Panglao and Alona Beach – what a disappointment…

Ok.. to get to Panglao we got a van/bus close from the island city mall in tagbilarian. Unfortunately we were about the last ones to enter, so it was full and we had to ride outside in the back, an adventure by itself! About 1,5 hours ride along Panglao, which is a much bigger island that we thought! When we arrived we were completely covered in very fine white sandy dust. Now I understand why Philipinos always have a small blanket with them to cover their face and hair.

Enjoying the ride on the back of the van! Haha

Enjoying the ride on the back of the van! Haha

 We jumped of the van close to Alona beach, which is ”the place to be” as we had heard.. We had been recommended an accommodation by the spanish couple we met in El Nido a couple of weeks back. Citadel Alona or something like that it’s called.

They had rooms available for 750 php per night, with a fan. But I’ve never met so unfriendly philipinos as here. I was like ”Hi, do you have room available?” ”yes” ”ok, can I see it?” – no answer, the receptionist just grabs the keys and walks away. Haha. Nothing ”yes sure, follow me” or something. The atmosphere was very unfamiliar, but the rooms were ok, a good price and close to the main beach, they had a kitchen and a nice terrace over the street.

Our room, and my boyfriend sleeping..

Our room, and my boyfriend sleeping..

The terrace at Citadel

Having breakfast in the terrace at Citadel

After installing ourselves we walked down the road to Alona beach. We passed by many bars, restaurants, shops, cafés, souvenir shops, juice bars, dive shops etc. Horribly touristic. And everyone yelling at you and trying to sell you tours or tricycle rides, even when they see you are walking down to the beach?

By the way, there are sooo many korean shops and restaurants here! I wonder why?

By the way, there are sooo many korean shops and restaurants here! I wonder why?

Once at the beach we were like…. WTF? Is this the famous Alona beach? I’ve read many blog posts about this – how amazing panglao and alona beach is – but this is barely a beach! There are boats everywhere so it feels like a pier, it’s dirty water, and a very very thin piece of beach, the rest is restaurants, dive shops and other shops, people… We were quite disappointed. We knew Alona was going to be touristic – but it didn’t even have a charm. We found one spare place in the shadow and stayed there for a while, me reading a really good book, and Duilio fell asleep.

Zzzzzlepy Duilio in the tiny beach..

Zzzzzlepy Duilio in the tiny beach..

The local kids walks up the falling tree, and another kid drags the tree up and down and try to make the other kids fall of the tree

The local kids walks up the falling tree, and another kid drags the tree up and down and try to make the other kids fall of the tree

We met up with the spanish couple from el Nido, Guillermo is doing his dive master here at Bohol Divers Club, which is run by yet another spanish couple, so we hung out there for a while and arranged to go diving in the island of balicasag, it’s a marine sanctuary so you need to get approval to go there, there are limited spaces available to visit the island and the surroundings, so we booked it for the day after tomorrow.

So we had one more day to spend before diving…. We went to the other side of the beach, which looked like it was better, but it was a private beach, you have to pay 700php to stay there, haha. Instead we walked to a non-private part and slept there until we were hungry.

A nice part of the Alona beach, but it costs 700php to sit there... Not like other places where you only need to buy a drink to use it! SUCKS!

A nice part of the Alona beach, but it costs 700php to sit there… Not like other places where you only need to buy a drink to use it! SUCKS!

Haha. I look so happy....

Haha. I look so happy…. Inside the yellow floating things is the private part of the beach

We walked in to the ”Buzz café” by the beach – the best thing that happened to us in Panglao. It’s an organic café with many vegetarian options, I had vegetarian lasagna – so cheesy and with mushrooms – DELICIOUS!!!

We also got complimentary bread with different salsas as a starter, all home-made – and again – delicious! And also to my lasagna I got a salad with vegetables, fruits, and even eatable flowers, and guess what – delicious! Everything really feels like it’s made with love! Haha. We stayed there for a while, ordered coffee, ice-cream, wrote some post cards etc.

Everything we had here was the best we have had in Philippines by far. It was money well spent, compared to our expensive pizza last night haha.  It’s  just as expensive as all the other touristic restaurants – the difference is that it’s totally worth it!! 

 

View from the buzz cafe!

View from the buzz cafe!

The complimentary bread and salsas.... Mmmmmm!!

The complimentary bread and salsas…. Mmmmmm!!

Me and my vegetarian lasagna and the salad!!

Me and my vegetarian lasagna and the salad!!

Even the coffee was great and beautiful at the buzz café!

Even the coffee was great and beautiful at the buzz café!

Then we didn’t have anything to do… There isn’t really anything to enjoy here (Except for the Buzz café ;) We bought some pastries on the way home and had them with a coffee there on our terrace.

Next day, finally, diving! We went down to the dive shop to 8.30 and then out to Balicasag. Our dive group was a 3 chinese, me, Duilio, Guillermo and a Dive master.

Overall the chinese were quite special…
The girl had a long black dress, make up and even fake lashes, and she kept taking selfies for the whole boat trip! On the way diving! And they had a small stuffed toy rabbit with them, and they were going to dive with it!

The chinese had all the gear – dive computer, fins, cameras and everything – and the stuffed toy rabbit of course – we thought they were pro… but they weren’t good divers at all – the dive master had to hold the girl by her tank the whole dive because she kept sinking all the time and not maintaining the same level as him.. crazy. Funny to watch them under water, when they took selfies with the rabbit etc, I have just as many pictures of them as of fishes, hahaha.

But the diving was really good, the visibility was amazing, like 20 meters! We saw turtles too. We did 2 dives, one by a wall, the marine sanctuary, and another by a coral reef, the black forest.

Colorful fishes and corals and great visibility

Colorful fishes and corals and great visibility

Dive along the wall, lot o small fishes

Dive along the wall, lot o small fishes

Turtle with friends :)

Turtle with friends :)

Guillermo, our friend and dive master trainee :)

Guillermo, our friend and dive master trainee :)

Hahah, love this picture, Duilio wondering wtf the chinese girl is doing.. haha

Hahah, love this picture, Duilio wondering wtf the chinese girl is doing.. haha

Hello diving rabbit!

Hello diving rabbit!

Selfie with the rabit!

Selfie with the rabit!

Other cool fishes

Other cool fishes

The dive master holding the girl by her tank so she wouldn't go deeper than him (then his dive watch doesn't help!)

The dive master holding the girl by her tank so she wouldn’t go deeper than him (then his dive watch doesn’t help!)

The crew and the boat was really good too, but there wasn’t any lunch included on the boat as it always has been before when we have dived in the philippines, and they didn’t have any dive computers to rent either, they had just ordered them but they hadn’t arrived yet. To bad, we really like to dive with computers, have to get my own soon!

On the dive boat! With guillermo and the argentinian couple

On the dive boat! With guillermo and the argentinian couple

 

After the diving we were hungry and went for lunch together with Guillermo and Candela and an Argentinian couple and their son that were on the boat with us to Balicasag snorkeling. The son adored Duilio, haha. They were from Rosario in Santa fe, but living in Madrid, haha, small world!

We went to ”Andreas”, which is a kitchen ”cantina” close to our accommodation where all the locals and the people working there goes to eat. There are a lot of pans with different dishes – and you say which ones you want and pay for that. I was surprised to find that they had many vegetarian dishes! I had lentil soup and then some spinach-thing and pumpkin-thing, tofu and rice – and there were plenty more vegetarian to choose! I think my whole meal was about 120 php and I even got a doggy bag with me since I couldn’t finish it.

The typical philippine lunch kitchen :)

The typical philippine lunch kitchen :)

Lovely vegetarian food! Lenses, tofu, spinach, pumpkin...

Lovely vegetarian food! Lenses, tofu, spinach, pumpkin…

Full and happy we went back to our accommodation and fixed a small package of 3kgs to send back home, with some salsa we got at the buzz café, some souvenirs and long armed clothes we haven’t used at all, haha.

Then we bought some Boracay Rum and Pineapple juice (the rum cost 108 php and the juice 95php, haha! – about 2 euros/usd each) and went to our terrace to have some drinks, listening to live music playing from the bar across the street, but having many drinks to the same price as one there, haha. Boracay rum has the same taste as malibu coconut!

Almost the same price for a bottle of rum as for the juice!

Almost the same price for a bottle of rum as for the juice!

We got more Boracay rum from a polish couple we had been talking to earlier that were leaving next day. We bought more juice and got a little bit drunk there by ourselves, haha. Then we got another half bottle from some other guests that also were leaving next day (as us) but weren’t drinking this night, but we gave that bottle to a french couple we started talking to there that had just arrived. Another bad thing with this accommodation – the terrace closes at 22pm! So we got to bed then.. Haha.

Next morning we finally checked out, 2,5 days to many here in Panglao, we took a jeepney to Island City mall (we got seats this time :)) and from there we walked to the bus terminal and took a bus to Anda – and yes – Anda is paradise!! More about that in next post!

Annonser

Yoga retreat in the South of Goa – Yogamea

 

I arrived here in Agonda in the South of Goa almost one week ago, on Monday, around 15 after about 2,5 hours drive from Swan Yoga in Asagao. On the way here we passed by more palm trees, colorful big houses, kids in school uniform, rivers and beaches, until finally arriving in this small paradise.

