Adventure Travel

Traveling off the beaten track… way off.


P1020122Monday morning, May 13th, 06:15.

I find myself sitting in my car, hands shaking, clutching the steering wheel. Suddenly, the whole vehicle began to shake.

Jesus, man! Get it together!  The sense of absolute elation that I had travelled on over the past five weeks had evaporated, now replaced with absolute fear.

What the heck was I doing? Leaving everything?!? Am I nuts? Have I completely lost it?

Probably. But still, I am a man who shares the same name of a very well-known sayer. Therefore, when Psyman says, he does – for most of it. So I did. I breathed, turned the engine and pulled out towards the city where I picked up Cookie and hit the road with Led Zeppelin’s When the Levee Breaks pounding out through the speakers.

On the road to Darwin.

Our first stop was breakfast in Daylesford to say ‘goodbye’ to a mate before we P1020124continued on towards the Grampians, a national park a few hours north-west of Melbourne. We trekked up a peak, surprised a wallaby and enjoyed the view before we found a camping spot and pitched up a tent.

“Shit,” I unfolded the tent.

“What is it?” Cookie asked.

I slumped and looked at her in embarrassment. “No sticks. No pegs. Just a tarp.” She laughed and took it well as I pulled out some rope and we sussed out a spot between two trees. The first major and basic outdoor rule is to never camp under a tree. But it was the only option to hold up the tarp.

IMG_2630The wood around us was wet due to the rains of the previous night. But with the help of Cookie’s hair spray and a lighter, she soon got the wood fired up.

“Should I bring out the guitar, strum some tunes?” I asked.

“Sure,” she agreed.

I sat by the fire with Ol’ Red, my trusty steed of 10 years. I started to tune her up, beginning with the top E string. Reaching the G string, I noticed the machine head was turning but the string wasn’t stretching.

Huh. I took a closer look at the machine head. “I think she’s busted,” I concluded. “We’ll have to keep an eye open for music stores as we progress north.”

She nodded and before long, we settled in for a quiet night’s sleep.

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20191224_175110[1]Memories are created the moment you open your eyes. When there’s a place to stay called Memo, you’re pretty much guaranteed a memorable experience. Situated just off the train tracks in Kabalana, Southern Sri Lanka, you can check the swell forecast from the rooftop where you can see the waves. The spectacular sunsets are a lovely added bonus.

But when it comes to sustaining yourself after a long day of surfing, or to celebrate a holiday like Christmas, Memo had something prepared that we weren’t ready for.

20191224_175553[1]The Christmas dinner special consisted of all the entrees (5), a choice from three mains and a choice of dessert out of three with a glass of sangria. Add in the free shots of a sweet concoction every time a train rolled by, and you’re set for a night of absolute bliss.

Rony and I devoured the entrees, each one presented better than the previous one. We’ll start from the top:

The Homemade Focaccia
This soft bread with a crusty exterior was baked to perfection. Dipped in the tomato salsa or olive oil and balsamic, it woke up our taste buds to stand at attention.

Beetroot Salad
The beetroot was served as a tartar with quinoa, shallots, parsley, mint and balsamic. Adding to the Sri Lankan vibe was the accompanying papadam.


Tropical Ceviche
This was heaven for the tongue. White fish, mint, coriander, green beans, soy sauce, seasame oil and shallots. Dipping the focaccia into the sauce was genius at best.

Greek Cauliflower
Fried Cauliflower with a green leaf mix, red onion and lemon yogurt. I left this exquisite salad for last cause you always want to save the best for last.

When it came to the mains, between the chicken, fish and vegetable curry, we went for one chicken satay which was absolutely sensational and the fish. Both served with the softest, creamiest of mashed potatoes.20191224_204404[1]

Then we had dessert. I love Malabi, a coconut pudding crumble topped with rose water syrup so how could I pass on the opportunity to have one of the best ever made and in Sri Lanka of all places?!? (It’s a Middle Eastern desert). We also took in the chocolate souffle served with vanilla ice cream. A lovely, gooey chocolate dish that plugged up the last air pocket in our stomachs.

