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Old 15th January 2017, 02:06   #1
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Default The Andaman Islands – Simply Irresistible

There are beach trips and then there is the Andaman trip. Brings to mind a popular slogan “Agar tumne bharat mein Andaman ka beach nahin dekha hain toh beach hi kahan dekha hain.”, and the popular 70s tamil song “Andamanai Parungal Azhagu” (Famous Sivaji, Sujatha movie) – wifey was humming this all through this trip! - Which aptly describes a holiday spent at Andamans exploring North and South Andamans.

The start of the trip planned a few months ago started on an ominous note with cyclone Vardah “storming” the headlines a few days before we were due to fly out of Bangalore on 19th December on the Go Air flight directly to Port Blair.

However things had considerably calmed down by the time D-Day arrived and the weather forecast was predicted for generally a sunny stretch interspersed with sporadic rainfall. (Gosh it sounds like a hangover from the good old Doordarshan days with Salma spouting such corny dialogues in her weather report).

Flight was at 11:15, did not want to take a chance with Monday traffic, we reached airport early with a motivation to spend sometime in the lounge facility offered by Master card. Little one was super thrilled with a possibility of that, not knowing what it meant And I built her expectation without revealing the “details”. When we hit the lounge after security check, She was impressed by the lounge, I must confess!. Though breakfast was closed, and they managed to serve us early lunch!

The flight was like a typical Dhoni innings slow and meandering along up till the last 5 minutes with a pulsating climax in the form of a first glimpse of the paradise called Andaman. A carpet of lush green forest covered islands surrounded by a circle of luminous cyan-green waves culminating on to white foam like waves kissing the narrow strip of white sand – didn’t realize that’s tip of the iceberg for what we were going to experience for next 10 days and the memories which going to last long.
Clicked from window seat which was given to me grudgingly by little one
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Moments which are etched in our memories. (For someone who always treat beaches with disdain as compared to mountains and forests!)

Spotted by Smrithi, I picked it up to show the cute hermit crab in Aamkunj beach
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Moricedara beach little further away from Aamkunj beach
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These two beaches had beautiful fresh water stream and a lovely vista points where we could have a complete view of the turquoise sea. We were already in love with the islands!. These are 10 KM from Rangat enroute to Diglipur, North Andamans. Our first taste of many pristine beaches which were awaiting for us. Little ahead is Dhani Nallah mangrove walk. This is a must stop - will make you realize the ecological balance they bring in

Heavenly Ross and Smith islands, Digilipur
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Smith island beach. We spent maximum hours allowed by boatman here, as hours went by without us even realizing it. Such beautiful shallow waters and with crystal shades of emerald and turquoise. Ideal for snorkelling.

We took the short walk across the sand bar to Ross island. View of Smith from Ross island
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We are yet to get out of the Ross and Smith hangover.

Enroute to Saddle Peak (highest in Andamans), Oh Boy!, what a trek it was.
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Trees reminded us of scenes from Anaconda/Jurassic Park. Broad day light was beaten by the rain forest, giving a thrill tinged with nervous energy!.

Sea giving as a lone company through out the trek.
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Did not make to the peak for "certain" reasons, will come back to that.

From Poignant Diglipur to Heart warming Neil island.
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Neil roads were stunningly dotted with plantain/cononut trees all along. We were happily darting one beach to another in activa

Sitapur beach, famous for sunrise - we were there in evening.
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We didnt take a dip there, smrithi had fun exploring corals. Such a serene beach, one could sit for hours.

Coral Bay - Rock formation which resembles howrah bridge - Neild Island
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Reaching the spot was fun and could be adventurous for few, as folks were commenting on amarnath yatra. The best part was, we spotted a star fish

Bharatpur Beach - Neil island
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This is a beach one can play for hours. Loads of water sports activities.
We could use our under water camera here. Corals and corals - though bleached


Here we come, Havelock!
Breathtaking Kalapathar Beach
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Most favorite beach for us in Havelock, though this is kind of last beach to visit/give it a miss in people's list. You keep walking, you are offered with unique views without a soul around, the experience was kind of spiritual.

Barefeet Scuba, Havelock
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Smrithi decided to give bed to the kitten. We did snorkeling with Barefoot scuba coaches. Best experience guaranteed

Beach behind Wild Orchid resort, Havelock.
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We had fun there with folks flying kites. This is one of the cute and peaceful beaches.

Finally Radha Nagar beach with a sunset to die for!
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Last visited beach by us while in havelock. Arguably best and supposed to be in one's bucket list!. No doubt this beach probably has longest stretch for you to pick up your own spot without any one around, inspite tourists flocking there. The water and the sand was serene. After Bharathpur in Neil, we could play/swim to our heart's content. Smrithi had a blast here.

Have reached the maximum upload limit of 30. Will continue with prose from here.

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Old 15th January 2017, 14:38   #2
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Default re: The Andaman Islands – Simply Irresistible

Nice pics. How long was your trip? Where did you stay?

Cheers
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Old 15th January 2017, 14:48   #3
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Default re: The Andaman Islands – Simply Irresistible

Great pics Vijay. I am sure you had a wonderful trip. The first picture taken from the airplane is stunning!!

I was just asking Kanthi the other day about when the Andaman travelogue is going to be published And here it is
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Old 15th January 2017, 16:52   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tilt View Post
Nice pics. How long was your trip? Where did you stay?

Cheers
Thanks tilt.The trip was for 11 days in total.We felt a tad less by a couple of days to do complete justice.

More to follow with details.Hopefully by tonight.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rohanak1 View Post
Great pics Vijay. I am sure you had a wonderful trip. The first picture taken from the airplane is stunning!!

I was just asking Kanthi the other day about when the Andaman travelogue is going to be published And here it is
Your wish is our command!

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Old 15th January 2017, 23:00   #5
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Excuse me for penning down this travelogue part by part. There is so much, putting down everything in one go is little difficult. Here is the account of first few days..

Day 1-stay at port blair
Landed and out of the airport by around 3 pm. (stay place www.andamanhomestay.com (noble guest house) or popularly known as Captains house about 4 kms from veer savarkar airport). Took a pre paid taxi costing Rs 150 to Captains house based at haddo and run by Dinaz Noble and her son Shiraz. Tanaz her daughter is an avid and world famous kayak/snorkeling expert who has featured in National geographic magazine. They are in to organic farming growing spices like pepper/cinnamon along with coconuts and areca nut which they grow in their plantation based in a private island.

