After spending 4 nights in South Goa, I was ready to move on to the northern side – Anjuna. Now, I know some of you who have been to Goa – you might be thinking, oh why, Anjuna? In fact, I remember a German traveller who was staying at the same guesthouse as I in Benaulim, was puzzled too when I mentioned about my moving on to Anjuna. Well, I was asking myself the same thing too when I got there.
South Goa was paradise – beautiful and clean beach, less people, transport and food were cheaper. And I assumed Anjuna would be similar but boy, was I wrong.
Anjuna was once THE place in Goa for fashionably-attired young hippies, Israeli party hell-raisers and legendary full-moon trance parties. However, the government clamped down hard on these parties due to a number drug-related deaths and high levels of corruption, therefore such parties are reduced to smaller numbers these days.
Guide books and the internet publish such information about Anjuna which is fine by me because I’m not into hippie fashion and full-moon trance parties. I’m pretty much a chilled-relax-kind-of-party-gal. However, what I didn’t expect about Anjuna beach was this: Dirty with cow poo and rubbish, and middle-aged and graying hippies stuck in twilight zone (or maybe they are still zoned out from hashish).
I felt unsettled seeing the rubbish at the beach. I was shocked actually especially after coming from South Goa where the beaches are hundred times cleaner. Apart from that, there were fleets of tour buses and cars from neighbouring states. A cacophony of honking and hollering, people came in droves to the beach. I had forgotten it was the Dussehra festival – a long holiday in India, therefore locals took the opportunity to travel.
You know that all-too-familiar stress feeling when you return to the city after a R&R spa weekend or a retreat in the countryside? Yup, that was exactly how I felt at Anjuna beach. After 15 minutes of observing the place and taking some pictures, I caught the first rickshaw back to my B&B.
So the beach was disappointing but thankfully, the B&B was a wonderful “home” for the following 3 nights. I stayed at Granpa’s Inn, formerly known as Hotel Bougainvillea. I met the office manager, Bettina whose husband’s family owned the property and converted this 200-year old Goan house into a B&B. The daily operations of this lovely yellow and white property is also overseen by Vish, a 70 year old grandpa who happens to live there. Hmm, maybe that’s why they call the B&B Granpa’s Inn?? 🙂
True to the Indo-Portuguese style, the house is brightly coloured, and have columned verandahs facing the street. As I entered the house, I noticed that it was filled with antiques. The guest rooms were at a courtyard which was at the end of the corridor flanked by an airwell of potted plants and cute, yellow window frames. Although my room was a little dark, it was quite clean and comfortable. Further on from the courtyard is the swimming pool area and more guest rooms which are the suites.
My initial plan was to have dinner by the beach but after seeing the conditions at the beach, and then later it rained heavily, I was in no mood. Instead I decided to eat at the B&B. I wanted to chill out, have a beer and catch up on my emails, messages, etc.
Vish was very surprised to see me at dinner, and so he invited me to join him for a meal as well. After dinner, we drank a few pegs of whisky on the verandah, and that was when Grandpa Vish shared his stories of yesteryear: He was born in Bangalore, went to boarding school in Calcutta, travelled to many exotic places in North-East India, his thoughts on Indian punctuality (haha) and the future of India, Prime Minister Modi and the Modi Magic that was going on in the country and abroad. We had such an interesting evening and there I was, initially thinking that my start to the Anjuna holiday was already ruined. But it turned out to be a good start after all, after a couple, not a few actually, pegs of whisky! At one point, I thought I was slurring a bit and so I called it a night and went to bed 🙂
Now I wouldn’t say that Anjuna is not a place to visit. Perhaps one might have to lower expectations in order to enjoy this place a little bit more. Anjuna is also known for their Wednesday flea market held on a coconut plantation. Twenty years ago, the flea market was a place for backpackers to get together, smoke hash, and buy or sell clothes and costume jewellery. Fast forward to the twenty-first century, the flea market is now more mainstream and more organized. I did check out the flea market but once again, had too high of expectations, so I was disappointed. I expected the market to be big but it wasn’t and the items sold were no different from flea markets seen in other parts of India.
Regardless, my 3-day stay in Anjuna was not a washout. I had a good time exploring Old Goa in Panjim, the capital state of Goa. Also, the time not spent at the beach was used instead to catch up on my readings. I had finished reading 2 books written by Chetan Bhagat who is an Indian author of contemporary and bestselling novels, a columnist and screen writer. Just give me a book and chai – I’m good 🙂