Agonda is a very small and tranquil little town, not much party or people here, there is one main road and the beachside. There are so many nice little beach huts here, adorable, must be so nice to hear the sound of the waves all the time. The shops are cute here, the vendors are not as annoying either, they’re calm and sweet and you get to know them all :)

Beach huts on the way down to the beach. Beautiful and peaceful!

Beach huts on the way down to the beach. Beautiful and peaceful!

The main street at Agonda. People, cows, dogs, scooters.

The main street at Agonda. People, cows, dogs, scooters.

On the beach

On the beach

There's a school just beside the church

There’s a school just beside the church

I’m in another yogaretreat named Yogamea, but it’s not as busy schedule as in Swan Yoga. We only have 2 asanas per day, but they are 2 hours long each, between 7-9am and 5-7pm. We have the all meals included here, but the food isn’t that good, they don’t have any spices at all, so it doesn’t really taste indian. We have been eating a few lunches out just to get some good indian food. They sell a lot of fish here, but still it’s India, so many vegetarian restaurants as well.

I’m sharing room with a french-canadian, Lydia, and we hang out all the time actually, she’s great. The room wasn’t as nice as Yogamea showed on their website at all, it’s quite basic, but the place is good. The food area is great, and the location is perfect too, we are just beside the main road and have about 2 minute walk down to the beach.

We had Veg makhanwala and navratan korma for lunch one day, we asked what the ingredients are of navratan korma, he said "it's vegetables, together with saus and nuts and dried fruit" - but when we got it, it was fresh fruit... quite wierd! the other thing was better..

We had Veg makhanwala and navratan korma for lunch one day, we asked what the ingredients are of navratan korma, he said ”it’s vegetables, together with saus and nuts and dried fruit” – but when we got it, it was fresh fruit… quite wierd! the other thing was better..

This is where I'm staying next! At agonda palace. Thats our porche!

This is where I’m staying next! At agonda palace. Thats our porche!

Our dining area, very cozy

Our dining area, very cozy

The yoga here is different, I was really confused at first about the sun salutation and some of the pranayamas we do, because there are other versions of the ones I knew and learned at Swan. But the teachers are great, we have had a couple of classes with the owner Timmy, and the other teacher Vilu, and he always corrects me and helps me to get better.

There is 200h yoga teacher course here, so there are many yoga students who also teaches us, so sometimes it’s a little bit repetitive, but it’s good for me :) There’s quite a segregation though, like when we eat, because the students weren’t allowed to speak for like 3 days except for during the class (saving energy or something), so we other retreaters had to stick together haha. The yoga-students have anatomy and yoga philosophy classes, so they have a busier schedule than us in the retreat, we are only 4 persons (with free time between 9am to 5pm).

After morning asana we have fruit breakfast and just relax, we are the four retreaters :)

After morning asana we have fruit breakfast and just relax, we are the four retreaters :)

Afternoon yoga class

Afternoon yoga class

 

But the times really flies here! We have breakfast and sit in our very cozy eating area between 9-10, then we take a shower, we go out for some walking or shopping or we go to the south or north side of the beach, we go back and have lunch at 13 (except for the times we have eaten out), around 14 we go out again, either beach or do the bars along the beach and have some lassi or something, and then back to do yoga again. Haha.

The bars and restaurants along the beach are much more expensive then on the main road, but they have big comfy kind of sofas with big pillows and a view over the beach, and it’s super comfortable to just sit there and chill down after a day in the sun, or when you can’t stand the heat anymore.

Enjoying our first day at the beach!

Enjoying our first day at the beach!

Enjoying ourselves at all these beach restaurants.. got a HUGE coffee and some brown bread with nutella, oh, delicious!

Enjoying ourselves at all these beach restaurants.. got a HUGE coffee and some brown bread with nutella, oh, delicious!

We have been out for a drink almost every evening after the afternoon asana class, there is a place just across our facility called ”My Friends place” where it’s nice and just across the street from Yogamea. One evening they had live music there and we met a woman in her mid 50’s from Canada, Flora, who had been abroad for over 25 years, so cool. She was now living in China. She was super cool!

The other night we sat in one of the beach bars in the comfy sofas and I ordered some sweets from south of goa and hot chocolate, watched the stars, sometimes a firework, and just the sound of the waves. I’m glad they don’t play music, it’s just very peaceful. And there are no mosquitos here at night, it’s such a relief!!

At "my friends place" just acros Yogamea, enjoying my first drink in India!

At ”my friends place” just acros Yogamea, enjoying my first drink in India!

Enjoying live music at my friends place another night

Enjoying live music at my friends place another night

Having some night snacks and beverages at the beach loving life

Having some night snacks and beverages at the beach loving life

I got a henna tattoo, the girl who made it is Sarsu (little bit unsure how it’s spelled) is only 19 and have never been to school! So she doesn’t know how to read or write. It’s weird to just imagine not be able to read the signs everywhere.  She has learned english through tourists! She has 4 sisters and 2 brothers, 2 of the sisters are married and the younger 2 sisters and the 2 brothers are still in school, she works here in the shop and provides for them so they can go in school. She was super sweet. :)

Getting my first henna tattoo

Getting my first henna tattoo

Henna tattoo

Henna tattoo

Went back to Sarsu to her shop to fill in my henna, she was like "Is it ok to wait 2 minutes while I do my prayers?". So sweet.

Went back to Sarsu to her shop to fill in my henna, she was like ”Is it ok to wait 2 minutes while I do my prayers?”. So sweet.

On Friday we rented 2 scooters, me, Lydia and Milo from Italy, one of the others doing the retreat. We drove to Cabo da Rama, which is not far away at all, but there’s no way to get there without scooter or hiring a car. It was fun to ride scooter, the roads here are great, and there is only one so it’s difficult to get lost, and there’s almost no traffic at all. It’s just uphill downhill uphill downhill all the time, Goa isn’t flat at all!

We rented scooters and went exploring in the surroundings!

We rented scooters and went exploring in the surroundings!

So in Cabo da Rama there’s a an old fort, In the past it has switched hands between Hindu, Muslim monarchs and the Portuguese and witnessed many battles in history. Now it’s almost only ruins and some rusty cannons. It was abandoned when the Portuguese left this place. And then it was a government prison till 1955 and was abandoned again. It’s really ruins, so I don’t understand how the prison was really, since it was only 60 years back.

At the top of the hill at Cabo da rama fort with a view over everywhere!

At the top of the hill at Cabo da rama fort with a view over everywhere!

Cabo da rama fort and surroundings

Cabo da rama fort and surroundings

With Lydia and Milo

With Lydia and Milo

 Nice views from Cabo da Rama fort

Nice views from Cabo da Rama fort

A woman on her morning walk

A woman on her morning walk

Soo many palmtrees!!

Soo many palmtrees!!

We spotted many monkeys!

We spotted many monkeys!

Exploring!

Exploring!

After sweating our asses off in 39 degrees and enjoying all the surrounding views, we took the scooters to a local restaurant along the way and had some veg thali. For 3 thalis, plus one extra portion thali for Milo, 3 extra breads, 3 sodas, one bag chips, one water bottle and one ice cream, we paid 450 rupees (about 5-6 euro/USD)-total! Cheap huh!

Then we drove back on the road against Agonda, stopped in a small village on the roadand had some Tea masala for 5 rupees, bought some petrol, felt sorry for all the cute little street puppies, and drove towards Cova beach. It was quite a bumpy road to the beach, only packed sand and stones along hills and cliffs, a little scary sometimes – but it was totally worth it!

The green lagoon at Cova

The green lagoon at Cova

The cottages at cova beach, so peaceful!

The cottages at cova beach, so peaceful!

Taking a bath in the lagoon at cova beach! Ah! So fresh!

Taking a bath in the lagoon at cova beach! Ah! So fresh!

In Cova it was super peaceful, nothing more there than a few cottages, one bar, the sea and a green lagoon with sweet water which was beautiful, you could se cows on the sides eating grass. The water in the lagoon was so much colder than the sea, really relaxing. You can’t reach this place with a heavy vehicle, the roads are to big for busses (you can drive car, but there’s enough space for meeting another car in the opposite direction).

We enjoyed a couple of hours there and then we had to go the bumpy ride back to be in time for our afternoon yoga.

 

Today, Saturday we did our last shopping, had some pastries at the main road, talked to the vendors, had yoga, and at night we went out for a couple drinks (compared to the regular 1 at night), since it’s our last night here. We had one kingsfisher beer to some live music on the beach, and then another beer at the other side of the beach.

But there’s really nothing going on even on a Saturday night here, the bar which we were closed since we were the last customers, and it was around 23-23.30. All the shops were closed when we walked back to, total silence.

Had some pies

Had some pies

I really love all these copper things here, but they are so heavy!!

I really love all these copper things here, but they are so heavy!!

Live music at the beach and indian beer

Live music at the beach and indian beer

 

I really like Agonda, everyone is so friendly, always saying goodnight or goodmorning, even if you don’t know them. It’s really a small town feeling. And you get to know the vendors and the waiters on the places, see them somewhere else and say hi to them to when you walk around. It’s really nice, you kind of feel at home here very easily :) This is really a place for total relaxation. 

