I’m going to start this post off by saying I was really looking forward to visiting Goa. I was looking forward to pristine white sandy beaches, cute little beach bars and restaurants and a relaxing holiday kind of vibe… but to be honest there’s not that much to be said for Goa and I really didn’t rate it, in fact, I barely took any photos. Anyhoo…
We flew from Mumbai to Goa on the morning of 24 May and the sheer joy on everyone’s faces when we entered Mumbai airport and saw Burger King, KFC, Pizza Hut and Subway was hilarious. I inhaled a Zinger Meal, made use of the clean (thank god) toilets and boarded the flight to Goa. The flight only took an hour and a half and I nodded off for the majority of it.
The other side, an hour long taxi journey through jungle lined roads took us to the Alor Holiday Resort. Our room was at the top of four flights of stairs and I’ll refer to it as a suite, though don’t let your imagination run away with you… there was a living area with a sofa, coffee table, mouldy fridge and TV, a balcony, a kitchen/diner area, two single beds (which we later found out were so solid it was like sleeping on the floor) and a wet room style bathroom.
Going down to the pool, we joined some people from our group who had already been for a dip, but had exited and covered up pretty quickly after several Indian men (and women) gawked at them and took photos on their phones, all the while laughing away. With that, a group of us decided to head to the beach thinking that might be better… we were wrong.
A short walk from our hotel and we joined the trash and rabid dogs on Calangute Beach. We were immediately blasted by sand and salt water being whipped up by the gale-force winds and any hopes of having a nice relaxing sunbathe were instantly dashed. We paddled in the warm shallows as we made our way down the beach towards a hoard of thoouuuusands of Indians and as we drew near, all eyes were on us and we were swarmed by men taking photos and asking for selfies. We made a U-turn and headed back, retreating into a beach bar where the barman managed to shoo away the group of 20 men that had followed us to our seats. Now relatively out of the wind, we grabbed some Kingfishers and chilled out whilst watching the sunset. A few people braved the insanely strong waves and it was quite a sight to watch numerous Indian men attempt to follow them into the sea, though lacking any ability to swim.
In the evening we had a group dinner at the hotel, necked some beers whilst playing drinking games and headed into Baga town for drinks. What ensued that night was confusing for everyone involved, and probably most so for Dan, the only non-drinker of the group, as only 3 drinks in everyone was absolutely hammered and dancing with reckless abandon to the Macarena. Who knows what was in the alcohol but the level and speed of everyone’s drunkenness wasn’t natural, and neither were the hangovers which followed.
Feeling horrific the next morning, I managed to force a cheese sandwich down me but my hangover brought on my first real feelings of anxiety from the whole trip. Feeling awful and panicky, I went back to the room and tried to calm myself down with some chilled music and a lie down. Not wanting to waste the day and give in to the anxiety, we made our way to the beach and found a few from our group at the same beach bar we’d been to the day before. We spent a few hours down at the beach swapping hangover stories and had a dip in the sea, but when one of our group voiced that they’d just seen a bloke s**t in the sea and wipe his bum with sand we called time on swimming and went back to the hotel.
Our final group meal of the tour was a 20 minute walk away at a nice little restaurant by the sea, and would have been lovely, had we not been sat outside being blasted constantly by wind and salt water. I had a traditional Goan chicken xacuti curry which was nice and mild, but with everyone’s hangovers having taken their toll nobody was up for socialising further and we went back to our hotel. Local power cuts and poor electrics meant that we spent the remainder of the evening plunging in and out of darkness and we understood why we were provided with a candle and matches in our room.
The next day we said our goodbyes to everyone from the tour, swapping Facebook and Instagram details, and we teamed up with a guy who had a similar flight time to us and got a taxi north to another resort where we’d booked our first hostel of the trip. The area, Vagator, instantly seemed less busy and checking into our hostel it was clear that it was the end of the season as barely anyone was there. The hostel, Bunkker, was built from shipping containers and the owner gave the three of us a container to ourselves consisting of three bunk beds with security lockers and air conditioning. Toilets and showers were located in a separate container next door to ours, and we could climb onto the roof to take in the views of the jungle (complete with monkeys) and beach.
The humidity was stifling so we went for a walk to explore the nearby beach – still windy, rough and full of dogs but with even fewer bars/restaurants open. We went for a beer, then went in search of somewhere for dinner. There wasn’t much choice as barely anywhere was open, and with power cuts hitting this area of Goa too, we were limited on choice of what they could even cook us. Calling it a night, we bug sprayed up and retreated to our air conditioned container to get out of the heat.
Waking up to the sound of flowing water, I scrabbled out of bed to find the source, and then an almighty boom and earthquake-like vibrations gave the game away… we were right in the middle of a massive thunder storm… in a metal box. Waking up Tom (god knows how he was still asleep) I asked if we were safe, then all three of us sat and watched as the flashes of lightning illuminated the room.
After a rough night’s sleep, we got up and went in search of an ATM as we were all strapped for cash. The nearest one was a 2km hike away, up and down hills, in 100% humidity… we were dying, I’ve never been so sweaty in my life. After getting cash we found a nice-looking restaurant so settled in and had some yummy tandoori chicken for lunch and hung out there taking advantage of their big fans for a few hours to kill time before braving the humidity again.
Back at the hostel I called my parents (who happened to be at my Nan’s house) for the first time since being away. It was so nice to speak to them all and catch up – being away from home has definitely made me value the sound of hearing someone’s voice over basic texting. The three of us chilled out in the communal area of our hostel and then went for dinner at the same restaurant again as we knew it was cheap, and more importantly, hadn’t given us food poisoning.
Returning to the hostel, we met a group of local Goans and other travellers who were all cooking a traditional Goan sausage meal together. They invited us to join them for a beer and to try their food and we listened to their wild and 100% unbelievable stories… one thing we’d learnt in India is that the locals can be good at bending the truth, and these guys were next level. From their fathers who were CEOs of airlines, and their grandfathers who owned Stradivarius violins to their headline DJ slots that had taken them around the world… I was losing the ability to say ‘Oh wow!’ with any conviction. Potentially even more weird, was when I mentioned I worked in the printing industry and one guy chirped up and started asking questions. It turned out he used to run a print company in Guatemala and he asked if I’d heard of a certain UK print company… which I had, and had worked with for years. He named their Chief Exec, who used to be a Non-Exec Director at my company, and told me how they’d helped his business move into digital print and expand further into the South American market. Such-a-small-world!
The next morning, we lazed around before packing our things, calling a taxi and heading to the airport for our flights. Mine and Tom’s flight back to Mumbai wasn’t until the evening but we figured we could just chill out at the airport until then… which would have been ok if there was more than one food stand; delays meant we ended up spending five hours there. I don’t think any of us were upset to be leaving Goa – we’d basically been killing time until we could leave.
We had another four hours to kill at Mumbai airport as our flight wasn’t until 1.30am so found a comfy spot and caught up on writing our travel journals. You can imagine our frustration when after we boarded, our plane was delayed on the tarmac by another two and a half hours, and as the cabin lights were on and passengers and stewards were up and down the aisle constantly, we were unable to sleep. Instead I watched the whole of I, Tonya (average film) until we finally took off at 4am.
Next stop, Hong Kong!
See ya later, Sophie x