The stay place was very clean and basic. The only eye-sore was, trash bin outside which was most of the time ravaged by goats, cows and cats and giving a momentary stink near the gate. I obviously did not observe it, as usual pointed by Kanthi. Dinaz told us we could possibly visit Cellular Jail that day with 4:30 PM cut off for entry. After a quick bite (the bite itself took 30 mins to get served!) at a fast food joint called Milky Way (serving yummy pizza) we took an auto costing Rs 60 to the cellular jail. However the place closes for public entry by 4 pm, not 4:30. We were there by 4:15. We spent time walking around the jail atop a hill and overlooking the Rajiv Gandhi water sport complex and a big football ground. Took a long walk along the sea on the spot less and clean footpath. The night set in very quickly in this part of the country and it gets dark from 5.30PM (These people need day light savings, Man!- Madam K!).
Reached the home stay for an early night and for an early start the next day. We had asked Shiraz to co-ordinate our Diglipur commute as well as ferry arrangements for Neil and Havelock. During the conversation, it became apparent, the likes of Thomas cook, makemytrip block all the ferry tickets and getting tickets even with the advance notice of 2-3 weeks before, is next to impossible. At least, that was the impression given my Shiraz’s Auto driver/agent/travel guide Majid (Mr. All in all )projected the picture. He took 10K from us assuring seats when we get back to Port Blair after 4 days. He was also kind of ridiculing us going to Diglipur and staying for nights and wondering what kind of crazy folks we are!. And he told us not to venture Ross and Smith island as weather could play havoc any time/day in his “country”. Meanwhile, Kanthi started talking (basically contradicting with his ideas!) to him in tamil realizing he is a Mallu!. Most of the locals know Hindi, Tamil and Malayalam is what we were going to find out in the coming days. After all the discussions, we retired to bed around 9:30 PM.

While the plane was touching down port blair
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Milky Way - One of our favorite while in port blair
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Though looks deserted most of the time, they managed to make fresh/tasty pizzas and pretty good softies..

Walk around the celluar jail
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If look closely or zoom in, that's Tana Noble
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Day 2-Port Blair to Diglipur-Kalipur by road.
An early morning start by car (costing us Rs 11,000 in a xylo for 3 nights stay and local ride there) and we hit the road after a quick breakfast. Kanthi tried to subtly deliver the message to Shiraz, that driver should not be chewing paan and spitting sensing our man indeed is chewing guy! We had breakfast in Nobel house itself as they have a cook for guests. We had so-so idly with packed chappthis for en-route. We chose not to visit the Baratang Lime stone caves(all three of us are not fans of caves!) and so could afford to take the second convoy at 9.30am.(The convoy timings being 6.30/9.30/12.30/3 pm).The priority for being first on the line being buses followed by cars and then trucks.

Why convoys? So firstly the road which runs through the Andamans is the ATR road(The Andaman trunk road) starting from South Andaman which is basically Port Blair and then the middle Andamans where baratang Lime caves are situated followed by our destination North Andaman where Diglipur town is located. This road cuts through the 2 segments of forest where the Jarawa tribes inhabit the area. The Jarawa tribesmen who bear a close resemblance to the Africans are the original inhabitants of the Andamans and barely number 400 today. Sadly they seem to be promoted as tourist attractions to be spotted during the drive through. The idea of having a collective convoy of vehicles crossing their area is to protect the tribals from being harassed by the tourists as no cars are allowed to stop or take photos.
It takes about an hour and half to cross their territory and hit the first jetty across which the caves are located. Truck loads of folks were taking ferry to go to caves as we watched on and waiting for the container ferry to continue forward. We could not take the first one as the preference for given to Buses and it got full in no time. (Incidentally I suggested A/C bus to Kanthi but she rejected citing her migraine issues and inflexibility about stopping whenever/wherever we want) As usual folks were trying to cut the line.

Enroute, after Baratang - Crossing over to other side
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It was hot humid and folks chewing paan all over the place. May be this part of the whole journey was least liked by us.

Anyhow We continued along our journey further north and entered the second segment of the forest. The traffic is nil in this segment with no restrictions and we saw many tribes. The kids were so adorable with their innocent inquisitive looks. Kind of heart tugging moment reflecting on how life is for us and for them and wondered whose is better?. The next major town was Rangat. If you are the wild type then I would just pen a brief description later about the various non touristy attractions we heard of or researched about (Frankly deserves a complete holiday just exploring these area of the Andamans without even touching the popular locations like Havelock and Port blair and surrounding islands).

We could also have opted to take the same journey by boat (takes 8-9 hours and costs around Rs 350/-) or through bus (A/c one costs Rs 450/- and non a/c Rs 350 and takes the same time too). The issue with the boat/ferry is, possibility of sea sickness and unpredictability of the timings.

Where we stopped en route:
First up was Aamkunj beach just about 8 kms off Rangat town. This was our first beach on our trip and it was certainly not disappointing without being spectacular. The impressive fact about most of these tourist attractions are the amazing eco friendly structures built by the tourism department made primarily of the abundantly available forest wood. We also saw the amazing abundance of corals and sea shells as well as marine life like crabs carrying shells on their backs. Later learnt that the crabs called hermit crabs live in the borrowed shells and when they out grow the same they abandon the shells and find larger ones. The whole of Andamans virtually teem with an abundance of these hermit crabs. Corals are marine invertebrates which are hard living calcium like shells of various brilliant colors spread under sea which when washed on the shore are generally dead. The abundance of corals in the andamans virtually make it appear as common as stones or pebbles elsewhere.

We had fun dipping our feet on the warm sea with gentle waves and soft fine white sand. Had a taste of coconuts which are huge and sweet priced at Rs 30 in beaches and Rs 20 in the towns.
The drive from here was with a changed topography as the complete forest drive now gave away to the road running parallel to the sea. It was just awesome.

Aamkunj
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We were super impressed by the sign board, vista point setting and of course solitary beach and sea. Its pity folks turn back from Baratang. Here is where the beauty of Andamans start.

Next up was Moricedara beach
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This beach also had a beautiful fresh water stream and a lovely vista point where we could have a complete view of the turquoise sea. We were already in love with the islands!

As we enjoyed an uninterrupted view of the sea from the road we hit our next destination a few kms up the road. The Dhani Nallah Mangrove walk simply took our breath away. It is a long 1.5 kms wooden walkway leading up to the sea with mangroves on both sides of the walkway. Amidst the beautiful green cover of trees surrounding the wooden walk way we encountered several beautiful birds including the Andaman collared kingfisher/chestnut headed bee eater/Andaman Ruddy kingfisher/Andaman Racket tailed Drongo. True to our nature we had kept the 300 mm lens sagely tucked away in the car and had to make do with our 18-55 MM and our eyes to shoot them. One(among many) of our moments of truth happened here. We had borrowed the Nikon from one of Kanthis friend as ours has an issue. The lid fell slipped through her fingers while she attempted to click mangrove roots up close. Little one climbed down from the bridge and picked it up and herself without any damage!
The tourism department had marked some quaint stop overs with a superb centre table and nice wooden seats for a brief stopover which greatly impressed us. Wish other states take the cue and follow the same too!

Dhani Nallah
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Spot the king fisher? Our successful capture

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Never seen mangroves up close like this. It was a calm cool evening with no one else around, we were in the zone where we felt so small in front of nature

The place was darted with Huge trees with peaceful sea and beach.
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We were just spell bound and thankful for being there at that time.

