Right from the moment we landed in Goa, we saw a lot of yellow board scooters. Generally in India two types of Number plates are given for vehicles, one indicating privately owned vehicles and others indicating taxi operation. We were wondering what the yellow board indicates. The cab driver had cleared the doubt that it is two wheeler taxi and we can hire one for a day too.
The hotel receptionist of Sunflower hotel at Calangute where we stayed was more than helpful as he spent atleast 30 minutes a day to discuss with us on where to explore the next day. He only arranged for a cab for the North Goa Trail after finding that a bus trip touching all the locations was not something which we liked. He had ruled out a scooter too as there were intermittent rains. We had thoroughly enjoyed out trip to Baga, Vagator Chapora fort and Fort Aguada during the North Goa Trail.
The sky had cleared on Day 3 and we decided to explore South Goa in a scooter. The receptionist arranged for one from a nearby shop. The rent was in the order of Rs 350 for a bullet, Rs 300 for other bikes and Rs.250 for scooter. I demanded for a bulled and also had specifically asked for a helmet too as we had to travel through the highways for some distance and helmets are compulsory in Goa.
The vehicle was present in the hotel lobby at the exactly agreed time. The model which I requested was not available, hence he gave a Bajaj Avenger, a mini cruiser modeled bike which had a very low stance. The four of us fitted perfectly with my son in front and my daughter in between wife and myself. Brought the vehicle to life, but the sound of the engine was not something which pleased me. Being an avid biker I somehow sensed that something is not Ok. The bike shop owner was nearby and he told that everthing is perfect except that there is some clattering from the engine side. Slowly we rolled out the bike through the busy Calangute streets and decided to find a hotel for a good breakfast. Before reaching the hotel I had found out that the bike had a clutch slipping problem and it was a pain to ride in 1st gear and 2nd gear. After dropping my family at the hotel for breakfast I made a quick return to the bike shop and asked for a replacement. Unfortunately all the bikes available there were having some problems. Finally I settled for a Honda Activa scooter. Being a vehicle with small tires, ride will not be as comfortable as that of a bike, but still something is better than nothing.
After breakfast the four of us again were packed into the scooter. The seats were not that lengthy and hence the seating was not too comfortable. I had an apprehension on whether we will be able to ride like this for the entire day, but finally we decided that what ever it may be we want to feel Goa much more closer.
As the saying goes
"TWO WHEELS MOVE A SOUL, FOUR WHEELS MOVE A BODY"
But here Two wheels were moving FOUR SOULS !!
We were headed South, but before getting into the National Highway, we had to feed the little scooter with some fuel. Interestingly no Petrol Pumps were around. On enquiry it was found that petrol are sold in road side shops in bottle and it costs more too. Goa is different !!
Found one petrol shop 'manned' by a woman and got one litre of petrol for Rs 60. The Goan hospitality was on show there too as the lady got befriended with my wife and kids in no time and gave some tips on where to do shopping at Panjim.
We rolled out to the highway and slowly but steadily progressed southwards. After about 5 to 6 Km of journey our backs began to ache, thanks to the lack of space and the sun was at his scorching best. Another round of discussions sprang up on whether we should proceed or return back the scooter and get a cab. Finally it was again decided that no more discussions on returning the scooter, we are going to ride like this.
This firm decision worked wonders and the pain went away immediately. Another example of how mindset works.
If we think that there is a more comfortable option, then umpteen problems crops up with what we have now, but if don't have another option we tend to live happily with what is available.
The ride was smooth as the roads were good, the wind gushing across our face reducing the impact of the sun, speeds never exceeded 50km/hr as even that speed seemed too high on this scooter. After 20 minutes of travel through the highway we made a stop, just to loosen our legs. Another 20 minutes of travel more and we reached the Panjim bridge. Panjim is separated with North Goa by the river Mandovi and this huge bridge connects both the mainlands.
Ride through the bridge was quite bumby and my son was wondering whether we were sitting on a horse. Just after passing the bridge, we turned right towards the Panjim city. This road was alongside the Mandovi river which was flowing westward to join the Arabian sea. The proximity of the river made the ambient temperature levels quite low, due to the cool winds.
We were in seach for an apt location to just spend some time near the river side. Soon we saw a neatly paved walkway near the river, where there was some crowd too. Immediately stopped the vehicle for a much needed break after the 1 hour jouney in the scooter.
We had stopped near the Ferry, which took people to the other side of Mandovi river and part of North Goa. So this ferry was another option to travel to North Goa without travelling through the bridge which we came and it saves atleast 5 kms of the travel. My kids were really surprised to see the amount of load which the ferry was carrying.
The ferry seemed to move a city - it consisted of people, scooters, bikes, cars, autos etc and we stood watching as it slowly sailed across. There were not seats at all. People who were on vehicles did not disembark while others were standing.
This river also housed lot of luxury boats and it seemed like the night cruises starts from here. The boats with multideck were looking beautiful.
The walkway looked pretty inviting too, with the beautiful river on one side and the neatly lined up trees on the other side.
But we decided to just relax at the concrete benches on the side.
