Okay so I know this blog is supposed to be about London, but you are all dying to know about my holiday in Goa, right?
We splashed out on a Yotel (hotel by Yo Sushi) the night before our flight which was actually inside Heathrow Terminal 4 and a 20 second walk to the check in desk. It’s a little pod of a cabin room and pretty comfortable as long as you don’tmind your eyeballs getting dried out by the constant air con.
In the morning we both had to go outside to the bus depot and breathe in huge lungfuls of fumey London traffic air before facing the 9 hour flight to Mumbai. After the fun of customs, immigration and a shorter flight to Goa it was finally time to take some tentative steps into India.
Of course I have seen India on the telly but nothing quite prepares you for the real thing. Hoards of men fight to carry your bags, beggars push their hands towards you pleadingly and this is Goa, a comparatively rich part of the country.
It was the driving that I found really bonkers, It’s just mad. Cars, bikes, pedestrians, trucks, tuk tuks, stray dogs, chickens and cows all maniacally weave in and out of each other, horns blasting madly. Toddlers sit on the handlebars of their parent’s motorbike, dad driving at 80 mph, mum casually perched sideways, none of them wearing helmets. Women balance huge bowls of wares on their heads and walk alongside busy motorways. It was 6am on a Saturday morning and India was heaving. We followed a truck resembling a milk float with about ten small boys casually sitting or standing on the back, one of them, he must have been about eight, had a bright green teeshirt emblazoned with the words ‘Being Human’. In my jet lagged haze it seemed terribly poignant.
The drive to our resort took about an hour, the car didn’t have air con and I can only describe it as like being on a noisy roller coaster while being blasted by a very hot hairdryer.
Then suddenly, out of nowhere, we turned a corner went down a small lane and were in paradise. The roller coaster stopped, we dropped our bags and breathed.
Our first stop was Simrose on Agonda beach, a beautiful unspoilt stretch of sand with wooden huts and chilled out bars and restaurants lining the back of the beach.
It’s a bit like Glastonbury with a touch of the finer parts of Ibiza. Though unlike Glastonbury or Ibiza there is hardly anyone else there. Apparently we went out of season as it starts to get too hot in April and May but the 32 degree heat was fine by us. Sleeping in a beach hut is just like camping with the luxury of a bed and an en suite bathroom. It’s very rustic. Opening the door to our hut there were lounge cushions and hammocks where friendly Nepalese waiters will bring you cocktails (priced about £1.50) and chai, with the sound of crashing waves in the background.
The view from our hut:
We swam, had a little nap, sunbathed with a few stray cows, drank cocktails and ate a ginormous tandori red snapper freshly caught by local fisherman and cooked outside on the BBQ and which tasted absolutely bloody delightful.
Woke refreshed and free of jet lag, jumped into our bikinis, flung open the doors to our hut and ran into the sea. The waves were pretty big and we jumped over them to get to the calmer water. There were a few people on the beach but nobody near us in the sea so we slipped our bikinis off and did some skinny dipping. All was lovely and we had a gorgeous swim feeling very free indeed until a huge wave came and knocked me off balance, crashing me to the shoreline in a naked and rather ungainly heap. Two stray dogs ran over to sniff me. My girlfriend found it very funny.
Ate the best calamari of my life with some beautiful cheese curry – matti paneer – and drank dark and stormy rum cocktails. Lovely.
Aydveric massage day. We paid approximately a fiver each for the best whole body massage in the world. I kept my eyes tightly closed as the beautiful young Indian boy straddled me while expertly massaging oil into my boobs. I was terrified he might have a boner while also deciding I would feel slightly offended if he didn’t. I did not open my eyes to find out at any rate. Felt amazing afterwards.
Had a boat trip to Butterfly Beach, a small secluded bay between Agonda and Palolem. To board the boat we had to go knee-deep into the sea and pull ourselves up over the sides there were no life jackets and certainly no health and safety briefing. We balanced precariously on a wooden board and set off, immediately soaked in sea spray. On the way there we saw some dolphins!
Butterfly beach really is secluded – we were the only people there. It is incredibly peaceful, beautiful and of course hot. We took advantage of the privacy and did some more skinny dipping and naked sunbathing… Until some Somali pirates came to capture us:
Luckily they weren’t Somali pirates, but it gave me a bit of a fright and I put my bikini back on.
Moved to a new beach hut called My Place, a very quirky two story hut built by brothers Magic and Magico. The whole thing was made out of driftwood and string and some twigs and leaves. We felt like Robinson Crusoe!
