Looking at the sea out from Baga Beach, the sea is shining, teasing,… much like the vibe of the locals and beaches in Goa. As a female traveling who’s been nervous about traveling india alone, I feel surprisingly safe here. Waves tickling my feet, a pineapple lassi in hand, I look out at the beach. Even the cows are catching their daily dose of sand and rays.
“Goa is one of the friendliest spots in the India. ”
That’s why, Tara, a native from Kolkata, is back in Goa for a six-month stint of work at one of the many Baga beachside restaurants, Shining Star. I asked Tara for a local’s perspective of some of the well-known cities in India. Tara didn’t waste any words.
Mumbai. Too busy.
Bangalore. Nice, clean, posh. Home of the venerable IT industry.
Delhi. Full of cheaters (they cheat even locals!).
Kolkata. Nice but old. Some houses have been there over a 100 years and are still standing (just maybe not upright).
Goa. Beautiful beaches. Laid back. One of the friendliest spots in India.
I can vouch for that last one. In the few days I’ve been here, Goa has been a respite from the craziness of Mumbai.
Goa’s “dreds” of tourism
For tourists, Goa is a long-standing Hippie-ville of beaches, trance partying… and then some. For travelers who have traveled to other parts of India however, Goa can be its own little culture shock; it can lean towards overdrive when it comes to tourism.
Anjuna: the moment I set foot on sand, I felt like turning around and heading back. I stood mortified, confused, in shock and a bit repulsed… Pumping sounds of trance vibes boomed on a giant loudspeaker, as giant umbrellas and beach chairs fronted shoreline restaurants, with European tourists laying out for the sun bake. Some tourists even go topless! Fruit women walk around toting huge baskets of fruits, tricking you into buying a whole fruit, as Indian masseuse offer you added ZZZs to you bask-relax.
Was I still in India?
Only the cows lazing on the beach reminded me so.
Mandrem: the beaches flair towards peace and privacy in the way of hotel clientage. Hotels are more spaced out and offer beach recliners governed by an attendant. If you want to go full nude, then rest-assured it will only be in the folds of fellow guests.
Arambol: As backpacker central. Indian clothing stands pack into the winding line of the main road, squeezing out cafes and restaurants. The budget holiday shops cater to the cult of Bob Marley, tie dye, sundresses, Ali-Baba pants, hash bongs and a new look of motorcycle-riding, Rastafarian dred-locked She-Ra women with high cut sandals, short skirts and utility belts. Needless to say, I didn’t bother checking out the beach.
Baga Beach: is all about water sports, from paragliding, jet skiing, a speedboat towing an inflated passenger boat at full-speed… All were going off like fourth of July fireworks. Incidentally, it’s the first predominantly “Indian” beach crowd I’ve seen!
Okay, that said–
What is the best way to see Goa as a female solo traveler?
If you ask me to name the best part of Goa, I won’t say its beaches, parties or hippies. The best part of Goa was the simple fact I could see half of it, from the vantage point of a rented scooter! No windows or doors for shelter–just two-wheels, a motor and the land.
Driving a scooter makes me feel like Marco Polo!
I’m able to find and visit off-the-beaten path spots and discover random local sights like Sunday village fish market or I can zoom along the coastline and sightsee a handful of beaches I might ordinarily need to plot bus schedules for!Either way, seeing Goa from a scooter opens me to a world of surprise discovery.
Additionally, once removed from the tourist hype, natural Goa is a breath of fresh air, the land stretches into lush serenity and its natives are warm and filled with curiosity. One of the friendliest spots in India? Definitely.
From Central Goa to the northern tip, a lot can be covered in day for only 200 rupees (the cost of a scooter rental). Orange-colored Petrol sit in liter water bottles, outside shops and along roadsides. They glisten warmly in the sun and remind me–that unlike Thailand– I needn’t worry about running out of gas, as long as I have 70 rupees!
Not to mention, feeling the wind in my hair on a hot Indian day is definitely an inviting perk!
Driving a scooter around Goa gives me an immense sense of success and empowerment; this is especially, encouraging when I’m occasionally still battling my uncertainty about traveling alone.
Just because I’ve traveled a handful of countries by myself, doesn’t mean it eliminates my fears, self-doubts and uncertainties with solo travel.
With all honesty, as a female solo traveler in India, I’m still finding my “footing”. Before I came to India, my nervousness challenged my confidence.
India intimidated me.
Was I ready to tackle India alone?
Living abroad for a year and gaining practice with traveling solo, has helped build my confidence and resourcefulness for getting around “in the dark” (so to speak). Things I’ve already experienced or lived, I feel more at ease with; but others, not so… I still have worries and concerns that I’m working through.
Perhaps it’s the high rate of poverty or the fact, it’s an environment which demands all of my attention and focus as I weave and dodge through the car honking traffic, touts, scams, stares and swirls of action. Balance is an important key and you have to be quick on your toes.
Will I get through it? We’ll see…
What countries intimidate you? What are ways you’ve found your balance or footing while traveling a challenging country?