As expected, the roads in Goa are rough (to say the least!)
If travelling to a country like India, I'm sure most of us don't expect smooth highways - it's a fact of life and people simply live with it.
Holes, bumps, tight corners, crowded roundabouts and crazy drivers.
You'll also notice many cows leisurely crossing the street, not letting the screaming & horn-beeping of the drivers bother them at all - as well as lying fast asleep on the side of the road!
There are also numerous dogs that run around in packs, and also choose to doze-off on the side of the road.
Although we had some extremely close encounters, the drivers seem to do very well with avoiding the animals that share the asphalt with them... I guess it's not so much because of their "love to animals", I could imagine it's more the fear of seriously damaging their cars, tuck-tucks, etc.
If you want to find out about how to help the animals in Goa (and about how we chose to help during a day-trip), click here...
Scooters/motorbikes are widely available for rent, at good prices. But unless you trust yourself and others on the roads; play it safe and take a taxi. During my short stay I met at least 4 tourists on crutches and in bandages that had been involved in some scooter-related road accident!
Just an update. A English woman who visited Goa last year recently died of rabies. I presumed she had somehow got bitten by a wild dog. Turns out it was by a puppy...on a leash, with locals she had befriended. The puppy just nicked her, whilst being stroked...she did not even give it a second thought. Six months later...rabies! This is not to frighten anyone...but do be very careful!
When at crowded rave parties, be cautious of the people around you. Never keep your carry bag in this Position as shown in the Image. There are chances that some jerks may, without your knowledge, slip in a few grams of drugs into your bag while youre busy dancing & enjoying the music and unfortunately if youre caught by a Cop, youve had it and you are in Serious trouble! You cant even prove your innocence as drug laws are very strict in Goa. Also beware of these mad 'Junkies and Freaks' as they might prick you with a Needle/Syringe which all of them would have shared for intake of Hard drugs.
Always carry the bag with you and never leave it unattended as chances of theaft is very high.
Secondly keep checking your pockets regularly and avoid keeping heavy cash in the pockets.
Unfortunately Goa has a major problem with rubbish and great big piles of it is often found along the side of the road, being spread about further by rummaging cows.
If you can, refill your water bottles with filtered water and avoid bying anything in a plastic container.
Visit in November - Jan. We went in Feb and it was a bit too hot at 35 degrees. Not too bad in the shade during the day - but at night time at the end of a fortnight - it was sweltering.
We took Malaria tablets - but apparently (the reps all say) nobody takes them in Goa - so we opted for tonic water instead - it has a similar effect - but non of the tablet side effects like a bad stomach or headaches.
Take a spare suitcase for souvenirs - some insect repellant and some high factor sun cream. There weren't too many insects around though - but its peace of mind.
Watch out for high prices in the posh shops, or people trying to sell you stuff you dont want or cant fit in your case. The vast majority of people are really friendly - but a simple No Thanks works in Goa if you arent interested.
Watch out for the guys that run off with your suitcases at the airport. They are legit - but will need a tip. They ask for an English pound each - but you may find this is a lot compared to the cost of living and for a service you didnt ask for!
Watch out for the overcrowded markets like Anjuna - take a money belt and secure valuables. A guy tried to pick something out of my ear at one point for a tip - if this happens - just walk away. Anjuna was a bit too much for me - I looked too much like a tourist. Avoid looking at any stall you arent interested in - if you look - people expect you to buy.
Take it easy on the food front as much as you can - and drink tonnes of water even if you arent thirsty. We made the mistake of eating loads of Indian food and walking miles in the day time heat. This - along with malaria tablets can lead to stomach aches etc.
While buying eatables like biscuits, chips & other FMCG eatables and juices or while buying medicnes check for the expiry date. In some eatables like biscuits, only the manufacture date is given and it would be mentioned best before. Some shops esp in the coastal village side keep stocks of these goods beyond the expiry date. In city side you would get a genuine stuff.
Also while buying mineral water, check for any dirt particles as sometimes they fill in tap water and seal it in such a way that it looks like a new one.
During the day the dogs in Goa generally sleep as its so hot. So they are active more in the evenings.
If you are walking at night in the less developed areas...or even the backstreets of Baga, Candolim etc...you'll find that as you reach each new property...or area...the local dogs will bark at you. Some may even be aggressive towards you. 'In general' these dogs are harmless...they are just defending their patch...and will soon leave you alone. If you get a few that keep following you...just pitch, or pretend to pitch a stone towards them...your arm action normally makes them run off.
The photo is of 'Nelly' who is the leader of the Arpora pack...
DO NOT eat with your left hand. It's the "toilet hand". Greet, pay and most of all eat with you RIGHT hand.
DO NOT use drugs. Quite politically correct considering we're talking about Goa, BUT possesion of drugs can give you 10 years in the Aguada prison.
DO NOT sit under palm trees. Lovely shade, yes, coconut in the head, no. A surprising number of people die every year from falling coconuts.
