Bytes By Bhavin Random Words From The Factory Of My Thoughts!

6Jun/090

>Road To Ladakh – Day 8

>
So this is supposed to be the last day at Leh and all we had to do was go for local sightseeing in the first half of the day and go for shopping in the latter half of the day.

Last night I heaved a sigh of relief as finally I would be able to wake up late in the morning. Waking up at 5 in the morning almost everyday had taken a toll on my sleep. So I was pretty excited to live in my dreams for a couple of hours more.

But... We got ready by 7 am. Passed sometime at the hotel by shoots vids and clicking pics of the scenery around.

Finally at 9 am we left for the local sightseeing tour. The first stop being Thicksey Monastery. The ambience is superb. Inside the monastery lies the sitting statue of Lord Buddha. The statue attracts thousands of onlookers towards itself. Flash needs to be disabled while clicking photographs. The mantra "Buddham Sharanam Gachchami" soothes the tired soul.

From Thicksey Monastery, we visit the Kali Mata Mandir. It is said that the whole Leh city is visible from the top of this Mandir. And it's really true. The view can be captured by video. (I intend to upoad the video soon.)
P.S.: Photography or videography is not allowed within the temple premises.

We make our way towards the Hall of Fame. It is the museum situated on the main road towards airport. The museum showcases the history of Ladakh region, the people, the culture, the food, the dances and the costumes of this area. It also has the history of the kings who ruled this region. What bowls us is the special section related to the Kargil War. The detailed explanation by the heroes of war arises the feeling of patriotism within you.

Finally we go to the Shanti Stupa which is famous for the statue of Lord Buddha. It is visible from half Leh region. The wind gushes at a high speed. The climate is freezing.

We didn't visit the Shey Palace and Stok.

Returning from the local sightseeing tour, we have our lunch, rest for a couple of hours and then make our way towards the market. (Trust me, its boring if you are a singleton. And its much more boring if you are with any lady of your family. Because ladies know how to kill time. Hahaha.)

So that's the end of the final day at Leh. It's time to pack up things as we need to catch a flight tomorrow early morning.

Ciao!

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4Jun/090

>Road To Ladakh – Day 7

>Last night was too tiring. Whole day travelling, then shopping, then cultural dance and finally sleeping late at night.

But today's a new day... And it has to be something exciting to write about. Well, the day has been exciting so far. We left The Kaal and made a journey towards Pangong Tso. Tso or So means Lake. Its about 150 odd kms away from the Leh city.

The journey towards the Pangong Lake is too tiring and people swear under their lips for making such a long journey to see a silly lake. But once you reach the destination, you say.... WOW!

Guys, one request... PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE... DON'T MISS THIS PLACE. IT'S WORTH A WATCH.

So on my way I pass through The Chang La which is the third highest motorable road in the world. The climate is colder than the Khar Dung La. And the winds slap your body. It's difficult to stay there for a while.

Vehicles have problems in this journey... Like brakes getting hot, tyres getting punctured, etc. So there's an advice for those who are planning to visit this place. Please have a complete check up of your vehicle a day before visiting the place.

It takes us 4-5 hrs to finally reach the Pangong Lake. And that's what I call heaven on earth. It's a superb place. (MTV Roadies season 3 was shot at this place) and you know the reason why.

China border is visible through this place and the scenery is absolutely brilliant. We get to have a water boat ride that allows us to see the border more closely.

(P.S. No one's allowed to take a water ride. I wonder how we were allowed.)

After spending a couple of hours at the Lake we head back towards Leh. On the way, we have our lunch at Hotel Chang La Queen. The food is as super good as the people out there.

It takes us around 3 hours to reach back to our hotel. The evening passes away with leisure activities like photo clicking, playing cards, etc.

So that's the end of the day and me off to sleep after a sumptous dinner.

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4Jun/090

>Road To Ladakh – Day 6

>The climate is freezing and we have to give a hard thought whether to take a bath or not. Big guts needed to empty a mug of water (hot or cold doesn't matter because within a seconds, the water gets cold) on the body. After the act of bravery (bathing, of course), we pack our bags to return to The Kaal.

On the way we make a stop to the Khar Dung La again and indulge in some snow fights. An hour passes away, we get back in our vehicles and move back to the Leh city.

