Last days in Coron, Visiting Malcapuya and Banana island

During the evenings after the diving we have been around in Coron town.

Coron town doesn’t have too much to offer except for the daily escapades to lovely places and great diving. So it’s basically a small gateway to all the beautifulness around. It’s totally worth a visit, but I would find it difficult to live there.

We loved to have the option to go to the pool of Corto Hotel (expensive hotel but Corto Divers belongs to that hotel, so we can go there and enjoy the pool for free :).

Corto Hotel and their nice pool!

Corto Hotel and their nice pool!

Had a super yummy chocolate and cookies shake at Corto Hotel (yes, expensive, but so worth it after a whole day diving!)

Had a super yummy chocolate and cookies shake at Corto Hotel (yes, expensive, but so worth it after a whole day diving!)

We have been out eating dinner, having drinks or walking around the kiosks buying food to cook at home.

It’s almost more expensive to buy all the food yourself than to eat it outside, well it depends on how many you are though and what you have in, but vegetables and fruits are quite expensive, same price for a mango as a big fish. Also it’s not really as good when you don’t have any spices or anything, it’s really a big difference to eat something nicely cooked than to eat rice with veggies and no spices or anything, not even salt, haha. But to have a coffee or a tea out is much more expensive than doing your own!! (about 10 times more expensive!)

 

A typical kiosk around Coron, this one is quite big though, we bought eggs, rice and beer here

A typical kiosk around Coron, this one is quite big though, we bought eggs, rice and beer here

Two ladies in town

Two ladies in town

School yard

School yard

One night we had dinner at a nice restaurant, and Duilio tried the local fish ”Blacked Dugso”, and he was sooo happy about it, delicious he said. My rice with veggies wasn’t as good as my veg food at Brujitas, but I got a doggie bag with me for next day ;)

Duilio, very happy about his food! :)

Duilio, very happy about his food! :)


Next evening we went down to Sirenetta
, which is a bar at the beach but above the water where there’s a lovely view to see the sunset. It was truly spectacular. Duilio had a pizza, but since I had already eaten at home, I ordered a cake and coffee. But my cake and coffee was more expensive than Duilios pizza and beer!! Sort of ruined the magical evening there. But but.

Beautiful sunset in Coron

Beautiful sunset in Coron

Happy about my coffee and luxurious chocolate cake, unaware of that "the dessert of the day" was more expensive than a pizza

Happy about my coffee and luxurious chocolate cake, unaware of that ”the dessert of the day” was more expensive than a pizza

We decided to stay another day in Coron instead of going to el Nido, but the room we had in the apartments above Corto Divers were rented out. Olivier, the owner of Corto Divers (I think, at least the responsible there), said we could stay in the ”maiden room” below, and we were just happy to not need to change more than one stair down.

In the morning we put our packed bags in the dive shop while and me, Duilio and Sandra, another woman staying at Corto Divers, rented a private boat to take us to Banana island and Malcapuya. Sandras boyfriend, Antoine, is doing his instructor training at Corto divers, and he arranged it for us while we were diving during the day earlier, so great!

So to rent the whole boat with crew and all cost us 4500php for one day, so 1500php per person, and Malcapuya is about 2 hours away with boat, so it’s not very close! It was the same boat as we had a couple of days earlier while diving in the Barracuda Lake. We decided to rent a private boat because the tour to these islands is about 1400php per person or something similar, but then you go with about 10-20 other people, and you can’t decide times, you just go to one place for 45 minutes, then to another 45 minutes etc. We wanted to have fewer islands and be there for a few hours, to be more relaxed.

We met up with the boat crew down by the pier at 8am and went to the market just next to it, and ahhh, so this is where you can buy cheaper vegetables and food! And so much easier than going to 10 different kiosks around town to be able to find something! Haha. We bought vegetables, fish, rice, coal, fruits, water, ice etc, and it was about 120php per person. Then the own boat staff cooks it for you! We also saw a man performing with a cobra there, hehe.

at the market, choosing fish (uh what a smell!)

at the market, choosing fish (uh what a smell!)

The market place

The market place

The market place, vegetables :)

The market place, vegetables :)

Some kids are happy about the magic cobra that's about to pop out of the box

Some kids are happy about the magic cobra that’s about to pop out of the box

Then we began our boat journey, I think we all fell asleep for a while there haha. We started with Banana island, and it was quite a small island! The entrance fee was 200php, but there wasn’t really anything there except for one resort, then just beach and water and palm trees. Very peaceful. We stayed there for about 1-2 hours, I even began doing a new bracelet with the beads I bought in India :)

Our boatman approaching to Banana island

Our boatman approaching to Banana island

Enjoying Banana island, alone :)

Enjoying Banana island, alone :)

Some toys forgot on Banana island

Some toys forgot on Banana island

After a while the boatman came to us and asked us if we were hungry. Apparently they had already cooked the food for us! We decided to eat in the boat rather than take everything to the beach, and we had a delicious lunch. They really know how to cook food on a boat huh!

When we were full and a little bit sleepy again, we said we wanted to go to Malcapuya island, and we passed by Bulog island on the way just to check it out, but didn’t make stop there. The entrance fee to Malcapuya is also 200 php.

Lunch at the boat!

Lunch at the boat!

 

And Malcapuya, wow, what a paradise island!! It reminded me of Holbox in Mexico, which I like so much. We docked on the other side of the island, and walked through, there seems to be some people living there, there was a group of locals playing basketball all sweaty, a few cottages with roosters etc.

The beach – lovely! It was a big beach with white sand, turquoise water, palm trees, hammocks… perfect. We stayed there for about 3 hours, bathing, doing sandcastles, studying, sleeping, reading books…

At Malcapuya island - what a paradise!

At Malcapuya island – what a paradise!

