Chilling out, fun times, drunken times and great new friends!
15.11.2010 - 04.01.2011 33 °C
Back to the beaches of Goa…and what a fun 7 weeks we had there! One of the highlights of our time in India!
So after we finished our route in Kerala, we made the decision to slow down a bit in search of rest and relaxation and to also avoid the typhoon that had hit the Bay of Bengal and affected pretty much the whole of the east coast. We made the 18 hour journey back to south Goa via an overnighter to Mangalore in Karnataka and then a few days stop at Gokarna (Kudley beach) and then onwards south Goa for Palolem beach. We had already planned to head back to Goa to meet our friend Dave (who had been traveling the north of India and Nepal) for Christmas and new years, so we figured we’d come back a bit sooner to avoid the typhoon and rest our tired legs!
Being back in Goa was so good, no really it was! As much as the diverse and interesting sights we had experienced in Karnataka and Kerala was fulfilling, we discovered that traveling India was at times very tiring and sometimes frustrating and after two full months on the road we figured it was a good opportunty to chill for a while. So we were glad to be back in a place where we could rest and escape the crazy noise poluted places we had been to. And it was quiet in Goa...apart from the occasional honking of the bread man with his old horn and over-sized bread basket balancing precariously on the back of his bike first thing in the morning! We knew that Goa would revive our spirits and nurture us back to traveling health and maybe along the way we would have a bit of a giggle.
Palolem, had transformed since we had passed through there in October. The beachfront previously had just as few bars/restaurant had since filled up to cover nearly every gap along the palm fringed crescent bay with bamboo style bars and beach huts. It was so very different to the Palolem we has seen before but with that came a buzz to the place and we knew that this would be a great place to celebrate Christmas and new year.
The monsoons in India had dragged on longer than usual and when we arrived there were a few days of thunder storms dampening things in the afternoon. We watched from our balcony of our hotel the last of the storms and the biggest one by far. Dark clouds rolled in, the rain came down, instantly flooding the streets and the wind was blowing hard as we watched the beach empty and everyone running here and there to escape the downpour. The palm trees were swaying left and right, with large branches breaking off and crashing down on bikes, cars and huts. We watched as fork lightening lit up the afternoon skies and saw the chaos of a palm tree uproot and collapse onto one of the beach huts in front of us and the electricity lines literally explode at each pole all along the little beach road, dramatically bringing the lines down onto the roadside. Watching all that from the safety of our balcony, I have never been happier to be staying in a concrete build hotel in all my life!!! But despite the power outage that we inevitably had (not that power cuts were unusual in India!), and the local children skipping around the wires moments later, locals appeared out of nowhere within minutes to start putting the lines back up and power was restored in no time. I don't think I ever saw such efficiency in my whole time in India! That said, I doubt that these were put back in quite the same way that our telephone engineers back home would, but it seemed to work and everyone was happy!
As the sunshine eventually won the battle over rain, beach life in Palolem really started to get into it's groove. Out and about we soon got chatting to people and we met a bunch of guys in the nearby (and very tasty!) authentic Thai restaurant called Yum Yum Tom Tums. Ran by a Goan by the name of Joe and his partner Nok (who comes from Chaing Mai) this little place tucked just behind Rococo’s on the south side of the beach place is Palolem's little gem (Nok’s Pad Thai is a real winner!). For us it was also a welcome change from the Indian curries we had been eating pretty much every day since we’d arrived in India! It soon became a meeting place for many of the long term visitors and somewhere you could always get a great mojito!
It was in Yum Yum Tom Yum’s that we got to know Stuart, Graham, Paul and Jason who also often frequented the place and we’d join the big table at the back and a quick pad thai would turn into an all night affair with plenty of banter too! Most of the guys had been in Goa a while, some for a few weeks and some a few months or as in Jason case, a permanent Goa resident.
Stuart and J had a genius idea one day to organise our own full moon party on the coming Saturday night. Palolem was still pretty chilled out at this point in the season so this sounded like a great idea! Paul’s friend Jackie was also due to be visiting him on that day so we extended the invite to her also. The evening started off well with everyone at Yum Yum’s and hitting the beers with hopeful expectation of a good night!
