Sunday, December 27, 2009

In Vagator, Northern Goa, India

Goa is not really India, its Goa, one of these tourist/traveler created beach paradise places. I am in northern Goa which is known as the more touristy/party area, which is why I'm here before New Year, and it is the right place for that. I have met so many heads that come here every year, or have been here for many months, and many of them live very similar life styles to mine. But there is that element of fakeness with all these foreigners that have come here to create their own paradise. All in all, its a pleasant place to be and many people consider this a version of paradise, so I've been able to get to know a good group of people and get into my comfort zone.

On Christmas eve night I met a nice Norwegian guy at the internet cafe that was also traveling alone so we hung out for the evening to celebrate together. We just went to a small hole in the wall bar and drank some. Then we found some street food around midnight that was in front of the church garden square. That was cool becuase there were lots of dressed up Christians going to the midnight mass and the church and garden had tons of lights. After food we just went back to the guest house and hung out a bit before going to bed.

I woke up early on Christmas day because check out was a 9 am, so I packed and got a taxi to Vagator. I paid for the taxi because I really didn't feel like dealing with the public bus that involved a transfer in Mapsa. It only took an hour to get here and I was checked into a pretty nice guest house by 10. The guest house is actually more than I'd want to pay but its new years so the prices are higher and now that I've found some cheaper places I can't be bothered to move, plus they are all full.

After a nap I made my way down to little Vagator beach. It is a very nice small beach with rock outcrops on either side. Up on the hill is 9 bar which used to be the hip spot but now is just an empty bar that plays really loud Goan trance trying to relive the old days. On the beach there are a bunch of women selling stuff that are very pushy and anoying but after a few hours they all knew my face and left me alone. I went into a beach bar called the Boom Shankar that was playing loud mellower music that drowned out the 9 bar. I actually really like that place and have met several people through hanging out in that bar.

On Christmas night I hung out with a nice Irish guy I met at the Boom Shankar and two Indian guys, it was a pleasant evening of good conversation and a couple games of chess. The next day I spent most of the day hanging out at the Boom Shankar. I had been moving for three days straight and needed to relax, plus the Boom Shankar is my kind of place so I could pleasantly spend my day there reading my book and talking to other travelers. I became friends with a guy raised in Eugene but lived in Holland for 20 years and is much more European than American, named Keola (which is a Hawaiian name). Later the Irish guy came back and we relaxed while watching the sun set. I called it an early night and just went to my guest house, had some dinner, read, and went to sleep.

Yesterday I got out and walked around the area a bit trying to get the know the layout of the Vagator/Chapora area. I walked the long way to little Vagator so I could see where some of the clubs people talked about are located. At little Vagator I ran into Keola and he took me over to Chapora because he had told me about it the day before and offered me a ride. Chapora is actually about as far from my guest house as little Vagator so I can walk there easily. Chapora is an amazing little town, it is definitely the shakedown street of this area. There is a juice shop that is packed and a tree outside in the center of town that is always just full of people. Everyone is relaxing, talking, and smoking chillums in such a open and free way. It makes me wonder, because police are everywhere else enforcing the law but not in Chapora and everyone knows the mellow place is Chapora.

After a couple hours drinking juice I headed back to my guest house for lunch and to read my book. I actually read through sunset and then went to the Boom Shankar at the beach but there wasn't anyone I knew, so I headed up the hill to the Chill Out Bar where I ran into a friend of Keola's and I hung out all evening talking to different people. I talked mostly to a guy named Kevin who was a wealth of information and a fun guy to talk to. Today I am going to meet Kevin at the Chill Out later and go to a big festival a bit further south of here for the day. Everyone seemed to know a handful of the DJ's that are going to be at this festival and talked very highly of them so I figure I'll check it out, plus I got a group of friends to go with.

Some thoughts I've had while being here are that I come to the same realizations every time I travel (well basically the same as last year). Like that I like my life in the States and have developed a life that I fully enjoy. I like my good friends better than most of the people I meet, sometimes I'm lucky but not all the time. I'm not traveling out here for all this touristy stuff. I'm here and am going to do my best to enjoy myself but I party at home I don't need to find it on the other side of the world, plus I like my parties better. But for some reason I always feel obligated to see the places everyone goes and talks about just so I know I'm not missing something. I'm here to experience culture and see new and different things. So basically I'm going to do new years, then go to southern goa to see that, and then move on to hopefully more cultural and exciting things.

Insights into Goa are strange. Like I already said it is a place created by foreigners but also each state in India is actually more similar do different countries in the EU than states in the US. The laws are so different and the boarders have real check points (in this way more intense than the EU). So Goans really do consider themselves different than the rest of Indians and treat other Indians as immigrants. As a result most Goans are well off and the majority of the Indians are immigrants. Another thing is because of the parties and all the foreigners the police get tons of money in bribes. This made it so the police station is actually the biggest nicest building in the whole area. Also Indians are fighting to get into the Goan police force so they can get their cut. There is a four year waiting list and they usually are only allowed to be here for about two years until they have to go back to where they came from. That makes it so the police that are here try to get as much as they can while they are here. All this makes it feel very much like a police state (similar to Jamaica), and has made it so I'm not renting a motorbike because I don't have an international license. People say its no problem but you have to bribe the cops a couple hundred ruppies every time you go through a check point. I don't feel like dealing with this so I'm trying my best to walk everywhere or hitch rides with people.

Anyway, that's all for now, I have to get ready to go to this festival and see what the day brings me. Pictures aren't uploading correctly, maybe at the next place. Peace and Love to All!


  1. Happy New Year, Andy! Love you, and love your insightful, thoughtful posts. Mom

  2. Insightfull post Andy; it actually make me appreciate foriegn tourists like you coming to my country...and it dispells the myth I have that most foriegn tousts are loud, ghetto-ish and arrogant...I welcome u in the coming years to india...u should do rajasthan as well next tie exotic and magical place...regards, priyank vashisht. Bombay