Image by Renaud Visage Getty Images
Anjuna’s weekly Wednesday flea market is as much part of the Goan experience as a day on the beach. More than three decades ago, it was conceived and created by hippies smoking jumbo joints, convening to compare experiences on the heady Indian circuit and selling pairs of Levi jeans or handmade jewellery to help fund the rest of their stay.
Nowadays things are far more mainstream and the merchandise comes from all over India: sculptures and jewellery courtesy of the Tibetan and Kashmiri traders; colourful Gujarati tribal women selling T-shirts; richly colourful saris, bags and bedspreads from Rajasthan; sacks of spices from Kerala; and the hard-to-miss tribal girls from Karnataka pleading passers-by to ‘come look in my shop.’ Weaving in among this syrupy blend of stalls are the remaining hippies, backpackers, weekenders from Mumbai, and bus- and taxi-loads of package tourists from Russia and Europe.
Such purchasing power has inevitably pushed market prices up but with plenty of competition you can still find some good bargains if you know the right price. These days the market sprawls back from the beach to the entrance road in the paddy fields; the endless stalls can become repetitive after a while. For a rest from the shopping there are chai stalls and a couple of restaurant-bars with live music. Cafe Looda has a fabulous sunset beachfront location and live music from 5pm.
You might still find Westerners trading goods and services (tattoos, piercings and the like) but it’s much more a souvenir market. Despite changes over the years, the market shows no sign of waning in popularity, so dive in and enjoy the ride. The best time to visit is early (from 8am) or late afternoon (around 4pm till close just after sunset). The first market of the season is around mid-November, continuing till the end of April.