16-19 January, Palolem Beach, Goa

Palolem Fishing Boat

The moment I saw Richard jolt up from his book and stare at the wing of the plane I sensed something could be wrong. I had thought the same thing moments earlier when the engines suddenly went quiet while we were still ascending but I’d written it off as another passing thought in my head. After a series of ups and downs, we rested high above in the air and went back to our books. The descent and touchdown on the runway was bumpy and just as stressful but we were both just glad to be back on the ground and in Goa.

A tall, big-bellied man who stood out in the crowd of much smaller people carried a sign with our names on it and we made a B-line for him, past the other passengers and taxi drivers. The road from the airport to Palolem was long and winding, and every time a set of headlights beamed in front of us we had to veer off the road, but eventually we made it to the northern end of the beach where we’d booked a hut. After dropping off our things, we were led onto the restaurant to get a quick dinner.

We sat down next to the only other people in the restaurant, an Australian couple from Perth. We chatted for a while about our different impressions of the country and they said they wished they’d found this place earlier as they were not happy with their accommodation and were leaving that night to go to Hampi. They also told us that the noise laws that apply in Palolem (no music after 10pm, unlike other parts of Goa) led them to a ‘silent party’ in the hills. Each guest had to wear headphones with a wireless transmitter. Unfortunately it wasn’t the social atmosphere they were expecting and left as soon as they could get away.

The restaurant projects out over a beautiful river that feeds into the Arabian Sea and is surrounded by reeds and palm trees. The landscape is really quite stunning. Our little hut has open windows with fly wire over the top, an attached bathroom and a huge mosquito net over the bed. We’ve sat for hours on the verandah reading and watching people come and go. Since arriving here we’ve done what every good beach holiday should entail: eat, drink, swim and sleep. The food here is even tastier than that up north and the beach is calm and quiet, despite the many restaurants and beach huts that adjoin it. It’s a welcome relief from the hustle and bustle of Delhi and Mumbai.

This morning we also went on a boat ride up the river, which we’ve watched others do every morning while we eat our breakfast. Our guide told us the names of every single bird that we spotted, the most frequent of which was the kingfisher, the bird that adorns the beer we’ve been drinking and the airline we will thankfully be flying with next time. Like every good salesman he also convinced us to take a fishing trip and boat ride to Butterfly Island, which we’ve booked in to do tomorrow. After a quick swim in the ocean we were approached by two different men who were bitterly disappointed that we didn’t book in with them after their persistent hounding since our arrival. Word obviously gets around fast on this beach.

© Richard Munckton