By the time we were out of this place, it was 4:30 PM.
Here, I need to mention about Sachin, the driver. So far he has contained his chewing habits and adhering to Kanthis request (rule?!) of lowering the volume of killing Kumar Sanu songs. Now., he made a grand announcement, he is going to hit the road non-stop with the music blaring. I felt at that moment itself Kanthi’s headache started;-). So far we were kind of flipping the front seat between us. Now., she gave it up to me for the rest of the journey. Man, what a drive it was. Sheer torture with loud kumar sanu, with full throttle on bumpy roads. If it was like this for me, Kanthi started developing serious migraine. (For all the fore thought of flexible plan, the taxi offers – at that moment she would have murdered Sachin!). Finally she made him stop for break and ordered him to stop the music too, risking our lives by Sachin sleeping - that was a better option for her.
Amid all this, Smrithi was in good spirits, trying to calm down the situation. Sigh! We finally hit Diglipur town. From here the resort (Pristine resort) was about 18 kms away, which seemed like eternal distance away in pitch dark conditions and bumpy roads. Mind it, they were not pot holed roads like Bangalore but kind of patched up roads, which our Sachin made us feel like, there were no roads. Yeti and yours Truly would have smooth sailed is what better half grudgingly complemented afterwards!. Reached the Andaman pristine resort around 8 PM. Kanthi crashed with a headache, Smrithi and Me had decent dinner of paneer mutter masala and rotis.

We settled into the artistically done up cabin and I was all geared up and excited about the prospect of seeing the turtle nesting which had commenced from December first week. The nesting happens in high tide and starts at different timings each night which happened to be 1 pm that night. There are 4 varieties of turtles which travel unknown distances on the seas and reach the same nesting point year after year at kalipur.This was a short 10 minute walk from the resort. Gathered all the tidbits from Selva, who was assisting Alex, owner of the property.

Kanthi in ruled out condition, smrithi asked me to wake her up by calling her twice. With my two attempts failing, I tried my luck alone armed with my phone torch light. Met the forest guards and another couple from Mumbai Meera and Nirav. We waited for some time vainly for their arrival. They apparently swim in with the tide and walk a short distance to the edge of the beach in dry sand where they lay their eggs after digging a hole and then cover the same after laying the eggs. The forest guards then move these to a nearby hatchery to protect them from natural enemies who feed on the eggs where they hatch after 45 days gestation period and are then released into the sea to start their beautiful journey called zindagi.
The three of us then decided to call it a night but not before stopping to admire the wide canvas of stars which the clear sky presented before us.

Next Day morning this is what we saw when we stepped out.
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Old 16th January 2017, 10:18   #6
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Default re: The Andaman Islands – Simply Irresistible

I am glad you visited and stayed on the Neil Island. Much quieter and friendlier that Havelock. A lovely retreat with crystal clear water. I found Neil and the Cellular Jail to be the most memorable parts of you seven days in Andamans.

In case someone is wondering th Nicobar group is 'off limits' for tourists.
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Old 27th January 2017, 21:42   #7
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Day 3: The way I picked Alex’s brains, by now, he understood our quest for wandering, suggested us to team up with Meera and her husband Nirav (Fellow inmates in the resort) who seemed to have similar mindset like us. It was so similar that we zip in Yeti wherever possible, whereas they cycle! Big Salute to them for cycling in Ladak! These two were Mumbai, fitness freaks and have very commendable practice of travelling minimalistic and leaving no foot print wherever they go.

After finishing up breakfast (nothing noteworthy there, except their policies!), All five of us headed to Ross and Smith island. The drive (Sachin was told by Kanthi that no more music while in Diglipur!)was till the Aerial bay jetty where we needed to hire a boat typically seating around 6.(Costed Rs 2500/- for the boat). After filling in the necessary papers where we needed to show our ID proof we were all set to make our way to the Ross and smith islands.

Pristine Resort
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We liked the "Water Message"

A 15 minutes boat ride and we were at Smith islands. We had packed some food and nuts and water as there is not much available in the islands in terms of refreshment. It was low tide and a narrow strip of glistering white sand bar separated the twin island both lush green. The sand bar separates a lagoon with the open sea and gets submerged as one during high tide.

The site which met our eyes was spectacular to put it mildly. This was undoubtedly the best beach we were to visit during our stay at Andaman and that is saying a lot.

Sand, Sun and water as soft as velvet
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Meanwhile Smrithi had hit it off with Meera big time. That was the best thing we could ask for as parents. We didn’t have to hang around and haggle with Smrithi about how deep/far she can go into the sea with “deep/far” being debatable between her and us. Among the five, only they both know swimming while the rest of us proudly proclaimed we could cross the apartment swimming pool either length wise or width wise! And they went bonkers and were swimming away to glory in the mild sea waves which was extremely soothing. Rest of us played in water for some time with Nirav wandering off with his passion (DSLR) , me trying to do some shore snorkeling with high hopes of shooting corals with my newly acquired GoPro camera! Kanthi snickered big time and decided to do what she knows best – walking!

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These two did not want to get out of water
Finally out showing off the shells
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Smrithi had to put them back grudgingly as she was told not to displace anything from where it belongs.
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At peace with oneself
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Caught M and N in their moment, hope they don't mind

By the way., Snorkeling was supposed to be awesome here but there are no guides and we need to be experts to do the same. The hours went by without us even realizing it and we took the short walk (after pulling Smrithi away from water with great difficulty) across the sand bar to Ross island. The place was infested with hermit crabs and exquisite shells of various colors.

Ross island was a dense jungle with a walking trail leading to a light house atop a hill. Again, Meera and Smrithi proved their agility by climbing the light house which was in shambles without much to hold on to climb!

ROSS island giving us the first glimpse of how Andaman green cover is going to be
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Hermit Crabs everywhere
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Light House in shambles
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Agility queen

The designated 4 hour flew by and we made our way back from this paradise islands. Rest of the day was spent walking around to kalipur beach and then again made the 2 am walk to check on the turtles in vain. Learnt that Rangat was the place where most turtle nesting happens. what a day it was, superb weather, breath taking beach, soft waters, green jungle and best of all, we have made friends during the travel which is icing on the cake. That’s the heartwarming part of this whole journey.

Last edited by vijayols : 5th February 2017 at 21:22.
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Old 5th February 2017, 22:14   #8
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Day 4: Three mistakes of our Saddle Peak Trek!
Mistake #1: A slightly leisurely start and we were at the base of the saddle peak trek by 8.30 am after a short drive. Leisurely became kind of late because of Smrithi lazing around and we, waiting for Selva’s breakfast pack.
Mistake #2: Underestimating the trek distance! Kanthi – it’s only 8KM up, we can easily do 16 man, and me falling for it (as usual!).
Mistake #3: Conveniently forgot about Smrithi’s break points and not realizing the jungle here could actually block all sun light.
He he, easy giveaways of what is coming right? May not be that apparent, read on
Took permission from the forest guard and after signing a form and the register we learnt that the only other visitor that day was a set of boys who had started at the ideal time of 6 am.

