Goan Coast
in Goa, India on 15th April, 2012


I wasn't immediately impressed with Calangute beach. It was packed with local, budget holiday makers, everyone was fully clothed including those swimming in the sea and the 30 x 30 meter pile of burning garbage on the beach didn't give the place an image of paradise on the subcontinent.

During my first full evening in Goa I got a rickshaw down to Candolim. Within a few hundred meters of leaving Calangute the air cleared up and there was less rubbish everywhere. The reason for my trip was to visit some friends named Avinash and Line. They're a Goan/Danish couple whom opened and run an Italian restaurant in Candolim.

I hadn't seen Line since 2003 when she was still living in the UK. My life was completely different back then. I had yet to be married and I was living in Germany. Every trip back to England during that time was like a breath of fresh air. I had originally met Line a week before I met my future ex-wife and Line had met her future husband. Lena now has two children and a life in Goa that appears to be treating her well. We spent the evening catching up on the past nine years.

At one point Lena's husband Avinash took some time out from work and entered the conversation. We got to chatting about Westerners coming to India expecting relaxation and spiritual enlightenment. Some probably expect to see Indians floating in mid-air while meditating as just a normal, everyday thing. The reality is that for some coming down from Delhi, by the time they get to Goa they're wiped out.

Avinash elaborated that many Westerners who are budget-conscious end up traveling through India like poor Indian men. They use buses and, if they're lucky, get second-class train seats for incredibly long journeys. He said poor Indian men hardly have time for a prayer in the morning, let alone four hours of yoga every day.

In Vietnam and Thailand, traveling by the cheapest means was usually alright. Something I can't seem to put my finger on is different about India. It could be that it's more crowded and polluted here. It could be that services can be seriously unreliable or that just buying a train ticket can take over an hour whereas in Thailand it takes a few minutes.

After a few days in an average hotel room in Calangute I moved up to a nicer hotel on Morjim beach. When I arrived a bald-headed South African with a tooth missing slid the metal, wall-high gate open. I told him I had a booking and he said he knew nothing about. He invited me in anyway. He gave me a key to a room and proceeded to show me around.

The room's bathroom was about the same size as the living room. There was a stone floor. To the corner of the bathroom was a shower areas with another type of stone floor surrounded by a moat covered in rocks. Attached to a white-cloth ceiling was a square-shaped shower head that created a waterfall effect when in use.

The bedroom had an entire wall made of glass looking out at the sea. The glass wall opened up to a balcony where I could move a fabric-covered sun bed onto. The bed in the room was lit from underneath and the TV was bigger than the one I had in England.

There was a little problem though, they hadn't heard anything from booking.com about my booking. I showed them my confirmation but that wasn't the end of it. The owner of the hotel wanted me to look at the other hotels he owned and decide if I wanted to stay in any of those. I knew of the other ones from my research and they weren't nearly as nice. He sent an Indian porter and a driver to try and get me out of my room. I protested. I didn't want to pay a lot of money if I wasn't going to have the best I could get. I didn't want to be treating like I was stupid nor easily fooled.

The Indian porter spoke down to me like I was a worker of his. I came out of the room, locked the door and went downstairs to find the South African manager. I told him that I had a booking for this hotel, the GPS on my phone confirmed I'm at the right spot and I didn't want to move. The South African said that if I didn't want to move then I didn't have to. I took that as case closed and headed back to my room. As I was walking up the stairs I could hear the Indian and the South African arguing and the Indian saying "HE CAN'T STAY HERE!".

I was in the right but I wasn't sure how much I'd have to do to prove I was. This was also supposed to be a relaxing place but it felt really tense and uninviting right off the bat. Almost every hotel I've stayed in during this trip has made me feel like I was in the driver seat. This place made me feel like I was staying for free and owed them something. I'm an independent person and I hate being told what to do by people I'm paying money to.

I put on some sunscreen and headed down to the beach. The beach was very quiet and only had a hand full of people on it. Of those I could hear speaking, the majority were speaking in Russian. After around 45 minutes of walking and taking photos I stopped at a beach bar for an afternoon snack.

There were three Russian girls sat next to me. I heard them trying to order food in English from the waiter; this made me think that they understood enough English for me to chat with them. I suspected they might be single and I was planning on making a move when three Russian guys turned up. These guys looked like hockey players and taxi drivers. They had their hands on the girls pretty quick. I then thought to myself "How many Russian girls can afford to, can get visas for and do go traveling on their own around the world?". I let it be and sat enjoying the view of the sea.

I thought at some point I'd met someone special traveling around Asia. I guess it's a big ask when I've only stayed in most places a couple of nights. It's not the end of the world though as I'm appreciative of my freedom and complete control over my itinerary. No one and no cost has stopped me from going where I've wanted to go. Also, after seeing so many people struggle to get through each day here in India I'm now very appreciative of ease of life in every single other country I've been to.


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