Our time in Goa relaxing, drinking and dancing is nearly over. And to be honest that is all there really is to do in Goa. I can see how backpackers, or Hippies as the locals call us, can get stuck in Goa sitting on the beach smoking and listening to the chilled out music with no real challenges. But we are looking for something a bit more exciting and are keen to move on to Rajasthan. That's certainly not to say I haven't enjoyed my time in Goa.
We've followed the parties round from Anjuna to Vagator. I'm certainly not going to forget how much fun I had dancing in the open air clubs with the moon and stars above me, palm trees on one side and the sea only a couple of meters away. However, I think it's fair to say Goa isn't the hedonistic party scene it used to be. In the last couple of years the government have brought in a law banning music in open spaces between 10am and 6am. That doesn't mean there aren't still raves/clubs running till 6am, they're just fewer and far between. We did find some amazing clubs open air and multi-layer cut into the cliff side. Unfortunately photography is banned in all bars and clubs so I have no photos to show you.
The beach in Vagotor is quite small and very hard to relax on due to the number of cows, wild dogs and people walking back and forward selling stuff. The cows are really mischievous and it's fun to watch them creep up on people and steal their food, clothes and even cocktails! One cow even decided that Lucy's hair looked like a tasty meal, see photos, I couldn't stop laughing!
Naively we both expected to spend our time in Goa chatting to other English speaking back packers but most of the people here are Indians. No real surprise considering we are in India. Spending time with them has started to give us an interesting insight into their culture. We spent one night hanging out with an Indian man his fiancé and his two mates. They had just got engaged that week and the girl, who barely spoke, had recently returned from a few years in Miami to marry this man and live in Bangalore. He looked very pleased (she was beautiful) but she looked like her world had fallen apart. I can't imagine what it would be like to have your freedom taken away like that and spend your life with someone out of family duty. I also spoke to one of the guys about his time in the UK studying for his MBA, Indian men stay at home until they marry and are taken care of, he found it a real shock and struggle to come to the UK and study while doing his own cooking and cleaning!
We tried to do what sightseeing there was in Vagator by climbing to Chapora Fort constructed by the Portuguese in 1617. It's basically just a crumbled wall but worth the climb for the views of the coastline.
Last Friday we treated ourselves to a slap up meal at the best restaurant in town. In the French restaurant we enjoyed delicious prime fillet rare steak (at an outrageous price of 3 pounds) and a cold glass of imported white wine (also 3 pounds). It cost more than three times a normal meal but was well worth it as it's impossible to find good wine or beef in India. While I'm on the subject of food I've tried several Goan fish curries and can conclude that none of them are as nice as the microwave one from Waitrose!
We had our first brush with the Indian Law on Saturday. After a night playing cards and snooker we went to leave but couldn't get a taxi. The roads are far too dark to walk home so we had to get a lift on the back of a motor bike from a couple of English guys. Just as we arrived where we were staying a couple of police men turned up. After talking to the guys about their bikes etc they decided to fine them 1,000 rupees each (about 12 pounds)for not having their licenses on them. Thats quite a lot of money to have in rupees and they could only get 1,000 in total. Luckily they accepted that. I think the general rule is if you get stopped by police pay them off with everything you have even if you have done nothing wrong.
Things I've learnt so far about India for anyone planning to visit:
- Asking for directions is a difficult business for both tourists and taxi drivers a like. Indians will not admit to not knowing where something is and will point in random directions. Luckily taxi drivers do not charge extra for being sent on these wild goose chases.
- A good toilet is like finding gold! They tend to be smelly dirty holes.
- Men, normally teenagers, will run after you shouting soap in your ear. From discussion with a few less intrusive Indians the point of this is for you to stop where they will pretend to pick dirt out of your ear and then ask to clean your ears. All very strange. Lucy is starting to loose her temper with this one and I don't blame her.
- Power cuts are frequent so always have a torch on hand, especially in the toilet!
Typically just as we are about to leave Goa we find the best place that I fall totally in love with.
We decided yesterday to do a day trip to Arambul as we had heard it was nice with quieter beaches. I'm really pleased we went as it was just lovely. The beaches are much nicer than any where else we have been with only a limited number of beach shacks. All you can hear is the sound of the sea so you could really relax there. There's also a fresh water lagoon that you can swim in, with lots of fish!
The area also has some really nice stalls where people are friendly and don't hassle you. In Vagator the street sellers are a little aggressive. We ended up buying lots of stuff and our bags are bursting full already.
Also there were no coach loads of Indian men turning up. In Vagator about 5-6 arrive a day. I'm sure they are there for a better reason than to stare at practically naked women, but as they don't swim or sunbathe it does make you wonder!
I'd definitely go back to Arambul, maybe for next new year!
Right I think I have written more than enough. Hope you are all well and I look forward to reading your emails.