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Old 14th October 2008, 18:09   #1
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Default Andamans - An unforgettable trip

The first proper travelogue I'm writing in this forum though I've read so many of them. So here goes...

The plan to go to the Andamans (Nicobar is offlimits unless you get special permission) had been on our minds for a long long time, right from the time when air fares were cheap, Andaman was more pristine and the Tsunami had not yet happened.

So finally we decided its time to go before air fare became more expensive, Andaman got fully commercialized and hopefully no more tsunamis happen !!

The Gang: Two couples, Two SIOK (Single Income One Kid) and one feeling lonely bachelor boy. That's 9 adults and 2 kiddies for those who can't keep tabs.

Actually two of the couples sneaked in ahead of us to Andaman as they wanted to spend quality time together (as couples, not quads!!)

No. of Days: Oct 8th - 12th.

Route: Bangalore to Chennai by car. Chennai - Port Blair by Kingfisher Red.
Need to make distinction with the "Red" as the seats were uncomfortable, only water was free, no IFE and certainly no Mallya's personally chosen airhostesses!!

Flying Time: 2 hours. Departure 4.30 am Arrival 6.30 am.

Since Andaman follows IST but is further away to the East, sunrise is by 5.15 am and sunset by 5.30 pm !!

Day 1: North Bay, Cellular Jail, Corbyn's Cove.

Took a Ferry from the Marine Jetty to North Bay. North Bay is, you know, north of the jetty. Ross Island is just opposite to it. There's a Tsunami Memorial in the Jetty as well.

Tsunami Memorial

Andamans - An unforgettable trip-tsunami-memorial1.jpg

Ross Island

Andamans - An unforgettable trip-ross-island1.jpg

North Bay: Beautiful little island off Port Blair. Leased out to private racketeers who make money selling coconuts. Lighthouse amongst the coconut grove is in the back of the Indian Rs.20/- note. Met the great entrepreneur Selvam there whom seemed to manage the boat, snorkelling, selling pearls & coconuts. Probably the best snorkelling that I did for he managed to drag 4 of us for almost 40 minutes showing us and explaining different types of corals and fishes to us !!!

North Bay

Andamans - An unforgettable trip-north-bay1.jpg

North Bay where we did Snorkelling

Andamans - An unforgettable trip-north-bay-up-close1.jpg

Ugly face of commercialization !

Andamans - An unforgettable trip-commericalization1.jpg

The LightHouse

Andamans - An unforgettable trip-north-bay-light-house.jpg


We headed back to Port Blair and had lunch.

Cellular Jail: We then visited Cellular Jail. One of the better kept government monuments in India. Felt very sad and proud while seeing it. Sad at the countless number of people who gave up their lives in Kala Pani and proud that we withstood all of that to get our much flaunted freedom.

Swatantra Jothi

Andamans - An unforgettable trip-cellular-jail-memorial1.jpg

There were originally 7 wings but only 3 remain now. They were built in such a way that no prisoner can see the other and communicate visually.

Andamans - An unforgettable trip-cellular-jail-wings1.jpg

The view of the wings from the top of the Central Watch Tower. 2 of the wings were destroyed when the Japs took over A&N. After Indian Independence 2 more were demolished by the Indian Government and after protests the remaining were left as memorials.

Andamans - An unforgettable trip-cellular-wings1.jpg

The Gallows. This used to be an open structure but now has a covering at the top.

Andamans - An unforgettable trip-gallows1.jpg

These were the four cells in which death row freedom fighters were kept.
Andamans - An unforgettable trip-hangmans-row1.jpg

One of the punishments was to grind oil using human labour. Probably the most inhumane of all the punishments there.

Andamans - An unforgettable trip-oil-grinding1.jpg

The view from the top of the Cellular Jail

Andamans - An unforgettable trip-view-jail-top1.jpg

Corbyn's Cove

We left Cellular Jail and drove on to Corbyn's cove. This is the only proper beach near Port Blair. As with all popular beaches, there was a small crowd there watching a couple frolicking happily in the water. :-)

Andamans - An unforgettable trip-corbyns-cove1.jpg

That concluded Day1 site seeing. But we were not done with the day. As said earlier it gets dark by 5.45 pm. So we went back to the hotel, got refreshed and went to an amazing restaurant were we had so much fish that we couldn't possibly walk back. That restaurant was our haunt for the rest of our stay in Port Blair.

