Going to Goa is kind of like stepping out of India and dipping your toe back in. Its the melting point of Indian culture and western freakout. Its the clash of traditional values and new age thinking. The result is nothing like India in general, and nothing like we find back home, its a beautiful chaos of two worlds colliding.
Coming from Varanassi was not only a move from shit-cold to pleasing-warm, but also from slim-to-none amount of westerners to packed streets of annoyingly white walking moneybags (me included).
My destination was Arambol, sometimes referred to as “Arambubble”, for its reputation of sucking people into another zone of reality. You are blessed (or doomed) to stay, and even as i planned on a three week visit, it turned into a three month blessing.
The first that strikes you is the heat, the second is the amount of westerners, the third the amount of Russians. I shit you not, they are probably as many as all the other tourists put together. They are everywhere, all the time. There will be Russian menus and Russian food, Russian keyboards and Russian language spoken, wherever you turn your head. I don’t know what their up to, and its hard to find out, as they mostly don’t speak English, but they are taking over by numbers, and growing as a group. I had a few encounters, some of them really nice. Two times i was asked by Russians to donate money for petrol, which i found kind of odd, but money was handed. Maybe its like handing a cigarette, i don’t know. The other time i was really making friends with this cool guy, but every meeting turned into a game of charades, we simply did not understand each other. Good guy though… good guy.
No matter what you think about them, you will sooner or later ask yourself why the Russian women are so absolutely stunning by looks, and the men so tremendously bad looking. We will never know, god bless them.
Lets leave the subject of Russians…
Arambol is the perfect place to relax, the food is great and the hangouts/chillouts are allover, some of them serve superb coffee. Its an excellent place to do nothing, and the perfect space to do alot. The place boils with creativity. You have your morning coffee surrounded by musicians, performers, artists, teachers, jewelrymakers and party organizers. The walls will be covered with advertisement to get you activated (or to shut off). Yoga is by far the biggest player in the game, just ahead of meditation, self-consciousness and other spiritual practices. Massage, get massaged or learn how to give massage. Dance, bellydance or funkydance. Cook food, eat food. Tantra courses or laughing class. The list goes on.
On top of it all you find the posters for the next big party event. Party on the beach, on the top of the hill, in the jungle, wherever actually (not underwater, but you just wait). I have to admit the party posters tempted me the most, a big part of my stay was dominated by playing at parties, dancing at parties or making parties. Lets for the book include 4 day clownschool, a dancing lesson and some self-conscious mindbogglingly (i wrote “mindbalacing”, but the spelling program corrected me in a way i cant deny) activity at the “Balanced view” center. That was enough for me this time around.
What struck me most though, was not the amount of different activities available, but the fact that its all happening in this small area at the same time.
The stories you will hear from visitors of Arambol will be everything from “I woke up 6am every morning, doing Yoga all day and eating organic vegan food every night” to “I didnt eat, i didnt sleep, and partied until i couldn’t move” And they will both have spent the same period of time, within the same small place.
You will find the most amazing backyards and rooftops, with the most random activities you could ever imagine. You will have a full on party on the beachclub, and the Yoga center just on the backside will ask you to stop the music. You will enjoy some food accompanied by 30 people exercising their vocal chords ten meters away behind some bamboo fence. A cow will turn up and observe a farmer carrying 20 kilos of coal on his head next to a guy walking down the street balacing crystal balls on his head while playing the flute. Walking down the beach one morning allowed me to observe everything from people fighting imaginary monsters (or ninjas, what do i know?), to people practicing Capoeira, Tai-chi and others standing on one leg trying to sound like a horse crying over legs hurting. I didnt really feel like engaging, but I loved it, and at the time i reached the XXL german guy fishing naked in a hat, i wasn’t even surprised.
It strikes you everyday. Whatever you do, just take a peak over that fence to the next place, and prepare to be amazed, they might be opening a gateway to another galaxy there, and you dont want to miss out! Its shanti and full on, at the same time. Two words used a lot in India, but defined in Goa.
