Ashwem and Palolem, Gorgeous Beaches in Goa
Preparing for the long ride to Palolem beach we went to Florentine’s and yet again ended up completely stuffed.
Just when we were all set to ride to Palolem, a friend of mine, Brunel called, he was keen on coming along. So we waited for a good twenty minutes for him just down the road at Saligao church.
Palolem is around 70 kms away from Panjim, it was already past 3 pm. Unfortunately, Brunel wasn’t prepared for the long ride, he wasn’t wearing his helmet and was stopped by the cops as soon as we got onto the highway. He paid a fine of Rs 100 and got a receipt as well.
Day 6 – The Long Ride to One of the Best Beaches in Goa
We made frequent stops as the kilometers ticked by slowly on our way there, we underestimated the time taken for the journey and as sunset approached we picked up speed to make it just in time to get a glimpse of the majestic ocean at Palolem.
The moment you enter the beach your horizon gets a multidimensional expansion. The stretch of beach extends far on the left, far enough to begin a blur while the right looks beautiful with a hillock in the sea, it was inviting, we proceeded in that direction like it was a beacon in the darkness. The beach stretches upto 2 km, so the entire beach is visible from either sides.
As we walked down the stretch along the shore, we came across small colorful huts built on stilts, the cost of accommodation on Palolem beach was Rs 500 for the day without a night stay and we estimate it to be around Rs 800. Most of these stilt houses had small shacks underneath them, while few of them were more stable concrete structures with rooms below them. And some huts had smaller stilts, like th Ayurvedic massage huts below, it was a pleasant sight. Running parallel to the beach are the Western Ghats, that adds a cherry to the animated sunset radiating colors over the sea. There are rocks jutting out of the sand, its fascinating to see these structures, it breaks the norm of what you picture a beach in your mind. On walking ahead we came across a picturesque island, small in size, surrounded by turquoise green waters, it looked very inviting. But it was getting dark, so we choose to walk ahead and watch the sunset. As you tread further the sands turn into rocks, some with crabs crawling and pools of water collected in certain sections. The rocks had different shades of brown and green on them, probably during high tide it all gets covered. The rocks were flat enough in places making it easy to climb and the climb sure is worthwhile to soak up a new perspective, for thats what this part of the beach had to offer. Ah we need to thank Brunel for this picture, we had to put the flash on because the other pictures came dark, he was quite harrowed with the umpteen pictures we made him take till we got this one below As darkness began to set in we decided to rest for a while before we hit the long winding road. Sipped on some beers with reasonably priced starters as we stretched ourselves out on the beach chairs to rest our ailing backs. We spent the time recollecting the immense beauty of Palolem beach adn envied the foreign tourists resting in hammocks in one of the bamboo huts. We have to come back here, said the voice in my head, it was worth the ride!
Day 7 – Soaking the Sun at Secluded Aswem Beach
It was our last day in Goa, so we decided to visit the lesser known and secluded Ashwem beach, which we passed by while going to Arambol, and were in awe of the place in few minutes. It seemed less commercialized and empty as well, its couple of kms before Arambol actually and closer to Morjim beach.
On our way from Anjuna to Siolim we passed this inspiring St Anthonys Church. Its quite a nice looking church and the white Wagon R parked besides it, kind of blends well with it. When we reached Aswem beach we came down a funny path actually it looked more like a path to be walking on rather than taking the scooter down, but we managed to park the bike just a couple of feet away from the beach. Although there was a water body that we had to cross over to actually get to the beach, the shacks had a bamboo bridge which we took to get on the white sands. Right on the bridge that was semi-constructed a Kingfisher was perched, we managed to see it fly into the water attempting to catch a fish. Ashwem was magnificent, not as blessed as Palolem with the rocky structures and hills in water, but empty with hardly 15 to 20 tourists on the entire beach, what more could we have asked for. We were overjoyed to have finally found a long wanted escape in Goa. The shacks were pretty as they merged with the trees and sand, Ashwem was one of the most relaxing beach we came across on this trip, if Goa is commercialised then Ashwem seems to have forgotten time. We rediscovered the lost magic of Goa, would be the apt words to describe our feeling.
