Arambol / Anjuna / Morjim / Mandrem
So, as I mentioned in the previous post, we changed our plans suddenly (originally intending to work our way back up North from Varkala) to meet our friends, Luke and Winnie in Goa. This new plan is to meet them in Goa, go back down south, and shoot back up north again to Mumbai, Rajasthan, etc.
So we left Varkala the morning after the evening we decided, so that we could party with them on Brendan’s birthday (the morning we arrived). From Varkala, at 7am, we purchased 2 unreserved tickets to Kochi (Cochin), which meant that for the next 4 hours, we were up and down, moving around various seats as people got on and off the train, finding us sat in their reserved seats. .
Note to self: always reserve tickets.
From Kochi, we then prepared ourselves for another 24 hour train journey – though thankfully, it wasn’t like our last 24 hour one! When we arrived in Goa at 4am, we had to get a 45-minute rickshaw ride to Arambol (700 Rupees annoyingly, but sadly we had no other option at this time). We arrived at around 5am and Luke and Winnie came and met us outside a bar (which we were surprised to see was still open!). We followed them across the beach – torch in hand – and arrived at the accommodation they had already booked for us! (Laughing budda – 300Rs/night). The room was a basic beach hut with bathroom. Totally fine!
Later in the morning after a few hours sleep, Luke and Winnie came to Laughing Buddha for breakfast, and we saw that they had been mauled by mosquitos in their 200Rs hut nearby. We also got to see the beach properly this time, which was nice! Big beach! But coming from Varkala which was absolute paradise, this one wasn’t too much to shout about in comparison. We basically remained at the café the entire day, recovering from our journey – eating, skyping, checking emails, updating blogs, … it’s amazing what a few days without internet can do! We did venture out every now and then for a swim though. We also met Travers who we knew as a tour guide in Hanoi.
Later, we drank whisky at Luke & Winnie’s new accommodation, overlooking the beach on their communal balcony, and we watched the sunset, before heading over to ‘Hilltop’ bar (in Anjuna). We caught a taxi, which cost 1000Rupees between 5 of us, to find that Hilltop had actually closed – At 10PM! We were ready to take another taxi to ‘Curlies’, until a drunken argument between our friends erupted, forcing them to return home, and a disappointed me and Brendan (who were annoyed having changed our travel plans and spent 24 hours on a train, on Brendan’s birthday, to meet them) stayed out and spent 600Rs on the taxi to Curlies (having absolutely no idea where we were). When we arrived to find that this place was nothing more than a beach bar with nothing spectacular going on, and we could have found the same thing in Arambol, we ordered a couple of beers, a curry, and left, spending 800Rs on a taxi back!!! Needless to say, Brendan didn’t have an exceptional birthday, and sadly, as a result of friends’ arguments, we spent more on taxis than we did on drinks!
We spent a total of four nights in Arambol, enjoying sun-sea-sand, eating, exploring, and watching Russians take porno-style photos against every rock and wave. One day we walked all the way down the right side of the beach, and came to a beautifully secluded freshwater lake on the beach. It was huge, surrounded by rocks and trees and wildlife. It was a lovely little place to go for a swim, and it was also a place you could enjoy a natural mud bath: you could cover yourself in clay, allow it to dry, then swim in the lake to cleanse and exfoliate.
One thing we did not do in Arambol, was party. The bars were dead, barely open after 10.30pm, though we expected this anyway, being nearly the end of the season. A bar down at the bottom of the beach remained open until late, playing loud reggae music with a collection of hippies swaying on the dance floor like zombies.
When we decided to move over to Anjuna, Winnie, Travers and I went and had some cold drinks while Luke and Brendan went walking to find us some accommodation. They arrived an hour later having looked in nearly all of them, and they’d found one nearby for 400Rs/night, though I forget its name. It was a white building with red doors, populated with cows who graced us with their presence every morning, and run by a lovely woman who always greeted us with a smile. Laundry cost us 10Rs per item, or 5Rs per small item (underwear).
Nearby, there were loads of your typical beach shops, plenty of cafes with WIFI, and the beach offered plenty of free sunbeds, though you are encouraged to purchase something from the nearby restaurants.
Again, we stayed here for 4 nights. A couple of evenings we enjoyed Royal Stag or Old Monk before making our way to Curlies or Hilltop (much closer to us this time, and we made it before closing time!).
One night me and Brendan went for food while Winnie and Luke went for a dance at Hilltop. Just as we were paying, we saw Winnie walk by on her own. She was tired and heading home, so we walked over to meet Luke. When we saw him he was on a totally different planet I don’t think he even recognized us! He introduced us to some girls from Sheffield, who told us about a little town they were going to after Hilltop to carry on the party. Although Luke went home early, Brendan and I were pretty interested, and took a taxi there. I am so annoyed I have forgotten the name of the town (it begins with the letter C), because it was SO busy, spilling with people drinking everywhere, and all bars open. A man in a newsagent even made me a gin and tonic in a plastic cup in the back of his shop! We were pretty gutted that we had only just found this town, as everywhere else we had been to in Goa was dead due to it being low season! On the way home, we started to walk in the direction we assumed was home, and stumbled upon a really busy random bar in the middle of nowhere on the side of the road! We stayed for one drink only, and attempted to walk home before getting on the back of a generous man’s motorbike who took us to our doorstep.
The following day, the boys rented bikes and we ended up going on a bike ride, finding ourselves at Morjim beach, and then Mandrem Beach. These two beaches were very similar: very long stretches of sand and sea, the waves were calmer here and I think the water maybe felt a little softer. Morjim beach had a number of restaurant shacks along it, which were pretty pricey, but Mandrem Beach seemed pretty chilled out – there were many men practicing their yoga here! And at sunset, we all frolicked in the sea before heading back to the guesthouse for a shower and change of clothes.