Thursday, 28 April 2011

Ocean Stars

Emma at the headland - Om Beach

Om Beach, Gokarna. We arrived at Om Beach and met up again with Ina and Pia around one week ago. We have completely lost track of time in this beautiful part of the west coast of India. Om beach is so quiet as the season is drawing to a close, for the monsoon is imminent. We met a good deal of travelling friends at this beach, and for a week or so we were a friendly group from all across Europe:  Love and Sabina from Sweden, Flo (short for Florence) from Austria, James from France, Nunu from Portugal, Cherry from the UK and more who’s names have escaped me.

The beach has two small sandy bays that meet in the middle to form the Hindu Om symbol. The perfect beach is lined with little beach shacks serving great world cuisine,  the Tandoori King Fish may well be the finest delicacy I have ever eaten. The atmosphere here was so laid back, little happened and days passed unnoticed. Swimming, relaxing, reading etc were the order of the day, and we felt, a well deserved break after many hours of overnight bus and train traveling. We ventured through the jungle along the cliffs to reach other bays: Half Moon and Paradise beach, all of which were serene and perfect, isolated from roads with access only by a short trek. Often during the day, dolphins can be seen in the bay, tails in the air and sleek fins gliding through the water. I wished I could hear their “chattering” beneath the waves.

Sunset over Om Beach

Our good friend Flo from Austria provided us with much amusement, and each morning we would be up at around 06:30 to go through a session of five elements yoga, of which he was a superb teacher. This was a mixture of tai-chi and Yoga, with a Chinese heritage. It was less strenuous than Emma’s chosen Ashtanga yoga, and just perfect to do to the sunrise in paradise. Guy might have to become a five elements convert, though I can only recall two: Tone and Colour… Flo, I hope that we meet again before you leave India, as I’m currently three elements unwise! Oh, and I’ll never forget your phrase “this is one of the songs”. I hope that we will meet you near Saltzburg in the near future, and we’ll post those spices along the way.

 Bull and Calf at Om Beach

During the night before we left, we all enjoyed the most spectacular natural phenomena:  We swam with stars in the ocean. There was a huge bloom of luminescent plankton. The sea glowed turquoise around the body and glimmered like distant stars. One could see their whole body in the water illuminated by tens of thousands of tiny “stars”. The harder you swam, the  more intense was the eerie, beautiful light. The sky was full of stars, and the ocean too. I don’t expect I will ever experience such a unique event again, and we were all awe-struck. Emma likened the experience to "Faeries of the Sea".

 Luminescent Plankton (not my photo)

We headed from Om Beach to Goa – Palolem beach. Well though we thought we had to see Goa in all it’s touristy glory. On arriving at 02:00 am (travelling in India is often through the night, in order to cover large distances asleep – rather like teleportation) the beach at Palolem reminded me of Newquay in it’s appearance – predominantly British tourists watching huge screen football match and drinking on the beach through the night – Emma thought it was akin to Magaluf and agreed with Alabama 3 when they sung “Ain’t going to Goa”, if you haven’t heard it before it sums up the scene pretty well!
Looking beyond naff party time glitz, one can see that this would have been a most beautiful place before the package tourist invasion – perfect crescent, white sandy beaches and an ominous looking island; Monkey Island that there may still be time left today to take a canoe across to visit. Pia and Ina have headed to the dog sanctuary to help with the stray dogs at a widely respected charity here. The dogs trust put on an outdoor cinema in a little bay around the corner last night, with delightful table service tandoori food and a great movie – Three Days Later. It was a superb evening and Guy got out of his general misery “I’ve come here to visit India, not bloody Newquay” mood, and apologise to Emma. Well on the plus side, we leave Goa at 05:00am in the morning and are heading to Hampi. We plan to do some voluntary work at the Hampi Childrens Trust for a week or two. So tomorrow we wave goodbye to the ocean, plankton, beach huts, paradise and Newquay for the lunar landscaped Hampi – and Scott Roberts – I think I will regret not bringing my climbing shoes…

 This is Pervy Frog - He spent the week in our bathroom watching us with those pervy eyes!

As always - some more photos on Flickr - There is one for you Mr Kyle.

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