We leapt on sleeper trains for nearly twenty four hours, overnight buses with double beds and shady curtains and into the back of retro rickshaws; all to explore the beaches on the west of India. The love of adventure keeps the soul young and becoming engulfed by the diversity in this country, is what sets the soul free. It was hard at times, local transport can test your patients and the exposure to poverty can scar your heart, but as always, it’s worth it.
Gokarna’s Kudle Beach was hip with yoga classes in bamboo huts on the beach; the cows wandered along the sand aimlessly, perhaps looking a little more stoned than the old timers with long dreads and no horns. Gokarna itself is a temple town and when walking through, the wooden Temple Chariot armed with bright flags is a sight that adds to the regions authenticity. A drove of cattle run through the narrow streets leaving just a brief time to move, but it makes us laugh. It’s an easy place to smile with yoga participation, mindfulness and alternative medicines at its core.
Arriving at the state of Goa at four in the morning, we navigate our way to Palolem beach (walking is tedious at that hour). Using our backpacks as pillows we crash out to await sunrise, the mosquitoes are hungry, but then they always are at that time of the day. Palolem beach is a beautiful crescent, with elevated accommodation shacks and hammocks overlooking the sea. We stay at Bay Leaf and our host Ravi is great, taking us to secluded spots to watch sunset.
Cold beer and sunset with a few other wandering souls, does it get much better than that? Maybe it does, it’s always nice to indulge in one more beer followed by a Fish Thali and good conversation. Wanderers are good conversationalists revealing where they’ve been, what they’ve seen and what they’ve learnt (plus obviously Brexit and Trump).
The bus journey is long on time but short on distance up to Arambol in North Goa, but we’re used to that by now and samosas are ideal time fillers, as well as litres of water in the blistering sun.
Arambol has a different vibe, it’s more developed, the beach is more congested with people and bars alike. It has become a main tourist destination on the Goa circuit and has therefore probably lost some of its original laidback charm. I guess Gokarna now, is what Arambol was, just a few decades ago. But then who am I to decide?
There’s a resort down the road called Mandrem, you can actually reach it by walking along the beach. It’s peaceful with weaved bamboo sun shelters that offer another faultless sunset spot. Following sunset, stroll along the beach and you’ll discover the drumming circle; bohemians beat the drums, hippies sell hand-made jewellery and the ocean coyly waves.