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Old 12th October 2009, 17:12   #31
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As always, an exhaustive and a very detailed travelogue. Your travelogues are always a treat to read. The pictures look out of the world.

2800 pics, man you guys are some 'click' hungry people!!!!

Looking forward to more Xinging stuff!!!
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Old 12th October 2009, 21:17   #32
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Beautiful snaps- and your choice for a place within India is much appreciated
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Old 13th October 2009, 09:29   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akroy View Post
Excellent pics Hotstuff, So did you obey the receptionist or used the AC?
- We did not need the AC anyway. Since it was cloudy and drizzling for a better part of the day, the nights were quite cool. Looking back, we could have done with non-A/C rooms during this season - Sep to Feb.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dreamdiesel View Post
...Do you have to know how to swim to experience snorkelling or scuba diving or is the life jacket enough to keep you afloat??
- Though for both snorkeling and basic scuba diving packages, swimming is not essential. Atleast a little experience of swimming is strongly recommended for the scuba diving experience.

The reason being that if you are used to the water, you will not tend to panic during the dive. There was another couple who had come for the same package and they did not go beyond 2 or 3 meters depth.

For snorkeling, the life jacket keeps you afloat and is recommended even if you are a good swimmer... since it will help you enjoy the experience for an hour or more without getting tired.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ashwinsid View Post
Tickets were in the name of Ashwin? Now waitaminute! :P
- Oops !

Quote:
Originally Posted by mjothi View Post
...Regarding that ferry tickets, damn these guys. Not sure when they will be clean :(
- It is sad that on one hand the Government is trying to encourage tourism and on the other hand such people and practices tend to discourage tourists.

In almost every trip we expect and come across similar experiences where people try to extract money from visitors... such as many priests / temple staff in the Chidambaram temple who tried to get our address & contact details for special poojas. (Beware of anyone who carries a book or register!)

In other temples we were stopped by folks who offerered special darshan / direct-entry / mahaprasadam etc. etc. Just say no or ignore those who persist.

The other irritant is the 'town entry fee' or 'parking fee' that is collected as soon as you enter a town or village. Enter Rameshwaram and there were stopping all cars to collect 30 rupees... enter Padmanabhapuram and someone rushes in with a suspicious looking recipt for 40 rupees parking fee.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vnabhi View Post
...I'm surprised to hear about the sound n light show. When we visted there in 1996, it was the best show we'd seen---better than the one at Golconda, Hyd, and Red Fort, Delhi. We also saw the Hindi version at Cellular Jail, and that was mundane---the English one was par excellence!

We however could not make it to Havelock as the ship was cancelled on that day.
- That probably explains our experience! We went for the Hindi show :( Perhaps other Tbhpians headed that way should avoid the Hindi version and wait for the English one.

About Havelock, based on our experience we felt that to avoid the hassles (and adventure) of running around for tickets, it is better to just let your resort / hotel folks take care of the details. They will charge a premium on the basic fares, but will help you have a seamless experience.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lohithrao View Post
... btw what should be the budget like for a weeks holiday in A and N?
- 5 to 7 days is a reasonable amount of time to explore the Andamans, enjoy the beaches, participate in some water sports and maybe even take a cruise to some of the outlying islands like Barren island.

There are several packages available on Makemytrip etc. from around 15k to 30k per couple (Without airfare)

Rough budget:
- Around 20k for decent accomodation + food + sight seeing + some water sports activities.
- Around 18k for return airfare for a couple.

I have tabulated our expenses in the first post, it should help in working out a rough estimate.

Will try and complete this travelogue by this weekend.

Last edited by hotstuff : 13th October 2009 at 09:31.
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Old 13th October 2009, 14:11   #34
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Very well written with excellent snaps.. One info I found missing was on the food there. Being an island should have lot of sea food I guees? How about the vegies going there?
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Old 13th October 2009, 20:27   #35
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Great travelogue, Andamans is one of the places on my list to visit, and ur photos make me want to go as early as possible.