<3

<3

In Malcapuya island

In Malcapuya island

Duilio fell asleep at Malcapuya

Duilio fell asleep at Malcapuya

We also got bit or burnt by something in the water… Don’t know what it is, but both me and Duilio had burning feelings and itchiness allover the body, which later turned into something like mosquito bites, it disappeared after a few hours again though. We got it at the exact same place, Duilio said he stumbled on a rock, so probably there were some kind of water insects or something that attacked us…

Itching!!

Itching!!

Around 3pm packed up our things to go back, not very happily though but we had still 2 hours boat trip back again.  What a lovely day, just what I (we) needed!!

We came back to the dive shop in Coron and got the keys to the ”maiden room”. It was a good room! Olivier had said it was ”nothing like the ones upstairs” but we were only overnighting, and it was much better than many of the rooms we had in Mexico haha. We even had AC! :) And, it was supposed to be 400 php, but we got it for free. Like, whaaat? Omg. How sweet is that?!?

So our last night we enjoyed a few drinks out in Coron. We went to the famous ”No name bar” and ordered 2 different drinks. Duilios was ok, some kind of mango, but mine really had an aftertaste of vomit, so I couldn’t drink more then the 2 sips it took to understand it. Then we changed place and found a dive bar by the water close to the Sirenetta, a very nice and cozy place with some sea influences, were we had beers (at least we know what that tastes like) and we got some free popcorn with that. Then about 22-23 it was time for us to move back home to sleep ;)

Enjoying our beer at the dive bar

Enjoying our beer at the dive bar

Next morning we ate up the last things we had kitchen as breakfast, said goodbye and took a tricycle to Coron Pier where the big boats to El Nido goes from (about 15 minutes away with tricycle from the town). It took us about 20 minutes to get a tricycle, because being Monday morning 7am, everybody was on their way to the school, and all the tricycles that passed by us where packed with kids in school uniforms! Finally we made it though. :) We had to pay and additional terminal tax of 20php except for the 1200php we had bought the ticket for already.

The boat was fine, not to comfortable, I thought it was going to be more a sort of ferry or something, but it was just like a bigger version of the other boats we have taken on the daytrips. It was a quite wavy day and the sea wasn’t very calm, but everything went well. It took about 7 hours to reach el Nido by boat, and lunch was included too. :)

Everyone sleeping on the boat from Coron to el Nido

Everyone sleeping on the boat from Coron to el Nido

 

Overall, little sad to leave Coron even if we both feel quite happy with our stay there, we have done the best out of it and 6 nights is enough :) It has been very enjoyable!

 

Also see: Islandhoping the 7 highlights of Coron, Shipwreck diving in Coron

Annonser

Shipwreck diving in Coron

We have been diving for 3 days now in Coron, lovely experience! Coron is famous for its shipwreck diving.

During the second world war year 1944, about 120 US Navy bomber planes attacked the 24 Japanese ships that had anchor at Coron Bay and around Busuanga Island. It’s a horrific history around this now very peaceful place, but it’s also what has put Coron on the map for divers. I don’t know if there are so many shipwrecks anywhere else.

I dived with Corto divers, I can truly recommend them, and the apartments they have above the dive shop :)

We took tricycles from Corto Divers to the pier, and then a small boat out to the bigger dive boat. Nice bungo boat with toilet and kitchen, and enough space for us all (not like the small inflatable motorboat we had in Portugal when we were diving where we had all the gear on the floor, and it was about the size of the little boat we took now to the bigger boat, haha).

The first day we were a bigger group of 7 divers with 3 dive masters. Me and Duilio had Nicole as a dive master, she is born here in Coron. The first day we had a Danish guy, Philip, with us too in the group with Nicole. I really liked her, she was very calm and explained the planned route in before hand, and she always said ”I want you to look around and experience, take your time!” – so yes, I felt there was no rush that I would get lost or anything if I found something, we really dived in a slow pace, enjoying and taking it all in. :)

We had 3 dives on the first day, visiting 3 different shipwrecks. We were around the Tangat-area, about 1 hour from Coron with Boat.

The first ship was “Sangat Gunboat” in the East tangatIt was a submarine hunter, but the submarine “loop” was beneath instead for above, as the regular submarines. LOA 35m, beam 7m, and depth 3-18m. This was our first shipwreck dive, we thought it was really big, but our dive masters calls it “the baby ship” haha. It was awesome, and the visibility was good too I think! There were many fishes inside the ship, and you could see the sun come in though the ships windows. We saw a few Nemos :)

“Sangat Gunboat” from the front

“Sangat Gunboat” from the front

The front of the baby ship “Sangat Gunboat”

The front of the baby ship “Sangat Gunboat”

Diving inside the boat! “Sangat Gunboat”

Diving inside the boat! “Sangat Gunboat”

After that we dived at “Morazan Maru”, that was a Civilian Cargo ship from the 2nd world war, the LOA was 112 m, beam 13m, depth 12-26m. After seeing this ship I understand that they thought the other was a baby ship! Haha. Saw many scorpion and lion fish on the wreck. We dived inside through a small quadratic hole on the top of the ship and had to use lanterns to see inside the ship. It was huuuge inside! Supercool to dive around there, imagining what had been there before while looking through the ”windows”.

The entry point to “Morazan Maru”

The entry point to “Morazan Maru”

Exploring the inside of “Morazan Maru”

Exploring the inside of “Morazan Maru”

Inside “Morazan Maru”. Love the wheels!

Inside “Morazan Maru”. Love the wheels!

Dive-selfie ;)

Dive-selfie ;)

After lunch we did the third dive was on “Olympia Maru”, an army auxiliary supply ship. LOA 128m, beam 16,7 , 5612 gross tons. It’s quite shallow, 18-24m, and you go in from the shore. The visibility on this one wasn’t as good as the other dive sites, couldn’t see how big this ship really was, but yeah, I could still tell it was  huge!