 

Delivering fruits with a scooter

Delivering fruits with a scooter

Omg I love the signs here, they are always misspelled

Omg I love the signs here, they are always misspelled

There's a school just beside the church

There’s a school just beside the church

Yes... we are reaaally enjoying ourselves!

Yes… we are reaaally enjoying ourselves!

So many cows on the beach!

So many cows on the beach!

Sunday is the day off here at the retreat, but we have yoga in the morning anyways, they sort of special arranged it for us because we wanted to have it tomorrow. After we are going to a place that we spotted today called Krishna where we are going to treat ourselves with some ajurvedic massage.

We have dealed the price, so we are have rejuvenating or deep tissue massage, then we have khizi and we also have a facial treatment and massage, so it’s 3 treatments, it will be about 2 hours and the price is only 1100 rupees! (around 15 euro/USD). At Swan Yoga I had Khizi too (the powders and the hot oil thing) and it was 1200 for ONLY that one reatment. So yeah, this is a very nice price!

(Updated: The Khizi was only half body, but still, the whole treatment was about 2 hours and really good. The full body massage was the best, the facial wasn’t really relaxing but more rubbing the face hard)

Then we are going to have some nice indian food somewhere, my last indian meal!

After the 2 hours massage (I look quite puffy in my face) I had my last indian meal, veg thali, before heading to the airport

After the 2 hours massage (I look quite puffy in my face) I had my last indian meal, veg thali, before heading to the airport

Sunday is also our last day here before going to our new destinations, I’m going to the airport around 14 and Lidia is heading north in India (she is traveling allover India for over 3 months).

I’ve enjoyed this week of real vacation together with yoga, I’ve learnt many new asanas and mantras, got much more bendy, even bought a yoga mat so that I don’t have an excuse for not doing yoga everyday, and I’ve eaten and treated myself as one should do on their vacation, haha. I even have a new habbit, to drink tea, even if it’s 30 degrees outside, which is good for me and my metabolism. :)

Now I’m heading to the Philippines, my first flight leaves Goa at 5pm today, Sunday, and I’ll arrive in Manila around 5pm tomorrow (Flying goa-mumbai-dubai-manila) and there I will meet up with my boyfriend Duilio! :)

So bye India!! Gonna miss you!!

Yoga retreat in the North of Goa – Swan Yoga

I arrived in the airport of Vasco de Gama and had a driver there waiting for me, Camilo. He was very funny and sweet. We had about 1,5 hours drive in front of us to reach Asagao, where Swan Yoga is located.

My first impressions of goa was: aahhh!!! So nice here!! It’s hot, sunny, green, there’s both rivers and sea and the best thing of all; you can breathe! There’s like no pollution and palmtrees everywhere! Goa is much more laid-back, like a surfers place kind of compared to Delhi.

I arrived in the afternoon at Swan Yoga, ready for one weeks yoga retreat. I visited an ayurvedic doctor and then and I had dinner with the gang that was in the retreat. It was a nice group, which Shirin from Iran, Ayse from Turkey, Daniela from Mexico (living in China), Chantelle from Canada (living in China) Scott from US, John from UK, Britta from Canada (living in Australia), and Tine and Ann from Belgium. They had all arrived earlier then me, the retreat recommends to come on a Friday and I came on a Monday. All our teachers and the ones working on Swan yoga was also amazing.

First dinner with the gang!

First dinner with the gang!

Swan Yoga is located in the hills and surrounded by jungle. They grow almost all their vegetables and fruits them selves in their gardens. We all live in eco-friendly cottages, but the space it’s quite big, there is a kitchen and food area, a yoga hall (shala) , a temple where we do fire ceremonies or similar things, another hall (shala) where we did the Nitrakaya (stare into a candle flame), and there was a whole section with Ayurveda practices, a very cool reception and a ”fake beach” with sands and sun chairs with parasols and small bar next to it where you could buy healthy juices, fruit salad and things like that. Everything felt very close to nature and was very peaceful and with great energy.

My cottage, number 6, Ajna!

My cottage, number 6, Ajna!

The reception - so cozy!

The reception – so cozy!

Scott taking a walk through the Ayurveda gardens

Scott taking a walk through the Ayurveda gardens

Waiting for the morning yoga class to begin

Waiting for the morning yoga class to begin

Love that you can see the stars at night so well from Swan Yoga

Love that you can see the stars at night so well from Swan Yoga

The friday fire ceremony, were we chanted a mantra 108 times :)

The friday fire ceremony, were we chanted a mantra 108 times :)

What I liked the most about this retreat is that you don’t only do the ”Asana” – which is the physical training on the yoga mat (what we in Europe actually call yoga but it’s a very little part of it) – but you get to know the indian life and the philosophy about yoga. There is so much more, thousands of years of knowledge about this – and I have barely just touched a little tip of it. I love how incorporated yoga is together with the spiritual and lifestyle here. I got many tips and advices and a lot of food for thought while listening to the wisdom of our yogis and to of course, stories (Indians love to tell stories ;)

Our daily schedule looked something like this (changed everyday):

tuesdays schedule

tuesdays schedule

Quite busy schedule huh! We always started at 6am with about 45 minutes meditation. It was all completely black then when we started, but about the time we opened our eyes in the end, it was bright and the sun was just rising. Such a nice feeling!

I loved the meditation in the morning. It’s amazing how the mind works, how you can bring awareness do different parts of your body or your surroundings. One morning we also did it on the beach – fantastic! We went to mini-vagator beach, which is all quiet. Apparently if you go to the other beaches around, there are still people up partying around that time. We had some fruit there listened to Shivendras and Gyanmidras stories :)

morning meditation at the beach. Ayses picture

morning meditation at the beach. Ayses picture

Sunrise at the beach

Sunrise at the beach

Having breakfast at the beach :)

Having breakfast at the beach :)


We always had 2 asanas
(excersices in the yoga hall) every day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. In between we had another class, either yoga philosophy, yoga nidra, trataka, chakra drawing, or similar. After the afternoon asana we Tulsi Puja everyday before dinner, and on weekends we had fire ceremony.

The holy basil, which we do a Tulsi Puja for everyday. We do a small ceremony to thanks mother Tulsi for this plant

The holy basil, which we do a Tulsi Puja for everyday. We do a small ceremony to thanks mother Tulsi for this plant

Me and Tine doing yoga

Me and Tine doing some streching in asana class

So yes, we had quite a busy schedule, but between 12.30-17.00 we had free time.

The first day we went to a coffee place close to Swan (just walking 45 minutes down the road ;) and enjoyed some nice smoothies and not so healthy cakes haha. Then we walked back for the afternoon asana. Another day we went for the Anjuna Flea Market, and 2 days we had a cooking class. The rest we spent at the fake beach or on our porches drwaing Chakras.

On our way to the bakery

On our way to the bakery

Enjoying some juices, smoothies, coffee and cakes at a nice cafeteria down the streets

Enjoying some juices, smoothies, coffee and cakes at a nice cafeteria down the streets

Me and Chantelle hanging at the fake beach bar :)

Me and Chantelle hanging at the fake beach bar :)


The Anjuna flea Market though –
what a crazy place – sooo many tents and shops, and it was super hot – and I was surprised to see so many foreigners – like every tourist is here! It was a little bit fun to bargain, like if someone sells you a pair of pants and says it costs 600, you can easily get them down to 250-300. It’s actually very cheap anyways, but I don’t like when they try to get advantage of you, but as long as I find the price fair I’m glad. Anyhow, it was kind of exhausting!

The anjuna flea market

The anjuna flea market

At the anjuna flea market!

At the anjuna flea market!


The food at Swan was amazing
, super healthy Ayurveda vegetarian Indian food, and as said earlier, almost everything is from their own farmlands, and it was all perfectly spicy and with rich flavors. We did a Ayurveda cooking class on our free time for 2 days and got to know and make Palak Panir (Spinach and soya-cheese or cottage cheese), Polow (indian vegetables with rice), a fusion salad, Dal (lentil soup), coriander chutney salsa, and a dessert called Halwa. I’m looking forward to be able to do this at home, I’ve bought some spices so I can! Hehe.

Before and after cooking you always sing a mantra and prays for the food to be good, that it's made with love and it doesn't go to waste.

Before and after cooking you always sing a mantra and prays for the food to be good, that it’s made with love and it doesn’t go to waste.

Preparations for the cooking class - so many nice vegetables!!

Preparations for the cooking class – so many nice vegetables!!

At the cooking class. This is Swan Yogas kitchen - can't believe they do all our food, for about 20-30 people (sometimes up to 60 people) on only 2 stoves!!

At the cooking class. This is Swan Yogas kitchen – can’t believe they do all our food, for about 20-30 people (sometimes up to 60 people) on only 2 stoves!!

At the cooking class. The north americans are good students while Daniela, me and Shiring reather do selfies, haha.

At the cooking class. The north americans are good students while Daniela, me and Shiring reather do selfies, haha.

The food we cooked in the cooking class!

The food we cooked in the cooking class!

