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India: South Goa -> Palolem Paradise

Heaven on Earth (greedy developers please do not read any further)

sunny 34 °C
View liftyrskinnyfists on SkinnyFists's travel map.

Palolem

Took the scenic train from the far north (near Arambol) to Margao and then a taxi to Palolem.
My cabbie was a very charasmatic guy who had a lot of stories - he is a pastry chef who works for a big hotel chain, and has been stationed all over Asia, Canada and the Middle East. The cab was his late father's which he drives for extra money on the weekends.

I told him that I'd come from Arambol. He immediately went into a diatribe about how (to paraphrase) 'money grabbing north Goans have let some groups from overseas (who don't need Indian visas) infiltrate the north, and ruin what was once a haven, like the south is now.'

He wasn't the first local Goan to go into one about this, but my cabbie friend was certainly the most fervent on the topic.
He candidly shared a few funny but shocking related stories from driving cabs in Arambol and Anjuna, and said he won't ever work in North Goa again.
He stressed that southern folks are proud, stoic and won't tolerate any newcomers messing up their haven.... y'hear!

I'll tread lightly, I promise!

Palolem is indeed like heaven. It's one of those places that makes you wary to tell anyone about in fear it becomes crowded and commerical.
It's sleepy, but plenty to do (yoga, ayurvedic treatments, jungle treks, gorgeous beaches) and no thumping clubs (only a silent disco every Tuesday night).
The beach shacks serve great food, and there are great accommodation options right on the beach.
This is also where Jason Bourne and his girlfriend found a (temporary) peaceful haven in The Bourne Supremacy
Palolem suits anyone but seems ideal for 30+ folks and there were a lot of other solo travellers seeking sun and solace.
Though North Goa was OK, with the benefit of hindsight I would have come straight here from Baga !

Palolem Main St:
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My main activities here were swimming, lying in the sun drinking mocktails, reading (finished Philip K Dick's mindbender, Ubik), eating delicious food, listening to music (gleeeeeefully succumbed to Fleet Foxes, a couple of years late), a bit of yoga, beach running, comparing notes with other travellers...... and did one superb ayuvedic treatment.....

Shirodhara

I shopped around for this, as I had tried it once before at Camp Eden in Australia, and was keen to do it for real in India.
If you don't know the process of Shirodhara, here's the Wikipedia entry

I chose the ayuvedic centre inside Dreamscape Resort as it seemed the most professional (though they humbly would not comment on other centres in Palolem).

In the treatment room I lay flat on the bench whilst the therapist covered my entire body with towels, then my eyes and ears with cotton (plus a roll of cotton above the eyebrows so oil wouldn't drip into the eyes).
In a state of sensory deprivation, he put on some repetitive Hindi music to focus my mind. It was so whimsical and peaceful in itself.
Then suddenly the stream of oil hit my third eye pressure point and I started to drift straight away...
The vase containing the oil swings like a pendulum so that each of the three pressure points on the forehead is evenly hit.
With the music, calm environment and the oil hitting the points, my mind couldn't focus on anything except the immediate (oil, music, calm) and then dream state really kicked in.
My soul went to another plane, and my mind then body soon followed.
The treatment lasted an hour but the concept of time eluded me.

Almost abruptly, the oil flow stopped, and the therapist slowly removed the cotton, etc before washing my face and hair.
When I got up, I felt really dizzy, but total calm - (mind body and soul) and slightly elated... like I had just visited heaven through antennas.
The therapist told me not to walk or think for a little while (easy) and no reading or music for at least 2 hours.
I sat whilst she explained the process, and it's spiritual significance.
Hindus and Buddhists use often use Shirodhara as a form of prayer.
It is apparently the most sacred of ayuvedic treatments; not only for the recipient.
The person administering Shirodhara treats the patient with their deity or God in mind, as if they are also treating the divine to give thanks.

Sunset

I have never seen a more beautiful sunset than that from Palolem beach.
The best view is from an outpost, reachable when the tide goes out (just in time for dusk)
You will find many friendly folks there, all entranced by the beauty.

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I met a lovely couple from Manchester who have been to Goa many, many times, who took my photo for me.
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The lady was like a gorgeous female version of Jack Sparrow - with coloured and decorated flowing dreads, Keif' mannerisms and a disarmingly wily, charming smile.
Notably, also a young backpacker wrote a beautiful birthday message for his Mum on a big boulder with the sun behind him, and took a photo to send home. One lady observing was crying with glee and applauded for all the Mum's of the world (cute!)... and the rest of us gave a standing ovation :-)

Bye Bye Goa

Palolem left an indelible impression. It's perfect in so many ways. Best beach vibe I've experienced. Great people, easy vibe, no hassles.
I really love south Goa and will be back for sure!

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You can see my photos of beautiful Palolem and the other Goan beaches here.

Posted by SkinnyFists 06:28 Archived in India Tagged palolem south_goa shirodhara

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