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There were two paths one along the coastline and the other through the jungle running parallel to the first. We were however only able to track the coastline path after making a failed attempt to get somewhere with the deep forest path. It looked like a blessing that time, since we were enjoying both forest and sea side by side. The track was strewn with fallen red leaves and scores of hermit crabs. The occasional glimpse of the sea was magical. The flora in the thick tropical rainforest with trees extremely tall and hardly allowing sunlight to seep through. The tree trunks were broad and reminiscence of Jurassic park like trees. We were half expecting some pre historic creatures to pop up. But the only creatures we encountered were geckos which kept scurrying around. The trail through the national park included crossing first two streams as well as a small inlet of sea water (Blessing, really?) with ankle high water. Smrithi tried to cross by climbing over a tree trunk and jump across, since it was muddy she joined us to cross from same point. The terrain was neither flat nor steep till we crossed final stream and tattered bridge (made of branches) and touched the point from where the actual ascent happened towards the saddle peak which is the highest point in the Andamans. The feeling was mixed about being all alone and the thrill of being in such a unique flora. By now., as per the board we have done only 3 KM. But we definitely felt, it was lot more

First Stream
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It was dense!
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corals all the way
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So far so good with sea view
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What a majestic view of sea-inlet

This is the picture you may need to zoom!
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First circle is the trunk on which smrithi jumped across, second one is what Parents stepped on to cross

Second Stream
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Third one
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After this point, ascend was super steep. Time was around 10:30 AM. Did we take really take 2 hours to cross 3 KM? Seriously?! Kanthi simply refused to believe it started the serious climb with Smrithi by now asking for more breaks! We have to accept she was soaking in to the forest by pausing, looking around, picking up sticks and spotting hermit crabs, geckos where as we were concentrating on moving ahead.

Moments of sheer pleasure for the little one
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In her zone

We saw the three boys on their way down before we crossed the first point built as a shelter and a center table made of bamboo and wood. At this point, we confidently set a time limit of 12:30 PM by when we need to return back from the peak (Assuming we will reach, spend 30 mins or so there). Well, we climbed for another 1 hour, we realized that reaching the peak may be tough. By now., I was little bit panting and Smrithi was kind of enjoying since it was a climb, and Madam K told she will go front and try to trace out the peak. This was around 12:30. She went ahead and came back within few minutes saying, it did not look like the peak is anywhere near. Every turn looked, we had reached, but not so. We took the stock of the situation. We did not want to be stranded all alone in the middle of the jungle with only geckos and chirping birds for company besides the possibility of the odd croc(rumored to be in the jungle) before night fall set at 5 pm (5 is for the plains, here the already the jungle looked dark and dense) or the heavens opened up to soak us.. There, without reaching peak, we started back and had our packed lunch in the first point. We kind of felt the urgency to reach the base and stopped taking breaks and photos. Only gory details ahead

Here the blessing turned out to be curse. Remember the sea inlet – Decided to throw scary surprise at us. On the look of it, the whole scene looked different, Kanthi making a smart remark, “Smrithi, look there the tree trunk you were on, it is inside the water“. I kind of froze! I looked down for the trunk we were on, oh man! The seawater level had risen considerably, with a faint trace of the trunk, and we were not able to judge how deep was the bottom though my brains told me, it was not even ankle deep for me while going. Both Kanthi and I are not swimmers and only our 8 year old daughter smrithi knew swimming. She coolly said, if it was not for brackish water, she would swim across. Every second we could see water kind of gushing in. Kanthi was visibly shaken now, but wisely suggested that I lower myself down to check whether my foot touches down. We then threw our foot wear to the other side and I lowered myself from a tree trunk to check where my feet would reach the bottom (if at all it could do). My feet luckily were able to reach the bottom and in fact water was up to my chest that allowed Kanthi also to cross swiftly with neck deep, otherwise it would have been a very tricky situation. Smrithi perched on my shoulders and we were all safely able to negotiate the challenge and reach the other end. We had packed the camera in a small back pack but our phones were in our respective pockets. Both our phones had switched off and was to power on nearly at the last few days of our trip. We realized that the phones we seem to be so addicted is not so important when it mattered and we did not even think about it when we were terrified about crossing the sea water creek. What a relief after we crossed that. It was may be 6 feet wide, we could have tried long jumping….all after thoughts..

The rest of the journey was completed in a hurry as we were scared about the prospect of another surprise though we later realized that the other streams were fresh water ones and would not change with the tide.

We reached the resort exactly by 4 PM. We relived the experience when we met Meera and Nirav who had been advised to take the trek on their last day instead of joining us because of the intensity. Alex was assuring us that, if we had not returned back by 5 PM, they would have sent a search party. But, man what an experience and how mind sends anxiety waves when something unfamiliar hits you. Worst case, we would have need to spend a night in forest right? If that was organized with few more folks, we would have loved it! Oh yeah, we simply outpoured all these thoughts and retired to bed with a sense of relief and feeling small
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Old 5th February 2017, 23:02   #9
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Day 5. Felt 3 nights in Diglipur is not enough to explore. We have missed Ramnagar beach. Early morning start and largely uneventful Only made us ponder that an overnight option would have been far better. While coming back, we could make eye contact with few Jarawa tribe kids. Soul searching and epitome of innocence. With internalization kicking in again, reached Port Blair by 3 pm and made a visit to the Anthropological museum which gave us an insight on the original inhabitants of the islands and their ways of life. Worth time spent. It is a must visit. Went and had dinner in Kattabomman (Super dosas)

Day 6: More to the business end of the tour (for Smrithi at least as we were finally off to do snorkeling and scuba) as we had a 7.30 ferry to Neil island. Getting ferry tickets is a big task and would suggest for any travelers to Andamans especially in peak season kindly do the ferry ticketing well in advance. We took help from Majid (09474297786/09679528192) an all in one agent cum auto driver who could arrange the entire ticketing logistics when all looked lost. He incidentally also arranges trip logistics and schedules and could be contacted for any help, if you can tolerate the “know it all” attitude!. He irritated Madam K to no end!.

Reached Neil by around 9.30 am. The island though relatively not as popular as Havelock was still full of tourists which scared us as we were anticipating we could have the island all for ourselves!. We hired a rick and reached the “Vacation Village” resort. Nothing to talk about this place. Would not recommend anyone to stay. It’s not that it was not clean or anything, but there are better cozy places in this island. We dumped our luggage and decided to walk around 2 KM+ (no guesses as whose decision is that!) back to the downtown to have lunch and explore the beaches. It was hot but with super green canopy around, we didn’t feel the heat much. By the time, We reached super hungry and searching for “Chand” restaurant as it had rave reviews. There were 3 chands at three corners and walked up and down to each one to find none of them were ready with lunch by 12:30 noon. We chanced upon a small tea shop kind of place and asked for food. They served us such yummy hot sambar rice with Papad (Applam). I had eggs and rice, two girls had plate full of rice. One tummy full, we were into animated discussion whether to walk/cycle around. I was kind of looking at hiring a scooter(given the time we had in hand) and other two were, let us go by cycle. Thankfully madam saw my reasoning and accepted for scooter halfheartedly. We hired an activa from Manickams shop @ Rs 350 per day. One look at license he just gave away the scooter without even bothering to ask for our local address or any other proof. May be they think, where can these people vanish with my scooter!. But in general, folks are extremely trusting and all the places are safe. Petrol in Neil and Havelock are sold by either the scooter renters or shops designated as selling agents and was Rs 80/- per litre. There are 5 beaches in Neil and are named as Bharatpur(which is close to the jetty and famous for is water activities including snorkeling/Glass bottom boats and jet skis)/Sitapur (beautiful and less crowded)/Rampur(rocky and not as spectacular)/Laxmanpur I & II (famed for its sunset but has sand flies which are itchy) and Natural rock formation besides a nearby wild life sanctuary and turtle nesting place called sir Hugh Rose island also called chotta neil.

