Goa, India: Sea full with oil!
We visited Agonda Beach in Goa in June 2012, shortly after the beginning of monsoon. During a walk on the beach we found our feet full with a black, sticky matter: oil!
During the following days, the air took more and more the smell of oil. Countless little dead animals (esp. jellyfish) were washed ashore.
Where did this oil come from? Well, when the rainy season starts, tourism in the concerning regions decreases. This seems to be a free pass for ships staying near the coast: Probably they channel away their no more needed fat oil into the ocean.
Also on other Goa-beaches that we visited in June the oil-pollution was very obvious.
We were shocked about this discovery and want to spread this information. Maybe this will help to change things.Related to:
Travelling with Infants/Toddlers...
Indians adore children and you will see (and hear) children all over - at all times - of the day and night. So your children will be welcomed warmly. But if your infant/toddler is new to travelling or is not a good traveller, India may not be the best place to visit. As difficult as India may be for some first time visitors, it will be much more so for a very young child.
My daughter spent the first 11 months of her life in India. While things were diffifult then, we were able to control alot of the situations. All baby items - formula, diapers, wipes, baby food, etc. were easily available, although formula in particular, was 3 times the price as in the U.S.
When we returned to India when my daughter was 19 months old, things were different. Mostly because SHE was now much more mobile. It was a very toddler un-friendly place in that there are few or no facilities for children that age.
With the exception of 5 star hotels and Western food chains (McDonalds, Pizza Hut, etc.) you won't find high chairs. Sometimes cribs are available - although once we got a hospital crib sent over to our hotel. Car seats are almost unheard of - even if you bring your own, most taxis don't even have seat belts to hold them in. Roads and sidewalks are full of cracks, potholes, etc. - and traffic is chaotic - making using a stroller a bad adventure. Short rides in rickshaws meant breathing in the pollution coming from cars, trucks, buses, and other rickshaws. The only changing table I came across was in Mumbai's domestic airport's new "family" room, making changing diapers anywhere else generally difficult. I had to continuously watch what she touched, what she walked in, etc. On top of all that, even with eating in good establishments, she got a stomach bug twice in 2 1/2 weeks. Hardly ideal for very young children.
In addition, Western children attract alot of attention. You will have people wanting to take photos/videos, pinching cheeks, and physically trying to take the child from your arms to hold him/her. When trying to get the child's attention people will click and snap their fingers loudly
wihin a few inches of the child's face (most annoying!!). All of it can be very overwhelming for both the parents and the child. I was never comfortable about the photos and if asked would politely decline. We were not always asked though and it was annoying to turn around and have a camera in her face. I was not comfortable with anyone touching my daughter either. She was once pinched so hard, she had a mark on her cheek for an hour afterwards!
Although there are parks and some (mostly not so good) zoos, children this young are inevitably going to be bored with seeing temples, markets, and forts. Throw in heat and humidity (and any or all of the above issues) and you have all the makings for a miserable time for all.
Of course, India is likely a fascinating place and totally different experience for older children. However, if you're bringing an infant/toddler to India, I'd recommend doing the following:
Contact your child's pediatrician regarding necessary vaccinations. (You may need to contact the Center for Disease Control/whatever agency is appropriate in your country first.) In particular, find out about malaria prevention and mosquito repellent (as some are not appropriate for young children).
Bring plenty of disinfectant hand wipes and/or hand gel. Wash your child's hands frequently.
Eat safely (no street stall foods, no buffets, eat fruits/veg that can be peeled and well-cooked food, drink sealed bottled water).
Use sun screen/mosquito repellent, put a hat and sunglasses on your child.
Wear closed shoes, not sandals.
Bring a first aid kit including (at least): Band-aids, antiseptic wipes/ointment, tweezers, thermometer, age-appropriate pain/fever medicine & stomach/anti diarrhea medicine (check with your doctor for perscription meds), appropriate antibiotics for common childhood infections (such as middle ear infections), diaper rash ointment.
Bring a favorite blanket and stuffed animal.
Keep your child very close in crowded places.
Beware of stray dogs and monkeys!
Most of all realize that your child needs to take breaks - for naps, a swim - so work around your child's schedule - including possible jetlag. Avoid hours on end on public transporation (buses, trains, even taxis). There are many budget airlines in India - no charge for children under 2.
If your child does become sick, seek out a doctor immediately. Most hotels can recommend a doctor, medical clinic, or hospital.
*** If your child is swimming/wading in the sea, take extra care. The undercurrents are very strong!
You will come across monkeys in many places in India - everywhere from temples to forts to jungles. The monkeys in the jungles are not used to interaction with humans and there is less chance they will bother you.