 

Hungry people

Hungry people

 

The big army wheel at “Olympia Maru”

The big army wheel at “Olympia Maru”

Some fishes going up on the stairs of “Olympia Maru”

Some fishes going up on the stairs of “Olympia Maru”

 

The second day we were doing 2 dives, and we were only 4 divers with 2 divemasters, me and Duilio had Nicole and Xuan from Spain and Ahmed from Palestina had another divemaster. It’s really good that we have so small groups, we can look out for each other and it’s easier to not lose anyone. We rented another boat for the day since there was another group going to the shipwrecks we visited yesterday. So we had the whole boat for ourselves.

Giselle, the boat we went out with today!

Giselle, the boat we went out with today!

We visited the Barracuda lake that we had visited earlier on the highlights tour, but this time we dived there. Not so much marine life – but it was still a completely unique experience – first of all – it was a very clean lake – truly crystal clear.

But the coolest is the big differences of temperature in the water, which looks like layers of blurriness, but I was SO SURPRISED that it was so hot at the bottom of the lake!! We have all learned the sign for ”cold” while diving, and Nicole told us the sign for hot, but I never thought I would need to use it haha. Until I got to the bottom, and it was like a sauna!! The dive watch said 38 degrees but it felt much much more. It was like a really hot shower! We dived only in the bikini and without wetsuits – happy we did!! Haha.

Crystal clear water at thebarracuda lake

Crystal clear water at thebarracuda lake

First time I dive without a wetsuit!!

First time I dive without a wetsuit!!

Duilios hands are in the same temperature as my camera, the rest is either at a hoter or colder level of water haha

Duilios hands are in the same temperature as my camera, the rest is either at a hoter or colder level of water haha

At the end of the dive we took off our fins, des inflated our BCDS and “walked” at the bottom. It felt like walking on the moon, almost weightless, but it goes soooo sloooow haha. Much harder than you can think, cause you still need to keep a balance haha J Then we climbed up along the rocky sides, they were quite spiky and it was about 15m climb up, I caught myself being afraid to fall down, when I remembered that I was in the WATER and I could actually swim! Hahaha. It was a really cool experience :)

Walking at the bottom of barracuda lake

Walking at the bottom of barracuda lake

The rock formations on the sides of barracuda lake

The rock formations on the sides of barracuda lake

Climbing up to the surface of barracuda lake!

Climbing up to the surface of barracuda lake!

The second dive was at Twin peaks, a coral reef close by. Besides many corals we saw sea horses, sea stars, crabs and nudy branches. A weird thing I’ve seen a couple of times now is something that looks like a metal ball, apparently it’s called “bulls eye”, and is an alga. Weird. I’m also fascinated about all the translucent sponges, like membranes.

Diving around Twin peaks

Diving around Twin peaks

Corals at Twin peaks

Corals at Twin peaks

The interesting transluscent sponges!

The interesting transluscent sponges!

A special nudybransh that Nicole hadn't seen before! at Twin peaks

A special nudybransh that Nicole hadn’t seen before! at Twin peaks

A Sea horse on the move!

A Sea horse on the move!

"The bulls eye"

”The bulls eye”

Duilio :)

Duilio :)

 

The third day and last dive day for us we went about 2 hours away from Coron with boat, with the same group as yesterday but in Corto divers boat again. I enjoyed our way there by lying in the proa reading a book and glancing at the water beneath the book, haha.

Not complaining!

Not complaining!

The first dive was at “Akitsushima”, a navy seaplane tender, where the planes used to land on the sea. LOA is 118m and beam 15,7m, 4724 tdd long tons. Depth 22-36m. This shipwreck was huuuuge. We went inside and it was literally millions of tiny fishes everywhere. We could see the engine room inside. We used our lanterns here to be able to see something. Sometimes we couldn’t see each other even when we were a couple of meters apart due to the fishes, but we had already decided a meeting point, where the ship had broken, and where we were going to exit.

It was really cool. It’s good that we did this wreck the third day after getting some more experience on buoyancy yesterday. Duilio has become a better diver, but they gave him a bigger tank with 3 liters more air for this dive since it’s much deeper here then the other dives and we consume more air. We went down to 30 m!

“Akitsushima”, a huge airplane tender ship!

“Akitsushima”, a huge airplane tender ship!

The mast in “Akitsushima”

The mast in “Akitsushima”

We went in through a small hole in “Akitsushima”

We went in through a small hole in “Akitsushima”

Inside the “Akitsushima” - huge!!

Inside the “Akitsushima” – huge!!

Cool wheels and mechanims inside “Akitsushima”

Cool wheels and mechanims inside “Akitsushima”

 

We had a break for lunch and siesta and then proceeded with a shallower dive at “Okikawa Maru”, a navy auxiliary oiler ship. Loa 160m, beam 20m, 10043 gross tons, depth 10-26m. The ship was also super huge, couldn’t see it all, we entered to a small part and used the flashlights again. Awesome. Then we dived along the corridors on the sides of the ship, cool to think that people had walked around there like 70 years ago. Many many nudybransches there. There was a quite high current there, so it was a little more difficult dive. On our way back up, we had to hold on to the cord up to not drift away with the current. Especially while doing the safety stop, we were all horizontal in the water haha.

 

Diving along the corridors of “Okikawa Maru” (tipped down)

Diving along the corridors of “Okikawa Maru” (tipped down)

I guess this is where the “Okikawa Maru" got bombed, because it was all in a strange pile instead of looking like a ship

I guess this is where the “Okikawa Maru” got bombed, because it was all in a strange pile of construction instead of flat or looking like a ship

Some things that grow on “Okikawa Maru

Some things that grow on “Okikawa Maru”

Me, Nicole and Duilio :)

Me, Nicole and Duilio holding on to the line :)

 

So… Diving in Coron is now over for us. I’m happy to have experienced both shipwrecks, the lake and the coral reef. I’m also happy we got really good food for lunch cooked on the boat itself everyday! I’m really surprised that they can do so much in a tiny kitchen on a boat. The staff was great. We had water and beverages the whole day, got help to check the gear, put on our fins and everything. Everyone has been very friendly and helpful.

