So many tourists who go to India only make it to Goa to claim their little slice of India and that’s their problem not mine as they don’t really get to see the true India. Goa is fast becoming the Benidorm of India with so many high rise apartments sprouting all along the coastline. This is not only fueled by the western population (huge influxes of Russians) but Goa is a hotspot for Indian tourists looking for their slice of fun in the sun with a touch of western style.
Armed with this knowledge we tried to aim clear of the main tourist drags and head to some of the less developed places along the coast. We were first heading to Southern Goa and Palolem and then I was going to detour slightly and head up the coast to North Goa to Anjuna to see Monique a friend from Utila and Koh Tao. With the blazing sun beating down on us we got off the train around 11am we headed straight for Palolem in a taxi. Within 20 mins we saw one of the many white Catholic churches that dot the landscape around the Goan region.
The Portuguese landed in Goa in 1510 and Goa (even before them) was a natural and beautiful harbor. They established a firm grip on the area so much so that Goa is one of the few places in India where Catholicism rules and pork is commonly eaten and the wine and beer flow freely. I guess the European influence in Goa helps in its draw of western tourists as they flock here by the millions every year. Upon arrival at Palolem beach and I mean we were dropped off right on the beach we immediately greeted by about 10 touts ready to sell there bungalows right on the beach front. We pushed our way through them and headed down the beach in search of something ourselves.
Within 50m of where we were dropped off we soon found an ideal cheap wooden shack for us each for the princely sum of £5 per night. It was ideal as it was just set off the beach but close enough to the beach so you could hear the crashing waves as you drifted off to sleep. I dumped my bags in my room signed in and hit the water, it was lovely to jump into the cool water as it was noon and it was roasting. We then spent the rest of the afternoon reading, swimming and ignoring the many hawkers parading the beach front. The beach itself stretched in a crescent shape for around a 1 1/2, although the beach couldn’t boast beautiful white sand it was good enough and a great place to relax. And relax we did, the next day was spent the same way and in the evening whilst I was watching the footie met up with a guy and heading down to Palolem famous silent disco.
As the name suggests the silent disco is a great way to avoid noise pollution at night. When you enter you get given a set of headphones and you can choose between 3 DJ’s that spin the decks. It was a strange experience as when you took the headphones off everyone was still dancing with the occasional whoop whoop from the crowd! Its is a little anti social but was a great night, I had well and truly entered into Goan lifestyle. T
he next day was time to head up to Anjuna to see a friend and to spend 5 nights there. Marie and Louie were heading to Mumbai and Agra as Louie had become very homesick so had moved her flights. I managed to find 3 other people to share a taxi with up to Anjuna and the following afternoon I had landed in Anjuna. Around 80 miles up the coast and on Northern end of Goa, Anjuna is a mostly known as one of the first established Western Goan hippie hangouts founded in the early 50’s.
I was picked up by Monique in the center of town and within 15 mins I had booked into my guesthouse and rented a bike, incredible for Indian standards. I had met Monique around 2 years ago in Utila whilst visiting Gary and Trish, kept in contact and again met her when I first arrived in Koh Tao. She was now in Anjuna taking some time out to paint as she had an up and coming art exhibition in the Maldives later this month. Her paintings were amazing and mostly based on sea life and mermaids. I hope she does well in her new career.
We headed down to her local bar (Shore Bar) where we had a spot to eat and a few drinks to catch up on all the news and gossip and to meet up with her friends. Shore bar became a favourite hangout over the next few days and was a lovely place to relax with gorgeous views out into the sea. And so the 5 days passed very quickly and it was the first time in a while that I had the chance to really relax and steep away from the hustle and bustle of traditional Indian life. During my stay there I used the rented moped to have a few trips up and down the coast, trying in vain to avoid the hordes of Russian tourists. I also took the time to visit Old Goa Town which is awash with many Catholic Churches and remnants of the Portuguese era and also made it to the famous Anjuna Wednesday flea market which was overpriced and a bit messy to be honest. The nights were taken up with going out for dinner and drinks with Monique and her friends in the many restaurants in and around Anjuna. It was a great place to relax and I could have stayed there longer and it’s not as bad as many make out, there weren’t too many crustys (long haired dreaded hippies) and druggies around! It was time to say goodbye to my newly found friends, wish Monique good luck in her art exhibitions and head on up to Rajastan and the desert and home of the Maharajas.