I’d never experienced culture shock before. That is of course until India. India is amazing!
India was a spur of the moment sort of trip for C and I. We did not really plan to go, but saw an amazing deal that we just could not pass up.
We packed our suitcases, rose with the sun, and made our way to one of the world’s most culture rich countries. One that would shock, inspire and leave a lasting impression.
Grab your cuppa tea, this will be a long one.
Our first couple of days were spent relaxing and exploring Candolim. We stayed on the beach, ate at the cutest beach huts and slowly sipped on beers and cocktails.
One of the biggest culture shocks I experienced, pretty much as we stepped outside of the airport was the cows. Cows are sacred in India and are free to roam as they like. Here you can see a heard of cows being shepherded by wild dogs. There were no humans in sight guiding these dogs. They were doing this on their own.
Hanging out on the beach was yet another crazy culture shock for me. You could grab yourself a piece of real estate on the sand and place your towels on it, but that would make you a fool. The smart thing to do was to get to know a beach hut owner, plonk yourself on one of their beach chairs and be treated like a queen, sipping cocktails, eating their food and just relaxing. All for a measly $20 a day!!!!!!! Just make sure all drinks come out of a bottle, and don’t eat fish at the huts. Prepare your taste buds for some insane spices, (they are super familiar with tourists, so they will ask how strong you want your food, but still). Also be prepared for A LOT of garlic, on everything. BUT the food is sooo good and that crepe was amazing!
On day three we decided to get up off our lazy bums and go explore some more of Candolim. We walked along the beach to the Aguada Fort, a seventeenth-century Portuguese fort standing in Goa, India, on Sinquerim Beach, overlooking the Arabian Sea. There were also an endless amount of barnacles on the rocks.
The following day we made our was to Panjim, which is the capital of Goa. Here is where I started to see a bit more of how Indians and Goans lived. Goa, especially Candolim, is very westernized, as it was taken over for a while by the Protuguese. It also serves as a resort hub for tourists, so although the culture is vastly different than what I’m used to, you don’t notice Indian life as much when you’re surrounded by beaches and shopping and cocktails. It’s easier to escape. But in Panjim, the Indian culture and way of life became far more relevant.
One of the first things I noticed, was the amount of people any form of transportation can hold. Indians are not shy, they will smush themselves in, standing very close to one another. Whether they have a seat or breathing space does not matter. The second, was that everyone owns a scooter, and they will pack as many of their friends and family members on one, as they can. Safety is not a concern.
We took a tiny ferry over from Candolim to Panjim and our first destination was Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church. With its beautiful white and blue facade it was hard to resist taking pictures and exploring.
In the afternoon, we decided to find some food. We stumbled across a tiny restaurant, probably just meant for locals, as we were the only tourists in there and ordered a Thali. It was a vegetarian dish with a bit of fish. It does not look like much in the pictures but it was delicious! And we paid $2.00 for both!!
After lunch we continued our walk through Panjim and tried to immerse ourselves in the local’s way of life. It was such a weird experience walking through areas with huge mansions nestled in between shacks and run down homes that were still in use. We even walked through an area on one of the main streets where houses were built out of blue tent covers.
Coming from a western way of life, it is sad to see some of the population living in such poverty, but what lifts the heart is just how happy the people seem. They are happy to be alive. If they have enough to eat and a roof over their head, the rest doesn’t seem to matter as much. We could really learn a thing or two from their perspective. Especially the children. All they wanted was to pose in a picture.
The rest of our time in Goa was spent going on adventure tours. In Candolim, especially in the centre of the town, there are many shops and travel agencies that help tourists plan their trips and getaways. The shops are usually tiny, with a couple of people and their computers. Many times you pay with cash and get a receipt and that’s it. You are asked to turn up at a certain time and place, and you are on your way. It was unnerving for me not to be able to research any of these agencies as internet access was not readily available. We had to put our trust in the people who booked our itinerary. BUT they never failed. We used John’s Boat Tours.
Our first tour was the Dolphin Trip, a boat ride to see dolphins, snorkle and hang out on a private beach.
The boat ride was beautiful and we even saw some dolphins, but I did not enjoy myself too much. It wasn’t anyones fault but my own really. We foolishly sat at the section of the boat with no cover from the scorching sun, and naturally I got sun stroke. AND since I was so hot, all I did was drink A LOT of water, alas had to use the washroom. There was no washroom, the entire 3 hour tour. So I held it in the whole time! It was awful. Be aware that washrooms anywhere in India are scarce, so a lot of the times you have to become creative.
We saw many local men taking a dip in the waters everywhere we went in Goa. They would strip off their clothes and go swimming in their underwear. Grown men frolicking in the water. Always filled with such happiness.
The beach was beautiful, a bit busy with tourists from other tours but stunning none the less. The water was so warm and the food they provided was delicious. I tried to make the best of it, and took out a page from the locals bathing and did some frolicking of my own.
The next day was spent getting over my horrible sun stroke. To keep our itinerary a bit more relaxed, we rented a scooter and rode to Anjuna. Since the Anjuna Market is only held on Wednesdays, our timing worked out perfectly. We spent quite a bit of time getting lost between the stalls, fending off aggressive sales men and women, or indulging those who we actually wanted to buy from. The market sold anything your heart desired, from clothing, to tourist trinkets, to teas and herbs and spices, to furniture and carpets. It was hard to resist not buying everything. I purchased a pair of sandals, a pair of harem pants or Alibaba pants as they called it at the market, and a few souvenirs for friends and family. I wish we took more pictures of the market, but I guess we were too busy admiring what was on offer. Here I am with a shall soaked in cold water to keep me cool and rid me of my sun stroke, with an admirer 😉
On our way back from the market, C and I decided to ride our little scooter all the way to the end of Candolim in search of a view, and boy did we find one! Perfectly timed for sunset, we stayed and watched the sun go down.
Our second adventure tour with John’s Boat Tours was the Jeep Safari and Waterfalls tour. We first boarded a bus that drove us out of Candolim through the country side, where we were than shuffled onto a Jeep. This is where the fun began. We drove through rough terrain, through rivers and forests. Riding for about an hour, we arrived at the Dudh Sagar Waterfalls. These waterfalls are the highest in Goa and are known for their milky resemblance. We were given some refreshments and told to go explore. The waterfalls are beautiful and quite high. You can swim in the pool that forms the base of the falls. The water is freezing, but refreshing. My favourite part was feeding the monkeys. Locals sell you bananas for next to nothing and you can give the fruit to the monkeys who are more than happy to accept.
On our final day, we hired a taxi driver who took us around the Goan countryside and showed us a few picture worthy spots. It’s always a good idea to be friendly with the taxi guys because they can offer amazing deals to take you around as tour guides. Trust me its worth it. They take you to places some tours wouldn’t and make you feel less like a tourist, and more like a wanderer. C was especially popular with the drivers. Funny enough a week after we were to leave, David Guetta was performing in Candolim. There were drivers who genuinely thought C was David Guetta.
Our final hours in Candolim, Goa were spent soaking in the sun and enjoying the spectacular sunsets that India has to offer. Look at those colours. Who can resists a picture, or two, or a hundred.
Goa has taken my breath away. Culture shock slowly became the norm, and after stepping foot on western soil, I experienced culture shock all over again.
It’s strange how someone’s ordinary can seem so extraordinary to someone else, and how one’s perception can alter and change and adjust to your surroundings as if they were that way all along.
But I am not done with India just yet! During our time in Goa, we also travelled to Hampi, which is by the far the most extraordinary place I have ever been too. Come along and join us in my next post.
Have you travelled to India? What was your favourite city?