If you want to have a good experience in Coron – dive with Corto Divers! :)

 

See also: First days of Coron – Islandhoping the 7 highlights
Last days of Coron – visiting malcapuya and banana island

 

First days in Coron, Philippines – Island hoping the highlights

 

Now I’ve finally met up with my boyfriend and we spent one night first in Manila.

We arrived in Coron with Philippine Airlines, the flight only took about one hour, but it was delayed one hour too, haha. It was a small airplane, but it worked fine, we even got a snack and all on it even if it was only 1 hour! The airport in Coron was really tiny, and as in the galapagos, they hand over the luggage by hand in the waiting hall.

Our airplane :)

Our airplane :)

At the airport of Coron :)

At the airport of Coron :)

We took a minivan for 150 pesos (3 euro/usd) to our accomodation in Coron town on the other side of the island, about 30 minutes drive away.

We are staying at Corto Divers apartments just above their dive shop, super nice apartments!! We have a big bed and it’s really nice furnished. We share lounge, kitchen and bathroom with the other residents.

Our common area at Corto Divers, so nice!

Our common area at Corto Divers, so nice!

Our room at Corto Divers in Coron :)

Our room at Corto Divers in Coron :)

The internet doesn’t really work here though, I’ve been trying to upload pictures to the blog but as for now I’ve been about 10 minutes and it’s only come up to 17% of ONE picture. And I have plenty!!! So…. We’ll see when I can upload this post! Haha. Anyhow.

After installing ourselves in our room we walked around Coron town, can’t say it’s a beautiful town really, mostly because it’s very noisy from the tricycles and there are no good pavements to walk on, so you always have to watch out for the vehicles. If the mainstreet would be without vehicles or if they had pavements for pedestrians everywhere (that weren’t used for parking!), and fixed cozy warm lights instead of cold white lights at night, it could be a nice little town.

The mainroad in Coron

The mainroad in Coron

People are very friendly here and say hi to you all the time. It’s very calm by the docks when you just go outside the main road, and it’s safe here. People are honest here too and don’t try to scam you (compared to India where you had to bargain all the time).

We had dinner at a place called Brujitas, which had delicious food, and quite many vegetarian options. A little bit more pricy than what we had eaten in our hotel kitchen in Manila, but this is an island. I got a doggy bag with me too :)

La Brujita

La Brujita

Dinner at Brujitas

Dinner at Brujitas

We booked a tour around the highlights of Coron for tomorrow (1500 pesos, about 30 euros, included boat, guide, entrance fees, lunch and snacks) and then bought some beers and chips on our way back home and watched some TV at night.

Next day I woke up about 3am and couldn’t fall asleep again, so I went up and did some meditation and listened to all the roosters ”singing” or whatever you say about what they do. There are houndreds of them! I made some ginger and lemon tea then and enjoyed watching the sunrise. After that I did 1 hour of yoga until Duilio woke up and we had breakfast together.

At 8am we got picked up by the tour company and went down to the harbour in a minivan. It was a really nice boat, we saw many other’s that wasn’t as nice as this one I think. (My picture is now at 95%,!). Our tour guide was super funny, he made jokes about everything! This trip was mainly a bath and snorkel trip.

Me on the boat preparing to dive in (snorkel in;)

Me on the boat preparing to dive in (snorkel in;)

We went to the Coron Island and started at ”Seven Pecados”, which refers to the Seven Islands area. Legend has it that seven sisters drowned there, having defied their mother who told them not to go swimming.  Because of the Mothers grief and love for her daughters, they were transformed in to the seven beautiful islands of Siete Pecados.  We snorkeled around one of the islands watching lots of coral floor and small fishes. Crystal clear water!!

Snorkeling around Seven Pecados, much to see here!

Snorkeling around Seven Pecados, quite deep! Much to see here!

Snorkeling!

Snorkeling!

After that we went to Barracuda Lake where we docked the boat. From there we had to hike up a hill (from where we had a stunishing view over the Barracuda Lake) and then hiked down on the other side to the second larges lake in Coron, Kayangan Lake. It was truly clear and blue water, very nice to swim in, but not much marine life and the only thing worth snorkeling was the rocky side on the lake which had some cool formations. But the surrounding was beautiful!

Approaching the Barracuda lake

Approaching the Barracuda lake

View over the Barracuda bay

View over the Barracuda bay

Hiking up and down to the other side

Hiking up and down to the other side

Me and Duilio :)

Me and Duilio at Kayangan Lake :)

Duilio snorkeling in Kayangan lake

Duilio snorkeling in Kayangan lake

Then we went to Beach 91, a tiny small beach where they served a nice buffeet with beautiful paradise view. The buffét was good, they had both meat and fish, and for the vegetarians there were some eggplant, rice and then a weird seaweed salad. Haha.

Then we moved across the lake to the Skeleton Wreck. We snorkeled above a small shipwreck there, only half of it was visible, but it’s cool that you can see it from the surface!

 

Lunchbuffet at beach 91

Lunchbuffet at beach 91

 

Paradise at Beach 91

Paradise at Beach 91

Skeleton wreck

Skeleton wreck

With fishes :)

With fishes :)

From there we went over to Banol Beach, it looked like a small small beach island. Very shallow water, we walked there from the boat that was docked like 30 m away. We enjoyed on the shore together with a dog, which I don’t know who it was or how it got there.