Stroll towards downtown
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By now, the village grew on us, and we were in love already with this island

Gas Stations, you see
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We managed to cover all 5 beaches and the warmth and serenity of the place was unbeatable. Riding in activa on such cute long roads, darted with coconut and plantain trees all over was heavenly. We regretted not having earmarked another day for Neil which deserves to be covered in leisure(by cycling/walking) as the Foreigners do who spend their entire holiday just lazing around Neil. We fell in love with this island. All through the routes, we spotted many eco friendly accommodations, and they allowed us to check their property and use their rest rooms. Almost each one of them had character of its own, with clean bed and restrooms at very nominal prices. If you are in Neil, it is better to stay in these places rather than typical resorts!

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First we hit Bharatpur beach. Smrithi had super fun in the water again, and two boys were snorkeling next to us with their own kit. I have gave gopro to the older one and he indeed clicked corals!.

Bharatpur beach
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Color again was a killer

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Loads of water sports and shallow waters

Sitapur
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On the way to Sitapur
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All these places offer nice chill out stays. Worth trying there.

Neil is the Rice Bowl of Andamans!
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Sitapur is going to be ever green for us.
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There was something about this beach, i tell you..

Way to Coral point/Howrah bridge aka amarnath Yatra
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Spot itself was mesmerizing with mild rain and drizzle
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Beauties all around
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Sitapur beach is soulful beach, you feel, you are at end of the world and could be one with the beach in the evening. Next ride was to coral point/ Natural rock formation (called Howrah bridge). It was simply breathtaking. Had little bit of rains and the beauty of the surroundings went up further.

On the way back, We also checked amazing food joints and had dinner at Elephant and four wise men (on the way to Sitapur) run by a Ukranian Natalia her Israeli husband and their cute son. Natalia is an amazing cook and we got to taste her ravioli and a Ukranian dish. But her home made chocolate/coconut ice cream and the papaya ice cream were heavenly. The honey true to her claim is also the best in the world! They had a neat and basic completely eco friendly stay facility made of bamboo.
Dont miss this place
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Five stars for the food and ambience
Returned back to resort with stomach and heart full and had a good sleep.

Day 7: Had an okay breakfast in the resort and Kanthi managed to pack all the luggage in the activa with all three of us on it! Half way, the fellow travelers from the same resort, stopped their car and took some of our luggage (felt very grateful to them). Reached Havelock from Neil by Ferry by Makruzz operated coastal cruise. On landing, we were greeted by Shiraz Noble (Again so thoughtful) who had come to Havelock from port Blair for assisting Tanaz Noble for moonlight kayaking. He gave pointers on where to hire a scooter and we confirmed with him for moonlight kayaking for 26th evening. (Man, we realized its already 25th, lost the track of day and time seriously!). Hired a scooter on the way to Flying Elephant resort, for @ Rs 400/- per day. The plan was to stay two nights at the Flying Elephant with a one day gap in between to stay at barefoot scuba. You reach the resort after good 10 KM crossing beach #3 and #5 where so many resorts dart the beach line. Once you cross all the resorts, the path is so serine with thick trees on one side and sea view on the other side. You hit the Kalapathar beach first. It was highly underrated beaches among other beaches of Havelock but we kind of knew, this could have treasures for us! The resort was 2 mins walk from the resort. Wow! We loved the picture of flying elephant which greeted us and super eco friendly place completely built with Bamboo.

We were famished by this time and went to the restaurant and asked for food. The Chef cum acting Manager (Divyaman) felt very uncomfortable saying there is no food at that time of the day (2 PM) as they were preparing for Christmas party that evening. And our pleading looks made him cook something for us. The moment he said, I can offer Ginger Lemon honey combo, Kanthi grabbed the offer (Neither me nor he had no clue at that time, the consumption #s of that concoction by her, could result in shortage of Ginger in Havelock!). The best part of that, you could see fresh crushed ginger in the mix! The rotis took some time to come, but the food was pretty tasty (Made us hope that our taste buds would be treated well for the rest of the time Havelock!). After food, we crashed in our room (cottage with two story). It had nice open air bathroom with brass buckets and bath room fittings. Very clean. But there was little musty smell because of rains and the structure being bamboo. Windows and door opened up, the situation vastly improved. If you pick up a room, go for paddy bunglows which are single storied but with lot of light. If you are in summer, of course go for where we stayed (plantation bunglow). We took that, since smrithi wanted two story and it was in middle of dense trees. Spotted cats around, smirthi went off to play with them. She was super happy with the place. After hibernating for a while, we headed out around 3 PM. Manohar who is a helper told us that Kalapathar gives fantastic views.

Room @ Flying Elephant
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We loved the place

Last edited by vijayols : 17th February 2017 at 22:03.
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Old 17th February 2017, 23:48   #10
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Are we in forest or beach resort?
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Beach #1 for us: Kalapathar - Though pretty underrated, the beach which is difficult to swim as there are plenty of rocks, this was one of most scenic beaches, offered some amazing photo snaps and a surprise kingfisher sighting. We took a nice late a/f noon stroll. Had fantastic views of majestic trees blending with waters.

We could not get over the Trees and the water hues
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Tree trunks and Smrithi...they are there for her

Each sighting was a gleeful
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With a taste of Kalapathar, we rode towards downtown (vijaynagar called beach #5). We hit shakahar veg joint for some bajjis and pakodas. Again our taste buds enjoyed it thoroughly.
I had an ambitious idea of hitting radha nagar beach for sunset, though Kanthi was not for it. She wanted to simply roam around and explore. I convinced her and we started off around 4:30 towards radhanagar. It was almost looking like late evening. We just asked around and moved. Well., the roads were really, really bad. And in no time, it became dark. In one spot Hero Pleasure almost skidded and Smrithi jumped out. That was it. Kanthi said. Turn back!. I tried my luck for few more meters and asked folks how far Radha Nagar beach was. Got an “are you crazy” look and that said it. And we were seeing all the folks returning back in their two wheelers. Realizing that, no point riding a little rickety pleasure with all three of us on bad roads in dark (for spotting sunset!), we turned back. We hit downtown, I saw the petrol was really low and we had to withdraw money. Havelock has three ATMs and all next to each other. After fueling the wallet (not much of queue though!), tried for petrol pumps. Well, as you guess, none in sight, we asked around and took a chance with a shop where bikes were on hire. The lady first said No. The petrol was only for the bikes she was letting out. But little talking, she gave us two liters for tad higher rate. Then Madam K spotted the board which said, “Best Sorbets”. The lady of the shop has become pretty chatty and offered us seats to sit and gave us her homemade sorbet ice creams (Coconut and pineapple). They were so yummy, Kanthi asked her for recipe. She proudly boasted, they were all made from natural juice which were frozen and foreigners love her sorbet because of the fact she doesn’t add sugar at all. Well, something in Madam K’s looks made her confess that she adds little sugar. Otherwise how can one get some taste, han? She asked Meanwhile, the house cum shop was turning into a music concert stage with few men on tabla, clarinet and with a lead singer! We enjoyed the performance thoroughly with other passing by tourists giving a look of curiosity.