As we reach earlier than expected, we plan to explore the local markets of Leh. Moti market is a famous market that sells ornaments made of stones. Leh is famous for its dry fruits.

After an hour of time pass at the market, we get back to the hotel for the cultural programme organised for us. (It's a time pass show.) The songs on which they dance, went bouncer to me. Hehehe. At the end, we too danced with the dance troupe and had a great time.

Post cultural program, it was dinner and making preparations for next day's journey to the Pangong Lake.

Its time to sleep guys! Hope you enjoyed the read (though, this post may not have been helpful. But this is the best I can describe, as we hardly did anything today.)

Jhule!

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3Jun/090

>Road To Ladakh – Day 5

>Ah! The weather is cool as a cucumber and its just fun to stay out here and romance with the natural beauty.

We get ready for our next destination... Numbra Valley. It's about 150 odd kms away from Leh city. And its also known as the Valley of Flowers. (Guys, there are no flowers as per my knowledge. It's just the name kept by the localites to attract tourists. But it's worth a dekko.)

So we head towards Numbra Valley via Khar Dung La. La means Pass and Khar Dung is the name of the village. The best thing about this place is that it is 18380 metres above sea level and its the highest motorable road in the world. The temperature plays between 0 to 5 degrees. And we make a move ahead after a brief stop at the pass.

We reach the Sumoor Village near Numbra Valley at 2 pm and freshen up in our resective tents at The Mystic Meadows Camp. at the camp our cook prepares the pakodas for us and its an amazing experience.

We freshen up and get ready for sightseeing. After a 40 minute drive we reach at the Sand dunes between Diskit and Hunder villages. Its a desert in Leh. The view is superb and its worth coming out here to enjoy. Time for Camel ride... The camels out here are two-humped. Such camels are found in Mongolia.

The charges are a bomb. Rs.150 for 15 min ride!!!

After the camel ride and some sand fighting at the sand dunes, we head back for our camps. On the way, our vehicles go through a road in the middle of a very old dried river bed.

We reach back to the camp and it's dinner time. Post dinner, there's nothing to do except fiddling with my laptop and filling it up with today's experience...

Time to sign off... Good night.

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2Jun/090

>Road To Ladakh – Day 4

>So here we are... At Ule Tokpo Camp... Enjoying the best moments of the trip... Calmness and serenity all over.

As usual, it's 5.30am and I knock everyone's doors to wake them up. We get ready, freshen up at the common toilets and bathrooms (clean as ever.. hats off to the way these guys maintain) and get set for our breakfast. Nearly 3 hours pass out in this process and then we plan to go for river rafting. Damn excited by the prospect of thinking about it.

Tough luck... Due to some kind of accident at the river, the rafting was cancelled. Alas! Got to stay at the hotel...

11 of us... Planning how to kill time... All of a sudden we thought about having a body massage available at the hotel. (Guys! Don't act like perverts! Its a normal body massage with the massagers from Kerala's Coconut Lagoon something.. And males are handled by males and females by females... Sigh! Hehehe.)

(Tip: Bargain guys! I am very bad at bargaining... I nearly coughed up the actual amount. But thanks to some professional bargainers with me that I saved a few hundreds. Hehehe.)

So a Rs.700 body massage (1 hr duration) costed me actually Rs.500 and this way we all could kill our time. A short nap after the massage eased away my tiredness(and also the pain of my butts!!!) It's an hour to go before we have our lunch and we head straight to the games room to take another shot at the billiards table.

The gaming is over by now, the lunch is ready... Aah! Delicious aloo parathas, karela sabji, mutter paneer... Yummy... And the stomach's full. (Lucky for everyone that nobody had to answer nature's call after such a heavy food.)

It's time to take our luggages and move towards our final destination... Leh.

We bid adieu to the Ule Tokpo Camp and get ready for a two hour journey towards Leh. (By the way I forgot to write that the Ule Tokpo Camp is situated at an area called Shaspol. It's a village I guess. So anybody having difficult to find it can do so by checking Shaspol on the map.)

Two hours gone... 70 odd kms passed and here we see the first sight of Leh. The Leh Airport, Hall Of Fame, Thicksey Monastery, Shey Palace (guys! I aint doing sightseeing today, these places are just on the way) and the Leh Market.

