Stuff I Know

Just stuff by me about me and my life, such as it is.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


From Panaji it was back to the coast. This time to Anjuna beach. There are several beaches in the area and Anjuna is probably the least developed for tourists, though that isn't saying much. But at least it isn't like the beach 30 - 45 minutes down the coast and around the headland. That place was thronged with Euro-tourists. Lots of overweight people showing too much flesh.

I have nothing against nudity. The "too much flesh" I mean was the extra poundage displayed when these people stuff themselves into what swimming suits they have. I have nothing against heavy people either, though it is obviously unhealthy, but, in my opinion, if you are going to go swimming, you should seriously consider getting a swimsuit that fits your form a little better as opposed to what looks good on the store mannequin. I know I am certainly no Adonis, but I have been told I have a nice but. That being said, I personally don't think it is nice enough to put on display in a thong on a beach that is populated by people more moderately dressed.

Many people seem to have an overly negative image of their own body, and that is too bad. Yet others can have an overly positive self-image of their body and that can be bad too. There is a lot more average out there in the world than people want to believe.

Besides the beach, another thing that makes Anjuna popular is the weekly flea market. Every Wednesday, people come from all over to sell their crafts, products, and old junk. There isn't that much old junk, but there are certainly a lot of interesting things to see. You could easily spend hours just walking around and looking at stuff. There is lots to buy, and if you get there early in the morning, you can get some good prices on things due to the Indian belief that they have to get that first sale out of the way as soon as possible for good luck.

Though there are lots of nice things, the problem for me is that I never really buy things unless I really need them. I rarely buy clothes unless what I have wears out. And I often pick up junk from the trash if I think it looks useful or might be able to be fixed. So whereas that carved animal or unique knickknack might look good on a mantle, I won't buy it because one- I don't have a mantle, and two- what would I really do with it once I have it? I have a hard enough time trying to get myself to buy souvenirs for family or friends. Consequently I think postcards are a godsend.

Not a lot of pictures from Anjuna- beach again. But there were some interesting rocks and a nice ruin of a fortification up on a nearby hill. Enjoy.

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In My Opinion

Living in the East (Korea in my case) you sometimes tend to forget what things look like in the West. As I have traveled from east to west on this trip, I have come to realize (yet again) what a blight graffiti is on the urban landscape.

I understand the occasional need for self expression, but there are ways to achieve that which do not involve vandalizing public or private property and making the city you live in look like a wasteland.

Some may say graffiti is art. I'm sorry, but any fool can write their name, initials, or group affiliation on a wall (and many do), and that is what the great majority of graffiti is. And also, writing your name in a "funky" font generally does not qualify as art either.

If you feel you must take pen or spray can in hand, do something creative with them. Use your imagination; show some originality instead of just the alphabet; create art. Believe me, you'll be remembered much longer for creating something rather than just writing your name. And if you feel you must see your name, sign your art rather than the wall.

When I was a young kid and happened to mention that I wrote my name in some wet cement, my mother said something to me, as mothers do, that I have remembered ever since.

"Fools' names and fools' faces are always seen in foolish places."


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Old Goa

I think bus drivers in Turkey and Greece have to smoke, despite the little sign above them that says no smoking on the bus. It is probably one of those little "unwritten rules." Kind of like how in India all males must have a mustache. It seems that as long as they are able to grow one, males in India wear mustaches. No not 100%, but pretty darn close, mind you. Interesting the "rules" society imposes on us.

(Oh yes, I am in Greece now which means I am a full country behind in my posting of pictures. I'll get them all in eventually. Anyway ...)

Another reason to visit Panaji is as a base to visit Old Goa. It makes a nice day trip as the sites to see there can easily be visited from the central area where you hop off the bus. What is there to see? Uh, well, more churches and some church ruins. These churches are pretty impressive, though, almost "cathedral" in scale. The interior decorations are generally fairly impressive, too.