The ride was not as long as Palolem so we chilled in a shack called, “Change your Mind.” It was nice, I had some fish fingers and chips, the fish fingers were slightly tough, Bhavika had spaghetti with cheese, which was decent. Bhavika and I relaxed and conversed as we consumed the delicious home-made Apple pie, until the sun started its descent. We then went for a walk to digest our meal, this is when we were fascinated by the ecosystem of this beach. Morjim and Ashwem are known as the nesting grounds for the Olive Ridley Turtles. But rock structures like the one in the picture above looked like it had its skin moving with the amount of crabs crawling over them. As we approached the rock they would scurry into crevices and disappear. Heres a picture of one of them hiding from us, we flashed him! The sun was setting amongst fishing boats floating by, the orangish waves lapping up to the shore and the serene beach made this a special moment of our vacation in Goa. The rock structure below was something like a little ecosystem, there were not only crabs that were crawling about, but the rock was covered with some growth like corals or barnacles. There were hermit crabs on it and it actually had drops of water falling down into the little moat around it. In the water around it there were small fish, like this cat fish below and a few more fish with colored stripes darting by, too fast for us to take a picture. This is one of the favorite pictures we took, a flock of birds that were flying by as the sun set on Ashwem beach. The same flock of birds later split up into three groups as they flew by. Here’s a short stretch of Ashwem beach, the rocks with the water that we crossed over and the palm trees behind it, soothing the eyes and rejuvenating the soul. We planned on leaving before dark, thankfully we did and had a safe speedy ride back. A friend of ours Melvin, known by his last name Wolfe was playing at Infantaria. Before I introduce the band members, Infantaria at Calangute used to be one of my favorite places for breakfast, the pancake and bananas bring back memories of the years when the rates were half the current price. Wolfe, Roy and Lester play at Infantaria every Friday evening from 5.30 to around 11 at night. Most of the music is original and around 10 to 20 percemt are covers. Wolfe used to be a Team leader in a call center, three years ago. He quit his job and moved to Goa and started playing and singing at restaurants and shacks for free. He stayed in shacks during off season and now gets a decent sum from his gigs. An inspiration for anyone who wants to follow their dreams! Hari Om!
Roy is an old timer, he supplied equipment to the freaks in Goa for their parties in the late 70′s, 80′s and 90′s until there was too much cop trouble. He is still known as ‘system’ in some parts of Goa, you will not belive what an amazing person he is, a heart of Gold is what he has. Unfortunately we did not have the opportunity to meet Lester, perhaps next time.
We then went back to the room after dinner at a friends hotel, Sunflower on the Calangute beach road and headed to the room where five of us played UNO till it was time to hit the sack.
Day 8 – Back to Bombay
The next day we packed our things and got ready to bid Goa goodbye as we sipped on some warm beer that was not yet consumed. Once we were ready we went down to Munches at Anjuna for our last meal in Goa. Munches used to be open till late in the night, not anymore it closes around 10 pm to re-open at 5 am in the morning. We decided that it would be a sumptuous meal, we ordered quite a lot of stuff, I started off with a Shrimp cocktail and Bhavika had Chips with dip, accompanied by Cold Coffee and Banana Milkshake respectively. Bhavika ordered a cheese pasta while I asked for an Egg, Tuna sandwich with Mayo, it was quite yummy. Somehow I always feel that the fish and food always taste better in Goa. The meal ended with a dessert known as Shaklab, it was very similar to rice kheer. It was topped with a scoop of Baskin Robbins Ice Cream that complemented the warm thick Shaklab. We then returned the bike at Candolim and caught a taxi to Mapusa bus stand. We were suppose to reach the bus stop at 7.15 pm and reached with only five minutes to spare. We had to rush to buy some Cashew nuts to take home and pick up a snack from Babajis and a bottle of wine for the journey back home. We were rushing from one shop to the other and ran back to the bus stop gasping for breath.
The bus had still not come and did not come for a good 15 minutes after all our running. The name of the bus was “Shiva” the ticket cost us Rs 550 from Goa to Mumbai, Rs 50 less than our ticket from Mumbai to Goa, was a faster journey and had more comfortable seats. All the lack of sleep and the exhaustion took its toll on us and we passed out only to wake up straight in the morning in Mumbai and get back in the Grind, where we took a week to get over the daze and finish our Goa travel report.
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