I also went to an Ayurvedic Doctor, got to know that my body type is Pitta-Kapha, but that my Kapha is very much increased so right now I’m more Kapha-Pitta, so I got a few treatments and a diet and some exercises o follow so I can bring the Pitta down and balance my body so it works as it should. Very interesting, a little bit hard to follow while traveling, but I’ll do my best! For example I can only eat tomatoes, cauliflower, raw onion, milk products etc once a week, because it’s not good for me, but some things that are good for me are carrots, pumpkin, beetroot, citrus fruits, lentils etc. I have a whole list! So I’ll try to keep that in mind!

Ayurveda doctor and treatments!

Ayurveda doctor and treatments!


We had the Friday off,
so I went more north in Goa, about 45 minutes away with car, to a big beach called Arambol. So much life there, but it was really nice to be on the beach! I did some shopping, had lassi and coffee with a view over the beach, got really burned on my back (damn the sun is so strong here! I had cream…. But I should have reapplied like 5 times more).

The beach at Arambol

The beach at Arambol

Many nice shops along the beach!

Many nice shops along the beach!

 

I had a long conversation with one of the vendors on the beach, her name is Mona, she just sat down beside me and started talking. She felt sort of tired of her job, she is just walking the beach up and down trying to sell scarfs or similar. She told me that it’s not a very good year, not so many tourists and business, and she is tired of walking in the sun, she doesn’t want to get more tanned.

She told me that she is from another city in the north, but she comes here for the season and spends 6 months here before going back. She had been doing this for 3 years now, and she was only 15 years old!! She told me that she went to school up to 5th grade, because it’s only free up to that, and then she had to start working. Hard life! This year was her little sisters first year here to, I got to meet her, but the lil-sister hadn’t learnt English yet, while Mona had by being here working and talking to the tourists.

This is Mona!

This is Mona!


We had quite many birthdays during the week too
, Gyanmidra (the one who started Swan) had his 47th birthday, John from UK also had birthday and both were celebrated with cake.

On February the 14th, valentines day (which nobody knew or noticed until noon), it was Ohms and Gyans Gurus birthday, so we celebrated that with a fire ceremony in the temple, singing a special song dedicated to him. A guru is almost like a god here, it’s someone they have lived and eaten with for a long time, a teacher who had showed them the way of life and yoga.

Birthday celebration, valentines day and fire ceremony

Birthday celebration, valentines day and fire ceremony

Birthday celebration of The guru, valentines day and fire ceremony

Birthday celebration of The guru, valentines day and fire ceremony

For Gianmitras birthday we lit up a fire on the fakebeach

For Gianmitras birthday we lit up a fire on the fakebeach

Chocolate cake! :)

Chocolate cake! :)

Many left on Friday or Saturday and honestly it was a bit sad without them. But I was glad that almost half of the group stayed a little bit longer, like Shantelle and John that was leaving on the same day as me, and Scott that was spending one week more here, and Shirin of course who is staying in Goa for months with her mother. A new group arrived, they were all very kind and funny too, but  I didn’t got to know them to much either since I left on the Monday, but they were only 6 persons, and with Shirin and Scott a total of 8, so quite a small group.

Shirin feels like a local, she showed us and took us to different places with her car, small funny roadtrips :) We went to a big afternoon market on Saturday, we left about 21, we were like ”What, so late??” Haha. And it was really crowded! So many scooters outside!

When you were entering the market you had to go through metal detectors and security checking your bags so you didn’t bring drugs or anything in. In Goa there are a lot of drugs and party going on, but I didn’t really notice anything of it since I was at the retreat, but I could tell from the people and the stores, they have a lot of rave-stores kind of.

Inside it was huge, but much nicer than the Anjuna market, this was more personal with a lot of specialty shops, and also a food court and live music. It was really nice. We got home about 23 – quite late for us since we always got to bed around 20 the other days! Haha.

At the night market, Shirin and John in the picture

At the night market, Shirin and John in the picture

Live music and outdoors barhanging at the night market

Live music and outdoors bar hanging at the night market

The last thing I did on Monday was the Kriya – a cleansing – so we had salt water running through one nosil to the other, cleaning our nose, and then we had to drink minimum 4 big glasses of salt water very quickly to throw it up and clean our stomach (I wasn’t able to drink more then 2 though, but I puked for a looong time). The third cleansing was to drink about 8 glasses and do some yoga postures to cleanse the intestines, so you shit everything out later, but I didn’t do that since I was leaving the Yoga retreat and I had to be in a car for 2,5 hours haha.

Ohm telling about Kriya (you see some of the water and the nose-things there on the table)

Ohm telling about Kriya (you see some of the water and the nose-things there on the table)

But before moving on I wanted to send home some souvenirs and clothes I wouldn’t use more, and Shirin was kind drive me to Mapusa so I could send home a package by indian post mail. It’s quite special here – you have to put a white wool fabric around your package and stitch it (which you can go to a place outside the post office to do it) before standing in a long cue at the post office to actually send it. But it was super cheap, I paid for the box and fabric and stitching about 140 rupees (2 euros/usd) and the package that was 6,7 kgs didn’t even cost 2300 rupees (30 euro/usd) to send to Sweden by air. So cheap!!

The little place where you can get help with packaging your parcial. You see that he man is stitching my box with the white fabric :)

The little place where you can get help with packaging your parcial. You see that he man is stitching my box with the white fabric :)

Anyhow, the week at Swan Yoga passed super fast, and it was time to go. I would have enjoyed staying another week to learn more about the way of the yogis, I only got a little taste of it.

It has been a true pleasure!!

 

Group picture!

Group picture!

 

Golden Triangle Tour – Amber and back to Delhi

Woke up in Jaipur quite early and had my first indian breakfast served to my room. Quite spicy!!! Don’t know how they can eat this for breakfast, haha.

Indian breakfast - Aloo Paratha. Spicy!!!

Indian breakfast – Aloo Paratha. Spicy!!!

Then for the first time my driver Mahender was staying at the same hotel, so we met up about 7.45 to drive to the city of Amber.

I noticed the first time that neither motorbikes have rear windows installed at all! I know cars and tuk tuks pull them in, but yeah… must be difficult! The horn is the law here! Haha. Another thing I’ve noticed is that nobody has GPS, not the taxis, the drivers or the tuktuks. It’s like in South America, they often stop to ask people along the way, or they call ahead to the place they are going to get directions. I wouldn’t survive without GPS anymore I think, I’m so used to always have it with me in the phone.

We drove past Jaipur, saw plenty of monkeys running around the pink walls!!

I also saw my first roadkill here in India :( I’m actually surprised I haven’t seen more, you always pass by some pore dead animal in Sweden but our animals are often smaller and it’s usually on roads close to the forest. Here I’ve seen thousands of cows cross the road slowly without getting harmed, even in rough traffic. Also donkeys, sheep, elephants, camels, dogs, horses… They are just in the middle of town crossing the streets!

We got up in the hills above Jaipur, to visit Amber (Amer, apparently it’s called both). It’s about 11 km north of central Jaipur. It’s beautiful around there!

My below Amber Fort and Palace

My below Amber Fort and Palace

My guide told me though that the vendors up there work for the Jaipur mafia, if I understood it correctly, and since he didn’t want to get any problems with them because he is there everyday, he said that he will be quiet in front of them. I understood what he meant later, they are on to you sooo much, like trying to sell things up your face all the time, you had to be quite rude to them for them to understand!

If you get to the bottom of the hill early in the morning you can take an elephant-ride up to the fort. It was quite expensive, 1100 INR ( 15€/USD) but I think it was worth it, it was my first elephant ride and I enjoyed it. It was super tranquil and nice smooth ride, you just kept moving from one side to the other slowly, having a beautiful view over the sunrise over the Maota lake.

Such a nice view! Just dangling from side to side watching the sunrise!

Such a nice view! Just dangling from side to side watching the sunrise!

It’s a quite touristic thing to do though, so you have to be there early if you don’t want to stay in cue for hours. I’ve read many bad things about the elephant rides, that they treat them bad and all, but my guide told me that these elephants belongs to the “driver”, and they treat them as a part of their family. They actually have a whole elephant-village where the families with elephants live. They work, eat and sleep together. I’d love to visit that village! Along the way up there are many photographers too that takes your picture and then sell it to you (yes, I bought it, but bargained it down from 1500 rupees to 500)

Me on my elephant ride!

Me on my elephant ride!

Oh, another thing about elephants. They are only female elephants! There is only one male elephant in whole Jaipur, and it’s only for breeding for new elephants (haha, he must have a good life :). Earlier they had male elephants doing the rides, but they often got into fights with the other elephants, and many tourists died! So now it’s forbidden to use the male elephant for it!

Anyhow, when we came up to the entry gate of the fort, the Sun Gate, I had to little money with me, the entrance was 500 INR, I had misunderstood the guide that said that the car was going up too, but apparently it was after the visit. So the guide borrowed some money from some of his friends up there that also comes everyday, and they arranged to borrow me money. So sweet! They always help each other out here. The same earlier when I was going to tip the elephant-driver, he exchanged a 500 rupees bill to hundreds with the help from 5 other elephant drivers along the way up, haha.

