I walked out onto a perfect beach almost 2km in length. I saw yellow sand, clean but not clear Arabian Sea water, palm trees, blue sky, fishing boats, restaurants and beach huts. This is a place to relax, India’s wealthy, backpackers and holiday tourists come here to unwind and kick back. Please note, this is not a place to come if want to experience Indian culture and history. This was my indulgence. I’ve been really sick and I needed to recover. This was the perfect place. I swerved the party beaches of Anjuna, Baga and Vagator in the north and somehow managed to stay in this place for a week, due only to the lovely people I met there and the need to gather my thoughts from the last two manic months of experiences up North.
I check into a flimsy but cosy beach hut for around £4 a night. That’s right, I lived in a beach hut looking out onto the Arabian Sea. I awoke to the sound of water lapping onto the beach every morning. After sickness hit me hard in the polluted cities of Delhi, Agra and Varanasi the fresh air and relaxed pace of life in Palolem made me a proper happy fella! I’d go as far saying I was ecstatic. I ordered superb but over priced Indian food at a restaurant while getting to know a lovely Israeli girl. Huge smile firmly anchored on my face, I’m feeling pretty lucky right now.
I skipped down the beach, exploring the little there was to do, taking in and appreciating the hot sun on my skin and the cleanliness of the beach. The beach was quiet, no drunks, loud northerners or geeza southerners blaring dance music. This is a far cry from the trashy Spanish beaches I experienced in my younger scallywag days. This was lovely. There were even a small scattering of hot women in bikinis. Remember my lovelies, I’ve been up in the very traditional north where the small amount of women I have seen have been covered up and scared to even make eye contact with the opposite sex. I haven’t seen a hot woman wearing very little for what seems like an eternity. I love the female body. Women are extremely beautiful creatures but when you’ve experienced little contact with the opposite sex for over two months, this beauty grows tenfold. I forgot how much I love women .
To add length to my already huge smile, there’s lower tax on alcohol in Goa meaning a large bottle of cold Kingfisher only sets me back a pound. Thats the cheapest in India so far. Im delighted at the more relaxed attitude to life in the former Portugese state of Goa. I couldn’t stop smiling. Bloody bravo. This was a real treat, only fellow travellers in India will ever understand my highly positive emotional state at this point. I have loved every minute of this journey so far and Palolem was the chocolate fudge icing on my ridiculously large triple chocolate cake. High five!
I spent a week socialising, playing chess, catching up on my blog, skyping my loved ones, sunbathing, reading the never ending Shantaram, discovering more perfect untouched beaches, doing nothing, riding scooters and getting fit. I ran along the beach most mornings and gradually felt alive again. I was back on top form. I ate good but overpriced food and I started meeting new and interesting people and drinking rum with random backpackers on the beach until the early hours.
I met a great English guy from Brighton called Dan. His sick sense of humour and quick English wit suited my mood perfectly. We explored the picturesque Angonda beach and surrounding areas on scooters whilst giving him an occasional pasting on the chess board. Legend.
Friends came and went. A conveyor belt of nice people from all over the world putting my people skills to the test. Good job I love talking. My Swedish friends left and I spent the last few days socialising with Mat and Dani from England, David from Ireland and two Aussie sisters Jade and Sophie.
We spotting dolphins on an early morning boat ride and relaxed over at the even more tranquil Patnam Beach. Life was good here. My diet varied, I sunk several masalas, Hello to the Queens, steaks and Kingfishers. There was a good crowd. Giggles all round. No dramas. Shanti. This place was special because of the people I met and enjoyed beers with. I could walk the beach and bump into fellow travellers all day long.
However, as much as I was enjoying lazy evenings in restaurants meeting new people, I was itching to get back on the road. Travellers rave about Hampi, that mystical place with the boulders and temples and stuff. My next destination looks set to inject some Indian history back into my journey.
Another meeting with my friends the Goa Police:
Whilst driving to Mardgao to buy a new camera I was stopped by the not-at-all corrupt Goan traffic police in Condulim. They issued me a 100R fine for not wearing a helmet whilst completely ignoring the absence of my driving license which is at my mums house back in the UK. It’s rare you see anyone wearing a helmet anywhere in India, hardly ever in Goa. Just guessing, but I reckon someone earns a fair bit of wedge out of this racket. Baksheesh paid I get back on the bike, helmet firmly on.
Sending a package to the UK
I’m aware of certain procedures taking longer in India. At times simple jobs can turn into long complicated tasks that usual turn ten minutes into half a day. Sending a parcel was one of those ‘tasks’.
After spending a long time locating the secret post office building and waiting a while for someone to make themselves available to actually serve me, they declared my parcel was too big to squeeze into their largest box, forcing me to seek other alternatives. Remember I am in Palolem, shops sell overpriced souvenirs, clothes and western groceries. I managed to track down a shop recommended by a local lady. I arrived at a small outlet with three women sewing saris on some ancient looking Singers. At this moment in time, I had no idea how they could help me package my goods.
They look at the size of my items and get out a card board box. They want to charge me £3 for it. I laugh. The hard sale commences. They tell me they get cloth and wrap it around with a double stitch to seal the boxes contents in safe and sound. I said ‘no need’, I’ll just use the Sellotape they had on the side. This was not possible, according to the lovely honest and very truthful sewing ladies. I laughed again, taking my things and walking away. The price was ridiculous and they were clearly mugging me off. After a brief look around a deserted town, I realised I had no other option. I was forced back to the ladies small sewing outlet and I apologised for my earlier ignorance. I waited patiently while two of the ladies set to work sealing my package by hand (no innuendo intended). They clearly thought I was a rude and extremely tight foreigner. They had a point.
Returning to the post office I waited, again, for the people behind the desk to actually hear me. Service in this post office is really hot (note the sarcasm). The guy managed to weigh my box and fumble around with some stickers. I had two options, one was 2700R and the other was the 2670R. The later option was described as unsafe and with a very long delivery time leaving me with the one option. Freedom of choice eh. The cost in UK pounds sterling to send my small parcel was over £30. I can live on £30 a week out here, staying in guest houses and eating out everyday. Point made. No further rants. They then spend the next 10 minutes filling out the paperwork.
No… it’s not the end of the story yet, they now need a photocopy of a my passport. I toddle off down the road to locate a photocopier and return again in hope of the parcel finally being ready to send. After a ‘no change’ scenario routine that happens with every purchase in India the deal is signed sealed and will be delivered some time next month, if someone doesn’t damage or steal it.
Sent from my iPod