Hi again - it’s been a while! But I wanted to write about my 12 days in Goa in one post and it’s gonna be a long one (sorry!).
I’m sitting on Palolem Beach in South Goa at the moment, waiting with John on the taxi that’ll take us to the airport and ultimately out of India and to Bangkok. So goodbye India and goodbye Goa, hopefully I’ll be back someday!
This will probably be the last in-depth diary entry as well, as I will likely do more of an ’thoughts and experiences’ kind of update throughout South East Asia.
Anyway, here’s everything that has happened since my last check-in:
Our group’s first day in Goa was spent relaxing at the beach and by the pool, once we had eaten our breakfast and checked in.
I guess that was how I spent most of my time in Goa in general.
We rented sunbeds for the day and messed around in the waves - I went under a good number of times before I learned how to avoid the strongest waves.
We all wrote a card for Chandra and got a taxi to a busier part of the Calangute area, Bagga Beach, where we sat down on the beach at a fancy restaurant. The food was delicious and we had a lovely evening of sharing our favorite moments about the trip and our hopes for the future.
We took a stroll along the beach
before going back to the hotel, where we had to say our goodbyes to Theresa and then Chandra. It was very weird having to part after getting so close to each other - I jokingly referred to Theresa as my second mother by now and Chandra called me his little sister.
The next morning I spotted Analyn on the way to the beach and joined her, as we spent a good hour splashing in the waves and shouting over the crashing sound.
Before 9 am I was back at the pool, relaxing and eating breakfast, not long after joined by Richard. At 10 am I said my goodbyes to him and waved to yet another taxi driving away. John and I stayed with Analyn until her taxi came at 1 pm and then all of a sudden it was just the two of us left.
I had really truly enjoyed both the trip in North India and South India, surprised by how different the two had been.
North India had definitely been harder than South India, with a lot of poverty, desperation, animals on the streets and trash. It was hectic and chaotic, but that was also one of the things I loved about it: North India was exciting and exhilarating in a way that the South was not. The North was surprisingly more traditional - which brought with it both good (like sarees and authenticity) and bad (like being heavily man-dominated). And the North was definitely home to all the big monuments, the magnificent tourist attractions. On the other hand South India was beautifully lush with green nature everywhere: mountains and fields and forests and rivers. And though its monuments might pale in comparison to the North, the South more than made up for it in beautiful places and atmosphere. Everything was much more relaxed and laid back in the South, people in general seemed less interested in tourists and most seemed content and happy. It was more modern in many ways - again for good (women were much more visible) and bad (a bit more westernized) - and cleaner.
And even then all that is a huge generalisation: I still have only seen a very small part of India and from city to city and state to state the differences have been astonishing. I couldn't pick between the North and South if I tried - it would be like picking between Italy and Egypt. One wasn't better, they were simply different.
John and I booked a twin room to lower costs at Dona Julia for two more nights and spent the whole afternoon on the beach. We befriended an incredibly sweet Indian family, who we ended up spending most of the day with - I played with Tia, the 8-year-old daughter and we shared stories with the grown ups.
We went down to the beach again in the evening walking up and down it for awhile before settling down for dinner.
The food was really good and we went for a long evening stroll down the main road afterwards finally settling down at ’A Reverie’, a very fancy (and expensive) restaurant, where an incredibly talented guy was performing accustically. We stayed there for a good while, listening to him and drinking (way too expensive) drinks.
When we finally did decide to leave, we were in a great mood and took a taxi to the party area, Bagga Road, where we sat down for Happy Hour (buy one get one free) at Cape Town Café.
It was a busy place with a nice vibe and so we spent most of the night alternating between getting drinks and dancing. It was actually great fun as we danced with an Indian guy, Rohin, for most of the night, at times joined by other happy people (we were the only non-Indians on the dance floor). We were back home around 3.30 am and quickly fell asleep.
The next day we were miserable creatures, spending most of the day nurturing our hangovers. We pulled ourselves out of bed around 10.30 am to go to Piri Piri for a mediocre breakfast. I spent the whole day by the pool relaxing, John spent it in the room until 6 pm when we met up to go for a nice Italian dinner.
The next morning after breakfast we took a taxi to the Anjuna area a little farther up north and checked into Wonderland Hostel for three nights. And very very quickly we realized that Anjuna was most definitely alternative and so was the hostel. We walked down to the very narrow, mediocre beach for a terrible lunch at Aura café and walked up the street for a little while (which was very dusty and barren), before settling down in the weed fumes of the social area to talk with the others from the hostel. Needless to say our first impression of Anjuna wasn't the best, but now I do think we somewhat judged it too quickly.