The Sun gate and courtyard

The Sun gate and courtyard

Amber Fort is a massive fort-palace complex built with a mix of Muslim and Hindu architecture. It’s constructed of red sandstone and marble. It’s on 4 levels with different courtyards, palaces and gardens. It and has a lot of history, definitively worth to have a good guide there!

The fort is originally believed to have been built by Raja Man Singh, The king of Amber, during 967 CE. The structure was expanded by his descendants and successive rulers over the next 150 years, but when the population grew the Kachwahas decided to shift capital and make a new city lower on the ground were it’s easier to expand and have water and food for everyone , so that’s why Jaipur is the first planned city (1727).

My Guide in front of a building with a mix of Hindu and Muslim architechture

My Guide in front of a building with a mix of Hindu and Muslim architechture

Love the valves!

Love the valves!

View over the bay and the Maoka Lake!

View over the bay and the Maota Lake!

The main sight within includes the Shees Mahal (“Mirror palace”), a saloon adorned with thousands of mirrors on the walls and ceiling. During winter they put up a curtain around the saloon and light up many candles, so it reflects everywhere, and they had a dance there under the sparkling lights :)

The Mirror Palace

The Mirror Palace! (You can’t really see the mirrors in this pic, but everything is of small small mirrors!

Hello form one of the mirrors in the mirror palace :)

Hello from one of the bigger mirrors in the mirror palace :)

 

I was surprise of how complex the construction was in the fort,  everything was so well planned! They had a winter house and summer house, created in different ways, for it to either get hot or cooled down.

Like the Sukh Niwas (Hall of Pleasure) – it has marble inlay work with perforations looking down, because they know that the heat goes up, so the heat will leave the inside to go out, but it will not come back. It also has a piped water supply that flows through a open channel that runs through the room, going out to the garden just cross the hall. It’s aircondition, old style!

Antique AC with leaning perforations so the hot can go out

Antique AC with leaning perforations so the hot can go out

The water came through there on the other side and through the channel in the floor into the garden

The water came through there on the other side and through the channel in the floor into the garden

The Garden in front of the Pleasure Hall

The Garden in front of the Pleasure Hall

Along this they also have a hall of public audience, private audience, a jacuzzi, a part where all the Maharajans 12 wives lived in – they had different apartments, all with own entrances from the corridor so that the Maharajan could visit them without the other wife knowing of it. They have their own system for taking up water from the lake, and also they have this nice kind of closed balcony with honey comb windows, and just beside that there was so many beehives!!

Me in front of the honeycomb windows :)

Me in front of the honeycomb windows :)

Water coming up!

Water coming up!

Photo exhibition

Photo exhibition

 

After the Amber tour we went back to Jaipur to drop Gaurau of  (my guide). I forgot to tell you in the last entry, but he does yoga every morning at 4am in front of the water palace! Then he walks around the lake for about 1 hour before starting working around 7am. So cool! Yoga is so incorporated in everybodies life here in India!!

His wife called yesterday just when the tour was about to end and asked where he was, because she was waiting for him for the afternoon tea. Haha. So sweet. Maybe that’s a custom that still remains from the British rulers? Wouldn’t surprice me :)

We said goodbye to our great guide and me and Mahender started the journey back to Delhi. I’m surprised that there are so many hotels, motels, restaurants and kiosks – everywhere! In the middle of nowhere. But there are so many Indians on the go, so I guess some people stop there to sleep and eat.

Like this place we ate at just along the high way- Sagar Ratna. It was really great food and cheap and superb service! It’s like a great road-restaurant! How many customers go there? I don’t know. I hope they get a lot!

Pesarattu Mla Dosa - made with whole green gram and stuffet with nutruios upma.

Pesarattu Mla Dosa – made with whole green gram and stuffet with nutruios upma.

I had a Pesarattu MLA Dosa, made with whole green gram and stuffed with nutritious upma. To that I had a lassi – delicious!! Total price about 4 €/USD. Across me I had a businessman that seemed very wealthy, he was eating with sunglasses, had like 5 different golden rings on EACH hand, expensive clothes and was talking in his Iphone 6 plus all the time.

That’s one thing that feels good here compared to South America – that I can bring my iphone here without it being weird. Almost everyone has smart phones here.

Mahender asked me what I did last night, I said I watched some TV. He asked me if I watch Discovery Channel. Yeah I do, he said “My kids watch Discovery Channel” I said “That’s good if they watch that instead of crappy tv!” he says “Yes! I say: No movies, no cartoon, only discovery channel! They can watch for it for 1 hour only, and my sons loves it” . Oh! I’m gonna miss Mahender :)

We arrived around 17 to Delhi and I checked in at my hostel, Stops Hostel. Great hostel! Quite much security, had metal detectors, tv cameras everywhere, security gards. They have their own bar, a biljard hall, a outside terrace with ping pong, a quiet room area, they arrange tours on different days of the week, they had 3 dogs :) And the staff was so friendly and helpful!!

Cute hostel doggies! :)

Cute hostel doggies! :)

After fixing my stuff I was hungry and asked for recommendations for a restaurant. They had one a few hundred of meters from our hostel, a nice vegetarian indian restaurant. On my way there I had to step out in the traffic because the whole pavement (that has roof) was filled with people sleeping under. Hurts my heart.

Punjabi Khana, the restaurant, was great! I had some Dal (Lentils) and Garlic Naan bread. Next to me there was a big big indian family, about 15 people, from babies to grandmothers. It was lovely to watch them. The restaurant was packed with indian families this Friday night. :)

Sneakpic of the indian family, but can't see the lively children though :(

Sneakpic of the indian family, but can’t see the lively children though :(

Then I got back to the hostel and tried to sleep, but one of my roomies (I was in a 4-dormitory) was snoring soooo loud! The rest of us 3 woke up plenty of times and knocked on the guy and threw pillows on him, but he wouldn’t stop. Luckily he left 4 am in the morning. Haha.

 

Golden Triangle Tour – From Agra to Jaipur – The Pink City of India

I slept fantastic well in the confy bed in Agra. I had the breakfast in the restaurant, it was a complimentary breakfast buffet. But I must say I was a little disappointed, the only thing I didn’t like about this hotel. They had some indian food, but the continental breakfast was just plain white bread, butter and jam. Then there was some juice and hot water for instant coffee. Ah, they had papaya to. But nothing else, and such a luxury hotel. I would have liked some cheese and tomatoes or something for the toast.. and maybe other bread than white :/ But but. I’m in India! Haha. Also there were eggs, but I opened one, and the yellow was a kind of white with a turn to the grey side, nothing yellow at all, so I didn’t feel to eat it.

Not so nice egg. No thank you.

Not so nice egg. No thank you.

We left at 8 in the morning again. Agra is also more beautiful in the morning, as Delhi was. I think it’s because it’s less people and the city is sort of awaking, and there is always a special morning light. It’s nice to see all the people going to their jobs or schools, and they are really dressed up. I’m surprise to see people in nice dressing pants and shirt or with school uniform, it’s like a big contrast from the dirty streets, like they don’t belong or are totally unaware of the chaos around them. Everyone is very proper dressed (only the really really really poor people have old and dirty clothes). Indians do care a lot about their looks. Even the poor people always have short newly cut hair. You see outside “hair dressers”, you often se a man in a stool in the street with a small hand mirror, and someone behind cutting his hair.

So once again there were about 250 kms from Agra to Jaipur. But this journey went a lot faster then yesterdays, which was shorter kilometer-wise. The surrounding scenery on this road was much more beautiful, I expected to see the same as yesterday, but this was filled with green areas, forest, lot’s of yellow raps mark.  Also the road was great, seemed new and with no bumps. My driver Mahender is happy. “The Rajastan road is very very nice”. 

We passed by quite many factories where they do altars in marble and pink stone. There were like 100 of them along the way! They export to the whole india from there.

Also a lot of brick factories, in one burning they do about 10.000 bricks, so that’s what almost all the houses are made of. You see people building their houses along the road everywhere. They have long tree sticks/poles for scaffolding. Doesn’t seem all that safe, haha.

Raps mark

Raps mark

Many pink altars and temples and other statues along the road!

Many pink altars and temples and other statues along the road!

Brick factory with a camel (dromedar probably though)

Brick factory with a camel (dromedar probably though)

 

We drove by less villages and cities then yesterday, but it’s still surprising to me that people build their houses a stone’s throw from the big thoroughfare. Why not build the house at least 20 meters from the road, just to avoid a little bit of the traffic noise and dust? Don’t know. Almost every house also had a few cows outside. They use them for milk, since the cow is holy here.

The trucks are quite loaded!

The trucks are quite loaded!

My Driver Mahender is very keen on his car, always washing it and taking of the dust.

My Driver Mahender is very keen on his car, always washing it and taking of the dust.

Mahender asked me if I like to cook. I answered and asked him the same question. He answered “Yes I like, but I can only 3 dishes. Omelette, rice and chicken”. I said “oh really, so you eat that every day?” “No, only Sundays, it’s my cooking days. Me, my daughter and my son eats, my wife doesn’t like my cooking” hahaha. He is very sweet, has a very big heart. He told me that he doesn’t take any vacation either, because he works whenever he can. This trip is a short trip for him, usually he is out for longer than a week, then when he has some days off he comes home to look after his family and house, that everything is ok.

