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Published: January 16th 2009
The beaches of Goa was just what we needed for our Indian Christmas, yes this blog entry is a bit post-Christmas so we won’t go on about Christmas too much.
During the 9 hour train journey from Mumbai to Goa the scenery slowly changed to palm trees, rice paddies and luscious tropical greenery of Goa. There are so many beaches to see in Goa we couldn’t possibly see them all in this, our one month snapshot of India. We got off the train at Madgoan station in Margao and following Donna’s OCD like research prior to our visit, we headed to Palolem beach in the south of Goa based on the following. Palolem beach has nice food, nice beach for swimming and sunbathing and is quite good value. All we had to do was get to it which involved yet another hour train journey to Canacona train station which itself was a 10 minute ride away from Palolem beach.
We had a good feeling about this place the minute we arrived...there were few tourists, good value restaurants, we got a room with TV, hot water and fan for 500rps a night and the beach wasn’t half bad either. There
were some ramshackle huts that they were asking 2000rps for, but only an idiot would pay this, they aren’t even worth 300rps, so be careful when choosing your place to stay. It ticked all the boxes for a Christmas on the beach...thank god because we had planned for 7 days here and if it was a shithole then Donna would have got a serious earful from Neil!
So here is an overview of Palolem. The beach itself is about 2km of white sand in a shallow crescent, the sea is good for swimming (ie not many waves) and is clean - at least a hell of a lot cleaner than most of Thailand’s ‘premier’ beaches, we say this because a lot of people have asked us how Goa’s beaches compare to Thailands. At the back of the beach, restaurants (about 40) are lined up looking out over the sea with soft lighting, music and menus that range from Indian to Mexican and as thick as a small novel. Main dishes are around 100rps, around 50rps for a large beer and even happy hours with buy 2 get 1 free. The types of people that were in Palolem are your
non-package tourist types - older people on independent travels, along with backpackers, ex-pat retirees and families. There is also another beach to the south of Palolem which is quieter again called Patnem and can be reached by an easy 15 minute scenic walk and maybe even some good snorkelling around the rocky outcrops on the beaches in between.
The nicest thing about Palolem beach is that it’s not a party beach. There is a noise curfew on the beach which is 10pm and the local government really doesn’t want this to be a party beach like some beaches in the north of Goa are. We have heard many horror stories of northern Goa beaches with parties which go on until the early hours keeping people awake. That’s not to say Palolem didn’t have a few groups of young girls and guys of the Faliraki/Magaluf types who were obviously there to dabble in the shagging culture and whilst there is a Cafe del Mar imitation on the beach which acted like a magnet drawing these people, it’s easy enough to stay away from. We do sound a bit fuddy-duddy here, but this scene is really not something we want in
a beach resort and we believe that resorts like Anjuna, Baga and the likes to be the resorts to do this if you want to.
We found this beach to be really good for people watching because there were all shapes, sizes and nationalities and the occasional ‘shanti-shanti’ crazy long staying tourist who you would often see getting into the yoga, meditation and ayurvedic medicine scene a little bit too much. A fine example of this was loincloth man, see the picture, he would walk up and down the beach with his little loincloth just about covering his vitals and almost every night you would see at least one westerner wearing stuff like turbans, sarongs, saris, bangles, bells, henna, bindis and with strange piercings and looking totally stupid, talking about how great their meditation therapies were. We have met these types of people before; they are generally weak minded travellers who assimilate into the culture they are in at that moment faster than you can say ‘Hare Krishna’. We really don’t understand how some people can give away their whole identity in 3 days as some people seem to do. But, hey, whatever works for them...who are we to
judge?! At the other end of the ‘colourful yoga spectrum’ (hey maaan!) were the tourist types wearing nothing but a thong (guys and girls) on the beach and even to walk around the village and would be the ones wearing stilettos and long flowing dresses on the beach at night. The last categories found on the beach were cows and there were even some cougars on the prowl (not the cougars of the animal variety - google it!).
The thong wearing really shocked us (never mind the Indians) because we had just come from cities where when Donna even showed the slightest amount of skin she would attract unwanted attention from the Indian guys. So it was with no great shock that Palolem beach had a lot of groups of young, even married, Indian guys hoping to have a perv. This would extend to them standing around in a group next to the girls on the beach and even taking photos for their own...ahem...‘private collection’ and accidently swimming into the girls to try for the accidental boob-graze in the sea. We had a feeling the Indian men were doing something under the water but we didn’t want to get
too close to find out and whenever a group of Indian men moved towards us in the water we would go the opposite way...after all Neil really didn’t want anyone perving at him in that way!
As our travels are progressing, we are convinced travellers are getting unfriendlier. We say this because several times in India we tried to strike up conversations or even say a simple hello to passing travellers but almost every time we got a hostile and unfriendly ‘leave me alone’ kind of look or a superior looking down their nose kind of look in return. When we set off on our trip in September 2006, we expected backpackers to be a friendly helpful bunch of people who look out for each other and happy to share experiences, advice and are still enjoying travelling. Now we seem to only be meeting grumpy, insular, snooty backpackers who don’t want to share anything and go out of their way to use avoidance behaviour (looking up into the sky or down at the ground) to avoid conversation with a fellow traveller. Are travellers changing and is this just the new code of backpacker conduct and no-one bothered to tell
We really enjoyed Goa and no doubt we will be returning very soon to see what else the state has to offer us. As soon as Neil finds a suitable loincloth and Donna has perfected her ‘shanti-shanti-ommmmm’ we will be back.
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