I had a Goan girlfriend sometime ago and she tried to encourage me to visit her country. I think she assumed that I would prefer paradise to Slough. In 2010 I discovered that I had some money that I might have otherwise burned, I decided to go and stay with her in Goa for eight weeks.
From the start I decided to treat it as an expedition and avoid any preconceived ideas that I might have about the trip. The expedition was planned to last for eight weeks in September/October. This should give me experience of the end of the monsoon and start of the dry season. In this respect it worked out perfectly.
There were lots of preparations to do and I needed to do plenty of homework and learn as much as I could about Goa. In order to preserve my girlfriend’s anonymity, from this point on I will use my pet name for her at the time which was ‘Sweetness’.
Wednesday 11 August
Sweetness and I went to Tesco’s to get my passport photo for my visa. From there we went on to a visa agency in Hayes to deliver my application form filled in online yesterday.
Thursday 12 August
Sweetness and I went to get my injection for typhoid and hepatitis B. I am nervous of needles but the nurse was very good.
‘I’ll take your blood pressure after I’ve stabbed you!’
Oddly I found her direct approach comforting. Much better than ‘Don’t worry, you won’t feel a thing’ or ‘it’ll be over before you know it’.
Monday 16 August
Sweetness and I went back to the visa agency in Hayes to collect my visa. Now it was just a case of booking the flights online, which was done by Sweetness’ son and daughter-in-law, and continue my research on Goa.
Sweetness’ son and daughter –in-law helped us to book our flight tickets online with Kingfisher Airlines departing 6 September.
The Portuguese landed in the region in the early 16th century as merchants. They conquered the area soon after along with other enclaves along the west coast.
In 1961, Goa was annexed by India which was under the rule of Nehru. Operation Vijay involved Indian forces that far outweighed the Portuguese defenders. The state of Goa was officially established in 1987. The largest city is Vasco da Gama, named after the Portuguese explorer, but the capital is Panaji, previously known as Panjim.
Goa has an area of 3,702 km2 (1,429 mi2) and a population of about 1·46m. Languages spoken are Konkani, Hindi and English.
These are just dry facts though. I needed something a little extra. Sweetness, her eldest son and his family took me to visit Whipsnade Zoo on Friday 27. I thought it might be a good opportunity to see some of the fierce and dangerous creatures that I might encounter on my expedition. Cobras, crocodiles, leopards, rogue elephants are among many dangerous animals in Goa. Here is a photo of a tiger in case I don’t come across any wild ones in Goa.
Looks harmless enough to me
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