Wednesday 13 Dec
Arambol in Goa, India
This was it. Our final destination. We had both been feeling the strain of 14 months on the road covering over half of the world mainly by land (I swear I'll not get on another overnight bus as long as I live) and had put aside 3 weeks to spend lying about on a beach doing absolutely nothing and going absolutely nowhere before hauling ourselves back to reality. After a similar stage of deliberation that one goes through when choosing a beach in Thailand we opted for Arambol, the most northerly in Goa state and supposedly one of the least developed areas.
Goa became famous as a destination on the hippy trail from England to Australia in the late 50s. Back then it was largely uninhabited apart from a few fishermen. As word spread, locals noticed more and more white people arriving and running around naked and inebriated on the beaches, which they did not approve of at all. However, they were bringing in a lot of money to the area so bars and beach huts started cropping up. By the early-nineties the wide availability of drugs meant it had developed into a major destination for ravers and it became famous for its 3 day-long trance-techno parties. Paul Oakenfold is one of many super famous DJs who rose to fame on the back of the scene. The party has definitely peaked in Goa as the Indian government has recently started cracking down hard, issuing a strictly-enforced 10pm curfew on any live music. Most recently, charter flights from the UK have started, flying in fat, tattooed, Cockneys and Scousers for the same price as a couple of weeks on the Costa del Sol. We went to the main resort of Anjuna for a day trip and can safely say that we will not be going back. Its a real shame that the Goan tourist board has chosen the most unpleasant tourists in the world to replace the drugged up - but generally well behaved and far less fat and ugly - kids.
Fortunately Arambol was too far North for any of the package tourists to bother with. Cheap bamboo huts lined the beach along with far more bars and restaurants than were necessary. Cows and dogs strolled along the shoreline, fishermen leaned against their boats and stereotypical India travellers in floaty trousers sat doing yoga or swung around their fire juggling stick things in anticipation of impressing everyone in the evening when they actually light them. Unfortunately the place was a mess. The paths up to the road behind were piled with litter which the cows grazed on, polluted streams flowed into the sea and whilst no one was aloud to build solid structures within 100m of the shore, it appears they were aloud to sink septic tanks into the sand, so on full moon the tide came up so high they overflowed leaving a film of human waste over the beach. It wasn't all bad (frankly, if you've been in India for more than a week you're quite used to it). Everyday we saw dolphin jumping from our privileged position at the top of the sand and the seafood was very cheap and undoubtedly the best I have ever tasted (no doubt something to do with all the...).
We found a nice place to stay and that was pretty much it for 3 weeks. Sara did a yoga course in the mornings whilst I plugged my iPod into the bar's speakers and listened to music or read. We met a couple of really nice people who shared our love of Gin and Tonic and spent the late afternoons perfecting said beverage whilst watching the sun go down.
Should we have spent the time pondering on what we had done in the last year? Are you expecting us to conclude with some revelations or wise thoughts? Alright then, how about this: there's nothing new under the sun, but there are lots of old things we don't yet know and I'd say they're definitely worth checking out.
Rob and Sara