Everyone was on board for a big night and got the party started nice and early and by 10pm we went in search of some entertainment. We found it in the shape of a launch party for a beach bar by the name of ‘Neptune Point’, a bar that ordinarily would be a chilled out beach bar, but for this one night only was absolutely banging with some uplifting house music and a bar full of people having it large on dance floor! The hands in the air crowds reminded me of a 90's rave with sweat dripping, drinks spilling and tunes banging! It was the most happening thing this beach had seen in weeks and we couldn’t believe our luck and timing and quickly joined in on the party!
It was in here that we met a couple that was on a two week holiday, who were super friendly and as it turned out, super swingers (or so it came to light later on that night...no, not like that...they told us!) They could see that we were all in party mode so struck up conversation with us to see what we were celebrating. A strange but friendly couple with pretty intense and alternative ideas about life...it made for some interesting conversations to say the least...the weirdest one being the 'eye gazing' topic of conversation! (You had to be there!) Anyway, they stuck with us for the rest of the evening and we ended up in the infamous 24 hour bar on the beach (Silver Star), keen to keep the party going. I recall that at some point in the early hours the girl (Claire) declared that she had the urge to cartwheel along the beach saying how uplifting it was (that doesn’t happen every day, does it!) encouraging the rest of us to join in! OK so the guys didn’t seem so keen but in the middle of that heavy session, blurry eyed and devoid of better judgment it seemed like a good idea to me and Jackie so in the dead of the night under the light of the full moon on the beach in front of a late night bar you could see three women whooping and cheering away as they happily cartwheeled down the beach in unison. I can’t imagine how that would have looked to the bar full of people, I am just grateful that no-one thought to grab their camera! A bizarre but fun night for all and a great send off to the Stuart, Paul, Jackie and Graham who were due to leave India in the coming week or so.
Things were chilled for a while and we hired out motor bike for a giggle (J wanted a big cruiser as the sought after Enfield Bullet rode like a tractor so we choose an Avenger) so you could often see me and J zooming about here and there, nipping up to the chilled out Patnam and Galgibaga beaches. We still hung out in Yum Yums and had a few good nights there; in particular the night when Marcus and Joe convinced me and J to get on the sesh. Before long, it all went a bit woo and a bit wah, Joe making shapes to the tunes in his head and Marcus falling of his chair and breaking it!
A hilarious night which ended with me and J feeling pretty spangly watching the moon set (we'd watched many sun sets but this was our first moon set!).
The following week we met Scott and Lorraine (both from Birmingham!) who was staying in the room next to us. It wasn’t long before we we’re hanging out and sharing stories about travelling and Birmingham. Like most of the brummies’ we’ve met, Scott was top banana. On the level, well-travelled and a good laugh. Most of the time we were chilling on the beach, sipping cold beers, chucking the frisbee around and mucking about in the sea (human ring throwing with a giant inflatable ring was a good one!).
The finale of our time together ended in a silent disco called Silent Noise (where you have wireless headphones to hear the DJ’s playing – a clever way around the 10pm amplified music curfew) at Neptunes Point, (in between Palolem and Patnam beaches). These beach parties I’m sure about ten years ago would have been more of a hippy thing and less orgainised but this was the silent noise launch night for the season (a big event!) and it had to be done. We convinced Scottie and Loraine to come even though it was their last night and they were heading to the airport at the crack of dawn. It was an absolutely banging night and pretty much everyone in Palolem was there making shapes and having a top time! The Stanton Warriors were playing a DJ set and were on top form as well as Scottie who managed to spend most the night raving bare chest sweating like a nutter!
A tip top night which ended about 6am with tired legs and full on crash and burn. We said our goodbyes on the night and we woke to a note from Scottie under the door which had some lovely farewell words and typical Scottie good humor! Hopefully a friend for life that guy and someone we’ll definitely link up with often. Happy Days!
So with still a month to go before we would have to move on, we chilled out, spending our afternoons watching the sun set over at Patnam beach and Palolem beach, amusing ourselves with the increasing numbers of hawkers who would comb the beach looking for someone to buy their cheap jewlery, though we never grew tired of hearing the fruit seller on his slow but steady approach as he sang his happy song "Piiiiiinaaaaaaapple...cocooooooonut...papaaaaaaaaaya...waaaaaatermelooooon"!