Homemade Pineapple Sorbet
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These moments spent with locals, make the trip

Its 7 PM. Guess what, we were hungry. We hit Wild Orchid restaurant. (Ambience was great). We were wondering what to order or should we check out Fat Martin next door, the waiter himself told we should try FatMartin!. Apparently, Wild orchid resort, Flying Elephant, emerald Gecko and Fat Martin restaurant are all run by same management. Food at Fat Martin was superb. No guesses for Ginger/Lemon/honey!. We were seriously hit by pleasant surprise by now., that we being vegetarians are having such yummy food in these islands, what a feast it must be for sea food lovers!.

It was such a relaxed evening with a music in the background, mood of Christmas in the air with great food. Smrithi again was playing with a cat in that restaurant. Looks like Havelock is cats land!. Realizing that we had to pack for next day and start should be as early as 6:30 AM towards barefoot scuba for snorkeling, we left around 8:30 PM and retired to bed around 9:30 PM. We could hear the party going on in the restaurant area and sense everything going quiet by 10 PM!. Had a good sleep within the nicely tied mosquito net around the bamboo floor bed.

Day 8: Got up around 6 AM. Madam K as usual has deftly packed what we need for a day’s stay in Barefoot Scuba. Always one bag had beachwear with sunscreen, cap, beach blanket and towels, other one had minimalistic set of clothes with additional pair for emergency. I always over pack, she is a backpacker, I swear! Managed to pack only two backpacks, remaining luggage in Flying elephant (with wet clothes on the clothing line) as we were going to come back to the same place next day.
It was kind of stupid idea to move from place to another within havelock. But we wanted to check out the experience of Barefoot even if we were not staying in Barefoot located in Radha Nagar. We reached Barefoot scuba. And the vibe there was awesome. You could feel water sports in the air! The guide/coaches were young men and women in their twenties with super fit physique. Our guide was Ion. Young friendly and professional chap. Barefoot scuba is PADI certified and they take you where the water is not murky.

Ion nicely laid out the program for us: We were going to go to 2 points (aquarium bay and the turtle bay), then lunch and head back. Forgotten the name of the point to list out here and neither I clicked to post it here. I must confess that I am terrified of water and was scared when we took off to snorkel by 7.30 am.

Barefoot Scuba
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Vibe was great and the whole place was thriving with adventure in air

Start of the adventure!
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We were taken in a nice Burmese boat made of teak. Another group was with us (Two families with kids who had come us group and staying in Radharnagar Barefoot resort). Generally we were having good time. Reached Aquarium bay in 45 mins or so. And I handed over the SJ cam underwater camera to Kanthi for recording. We had a tough time trying to get hang of how we could snorkel keeping our head under water without getting sea water to sneak in to our mask and nose. My snorkeling gear was perfect whereas Kanthi kept on complaining the gear was slipping off now and then, and I was getting upset with her as she was not clicking anything and she was simply busy adjusting her gear.
The person who was completely at ease was Smrithi and thoroughly enjoying the experience. The setup was something like this. One of the divers (two more accompanied with Ion) was holding a ring buoy, where all three of us could hold on to each one’s rope. The guide was trying to move us ahead. Smrithi and Kanthi got a hang of it immediately and were just keeping a tab on it to move along. Me being so water phobic, held onto the robe so tightly and pulling every one back and the guide was requesting/begging me to hold it light so that he can move forward!.
We went around for 30 mins, by now, I got hold of how to breathe with mouth, with Kanthi out of water most of the time annoyed with her gear. We went back to boat and then she changed to different one. After that her experience was matching Smirithi. (she had discreetly kept the SJ Cam back in the boat while she was changing the gear) Both were enjoying thoroughly with holding hands and kind of dancing inside the water spotting angel fish and corals whereas I was still holding onto the rope so tightly

To sum it up, the experience after we had got used to the same was great and we managed to spot a few schools of fishes and some corals.
The scene changed when we reached turtle bay which was made for snorkeling. The underwater sea life was just amazing and the corals so colorful it was simply magical. We spotted so many colorful tropical fishes swimming between the corals and some star fishes and a huge fish. We had also got hang of now snorkeling comfortably but lost in the sea world before we knew it was time to get back to the boat and have lunch as it was 2.30 pm already. Whole day is gone in the expedition. Barefoot folks have packed our lunch, and we had wholesome lunch in the boat. We do have a few recordings to show for it as I went back with Ion to shoot some. The entire experience was just breathtaking. While heading back, I made a mention that my shoulder was paining, folks were gaping at me and burst out laughing as it was due to me holding onto the rope so tightly

Burmese Boat was superb
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Water was scary Initially
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Later became thrilling entity!

Reached Barefoot Scuba and felt thankful that we didn’t have to go anywhere else to change and take rest, we checked into the tent we had booked. Oh, the tent was seriously luxurious. Had a huge bath area. Had a nice bath and took a nice nap. Since we had to leave for moonlight kayaking for 5:30 PM, reluctantly we got up around 4:30 PM. (tip: Never chart anything else to do on the day you go for snorkeling/Scuba).

Luxury Swiss Tent
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We were out around 5 PM after tea in the cafeteria. Reached Barefoot bar and brassiere where we had to meet the one and only Tanaz Noble. Her skills and reputation was so apparent in the island, whenever/wherever we mentioned her name to any of the local(s), they were like, Ah, Tanaz? She kayaks from here to PortBlair all alone. In Ion’s words – “Tanaz, the lady is pretty intense”. Don’t miss her session.

Met Shiraz and he introduced Tanaz, so we met her finally. She took us behind Jetty where the canoes and other equipment’s were kept in a makeshift hut. She took a crash course as how to row with double bladed paddle. No guesses here. By now., it is pitch dark. She made a remark with such a nonchalance that, we need to sit upfront, not to sway side ways, otherwise the canoe will topple and if it topples, we don’t let go of the paddle and stuff.

I was looking at Kanthi with terrified look and she gave me “so what?” kind of look. I bet she was also shivering inside. I just wanted to run away then. But told myself, we have done this once before in Nepa Valley, should not be a big deal! Now, I realized having a camera is no use. With paddling and pitch dark condition, there is no use for it.

After the crash course, we were all given glow bands and smirthi was thrilled. We were a group of 10 and the three of us had a three seater canoe to row with Kanthi in front, me last with smrithi in the middle. (oh Boy, Madam K being directionally challenged, left can become right, me being so scared of water, little one oblivious to all this, sitting in the middle seat and turning around chatting happily -deadly situation ).