Mahender told me that his wife called him when we were in Jaipur and asked where he is.  “I say I’m in agra, on my way to Jaipur – My wife got very happy” “Why happy?” “Because, she says now I can buy her bangles, and she sad many, for at least 1000 rupees!” Hahah. Jaipur is famous for their bangles (bracelets).

We arrived in Jaipur around noon. Finally a city I like!! Jaipur is the largest city in the state of Rajasthan and was built in the 18th century by Sawai Jai Singh as India’s first planned city. Every building within the walled historic centre is painted a terracotta “pink” colour and there are few exceptions to this uniformly colour scheme. It is so much cleaner here, the traffic isn’t that dense, and the city itself is much more beautiful since it’s all more uniform.

In the center of Jaipur

In the center of Jaipur

We met up with the guide Gaurau Bhatt and he was great, he started directly telling me the history of the city. He spoke very understandable English

Jaipur has about 6 million habitants.  It is known as ”The pink city of India”.  The city has enforced this color under local law, it’s illegal for buildings to be painted any other colour than Jaipur Pink.  It is said that the city is pink because the king of Tejpur, The Maharaja, was going to have a visit from the Prince of Wales in 1876 and wanted to impress him. The colour chosen was a terracotta pink as this colour historically represents welcoming and hospitality. But my guide actually told me that the Maharaja chose this color because of his religion, because he worshipped 2 gods – and this ”pink” is a mix of both of the colors these gods represents – the yellow from the hindu god Shiva and the red (I think) from hindu god Brahman.

We started with the Palace of Winds, Hawa mahal, which is Jaipurs most distinctive landmark. It has 5 floors and 953 small  honey comb windows. It was constructed in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh so that royal ladies could watch the life and processions of the city, because during that time women always had a face cover were not allowed to show their faces in public. The intricated lattice works lets cool air through the Palace, even during hot summer, and that’s why it’s called Palace of Winds.

Palace of the wind

Palace of the winds

 

Then we went into the City Palace, what a place!  It’s from the 20th century and has a striking blend of Rajasthani and Mughal architecture. It has a welcome palace, hall of public audience, a lot of gates and the private palace. The private palace is the only building that is not Pink in Jaipur (“Everything should be painted but my palace!” he said because the king was above the prince, so to show that, the whole city except for his own home was painted in pink).
The palace has a lot of small galleries inside where you can see clothes, armoury, wagons, portraits of old kings, carpets, paintings etc.
I loved my guide, he told me the whole history of each and everyone and thing and I learnt a lot. Very interesting! You are not allowed to take pictures in the proper galleries, to bad.

There were many cool photographs there from where India had about 50 kings, a mix of indian, brittish and pakistanian kings. The ceiling was also painted in natural colors, meaning that it is painted with the dust that comes from forming gems out of stones for example red is ruby, green is emerald etc (some almost as expensive as diamonds), then that colored stone-dust is mixed with glue and painted. So it’s quite an expensive paint!!

The presidential palace

The privat presidential palace

In one of the peacock doors in the palaces courtyard

In one of the peacock doors in the palaces courtyard

The maharajan only drank holy water - so when he visited Brittain for 6 months he brought his holy water with him in 2 of these jars - the biggest silver jars on eart

The maharajan only drank holy water – so when he visited Brittain for 6 months he brought his holy water with him in 2 of these jars – the biggest silver jars on eart

Just across the Palace we have the Jantar Mantar, an astronomical and astrological observatory. It is a collection of nineteen architectural astronomical instruments that allow the observations of astronomical positions with the naked eye. The monument expresses architectural innovations, as well as the coming together of ideas from different religious and social beliefs in 18th century India.

It was built by the Rajput king Sawai Jai Singh, and completed in 1738 CE. It’s in the Guiness record book because of the world’s largest stone sundial, and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The monument features instruments operating the horizon-zenith local system, the equatorial system and the ecliptic system. SUPERCOOL!

me in front of the world's largest stone sundial

me in front of the world’s largest stone sundial

How to see in what zodiac we are in

How to see in what zodiac we are in

Many cool big astronomical tools, and in the back you see the Palace of Winds

Many cool big astronomical tools, and in the back you see the Palace of Winds

Me in front of my zodiac monument - the Sagittarius :)

Me in front of my zodiac monument – the Sagittarius :)

After that we visited a fabric place where they color fabrics, they have wooden stamps for it. For a fabric it can be minimum 4 colors and maximum 8 colors for this technique. They have different stamps, like the outer contures of an elephant, then they have for example 3 another stamp with some parts of the elephants. They wet the wooden stamps in colour and press it on fabric, let dry for 48 hours and then wash it. After that it never fades. Everything is handcraft!!!

by hand they stamp the fabric with in between 4-8 colors

by hand they stamp the fabric with in between 4-8 colors

Colouring an elephant!

Colouring an elephant!

After 4 different stamps, one black that does the contures, then the red, yellow and blue. You see the stamps in the back!

After 4 different stamps, one black that does the contures, then the red, yellow and blue. You see the stamps in the back!

I was a little hungry after so we went for a snack. I said that I wanted to go to a local place and not a touristic place, at first I thought the guide took me to a touristic place anyways because it was only 2 tourist there, but then about 10 indian men entered, so I was happy haha. I was suggested the “Rajhastan plate” that is from this area, but it looked like a lot, I said to the guide that I don’t eat that much “It’s a small plate!” he said… Haha. He went out and I ate alone. My waiter was the cuuutest man with a big big smile. He also asked about my hair. Haha. I ate up about 90% of the food and then asked for a doggybag to bring home. “Yes yes, no problem!” the waiter said. I paid and then I waited. And waited. Then I asked another waiter about the doggybag “Yes yes, wait there, yes yes”. So I waited. Then I asked again. Hm, they had thrown my food, they hadn’t understood. Whaaaaaat a disappointment.. Well well. I told the guide about this and then he disappeared for a while and came back and say that they will make new food for me to bring home, haha. Oh so sweet, now I feel bad about that I was a little bit angry about that. He said that people in Tejpur and Rajahstan are famous for their hospitality, that it is no problem. I felt bad anyway. But happy.

Rajasthan thali!

Rajasthan thali!


We went down by the water, a nice kind of ramblas along the lake.
Before it was a big forest, except for a little part of the valley where there was a small lake. The king of Jaipur used to go here for hunting, and he said it was a beautiful place, I should build a summer palace here, so he did. But then after a while then they cut down the trees for the wood and the lake extended and covered the palace, so now it’s called the Water Palace.
It’s a very nice place where the people from Jaipur enjoy a walk and can buy some food or jewelry and watch the river and the palace. And the wild rats along the coast! Haha.

Me in front of the Water Palace

Me in front of the Water Palace

People walking along the lake

People walking along the lake

So here you are either muslim or hindu (or christian), depending on what family you come from. I had written in my notes that I’m surprised there aren’t any beggers here, when I was in mexico I couldn’t walk one meter before someone asked me for money. Here it hasn’t happened to me in Agra or in Delhi, but now in Jaipur, while walking by the water, there were about 3-4 kids in different occasions that came and asked for money. I commented that for the guide, and he said it’s usually muslim-children, they have more custom to have many many children which they later can’t support or don’t even take care of, so they have to find food for themselves. Horrible.

He also told me that in India, you are allowed to have 2 children, if you have a third, then you can’t work within the government. So if you have a government job, they fire you if you have a third child. If you don’t, well you can never have a government job then. It is legal to make abortion, but not that common. Before, a lot of women did abortion when they knew that the gender of the baby was a girl. Man have more power, education and work here, women cause more problems to have. But that kind of abortion is forbidden now, and a doctor who does that abortion can have very serious consequences, so doctors generally only make abortion if the couple already have 2 kids. Hm! Interesting!

We rounded up quite early, since we have a half day tomorrow to but in Amber (will write a separate post about it). Me and Mahender went to look for bangles for his wife on the market, but it was bad for him that I was with him because it was much more expensive when they saw me. So we went to the hotel, quite far away! It wasn’t that good hotel, I got spoiled in Agra. No internet, no normal sheets (!), hard bed, no desk.. but enough. I had my doggybag-dinner, watched tv-series and relaxed.

There has been quite much to take in these days, but I think that once you get to know the city you are in it must be kind of great. There’s always something going on and lot’s of people around. I wish I spoke Hindi haha. The English is limited for conversation if it’s not someone who is very educated and have studied English. But everybody understands a little bit at least, and everyone is very kind. 

Anyhow. Jaipur is definitively my favorite city of this golden triangle-tour.

 

The city of the 7 hills – Lisbon, Portugal

Note: This post is from April, 2015

 

Leaving fairly cold Sweden for Portugal!

Leaving fairly cold Sweden for Portugal!

We were all excited about our trip Portugal, but the first day didn’t start so well. Yes, since I had written this down, I feel like I have to complain a bit. But if you’re interested in what Lisbon has to offer, just scroll down! :)

We arrived in Lisbon Wednesday evening. The flight went quickly even though we had a stopover in Vienna. But from Vienna to Lisbon we got our seats on different rows…  Well, doesn’t matter that much, it was a short flight. Also there was no vegetarian food for me, of couse… There’s never. So now I don’t like Lufthansa so much.

