Thursday, 10 September 2015

My First Day Itinerary in Panaji Goa India with AirAsia JK1232

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Basilica of Bom Jesus

Thanks to AirAsia, this was my first visit to Goa and India. Goa on India's west coast is it's smallest state.



Goa has a unique culture as it was ruled by the Portuguese for nearly 500 years (until 1961). Thirty per cent of Goans are Catholics and 5% can still speak Portuguese.

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Saint Cajetan's Church

There is an old saying that "If you have been to Goa, there is no need to visit Lisbon (capital of Portugal)".

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Every year over 2 million domestic holiday makers visit Goa's 20 kilometre long beach which is the longest stretch of sand in India. (The beach looked quiet now but during the peak season, it is packed shoulder to shoulder with beach goers.)

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We flew into Goa via AirAsia AK 96 from Kuala Lumpur KLIA2 arriving at 10:25pm on 3 Sep 2015. Flight time was about 4 hours.

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We rested the night at Whispering Palms Beach Resort at Sinquerim Beach in Candolim (North Goa). We got up early to go to Panaji town for shopping and sightseeing the next morning :-D

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This bus from Goa Tourism took us everywhere comfortably for the next 5 days.

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We drove through several villages on the way from Candolim to Panaji. The streets were narrow, sometimes bumpy but always interesting with many fascinating sights outside the window.

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A village barber shop seen through the bus window.

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Cows sit and amble around nonchalantly along the busy streets.

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Panaji is the capital city of Goa. It is also known by it's English name Panjim. It's Portuguese name is Pangim.

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The Portuguese Baroque Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church built in 1541.

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The old church overlooks the Praça da Igreja (Church Square) or Municipal Garden at the heart of the city.

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This Goan street wouldn't look out of place in Portugal :-D

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The Fontainhas is Panaji's old Latin quarter and it's streets still retain their classic Portuguese character.

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The Maruti temple dedicated to the Hindu Monkey God Lord Hanuman is perched on top of the Altinho hillock overlooking the Fontainhas.

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Goa style taxis, known as auto rickshaws here. No meters, so you need good bargaining skills or have the help of a local.

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Paan sellers are common along the side walks. For INR10 (SGD 20 cents) they will hand roll for you a mix of sweets, herbs and spices folded in a betel leaf. Paan is a refreshing mouthful of sweet perfume.

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Pav Bhaji commonly found on the street and even at hotels is an Indian version of the burger. Masala fillings either with meat or vegetarian is wrapped in a fluffy bun.

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Get your henna here :-D

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A hole-in-the-wall second hand book stall. The old books were literally kept in that deep black hole behind the stall owner.

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This gentleman is a shepherd from the hills on the eastern side of Goa. He was selling folk medicine for diabetes made from herbs found in the woodlands.

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A Catholic home through the door grille.

This reminds me of my childhood days. In the 1960s, there wasn't any much homework nor electronic gadgets. We burn off excess energy by roaming our neighbourhood. I used to walk along the corridors in old Toa Payoh town in Singapore. In those days, most people leave their doors wide open.

Looking through the door way I saw Malay homes, Chinese homes, Indian homes, Christian homes and Catholic homes. The Catholic homes of old Singapore looked exactly like this in the 1960s.

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Cashew nuts are sold in many places in Goa.

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The Portuguese brought cashew nuts from Brazil to Goa. Today, cashew nuts are Goa's main agricultural export.

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The pulp of cashew fruits are used to make feni (also known as fenny), a strong liquor considered the signature drink of Goa.

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Feni is a clear drink with a sharp pungent smell and taste, similar to vodka.

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Panaji has 4 floating casinos sitting on the Mandovi River. Patrons purchase their entrance tickets at the respective jetties and are transferred by small boats to the casino.

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The largest one is the Deltin Royale.

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Aireen Omar, CEO & Executive Director of AirAsia (left) and Dilip Parulekar, Tourism Minister of Goa (right) led the launch celebration of Goa - Kuala Lumpur direct flights.

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Goa - KL is AirAsia's eighth direct flight service connecting India and Malaysia after Kolkata, Chennai, Tiruchirappalli, Bengaluru, Kochi, Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam.

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Together with AirAsia India, passengers can enjoy direct fly-thru service to other Indian destinations like Jaipur, Pune, New Dehli and Chandigarh.

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To celebrate the launch of Goa - KL direct flights, AirAsia is offering special all-in-fare of INR999 (RM64) one way from Goa (limited time offer).

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AirAsia AK 96 departs Kuala Lumpur KLIA2 for Goa at 8:30pm every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

AirAsia AK 97 departs Goa for KLIA2 at 10:55pm on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

Acknowledgement: My heartfelt thanks to Goa Department of Tourism and AirAsia for their generous hospitality.

Dates visited: 3 - 9 Sep 2015

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