During our time in Goa, we planned to chill out at the beach- we hoped for at least a bit of sunshine-, explore the area and meet new people. 2 out of these 3 plans happened, and with it being monsoon season here, I think you can guess which two. It’s very possible to explore India in the monsoon season, and I regret ever asking tour companies for information while I was planning this trip considering they all told me to avoid most of the country at this time of year. Yes the monsoon season is annoying but It doesn’t stop you travelling, meeting new people and taking in what a country has to offer. It’s just the annoyance of sudden downfall, or no downfall at all, that’s the monsoon way! Our time through Delhi, Varanasi, Rajasthan, Mumbai etc had been great no matter what weather we had endured, It was still another story to tell and It was a different way of seeing India. It always seemed that the rain would pour out of the heavens right when we were to take a train or a bus, therefore the majority of our trips, saw us enduring soaking wet clothes for hours upon end. Nevertheless, I would still love to come back to India in the high season –regardless of the towering prices- just to see the sheer difference in atmosphere. It seems you get to see more of authentic India in monsoon season, considering what we have been told by the locals about the high season being crazy busy, which doesn’t sound too appealing, but still, I would come back to see the contrast!
Arriving from a 13hr train journey (my last in India, and our last journey ever together), we were told by the tonnes of touts at the station that it would cost us over 1000Rupees to get to Vagator, where we planned to stay in Asterix Hostel. After our usual, fight with the touts, we overheard a man say it was only 30 rupees by bus, but he would take us to the station for 100 rupees- which made no sense- but nevertheless, being on a budget we opted for the cheap option even if it meant changing three local buses.. Ughh! It wasn’t the best time to have Delhi belly I tell you, but thanks to Eliza and her meds, the journey was certainly not as horrific as Id imagined. After taking three buses, we got dropped off at the side of the road in what we were told was ‘Vagator’. We had got talking to two others who had come down from northern Goa to check out other places to stay, and so the four of us hopped off the bus and began walking down the deserted road which initially put us off Vagator. We had pictured our hostel to be beachside, with somewhere to chill out and watch the sea, even when It was raining, but these deserted roads, weren’t what we had in mind. When we finally reached the hostel, we were intrigued by its appearance and location, which seemed like it would be an amazing find in the high season. It was in a jungle setting, like most of Goa we had seen on the bus journeys here, and had coconut trees all around it. We decided to check into a 4 bed dorm which was the cheapest, and which we had to ourselves for the two nights. I had opted to skip the third night and instead take a taxi to the airport at 11pm the last evening and stay in the airport for my flight at 7:30am to Goa. It was either this or pay to stay an extra night and then have to leave at 3am to the airport. I’m no stranger to sleeping in airports at this stage; In fact I think I’ve spent a good chunk of my life in airports throughout my life, so why stop now! We had dinner at The Mango Tree on the first day- pretty easily located beside our hostel- where we enjoyed a lovely veggie burger each. We decided to walk to Anjuna and check out some of the markets and restaraunts, where we stayed in one bar for a drink, to take the weight off our feet. On our way back after being surrounded by a pack of angry dogs, I opted for an easy way out by a passer-by who was heading to the Mango Tree. In the Mango Tree we had some more beers and a cocktail while enjoying the brilliant 80’s music they had playing loudly in the background- give or take a few power cuts-.