One of the churches is the resting place of the "incorruptible body" of St. Francis Xavier. They keep the body up on a dais and take him down to allow the faithful to have a gander every 10 years.You can actually see him a little bit up there through the glass coffin, and I have to say, his body looks pretty corrupted to me, very dried out and "mummified." I actually filed through the church when they took him
down in 1994 (On a whim, not knowing what was going on at the time.) and he looked pretty dessicated then, too. Maybe the fact that he isn't getting any worse is the actual "miracle." I don't know.

Read this I found about the saint: copyright John Howley and
Spiritual Guides from here.
"While traveling by boat to China, he got dysentery and died on the island of San Chuan (Sancian), off the Chinese coast on December 3, 1552 at the age of 46, ten years after his arrival in Goa. His body was buried in Sancian and later taken to Malacca. Even though the grave was filled with lime, the body was in perfect condition. Later, his body was again removed and taken to Goa on March 16, 1554. St Francis was canonized in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV. The body was then placed in the chapel in the Basilica of Bom Jesus.

Parts of Saint Francis' body have been removed as relics. In 1554, a Portuguese woman is said to have bitten off one of his toes. In 1615, part of his right arm was taken to Rome and placed in the Church of Gesu. Part of the right hand was taken to Japan in 1916. Parts of the intestines were removed and distributed to various places in Southeast Asia. In 1890, one of his toes fell off. It is kept in a crystal case in the Sacristy of the Basilica of Bom Jesus."
There is another "miracle" in the town, too. One of the churches has a crucifix where the figure of Christ is said to have open and closed his eyes and mouth. It also causes miraculous healing for those who pray here. Well, some anyway. Looking up at the figure, I could see where the lighting and the position of viewing may make it look like the face of Christ might move, but he didn't so much as wink at me. Oh well, I wasn't praying for any miracles anyway, and I doubt the only thing I would have asked for, world peace, would be within the bounds of grantable miracles.

Be sure to visit the ruins of the old church and the museum there too. All in all it was a nice day, even though after a long walk up the hill, the last church I wanted to see turned out to be closed. The view was very nice though.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Panaji was an inland jaunt again. It is located up an estuary that sailors of old used, as evidenced by the numerous churches and religious ruins in the area. It is actually a rather nice town as far as Indian towns go. The river front area makes for a nice walk and a walking tour through the town to see the old quarter, the churches, and the Hindu temples makes for a nice day.

The town had a modern multiplex, so I decided to see a movie. I chose a Hollywood movie since I really doubted I would enjoy an Indian movie without any English subtitles. I honestly don't remember the movie's name, so it couldn't have been that great, but it was a nice break from the 'ordinary.'

Going to a movie in India is a bit of a different experience than seeing a movie in the west. Some ads were showing on the screen as I sat down, but then not long after, the waving Indian flag appeared and everyone stood up as the national anthem was played. Not wanting to be the odd man out, I stood up too. As I did, I could not help but imagine how not well the idea of making everyone stand for the national anthem at the beginning of a movie would go over in America.

The anthem ended, everyone sat down and the movie started. A little over an hour into the film it was stopped and we were informed that it was intermission time. Again, that would probably not go over well in America. But in India, since most films are three hours or more, an intermission is almost a necessity. Consequently, they still have intermissions even though most western movies don't need them. A few minutes into the intermission, trailers for other movies started to play. While it is always nice to see trailers, the scenes of different movies kind of interrupts the flow of the movie you came to see.

After the trailers ended, the movie resumed and was interruption free until the end. In all, quite a unique experience. I hope you enjoy the few pictures of Panaji. More photos next time.

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

More Beaches

After Hampi it was back to the beaches for a while. Forgive me, but there are not many pictures here. I just don't really take many pictures when I am lazing on the beach. Consequently I am going to lump a couple of places together here.

The very northern end of Gokarna from the headland.

The first location was Gokarna. The beach there was typically Indian, but it stretches far enough that you can get away from the bus crowd with a short walk. But the real gem of the area is just a bit south up and over a headland. About 20 - 30 minutes walk from Gokarna is Kudle beach.

