XVIII: Sun, Sea, Sand, & Fookin’ Aboot on Bikes

From the moment I booked into my pad at Patnem I was always going to write another travelogue – the place is called ‘The Sun Sea Sand,’ for fucks sake. I’ve been here for two weeks now, have gone a deep coco brown & finally chilled out beach-style after three months of hard travelling. This might have something to do with the nine day rave I recently indulged in, each night trying to satiate my need for a good disco, the eagerness to find one only growing with each hangover – then like some divine angel from the sky me & Barry (from Edinburgh) managed to score a big bag of pills, have a wicked boogie aboot & finally slump in the sand with a G&T in order to get the aforementioned decent tan. The story of this mission is one to rival Frodo’s quest for the One ring, or at least the Maltese Falcon, & I shall now gladly retell it.


Two weeks back I bumped into my Scottish mate, Barry, on the wee road that leads to the gorgeously mellow Patnem beach. Two kilometers away is Palolem, the Benidorm beach, but Patnem is lovely & mellow, with most of the beach-side restaurants shutting at 10.30. There’s also the Magic Cinema, ran by a friend of mine called Jimmy, stuffed full of hippies & healthy food, showing a couple of wicked films each night in an open air cinema (my favourite was The Sting). I’ve been hanging out there during the day, shaded by the coconut boles & palm trees, playing chess with this mad German bird & another of my mates (Steve), who’s here with his recently married wife (Kate). I met the pair of them when they met in the Andaman Islands 7 years ago, & it’s been lovely to have some good chit-chat after all my ‘solitary confinement’. They are the most relaxed, hedonistic couple I have ever known & I’ve bumped into them several times over the years – on one occasion up in Edinburgh they indirectly introduced Donna & Jed, which saw me in a kilt for the first time as Jed’s best man.

Our joint quest to get high began two Saturdays back, when we bought some ‘happy pills’ from the chemist, hoping they’d be amphetamine based. At first they seemed to work, but after a while we levelled out & Kate discovered that they were, in fact, Prozac. It was time to resort to plan B. This involved chipping in together to buy a bottle of liquid ketamine from a chemist in Chaudi, the local amenity-laden town. It was shipped in on the 7 PM bus by a nice young chemist & by 8 PM it had been cooked up. Kate professionally held a metal pan over 4 candles & after a few minutes the liquid suddenly turns into white powder, smooth as untrammeled snow. It was Kate who actually showed me how to cook up K – in a Calcutta hotel a few years ago – & as the fun began it was nice to see history repeating itself.


Ketamine’s a tricky drug, you have to find the right length of line or else you fall into the K hole. However, experience & common sense paid off & we managed to have a great time at the Neptune’s Point disco, a wave-lapped promontory full of Goan party heads. Me & Barry decided to have a couple of lines on the bar & b4 long we’d met these pill’d up Norwegian birds who gave us our ecstasy lead – Curlie’s Bar in Anjuna. “We’re gonna have to go Damo, it’s what I do,” said Barry. So the following Thursday, after several false starts where I found Barry snoring off the nightly 6am drinking binges that are commonplace round these parts, we set off in a taxi North.

Anjuna is in north Goa, the original home of the Goan party scene in the 90s, but now a shadow of its former self, turning, with nearby Baga, into something of a middle-aged Majorca. However, you can still get pills there, & we arrived at Curly’s Bar in our getaway taxi, where after initial contact, a couple of hours waiting for a shady young lad called ‘Roy,’ who Barry swore had tried to sell him drugs just up the road a few years previously. We shared the haggling between us, & left north Goa 30 pills to the good & one each down our necks. The journey ‘home’ was magic – quite euphoric on what were flying fucking pills. Whether it was my 2 month abstinence or just their sheer strength didn’t matter so much, suffice it to say that after the scenic two hour drive, past the deep fjord-like, jungle-backed rivers of Old Goa, I was off my head & so was half of Patnem Beach an hour or two after our return. Another Silent Disco ensued, this time inland & surrounded by palm trees, where a wee line of ketamine initially sent me to heaven, but then spun me out for a good two hours.

“You know the thing about ketamine,” said Barry, “is that people always go on about it.” He was right, my mind was verbalising its fight back to relative sanity (I was on pills remember) – & the whole psychic mess was only cured by another cheeky half. Despite this, it was still a damn good rave, ending up at the all night Palolem beach bars, & then Cleopatra’s for pool. At daft-o-clock me & Steve drove back to Patnem, leaving his wife in the capable hands of Barry. A few hours later he got a rickshaw back to rescue his wife from Barry, who by now had donned some English girls dress in full tranny flow, fuell’d by some anti-narcolepsy tablets, which contained the grail-like amphetamine we’d been searching for.

I really enjoyed the area, buzzing about from bar-to-bar on my wicked moped for 2 quid a day, with the petrol working out about 2p a mile. I’ve been driving in a number of conditions – coming up on pills was my fave, but spacing out on ketamine was definitely a no-no. I figured if I dont know how to drive in the UK then being completely inebriated will actually have no effect! The scenery is semi tropical, & South Goa is backed by these lush hills, where on one spin I came across a national wildlife park, full of elephants & tigers & shit – but the only animal I actually saw wild was a solitary chicken. There were some rescued snakes, however, including a massive python in a cage with a very terrified looking chicken. Barry knows some Scots out here, who basically hang out all day at the same fuckin restaurant (the Tantra). A few of the ‘in crowd’ hang out there, from Cornish DJ’s to the long-locked Leigh, who runs the open mic nights on Patnem & Palolem. I usually join him at the end of his nights for a big bluesey jam. I’ve also ‘DJ’d’ at the Tantra a couple of times, the funniest being on the occasion of the Burns supper, where about 15 of us were kitted out in tartan ‘kilts’ & charged up & down the beach Braveheart style for some very funny photos.

Jimmy & Annie.JPG
Jimmy & Annie

Last Tuesday me, Kate, Steve & a couple of the Tantra crew (19 year old Jake from Cornwall & 26 year old Suze from Cardiff) caught a train from Canacona to Gokarna Road – an hour & twenty minute journey that only cost 16 rupees! A far cry from the 1200 rupee taxi I caught back in November. From the station, all 5 of us cramped up in a 200 rupee taxi which took us to Paradise Beach – well almost, for roadworks had sprung up & we had to hike a bit, including the same 20 minute stomp thro’ jungle that throws you high up on the cliffs above idyllic Paradise Beach. After a drunken first night (The Tantra guys only stayed a night) I’ve settled into a stony haze, chilling in a beach hut above the waves with my 23-year old Russian journalist neighbor, a complete starry-eyed stoner who speaks impeccable English. Today, we swam round to the next beach – Om Shanti – a tiny place with 4 beach huts & one restaurant. The sea is not the cleanest but the swim was quite invigorating. Tomorrow we will be trying the next beach on – Half Moon beach – but before that there’s tonight’s full moon party – where the local hippies get a bit bongohappy.

Paradise Beach


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