There was a couple with teenage daughter. The couple were in one canoe with husband and wife both giving instructions to each other! The daughter happily escaped by canoeing with Shiraz. Then there was this guy (from Germany) and girl (from Norway), they were in another canoe, thoroughly enjoying and singing and paddling away happily! Finally Tanaz in solo Canoe. She is definitely something. She was deftly managing all of us without losing sight of any of the canoes, giving directions, asking as to wave our bands now and then. She had given us head torches and but asked us to switch it off once we moved past initial set of mangroves, as she was going to show us the bio luminescence effect and the stars. STARS! For few mins, me and Kanthi forgot our nervousness and floored by the complete darkness contrasted by the constellation around us.

Tanaz explained about the constellations in the clear star light sky and seeing the planktons lighting up like diamonds (due to the photo luminescence effect). Her voice had a lilting and surround sound quality, reaching all of us crystal clear while she was weaving and narrating Greek mythology with the constellations. Unforgettable!,

Neither I nor Kanthi could qualify it as relaxing experience as we were nervous about the canoe going all over the place, hitting mangroves. In sheer nervousness, I was forward paddling sometimes, when Shiraz was instructing me to reverse paddle. Kanthi stuck to forward paddling all the time, trying to stick to the rule of paddle with left if you want to go right and vice versa. The double sided single paddle is pretty tricky I realized. You need to keep one side flat and another end you need to twist swiftly each time to get the traction. Most of the time I had to put all the strength to move ahead as Madam K barely pulling forward! While reaching the shore, we got ourselves tangled into mangroves, Shiraz had to kind of pull us out, by making his paddle as lever to get the canoe out of tangles. The couple were super mad at us, as Shiraz’s canoe got rocked a little bit in that process and their daughter’s life was in danger

Net net - Very very unique and one of a kind experience. If you are a swimmer and not water-phobic, this is a must experience. Even otherwise, the STARS, They are there for you!

We were out by 7 PM. And we headed to full moon cafι as per Smrithis wish. Oh, the food was simply yummy and great. The pasta and pulav with K’s concoction…. Went back to the tent and crashed. What a day and night!

Day 9: Got up leisurely and had a breakfast in Cafι del mar (barefoot scuba restaurant). Next two days are going to be only for soaking into Havelock’s beaches. Plan was to trek to elephant beach, after that go to Radhanagar beach for sunset. After lazing around a bit in the beach behind Barefoot scuba, we packed up went to Flying Elephant, dropped the bags. Picked up minimum and rode towards beach #5. We were enjoying the Kalapathar stretch in morning breeze

Beach #3 - Govind Nagar behind Barefoot Scuba.
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Enroute to Kalapathar again
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Kalapathar beach road
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Hindsight, hopping up and down kalapathar beach turned to be very nice.

On the way, changed the Pleasure to Activa. Though the pleasure was rickety, I had trouble seating myself comfortably in activa with smrithi in front. But Activa was safe option to go to Radha Nagar. First went to Wild Orchid resort (beach # 5). The beach behind that was superb. We relaxed there for some time. Saw a boy flying paper kite shaped exactly like the kite bird and a real bird kite trying to get friendly mistaking it for being a real bird. It was funny and very touching

Beach #5 through Wild Orchid
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Everywhere, folks were okay, accessing beach through their resort. That was very nice

Flying Kite
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Birdie approaching it
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Seriously Disappointed
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Beach itself was so beautiful
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Lunch Place
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Old 18th February 2017, 00:12   #11
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Had lunch at Kathmandu (nice northeastern thukpa and Thali with pretty reasonably priced)., and proceeded towards Elephant/Radhanagar beach. In broad day light, we saw the board mentioning 9 KM for Radhanagar! After all the bad road stretch, the road became winding. It was little odd, we were riding a scooter on a ghat section as we are so used driving through mountains in Yeti. Soon it became very enjoyable with cool breeze on us. But I was just maintaining 30-40. We reached Elephant beach trek point around 2 PM. The guys told us, no point trekking now., to that beach as all the water sports close there by 3 PM. And trek itself will take 1-1.5 hours to reach. Got kind of disappointed since Smrithi and me wanted to do sea walk. If we go up for the sake of trekking, coming back, it could become dark, and that once bitten, twice shy. No. We headed off to RadhaNagar beach.

We accessed the radhanagar beach (heavily advertised as being rated as the best beach in asia by Time magazine in 2004) from the barefoot resort side and Smrithi had a whale of a time there. She was surfing the waves and simply refused to come out of the water. The sunset was spectacular. The sand in Radha nagar beach is ultra fine and pure white in color and the forest border covering the beach made it look truly worth the tag of the best beach.

Mesmerising - nothing else to define.
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The Sand - Ah!
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And the beauties:-)

Curios stuff!
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Radhanagar Sunset - One thing we accomplished as per books
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Beach entry from Radha Nagar Barefoot resort
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We accessed the beach through their resort. Here they fussed a bit, but we managed in saying, we had stayed in Barefoot scuba
Once the sunset was done, we simply rushed back just to avoid the ghat and bad roads in dark. Went directly to the resort (Flying elephant) and had a very relaxed dinner and retired for the day.

Day 10: Got up late and had breakfast in flying elephant. Picked Divyaman’s brains. Got to know, why all the restaurants have Israeli menu card and heavy foot print by them. Looks like young backpacker Israelis visit Gokarna, Hampi and Andamans as a must and stay put in these places for weeks to months. They do this generally after their mandatory army stint. No wonder we were seeing them all over the place! After all the packing, we had time to visit kalapathar again as we had a ferry back to Port Blair by 3.45 PM only. The road from the main jetty to Kalapather beach running parallel to the beach is just so beautiful an experience. Had lunch at Dakshin (just so so) run by Barefoot near Jetty. Some T shirts bought for Rs 100 each we bid adieu to Havelock. Havelock is a happening place, no doubt. With high speed catamaran Makruzz, we reached Port Blair around 6:45 PM, did shopping at the Government run Sagarika showroom and had dinner at Annapurna(expensive) and back in Dina Noble’s house for a good night sleep
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Old 18th February 2017, 00:45   #12
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Day 11: A fight delay pushing the time to 3.15 pm gave us a bonus to visit Port Blair. Unfortunately Ross island ferries were cancelled and the private speed boats were full so we hired Majids auto to take us to Corbyn’s cove beach. We could have also asked Dinaz to take us to their island, but we had wasted enough time trying to get a ferry to ROSS.

The drive alongside the sea was wonderful. We then visited the science museum which Smrithi loved and the view from opposite to the museum is simply not to be missed. In fact we would say a walk in the evening from the science museum till the Rajiv Gandhi sports complex is a must do when you are in Port Blair. It was mesmerizing to say the least.

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Smrithi was thrilled with this view

One must take a evening stroll on this stretch.
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ROSS Island behind the trees
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We also then did the cellular jail visit with not a lot of expectation but once inside it was a different experience. Just reading from the journals of freedom fighters who had the misfortune to be jailed at the cellular jail was heart wrenching.

The place was very neatly maintained.
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Went back in time and could feel the tug.

After Jail visit, had a quick lunch at Kattabomman, came back, did a final packing and said our bye to Dinaz and her family, and called curtain on a memorable holiday well spent.

