Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Andaman Islands

Let me start off by saying that 5 days is NOT enough.

Havelock Island sunset

Flight - You can catch direct flights to Port Blair from Calcutta and Chennai. We left Bangalore at 5am and reached Havelock Island at 5pm (Flight Bangalore-Chennai 2 hrs, Chennai-Port Blair 1.5 hrs, ferry ride Port Blair-Havelock 2.5 hrs and many hours to kill in between). Flight costs about US$350, which is pretty much the cost for a Bangalore – Port Blair all throughout the year. Geographically, Andaman is closer to Thailand but Andaman follows the Indian time zone, hence sunrise at 5 a.m. and subsets at 5 p.m. We were told by a local auto-rickshaw driver that a boat ride from Thailand takes about 30 minutes.

Hotel - My first choice was Pristine Resort, which offers huts the size of a single bed with shared bathrooms at Rs100 (US$2) or a double story hut at Rs1000 but because my roommate is inclined to stay at luxurious hotels, we instead stayed at Wild Orchid that costs about Rs5000/night (US$100).

Havelock is a tiny island. We rented a motorbike for 2 days and rode around the north side of the island. On the ride to the east coast to Beach #7, we passed the very tranquil and simple lives of the local villagers.

Beach #7, Havelock Island

Beach #7, Havelock Island

Elephant ride on the beach.

There’s really not much to do on the Andaman Islands unless you scuba dive or snorkel. We took a Scuba Divers course (2 chapters short to be fully certified with Open Water Diving) at Barefoot on Havelock Island. Preparing to dive is as complicated as preparing to go to space. My first dive was scary as hell but once I was 12 meters underwater, surrounded by colorful corals and circled by what seems to be a thousand blue yellow fishes, I was in a state of bliss. I had some problems equalizing the pressure in my ears on every dive and some saltwater got into my right ear and blocked it for a few days, but regardless, I find it easier to learn how to dive than to learn how to surf.

Dive boats on Havelock Island

Port Blair laundry. According to our auto-rickshaw driver, the island's laundry used to be done on the beach but had caused some polution, so they were moved to this little pond and now is free for all to use.

Port Blair Cellular Jail, aka "Kala Pani" or "Black Water" known to house many Indian freedom fighters back in the early 1900s.

More Andaman Pics

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