Our first day was pretty short considering all the travelling we had done to get there, and so we had an early night. The next day I had planned to hire a moped to go and check out the beaches, and for 200Rupees a day It was a bargain. Off I went with one of the girls from the hostel on the back, stopping off at a few beaches along the way –Big Vagotor Beach, Little Vagator Beach and finally Anjuna Beach, where we met back up with Eliza and some others at a café. We had some chai with some fellow travellers and locals before taking one of the locals up on his offer to show us Anjuna Beach. He walked us along the beach which he said was completely different in high season as everything was shut now and the beaches were full of rubbish etc. It looked like It could be paradise in the high season and I vowed to come back in the new year, I even vowed to consider it as a location for my prospective hostel. I would love that! After our long walk and a lot of shopping at te markets, we headed back to the hostel on my bike, taking in the lush green hilly countryside as we drove by, with the wind in our hair. We met Eliza later on at The Mango Tree were we had dinner and were joined by one of the locals from earlier who wanted us to join him at a bar near Anjuna Beach. We politely declined as we didn’t want to go too far away and Eliza was leaving very early te next day to Hampi. We headed back to the hostel to mingle with some of the other people who were having some drinks in the common room before going to bed, hoping for a good night’s sleep before both of our further travels. Eliza left to the train station at 5:30- not the best time to be saying goodbye when you are half asleep and It feels dreamlike- but nevertheless we had a hug and said our goodbyes. It was weird waking up the next morning with a dorm to myself, but It wasn’t long until I had a new roommate. Sort of! I checked out for the day and killed time before It was time to head to the airport! My last night in Goa, was pretty calm to start with then turned a bit crazy, as if Goa was trying to show me a different side of itself, enticing me to stay a bit longer. And it worked. Well for 2 hours at least! As I mentioned, my morning/afternoon was quite calm, as I chlled on the comfy cushions in the common room typing up some blogs and uploading pictures before my flight that evening-you can never be too sure that you have everything backed up before a big journey-, before, heading off down to Big Vagator Beach for a bit of a read before the sun disappeared and the rain came to visit once again. I had a nice stroll down to the beach, with a nice purchase of a beautiful Kaftan to be had en route, and stayed on the beach for almost an hour and a half among scattered groups of people, chilling on the beach or running in and out of the sea. And who can forget all the cows strolling up and down the sand enjoying the rolling green hills and crashing waves along the way.. Or so I presumed! They lived the life! I arrived back to the hostel just after being caught in the heavy monsoon rain where I had to take shelter road side, with a local man who was doing the same. We both looked around as the rain eased and took the opportunity to go back on our way to our destinations. I headed straight back out to The Mango Tree where I ran into Tanja from Germany who I had met the previous day at Sea Paradise Café in Anjuna. We had dinner together and started on the hard stuff not long after that. After a few hours ad passed and we went our separate ways, I headed back to the hostel where I had a drink and a chat in the common room with Andy, the guy from earlier who had checked into our old room. We chatted for ages and after he said he hadn’t had dinner, I suggested we got to The Mango Tree, I had loads of time until my taxi at 11pm anyways. The Mango Tree was always great and we had eaten most of our meals here as It was so close to the hostel, so delicious and played great music.
I had numerous beers with Tanja earlier at dinner and then again in the hostel, and at this point, I was drinking Whiskey sours which led me to change my taxi until 1am giving me two more hours of drinking, which wasn't such a good idea before the airport, how and ever. Andy suggested we try the strong beers which turned out to be so strong that after one glass for our 600ml bottles, we had to give up, they were that strong. It was so funny, and there was no drink I had known to be that effective since Long Island Ice Teas. I will never drink these beers again, that's for sure. After getting my taxi, I ended up falling asleep, feeling quite sick- maybe the hangover was kicking in?-, and upon arriving at the airport I was refused entry without a ticket (which I had in my emails) -Bad Planning! Nevertheless, they had free wifi and a seat outdoors near the heavy rain, for me to sit and repeatedly try to connect to. I knew if i didn't, I would be sitting here all night, or even worse not be allowed in at all to catch my plane. I prayed and prayed and after 45 minutes it connected, to which I smugly pulled up the email and showed the security, who then let me in and informed me that I could go to my Domestic terminal at 5am when it opened. I didn't get a wink of sleep all night and when I finally got into my terminal at 5am, I was as close as being 'zombiefied' as i could possibly be.
My time In Goa was quiet and chilled out, with some amazing scenery to be had. A great way to end all of the crazy travelling we had endured so far, and a great way to get back into a calm mode again right before 6 weeks of yoga and meditation. The next chapter of the Indian adventure will no doubt be a completely different experience but a well needed one and I absolutely can’t wait to meet my three new yoga buddies along with the rest of my yoga family. Bring on Rishikesh!