Tag Archives: Goa

Goan Places

21 Apr

Asvem Beach, Goa, India

Despite the fact that our visit to India was originally supposed to be a short two and a half weeks, I insisted that a stop in the state of Goa be a part of our journey. Unlike the India we are accustomed to seeing and hearing about — dirty, polluted, noisy, congested, overpopulated, poor — Goa is characterized by lush green landscapes, fine sandy beaches and a laid-back lifestyle. This was the perfect place to come in the middle of our trip — a calming respite from the multiple cities we were visiting.

We took a short flight from Pune (just outside of Mumbai) to Goa, and upon our arrival at the tiny little airport, we were greeted by our driver who took us to our hotel. The 50-minute ride was a feast for the eyes — there was so much to take in, from the little groups of Catholic school-children walking to and from school, the lush flora, the cows wandering wherever they pleased (sometimes even stopping traffic), the advertising billboards lining the highway, the storefronts which varied from very modern down to the shack-like stands. The Portuguese presence is still very strong here, and is evidenced very much in the architecture. They landed early in the 16th Century as merchants, and conquered it soon after. This Portuguese India existed for nearly 450 years, until it was annexed by India in 1961. Most striking is the number of Catholic churches present, with the occasional Hindu temples thrown into the mix. Immediately, you get that the vibe that Goa is laid-back, which is almost the exact opposite of where we had just been, Delhi and Pune.

Our home for three glorious nights.

Our front yard

Goa is pretty renowned for its coco-hut culture. Wanting to have the genuine Goan experience, I was stubbornly insistent on finding one of these huts to stay in. The BF, on the other hand, wisely discouraged this, knowing that a girl like me would hardly be able to endure the sub-standard conditions that most of these huts offer. He had even gone as far as to seek some high-end resorts for us too book. Luckily though, I happened to stumble upon the fabulous Yab Yum Resort online, situated in Asvem Beach, which appeared to be somewhere between a basic beach hut and a well-appointed resort. The best of both worlds — how could we go wrong?

Our huts interior, looking more like Tatooine than like Goa

The resorts lobby

We had chosen our resort also for the location. Ashvem Beach is in the Northern part of Goa, and by many accounts which proved to be true, this part of the state is much quieter and very tranquil, away from the hippie and party culture which has characterized Goa for so long. This is exactly what we were looking for, as we had long suspected that this would be our respite from all the anticipated chaos from the rest of our holiday in India, especially with the wedding. Our area of the beach usually had no more than 50 people on it at a time for about a mile stretch. One day, we decided to venture out and check out the flea market in Arambol. During our hour walk to the North for this, the beaches became increasingly crowded with locals, families, men playing cricket in the sand, tourists, international hippies and yogis. And not to mention all of the cows and stray dogs, both of which are ordinary sights in the rest of India.

A frequent sight in all of India

Hippy culture still strong in Goa

A market stall

It was gloriously hot and sunny those few days that we were there. We lazed on the beach on the hotel’s chaises, using the palapas for shade when it got a little bit unbearable. And I will admit, at times the heat was a little too much to bear because the breeze was virtually non-existent. Thankfully the Arabian Sea was deliciously warm and inviting. During our 3 days there, I spent as much time as I could in the water playing in the waves like a silly child.

Our piece of the beach

A local selling fresh coconuts

Fishing Boats

Sunsets were also pretty magnificent from where we were.

What we looked at every evening

I think that most everyone will say that one of the most memorable aspects of Goa is of course the food. The state is bounded by the Arabian sea on its western coast. This means that there is no end to the fresh seafood that is served up by the numerous restaurants and food shacks along the beach. So many options, so little stomach. Our first lunch there was taken at an open air restaurant constructed mostly out of bamboo poles and fabric. We had Kingfisher beer, Prawn Biryani and fried pomfret. I still recall the gusto with which we attacked that Biryani — it was flavorful and fresh. On the following day, we had settled into another restaurant and were discussing our options from the menu when a fisherman walked up to us to show us the King crabs he had just pulled from the ocean. After what amounted to perhaps 2 quick seconds of deliberation, we agreed to let them steam it up nicely for us — I’ve never eaten anything that had come so fresh from the Ocean. The Arabian Sea, no less.

Another common sight: menu boards advertising the fresh seafood offered by the numerous restaurant huts lining the beach

Food, glorious Goan food — fish curry and prawn biryani

Fresh lunch from the Arabian Sea

Our last night there, we happened upon an Arabic restaurant. It was constructed of coconut fronds and poles, and most of the seating was on cushions on the floor. After we finished our meal, the owner sat and chatted with us and we discovered that his wife is also a Canadian, now living with him in Goa. It was a fitting cap to our stay in Goa, encapsulating all that was good about it: the friendly welcoming people, and the laid-back vibe, and of course, the spectacular eats.

Last dinner in Goa

Last night in paradise and our swimsuits

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