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Diu, time for a break
Jamnagar (India), November 19th 2007

Travelling in India is hectic and sometimes very confronting. Busy trains and busses, a lot of attention on the streets, extreme poverty and heavy pollution is the daily reality. For that reason, we needed a break to refill our ‘batteries’ after three months of travelling in India. And yes, it is possible to take a break in India, on the small island of Diu in the Arabic sea (close to the town of Una in Gujarat).

Diu is a former Portuguese colony that became part of India in 1961. Diu is so non-Indian. It is quiet, there is not much traffic, the beaches are relatively clean, the food is good and the beer is cheap. These are enough ingredients for us for a couple of weeks rest. There is enough proof in Diu that is once was ruled by Portugal. You can find white-washed churches, houses with verandas and a huge fort. Most foreign travellers come to Diu to spend only a couple of days, but most of them end up for several weeks, because it is difficult to leave again. The same happened to us.

The food on Diu is a relief. After weeks of spicy thali’s, dosa’s and curries, we were glad to eat some fish, fresh salads and fat finger chips. And there is plenty of fish available on Diu, just as there are cold Kingfisher beers for a reasonable price (45 Rupees / € 0,80 per bottle of 650 ml, in stead of the 100 Rupees / € 1,80 as they cost in other parts of India). Some restaurants/hotels even arrange fish buffets, which is a great way to enjoy the different kinds of fish that are available on Diu. Besides that, the fish buffets are great social happenings where you can meet other travellers that also needed a break from hectic India. It’s great to exchange stories about travelling in India.

Nagoa beach is the most famous and bussiest beach on Diu

Diu is very small. It is only twelve by three kilometres, making it an island that is easy to explore. During the first days of our stay, we thought that the bicycle was the ideal way to see the island. After two days of biking, our opinion changed. It is too hot to ride the bicycle and besides that, you need a technical degree to keep your bicycle running due to the bad quality of the bicycles. After fixing the chain several times and walking back two times because of flat tyres, we got rid of our bike. We exchanged it for something with a motor on it: a scooter! This is really relaxed. Exploring the island by scooter is great, with the wind blowing though your hair (if applicable), because helmets are unheard of. By the way, it is wise to get off the roads at the end of the day, before the drunken Indians hit the road. Diu is ‘famous’ for its freely available and cheap alcohol (in contract with the dry state of Gujarat), making it a popular destination for Indians that want to fill themselves with alcohol. At the end of the day, they just take the motor or car to try to find their way back home. On one of the days that we were cruising the island on our scooter, we saw two different motorcycles crashing. One of the crashes was quite spectacular. A drunken driver overlooked a bend in the road and catapulted himself, and his motor, via the curb stones in the middle of the road. We first saw a huge cloud of dust, and a fraction of a second later we saw the driver and his motorcycle flying through the air. Fortunately, the driver was ok. More strongly, he got up from the asphalt, brushed the dust down from his clothes and tried to continue his way. Happily for him and for us, his motorcycle did not start anymore. However, the same night one other drunken motor driver was killed in an accident on the bridge between Diu and Gujarat. Two other people (not drunken) that were involved, including one pregnant woman, were injured badly. Drinking and driving is still very common on Diu making it very dangerous to be part of the traffic at night. Alcohol checks by the police are unheard of on Diu.

Two girls from the fishing village of Simbor
Most travellers come to Diu to enjoy the rest and spend some days on one of the beaches. There are enough beaches available that are quiet and where you do not have the hassle from drunken Indian men (like on Nagoa beach). Besides that, when you have a scooter available, you can also easily visit other places on the island or on the Gujarati mainland. One of the great places to visit on the island of Diu is the little fishing village of Vanakbara. It is nice to visit this village both early in the morning and late in the afternoon. Early in the morning you can witness the boats coming back from the sea and see the unloading of the catch of the day. In the afternoon, the boats are prepared again for their next round trip. Fishermen are breaking the big ice blocks in small pieces (to keep the fish fresh) and the boats are refuelled using hand pumps. Besides that, you can see how the wooden ships are build by hand. Another nice place on Diu is the small bird sanctuary in the north part of the island. Depending on the season, you can spot some beautiful birds. We saw for example the Black Ibis, the Spoonbill, the Whimbrel and the Western Reef Egret.

One of the highlights of our visit to Diu was a daytrip to the small fishing village of Simbor. Simbor is not on Diu, but is located 20 kilometres from Diu on the mainland of Gujarat. It takes approximately one hour by scooter the reach it. Simbor is beautifully located on a huge and clean beach. Only the beach itself is a reason to visit Simbor village. However, the village has more to offer. You can see the fishermen at work, women cleaning the fish, and the local kids are willing to pose for some photographs. Also the trip from Diu to Simbor village is nice. First you pass through the picturesque town of Delwada, where you can still find some beautiful old colonial buildings/gates. The road between Delwada and Simbor village takes you through the mango orchards and cotton field, making it a very scenic trip. Once in a while you hear and see the old water pumps that are used for irrigation of the fields. For fort fanatics there is also a great fort to explore in Simbor village.

So, Diu is a great escape from hectic and confronting India. It is a great place to recharge you battery again for your next stage through India. And you are warned! Most people come here for a couple of days, but stick for a couple of weeks.

See also the photo impression about Diu

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