I don’t know what country we are in but we have certainly left India entirely. This is the beach holiday destination for India and quite frankly it is like entering an totally different world. There is nothing to see here other than beaches and other tourists. The state of Goa is exempt from taxes and therefore everything is cheap. Despite this it is the richest region in India with average wages 2.5 times higher than elsewhere and the infrastructure like roads and bridges etc are far better than anywhere we have been so far. I don’t know how this is achieved but it is working. We hit the most bizarre bridge experience on our way to our accommodation but I will leave it for Jill in her planes trains section.
It is hot. We are here in winter and it is seriously hot and it will continue to get hotter as we head south. At the moment it is only possible to walk for about 15 minutes before being soaked in sweat and seeking a shady respite. The daily highs are well into the mid 30’s and it is winter. I have no idea what or how bad the summer gets but the winter is more than enough for my Canberra acclimatised bones.
Goa stretches for 100 kilometres but in reality it is a few big towns and a series of pockets of businesses spread across the region. Every 2 kilometres or so you pop up onto a different pocket which generally contain about 3-6 hotels/hostels, 6 bars and 5 restaurants along with 3 motorbike hire joints and 12 tourist stalls. This is added to every third pocket or so with a “juice bar” which are the busiest businesses in town. They openly advertise as juice and more. The bikes are a choice of scooters or some beautiful classically styled Enfield motorcycles (just for KAT).
Goa is fantastic if you can handle it and embrace it for what it offers, without buying in and checking out. The place is full of people who entered a juice bar and are still here 2-40 years later. Old hippies abound and the younger generation is full of Jonny Depp wannabes who got their first taste of hash, checked out, and are still here 5 years on. The most common activity is to drink and get baked every night and then to zone out on the beach, sleeping it off, in the afternoons. This would be ok if everyone had not hired scooters or motorbikes to get between the various pockets and were riding either stoned or drunk.
That said, if you can handle the atmosphere and not buy into the hippie garbage the place is great. The pockets are set amidst green leafy hillsides, each one being a short walk to the beach. The beaches are as clean as India can offer, and most of us would be willing to enter the water, while still having the uniquely Indian traits (cows between the flags). If you were bored of laying on the beach I am certain that you could find a 3 day old frisbee (they are a bit moist if you get them any earlier). The food is cheap and diverse, with an effort needing to be made to find a curry. The beer is VERY cheap and plentiful and the hotels are clean and cheap. There are top of the line options but they tend to be fake, expensive and full of Russians. In a land of bikinis and sarongs, the Russians pack the little black dress and stripper heels.
Jill and I were discussing this place and came to the conclusion that there are certain people in our lives that would absolutely love it and would know the balance to keep, while there are others that we know who if they turned up here we may never see them again. I will not name names but will allow each of you to determine your likely path. For those of you able to cope it would be a great joint holiday destination whereby about 10 people all turn up to the same area and have joint but separate holidays. However if you were in any way impressionable there is a real possibility that you could find yourself in a bar, a decade on, with dreadlocks, fewer brain cells and no real idea of how you got here.