Coming up: Havelock Island; Tragedy strikes; Ross Island, Mahatma Gandhi Marine Park.
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Old 14th October 2008, 18:18   #2
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nice write up csentil. Reminds me of a movie in malayalam called Kalapani which was shot in these prisons.
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Old 14th October 2008, 18:26   #3
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Finally a travelogue on a Andaman, I was waiting for one of these, good writing CSentil, keeping an eye on this thread.
Regards,
Hari.
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Old 14th October 2008, 18:46   #4
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Very nice. Just what I wanted for planning my next vacation.
Looking forward to more updates.
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Old 14th October 2008, 19:25   #5
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The pic of North Bay looks like home... it is beckoning! If things go according to plan Im going to hit beach again at Haveloc soon
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Old 14th October 2008, 19:42   #6
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Good one there. Very nice picture and write up. Short & sweet.
I loved the light house picture. Curious to know from where you got this shot.
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Old 14th October 2008, 19:47   #7
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Ahh - Andamans !! Perfect - just what I was waiting for - go on CSentil, don't keep us waiting for long.
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Old 14th October 2008, 19:52   #8
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Nice trip and pictures.. Definitely one of the places to visit, on my bucket list!
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Old 14th October 2008, 20:36   #9
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I know airfares are just a click away, but still, how much did the tickets cost you ? And is KF red the cheapest ?

Nice shots Senthil. waiting for the rest.
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Old 14th October 2008, 20:39   #10
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Day 2

Note: I'll update how best to travel to Andaman and what to do there in a separate post. Don't want to mix travel with pleasure you see :-)

Havelock Island

Havelock Island is a two and half hour journey by ferry from Port Blair. It lies 57 kms North east of Port Blair. There are ferries connecting to Havelock in the morning and in the afternoon. We caught the 6 am ferry and met Captain Freddie. Nice warm chap who told us stories about shipping!

Port Blair from the Ship

Andamans - An unforgettable trip-port-blair-way-havelock.jpg

The ferry is an airconditioned one though its better to stand out in the deck and enjoy the sun, sea and the breeze. You can also watch the amazing flying fishes which basically shoot out of the water and skim along the surface for 10's of metres. We were lucky to see a school of common dolphins in the sea as well.

As you can see from the pics, most of the islands are flush with tropical forests. The forests almost overflow into the sea and there are mangrove forests as well.

Spot the flying fish

Andamans - An unforgettable trip-spot-flying-fish.jpg

The ferry left at 6 am and reached Havelock by 8.15. We then checked into the Sea Shells resort.

Havelock Island

Andamans - An unforgettable trip-havelock-island.jpg

The view from the resort. Picture Postcard Perfect. Unfortunately you cannot swim in that particular part because of the low level of water and mangroves.

Andamans - An unforgettable trip-view-resort.jpg

Couldn't think of a better picture than that

Andamans - An unforgettable trip-picture-perfect.jpg

Some of my fellow resort mates!! As you can see (stop ogling folks) the water depth is not to great.

Andamans - An unforgettable trip-some-my-resortmates.jpg

Elephant Beach

We then left for Elephant Beach by boat. Elephant Beach is a beautiful desolated beach (not so desolated the day we went) Gets its name from the elephants that were used to haul timber long back.

Elephant Beach

Andamans - An unforgettable trip-elephant-beach.jpg

We did some snorkelling there as well. The sea was a bit rough that day but there were no waves at all.

Walked along the beach and saw some unusual wildlife alive and washed up dead on shore

Eel dead due to fishing

Andamans - An unforgettable trip-eel-dead-beach-.jpg

Jelly fish?

Andamans - An unforgettable trip-looks-like-jelly-fish-something-more-sinister.jpg

Hermit Crab

Andamans - An unforgettable trip-hermit-crab.jpg

There were a lot of foreigners doing Scuba diving and Snorkelling. I really envy them for their passion to do such activities.

Andamans - An unforgettable trip-foreigners-scuba-snorkel.jpg

We were the last to leave the beach and we had the beach to ourselves for quite sometime. It is so beautiful.

Andamans - An unforgettable trip-desolated-beach.jpg

Given a choice I would have pitched tent and stayed back there. However they warned me that come night there are enough mosquitoes from the swamps inside the forest to suck a human dry.

Andamans - An unforgettable trip-elephant-beach-without-crowd.jpg

Last view of the beach as we left it

Andamans - An unforgettable trip-last-view-elephant-beach.jpg

Tragedy Strikes

I've put in a lot of thought before I start to pen this particular piece. Do I want to keep things simple and talk about the good things in life or let everyone know it is better to be safe than be sorry. Tragedy can strike someone/anyone at anytime anywhere.