We arrived in Lisbon quite late around 21 and took a taxi to our hostel. The taxameter was on 11,50 euros, but then the driver wanted to charge us 19 euro because we had luggage with us! We got to see the chart were it says that yes, it costs like 4 euros for luggage, extra 3 euros for airport etc etc. So well. We paid that.

We stayed at Passport Lisbon Hostel, right in the famous Praça Luís de Camões. But we couldn’t find the entrance…. We were just outside the number 36, and it was a just a regular door to an apartment building, with a code, and we did not have any code… So we stood there for a while until some other girls were going in to the hostel, and followed in. The elevator was so small we couldn’t fit our two together and our packback… So we walked up to the reception, which was also super small. We checked in and bought a beer there to bring up to our rooms, hehe, well worth it after all the floors we had to walk up!

We got in to our room and it was…… not as expected. Sure we are not luxury-travelers or anything, but the hostel looked really cool when we looked it up on booking. We got a room just next to the kitchen, and we had a private toilet but it was outside our room, so we had to go out in the hallway to go to the toilet.. .Which means you have to get dressed if you want to pee in the night. Well well… Also not that big deal.

This is what our room looked like, but it was not as spacious as it looks, and nothing else there... Picture taken from their website

This is what our room looked like. Picture taken from their website

But then the room was very basic, everything I had seen online that made it look rustic and awesome on the pictures actually just looked rusty and dusty in reality. We did not have a working night lamp, our night stand was broken (it was a book screwed into the wall that has broken, so it was just a book on the floor now), there was NO furniture at all – basically just a bed and you had to put your backpack and your clothes on the floor… no balcony (most of the rooms have a french balcony), we only got 1 really thing pillow each… And on top of that  it was super hot this nigh (it was really unnecessary for us to bring so much long-sleeved). I didn’t manage to fall asleep until 6 in the morning. Buh :(

Next day we woke up when the hostel started serving breakfast, since we could hear everything in our room. Not that much of a breakfast, yoghurt, cereal and white bread with cheese. There’s some construction going out just outside so it was not so pleaseant sound at when we had the window opened. We started by asking the reception to fix the light in the room and to give us a few extra pillows, there was no problem with that at all. Then we took a couple of chairs from the kitchen ”borrowed it” to have as furniture in our room, haha.

THEN, FINALLT, the adventure began!

View over Elevador Santa Justa from the hilltop

View over Elevador Santa Justa from the hilltop

Lisbon is the capital and the largest city of Portugal, it has about 550000 habitants. It’s one of the oldest cities in the world, actually older then London, Paris and Rome by centuries. It’s built on 7 hills, so you are almost always going either up or down :)

Our hostel was in the Bairro Alto (the upper town), in one of the hills in Lisbon.

We walked down towards the water and the neighbourhood Baixa (lower town). We could se the big Christ on the other side of the water, we had also seen him from the flight yesterday. The Monument is in Almada on the other side of the river Tagus, it resembles de Corcovado monument in Rio De Janeiro and was built after the second world war as a memorial of thanks that Portugal was spared of the destruction of the war.

It was beautiful down by the water, nice walking areas, boats, people walking everywhere… It reminds me of Spains coast.

Within 15-20 minutes three different guys asked us if we wanted to buy Marijuana/Hash/Cocaine. We were quite chocked first, but we got used to it. I don’t know if it’s because of my dreads or Duilios curly hair, if we are a young couple, or if they just ask everyone. Haha.

It was a sunny and super warm day, about 30 degrees. Not that very common for being april! Of course we found some Swedes in bikinis in the small beach by Praca do comercio, haha.

Quite odd plastic puffs to sit on next to the water

Quite odd plastic puffs to sit on next to the water

Tourists enjoying the small city beach :)

Tourists enjoying the small city beach :)

The gate of Praca do Comercio, and a guy trying to sell us drugs

The gate of Praca do Comercio, and a guy trying to sell us drugs

We visited a lot of small artisanian shops.The daughter of one of the managers in a small shop we visited painted a drawing and gave to Duilio. So sweet :) She spoke spanish because her father is Peruvian. We kept walking around for a few hours along the water, then we needed to cool down and eat something, so we walked all the way back and then sat down at Café Vitoria in one of the main streets the city center.

Lisbon is full of trams, cars, there are constructions everywhere, half torn down buildings, but it feels safe and very homely. But yes, the traffic is horrific, I would NEVER drive here! There are cars and trams coming from all the sides! Haha

In the center of Lisboa there are quite many downed buildings... some of them even abandoned

In the center of Lisboa there are quite many downed buildings… some of them even abandoned

The buildings around here have quite spectacular facades..

Some of the buildings around here have quite spectacular facades..

Along the beach walk - painted house

Along the beach walk – painted house

Visiting crafts shops close to Praca do comercio - please notice the white man in the back who is painting his face white in the reflection of the window :)

Visiting crafts shops close to Praca do comercio – please notice the white man in the back who is painting his face white in the reflection of the window :)

The famous trams

The famous trams


There’s a lot of traffic everywhere
, but there is a few main streets in the center that are closed and only to shops and restaurants so it was peaceful there. We ordered fried potatoes and vegetarian crepes and tried Pera de gallinha and some other portuguese thing, and I ordered a medium beer which was huge! We were enjoying our selves so much this first chill vacation days with hot weather, haha.

Gallinha de Pera and Crepe Vegetal

Gallinha de Pera and Crepe Vegetal

At café Vitoria, enjoying or "medium sized beer" :)

At café Vitoria, enjoying or ”medium sized beer” :)

We went to visit the famous Castelo de São Jorge, a hilltop fortification that you can see from wherever you are in Lisboa. On our way up there we passed some really cool streets with plenty of beautiful street art on the walls. Loved it!

Around alfama on our way up to Castelo Sao Jorge, beautiful grafitti!

Around alfama on our way up to Castelo Sao Jorge, beautiful grafitti!

The last bit we took the elevator up to the Colina. The entrance fee to Castelo had gone up to 8,5 euros per person. There was a lovely view from there, you could see the whole Lisboa in front of you. Apparently all the houses have orange ceiling! I couldn’t stop singing the intro song to the series Weeds ”Little houses on the hillside” when I was there, haha.

View over the orange roof tops in Lisboa

View over the orange roof tops in Lisboa

But anyhow, the proper Castelo de S. Jorge wasn’t that much of a big deal – I know it has been there for a long time and lived through Visigoths in the 5th century, Moors in the 9th century, Christians in the 12th century, royals from the 14th to 16th centuries, and convicts in every century.. But now it’s pretty much just stones. You could walk around there above the walls and inside, but it wasn’t that special inside.

Castelo Sao Jorge

Castelo Sao Jorge

Outside Castelo Sao Jorge, duilio is hiding from the sun.

Outside Castelo Sao Jorge, duilio is hiding from the sun.

We went home for a quick shower and then just walked outside our hostel  – just in the square ”Praça Luís de Camões” – to join the Free walking tour that had their meeting point there :)
It was quite a big group – and guess what – ONLY spanish people!! Duilio was the only one that wasn’t from Spain. Haha. Since it was easter – all the spanish had a few days of do travel in the areas around, and they all got here to Lisbon. We heard spanish eeeeverywhere.

Our guide was funny, he really loved his countrys’ food and music, but hated its politics. We discovered a lot of new places, around in Bairro Alto, Chiado and Alfama.

A street with a nose. (Apparently there are many restaurants around here so this is a good place to smell Lisboa)

A street with a nose. (Apparently there are many restaurants around here so this is a good place to smell Lisboa)

Street music around Bairro Alto

Street music around Bairro Alto

With our guide in the middle of the mainstreet Rua Augusta

With our guide in the middle of the mainstreet Rua Augusta

A wall in Bairro Alto where they have azulejo of all the typical and traditional portuguese things

A wall in Bairro Alto where they have azulejo of all the typical and traditional portuguese things

Alfama is the oldest district of Lisbon, it was the largest part of the city during the Islamic Invasion of Ibera. Increasingly, the Alfama was inhabited by fishermen and the poor, and it continues so to this day. We got to hear about the Great Earthquake that destroyed almost everything in the year 1755 – except for Alfama, thanks to its compact labyrinth of narrow streets and probably because it’s built on firmer rock. Alfama is cozy and historical, old buildings mixed with Fado bars, restaurants, small shops and pracas. And yes, you can easily get lost there ;)

While there we tried Ginja de obidos, a liquor not to far from here – so good! We also listened to the traditional music Fado. After a few hours of walking around the tour ended and we watched the sunset from the roofs of Alafama. Then we were hungry!!

IMG_1371

Ginja D’Obidos – a liquor from Obidos, fruity and sweet!

Alfama, narrow streets and restaurants or bars in every corner

Alfama, narrow streets and restaurants or bars in every corner

In Alfama, the typical square where there are nice restaurants with fado.... And where they never even intended to invite us in..

In Alfama, the typical square where there are nice restaurants with fado…. And where they never even intended to invite us in..

