakery then rented bicycles to do some exploring just south of town. The path was just filled with interesting sights, from medieval temples to amazing boulders to banana plantations. It was really hot and dry though and we went through ALOT of water, also Nate's energy level was quick back up there so, we took it slow and lingered. It was obviously "field trip day" for all the local schools because we were bombarded with kids asking us questions, taking our pictures and shaking our hand. It was mostly fun, but a little tiresome when we just wanted to enjoy the scenery. Everyone here is so friendly though, that you can't really get mad.
We biked all day and it seems that I can't do anything even remotely active without getting injured, on the walk (thats right not even on my bike) I totally wiped out for no reason whatsoever in front of a bunch of India people. Mostly my pride was hurt but I also got some nice shiners on my shins and scraped up my hand, I'm glad this happened on the way home. It was a long hot day, about 7 hours on our bikes, so Nate is resting while I take care of some things on the internet here. Next its time for dinner and we need to pack up again!
Tomorrow evening we will sadly leave Hampi (I could for sure spend a couple more days here) and hop on the overnight train to Bangalore, I think our tickets are 1st class this time, should be conducive to a good nights sleep. We will arrive in Bangalore at 6am (which will probably end up being more like 8am). We are just in Bangalore for the day, we need to be at the airport in the evening for our red eye flight. So we will be "homeless" for the day, from 6-10pm proabably and then its back to Shanghai! I think it will be a long day and we will probably be exhausted when we arrive in Shanghai on the 25th, but there will be no time to rest as it is Chinese New Years Eve and we have dinner plans. So this will probably be the last entry I make until we are back in Shanghai, we have alot of travels ahead of us and are sad that the time went so quickly. We can't wait to show you all our pictures and catch up on skype!
Love you guys and talk to you in a few days!