Travel like a local in Goa
On my recent trip to Goa, I was stuck in thought. I had to decide how do I reach my destination near Anjuna Market from my getting off point - Thivim Railway Station.
I as travelling from my native place to meet and spend some time with friends. My first option was to try out Goa Miles - An app which is similar to Uber built specifically for Goa. A quick search later I was surprised to see a quote of ₹550+ for this journey which was around 18km. It was going to take almost 45 min. I thought to myself, even though I can pay that much, is there a better way to travel? The locals in Goa definitely do not travel at those rates. A quick google search pointed me to the existence of shared private buses that locals mostly travel with. There are only two downsides if you are considering this mode of travel. First you will have to do your fair share of walking, and changing buses to reach your destination. I had to take two buses from Thivim Railway station to reach Anjuna. Second, you will need to have spare time as the buses do not work on a fixed schedule and the operators of these buses are incentivised to wait at major stops to get as many passengers as they can as every passenger is more money/profit for the fixed cost of operating that trip.
I had a lot of time, and I was travelling alone, so no one to get disappointed with my travel decisions. The luggage I had was manageable and with the goal of travelling by the local buses, I got out of Thivim Railway station.
At the exit, I saw some bike taxis, and expecting them to be cheaper, I enquired the cost of for the trip to Anjuna. I had a reference for a spacious cab to be ₹550 so I thought if this was even half of that, I might be willing to get this experience too. One of them quoted ₹450 and the other one as I was walking away shouted ₹400. I was more convinced that going by bus has to be tried at-least. We can decide if it will be worth it or not later.
I knew that to get a bus I will have to walk all the way to the main road from Thivim station which was about around 400m. It would have been a breeze to walk if not for my luggage and the fact that I was hungry. I somehow made it to the road. As I was approaching it, I saw a bus waiting on the road, which seemed like it was about to go away and a guy shouting "Mapusa - Mapusa". I knew that that was where I would have to get a different bus that will take me to Anjuna. I rushed to the bus and quickly hopped on it. It was a small bus, and I was told to keep my luggage beside the driver to make sure that I do not inconvenience the other passengers. I thought to myself "I am so lucky. I get this first bus so easily, I should be in Anjuna in no time."
Needless to say I was wrong. As I was travelling solo, I being so effecient had managed to outrun everyone that was on my train and be the first one to reach the bus. An advantage of this was that I got an empty bus with a place to be seated. The downside was that I waited the most to get the bus going. I was waiting there in the bus covered in sweat, with breeze blowing in a bus, which was purposefully kept on to give the illusion that was about to take off for what feels like an eternity. As soon as I felt that the bus is going to get going, the driver would spot someone waking from the station signalling interest in going to Mapusa. What added to my frustration was the part where I saw a few people not getting in the bus and just standing on the road, and getting on a bus that showed up from behind, which was not interested in spending time waiting for people coming from the railway station. I held on to my patience, and after some time, I was no more exhausted by my short walk with luggage, allowing me to spend some time in observing my co-passengers, as everyone seemed varied. After zoning out for quite some while, once the bus was full to the satisfaction of the driver, it started towards Mapusa, picking more and more people on the way. At some point the bus was so crowded that people not used to it, would have fainted standing in the crowd. After all that effort, all that was left to do was pay for my ticket when the conductor was making his rounds. It was ₹30 to Mapusa. I had Google Maps on all the while as I wanted to know if the bus was taking me where I thought it was. My destination for this leg of the journey was Mapusa Bus stand. It is supposed to be be this central hub in North Goa where you will find buses to almost all major places around Goa. In addition to the multitude of private routes, there were also some government operated buses on fixed long routes.
Once I got down at the bus stand, I was greeted with people, going about their day to day life. Everyone knew where they had to go and what bus they had to take. Unlike me, who had to ask around where I will get my next bus. Except Anjuna, there were a few more routes that the bus operators were shouting out trying to attract prospective travellers. The ones I recognised were Baga-Calungute-Candolim, Panji. This was around 2:30PM in the afternoon with a sunny weather, and I decided to stand in the sun to wait for the bus. Just waiting for the bus exhausted and took out almost all the water I had in my body as sweat.
Finally a bus came for Anjuna-Vagator-Chapora and I was at least able to sit in a less sunny place. I was well prepared to expect the bus to take a decent amount of time to get going. This final leg of the journey was similar to the last and cost me ₹30, getting my total travel expense to ₹60. I realised the bus would be going through the road where my destination was, so I was able to convince the driver to drop me off very close to the destination. I definitely would have loved travelling more by this mode of transport if I were to be travelling without my luggage. If the luggage is manageable, and you have the time and you are not just a spoilt brat, there should be no problems using the local buses from travelling in Goa. Would especially recommend it to school and college kids who are normally on a pretty tight budget and have ample free time to spare.