We took a taxi for the short distance between Arambol and Chapora, sharing the cost with our friend Roy. Roy had already enquired about the cheapest guest house, sunset view, which had basic, grubby rooms for 200 rupees a night. The bathroom was located on the roof top, which had a view over the bay through the trees.
Chapora itself was a small village, with a small shrine around a Banyan tree in the center, not 20 meters from our guest house. Most foreigners hung out here, smoking chilums and drinking fresh juices from one of the two juice bars. The fresh roasted sweetcorn from the street vendors here was a delicious and cheap treat too. Chapora had the feel of a cool and alternative hang out for the less commercially inclined visitors to Goa, with more budget options and a bunch of long-staying, still standing hippies still hanging on.
From our guest house we took a stroll to Chapora Fort. It was a 20 minute walk from the centre o the village to the fort, along winding backroads and past a huge and stunning Banyan tree. From The fort, situated on a high promontory, we could see far along the coast in both directions. The fort was built by the Portuguese, using the red and black stone found throughout Goa. Not much remains except its perimeter wall, but climbing up onto it ad looking out was spectacular. Huge numbers of Vultures and Sea Eagles swooped only a few meters above our heads and all around the hill top. We descended to Small Vagator beach from the sea-ward side of the fort, getting closer to the giant birds above as they dived at the hill side.
Vagator is the closest beach to Chapora, not more than 30 minuets walk away. There are two beaches at vagator split by some rocky headland with a car park on top, little Vagator to the south and big Vagator to the north. We descended from Chapora fort onto Big Vagator, the main beach and less lovely of the two, frequented by too many day tourists, mostly Indian families, it was a crowded and busy beach and lots of men stared at Annie as we walked down the sand. Walking over the rocks at the southern end of Big Vagator we marvelled at the shells and sea views and entered Little Vagator. This beach was marginally nicer than it’s neighbour but was dedicated to Russian tourists with a line of restaurants along the palms lining the beach serving continental food. All the signage and menus here were in Russian. The place had very little atmosphere compared to Arambol beach or Chapora.
Hunger struck and we decided to treat ourselves at a Greek restaurant on to of the cliffs overlooking Little Vagator. This place was recommended in the rough guide as one of the best restaurants in Goa, so we splashed out and spent a little extra. We ordered vegetable moussaka, wraps and olives, made using imported ingredients from Greece the food was fantastic. Well worth the extra rupees.
Anjuna and the flea market
The following day we paid a visit to the Anjuna flea market. Taking a bus followed by a pleasant 30minute walk down back roads we came to the entrance of the flea market. We knew it would be busy and a major tourist destination but still we wanted to see for ourselves what a small
Market started by te first hippies here in the 60’s and 70’s had become. Far removed from a flea market, there were enough stalls here to make up a small town. Pretty much every place was selling the same things with little variation or origionality. There was little on offer that could not have been bought in Arambol for half the price. There was a distinct Tibetan section, although this was also overpriced we spied a pretty handmade plate which we haggled over. When the seller became aware that we were not Russian he immediately lowered the price by 1000 rupees! Nearer the beach there were a few Europeans selling some more origional and higher quality clothing. They charged European prices however so we decided against getting what we could easily find at home or on the Internet for the same price.
Having looked all through the market we reached the beach. Very cramped and busie than Arambol or Vagator, bars and clubs were spread along the sand taking up much of the space. We were tempted to stay and party but the atmosphere was not particularly inviting with took much of an over the top drinking and larger lout feel. After seeing the prices we decided it would not be worth the money, after all there are plenty of trance parties back at home, we didn’t come to India to find that.
Last Hippy Standing
Returning to Chapora we ha a much better evening hearing the stories of old hippies and long term travellers of Goa at the Last Hippie Standing Bar. This cosy little place could only fit about four or five people inside and was run by a very nice guy who lived in Cornwall and had been coming to Goa since before I was born. Unable to make any coffee because of a power shortage we drank red wine and were joined by some local characters. He told us of how much it had changed since the 70’s with growing commercialism and told that in the next yea or two he was moving his bar to Cambodia, sick of the greed and resort-based tourism taking over in Goa. We enjoyed our night talking and socialising much more than we’d have enjoyed a drug fuelled rave – perhaps I’m getting old?Still undecided about Goa at large we decided we’d return after our visit to the ruins of Hampi.