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Goa, India

Palolem & Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary

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3 days of air, road and train travel

We left Vietnam for India on May 15th, and after an overnight connection in Bangkok, arrived in Bangalore on May 16th. We took a flight from Bangalore to Goa and then got on two trains to get to Palolem, one of the most southernmost beaches in Goa. The first train was reasonably comfortable and very scenic.

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The second train was an hour late and there were 1000 people simultaneously trying to get on to 3 coaches designed to hold 300. The sea of crushing bodies was a pretty authentic India experience. What else would you expect for a 60 km journey for two that only costs 60 cents. Luckily, we met a wonderful Indian family that served as our guardians. Siddhant, Deepa & Vithal were a wonderful family.

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Palolem

Palolem is a touristy beach town, in front of the idyllic Palolem Beach. Two days of our three day stay in Palolem coincided with the Indian weekend crowd. We got to see how close knit Indian families are and enjoyed watching them frolic on the beach. It was interesting to see women go in the water fully dressed in their Saris.

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Palolem was also the location of our first encounter with India's holy cows. They seemed to enjoy the beach just as much as we did.
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Some of the Indian tourists stared at us the same way that we stared at the cows. I guess there are millions of Indians that have not yet seen a real life gora (gora means foreigner in Hindi). We've been asked to take pictures with several. They are all so nice, how can we refuse?

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Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary

From Palolem we rented a sweet motorcycle in order to travel to Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary. Lucky for us, Edward was very quick to learn how to drive on the left-hand side of the road. Mom, don't worry, we wore helmets.

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We saw a variety of wildlife in Cotigao. However, getting a picture was quite difficult, as the animals didn't stick around for a group photo. We got a snap shot of a monkey, a lizard and several bugs, but we also saw peacocks, a huge common eagle, frogs, a toddy cat and several colorful song birds. The leopards were more elusive.

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We drove 15km into the park, along a dirt road and then hiked 1km to reach a treetop observatory. The tree house was neat, but the animals weren't as active during the mid-afternoon heat.

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After exploring the jungle, we eventually made our way to a remote village. There we met a little boy and his sister. The little boy served as our guide for the next 30 minutes as we explored the surrounding area. He showed us a nearby monkey troupe and the dam they use to hold back the floods during the monsoon.

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Cabo Da Rama

One of the highlights of our time in Palolem, was the motorcycle trip we did up the coast to Cabo Da Rama. The road winds and weaves through Indian villages and old Portuguese homes, making its way up the hills for unparamounted views of the coastline.

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The history of Portuguese occupation is evident even in Southern Goa. The Goan coast is lined with Portuguese forts that date from the 1500's. The picture below is the from fort at Cabo Da Rama.

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On our way back from the fort, we saw the most beautiful sunset. The picture is nice, but it doesn't do justice to the real thing. Still, it gives you a sense for why Goa still retains its mystique and romance even after two decades of mass tourism.

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Posted by edcastano 05:56 Archived in India

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