The monkeys that have been fed by humans are more likely to become aggressive - especially when they want more food. While the monkeys may look really cute, you have to remember that even though they'll take food right from your hand, they are still WILD animals.
You usually can purchase bananas, etc. near wherever there are monkeys. We've never had a problem feeding monkeys when there was a group of people around who were also feeding the monkeys. But we've had a few unpleasant encounters with monkeys when no one else was around.
Keep track of all the monkeys around you. If you get distracted with one monkey, another may run up to you and try to grab the food.
Don't carry food in the open and don't carry any plastic bags.
If you're walking through a wooded area/forest you may want to carry some kind of walking stick. Be vigilant about the monkeys overhead in trees.
Hold tightly onto your purse, camera, etc. because they are very mischievous - and fast - and
will grab your belongings and run.
Monkey bites are very serious and diseases can be passed through their saliva. If you do get bitten, clean the wound and see a doctor immediately!!
1. Within India dial 100 or 108 for police.
2. Within India dial 101 or 108 for medical or fire emergency.
3. Although it is common in India, do not offer bribes. If anyone asks for a bribe tell them you will report them to the Anit-Corruption Bureau or the nearest police station.
4. Always carry your passport with you. Put a sticky note inside with the local telephone number of your Consulate.
5. Do not buy, sell, or use narcotics. You do NOT want to end up in an Indian prison!!
6. Be aware of travel warnings. Some areas are considered unsafe for foreigners.
7. Never accept a ride if there's someone accompanying the driver in a taxi or rickshaw.
8. Chain-lock your door when inside your hotel room.
9. Don't flash jewelry or large sums of money.
10. See my separate Warning for Women.
Respect and Common Courtesies...
1. Learn at least Hello, Thank you, Yes, No, and Goodbye in Hindi (at least).
2. Turn your cell phones off inside churches, temples, museums, etc. If it rings and you must take the call, do it outside!
3. If there’s a running commentary (live or recorded) or you're on a guided tour, be polite and be quiet.
4. Dress appropriately and be respectful in temples, churches, mosques. ALWAYS remove your shoes (it's a good idea to carry or wear socks so you don't have to go barefoot). It's a good idea to carry a cover for your head as well.
5. If you’re traveling with children, don’t let them disrupt others around you. If they cry or throw a tantrum, take them outside.
6. If you have a complaint, do it reasonably without yelling and cursing.
7. Please use dust bins/garbage pails!
1. Double-check all hotel and restaurant bills for errors.
2. Don't leave cash and valuables in your hotel room. Use room safes where available.
3. Keep daily cash in separate pockets.
4. Don't flash jewelry or large sums of money.
5. Never pay for anything upfront - including drivers.
6. Avoid touts!
7. Don't exchange money on the black market.
8. Get a receipt when changing money at an authorized establishment.
9. Carry small bills (Rs 10, 20, 50, 100) for tips, public transportation, etc.
Health & Eating...
1. Drink bottled water (check to confirm seal has not been broken). Do NOT drink tap water or any water served in a restaurant in a glass unless you saw it being poured from a sealed bottle.
2. Mind what you eat. One of my great joys while travelling in India is eating street foods. If you're not used to the food or have a sensitive stomach, eat only food that is cooked (and hot), fruit that can be peeled, etc.
3. Bring stomach medications from home that you know work, just in case.
4. Contact the health center in your home country for information on vaccinations and medications. This should be done several weeks before your trip as some medications need to be started weeks before your trip.
5. Avoid eating at buffets, even at 5-star hotels.
6. Wash your hands before eating, after using the bathroom, and other times as necessary.
7. Carry wet ones or hand sanitizers.
8. Be careful of "duplicate" liquor.
9. Don't eat in an empty restaurant. Food may not be fresh. Follow the locals to the good (and usually inexpensive) restaurants.
10. Avoid ice.
1. If there are signs saying “No pictures”, don’t take pictures! (Some airports & bridges, Military Bases, etc. are off-limits!)
2. Learn how to use your camera before the trip. If there are signs saying “No flash”, make sure you know how to use the camera without it.
3. If you see a couple or family with one person taking pictures of the other(s), offer to take a picture of both/all of them. Maybe they’ll reciprocate.
4. Don't take pictures of worshippers.
5. Ask BEFORE you take a photo of someone. Most people will say yes. Show them the photo in the playback screen - something everyone seems to enjoy.
6. You'll be visiting alot of caves, forts, temples, etc. that may be hard to identify when you return home. Before entering, take a photo of a sign with the name of the place (each! cave, etc.).