We eagerly awaited the arrival of our friend Dave who was at the time traveling around Nepal and north India. He soon made it to Goa and Dave’s first day there consisted of us getting down to the business of sharing a beer and exchanging our traveling stories. We hadn’t seen Dave in over a year since he had left the UK to travel so it was really nice to him and to compare our experiences of India. So with Dave’s arrival the build up to Christmas could officially begin and with that we found ourselves frequenting our usual haunts such as ‘The Nest’ (by far the best bar staff and best fillet steak in Goa!), Yum Yum's, Papillion (great Indian food) and Rococo’s (where we could normally find Jason and his sleepy giant bull mastiff hanging out).
Almost overnight we met a whole new group of people, including the lovely Merete (JB) and Camilla (frisky) from Denmark; as well as the guys...Pete (coco Pete), Sean (soups/sean the sheep) and their mate Tony (who had had such a dry sense of humour!)…all of which were from Birmingham! What a great group of people! We met JB and Frisky on the beach when Dave looking for a frisbee partner approached Camilla (Frisky got her nickname when she misheard me call her the ‘frisky girl’ instead of the frisbee girl and the name stuck from there!) We met Coco Pete through Nok (I think we met at the Alpha bar during one of their headphone parties when J was twisted and up for a late one and they walked me part of the way home...what gentlemen!). We had a laugh that night and though we discovered that we supported opposing football teams (Up the Villa!!!) or as Pete would say “right up em!” we formed a friendship from there!
Along with these great people, good old Bill (barnacle Bill!) from Iceland, another Nest regular who was never far away and always beaming from ear to ear with his famous happy smile as well as the musical guys who brought us many a good night of sing-alongs…Christabelle, Sandy and of course not forgetting Colin.
Every night was a cause for celebration, the drunken jenga games, the hilarious song Pete would sing “no-one knows what it’s like….to be a baaaaad man, to be a saaaaaaad man….behind blue eyes”, Sean the soups amazing ability to dance in the early hours when the power of speech had gone and everyone was fading. Frisky’s unique facial expressions that expressed more than words ever could and JB’s fantastic and unforgettable rendition of the Jungle Book songs in Danish (hence the nickname JB!) were their trademarks as was J and Dave’s fascination with other peoples food. J coming in to grab the first bite of everyone’s food and Dave there to clean up any left overs (those hollow legs of his never seemingly got full!) Never a quiet moment and loads of funny memories!
In between Christmas and New Years, a few of us decided to head into Margao for the day. Me, J, Sean, JB and Frisky jumped on the local bus and a normally dull journey turned into a giggle with lots of chat and banter and with the occasional famous Frisky expressions! With Indian music blaring out into the hot and stuffy bus and the bumpy roads making us hang on tight, it made for a fun journey (though we all left with sticky sweat patches from the humid bus ride…not a good look!) With the task of shopping done (though that was mainly me getting my netbook) we decided to take a break at the famous Longuinis restaurant in the town centre for some food and drinks.
We spent a fair amount of time there, toasting with peach schnapps and beers and sharing stories about ourselves. It was nearly dusk and so we negotiated our taxi ride back into Palolem. The journey home was hilarious! With not enough seats in the taxi, we put J in the boot area and with his head popped up over the back seats we were ready to go! Already a little bit tipsy, we asked our taxi man to stop off at the local wine store for fresh beers for the 45 minute journey back which meant our little party mood could continue. In search of some entertainment we asked the taxi man to put on some his radio. He didn’t have a working radio so we instead we opted to sing some songs to pass the time. This was where we first heard JB’s rendition of the Jungle Book songs as well as her and Camilla’s joint versions of the classic songs! At the end of the journey, we all fell out of the taxi (J falling out of the boot!) laughing about the great day and funny journey home!
The run up to Christmas was great! Christmas Eve starting off with a great traditional roast dinner at Cheeky Chapatis followed by a full on beach party at 'Cosy Nook' with seriously great old skool tunes kicking out and everyone up dancing like no tomorrow! Everyone was on great form and was a fabulous way to start Christmas!
And Christmas day itself started off in full swing with everyone donning their Santa hats and us all eating our Christmas dinner on the beach, sipping beers, champagne and the odd tipple of Baileys Irish cream (it wouldnt be Christmas without that now would it?!)
