Anjuna & Agonda

Well, the question as to where to go after Mumbai was a tricky one; many people I met headed north east, some north west to Pakistan. However, the rough route I’d chosen was to head south, then north east before swinging back in towards Rajasthan and heading directly north towards the Himalayas; but I didn’t really have a plan as such. Everyone I knew who’d been to India at some point suggested Goa. Now, I knew that Goa was the more tourist friendly part of India but, after several recommendations, I decided I’d at least pass through on my way south. However, once in North Goa, I was told that if I’d made the visit to the North I’d have to visit the South to see the comparison; so what was intended as a week or so in Goa turned out be the best part of two weeks (though in all honesty I don’t really regret it).

Getting from Mumbai to Anjuna entailed a difficult 11hr train journey, 20 minute bus rise and a 5min trio in a taxi (the driver of which got lost). By the time I arrived at my hostel I needed either a good sleep or a good drink and, considering that most of the people from the hostel were sat outside having a few chilled ones, I decided it’d be rude not to join them; this was the start…

During my first 2 nights in Goa I didn’t even sleep in my bed; the first night I slept in someone else’s in another part of town, and the second night I got back at around 4am and crashed on the sofa; ‘welcome to Anjuna’ I thought! But the fun didn’t stop there; after meeting various people in the hostel from across the globe, I became part of a small group of people who stuck together for around a week. There were 3 Australian guys, a guy from London (who coincidentally was in the same hostel as me in Mumbai), a girl from the Netherlands, a girl from Lithuania (though living in Scotland) and, finally, two german guys. Over the next 5/6 days we were all together at one point or another, albeit in smaller groups, and in various stages of being either drunk or high, or both.

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A snap of me over the Mandovi River

North Goa, Anjuna and Vagator especially is the place to be for party animals; consider it India’s answer to Ibiza. During the time I spent there I don’t think I went anywhere without the thumping sound of bass in the background; even in the dead of night there was this persistent rhythm in the background; you won’t find silence here. Now, I’m not a raver; I don’t particularly enjoy that type of music, and I can’t dance or ‘rave’ to save anybody’s life…but over the course of a 6 day bender I learnt how to at least look like I knew what I was doing; this was mainly due to a guy I met from London who was keen on the whole rave scene; without this guy I’d have been truly lost ( though even during ‘raves’ I found myself shuffling to the side of the floor so I could talk to people rather than dance around them). Talking to people seems to be what I do; I love meeting new people, no matter what the situation is (I actually got given a trinket from a very nice woman I was talking to during a rave, and I’ve kept it safe ever since). I kept having to ask what kind of music was playing in each club but, after a several day binge, I still don’t know that the f**k I was listening to. No, you will not find any rock or pop music in Anjuna and, if you’re planning on visiting, be ready for a very long, very hard (but enjoyable) party.

One thing about the party scene is that it means you meet people easier; the catalyst of alcohol is always a good thing mind. Half of the folk I met in Anjuna were half-cut but, whilst slightly inebriated myself, these are some people that I will never forget. At one point 5 of us got back from a party at 3am, decided to buy some petrol, found some palm tree branches and headed to the beach to create a fire. This was honestly one of the best nights of my life; chilling at the beach, the sound of waves crashing as we sat by a warm fire, drinking, smoking, and relaxing. It got to the point that people on their way home from clubs were asking if they could sit with us for a while; replies were typically along the lines of ‘yeah man, why not? The more the merrier’. (By the way: the title of this blog post is not original; it was painted inside the hostel in Anjuna and, as soon as I saw it, I thought ‘that’s my next post!’). Yes, if you’re heading to Anjuna, be prepared to party; if not, you just won’t enjoy it.

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Of course, whenever good things happen, bad things seem to follow to create a balance. We’d headed out to Old Goa on scooters (4 people, 2 scooters, only 2 helmets) and managed to weave in and out of the chaos that is the India highway system. However, old Goa is simply beautiful; the Mandovi river plus the old, Portuguese architecture is just stunning; it was well worth the 50min life risking scooter journey.

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You can spend a good few hours wandering around the old churches and gardens of this place. It’s not too far from Panjim so if you fancy some good food, good drink, and a good atmosphere then head there before making your way back to the party.

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Sunset over the Mandovi River, Old Goa

We got there, saw what we wanted to see, caught the sunset, and had a great time but, on our way to Panjim we took a wrong turn and had to make a swift U-turn in the road. There were no cars coming either way and it wasn’t dangerous, but on our way back to the junction we were stopped by the flashing baton of a traffic cop. ‘Driver’s license please’. The other 2 guys quickly rode off, just managing to get out of the cop’s way (f**kers). We, however, couldn’t go anywhere. After a few moments of sh*tting it (we’d heard that people had been fined 1000’s of rupees) we got our wallets out ready to pay. After paying the ‘tariff’ we set off out (having lost the other two) and headed home, tails between our legs: that was my first official bribe…

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As I said earlier, I was told that if I visited North Goa then I’d also have to visit South Goa. So, my friends and I parted ways; they headed to Hampi (my next stop) and I headed south to the quieter beach in Agonda…what a shock! If you want peace and quiet, then Agonda beach is the place to go; there is nothing to do. In a lot places where you may feel guilty for kicking back and relaxing, but Agonda isn’t one of those places; you wake up, have breakfast, chill on the beach, have dinner (and maybe a beer or two), then head to bed; it is literally the place to go for relaxation. Now, as with raving, I’ve never really done beaches but, after 9 days in Mumbai and 7 days in Anjuna, I needed a bit of downtime.

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The constant calm of Agonda Beach

This was quite a blessing. As with Mumbai, during my stay in Anjuna I’d been that busy that I hadn’t really paid attention to family, friends, or social media (this is a good thing, but I can’t be a travel blogger without writing a travel blog can I?). I met a friend here (in Agonda) and she couldn’t believe how quiet it was; like I said, there is very little to do.

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I couldn’t get all of them to smile at once!

During my stay in I skyped home, caught up with friends (and what’s happening in the UK), ate 3 full meals a day (rare), got sunburnt, and most of all, just relaxed and really caught up with myself (it’s surprising how differently you see things when it’s quiet). I’m very well aware that after Goa I’ll be travelling ‘properly’ rather than spending nearly a week in each place, and I look forward to it. A lot of people back home seem to think that my travelling revolves around golden beaches, drinking, fine food, and chilling out. Well, this may be true in Goa, but I can honestly say that the best, and most interesting, is still to come…