There’s a great crew for parties in Goa, and its growing. The area is famous for its Psytrance (or goatrance whatever you prefer), but with a growing movement of techno, which is fantastic. Nonetheless, it seems a lot of the locals seem to think that Psytrace is all we want to hear in the west. They will play it at every beach restaurant you go to, and in some shops. Its insane. You will have a candlelight dinner at the beach with newly caught kingfish, and who knows, maybe a glass of whine, looking at the sunset wearing nothing but shorts and sandals listening to the waves of the ocean. You will think “This is fucking epic” and then you count from ten and down, because in ten seconds you can be sure that they will ruin your whole experience, your meal, and your last amount of love for this type of music, by blasting it in your face, until you either pretend to not hear it, leave, or make a complaint. You complain, you get Bob marley. They will play you Bob marley until you pray for Psytrance. They will repeat that shit until you wish for a world without red green and yellow. My point is: They CRAVE for new music, and if you bring it, the doors are open to be a DJ, or just the selector of the night, its a supernice gift to a place you visit wouldn’t you agree? Bring music if you plan on visiting.
So where are the hippies? Its the number one thing I expected to find there (Except cows, and they are indeed all over).
Id say the Hippies are still around, in sterotypes, partially as older people who’s been around since the 70’s and 80’s wave, but mostly id say theres a new wave of Hippies. A wave of bikers, and salesmen. They work their way during the season of Goa by making Jewelry for sale on the markets and driving on kickass bikes between the parties. A bike or a scooter is a must have, if you want to look around, or go to the parties. In my lifetime i don’t think Iv’e seen so many women on motorbikes, and so many new tattoos popping up every week, they make tatoos like we buy new clothes. Its a mix of mad max steampunk and hardcore faeries. Picture leather clothing, feather hats and cogwheel earrings. In my personal opinion its epic.
Lets add that most 0f them probably does not refer to themselves as Hippies, just like the Hipsters. They WILL though call each other just that, from time to time. Perhaps its like black people: A niggah can call a niggah niggha, but a non-niggha cant call a niggha niggha. Its complicated, lets leave it. I guess im a Hippie on a scooter when it comes down.
The bike to get is an Enfield. You live in Goa, you get an Enfield, end of story. People there are experts, they will discuss the Enfield down to the size of a bult, or the orchestra of sound from the engine. They will remake, pimp up and redefine the bike until its perfect, and then go again.
When i arrived, an Enfield to me was a machinegun, and nothing else, its the same company making the guns and the bike, so it makes sense (the model below is called “bullet”), but i was puzzled when a man i met said to me “well, the only true way of getting around India is getting an Enfield”. For a moment there i thought i was drinking chai with a terrorist.
I want to add that these are the most awesome people Ive met on my trip, some of them got to be lifelong friends, and some of them soon to be. I lived with them, partied with them, talked a lot of shit and a lot of non-shit, got inspired to create and inspired to stay for longer thanks to them. These guys made my trip.
Driving in Goa? Its a mess. If there is any such things as rules on the road, then people spend most of their time on road breaking them. “Thats what the police are for” one might say, but they are not. The so called “Traffic police” of Goa are not interested in your well being, their interest is in your wallet. They will find a reason to get you to cash up. They made me pay stupid amounts for stupid regulations that turned out to not exist, at one point a guy claimed to be a police when he in fact obviously wasn’t. You get used to it, and you learn how to hassle with them, but its another “P” to the list of groups that scammed me in india:
– The people
– The priests
– The police
There are no such things as red lights, instead they put speed bumps that will break your bike, send you flying, or annoy you. Some cars have good suspension and they are unaffected by the bumps, allowing them to go full speed whenever. You get used to keeping your senses on a high, dodge the cats, dogs, cows and tourists running the streets, the tourists are the most lousy drivers around, probably because they are used to rules, signs, red lights and roadmarks. We simply don’t teach common sense in driving schools in Europe…
If you go to Goa, make sure you visit the markets in Anjuna. The wednesday market (daytime) and saturday night market (obviously in nighttime). The stuff for sale are amazing and the nightmarket is HUGE, with two dancefloors, livestage, endless amount of food stalls and bars. Oh, and shops.
Get a house, share it with some friends, cook food together and get involved in the local people around you, they are lovely. Whether you’re the beachtype, the partytype or the spiritual type, or all of them combined, this is your place, get over here, get into it, and bubble yourself Arambol style. Im booking a returnticket to this place, its fucking amazing.
THANK YOU! (And hello to Nepal, where im at right now)