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Gokarna: The long journey to an unspoiled, ever-fresh town

By Alaa Juneidi - Mar 10,2019 - Last updated at Mar 10,2019

In this photos taken in December 6, 2018, landscape of Cokarna (left) and a street vendor are seen (Photos by Alaa Juneidi)

Rahhal Project

GOKARNA, India –– Ar-riving in Bangalore Airport late last year, the journey to Gokarna started and was any-thing but easy; yet, it was totally worth of all the trouble.  

December was the perfect time to visit the small town on the west-ern coast of India in the Kumta taluk of Ut-tara Kannada district of the state of Karnataka. The weather between December and April is more tolerable than the rest of the year — the time of monsoon with all the inconvenience it brings. 

The trip to my host, who happened to be my brother living in Ban-galore, was supposed to take one hour from the airport, via an Uber ride, but the heavy traf-fic in India's third larg-est city and its Silicon Valley of 12 million mil-lion people rendered it a three-hour journey.  The dream of settling down for the night and a good, long sleep, was shat-tered when I learnt that my brother had booked us a flight to Goa from the same airport at 6 the next morning, which meant I was to be there two hours earlier. The good news was that the long trip cost me a mere $15. 

The most difficult leg of the journey started from Goa, from where we had to ride motor-bikes to Gokarna and I had never ridden a mo-torbike before, let alone that the road was not safe and jammed with traffic. The journey took me 13, instead of four hours on the Vespa, and after the sunset it became very dangerous and scary, especially since I did not know how to turn on the bike's headlight and had to rely on the beams coming from my helmet light. Finally, a kiosk owner on the road showed me how to do it. This is not to say that despite the continuous adrenaline rush, I found moments to enjoy the breathtak-ing scenery along the rough road. 

At 9pm we were there, at our destination, but the journey was not over. We planned to spend the night at the beach and that was half an hour away on foot. The trek to Kudle Beach ended with another unpleas-ant surprise: the accom-modation was a simple bamboo cottage where there was only a bed and a mosquito net. But we slept deep and the morn-ing carried with it the best of that place: an un-polluted spot on Earth with the fresh air that breathes a new life into its visitors. We started our new day with masa-la chai (tea with milk fla-voured with special In-dian spices) followed by a freshening lemon with soda drink. The spectac-ular landscape and the sounds of wild animals and birds celebrating the daylight undid all the fatigue and anxious-ness we experienced en route to paradise on the edge of the warm Ara-bian Sea waters.  

We headed to the beach for some pho-tography and Frisbee. There, as you enjoy every moment of the experi-ence, you are interrupted by vendors roaming the beach, trying persever-ingly to sell you some accessories and neck-laces. They keep coming even if you have already bought some of the mer-chandise and joke with you until you start treat-ing them as long-time friends.

To change the routine, we walked across the thick forests to close ru-ral communities glow-ing in a genuine Indian atmosphere, a cultural and religious mix that makes India the way it is. What is unique about these villages is the abundance of shops that sell musical instru-ments. I bet you can-not resist buying one and try to play it when you sit back to watch the sunset and the sur-render of the bright day to the slow invasion of darkness. 

The elation lasted for five days before Earth called back. I did not want it to end, but my travels taught me that good moments, like eve-rything, come to an end. 

From Gokarna off we went to Goa and from there to Bangalore for a farewell to India, for now. 

I did not repeat the ter-rifying motorbike expe-rience in the return jour-ney. I gladly paid $90 to the one man in a village who had a truck to carry us and the motorbikes to Goa. Six hours this time: two waiting for the driver to fix his truck and four for the journey back, along a different road he claimed he was the only one to know. I found myself on the back of the vehicle with the two bikes because there was no place for me in the front. Under no circumstances did that ruin the good mood in which Gokarna put me.  

Alaa Juneidi is a Palestinian traveller with a plan to visit 140 countries. He contributes this article to The Jordan Times exclusively 

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