There was also a banana-lady that was cruising around in a tiny boat there, she sold fried bananas, a kind of sweet snack, for 10 pesos each. We were all hungry again so we got a bunch of them! Mmm!

 

Banol beach, tiny little beach! Very sweet!

Banol beach, tiny little beach! Very sweet!

Hey doggie!

Hey doggie!

Ah, this is paradise!

Ah, this is paradise!

The banana lady! 10 pesos for a snack :)

The banana lady! 10 pesos for a snack :)

Our final stop was the Twin Lagoons, the boat docked at the first of the two Lagoons and we snorkeled through a crevice in the rocks to the other sides lake.

The first lagoon had salt water and the second hand sweet water, which results in an increase and decrease in water temperature as well as a blurriness in the water, where the two meet. So many blurry pictures! So.. just a few from there.

Views from the boat

Views from the boat

Ahhh, this is life! At twin lakes

Ahhh, this is life! At twin lakes

Someone last a card in the twin lake

Someone last a card in the twin lake

It was a really nice tour and we are happy that we got to see a little bit of the surroundings of Coron.

Tomorrow we’ll start diving!! :)

 

See also: Shipwreck diving in Coron
Last days in Coron, visiting Malcapuya Island and Banana island

 

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!

 

Last day in Delhi – Qutub Minar, Lodi Gardens and Sikh Temple

Slept well and had a great breakfast again, and then took the metro to the station ”Qutub Minar” and from there I had to take a tuktuk to the actual Qutub Minar, about 10-15 minutes away with tuktuk. I shared the ride with 4 people, one girl around my age who was going to a temple nearby and could English, also some words of Spanish, haha. Very sweet. Every time people asks me things I’m stumbled about their curiosity and kindness, they are just interested.

Qutub Minar, The most famous structure on grounds, it’s 72.5 m long and was the tallest ”skyscraper” in the world when it was built (1193-1368). It is as many other buildings here delicately carved, and also very well preserved, although it has been rebuilt a couple of times due to earthquake. The entrance to Qutub Minar was 250 rupees (as almost everything around here). It’s totally worth a visit.

It was really interesting to walk around there. It was much bigger than I thought, not only the tower, but half destroyed old arches and monuments.

Qutub Minar, with all the detailed carvings

Qutub Minar, with all the detailed carvings

The tower rises high above!

The tower rises high above!

I love pillars!

I love pillars!

You can see that there have been some arches and walls there before it fell apart. Must have been a majestic and cool place.

You can see that there have been some arches and walls there before it fell apart. Must have been a majestic and cool place.

Me in front of Quitub Minar

Me in front of Quitub Minar

About 90-95% of the visitors were indian tourists. So yes I had to take a lot of selfies with people, haha. A bunch of young guys, or an older woman, doesn’t matter. I still find it quite weird that people want to take pictures with ME.

After seeing Qutub Minar I sat down to rest a bit on a bench, but I couldn’t really relax, I was like a tourist attraction myself, took group photos with all the families and group of friends that passed by me. They were all very kind and curios, not so many could speak fluently English but they tried to ask where I am from and what I think about india.

One of the selfies with some indian kids :)

One of the selfies with some indian kids :)

A group picture with one of the families that came by when I was sitting on the bench

A group picture with one of the families that came by when I was sitting on the bench

I had planned to take a dance class (with 4 typical dances from here) at delhi dance academy, I contacted them a couple of weeks ago but didn’t get a confirmation on my reservation, and I had forgot about it. I called them to see if everything was ok, but they hadn’t seen my booking, they were very sweet but couldn’t find an instructor on so short notice. They said i could do it on Monday instead, but then I’m leaving for Goa. To bad. :(

Instead I went to the metro station Jor bargh that was on the same line as Qutub minar, and I walked to the Lodi gardens. It’s an amazing big garden with lots of old tombs and buildings, green and peaceful. Well, not everywhere. Since it was Sunday it was crowded with people, picnicks, games, fotball etc, very fun to watch the local life. Some people were jogging, a lot of couples kissing. I walked around and watched people for a few hours.

People on a walk in the lodi gardens

People on a walk in the lodi gardens

Sunday is a busy day - lots of families having picknick, playing fotball or enjoying themselves in the park

Sunday is a busy day – lots of families having picknick, playing fotball or enjoying themselves in the park

So cool old tombs and buildings in the park!

So cool old tombs and buildings in the park!

Having a tug of war!

Having a tug of war!

I talked to a couchsurfer I had been in contact with, Dheera, and asked her for recommendations for a restaurant, and she recommended “Saravana bhavan” in  Connaught Place, which I actually already had saved since earlier – it was recommended in a blog. So of course I went there :)

There was a long cue outside, apparently it’s a popular place, nice food and for a good price. I had my name written up on a paper and they said I could wait inside on a chair, while everybody else was standing outside the restaruant in a big hop. Inside was another couple who were from Mexico, but were very white and tall. We thought it was a little bit weird, that the proper own indian restaurant segregated us like this, white tourists inside, Indians outside.

After about 20-30 minutes wait I had a table for 1 and sat down, I didn’t know what to order, but everyone was eating sort of the same so I just pointed at the other plates and said ”I want that”, haha. It was some kind of pancake with potato inside that you dip in 3 different sauses, and a soup. I asked the man sitting next to me ”how do you eat this?”, because there was only potato in the middle and only ”pancake-bread” on the side, so he showed me how to eat it, haha. It was very good! Simple but good and for 300 rupees total with a plain lassi.

At Saravana Bhavan, had this huge pancake-thingy!

At Saravana Bhavan, had this huge pancake-thingy!

I started to talk to the man, Tarun, he worked as an accountant in a big electronic company known worldwide, so he had been on business in the states, uk and south Africa. He asked me if I had been to the Sikh tempel that is close to the restaurant, which I hadnt, and he said I should go and visit. I didn’t really know how to get there, I asked if he was going, and he said “I can go, if you want”. He also invited me to try some typical indian sweets, good but with quite much sugar haha, but I was happy to try!

