My first, and last overnight bus journey in India and the reason why I always take the train now.
A bus or a coffin on a rollercoaster?
The 12 hour ‘delux sleeper’ bus ride to Goa could only be described as riding a roller coaster whilst trapped inside a dark coffin.
The bus had two rows of ‘double beds’ on two levels like bunk beds. In reality they were more like a small, short single bed (for two people) with not enough room overhead to sit up. Inside the bus was pitch black as it careered off down pot holed lanes, swerving through honking traffic for 12 hours.
A sleepless night
Sleep was impossible as the driver obviously had ambitions of becoming a rally driver. All we could do was grip and hold on to the bars of our coffin/bed to stop us falling out on a sharp corner or hitting our heads. I wasn’t feeling very well and the toilet facilities were described as ‘open toilet’ which translated to pee in front of everyone on the side of a country lane.
The inevitable breakdown
At about 4am the bus filled with rubber burning fumes and jolted to a stop. The crazy rally driving has caused the bus to blow a tyre. Some English and Canadian astrologists were opposite us on the bus and a man came on and asked them for 2 condoms in quick session! (I still have no idea why!) The condoms must have done the job as about half an hour later we were back on the road/rally track.
We made it alive to Goa!
Exhaustedly, we stepped out of the bus into bright sunshine in Mapusa, Goa where a throng of yellow and black taxis and rickshaws buzzed around noisily like a swarm of bees waiting to strike. After a deflated attempt at haggling we took a taxi heading to the nearest resort which was 20 mins away – the hippy hangout of Anjuna Beach.
Arriving in Anjuna
The drive down the dusty roads lined with fields, palm trees and colourful houses and shacks was promising but when the taxi dropped us off in Anjuna my heart sank. We were dropped off where the road ended in a patch of dusty red sand.
You could just about make out the red sandy and rocky cliffs behind the lines of blue tarpaulin shacks selling tourist tat, tie die sheets and ali baba trousers. We flopped down at the first cafe we saw and shared a large kingfisher beer. The sea breeze and the view looking out over the red cliffs, while the waves swelled round the rocks was soothing but I was disappointed, the thought of soft golden sands and sparking blue water had been keeping me going all night on the horrific bus ride.
We explored further down the red sandy path that was littered with lazy cows amongst more blue tarpaulin clothes stalls and cliffside bars. Then suddenly the shacks parted and we got our first wonderful view of the golden sand, palm tree lined, sparkling blue sea beach that we had been dreaming of.
It was made even more wonderful due to the exertions and rough journey we had made to get there. I threw my backpack down and ran and jumped into the cooling, glittering sea straight away. Finally able to relax as I feel the sand beneath my toes and the waves lapping around my feet.