Soon an ice cream vendor approached us. Naturally both my kids were longing to have one, but since my daughter was having some throat infection we were against it. Typical parents eh!! But the ice cream guy was not willing to leave, even after we told him that kids were unwell. Finally he took one ice cream and was telling us that he want to give it for free because he felt bad seeing the disgusted face of my kids. Somehow I managed to convince him that, if he is truly concerned then its better not to give them ice creams. All the while he was talking in a pleasing manner though. Goa is different, infact Goan people are different !!
We too felt bad when we saw him return disappointed.
From the map of Goa which we had, we found out that we were now on the road which leads to Miramar beach ( the most crowded beach of Goa) and ending at Dona Pola, a peninsula kind of place where river Mandovi to its north and river Zuari to its south joins the Arbian Sea. We did not make any plans to visit any specific place, but we wanted to do some shopping for which we have to get into the heart of the Panjim city.
Even at this pathway we spend a lot of time as we felt good to just sit and relax here rather than being at some crowded place. It was almost noon and kids were starting to get hungry.
Our two wheeled carrier was again brought to life and we started our travel westwards by the river side route. A short distance ahead we saw a restaurant board. Along with the restaurant there was a kids park too. No wonder my kids readily agreed to take another break here.
Filled our tummies first and then walked into the wide open spaces. This place had a lot of trees and the shade it provided made this really a very cool place.
It felt really nice to see the kids enjoy themselves wandering around and making use of the rides available in the park. They preferred this park over a beach. We also decided to go by their decision.
The park also housed an artificial pond running across its length.
The walkways near the side of the Mandovi river were beautiful too !!
Just cross the walkway and you are near the River bank. The river is very sprawling and the banks looks like that of a mini beach. Towards the West we can see the Arabian sea. So the tip - Dona paula is not too far away.
But I don't think we will be reaching till Dona paula as we were spending more time here and were hesitant to leave this place.
It was about 4pm when we decided to move out, but not before having our tea also from this restaurant. While crossing the small bridge inside the artificial pond my son spotted a water snake too.
Overall the experience of my kids at the park can be summed up by this pic
I had plans to return to Calangutte before night since we were on a rented scooter and didn't knew how its electricals will perform. Thanks to our method of spending a lot of time at the place where we like, it was almost evening and we had one important thing pending too - SHOPPING.
Took the route to Panjim city, and headed towards Bombay Bazaar which was suggested by the hotel receptionist. Found out the shop, which seemed a relatively big one too. For the first time in Goa we felt quite uneasy because of the attitude of the people inside the shop. I wonder whether it is manned by Goans. We soon got out of it as we felt it completely unGoan.
Wandered around other shops and found some good ones too. My wife was happy as she got a collection of tops and sarees, most of them to be gifted for our near and dear ones.
It was already 15 minutes past seven, when we decided to make a return. So the return ride is to be made with a heavy luggage too. Thankfully being a scootter, we could place some of our luggage in the front too. By this time the ride in this small thingy has become a kind of joy for us. We treaded back the road through the side of Mandovi river. By the time we reached the ferry point we saw that one ferry is about to make a trip. Immediately turned the scooter and rode towards the ferry.
Luckily got a chance to get inside. It was altogether a new experience. I was wondering where to pay for the ferry trip. When I enquired with a co passenger he told that this journey is free. I was surprised to hear this though. The night life of Mandovi river had started and it was a visual treat to watch those cruise boats fully lit up.
The ferry was jam packed, but the ride was smooth and I could see the excitement on the kids face as this is not something which we do daily. We could see the Panjim bridge at a distance and my elder one was saying that he escaped the horse ride over that bridge.
Soon the ferry hit the mainland and we alighted. On enquiry to a localite he told that we need not go through National Highway, but proceed through a route by the river and then beach side towards Calangute.
This route was nice too as we could travel by the side of the beautiful river with the well lit Panjim on the side and some beautiful cruisers on the river
The headlight of the scooter was behaving well and the ride was smooth. Infact we were feeling pretty much relaxed sitting here after exhausting us out walking through the Park at Panaji and then for shopping. As a matter of fact we didn't visit any of the place listed as part of the normal South Goa Trail which comprises of many churches in Old goa and beaches which includes Miramar and Dona Paula. But we are not complaining as we had a beautiful day with the scooter ride making us quite familiar with the routes of Goa. We have to come back here again and again, so we have to leave out many places tooo. An excuse for a visit later.
If you happen to be in Goa, Don't miss out on a scooter journey. It is truly a different experience!!
Some tips for Scootering at Goa.
- If you are staying in North goa, then a scooter is most advisable for the North goa trail which comprises of many beaches and most of them are quite nearby.
- Always insist on a helmet as the people who give bikes tend not to give the helmets and police are out everywhere to catch helmet less riders.
- Ride slow as the roads are narrow and there are lot of newbie riders around.
- Get a scooter arranged by the hotel where you are staying.
- Knowledge of routes is absolutely unnecessary as people are more than willing to help and there are lot of sign boards.
The Goan Odyssey -The story so far...
Part 1. The Konkan Experience - Watch the beautiful pictures of Konkan rail route
Part 2. Baga Beach - A beautiful beach
Part 3. Vagathore Beach and Chapora Fort - A place with diversified ambiance.
Part 4. Anjuna Beach & Fort Aguada
Part 5. Scootering @ Goa: Destination Panjim
Part 6. Calangute
Part 7. The Dolphin Trip