I think one of the best memories from these few great weeks in Goa and the one that will last the longest for me is the evening of New Year’s Eve, when we all partied, danced, drank and sang until well into New Year’s Day. It was a fair old session...in fact it would be fair to say it got more than a little messy! We started off as per usual at The Nest with Mohan, Raj (the Raginator!) and the guys buzzing about super-efficient as always, making sure we all had drinks and always with a smile on their faces. With the evening underway, we found out that our friends Christabelle and Sandy were playing at the open mic night along the beach so we all headed up there to enjoy the music. A great way to start the night!
We were all starting to feel a little bit merry by then (some more than others, hey J!) and yet the night was young! So blurry eyed and full of energy it was back to the Nest once again in preparation for the midnight countdown and fireworks! Just as the midnight countdown came around Pete came out of no-where with a massive box of fireworks hoisted on his shoulder shouting out “COME ON!!!!!”
We lit the fireworks and as they ascended up they joined the hundreds of other that filled the skies all along the beach and we hugged and cheered the New Year in! With midnight under our belts we all stumbled over to the Alpha bar where they had an open-air DJ playing tunes until 4am. We took to the dance floor (and the stage!) and shook our funky asses like James Brown himself! You might think that this was the end of the night….oh no…as Pete with his famous phrases would say “one more; and we will continue!” we were on our way back to the Nest again to keep the party going! It must have been way past 4am and the Nest was still in party mode so we all piled in to the chill out area and Christabelle got on her guitar to sing us our favourite songs as we watched the dawn bring us the first glimpses of sunlight of 2011.
A classic memory from the early hours of that morning was of Tony and J talking to a young Indian guy who woke for breakfast and got talking to the guys. This guy was on holiday with his friends and told J and Tony about his engagement to a young Indian girl. Baring in mind that we were still on the beer and pretty ruined by this point, Tony and J with completely straight faces and dead pan voices started to tell this poor guy that his life was over if he was to marry. That it was ''suicide'' in fact. "Don't do it mate" "Seriously..." He wasn’t sure if they were being serious or not but 15 minutes later the boys nearly had the poor guy convinced that getting married was a disastrous idea! I turned round to see Sean in fits laughing at the antics of Tony and J! I think he worked it out that his leg was being pulled but it was so funny to watch! At was at around this time that Colin (the other one, slightly nutty one) who as the early morning progressed was starting to act a little weird, and very wired; decided to jump up to grab the bamboo struts which supported the palm roof of the bar. Calling him down in fear of him hurting himself, he ignored us and then monkey barred his way up the A-frame and back down again to the other side! A very odd bloke if you ask me and for sure a surreal moment!
By the morning some slipped off to get some well-earned sleep while the rest still in the chill out area got into the ‘zone’ of Jimmy Hendrix and Led Zeplin, each of us nodding our heads through hazy bloodshot eyes in approval as ‘A whole lotta love’ was building and coming to its pinnacle (met with the unexpected blast of energy from Soupie Sean who got right into gear to shake it right there and then!). Proper legend…and a lasting snapshot memory that I’ll always have! Not that this would be the last burst of energy from the dancing Sean…oh no! Before long, sometime maybe around 12 noon (by which time the rest of us were pretty comatosed and little able to talk let alone move) the bar next door blasted out some crazy banging tunes to which Sean leapt up and really started to give it some welly! That was a classic Sean moment and one that stays with me as a classic NYE memory!
The Nest, which had firmly become our favourite hangout, had provided us with so many memories and laughs. With the adventures of the crazy people like annoying Clive, Crazy Dutch Pete (pictured below)
...not to mention Wendy and Scottish Jackie; all of these characters and the funny things that happened there gave us the inspiration to rename The Nest as ‘The Cookoo’s Nest’ but the people who really stand out were the great people we spent time there with and who became our friends; and of course the amazing staff at The Nest who were always a good laugh and were always so friendly and accommodating.
Our 7 weeks in Goa came to an end on 4th Jan (As Pete would say "My name's Goff and I'm off!") when me, J and Dave woke early to an emotional goodbye with the gang (even Pete woke up early for that one!) and headed to the train station to start our 2000 mile train ride to Delhi. It was so sad to say goodbye to everyone; such great memories and great friendships forged during our time there, but promises of remaining in touch firmly made before we departed.