Written 21st Jan, Arambol Beach, Goa, India
So we are just checking out after nearly a week of playing in the sun and the sand. Before getting into that, a quick update in being in India in general.
We got to Delhi at about lunch time with no plan of what to do or where to go, with only 2 weeks in the country, we had decided against doing the Taj Mahal, and Poonam decided on spending a few days with her family, so I headed off to Goa that evening. Having only seen a tiny amount of Delhi I can’t really comment on this city unfortunately (other than the driving on the roads being completely what I’d expect – bonkers!)
I love Indian food so much, and my favourite dish, for me, has to be a masala dosa, a South Indian breakfast dish consisting of a pancake (or crepe) type wrap, with potato, onions and spices mixed inside, with some curry separately to dip your dosa into. Although a breakfast dish, I had it at any time of day!
Another favourite of mine is the Thali, a meal placed on a steel tray with separate compartments, and often the food includes rice, dal (pules without their skins, made into a curry of sorts), pickle, yoghurt, a roti (chapatti) or two, possibly a papad (poppadom). I personally went for the vegetable thali, but others went for fish thali as an alternative. This dish is often different in different areas of Asia, as with many dishes from this region.
I went off to Goa and arrived there about 10:30pm with nowhere to stay and no idea of where in Goa to head to. I went to a prepaid taxi booth at the airport and asked their advice. Having felt a little unwell from poor food somewhere along the way, I was keen for some R n R, and they suggested Colva, a small town/village set on one of the beaches in the south of Goa. My taxi driver was friendly and incredibly helpful, rather than just dropping me off, he stayed with me and spoke to hotel staff to arrange a room for me, which eventually was managed at Clinton’s Guest House.
My days at Colva were unfortunately spent in my room as I had a terrible stomach bug, however I did venture out to the beach (where local Goan women will enter the water dress in their Saris) and the small market areas every now and then, chatting to some of the locals and tourists along the way and avoiding the odd cow meandering down the street, holding up traffic (a sight I would come to get used to in India!)
Colva is a place where you’ll meet local Goans and local westerners, as there are plenty of ex-pat Europeans here who fell in love with the relaxed atmosphere and friendly locals, along with the beautiful weather and scenery of course!
This lot were useful to know, as they were able to give all sorts of advice, from the right brand of mosquito cream and spray to use (Odomos) to the best way to get to the touristy parts of Goa on a budget (Wednesday weekly market bus to Anjuna, 300 rupees) and I had great fun getting to know these people and listening to the stories they shared from the 20+ years they had lived or been visiting Goa.
This is also where I learned that a Goan is not an Indian, at least in their eyes, many will tell you Goa is Portuguese rather than Indian (it isn’t, but there is a heavy influence of latin culture among the architecture, religion and even the names of the people here (I met a ‘Marco’ in a restaurant who was thrilled to tell me that most of his family are Portuguese) – which makes for an interesting contrast to the stunning scenery, food and more traditional clothing the locals here wear, all of which have a very much eastern, Indian vibe.
My last night was spent with the ex pats in one of their favourite bars doing karaoke…not something I tend to do on the regular, but fun all the same, throughout the night, not only was the bar full , but the street had drawn a crowd of tourists and locals watching the singing performances, who knew it was so popular?! The next day was the bus to Anjuna, and Arambol where I was catching up with Poonam again…
So, back to Arambol, and a lazy week, spent at Cock’s Town, a guest house on the beach – not the best facilities, but cheap and cheerful at 300 rupees (£3) for a bungalow per night. At Arambol every night is party night and this makes it easy to meet other travellers – hippy people, chilled out people, party people.
The area around here is lovely, right on the beach, a street market a few meters away and plenty of great places to eat both Indian and various other types of food for about 300-400 rupees including a drink, not bad.
The staff here are friendly and attentive, and the people in Arambol in general are lovely, always keen to chat and find out where you’re from and your name (a sales tactic the majority of the time, I’m sure haha, but still pretty nice)
If you don’t like people coming up to you randomley, Goa is not the place for you, as on the beach, girls aged around ten will meander through the tourists, sitting down with hangers full of bracelets dangling off them to show and try and sell (‘100 rupee, good price for you?’) and on the market people will talk to you as you are walking away, still asking questions to keep you talking, hoping you’ll come back.
The markets take up the whole road , selling colourful bags, jewellery, scarves, trinkets, clothing etc to the sound of ‘I give you good price, come see!’ From the market stall vendors. Here is where I finally let myself look and chat and be chatted to, and yes, buy things!
I bought what would become my most useful item (except my phone I think) of my whole travel, a large, but thin rug. Purple, with the yin yang print all over it, this has now become my blanket, pillow, beach rug, towel, shawl and curtain. And it cost me £3. Other bargains followed, of course, including a floor length black and green gypsy skirt which I had made for £13, incredible.
Every night on the beach at sunset various ‘local tourists’ – as I call them, people who came to Goa and have been here for months at a time, will set up drums and other musical instruments, boards selling jewellery and other trinkets to sell, all to watch the sun go down and meet the hazy air (never saw it meet the sea) with a chilled out party vibe.
Many places along the beach have music to dance to, and every few nights there is a ‘party night’ going on somewhere, often a reggae night where drunk (at least!) hippies come and dance on the sand and enjoy the chilled-out party atmosphere
The pattern seems to be that tourists come and party in Goa, and then head to Hampi for some R and R to recover a little, and this is exactly what we decided to do…