The indian sweet I tried

The indian sweet I tried (Yes, I had a bite before the picture)

Then we walked to the Sikh tempel, about 15 min from the restaurant in CP. It was a very big temple with a golden roof and super crowded, Sunday is the big day where everyone goes here. The name of the Sikh house/temple is Gurudwara Bangla Sahib. It’s known for its association with the eighth Sikh GuruGuru Har Krishan.

They have a shoe deposit, then you have to wash your hands, and you have to cover your hair (the devotes have turbans) on your way up from the stairs they have also like a small pool for the feet so you wash them. Then you walk up and stand in a cue to go and pray in front of a altar with a statue, there’s live music there too and people along the sides just praying, tv cameras and all.

Me in front of the Sikh Temple

Me in front of the Sikh Temple, Gurudwara Bangla Sahib

The inside of the temple, all the people waiting in line to go to pray in the altar

The inside of the temple, all the people waiting in line to go to pray in the altar

Very crowded inside too!

Very crowded inside too!

Then you walk around inside the palace and go out along the courtyard where they have a big pool with holy water, the Sarovar, which volunteers still are helping to build.. You walk around the water pool the whole way and then you are offered some sweet like mushed thing that you eat, and then it’s done. All about 30 minutes. They pray everytime they go up for a stair or down. Very cool to see. So crowded!

Volunteers helping to build the pool outside the tempel!

Volunteers helping to build the pool outside the tempel!

At the Sikh Tempel with Torun

At the Sikh Tempel with Torun

Except for the Sarovara (pool) and the Gurdwara (temple) – they also have a kitchen there and a school and an art gallery. In all the Sikh Gurdwaras, the concept of langar is practiced, that is the term used in the Sikh religion for common kitchen/canteen where food is served to all the visitors (without distinction of background) for free. So regardless of race or religion you may eat in the langar hall. The food is prepared by gursikhs who work there and also by volunteers who like to help out. About a half million people eat there daily, and they are serving food the 24 hours. The funds of this mostly come from donations of people visiting the Gurudwhara. Lovely!

The hall where you can have food, Langar, every day! 500.000 people eat here every day!

The hall where you can have food, Langar, every day! 500.000 people eat here every day!

The hall where they serve food all they long

The hall where they serve food all day long

Then the sun went down and we walked along Connaguht circle and visited the market. I bought some bangles and scarves haha. People are very friendly. Tarun was going to meet up his friend later so he had time to show me around. Then he helped me to get a tuk tuk, took the licence plate of the tuk tuk, said it was only going to be 50 rupees (normally I have to pay 100 rupees for this road) and he took my number so that he could call and see that I arrived well. So sweet and gentleman. (You see mum, everyone takes care of me all the time ;)

Back at the hostel I organized my backpack and then sat in the silence room and wrote a little for the blog before going to sleep.

Enjoying the cuddly silence room :)

Enjoying the cuddly silence room :)

Next day, Monday, I ate breakfast, yummy as always, said bye to the staff, to Martin from Argentina and Eric from Malaysia, took a tuktuk to new Delhi metro station, where the airport metro line goes from. What a nice airport express metro!

The wagons have lots of seats and there are few stops, only people going to the airport. Very quickly. More expensiv though, costed 60 rupees (normal metro costs 15-20 rupes depending on how far you are traveling). Since I was flying with indigo they had their terminal and metro stop in aerocity, so I got down there and had to take a speed bus (shuttle bus) to the airport, 30 rupees. But funny thing is that even if the metro stops there on that terminal T3, the shuttle bus from the airport metro line to the actual terminal took like 20 minutes.

It was full but a man gave me his seat, guess it’s because I’m a woman. Sweet. At the airport it was crowded aswell. Didn’t have to pay for exceed luggage even though I had 3 kgs extra. The security didn’t allow any electronic items, had to take out laptop (that’s normal) but also phone, cameras, iphone cable, headphones, usb memories etc and they throw my lighter for macrame :(

Got many stamps on boarding card and on the bag that everything had been checked, and then went to the gate – but I couldn’t go in until it was less than 1 hour for departure. While waiting outside for 30 minutes there were like 4 other flights leaving for Goa. So yeah, there’s a lot of airway traffic here aswell!

So many stamps, both on the boarding and and on my rucksack!

Stamps, both on the boarding and and on my rucksack! 

Next post will be about my stay in Swan Yoga in Goa.

 

Salaam balaak Trust & Akshardham temple – and making friends in Delhi

So back in Delhi, at Stops hostel, I enjoyed the best hostel breakfast I have had ever. First I was so happy they had vegetables for the toasts, but then you could also order either pancakes or omelets – and they made it for you right there! Mmmm.. banana chocolate pancake, made me full for all the day! Haha.

Mmm... chocolate banana pancakes :)

Mmm… chocolate banana pancakes :)

So at 10.00 I had a special walking tour booked with Salaam Balaak Trust.
It’s an Indian non-profit and non-governmental organization which provides support for street and working children in the inner cities of New Delhi and Mumbai. I took a tuktuk close to the New Delhi Railway Station and met up with the guide Sabir, I was early, but we waited like 20 minutes and nobody else showed up, so I got the tour all by myself :)

Sabir was a street kid earlier, he is 18 years old now, not completely sure because he didn’t know when he was born, but the government has made some tests on him and put his bodys age to 18 years. His father died when he was 2 years old, and his mother left him and went back to her Mumbai, and they’ve never had contact since then. He lived with his uncle which treated him badly (didn’t want him to go to school and beat him), so when he was around 11 years old he got tired of it and just jumped on a train to Delhi, which as about 6 hours train ride from his village. A man helped him when he arrived here and showed him that he could earn money by gathering together paper or plastic, you can earn about 1-150 rupees to collect bottles and 70 rupees for paper. So he survived like that and eating at temples where they offer food. Then one day this man was gone and Nader was alone again. He got in contact with the Salaam Balaak trust and started to live in one of their shelter homes until he was 18 (it’s for kids up to 18). He is now studying last year in high school and working as a guide for the Salam Balaak tour.

