The sleeper class train ride up to Goa from Kochi, India was a long and “interesting” 15 hours.
I felt gross by the end of it. The Indian locals stuck their bare feet up in every nook and cranny on the ride, as if they were in the comforts of their own home. I am NOT a foot person. The toilets were the ones you had to squat and aim, like I expected, but the first toilet I found was just a bit ridiculous. I don’t know about you, but the sight of another person’s poop in the toilet I’m about to use can ruin a day.
The train ran overnight and there was no way of telling of which stop I had to get off unless I looked out the window. Or in this case, unless I hung myself out the door so I could see the station signs because my sleeper bunk had no window. Thank goodness I downloaded an offline map of the area on my phone, which helped me navigate where I should get off. Finally, I arrived in Goa, the party capital of India.
It was early in the morning. I took a cab about an hour north to the hostel I reserved called the Red Door Hostel. There were a bunch to choose from, but this one caught my eye because of its common area, its vicinity to Anjuna Beach, and the relatively modest price. I strolled up to the hostel, to a silence broken by a couple of dogs who barked at me from within the building. I sat outside and waited. It was still too early to check-in and everyone was probably still asleep.
A backpacker who was working at the hostel came out and introduced himself and gave me the low down on the place and from the sounds of it, it seemed real chill and the place to be.
Soon I was able to check in and was escorted to an 8-bed dorm equipped with an A/C. There I might fellow backpackers from different countries like England, Sudan, and Switzerland. Even a couple of locals from the north and south of India. All of them in the middle of their own trip and in Goa for a few days as well. As soon as I showered from the filth I endured on the train, Pamela (England) invited me to go along with her and a few other backpackers to Anjuna Beach, just a few minutes walk away.
Ah, yes. This beach had an abundance of chairs and umbrellas. I can never truly enjoy myself unless I was laying under one of these bad boys. I ended up taking a nap while being served mojitos from the bar behind us. Much, much different from the beach I experienced in Kochi.
The vibe in Goa was definitely not what I expected from India. Yes at times the traffic was a bit crazy but nowhere near as hectic as I presumed. As a matter of fact, it was relaxing. Beachgoers everywhere came here from across the world to Goa to drink, beach, hangout, and party. I haven’t partied properly since Fiji so I was game. The neat thing about my hostel at the Red Door, there was a unity among the backpackers who stayed there. If there was a party, we all partied together. We went to the largest night club in all of India called Cubana. Ladies enter and drink for free. Dudes have to pay 1,000 rupees ( approximately $15 USD) to enter which always sucks, but here’s the kicker…everyone drinks anything they want absolutely free. OPEN BAR!
We took advantage and stayed out until 4am in the morning. I’m not a fan of clubbing anymore, but when there’s an open bar and I’m in a different country, then let’s go!
The money I spent in Goa was mainly on food and let me tell you the food was AMAZING. Every morning when I woke up, I walked about two minutes down the road to get freshly made samosas. They costed 15 rupees (23 cents) each. I always got about four to six of them. I became a regular and the hostel dwellers would always laugh and tell me, “You always have samosas in your hand.” That’s because they’re so damn good and cheap!
Not just the samosas though. Sometimes a few of us would splurge and when I say splurge, usually spend no more than $6 USD on some local delicacies. Thanks to Ajay, a local who stayed at the hostel, and his recommendations, I had some of the best Indian food I’ve had in my life!
We’d all order a bunch of stuff and share everything for the most part. I never went hungry in Goa.
Wow Goa, you’re too kind to me. Is this even India? A few of us would always venture out into other areas of the regions including ginormous local markets…
and famous art festivals where we got lost in a few times…
so instead of trying to find our way, we found sketchy bars with cheap beers.
Goa is mainly known for its vast beaches that go on for miles. We spent a lot of the time beaching it up as well. There was always a bar nearby with a server that would come and happily serve us drinks.
Strawberry milkshake? Yes, please. An ice-cold Kingfisher Beer? Give it to me.
Even at the hostel, during the day it was cool and okay to just chill, drink, eat, and mingle with everyone else.
I ended up extending my intended two-day stay to a week!
Then it dawned on me…
Daniel, what are you doing???
This is not what you came to India for!
I was getting too comfortable. I came to India to experience culture and to challenge myself by being as uncomfortable as possible. This was as comfortable as I’ve been on this trip so far. I enjoyed being in the presence of other travelers and everything about Goa but I had to leave.
I was tempted to stay though. Christmas and New Years were just around the corner and Goa is the place to be for both. Some of the other backpackers even tried to convince me to stay in Goa and that anywhere else would be shit.
I guess the “shit” is where I wanted to be, otherwise this challenge would be a complete fail. And so, I booked another train out of Goa for the following day, north to Mumbai, one of the largest and most populated cities in India.
Before I left, I spent some time exploring a bit more of the area and having one last Goa feast with another backpacker before I departed.
I was happy with my decision to get the heck out, as much as I enjoyed it. This wasn’t a proper representation of India. I booked a 12 hour train to Mumbai, not knowing what I would do there and who I would meet…
and that is exactly why I came to India in the first place.