View from Our hut:
Until today we had been obsessively hand washing, coating out hands in antibacterial gel, clamping our mouths tightly shut in the shower (we all saw what happened to Charlotte on Sex and the City) and avoiding all meat but we decided to go for a chicken Thali (spicy chicken curry with rice and veg) at one of the cheaper beach front restaurants.
The waiter pointedly ignored us in favour of playing cards with his friends but we didn’t really mind as we had plenty of time to enjoy the Thali and stare out onto the Arabian sea from the coast lit up by lanterns. Had a very romantic walk home along the beach under the stars until we both simultaneously became overcome with stomach cramps and had to rush back to the hut ASAP.
What is the sensible thing to have for breakfast when ones stomach is a little sensitive? An Indian breakfast of course. Spicy potato and pea curry, deep fried bread, hot chilli tomatoes and curd. This is according to my girlfriend anyway, I stuck to the safe and very Western cheese toastie and luckily we both felt fine.
We had a lovely day at Palolem, widely regarded as the most beautiful beach in Goa. It is a very pretty beach and lots of other people think so as well as it had got very popular over the last few years and the older backpacker bores refer to it as “Palaga”.
A stunningly beautiful young Indian woman served us mojitos and made polite conversation before shyly enquiring whether we wanted to buy some jewellery. I shrugged okay so she ushered me away from the bar into a hut to show me.
I chose two ankle bracelets and a normal bracelet, preparing to haggle but the woman threw me by saying:
“’How much can you pay?’
“I only have 500 rupees (about £7.50)” [not true but a reasonable price I thought]
[Girl widens her eyes and looks very sad and offended]
“Okay take the ankle bracelets, not wrist bracelet”
“Okay” [I made to walk away as my girlfriend told me this is how you haggle, But the girl threw me again, running after me and pressing the bracelet into my hand]
“Okay take this as well and come back tomorrow and pay me 900 rupees okay”
“But I won’t be here tomorrow”
“Okay come back the next day and pay me 900 rupees”
“Ah, well we won’t be back then either so you had better take it back”
[I try to give the bracelet back]
“No, pay me tomorrow
[pushes it back into my hand].
Now I suspect this may have been her way of saying “500 rupees is actually five times the amount I usually charge for this stuff so just take the bracelet love” but my conscience was saying “Indians are very honourable people and she truly thinks I will come and pay her tomorrow”.
As I walked away I couldn’t bear to look back at her big, sad trusting eyes knowing I wasn’t going to pay for the bracelet. I went back and offered her another 300 rupees, she looked very sad and offended again, took my money and the bracelet, gave me a plain, child sized ankle bracelet instead and ushered me away.
I noticed a siimlar theme for the men inviting us to look in their shop. Saying “no” seemed offensive, “maybe later” is a polite way of saying no.
We walked back along Palolem beach, dodging hundreds of miniature crabs that had come out to sunbathe. By the time we had reached the road both our ankle bracelets had fallen off.
My girlfriend taught me lots of clever things on this holiday. I learned a lot about metaphysics for example and one thing I never knew before coming to Goa was that the moon controls the tides. Does everyone know this? She seemed to think so. Anyway, we were approaching full moon which means the current is stronger and the waves bigger. We chose this day for another boat trip which wasn’t the wisest of moves. We leapt from the boat into waist high water at the beautiful but deserted palm beach.
I only wanted to stay a couple of hours but our boatman insisted he come back in four and merrily sailed away. Again we were alone on a beautiful, secluded beach. We applied suncream, lay down our towels and had just relaxed back to sunbathe when a huge wave came and crashed over us, soaking everything we had and covering us in sand.
Washing the sand off was pretty hard work. The dip into the water was very steep and the current so strong that a quick wash in the sea was impossible as the current would immediately pull us back out of our depth so it was impossible to swim to the shore (terrifying). We had to wait for a big wave to come and wash us up. We hadn’t had much breakfast and didn’t have enough water. It was a long four hours. We saw some more dolphins on the way back though which was cool.
Power tanning and a successful trip to the chemist.
Power tanning followed by the loooong journey home. Had a 7 hour wait in Mumbai airport which didn’t bother me in the slightest as I had lots of cheap Indian chill pills from the successful trip to the chemist. Me and my girlfriend found a big chair, curled up on it and fell fast asleep. Woke up to discover I was being eaten alive by a million mosquitoes – cross your fingers I don’t get malaria, we forgot to take our tablets.