He was sweet, spoke English very well after studying it for one year, his dream is to become a tv-host. :)

He told me that the most common reasons why kids run away from their parents is that they have alcoholic or drug addicted parents, another reason is that many kids gets lost when there are parades or parties, and they don’t know their parents phone number or what street they live in, and they end up being street kids. Another reason is also that many kids have dreams about becoming a bollywood actor, so they think it’s a bigger chance if they leave their village and move to the city. The problem is that a lot of kids later start using drugs by themselves, because if they earn some money one day, either working or pickpocketing – they have to use all that money that day, because if not – others will steal it. If you are a girl, you will most probably end up as a prostitute, but some also get sold to domestic.

We visited one of the contact homes just by the railway stations where there had some kids playing games. After that we walked around in the narrow streets of Delhi. We saw a place where they had a lot of second hand clothes, they gather together old clothes, sew them and sell them cheaper in second hand for the poor people.

Second hand clothes

Second hand clothes

We passed by a very narrow street with a lot of different gods on the wall. The reason why they have put it there is because before – everyone peed on the wall all the time, they tried to put up signs but it didn’t help, not until they put up all these gods on the wall. Now nobody pees there, because they feel that they are being watched by the gods. Haha. Good idea!

The Narrow street with the gods on the wall

The Narrow street with the gods on the wall

Nader, my guide, in the narrow streets of Delhi

Sabir, my guide, in the narrow streets of Delhi

 

It was quite quiet and peaceful inside on the small streets, far away from the big roads with traffic. No cars would fit here, but there are bikes and motorbikes, and lots of markets selling vegetables, shops, restaurants, hotels and everything. I wouldn’t have walked here by myself if I was alone, so I was happy Nader showed me around. We even went in to a small temple. They have temples everywhere, but this was not a separate temple but more like a room in an apartment building.

 

Selling vegetables

Selling vegetables

Two dogs chilling by their bikes ;)

Two dogs chilling by their bikes ;)

The inner streets of Delhi

The inner streets of Delhi

Walking around in Delhi

Walking around in Delhi

We visited one of their shelter home for boys, it was very colorful with many paintings on the wall, and the sign “Merry Christmas!” which they never take down (anywhere in Delhi, I’ve seen it in many restaurants too). They had a quite busy schedule! They were in a class when we visited them, so sweet, so good students as well! Either quiet listening or laughing at something the teacher said.

I’m very glad I got to visit it.

at the shelter home

at the shelter home

Having a class on a saturday in the shelter home!

Having a class on a saturday in the shelter home!

The day schedule at the shelter home

The day schedule at the shelter home

The diet schedule for the shelter home

The diet schedule for the shelter home

Then we wen’t out to one of the main shopping streets where many tourists go too, I wouldn’t have imagined that it was a tourist street! Haha. There was a lot of rubbish on the streets, I got explained that it’s usually cleaner but the government haven’t paid the cleaners in 3 months either (as the nurses) – so they have just stopped working!

One thing that surprised me was to see that all the houses have a BIG water tank, usually on the roof of the building. Apparently delhi only has running water a couple of hours per day, so if you want to use during the whole day, you get a tank where you can store water and use for the day. There’s not enough water for the whole city!! Weird!!

The big shopping tourist street

The big shopping tourist street

The government only gives them 2 hours of water per day, so they have water tanks connected to the houses - so that they can use water during the whole day instead.

The government only gives them 2 hours of water per day, so they have water tanks connected to the houses – so that they can use water during the whole day instead.

We ended the tour in their main office, I met the other guides and heard some more about the organization. The tour is actually free but recommended a minimum donation of 300 rupees, and it’s a donation to the whole organisation. You can donate more if you wish. I wish it had been longer! If you are going o Delhi, I definitively recommend it, check their website: www.salaambaalaktrust.com/

The guides and former guides at SBT :)

The guides and former guides at SBT :)

 

After the tour I was going to the Akshardam temple. I had to take the big shopping street to the Metro. While I’m walking along it a lot of people stopped me along the way to ask me where I’m from and a lot of people said “please, come and look in my shop”. But one man was really like “Mam, sorry, mam!” from the other side of the street, and I kept walking like “no, no, not interested” – but when he kept walking after me I turned around, and he just wanted to know where I bought my pants. Apparently he had a factory, so he was the one who had made these pants, but I hadn’t bought that in his shop. We started talking and I went to his shop (without buying anything) and we talked for like 2 hours, he just wouldn’t stop! Haha. His brother lives in northern Sweden with his Swedish wife, very close to Kalix where I used to lived. He showed me many pictures, asked a lot, always looking for business opportunities around. He sells fabrics to friends allover the world who has their shops, haha.

Anyhow, I really had to go so finally I went to the metro. You had to buy a token for about 15 rupees, and then go through a metal detector (there are separate lines, one for women where a women searches through your clothes and body, and one for men where men searches through) and put your bag in a x-ray security bag scanner. This is on every metro station!! The metro was really nice, I was in the first wagon which is a special wagon only for women. There it was spacious, while in the other wagons it was super crowded, haha.

At the metro, the first wagon is only for the ladies!

At the metro, the first wagon is only for the ladies!

