checkout the journey video here, and subscribe..!!
Goa as I knew it completely changed after this one off, quick road trip to the closest beach heaven for mere mortals of Mumbai and Pune.
The stereotype Goa :
For a Bombay wala or a Punekar, the quickest escape to everyday drudgery of local trains and traffic jams is escape to this sin city by the beach called Goa. It has become synonymous with never ending supply of cheap alcohol and other recreational stuff. Parties till sun rise, starting your day at sun down, and ogling behind your glares at white tourists is what stories of a Goa returned friend are made of. Gambling is legal here, though not many of us who visit have deep enough pockets, I guess.
Come December, and Goa becomes everyone’s ticket to “cool” new year bashes and hangover stories. If you’re not heading to Sunburn, you might as well live in the past year.! If you’re are not screaming about your private villa parties at Baga or Calangute, or have nothing to boast of on your Snapchat, Instagram or Facebook account then you’d better live under an invisibility cloak for at least till the end of January.
So much so that Goa has completely lost its charm as a hippie beach side town with a slow, calm rhythm. That used to be the prime reason I never enjoyed Goa. Cliche parties, cacophony of loudspeakers, expensive accommodation, expensive bike rentals, expensive clubs, cheap music, maddening over crowding, dirty beaches, cunning shop sellers, touristy sight seeing and forced enjoyment! bloddy!! more often than not one would bump into the same office people or neighbors in Goa too. The point of being on a vacation completely lost.
The Goa I ran into :
But that all that changed last week. “And what happened next will blow your mind” ;-). So I had been itching for a break since I had been a good boy and a good doctor for almost two months. Everyone around me was surprised too, to see me everyday. It so happens that a friend with whom I met on my previous travels lands up in Arambol, Goa.
Me, looking for an excuse to set out on a new adventure jumps onto this chance. I had also never seen Arambol and I thought if it’s too boring, like Goa conventionally is ( if you ask me) then Gokarna wasn’t far away. Also, from Pune, a distance of around 500kms with awesome roads makes for a bike trip just too tempting to ignore. So, I borrowed an Enfield 500 from my friend, packed my camera gear and set out to feel the wind in my helmet and thump on the road.
So, here are the following things that made me love this place instantly:
- The vibe – The vibe of this place is surreal and unmatched. Perhaps this is how hippie tourist destinations are like, and I haven’t seen many. As soon as the evening sets in, there are umpteen number of activities going on over the beach at Arambol. The drum circle was favorite. I have always been a fan of seeing live music jams and impromptu performances. So in the drum circle, outside a shack, the same place everyday, a group of travelers sit on stools and benches and play drums for a good 2-3 hours. Everyone’s invited to dance or see or take part. The only rule is not to bother other people. I also saw that this was not only a free party, but it was also a community. One of the tourist had lost her 4-year-old child and it was announced at the drum circle, and immediately the word spread to hundreds of people..!
- More street performers – Drum circle is not all. At Arambol, art is everywhere, all around you. So from fire dancers to gymnasts to jugglers, everyone’s having a gala time polishing off their tricks on the beach. They also make for interesting photo opportunities.
- Cafes and not clubs – Twice in Nature has become one of my favorite hangout spots in Arambol. Live music, healthy mix of people. Soothing ambience. It is a pleasant place to unwind and enjoy the chill of Arambol. Just be alert of its manager. He’s a cunning foul mouthed fellow who overcharges with your slightest bit of inattention towards the bill. Unlike TiTOs and Mambos or Cabana and the rest which have a heavy entry fee, stags not allowed, bouncers present everywhere, shitty music drilling into your head and exorbitantly priced drinks and food, these cafes are a complete value for money.
- Flea markets – Unlike the markets I have seen so far, these ones were completely set up and run by firang tourists. They had a lot of interesting stuff to sell, from hand-made flutes to jewellery. Tarot reading to palm reading. Home made pies and chocolates to paintings. Plus in true traveler fashion, no blaring loudspeakers, not shouting prices, no overload of lights and overpopulation of shops. No bazaar feel. Just 15-20 floor shops with free to see and buy attitude.
- Fresh water lake – So, right opposite the beach there is a lake which is convenient way to wash off the sand and the salt from beach frolicking. the lake is big one and enough space to swim around. It’s also reasonably clean and attracts sunbathers and music lovers alike to its shore.
- The Banyan Baba – Meet Dr. Ashok Pratap Singh Rana. He is a ascetic since 25 years, last 15 of which he spent under a Banyan tree in Arambol, Goa. He was also a qualified Ayurvedic medical practitioner in his daily life, from Benaras Hindu University, one of the premier institutes if the country. He practiced in United Kingdom, of which he is also a citizen but now preaches and Love and Peace, deep in the jungle of Arambol, opposite the beaches. Baba is a jovial person to talk to and loves gifts that people take for him while visiting. He’s a little open-minded about gifts, and everything from smokes to alcohol to fruits and cakes and biscuits work fine.
- People from all over the world – So in two days I was really good friends with two Russians, living opposite my cottage. Their German and Israeli friends joined us.Got rejected by a Slovak beauty. Had life discussions with a French guy. Met a shaman from Austria and a flute maker from Australia.
- Clean beaches – Unlike the beaches of Mumbai and mainstream Goa, Arambol is surprisingly so, still clean. Some inner hidden beaches like Redi or Paradise beach are still pristine. The water is clear till a few feet, which is a first I have seen on nearby beaches.
- No hawkers, beach shops, beggars, massage men bothering you – I understand everyone has to make a living, but at times it becomes a struggle to not loose your temper when someone asks you for money, one way or the other every few minutes.
- Respectable tourists – This is one thing I love about firang tourists. They are pretty much no nonsense when it comes to enjoying yourself. I saw the beach being enjoyed the way it should. Folks are jogging in the morning by the waves. Yoga and sun bathing is a routine. Playing with stray dogs. Playing beach volley ball. Surfing or Boogie boarding. Or just strolling by the beach. Unlike desi folks who spread a mat, picnic like no tomorrow and leave a ton of litter behind. Otherwise groups of guys gather together and giggle at bikini clad tourists, worse whip out their cell phones and create nuisance.
- Cheap accommodation – By cheap I mean beach facing cottages at rs.500 a day after a good bargain. Mind you, you get what you pay for. So at 500 bucks is a bamboo cottage with a comfortable bed and a fan overhead. couple of CFL bulbs in the room and a cold water shower, a western WC, sink and a mirror. Don’t expect a concrete room with WiFi and room service.
Thanks for dropping by, see you soon..!