“In Camden Town; we walked there as the sun went down.” – Suggs
I can’t believe it’s been 9 months since myself and two of my best friends, Millwall Neil and Hippy James backpacked through Primrose Hill and Camden Town. London. Whatever the word “hippy” actually means, for me there is a peace with it. I thought of my friends Neil and James a lot as my train swerved its way into North Goa from Maharashtra State of India. After spending a few days in Gujarat state, where alcohol incurs a death penalty if swallowed or sold illegally, I wound up in the hippy state of Goa. The two states were polar opposites in almost every way. But both experiences completely inspiring and my soul was pumped on arrival at the Jungle Hostel in Vagator Beach in North Goa. My Brazilian friend Katia, who I met in Paris in 2007 was backpacking with me on this crazy journey from Gujarat to Goa.
Goa v. Gujarat
Alcohol everywhere – Alcohol only allowed with a permit
Drugs everywhere, readily available – You can find them, but be discreet
Beaches – Skyscrapers
Backpackers – Locals
Foreign Tourists – Indian Tourists
90 Rupees a beer – 180 Rupees a beer
120 Rupees a Paneer – 160 Rupees a Paneer
Religion not so apparent (the odd church) – Muslims and Hindus
Flights to Maldives (no visa needed) – Buses to Pakistan border (visa needed, border closed)
Leisurely traffic on the streets – Chaos on the streets
Chilled out vibe – Chaotic mayhem
Peace – Potential for war
Wild parties all night – Drinking alone in my hotel room
Nobody cares about politics – Gandhi’s State, politically relevant
The Stone Roses and Trance Music – Call to Prayer
The travel dream stretches further here. India’s chaos disappears and revellers basque by the waves in the morning sun. Some of them still out, from the night before. There is such a stark contrast between these two states, and as much as I love both Goa and Gujarat, the hippy in me sides with the peace and tranquility of Goa. I’m staying at the Jungle Hostel here which is a party zone. This is THE BACKPACKER HANGOUT. I’ll recommend any first, second or third time backpacker to stay here, meet new people and take your travel life on from here. It’s party central and I feel like a real backpacker again.
And for those that want to indulge, there are also drugs available widely here, reminding me of not just hippy Camden, but Christiania, Amsterdam and San Pedro Sula. Or that time that I saw drug dealers with rifles on the streets of Venezuela. Did you ever notice this one?:
LSD – LySergic-acid Diethylamide
DSL – Don’t Stop Living
(they’re anagrammical and completely coincidental).
“It’s a black fly in your Chardonnay” – Alanis Mozzarella
There is a real sense of peace and a hippy happy vibe here in Goa. I like it. I feel like I’m 17 again and alive. I’m one of the oldest backpackers in the hostel now, and at first this was daunting, but now, I’ve gone back in time. I partied in Belfast 18 years ago, 12 years ago it was Bournemouth, 8 years ago it was China, 6 years ago it was Sydney, 2 years ago it was Brazil. I’m doing it all over again. Now it’s Goa and it’s beautiful.
“All the people nursing shattered bones don’t wanna fight no more” – Ocean Colour Scene.
More to come on Goa. I’m writing this from Anjuna beach at Janet and John’s Bar and Grill. It’s a paradise here. Don’t Stop Living.
“Stay young and invincible cos we know just what we are” – Noel Gallagher.
9 thoughts on “Whackpacking in India: From Camden to Christiania to Becoming a Hippy in Goa”
Interesting comment at the end there about how it was daunting at first being one of the oldest backpackers in the hostel. I think that is the first time you’ve ever mentioned that in your blog. So, what did you end up doing to overcome it? Any tips for older travelers who are intimidated about staying at hostels with younger backpackers?
Hi Ray, thanks for the comment. I wasn’t intimidated, just a bit out of place. It’s happened many times on the journey, sometimes in a four star hotel, other times in a hostel full of 18 year olds. I tend to just overcome it by meeting those people who I most relate to and I normally find those types of people easily – these days long term backpackers that have experience are the ones I talk to. The new backpackers seem a tad boring to me as they spill out stories and stories and at the end, they realise most of us got bored as we’ve seen it all before. Safe travels. Jonny