We reach Hotel The Kaal (Looks like we have a fan of the Karan Johar movie.. Hehehe.) and we are welcomed by felicitating us with a special scarf like cloth. It may not be as good as the Grand Dragon Hotel but its definately worth living out here.

We freshen up, have evening breakfast and kill the rest of our time by playing cards.

Nothing much special to write about except that the weather is pleasant during this time. And it's time to sleep.

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31May/090

>Road To Ladakh -Day 3

>This is something stupid... Never in my lifetime have I woken up at 8 am to get ready for the office. But here! Just imagine, waking up at 5.30 am, completely afresh, without Mum screaming my name thousand times, without Dad growling at me to wake me up or without even my lil sis kicking my butts, to give up my bed...

The climate is so charismatic that I just cannot resist to leave my bed and see the sun tearing apart the mountains to brighten up the world... (Hey! Hold on guys? Can't you just ask me to stop using this poetic descriptions in my travelogue? Hahaha... Sorry guys... Aaj mausam bada beimaan hai!) Such is the power of the nature. Who says time is the best healer of all pains? Well... I say so... The climate is so good that you feel like doing some exercises or going for a walk.

CAUTION: DONT DO EITHER OF THE THINGS OUT HERE... THE OXYGEN IS QUITE THIN OUT HERE AND PLEASE PLEASE NO STRESS WORK (YOU MIGHT JUST FEEL RESTLESS OR ASTHAMIC OR MAY HAVE AN HEART ATTACK TOO.)

(Sorry for this advice guys! But precaution and prevention is better than cure.)

Coming back to the day's itenary, it's time to get ready and have a delicious breakfast. Again, the food quality is good enough to keep you hale and hearty. Time to move on....

So we check out of Hotel Siachen and move towards the next stop... Mulbek. It's on the way towards Leh via Ule. Mulbek is famous for a giant Buddha sculpture on Rock Mountain. The sculpture's called Maitreya Buddha and it is supposed to be the future incarnation of Lord Gautama Buddha.

After spending some time to adore the statue, visiting the nearby Gonpa, refreshing ourselves and pulling each other's legs, we move towards our next destination called Lamayuru. Lamayuru is supposed to be the oldest monastery of the Ladakh region. (Boss! I do love cultural and heritage places, but this goes a bouncer to me.)

As we move ahead, we reach the Moon landscape. The beauty of this place is that you feel as if you have landed on moon. The mass on the ground is quite different from the other places. The ground consists of sand-soil combo and so feel like travelling barefoot on it. (Tip: If possible, visit this place on a full moon night because the sky is so bright that you could actually read a book without any need of electricity.) The layers of rocks are of different colours which definately have some resemblence to the surrounding of moon.

(How am I so confident that it resembles like moon? Dude! Mummy ko bolo Discovery Channel lagaye... Ab dobara mat puchhna... Hahaha.)

Another couple of hours of drive and we reach to the day's final destination... Ule.

The time is 4 pm and we check in a camp called Ule Tokpo Camp. This is supposed to be the best place to stay. We stay in a tent-hut combo camping site that can possibly lodge maximum two people to rest. The area of the rooms are 8 X 10 feet. What attracts you is the mesmerising flirting between you and the nature.

So we freshen up, have evening breakfast and think about the way to kill the time. (Just one problem... No network coverage at all. A blessing in disguise, I guess.) To my surprise, we find a games room in the hotel. Play chess, play billiards, play carrom and I bet its dinner time. The dinner is fantastic. The staff at the Ule Tokpo Camp is helpful enough to treat you like kings.

That's the end of another great day and it's time to go on a date with your crush (in your dreams, duffer!) Good night.

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30May/090

>Road To Ladakh – Day 2

>So here we are... Sonamarg... Hotel Glacier Heights... Waiting eagerly how to kill time till 12 pm (so that we could move towards Leh via Kargil). The distance from Sonamarg to Leh is approximately 400 kms and it needs too much stamina to reach the destination.

So we have our breakfast and then decide to go for a horse ride and visit the Thaksine glacier where bollywood movies like Ram Teri Ganga Maili and Satte Pe Satta were shot. The horse ride takes approximately 75 mins to reach the glacier via the rocky terrains, mini grasslands and of course man made roads. (Tip: Please please please, bargain with the horsewalas because the rates vary from Rs.200 to Rs.2000. It's they who cleverly take off money from your pockets by sweet talking.)

