Planet   Backpacker
  "From flying monkey gods and amorous donkeys to tales of a bus caravan speeding through a terrorist-infested desert, Downes puts you right there with him."-- Ben Gohs, Charlevoix Courier
  "From flying monkey gods and amorous donkeys to tales of a bus caravan speeding through a terrorist-infested desert, Downes puts you right there with him."-- Ben Gohs, Charlevoix Courier

Nirvana found in southern Goa on Palolem Beach

Palolem Beach, Goa, India, Planet Backpacker
Heavenly bodies & scenery too at Palolem Beach.

From Planet Backpacker - by Robert Downes


Over the Moon

Palolem Beach, Goa, India


   O, my friends, read no further unless you wish to hear of a lost soul, living the Jimmy Buffet dream of “wasting away in Southern India.”

   For the second night in a row, I have a dinner of prawns nearly the size of lobsters, this time cooked in a delicate white wine sauce and served by candlelight on the beach at one of the dozens of outdoor restaurants lining the bay.  Groovy people from all over the world are my tablemates -- all in swimsuits with long hair, tattoos, and heavily draped with Indian beach beads.

   The sound system is superb -- they’re playing electronic Goa trance music, and then a reggae-dub version of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon.”   Perfect. I have two glasses of sugary port wine -- a crude, but effective potion that’s similar to the homemade ‘Thunderfoot’ vintage I made from Concord jelly grapes several years ago -- it kicks my ass over the moon.

   By day I kayak on the Indian Ocean and wade a quarter mile through the shallow sea along a sandbar to a secluded cove, bathing in my underwear and doing yoga... broiling under the 90 degree sun.  The scenery is beyond spectacular -- swaying palm trees (is there any other kind?) skirt the beach, beyond which stretch distant misty mountains.  An armada of arrow-prowed fishing boats rigged with wooden outriggers are perched on the sands, waiting to be sent to catch my dinner.  Hawaii would blush with envy.

   It’s not hard to imagine moving here.  I could easily perform on guitar at a beachside cafè -- a cinch with some Bob Marley tunes and that old Eagles’ hit, “Hotel Goa, India.”  Accompanied by a guy on a “boooiinnng” Indian tabla drum, it would be easy to be a hit on the beach.  Days baking in the sun... nights plucking strings...  Writing the Great Indian Expat Novel...

   In short, I’m lonely and bored out of my gourd with paradise and can’t wait to get out of this place.  And I’m dying to see my blond angel Jeannette again.  Counting the days... counting the hours... this place is way too mellow for a AA-type like me.  Counting the minutes... 


   GETTING THERE:  Palolem Beach is located at the southern end of the State of Goa on the Indian Ocean in  southern India.  Take the local bus from the regional bus station just north of the Margoa city limits.  One of the many attendants will direct you to the right bus.

   ACCOMMODATIONS: There are numerous beach shacks on stilts just back from the water for rent at budget rates, starting around $10 U.S.  It's hard to imagine even needing a reservation here, given the many guest houses and budget resorts. But you never know, given the hundreds of backpackers who flock to Palolem from all over the world.

   DINING/RECREATION:  The beach is lined with numerous bars and restaurants, all offering lunch and dinner in the $5 and up range.  Typically, you can park yourself in a beach chair at a bar and sit there all day,  providing you order an occasional beverage or snack.  There are also a number of yoga options, including a morning class at the mouth of the river (note: the instructor was a no-show the day I attended) and individual instruction in the village.  Also, kayak rentals, boogie boards, tours and all the souvenir shopping your heart could desire.  Plus, although Palolem looks like the rustic getaway of your dreams, it also has the latest in Internet options and cash transfer services.

   Crime, cautions, warnings, dangers, etc: As mentioned in the section on Goa, you are likely to be approached in Palolem to purchase drugs.  It's your karma, dude, just don't make an Indian prison your dharma...  Otherwise, not much to worry about except sunburn, getting falling down drunk, crashing your moped, tainted seafood and bug bites -- the usual stuff.


   For more adventures in India, check out 'Planet Backpacker: The Good Life Bumming Around the World, now available as an ebook with 75 illustrations from Amazon Kindle and Apple iBooks.



Click on the logo to order 'Planet Backpacker: The Good Life Bumming Around the World" from Amazon Kindle -- $7.99 for the illustrated ebook.

Travels With My Wife

$14.95

Signed copies of the expanded second edition, featuring more than 40 routes and 1,400 miles of cycling.

$14.95

Check out my book -- available at amazon.com and Apple iBooks, $4.99 
Click on the logo to order 'Planet Backpacker: The Good Life Bumming Around the World' as an Apple iBook from iTunes.  With more than 75 illustrations, $7.99.