20191224_193410[1]Washing it all down with sangria, it has been one of the best Christmas dinners I’ve ever had. And I don’t even celebrate Christmas! But I do celebrate food. And at Memo’s, it is worth celebrating. It was so good that we hugged the owners, hugged the chef and then left to pass out from eating too much.

If Christmas were like this every year, I’d get into it.

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_MG_4713It’s Monday night. There’s no other place worth being than at 6 Assagao where compelling, invigorating talks and performances are held in the space of the closed restaurant, Gunpowder. The non-profit organisation that Nilankur Das has seeded, birthed and developed over the course of a year and a bit provides a space for activism talks not just of the goings on in India but from around the world. It’s a space where artists from the various fields of writing, painting and music can showcase their works. Where travellers who have set out on a journey of unconventional ways can share of their experiences.

Home-cooked Indian food is served alongside local drinks and the growing community arrives for a night of educational insight and values. Sometimes just a handful show up, sometimes there’s not enough space for everyone as was the case on Monday, the 4th of November.

A nameless collective had come together to present a 3-hour performance of what might be regarded as ‘experimental theatre’. Although, if you really dig deep, every piece of theatre is experimental. This group of 7 individuals had come together to project and inject something into the attendees psyche.

IMG_4825Bhisaji is all about movement and using his body to convey what his going through on the inside. As he entered the stage area fully clothed in white, he used a ladder, candles and his own body to press what his heart was beating to. As the evening gathered pace he stripped to black tights, going topless and finally, ending up in black briefs. Interacting with the crowd by holding a candle between him and the person whose soul he dove into. And he dived into each of the people that came within the first hour, at least 20 or so soul-dives were conducted, some lasting seconds, some lasting minutes.

IMG_4758All the while, Impana, a dancer and movement performer, expressed her emotions through traditional dance, movement and speech. Talking to the crowd, to herself, sitting by an audience member and just having a conversation with him while playing with string. For me, the peak sizzle of the evening came when she and Bhisaji began to mirror each other’s movements. It’s hard to take your eyes off people who mirror each other.

_MG_4897In the background, Dhiraj cuddled and wrapped himself in a 10-metre white cloth, contrasting it with his black outfit. He remained wrapped, hidden and still for most of the 3-hours. This isn’t lazy performing. It conveys a powerful message. That silence is power, like the silent protestors in Turkey or a Vipassana course. With silence we gain insight, our vision clears and we see things for what they really are without the distraction of noise.

_MG_4913Behind the scenes, although not hidden as they provide an on-stage presence that adds to the power of the piece, Supriya and Rohit controlled the live projection of visual mappings played on pieces of hung cloth or on the actors bodies as they performed. The visuals seemed to represent confusion and calm at the same time. Supriya also physically played with Impana and Bhisaji, wrapping herself in the cloth with Dhiraj.

_MG_4711Conducting the soundscape were two young men, Divesh and Akshay. Both talented musicians in their own right they played with electronica and ancient instruments such as the digeridoo and mouth harp, drums, bells, horns and sea shells, all brought together harmoniously to create sounds that in itself, took you on a frequency journey. At a later stage of the performance, Divesh began to draw on the easel standing by him.

IMG_4777The entire set was without lights bar the lights of candles lit during the performance by the players. The overhead rainbow canopy as though representing the colours of the human emotions. And even when the power went out, as it tends to do in Goa and indeed, the whole of Asia, without skipping a beat, the players synched up and used the cut power to their advantage until it returned. It was sewn together so perfectly you’d think it was all part of the act.

When I spoke to the performers I was astonished to learn that they had only gotten together just a few weeks prior, with just a handful of rehearsals, just flowing with what comes. As Akshay had put it, “We challenge ourselves creatively.”

_MG_4969And what they conveyed indeed seemed challenging yet it was presented seamlessly. The kind of performance that no two opinions could ever be the same. Everyone who attended had a different experience in the semi-circle stage they surrounded. A slightly different degree in the point-of-view from sitting on the floor almost as part of the stage, sitting around on the benches or standing behind the seats. Each perspective did its purpose of doing just that; a different perspective on a 3-hour performance that will never be the same when they do it again.

To find out more about Monday Nights at 6 Assagao and Thus. check out the following link:

There’s always something new to learn on Monday nights in Goa.

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