The headland from on top.

It is much cleaner and much less populated with people, especially day-trippers. The water seems cleaner than normal and the beach definitely is. It has a shallow slope so you can get relatively far out and still be within a manageable depth for anyone not quite sure of their swimming abilities. The waves are benign and only serve to a bit of sound to the otherwise peaceful setting. There are several restaurants on the beach and some of them provide primitive huts or shacks if you would rather really get away from it all and not stay in the town of Gokarna.

Kudle beach from above.

There is actually one more beach up and over the next headland south of Kudle beach, but there is also an access road to that beach, so it is only a little better than Gokarna and certainly not near as nice as Kudle. If you would rather not walk, there is a semi-regular boat service from one beach to the next. I think Kudle was probably the best beach in India that I went to on this trip.

The beach at Coval.

From Gokarna I took a the train to Margao and then a bus to another beach area. I think this town suffers from a bit of an identity crisis, though. On the buses and signs I would see the name of the town spelled as both "Colva" and "Coval." I would say one version to a person and they would say the other version back to me.

Not much surf here either.

However you spell it, though, this beach area is much more developed, especially for package tourists. There were obviously groups of Europeans from different regions staying at different places along the beach. Some restaurants even seemed to cater to certain groups. And a couple of Indians spoke some European languages at me assuming I was from there.

Nope, not much to eat here. He is only about the size of an American quarter.

The beach was nice, nothing really spectacular, but the long stretches of mostly white sand to either side of you as you faced the ocean did somewhat fulfill that deserted island fantasy that many people harbor- if only all the people could have disappeared for a while.

Not much of a catch in the nets, either.

There was one particular thing I liked about the beach. Along a certain part of the beach, just above high tide, The sand was very fine and soft. In fact, when you walked on it in shoes/sandals, it would actually squeak and crunch the way snow does sometimes. I thought it was neat.

I spent much of my time on these beaches trying to develop a bit of a tan so that when I got home I still wouldn't be the pasty white guy that winters in Korea seem to foster. Of course I got a bit burned, but in time, that burn served as a good base coat (as the late John Candy would say). (Note- Much of that tan has already started to fade due to being covered up all the time in Turkey. :-( )

I hope you have enjoyed the few pictures here. Yes, that is all of them. Maybe if you push your imagination hard enough, you can produce your own beach fantasy from them. maybe not.

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Monday, March 03, 2008


Hampi was my next destination of note. It seems to be fairly popular with travelers and tourists. Luckily though, the bus tours don't seem to spend a lot of time there, so things can be pretty laid back for the backpacker crowd. Hampi is a nice place to spend a few more days in one location than you might usually.

One reason is just the setting. Hampi is situated on a plain strewn with granite boulders and the occasional granite hill. Additionally, there is a nice river winding its way through the plain which feeds or is fed by streams leading to banana plantations and sugar cane fields.

The scenery alone would probably be enough to make many people want to visit, " ... but wait! There's more!" Hampi was also a large population center at more than one time and there are ruins of temples and city structures from different eras all around he area.

For some of the structures all that remains is just the impression of where things once stood, but other structures are still standing, revealing much of the glory of days gone by. The Indian government has done a good job of restoring some structures and yet leaving some areas relatively untouched for the Indiana Jones in all of us. The work is on-going though, so don't wait too long to visit or by the time you get there everything will have been rebuilt.

Another good thing about Hampi, especially for cheap bastards like me, is that you can wander around and see a lot of interesting things without ever having to pay anything. There are entrance fees to a couple of areas, but until you are ready to see those particular locations, there is a lot to keep you occupied. it can be hot though, even in winter, so just be ready for the weather.

Yes, I went into the hills with all my money and camera, alone, and I didn't meet one robber. Maybe that is because I didn't bring any narcotic drugs with me.

Again, there a re a lot of pictures here so it may be best to use the album view rather than the slide show. That way you can click those photos that pique your interest and bypass the yawners.

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