I have finally found a place in India that I would gladly visit again.
The past week Goa was probably the most laid back, uneventful time since I arrived in India – a much needed break from the chaos in the North and the intense days at the ashram in the South.
In spite of Goa being completely out of season at the moment, it is clear that it is the relaxation and party capital of India when you see some of the Westerners who live here. I saw a couple of guys resembling worn-out versions of Willie Nelson – guys who clearly had very few sober or clean days since they arrived here (presumably decades ago). The other, less worn out Westerners who live here seem to have blended in completely. They even transport their families (including newborn babies) on their scooters.
You cannot blame any visitors to Goa for deciding to stay here for good. It’s extremely affordable, especially for a tropical area with an infinite amount of coastal villages and beaches. It’s the perfect destination for the bohemian and psychedelic at heart.
I paid around 400 rupees (US$7) a night for a single room (ensuite bathroom and free wifi) at the St. Anthony’s Guest House in Anjuna. Scooter rental (something I would definitely recommend) generally costs 200 rupees a day (300 rupees for motorcycles) and a meal at any of the beach shack-like eateries throughout Goa average around 200 to 300 rupees a shot. The affordability of Goa is confirmed by an article I recently read about cheap travel destinations, which rated Goa as the cheapest popular holiday destination.
You can spend your days lazing about on the beach (Arambol is my favourite) or exploring Goa with a rented scooter, which I did most of the time. I did day trips to Panaji (in my opinion not half as interesting or quaint as my Lonely Planet guidebook says it is) and Arambol and explored various beachside villages like Calangute, Baga beach and Vagator.
Pity I caught the tail end of monsoon season, as the past two days of torrential rains prevented me from exploring more, leaving me with no other choice but to do nothing (and do some more planning for the South American leg of my adventure), which I also enjoyed.
My biggest expense here was a night out to a club on Anjuna beach called UV Bar, which pumped out aggressive trance music – not quite my scene, but interesting nevertheless. I had to pay a cover charge of 500 rupees and another 500 rupees worth of bar coupons before I could enter. The only reason I went to UV was to support Shanti, my Mexican fire-juggling neighbour here at St. Anthony’s.
I can honestly say Shanti is probably the most interesting person I’ve met during my Indian travels. She fire juggles and trades her way through her travels with bracelets that she makes herself. She plans to travel through India for a couple of months and seems to do pretty well already, taking everything and everyone in her stride – an excellent example of how you can use your creativity or skills to fund continuous budget travels.
Not that you will want to be anywhere else if you just want to chill on a budget in India.
I think my chilling days are over though.
Next stop: Mumbai.