We walked around in Alafama to find a good but cheap and not so touristic place to eat, that also had something vegetarian. Most of the waiters didn’t even bother to look at us or invite us in, or even show us the menu.. We probably looked to poor to them and they were out after more spending tourists. Well… F them – so we kept walking and walking until we found a cute little restaurant – called ”Almargem” very close to the Cathedral – and the waiter was lovely! He showed us the meny and in portuguese of course, told all about how it was made and what was in it. It was a great service!

Our waitor at Almargem :)

Our waitor at Almargem :)

Very happy with my vegetarian Caldereida :)

Very happy with my vegetarian Caldereida :)

The entrance of the restaurant

The entrance of the restaurant

They had the typical portuguese course ”Caldeleira” in a vegetarian option – and it was soooo good! Duilio had som Bacalao, a fish which they have everywhere here and can cook in about 4000 different ways, haha. We were surprised that you pay for entrances (different cheeses and bread) since we didn’t request them and they brought them just like that to the the table, so we thought it was free and was super happy about it and ate it all –  but that was not the case… Haha. It was around 8 euros. And since we had a very nice experience at that restaurant, we didn’t mind paying that either, it was good cheese and bread :)

Then we went home for some good sleep.

Next day; BELEM! I will tell you in another post, this is to long!

The famous beach town Pipa

When I arrived on friday I checked in at the hostel, Media Veronica Hostel. Then I quickly went out to have some dinner, because I was reeaaally hungry. I got tips about ”Dona Branca”, an all you can eat-buffét for 10 reales. The whole buffet was organic and vegetarian, delicious stuff! Then apart you order your meat och your fish, so it was perfect for me as a vegetarian! And the Mango-juice I had was the best I’ve ever had!!

Later I met up with Iralice and Lazaro, went to an italian restaurant and I tried the carpifrutas (like a carpirinha but of fruit if i understood it right). Mango aswell. :)

The restaurant Dona Branca, where you can eat all you want for 10 reales :) The whole buffet is vegetarian, and then you order meat or fish apart if you want to! Great!

The restaurant Dona Branca, where you can eat all you want for 10 reales :) The whole buffet is vegetarian, and then you order meat or fish apart if you want to! Great!

With Lazaro and Iralice :) Tried the "carpifruta", which is like a carpirinha but made of fruit. I chose mango. Really good!

With Lazaro and Iralice :) Tried the ”carpifruta”, which is like a carpirinha but made of fruit. I chose mango. Really good!

Then we went down to the main street. Wow. So much people everywhere! And the music was SOO loud. There were like 3 bars just besides each other who were competing about who had the highest music. Haha. We went into a place where they had a nice Samba concert, and I ran into the Spanish couple, they are so fun :) I met some of Iralice nand Lazaros friends there too.

Praia de Pipa is one of Brazil’s most famous beach towns. Pipa is located in Rio Grande do Norte, south of Natal. People from all over brazil and the world comes here to visit and then become residents. It’s very cosmopolitan and international. To me it felt a little bit too much touristic this night, like the typical charter-town.. :/ People were so over-produced here, having heels and lot of make up… not really that relaxed.. :/

With Iralice, Paul, Eva and Victor

With Iralice, Paul, Eva and Victor

Out dancing to a Samba concert

Out dancing to a Samba concert

Next day a car picked me up at the hostel and drove me to Praia do Madeiro where I had a surf lesson. I hanged out with an Argentinian couple. The husband and I were the only ones in the class, and it costed 40 reais for an almost private surf lesson PLUS free use of the surf board for the rest of the day! And the pickup too. Great deal compared to the 80 reales I paid in Florianopolis for a surf lesson together with 12 other people only. Big like!

The cool thing about the beaches here in Pipa, specially the Praia do Golfinhos, is that there are wild dolphins here! Swimming and playing around you in the water. :) I was a little unfortunate that during my stay there were quite many waves, then the dolphins don’t go so close to the shore. But the day before, the spanish couple told me they were everywhere around them in the water! Oh… wish I could have lived that! But still, I saw dolphins every day, just that I wasn’t able to touch them..

Surfing a little wave

Surfing a little wave

 

Praia do Madeiro, good for surfing!

Praia do Madeiro, good for surfing!

Haha. So cool little surfer guys.

Haha. So cool little surfer guys.

 

On my way between praia de golfinos and praia madeiro. When there's a low tide you can walk between the beaches. :)

On my way between praia de golfinos and praia madeiro. When there’s a low tide you can walk between the beaches. :)

 

At praia do golfinos. Usually there are like 10 times more dolphins here but since it has been quite weavy here there weren't many around now :(

At Praia do Golfinos. The dolphins beach.. It’s not shark fins but Dolphin fins :)

At night I was invited for dinner to Pousada Cabalho Marino, which is Lazaros Pousada (that he owns). He loves cooking and invites his friends over for dinner a couple of times a week, so sweet! :) To bad I don’t eat fish or meat, but the veggie options were really good too. It was all international haha, the only brazilian there was Iralice, the rest were very well-traveled travelers. Paul from New Zealand had been out of his country since he was 23! And I don’t know how old he is now, but I would guess around 45-50 maybe? He has been living here in Pipa for 7 years.. And Lazaro had been out for 12 years and living in Pipa for 4 years.. A danish girl and a dutch guy also 4-5 years..and so on!

After dinner we went to the principal road again and had some drinks, went to another Samba concert and then a Rock gig. :)

Lazaro invited us over for a great dinner at his Pousada. :)

Lazaro invited us over for a great dinner at his Pousada. :)

Haha, tall guy!!

Haha, tall guy at Agoras bar!!

The streets in Pipa a saturday night.... so crowded!! uhh...

The streets in Pipa a saturday night…. so crowded!! uhh…

Live rock band at the pub

Live rock band at the pub

Next day I walked from Praia do Pipa to Praia do Golfinhos, where I run into the Argentinian couple again. Then we decided to go surfing again and walked to Praia do Madeiro. All and all it was about an hour walk :) When there is a low tide you can walk between the beaches, if not you have to take the road above the beach, but it’s not as fun :) This time we surfed ourselves without a teacher, costed 15 reales to use the board as much as we wanted. Reeeally difficult to read the waves. Also I noticed I didn’t enjoy it as much because it’s a lot of ”rodding” with the arms and not so much surfing. I think I actually prefer windsurf :) 

Praia do Pipa in the morning

Praia do Pipa in the morning

The way between Praia do Pipa and Praia do Golfinos. :)

The way between Praia do Pipa and Praia do Golfinos. :)

Little Bastian out on a walk

Little Bastian out on a walk

Flor was like "Oh! You are just beautiful there! Let me take a picture!!!" haha. :)

Flor was like ”Oh! You are just beautiful there! Let me take a picture!!!” haha. :)

After sunset I walked around and visited some stores and then I had dinner at Donna Brancas again. And I ate so much!!! The whole plate, because if you waste food, you have to pay extra 3 reales. And I was so so so full, but I had to eat my plate. Delicious.. but later my stomach hurt and I could move at all.. haha. Fell asleep in my hostel. I’m glad that I’m alone in my room :) It’s a dorm with 5 beds, and the first day there were two girls there, but they left early morning next day and since then I’ve been alone the whole time, almost like a private room but I only pay 25 reales for it :)

Dinner at Dona Brancas... buffét for 10 reales, eat all you want.. but if you don't eat up what you have on your plate you pay 3 reales extra.. so I ate everything... and I was soooo full I couldn't move...

Dinner at Dona Brancas… buffét for 10 reales, eat all you want.. but if you don’t eat up what you have on your plate you pay 3 reales extra.. so I ate everything… and I was soooo full I couldn’t move…

On monday I tried a new beach that Iralice told me was her favorite, it’s in the south side of Pipa, called Praia do Amor, the love beach. And it was beautiful! I think this is the one I liked the most. It was fewer people there and the hang out is nicer, and the water seems more turquoise then the others :)

At the evening I walked around on the streets, bought a little souvenir from a nice art shop and then I had dinner at a new place, called ”Cook”, which has quite many vegetarian dishes. I had a pie with salad, and it was the greatest pie crust I’ve ever had, integral and perfect texture, really don’t know how they managed that. :)

Visiting Praia do Amor, the beach of love!

Visiting Praia do Amor, the beach of love!

Praia do Amor, to me, the most beautiful one!

Praia do Amor, to me, the most beautiful one!

In the store. The lady in the pink shirt paints all these.

In the store. The lady in the pink shirt paints all these.

Had the greatest integral pie at "Cook", they have great vegetarian food there!! Recommended!!

Had the greatest integral pie at ”Cook”, they have great vegetarian food there!! Recommended!!

I like the streets at night. I just don't like the cars.

I like the streets at night. I just don’t like the cars.

At night I had a 3 hours and 15 minutes long skype-talk with Duilio! Haha. Nice to hang out a little :)

Now I’m sitting here in the hostel the last hour before heading to the bus station…. I’m not so sad about leaving Pipa.. It’s a nice place, it’s cheap here, the beaches are good, the food is good, people are friendly, you can surf and relax here… but to me, it’s not as charming as Floripa or Jeri. 

Time for Recife!