7. Charge your camera batteries every night.
1. Unless on the beaches of Goa, it's best to dress conservatively. No shorts, short skirs, or shirts displaying too much cleavage. You will have to endure uncomfortable stares, and sometimes comments and even "accidental" touching. (Capris & t-shrits are fine.)
2. If someone does touch you or becomes aggressive, yell LOUDLY. They will likely run away and you will attract the attention of others who will come to your rescue.
3. Avoid walking in deserted areas at night or odd hours.
4. Avoid drinking alcohol in excess.
5. Carry tissue/toilet paper. You never know when you'll need it!
6. Where available, use women's only areas/compartments on public transportation. NEVER ride in the general men's compartment.
7. If you do go out to clubs/bars, NEVER leave your drink unattended and always make sure you have transportation back to your hotel pre-arranged.
8. If travelling alone on the train, request to be accommodated near other women travelers.
9. Never accept a ride if there's someone accompanying the driver in a taxi or rickshaw.
10. Chain-lock your door when inside your hotel room.
11. If you happen to come across a street party or a festive procession, it is best not to take part. Crowds such as those will likely have agressive and/or drunk men. You can watch from a distance and move on when it has passed you.
12. If travelling with a boyfriend/husband it's best to avoid public displays of affection, which can attract lewd remarks and gestures.
13. Use common sense and trust your gut.
Travel Within India
1. If not taking a prepaid taxi or a metered taxi/rickshaw, negotiate the fare before taking off.
2. If spending alot of time with a taxi driver (or any driver), it helps if he speaks and understands basic English.
3. Don't drive on highways at night.
4. When travelling by train, chain and lock your luggage under your berth. Don't keep anything valuable near the window. Carry plenty of water and fruit, and don't eat anything offered by a stranger.
5. Be aware of travel warnings. Some areas are considered unsafe for foreigners.
6. Always carry your passport with you. Put a sticky note inside with the local telephone number of your Consulate.
7. Keep a copy of your passport/visa separate from the original.
8. For women, where available, use women's only areas/compartments on public transportation. NEVER ride in the general men's compartment.
9. For women, if travelling alone on the train, request to be accommodated near other women travelers.
Well, I don´t like to drive scooter, but if you rent one. Drive carefully and don´t drink and drive. For many tourists their vaction are not fun after an accident. Be also sure that you have an insurance. Many tourist from west drive on the right, it is difficult to drive on the left for you, and especially when all the roads arent good and they drive faster too. I would never drive here in India.Related to:
- Road Trip
At the beach.
Well, I understand it can be frustrated when all salesmen want to sell things to you at the beach. I feel it so too. But they have to survive, but I will not warn that they are dangerous or that they steal. Just be prepared that they will "attack" you on the beach with their sales methods. It is up to you, of course, how you treat them. They are very friendly, at least the ones I have met.
Renting a Villa
hey guys, i have heard this from a lot of VT members, os thought of sharing with all.
there are a lot of fake companies which try to book villa's for you online. beware
there is one such person named "Heath Culshaw" who has duped many tourist.
he will take the advance and after you reach the spot you will be told, the villa has already been occupied and so he will give you a refund. but that doesnt happen, so please take care when you book.
VT members are here to help you in any case.
so enjoy goaRelated to:
I hired a moped/scooter for a few days so as to get around and see the sights in Goa. It was my first time on one so it took a while to get used to but after that I really enjoyed it. The roads in Goa are in a better condition than elsewhere in India plus there are no cows wandering around! Just remember to where a crash helmet as you might get pulled over by the police who stop people by the large bridge near Panaji. They stopped me for not wearing a helmet and for not having a license and I got fined Rs550 (it was going to be Rs950 before I started complaining!). They took down my name but not where I was staying. However, they did take down my bikes registration number but I never heard anything more about it.
Dudhsagar Falls access
When we visited the falls in 2003 we travelled by jeep part of the way, and from that point followed a path along the river which was a little precarious in places. Local guides came with us and most of us were glad of their help as we balanced on slippery rocks to reach our destination. When we arrived at the foot of the falls everyone was keen to take photos, but here too you need to take care. Just after taking this photo of us one of our companions stepped closer to the water to get another shot on his own camera, and slipped in. Luckily he was unhurt and the only damage was to his camera and to some very soggy banknotes which we spread out to dry on the rocks, but it would be easy to break your leg here or maybe have an even worse accident so do take care.
One of our guides told us that there were plans to improve the path and make access easier but he said that he and other local people opposed this. The reason he gave us was that the falls would become over-run with visitors and lose their charm, but I’m sure the loss of income from guiding was also a factor. I don’t know whether the plans have come to anything but I suspect not, so do take care if you visit.
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