One thing is for sure... You can learn horse riding within this span of time. So after reaching the Thaksine glacier, we are compelled to have a kind of ice ride (similar to ski riding but sitting on a ski made of woods or maybe sledge ride is an appropriate word) due to emotional attyachar by the guys out there. You can be prone to emotional blackmailing by the ski riders, helpers (the ones who help you climb the icy paths) and kids (below 15 years age who either beg or guide your horses). Be as much polite as possible because ultimately you are staying in an unknown land. The ice ride costs you Rs.50 per point. A point is equivalent to 50 foot. So in case if you are planning to take the ride from Point 1, its gonna cost Rs.100 (50 for climbing up and 50 for skiing down..) These guys are much more intelligent than anyone can think.

The return horse ride is tiring and exhausting because there are maximum chances that you hurt your back or buttocks... Hehehe. In short, all the excitement gets murdered due to the unbearable pain while riding the horse. Slowly and steadily we reach back to the hotel for lunch and swiftly get ready to leave this beautiful place. The hotel provides us with delicious lunch which I miss (courtesy fasting) and soon upload the bags in the vehicles.

And now... We leave for Kargil on scheduled time (note: either leave Sonamarg at 8 am or at 1.30 pm because thats the only time when the army allows the tourist vehicles to pass.) But an accident somewhere on the way leaves us waiting for a couple of hours at the check post. After a short (uncomfortable) nap in the car, we clear the checkpost and move towards Kargil... The road is a terrible mess... Get ready for a bumpy ride (especially if you have already screwed your buttocks while riding a horse) or keep some ointments to make your feel comfortable. (I wished I had a couple of cushions... Hahaha.)

So after a couple of hours, the bumpy roads over the top of the mountains are over. The roads get smoother in the latter half of the journey and we get down at the place called Drass. It is a historic place related to the Kargil war. It's a perfect place to commemorate the lost heroes of war. It's a must watch place (even if you aint patriotic). After surveying for about 40 mins which comprise of loitering around the war memorial and a special description by the army officials regarding the historic war, we move for the final hour of our journey to reach Kargil.

We check in Hotel Siachen at 7pm and freshen up for dinner. According to my knowledge, there are only two decent hotels for stay (Hotel Siachen and Hotel Zozila) and I must confess that its not as bad as it maybe described by the rest. Hygiene and maintenance is apt. The food is pretty good and you hardly need to compromise with the taste.

That's the end of the dinner and we move out to survey the market around the hotel's locality... Tough luck! Every shop gets closed except the STD booths... Lucky enough to dial a few buddies. The STD rates vary from booth to booth... So beware about it... It's time to go back to the hotel rooms and prepare for the next day's schedule.

So thats the end of the hectic day and its time to have a good night sleep.

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29May/090

>Road to Ladakh – Day 1

>Ok. So the D-day has arrived. I am off for a much needed vacation. Its time to explore and exploit the mesmerising beauty of nature. So here it goes.

It's 3.30 am and I hire a cab for the whole family @ Rs.300 (that's not a fortune, considering the night fare, luggage fare , etc from the South Mumbai region.) After a short journey of around 35 mins, our group of 11 people comprising of relatives and siblings have reached the 1B terminal of the Domestic Airport. The ambience is quiet silent and its always a good sign of a silent time ahead.

We get our routine luggage check done and proceed towards the security check. Hold On! Its CCD in front of me and I cannot control my urge to drink the black coffee... Alert: Airport CCDs charge you a bomb for different coffees. Like a mochachillo costs you @ Rs.72 instead of 40 something. While my favorite black coffee costs Rs.62 instead of 40 something. They don't give you a receipt and you have to pay a lumpsum amount (Rs.140 in my case). Argue only if you have loads of time to catch your flight or only if you have enough guts to skip your flight. A dip-dip tea costs Rs.59 but you pay Rs.60. So beware of these 'sophisticated loots'!

After a routine security check, I search for a Wi-fi connection at the airport. Bad luck.. But every dark cloud has a silver lining. Airtel provides you complimentary internet service near the seating area. (Hehehe.. Sau customers ko kaat kar Airtel haj ko chali.) The internet connection is decent enough to let you catch up with your facebook profile. Lolzzz.