I went to the Akhsardam metro station where I met 2 swiss and we walked together to the temple. It was quite complex there too, didn’t understand anything. You have to put your mobiles, cameras, usb memories and other valuables in a box, and one security guy crosses how much of everything you have in your bag, and then you store your bag there. The only things you can bring inside is a clear water bottle and money, sort of. To bad cameras are not allowed, because the temple was fantastic, so many details! But I also enjoyed actually seeing everything through my eyes and not thinking about photography.

Akshardham or Swaminarayan Akshardham complex is a Hindu mandir, and a spiritual-cultural campus. It has complex displays of traditional Hindu and Indian culture, spirituality, and architecture. It’s inspired and developed by Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the spiritual head of the BAPS.

 

The stunnishing Akshardham temple in Delhi. Picture from Wikipedia

The stunnishing Akshardham temple in Delhi. Picture from Wikipedia

Picture from the Akshardhams tempels website. The artwork is amazing – look at all the details and sculptures! Amazing!

Amazing gardens with a big 8 petal lotus flower!

Amazing gardens with a big 8 petal lotus flower!

About 3000 volunters and 7000 handcrafters worked to construct the temple for 5 years. It’s a really remarkable place, with a lot of carved details. Every piece is unique, and they are millions of sculptures!

The swiss didn’t have any cash and didn’t want to loan anything either, so I went to the exhibitions alone, which cost 250 rupees. But it was so worth it!! There were 3 different exhibisitions and a watershow included in the price.

The first one was a 50 min show with robotic dolls that shows scenes from Swaminarayan’s life. It was very interesting, we moved from room to room and saw different sceneries portraying his message about the importance of peace, harmony, humility, service to others and devotion to God. I thought the maning was beautiful, in the Hindu culture they promote non‐violence, vegetarianism, perseverance, prayers, morality, and family harmony.

After that I had a boat ride through 10.000 years of Indias history and heritage, about 15 minutes long. It shoed the contributions of Vedic Indians to various fields such as science, astronomy, arts, literature, yoga, mathematics. Got to know that chess was invented in India, and that they also invented airplanes and knew about the gravitation theory like 500 years earlier than when the rest of the world found out about it.

 

Then it was a 40 min movie with over 45000 casts about the life and pilgrimage of Swaminarayan through India, which was very interesting. It was a large format film, the screen was huge, about 26x20m, and it was packed with people.

I had one free space beside me, and a little girl asked if she could sit there. Sure I said. Then we started speaking. Here name is Palak.

Palak and Starsh!

Palak and Starsh!

Her family was there with us, and said that Palak should come and sit with them, but she didn’t want, she wanted to sit with me. She is 12 years old. She spoke fluently English, self taught, she has learned it by reading newspapers, books, watching movies and an app on the phone. Impressive! She said that she was happy that I spoke to her, because other foreigners didn’t like to speak to her. Probably they think she is trying to sell them something, but she just wants to converse and practice English, she is a very curious and smart girl. When she gets older she wants to make a master in science in UK, or be a scuba instructor. :)

After the movie she took my hand and presented me to her family, mother, father, fathers friend, fathers sister and her brother. Every weekend they usually go and do something, like today. They live about 40 kms south of Delhi. Her brother, Sparsh, is 8 years old and reminded me of my brother sooo much, full of energy, trying to run, race and tackle all the time.

They invited me to some tomatosoup and we watched the water show together, it was amazing! It had projections on another temple and and actors and water and colors and story, awesome. Palak translated everything they said in the show to me, so I got to know the story.

the water show – impressive! picture from the akshardham temples webiste

She also told me a lot of things, like the dowry – when a man and a woman get married, the woman have to give a gift or money to the husbands family, like a house, a car or something. If her family doesn’t have enough, the husbands family will treat her badly. Horrible. That’s why many Indians want to have sons, to receive the dowry, and not woman, because then they have to give it away.

Palak told me her mom doesn’t like her as much as her brother, but that her father loves her very much. Her father is a businessman and works with gold and diamonds. The fathers sister is only 22 years old and studies business communications. Both the sister and the mother was very interested in my hair, couldn’t believe that it was “created” and not natural, asked a lot about it. I said “don’t you know reggae? Rastafari? Bob Marley?” and they had never heard anything about any of those subjects. People here really only know Bollywood actors and indian singers, haha. So no, they had never seen dreads, more then on some guru that got it naturally. Usually very wise men has it, but that’s because they never comb their hair.

Palak tells me that it’s not good to be a girl, because you get easily raped, and that it is very shameful for a woman to have short dresses and have many boyfriends.

We talked a lot and she was very aware of the situation and the differences between man and women in India for being 12 years old. She also asked me how old I am and why I’m not married, haha. She asked when we get married in Sweden, I said that it’s not that common to be, that it depends, but where I live it would be around 35 probably. She was all “Whaaat! Mama mama, in Sweden they don’t get married until 35!!” haha. Here it’s weird if you are not married when you are 25. You also have to marry someone of your own cast, that has the same surname as you, she said. Not sure about that. But I was invited to go to her wedding, in 13 years :)

Me, Palak, Palaks mom, Starsh, and their aunt (fathers sister)

Me, Palak, Palaks mom, Starsh, and their aunt (fathers sister)

She said I was her best friend now. I asked if she had many friends, and she said she doesn’t, because here they don’t encourage you to have friends or allow you to be with them, you are supposed to be with your family. When you go to school, you get a school name, so they don’t even know your real name!

She gave me a bracelet and I gave her one of mine. After the water show, we entered the temple again, had some food around there (they made me try something new indian, don’t remember the name) and then went out, around 21, so I had really spend my whole day there! Outside the temple we changed whatsapp numbers, and yes, she is bombarding me with texts now, haha.

I took the subway back to Chawni Chowk and took a tuk tuk to the hostel and was very happy with my day. India is very interesting, people are so pacific and really kind here too.

The Akshardham temple seen from the metro

The Akshardham temple seen from the metro