We could not get enough of the islands. We could not make it to many.
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Definetly 10 days are not enough to do the justice for Andamans. Places we wanted to go but missed due to lack of time.

South Andaman:
1) Ross Island: Is a historic site with several ruins. Very near Port Blair. Has a spectacular sound and light show.
2) Viper Island: Has a jail. Close to Port Blair.
3) North Bay: Famous for water activities like scuba/sea walk and snorkeling. Has an iconic light house displayed on the Rs 20 note.
4) Jolly Buoy/Red skinisland: Close to Port Blair. Is a national park and famous for its snorkeling and glass boat rides.
5) ChidiyaTapu: Famous for its sunset. Located near Port Blair.
6) Wandoor.
7) North and south Cinque Island: If you are not up to travelling up north to see the twin Ross and Smith island then Cinque twin island near Port Blair is a place worth visiting.

Middle Andaman and North Andaman:
1) Long Island: A desolate island just above Havelock. We wanted to make it to this island but lack of time forced our hand. Wonderful beaches including the Lalaji Bay beach and Guitar Island/Merk Bay.
2) Baratang Island: Famous for its Lime stone caves ass also mud volcanoes and the Parrot island where birds flock in their thousands in the evening. Popular tourist destination but as we are not cave fans we decided to skip the same.
3) Rangat: Passed through the town. Worth a stay here. Places of interest besides the Aamkunj beach/Dhani Nallah/Morris Dera beach we covered other interesting spots are Yerrata mangrove/Cuthbert beach/Panchavati hills and water falls.
4) Mayabunder: Nice town to stay. It was a must visit marked in our original plan. But fell out Nearby attractions include karmatang beach/Rampur beach and German Jetty. Aves island and interview island.Ray hill/Parrot islands/Austin creek national park are also nearby attractions.
5) Ramnagar beach and Alfred caves near Diglipur. Dense forest trek and lime stone caves. Great experience.

Little Andaman:
A largely unchartered destination for domestic tourists. Attractions include water falls like white surf and whisper wave amidst thick dense jungles.Beaches like Buttler bay and NetajiNagar beach. Deterrents include erratic ferry transport which could hamper next travel plans if there is an un foreseen delay and also plenty of sand flies. But then we are making the trip to see some exotic locations so it seems worth it.

Summary
Where we stayed:
• Port Blair: Noble house, http://www.andamanhomestay.com/ - Mrs Dinaz Noble / Mr Shiraz Noble: +919474208233 / +919564944492/ dinaz14noble@gmail.com – Very clean accommodation @ 2500/night. Shiraz is very helpful chap. And Dinaz giving her suggestions in her own quirky sense If you go there, please ask them to take you to their island. Supposedly beautiful, we missed it. In their place, better not to opt for food. Expensive and not so great. There are lot of options available in the town.
• Digilipur/Kalipur : Pristine resort, http://www.andamanpristineresorts.com/ - Talk to Alex. Best in the location. Very clean place. There are options available from 1000/-. Food is okay. But no choice, mostly. Very warm place though.
• Neil : Vacation village resort – Please don’t waste money and stay here. It is a okay place, but island has lot of beach side clean huts/cottages available. You can check out emerald Gecko at Sitapur. http://emerald-gecko.com/. You would get a nice place at very nominal rate. We missed it as we could not get accommodation there due to peak season.
• Havelock : http://www.flying-elephant.in/ and barefoot scuba - http://diveandamans.com/accommodation/. Both were excellent in their own unique ways. Do water sports with Barefoot scuba. They are the best.

Observations

• The attractions around kalipur were the turtle nesting site/saddle peak trek/the exquisite Ross and Smith twin island/Alfred caves/Ramnagar
• Sitapur and Bhratpur beach will stay forever in our memory
• Don’t Miss Elephant and four wise men place in Neil. https://www.go2andaman.com/stay/elephant-four-wise-men/. You can consider for staying too.
• The famous veg food joints in Port Blair including Annapurna(expensive)/Kattabomman(reasonable rates and good dosas) and Green park (good taste and reasonable rates). And MilkyWay was our adda.
• They food joints in Havelock: we had food included Fat Martin (Superb food)/Kathmandu(nice northeastern thukpa and Thali and pretty reasonable)/Full Moon cafι (Famous for its deserts)/Flying elephant(nice masala tea)Shakahaar/Shangrila/Barefoot scuba/Anju bakery.
• Night kayaking - Very unique and worth a experience.
• The ginger lemon soda at all places in Havelock was amazing. Food in Havelock was a gastronomical delight though a tad expensive. Not to forget the real fruit Shorbet we had at a bike hiring shop with Rabindra sangeet session to boot. The pine apple and coconut sherbet was superb. (Cant recollect the name of the joint though).
• The interactions we had with locals revealed one striking thing: 2004 Tsunami. Every one had a story to tell what kind of a lasting impact it had/has on them. Andamans before and after Tsunami is not an understatement. The place used to have rains next to cherrapunji, though humid, the temperatures never go beyond 26/27. This is before Tsunami. Now., the place is getting hot with erratic rains. Introspection for us.
• Another thing which struck us was, the island is extremely safe and trustable place. We could see single women backpackers all over the island which was heartwarming. We could leave the rooms not locked, bags left behind, leave things on shore while going for a dip. All is good. No issues. Similar to the kind of experience we have had during our mountain expeditions. Made us ponder may be life in Mountains and Sea mold the people live contended and simple life.
• Almost all the resorts/beach huts have clean bathrooms and they allow anyone to use it. So handy when you are on the road/beach most of the time.
• Tip for anyone taking up the trip: You get accommodations from 300/- to 25000/(barefoot, Radha nagar) - per day. Any range between 2K – 3K, you will get very nice place to stay. Ideal time when you get very good deal as well as mild weather is Oct-Nov.

Phew. Done with a travelogue. Decided to go pretty detailed this time (may be boring for folks). Please bring on the comments!
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Old 18th February 2017, 19:45   #13
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Thread moved out from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section). Thanks for sharing!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sgiitk View Post
I am glad you visited and stayed on the Neil Island. Much quieter and friendlier that Havelock. A lovely retreat with crystal clear water. I found Neil and the Cellular Jail to be the most memorable parts of you seven days in Andamans.

In case someone is wondering th Nicobar group is 'off limits' for tourists.
Yes., Sgiitk, Neil is definitely a must go for anyone taking a trip to Andamans. Neil resonated lot more with us than Havelock, though Havelock was vibrant and we had our share of fun. And we missed exploring Neil by foot/cycle because of time constraint. Neil needs minimum 2 full days, if not more. Time stands still there.

And, i am responding almost a month later as thread went to Assembly line and I took time to pen quiet a bit. Have a look. Thanks for your response.

-Vijay
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Old 18th February 2017, 20:46   #15
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Excellent travelogue, beautiful photos. You have managed to superbly showcase the beauty of the islands. The writeup couldn't have come at a better time for me. Andaman has been beckoning us for the last three years. Somehow, never managed to put things together. This might just be the trigger.
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