We board the Go Air flight SG-152, Mumbai-Delhi-Jammu-Srinagar. Phew! That's a pretty long journey. The flight take off timing is 6 am. Luckily the plane moves on the runaway at a punctual time but takes off after 20-25 mins. (Traffic congestion, really?)

Good news... The flight provides you breakfast. Bad news... Nothing's for free in this world, man.

Veg combo @ 100,
Non-veg combo @ 120
A piece of cookie @ 10
Soft drinks @ 50
Mineral water @ 15

Hehehe... A nice journey until now.

Alright... We reach Delhi at 10 am (which makes me realise that the flight is late by almost an hour). Delhi is supposed to be India's busiest airport... Aah... Another half an hour delay. The weather at this time sucks a bit (causing problems for landing and take-offs). There is another halt at Jammu airport. A suggestion... Pray to God that your flight lands safely. Hehehe.

We reach Srinagar airport from Jammu at 12.15 pm. There are too many tour operators to offer you services at the airport itself.

Now the journey begins...

We head straight for our lunch at a restaurant called Jai Jinendra, near Dal Lake. The food is amazing in prospects of Kashmir locality and it does remind you of the 3 star restaurants of Mumbai. Buffet lunch is also provided by them @ Rs.100. The climate by now has become cool. We head towards Sonamarg hill station which is around 70 kms from Dal lake. On the way, a visit to many sightseeing places like Nishal Bagh, Mughal Gardens, Shankaracharya, Hazratbal is possible. But it requires atleast 3-4 hours of spare time to complete all these places.

We reach Sonamarg hill station at 4.30 pm (note: I did not visit places in Srinagar as I had already done it around 7 years back) and its time to enjoy a much needed rest.

We check in a 2-3 star hotel called The Glacier Heights. It definately provides a good service to the tourists. As per my knowledge, this is the only decent hotel available for a stay. The rest being camps and tents.

Its time for an evening walk in the freezing cold at 10 degree celsius. Mobile networks hardly work in this area since this is supposed to be a military-based region. (Tip: Do not forget to capture the beauty of the nature from your camera.)

The dinner is available in this hotel but it provides both veg and non-veg. (the good news is, they have different kitchens) Pure veg dhaba called Jai Mata Di is situated in the market but I aint sure if anybody would like to make an experiment.

The Glacier heights hotel makes customized dinner for you with good services.

Its night time and the temperature dips low. Asthamic patients need to take good care of themselves as the oxygen is thinner in this region. Heaters are available on request. Lights go off quite often but the generator solves the problem and there's hardly anything to worry about.

Finally, its the end of the day and time for a good night sleep...

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10Nov/080

>Go Goa – Day 4 (Grand Finale)

>Sadly, its the last day of our trip and the day is nothing short of funny misadventures.

We check out of hotel at 12 noon and visit North Goa (Rs. 1000 to Rs.1100, no HR skills useful). As said earlier, you need to be sure what places you want to travel or else you might end up paying money without enjoying the trip. It may leave a bad taste to you if you dont know.

Thanks to Rajesh that we knew where we should go. So we visited Aguada Fort, Candolim and then headed for our lunch at Hotel Sharanam (pure veg) near Candolim. Amazing food at high rates. But its worth every bite. Just to avoid misunderstanding, roti means a tandoori roti and gobi means cauliflower out there. This is the best food we enjoyed till date in Goa.

I, Dada and Aatish fight again about how to return Mumbai. I mean we already had tickets waiting list 8, 9 10. Hehehe. So to be on a safer side we book semi-sleeper bus tickets Rs. 750 each. Boarding at Mapusa bus stand 7 pm. Bus frequency every hour. We visit Anjuna beach (Okay. Not that worth) and finally Vagator beach (The Dil Chahta Hai beach) which seemed to be a beautiful place.

Finally we move towards Thivim station to cancel our tickets. We had to reach before 5pm to get more refund. Suddenly something happened and I thought about checking the PNR status one final time... To my horror (In fact we three's horror) the tickets got confirmed. And we thought about cancelling the bus tickets. We travelled back to Calingute from where we bought bus tickets and ran again towards the station.

I was fuming on Dada and Aatish... Luckily those cunning people took me to my favourite Cafe Coffee Day and bought me a Black Coffee... Hahaha... They successfully bribed me with the coffee and we reached the station on time.