As I said earlier my gang fully comprises of my ex-colleagues and their spouses. One of my ex-colleagues inlaws were also in Andaman at the same time. They had arrived earlier and were staying separately. However they also traveled to Havelock the same day as we did but in a separate ferry. We met them in the morning before boarding the ferry and also after we got down in Havelock. From there we went our separate ways.

However when we just got back from Elephant Beach, our tour co-ordinator met us at the jetty with a phone for one of my ex-colleagues. The news was shocking. My ex-colleague brother-in-law had drowned in one of the other beaches about an hour back. My ex-colleague's wife almost fainted on hearing her brother's death. We hurried to the local hospital and found out that three persons had got caught in a freak current and the lifeguards were able to save only two of them. This is the only beach where there are lifeguards !!

This was so tragic that it put us off. However I have to mention the great help extended by everyone in Andamans in relieving the pain and suffering and in getting the body back to the mainland.

Incident happened at around 1 pm. By 4 pm the postmortem was done, the body packed in a coffin with ice, all the formalities completed. The A&N tourism department took care of everything. They delayed the ship for 30 minutes, got tickets for my friend's family and inlaws and were with them till the body was onboard and bound for Port Blair.

Not a single penny was taken. No bribes, no influence nothing !! I shuddered to think at the amount of money we would have to have paid or influence pulled if the same happened in Chennai/Bangalore !!

Tickets rescheduled, airport formalities everything was taken care of by the A&N folks. I thought I was living in a different country!! So refreshing to say something good about our administration !!

Some members in our gang wanted to go back to the resort, but we decided against it and instead we went to Radha Nagar Beach were the incident happened. It was late in the evening when we reached there. This is the only beach in Havelock where there are some small waves. We just sat there quietly contemplating on Mother Nature having taken away someone so young. (He was doing his M.E.).


Radha Nagar Beach (Beach No. 7)

One of the funny things is the villages and beaches are named or rather numbered numerically !!

Andamans - An unforgettable trip-radha-nagar-beach.jpg

This ends Day 2 of our trip.
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Old 14th October 2008, 20:59   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjothi View Post
Good one there. Very nice picture and write up. Short & sweet.
I loved the light house picture. Curious to know from where you got this shot.
How the heck do I do reply to multiple posts in one post? :-)

That shot was from the deck of the ferry on the way to Havelock. The ferry goes beyond North Bay on its way to Havelock. Having 12X Optical zoom also helps.

Yes the Cellular Jail is also known as Kala Paani. I don't know how I forgot to put that info in !!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by neoranjit
I know airfares are just a click away, but still, how much did the tickets cost you ? And is KF red the cheapest ?
Tickets worked out around 12K return per person. Since it was a big group Kingfisher gave us a discount on the airfare. Well the taxes are more than the airfare !!
Wish we went when the ticket cost was not even 6K return per person.

Its a place worth visiting and I hope it stays the same way as it is now !

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lukeskywalker
Finally a travelogue on a Andaman, I was waiting for one of these, good writing CSentil, keeping an eye on this thread.
Yes, I too did a check and didn't find any travelogue for the Andamans. I actually did it before I went to Andamans.
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Old 14th October 2008, 22:22   #12
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Quote:
However when we just got back from Elephant Beach, our tour co-ordinator met us at the jetty with a phone for one of my ex-colleagues. The news was shocking. My ex-colleague brother-in-law had drowned in one of the other beaches about an hour back. My ex-colleague's wife almost fainted on hearing her brother's death. We hurried to the local hospital and found out that three persons had got caught in a freak current and the lifeguards were able to save only two of them. This is the only beach where there are lifeguards !!
Very tragic indeed, may his soul rest in peace, what a horrible thing to undergo when on a holiday. Hope god gives strength to the bereaved family during their grief.
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Old 14th October 2008, 23:14   #13
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What was the avg cost and how you planned your visit. I mean to say the scheduling...
Is there any local guide or it was your research ...
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Old 15th October 2008, 00:59   #14
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Originally Posted by Sowmya View Post
What was the avg cost and how you planned your visit. I mean to say the scheduling...
Is there any local guide or it was your research ...
We've not yet worked out the total cost. Will let you know. 12-13K for the flight and 10 to 15K depending on the type of hotel/resort and where you want to go.

It was a package but we didn't take in the usual sights and sounds. We had some inputs from people who had travelled so we picked up the interesting ones.

As I said earlier, I'll have a detailed post on the cost, schedule and what to plan for later.
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Old 15th October 2008, 02:59   #15
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Nice travelogue. It is refreshing to see the Andaman beaches. The monuments of Cellular jail reminds me the 'kaala paani'.

Feeling very sad for the tragic event.
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