India has been one of my most traveled countries before moving to Sri Lanka for higher studies in 1993, and Thiruvananthapuram formerly known as Trivandrum being the most frequented city then. The truth is I have not been to India since 1989 until Bangalore and Goa in September 2013.
It was off-season in the laid-back, popular tourist destination that is Goa, the tiniest state of India, with over one hundred kilometers of tropical beach to meet every holiday makers needs. From the vibrant beach shacks of Palolem in the far South to the free spirit and backpacker heaven of Arambol and Anjuna in the North and with everything from spicy Goan curries to fine dining European cuisine to the thumping trance parties of Baga and Calangute.
One of the first things I noticed in Goa was that young women were ordinary. Pardon me for my modern views for a few seconds, but they were walking around in t-shirts and some even in shorts. Almost in any other parts of India, it would have been completely scandalous. It was just an ordinary Tuesday in Goa like any other day of the week. It made me feel that Goa is certainly the most safest heaven for women in India nation-wide, and had the most liberal thinking about gender equality.
I stayed in North Goa, on a seven kilometer long stretch of sand known as Calangute Beach, with its thousands of leaning coconut trees and over a hundred food outlets, restaurants and beach shack operations scattered in between. It wasn’t friendly friendly, but it had a diverse mix of tourists – solo travelers, couples and families. It wasn’t a wild party destination but it was certainly not a boring, nothing-to-do destination either.
I had my accommodation booked at the Nordest Lemonmint Beach Resort, a three star hotel for 2 nights during the third week of September 2013. It was my first trip to Goa and found the location of the hotel perfect since it was 150 meters or a 5 minute walk to the beach. I got a great insider deal from Agoda for USD 70/- for two nights including breakfast and all taxes. It was a Deluxe Room, the decor was nice and made from wood. The room featured a well-stocked mini-bar, air-condition, mosquito repellent, a cabinet and a locker. The room and the attached bathroom were neat and clean although I found the room a little small and dark to my liking. The room service provided clean linen and bath towels everyday. The citronella oil burning in the rooms not only kept away mosquito’s but gave the space a nice lemon-fresh smell.
My two-day routine was waking up at 8.30am and having buffet breakfast at Zuperb, the hotel’s main restaurant, it served chicken sausages, idli, sambhar, fresh juice, omelettes, fresh fruits, etc. along with tea, coffee, milk and toasts for breakfast.
My lunch in Goa was very fruitful, I used to buy a large watermelon and some bananas, then return to my hotel and eat it all on my balcony outside my room and overlooking the pool. And for dinner, I alternate between two restaurants, one which served very tasty fish thalis for 60 rupees and the other punjabi thalis for 100 rupees. There were lots of food stands hidden in the main parking lot near the beach that served Indian fried rice and noodles for 50 – 70 rupees a plate. During sunset time, I usually enjoy a coffee with other travelers.
I met the owner of the hotel during my short stay, he was very knowledgeable and helpful, especially in recommending sites and places to see to help me make my stay more enjoyable in Goa, he even arranged me a taxi to get to the city to buy an iPhone charger. I still remember singing classic hindi song “Dost Dost Na Raha” along with the taxi driver Mohamed on long taxi rides in Goa. The hotel staff were very prompt and highly responsive to my requests.
That was how I spent my short stay in Goa, I couldn’t ask for anything more from anyone, especially with the price I paid. All I heard from anybody who traveled to or from Goa was that it was a party town and that’s not completely true.