Along the Away

a traveler's tales

Another three day weekend, another mini-break… Such is life people! This time to Goa, which is on the mid-west coast of India. Famous for its beaches, markets, hippie havens and laid back attitude, we were in for a cruisy weekend, particularly as it was the end of the season and many of the establishments were getting ready to pack up before the monsoon arrives in May.

We went by overnight bus and pulled into the state capital of Panjim early Friday morning. We got an auto to Anjuna Beach straight away and walked about the town before settling into some ocean facing seats at a cliff top restaurant, enjoying cold drinks and watching the sun begin it’s descent to the horizon. Ah peace!

On Saturday we took an auto ride about an hour further up the coast to Arambol Beach, a welcome white stretch of sand with a lone establishment serving cold drinks and food right to the water’s edge. We chatted with Lama, a Nepalese guy who works with a group of other Nepalese guys at the cafe, they spend the six month tourist season in Goa each year and then return to Nepal to work the summer season there. It suits them as Nepal shuts down for the cold of winter and Goa closes during the monsoon. With the monsoon around the corner, Lama and the others were getting ready to leave within the fortnight; but not before dismantling the restaurant which they build at the start of every season and then take down before it’s destroyed in the monsoon.

It was hard to picture the destructive winds and rain that would arrive within the month when we were enjoying a perfect blue sky and 40 degree sunshine. We spent the day there – swim, sun loungers, swim, sun loungers. Clothing wise it was the most exposed I’d been since arriving in India; I take care to dress appropriately here, knees and shoulders and all inbetween covered up. At the beach I was prepared to stay just as covered even though generally the dress code is more relaxed in Goa as a result of the tourist saturation. But I’d also heard that it’s not uncommon for bus loads of Indian boys to swamp the Goan beaches on the weekends in the tourist season to unabashedly stare at the bare skinned tourists! Luckily we didn’t find it so bad due to it being end of season, but we were still the object of some curiousity. It’s been interesting to note that the Indian women swim in their normal clothes, a salwar kameez or sari, no cossies for them!

That night we got an auto to the famous Anjuna Saturday night markets. Wow – white people! Lots of them! I hadn’t realised how long it’s been since I saw other white people – the whole market was packed with tourists, but where did they come from? I’d been wondering if there were even any in India since I never see them anywhere. It was crazy busy but a lot of fun, and really awesome shopping. Prices start high but drop fast and the stall holders are friendly in their haggling. There was an overpriced part of the market where snooty white hippies were selling assorted handicrafts and didn’t seem to haggle, but I certainly enjoyed supporting the local stallholders :-)

Despite half hearted efforts to keep my money in my wallet I spent every rupee and then went into overdraft at the Bank of Alicia, the result of no ATMs nearby (if you go, fill your wallet, then take double more!)

I did purchase a beautiful quilt made with old sari scraps which was an Indian speciality I specifically wanted to go home with. Well actually, I’m going home with two. It just sort of happened after I unintentionally starting haggling and the price went so low I couldn’t walk away (seriously, I couldn’t. They were beautiful, but more to the point, at that price it would be embarrassing to walk away!)

Apart from severe over-exposure to over-exposed sun-burnt/sun-tanned tourists, the market had a good vibe with funky music playing and a great variety of things to buy including clothing, shoes, jewellry, bags, art, trinkets and textiles. I’d definitely recommend the markets if you’re in the area on a Wednesday or Saturday night.

Monday at Silk Cotton Resort at Bogmalo Beach in South Goa was a suprise luxury stay after we changed our plans last minute to skip a day trip to Old Goa (I confess complete utter immersion in beach mode made not even the 15th century former capital of Portuguese India worth getting out of my cossies for) to stay one more night by the beach, this one a lot closer to the airport for our super early flight the next morning.

We stayed in a lovely little villa in a garden overflowing with beautiful flowers and boasting a sparkling swimming pool. The couple running the show greeted us at the gate, brought us cold fresh juices and drove us down to the beach. Bogmalo was a really small place; a decent stretch of sand with a cafe shack perched on the edge, a few little shops and that’s about it! But perfect for a last night stop before a flight as it’s a 15 minute drive to the airport, to which our male host drove us to well before sunrise. We were even sent on our way with a takeaway brekkie in brown paper bags since we had such an early flight, aw!

So Goa was a beach, markets and food-by-the-water kind of weekend; highly recommended no matter where you are in the world, but particularly enjoyable here in Incredible India!

I was battery-challenged on this trip, and feeling fairly Goa-laid-back so I have pretty much zero photos from this weekend. I must really feeling at home in India by now if I’m failing to get my camera out of my bag.

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Sydney based, coastal dwelling. When I'm not at work I'm somewhere outdoors, or in the yoga studio, or at my local cafe, or pottering at home.

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