DO NOT forget to bargain. If it doesn't have a price tag on it, it's negotiable. They usually start of at three times the price. Except for the Tibet people, much nicer people to make business with.
DO NOT make best friends with any of the 100 000 stray dogs in Goa. They look cute, but they can carry a lot of diseases.
These days you dont see many snakes in Calangute/Candolim...but if you stray further afield to where there has been less development...keep your eyes peeled. If you HAVE to cross a paddy field at night...take a torch...and make lots of noise! The picture is of an eight feet long python that was caught in Arpora in March 2007!
When you leave Goa ( boooooo!!) as you walk into the airport a few people wil try and usher you into a foreign exchange shop and tell you its your 'last chance' to change your rupees and the rate they give you is diabolical!! I think for £10 uk pounds you usually get about 820 rupees, but give 820 rupess back to these guys and you will be lucky to see £3 uk pounds!! you CAN spend these through check in , in duty free, they will LIE to you and tell you - you cant spend them in duty free but you can!
I confronted one of these guys on our last trip and asked why they lie to tourist and the guy just ignored me and carried on fleecing people.
This is the explanation I got from a local - "No , no, no - don't do it. Land and property belongs to designees of state government and cannot be legally deeded over to foreigners"
So my advise is be very careful. It is very difficult to understand / negotiate around local laws, so keep your life uncomplicated.
Not at the beaches definitely, and not really up north Goa, but as you go further down south, into the less touristy areas, (more probably into dense jungles), you just might be alarmed into an encounter with these reptiles. They sometimes do pop up from those vast rice/paddy fields too. There's a lot of stories and I have been privy to some first person experiences.
Moms friends cat was bitten by a viper on the road but saved due to her timely help (the cat came into the house mewing with 2 fang marks like red dots on her paw which inflamed in no time at all. The friend quickly collected the anti-venom from the hospital, rushed her to the vet and got her treated with anti-venom drips without wasting any time).
In their old house in Nuvem, her dog saved her husband from a snake bite, though the dog died (man's best friend?).
She herself killed about 12 cobras in her mother’s house in Nuvem which is now sold.
Once I believe when her dad was sleeping at home, a cobra crawled over his belly. He caught it and killed it but the cobra bit him before dying. He called out to his other daughter (they were about 14 and 15 yrs. then) who came running and sucked out the poison and spat it out. Her dad was saved! The doctor told the saviour that she was fortunate not to have any cavities in her mouth when she did that or else she could have died from blood mixing.
Seems that you have to be a survivor down south, either you get bitten by them or u find a way to outrun them. But then again, this is not in the cities, only in the dense countryside and most countries have this sort of wildlife happening about.
Check out the following links for details. The last link gives you medical information:
Phone Numbers for help
when in Goa youll find a mixture of indian ( a hole in the floor ) and continental( proper sit down ) toilets always carry tissue paper in ur bum bag because most just have a tap where to wash with ur hand instead in wipe and then wash ur hand
please remember that konkan railway has doors which are not secured. that means they can be opened and you can stand in the door and watch the train whiz.
however this is highly dangerous and the train moves at great speeds =100kmph and there will be lurches and vibration movement which can result in a person losing grip on the door handle and result in fatal accident.
sudden entry into tunnels will make your ears pop and the change in pressure to lose your balance. KR trains are not HST(High speed trains)yet and are not pressurised.
allow train to stop completely before entraining and same while boarding. dont get hassled by all the rush around you the konkan railway ticket collectors will guide you properly.
when you approach your destination station be ready with your luggage to entrain as at some stations the train will halt only for 2 minutes.
the whole route is so scenic that you will be tempted to get down at a station to see the surrounding views however keep a watch on train warning horn blast, which indicates that train is about to move.
If you are one of the lucky few who have descended to Goan earth from the sky, to be swiftly borne to your Hotel by cab, you will see none of the dirt and grime that seems to be such an integral part of India.
If, however, you disembark at the Bus Stand or Railway Station, be prepared to see the universal filth that is associated with urbanisation anywhere in India : there is uncleaned garbage piled up in corners, the platforms themselves are dusty and covered with litter and yes....er, spit. ( it is a sorry fact of life that Indians are addicted to spitting in public places, often after chewing tobacco with betel leaf, called paan ). Occassionally there is also some kind of stench emanating from nearby.........
These are the main handicaps that tourists have to bear. Being familiar aspects of their own daily lives, Indian citizens are able to disregard them, but I do admit that they can be shocking to first-time foreign tourists.
The State Government is well aware of this fact and periodically puts up hoardings exhorting its citizens to 'Keep Goa Clean' and Goa's Schools and Colleges routinely carry out cleaning drives annually, but nothing seems to work.
To some extent it is true that these dirtying habits are not 'native' to Goa and that the large amount of filth has come into the State along with migrant labour, in addition to the extensive use of plastic and other disposables, in this last decade. The 'Use and throw' culture has caught on, to the detriment of our environment.
Goa has this effect on everybody : it's welcome is so whole-hearted, that it assimilates everybody who comes here!