By the way, we had to pay more to the taxi driver because of the after 6 pm charges but it hardly meant to us... Finally its 10pm and I am off to sleep on my 'reserved' seat travelling back towards Mumbai CST and carrying along the best memories for a lifetime.

Before signing off, a few important tips to be shared while visiting Goa:
1. Always have a confirmed journey tickets so that you dont waste taking tension in arranging seats and mode of transport.
2. Learn two-wheeler to enjoy visiting places at Goa. Its a big relief.
3. Taking a private vehicle is much more cheaper than paying big bucks to money-hungry tourist vehicles.
4. It is better to know which places you wish to visit. Beware of the vehicle driver. Technically they are correct with their places for sightseeing but they wont take you to a place of your choice if you havent cleared it with them.
5. Do not blow up more money at Casinos and in case you wish to do so, make sure you have some cash left to go back home. Hahaha.
6. Make sure you think before visiting discos.
7. And finally... Always, be polite to the people out there. Because, whether you know Goa or not, the bitter truth is that you are their mercy.

So thats it... Hope this blog works for you.

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10Nov/081

>Go Goa – Day 3 (A trip to South Goa)

>Day 3 at Goa and its time for a hectic travelling towards South Goa. Its better to hire a vehicle for long trips. The sour fact is that the vehicles charge you a bomb for it. Another important thing to be disclosed is that you need to know what places do you want to visit. Or else you might end up paying for your trip and enjoy nothing. Thanks to Godfather, MJ and Hardik that we could know what places to visit in South Goa.

Normal trip to South Goa charges are Rs. 1500. But thanks to some great HR skils from Dada that we could also visit the southernmost tip of Goa called Palolim beach (read further to know more) at an overall charge of Rs. 2000.

We hire a Wagon R and get ready for the most memorable day of our trip. First we visit the Saint Francis Xavier church (please search on the internet or travel books for more details) After that we visit the Mangeshi Temple and finally at the Big Foot Musuem at Loutulim. Good enough till now.

We reach Colva beach to have our lunch... I guess its hotel Sagar. Food is not that bad. We are ready for an hour's journey towards Palolim beach. The driver is really patient in fulfilling our demands to reach out there.

Palolim beach is a haven for all the tourists. Being on the southernmost part of Goa, one hardly visits there. We hire a boat out there to visit Butterfly Island and Honeymoon Island which are supposed to be human-free, crowd-free and private of course (winks...) If you are lucky enough then you can see dolphins in your one hour boat ride towards the islands and couples cosying on the private islands (laughs). The boatsmen charge you anywhere between Rs.400 to Rs. 700 (You do not need an HR like Dada to bargain but we needed him... Hahaha) The boat ride is dangerous but fantastic and I end up paying Rs. 50 more (happily) as a tip to the boatsmen. They are really happy by my gesture. (Psst... Dada n Aatish don't know about it. Hehehe.)

We spend an hour cleaning ourselves and attending nature's call and whatever you say. We head towards a casino called Chances to try our fortunes. The driver warns us that we may end up getting bankrupt out there. Alas! He was true. But luckily we had already kept some reservations in our mind to spend a certain amount.

It took us a long time to reach Chances near Cidade Goa hotel via Panjim-Dona Paula road. We start gambling cautiously by starting with the slot machines and end up playing Roulette and losing big bucks. But frankly, no issues about it!

The worst part after leaving Chances... Finding a vehicle at night is like finding a pin from a haystack. The trouble is not over even if you find it. They charge you an atom bomb at night. In Mumbai, night charges are applicable after 12 am but in Goa, they are applicable after 6 pm. (Oh! i wished we had a vehicle) They charge you anything above Rs.700 to reach your destination and you have no other option rather than fulfilling their demands. Sometimes, too much bargaining is not worth.

We end up finally in our hotel and go to Domino's at Baga beach for our final dinner in Goa. We have petty arguments about the system in Goa and then decide to go to Tito's pub.

After paying Rs. 800 per single (the couple charges are Rs. 500), we realise that we made a big mistake as it was deserted (Usually Fridays and Saturdays rock). I get pissed off for wasting money at Tito's and do nothing. Thanks to the HR and Aatish that it didnt go wasted.

Finally we walk our way towards Calingute (To be honest, we had spent enough) and doze off in our hotel rooms.

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