Margao to Palolem

We arrived in Margao at 9:30. This was the first of the two stops the bus made, and the furthest south, so we decided on this one. A taxi to Pololem, further south, was quoted at 700Rp so we instead opted for the local bus at 20Rp each. Much better.

It did get crowded, but never unpleasant, and the journey took two hours. Our luggage even survived being strapped to the roof.

With no surprise, we were surrounded on arrival with cries of “taxi!”, “tuk-tuk” and “You need somewhere to stay?” As it happened, number three was actually something we were interested in, so we walked a whole 40 yards with a young man to be shown a room at 400Rp a night. Apparently the man next door was being charged 700Rp so we had to keep it hush-hush. Yes, whatever.

We took it anyway. Close enough to the beach, passable bathroom, ceiling fan, bed. We dumped our stuff, dug out our laundry and took it to a cleaner’s along the road for collection the next day. Believe me, it needed done. My bags were almost carrying themselves.

The only problem with food was finding somewhere to have it. The choice here is vast with every menu hugely varied and very well priced. We picked one more or less at random and ordered. I had a chicken sizzler (a little heavy on the garlic but otherwise very nice) and Hans went for the chicken tikka which he says “was good, too”.

Then a quick change into trunks, towels grabbed and beach headed for. By now it was approaching 2:30, but the sun was still blazing. We settled on a spot a few yards along from the main walkway to the sand and settled in. The water is pretty clean, just a fair bit of churned sand in it, and the beach very much litter-free. Despite the number of dogs (and cows!) wandering around, there’s very little poo either.

I got talking to an advertising executive from London called Shauna (and as ever I hope I got the spelling correct) who had also just arrived. She’d met another couple and we made some loose arrangements for dinner later on.

Also, finally, I could get some exercise. A major problem with the city-hopping is both a lack of time and a lack of clean air. Going for a jog in somewhere like Mumbai will certainly reduce your fitness levels as you take in so much airborne crud with each breath. Here, the air is so much fresher. I had a decent run and frolicked in the water for quite a while.

After a nice cold shower back at the hotel, we got changed and headed out onto the sand again to locate somewhere for dinner. Our arrangements with Shauna had been “I’ll be floating around up and down this stretch so I’ll likely catch you” and we did. In fact, we walked right past her – she looked a little different in a blouse and skirt than she had in a bikini!

We sat down and ordered as the two people Shauna had met – Hannah and Alex – arrived. The food, when it arrived, was superb. Hans had a veg birrhiana with butter chicken and I went for the Thai green chicken curry. Shauna had been having a “bad tummy” day and waited till we finished before ordering a birrhiani of her own.

The dogs on the beach kept breaking into song which was a little disruptive to conversation, but overall we had a very pleasant meal with some good company. Shauna told us where she was staying and recommended it, so Hans and I wandered down after another drink to check it out. The night porter’s priced didn’t tally wich what Shauna was paying, but he said he couldn’t haggle – if we wanted to come back at 10am tomorrow, the manager would be glad to talk to us.

Sounds good! So only one night in our little box room before likely swapping to a concrete beach front property or a nice “coconut” shack on stilts!

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