Over the next couple of days I did start realizing how so many people got stuck there for much longer than intended, with the lure of a lazy relaxed vibe and happy carefree people.
We went to elephant cafe for a delicious dinner that evening, before spending the evening talking and hanging out with the others at the hostel.
Our second day in Goa we walked about 20 minutes to Artjuna cafe for an incredible meal, sitting for a long time just relaxing there, before walking back, soaked in sweat when we arrived at the hostel. We spent our entire day at the beach: alternately under the parasol and in the waves, talking to a young British guy until sunset.
And back at the hostel, what I had planned to be an early night, turned into a very late night filled with card games, dares and beers. I actually had a blast believe it or not, as I got to know all the different people from the hostel through weird dares and drinking games throughout the night.
We ended up going to bed around 4 am, happy with the unexpected change of events and with a more positive outlook on Anjuna (now that I had gotten used to the weed fumes).
The next morning John and I walked the long and hot way to the main road in search of an ATM and stopped for a deserved breakfast at Artjuna on the way back.
The rest of the day I alternately spent in the hostel’s common area and lazing on the beach, already feeling myself getting into a rhythm that could easily turn into weeks or months (especially with the help of weed I can imagine). John and I walked to the flea market, but it was very tiny in the off-season and so we were instead quickly off for an early dinner at Curlies.
After eating we climbed up a flight of stairs and a steep hill, where we joined a couple of the guys from the hostel for a beautiful and peaceful sunset.
We sat talking for a long while until after dark and walked back along the beach. Reaching the common area we spent the rest of the evening talking until everyone agreed on watching ’the evolution of us’ on the projector. It is weird how comfortable you can get with people after such a short time.
Our final day in Anjuna we walked a very long and ambitious way (about 45 minutes) to get to ’Bean me up’, the only fully vegan cafe in the area, for breakfast. I ate enough food to satisfy three people, but it was all amazingly tasty.
We walked about halfway back before finding a taxi that took us to the hostel - where we had to walk over freshly laid asphalt (RIP my converse) -, waited for us to take our bags and say our goodbyes and drove us to Palolem beach in South Goa (about 2.5 hours).
We checked in for six nights at O3 Beach resort where we got a cozy and clean hut, only steps from the dreamy picture-perfect beach.
After settling in we went for a surprisingly good late lunch at O3’s own restaurant, Titanic Café, right by the beach, before spending the rest of the day lazing on sunbeds and in the - finally! - gentle waves. I stayed on the beach until sunset and after dark we went for another great meal on the beach, talking for hours and enjoying the evening heat.
Most of our days in Palolem looked pretty much like the first one.
The first full day in Palolem we walked into town to cafe Little World for breakfast (absolute heaven for vegans), got very lost on our way back (resulting in sore legs and sweaty clothes) and spent the rest of the day on the beach.
We spotted a 24-year-old German guy called Vinz, whom we had met at hostel Wonderland and spent the afternoon and evening with him.
The next morning John slept all day, so Vinz and I embarked on an adventure to Monkey Island at the other end of the beach.
We climbed over some rocks (I cut my foot) and swam the rest of the way to reach the little disappointing island with no monkeys. Vinz ignored the ”Private Property - Guard Dogs” sign and climbed over the fence. I followed after some contemplation, really hoping that we wouldn't be attacked by dogs. We walked up a lot of steps through a dry forest before settling down on a big stone for a view of the ocean. Although the island was a disappointment, the view was beautiful and we stayed for a while talking before heading back and spending the day on the beach.
At 5 pm John and I said goodbye to Vinz (who was off to Kochi) and went for dinner on the beach, chatting into the night, before going for a drink on our neighbors’ porch (a nice Indian couple).
On our fourth day in Palolem we had a late breakfast at Avocado Garden Cafe before spending the rest of the day on the beach.
On the fifth day we walked along the beach to Cafe Inn for a delicious breakfast,
got everything in order for Bangkok and spent the day on the beach.
Our sixth and final full day in Palolem looked very similar to the fifth, as we ate breakfast at Cafe Inn, packed our bags for Bangkok and hung out on the beach all day,
before going for our last sunset meal on the beach in the evening at Titanic Café.
I have absolutely loved our time in Palolem, with a beautiful beach, an adorable hut, great food and great company. But by now my feet are also itching to go explore again, and I can’t wait to walk around Bangkok and embark on my solo journey across South East Asia.
It will be weird saying goodbye to John though, as I’ve gotten used to having him as my travel companion, a buddy to break out into dance with and someone to talk and laugh with at meals. It’ll definitely take some adjusting to go from a group, then a duo to solo. But I’m sure amazing experiences will come from it as well. And we still have four days in Bangkok left together.