Mar 15, 2013

Two most adventurous days


Note: All the hyperlinks in this page pop-up photographs/videos. Just click them as they come. I have attempted a new style of blogging where multimedia content are linked instead of embedded (To avoid reader's distraction)


So I fly to Pune for a short two-week stint at work, and it is that weekend in the middle of this period that got me do something crazy enough to write a blog about. When I was thinking how to spend the weekend last Thursday night, intending not to spend it sleeping in my Hotel room or roam around local malls, out of no where came this [not very] attractive idea of doing a trip "alone", to a destination that you won't generally go alone. Goa is what I thought about, and considering the fact it is only half as far from Pune as compared to Chennai, I decided to do it. I haven't been there before, which was a primary motivation to do the trip. After five hours of intense googling and blog reading, I zeroed in on my travel options, and the stay, while keeping the itinerary 'blank'.   

I went on to spend the two most adventurous days of my life. The best thing I did was to rent a two-wheeler the moment I landed in Panjim, [Dont forget to click those links!] the state's capital. It is the best mode to explore Goa. There are hundreds of agents renting hundreds of vehicles everyday. Soon after, I went for a long drive having no idea where I was going. I would frequently track my state with my smartphone's GPS. The day started at Dona Paula, and ended at Chapora, two extreme edges of North Goa. So I will drive wherever my heart directs me to. Go to whatever beach I end up going. I roamed without rules, drove without a destination, explored without intent. Made new friends. Dived into the middle of the Arabian sea [Video]. Got into a parachute, flew 50m high and was gifted with a breathtaking Life-Of-Pi style scenery. Tried driving a Jet Ski speed bike that jumped past high tides, Shot some spectacular panoramic images [my favourite style of photography] over the entire day with my Lumia. The view from Chapora fort is unforgettable still. Hit there for sunset, if you ever go to Goa. I ended day #1, while googling for my Day #2 destination. I saw a long list of beach after beach, making the top 10 on TripAdvisor.com, mostly from Southern Goa. Why spend the next day also on beaches?, I thought. I had seen 7 beaches in less than 12 hours already. I am not a church/temple type and wasn't interested in them either. Something very different is what I was targeting at, and ended up finding Dudhsagar Falls - 17th most favorited Goa destination. I googled for images of this falls, and there was one pic, vivid enough to attract me there all the more stronger. 

So after a day full of beach rides, I go for this 70-mile ride through a scenic old goa, and hair-pin-bended-hills. There was literally no one on the road. I was wholly trusting my GPS, hoping that it will end me up where I wanted it to. Almost 75% into the journey, I realized that I forgot to withdraw cash while starting. Such a blunder, I was so cautious and focused on taking the correct route, and missed out on this. All that was left was 400 rupees, in which 350 would go for the jeep taxi fare that shuttles between dudhsagar falls and the nearest village. Almost half the tank's fuel is gone, and I would use the remaining 50 bucks for fuel, assuming I skip buying lunch. What a pity! Having no money and a debit card is one and having money without access to an ATM is another. Would I go back? I did not. I have come all the way to take the train-crossing-dudhsagar-falls photograph, and I am not returning without it. With crazy ideas like selling the soveniors I bought, I continued my journey and reached Collem village, the place where you start your "14-km forest ride" to Dudhsagar falls. I reached my destination but lost 70% of my phone battery. I will need it for the two main things my survival depend on: (1) Taking pictures (2) Using GPS. It was 2 in the noon, I had lost my battery, left without money, fuel, and virtually hopeless of catching my return bus which was scheduled for a 8 PM departure. It was like a typical Indian movie interval where a lead star is left with nothing, and is expected to "catch up". I knew I would get to know by 8 PM, whether I am a hero or a comedian. 

So I set out for a walk, inquiring for nearest ATM's, only to know that it is 18 miles away. One of the shoppies I spoke to, was kind enough to allow me charge my phone. I waited more than an hour here, watching 5 foreign tourists cross the road over and over, stocking up fruits and beer tins, as my phone charged. They are possibly preparing for the same journey as me, I thought, assuming such a small village will not have much attractions. Both the days put together, I had spent over 4 hours, only to charge my phone. There was this thought in my mind, ever since I started the day, that I would do the 14-mile forest drive with my bike, which is more fun and would also save the jeep taxi fare [350 bucks]. Blogs were also telling me that we won't be allowed to ride inside the gate, and that it is very tough to actually drive there. 80% charging was done, and I took the phone with some confidence, started my Honda Dio for one-hell-of-a-forest-ride. The foreign tourists also began their journey. I got some company, and I should be able to do this, I thought, only to realize it the other way later on. Even before I could begin my journey, I was blocked by the sight of a water pool. The 14-km drive has 4-5 small water streams in between, through which you have to manage. The Jeep taxi's do that with utmost ease, while my bike struggled. I was thinking that I had rented the "right bike" for my exploration but the thought holds good only for the first day of the trip. This 2nd day, I must be having a more powerful vehicle. I withdrew my intent, and decided not to do it. Seconds later, I found the man in the enticer bike limping  in the middle of the stream, pushing his bike along. He hurt his leg very badly while crossing it. The problem is not just water, but the hard-rocks and stones under them which normal bike tires cannot go past easily. 

So I returned back, started waiting for the jeep taxi. I would also turn out super-lucky by finding this small hotel that had a deal: No money? No Problem. Buy Money. They actually swipe your debit/credit card for whatever money you want and charge 12% extra. Expensive but proved useful for me at that moment. They had this deal which says, "2100 Rs for a Jeep, Maximum of 6 people". So if you are a gang of 6, its 350/head, and if 5, then 425/head. That man asked me something for a long time in Hindi, that sounded like a "How many of you" question for which I replied "only me". He asked me to wait over a corner, which means, I should wait for a gang of 5 or less. 10 mins later, 4 guys came. We 5 thought of going but decided to wait for one more. 10 more mins later, a gang of 15 college students came and rocked out the place. After lot of negotiation, we did a 7+7+6 in 3 Jeeps. So after lot of struggle, I finally got to see the falls I wanted. Not the view I anticipated, but was satisfied I could reach till there, and have a swim. Amazing to see that the Railway department actually built a track over there. Really amazing.  

I started back to Panjim around 6, and did the same distance in less than 75 minutes. The roads are really good, with sign boards directing you approriately at every intersection, and with a better vehichle/car, this Panjim - Dudhsagar stretch can be done in just 40 mins. I reached my place well ahead on time and boarded the bus. It was 2 great and adventurous days, roaming all alone, knowing nothing about Goa. Both the days put together, I had consumed 8 litres of fuel, which is around 300km (just inside the city). And fuel is 30% cheaper here (57/ltr against 72/ltr in other states).  I will come here again, with all my friends, with more powerful bikes, and a better camera, for the Dudhsagar forest-ride. Roaming alone in unknown territory is never so new to me. When I was 14 years old, I did a 17-mile ride to my grandmother's village alone in my bi-cycle. So it is obvious that such a creature is prone to embark upon crazier journeys over time. To be continued... :-)

5 comments:

  1. That's pretty neat! Crazy journey!! Nice one da..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was thinking of you when I did the bike trips. I thought you would have liked It too. Join me next time :)

      Delete
  2. Include me also boss..:D Lemme know ur trips Bro's..:D

    ReplyDelete
  3. Nice...:)
    You just took me in the flash back..
    wish i could stay there for long..
    hope to see you again somewhere in the time :)
    (y)

    ReplyDelete

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