Rated 5 stars
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Old 13th October 2009, 23:39   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gadadhar View Post
... One info I found missing was on the food there. Being an island should have lot of sea food I guees? How about the vegies going there?
- I am an omnivore and Sangeetha is a strict herbivore... errr... I mean she eats only Ghaas-patta, phal-phool...

Though there is a lot of sea food available, there are plenty of vegetarian options available through out. Infact we only had veg food during our entire trip. So food will not be a problem at all.
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Old 13th October 2009, 23:57   #37
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Lightbulb 22nd Sep 09 - Havelock Island.

When we had come back to the room the previous evening, I had set the AC temp to the lowest setting to cool the room quickly, forgot about it and dozed off. As the phrase goes: "It was a cold & dark night..." and the windows had fogged up from the outside.

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-001.jpg


When we stepped out for breakfast, even the camera lens got fogged up...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-002.jpg


Quick breakfast and we were taken to the scuba center to get kitted up...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-003.jpg


The dive would be in the waters around the Elephant beach. The entire session was for half a day, with the actual dive time lasting around 45 minutes. (Depending on how fast we used up our air supply.)

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-004.jpg


Enroute we were given an overview on the do's and doníts etc...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-005.jpg


Spent a few minutes of getting familiar with the equipment, there were a couple of practice sessions on dive essentials like 'what to do if you lose your air regulator underwater...', 'what to do if you or your buddy run out of air...', 'what to do if your mask fills up with water...'.

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-006.jpg


After a few minutes of practice in the shallow waters, the instructor took us down past the reef edge... where the light green water turns into deep blue...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-007.jpg


Total dive time was around 40 minutes, max depth was 12 to 15 meters or around 35 - 45 feet. (There are gauges attached to the tank to check your depth and also keep an eye on your air-supply.)

Overall it was a wonderful experience and you get to see corals and lots of fish in the depths. One feedback that we gave was that they should have an underwater still camera available, so that visitors can get some souvenirs of their experience.

Considering that they charge 4500/- per person, a pic or two thrown in would have been great! Or they could have a couple of cameras on rent and we wouldn't have minded paying a couple of hundreds extra.

Show over, back into the boat and we headed back towards the scuba center...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-008.jpg


While we waiting for our cab to arrive, we clicked some pics on the beach which was 'Picture perfect!í Yes, this is the same ugly beach that we had seen at low-tide yesterday.

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-009.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-010.jpg


And yes, we also got a couple of certificates as keepsakes from our experience.

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-010a.jpg


We came back to the resort... found some more elephants near the resort area...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-011.jpg


Grabbed a couple of beach towels and headed back towards the Radhanagar beach...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-012.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-013.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-014.jpg


You'll see a couple of ships in most of our beach pics; the Navy was conducting some exercises in that area and there were a couple of ships anchored quite close to the beach...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-015.jpg


The first two nights we had booked something called 'Andaman Villa', for the last night we had booked a 'Nicobari Villa'; though it is non-air-conditioned, the prices were same as the previous one. But we had opted for it to see what it is all about... and we were amazed!

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-015a.jpg


Quite spacious, with a thatched roof and French windows...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-016.jpg


A spacious walled sit out with an inside entrance...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-017.jpg


An open shower stall...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-019.jpg


Now, thatís a loo with a view...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-018.jpg


And the innovative part of the design is that most of the walls consist of vertical slats that can be opened up. So essentially you'll have a window wherever you want one!

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-020.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-021.jpg


And they have a...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-023.jpg


This would be our last evening on Havelock and we headed back towards the beach to finally catch the elusive sunset.

Wendy & Wendicks had just come back after a romp in the sands...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-025.jpg


There were a lot of such patterns all along the beach; made by small crabs borrowing into the sand.

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-026.jpg


The Navy ship was still floating around...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-027.jpg


Contd...
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Old 14th October 2009, 00:08   #38
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Lightbulb 22nd Sep 09 - Havelock Island. Contd...

We walked all the way to the end of the beach, an area with some colorful rock formations...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-028.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-029.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-030.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-031.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-032.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-033.jpg


"WHAT ARE YOU DOING???"
"Just a minute, I want to see if I still remember how to climb a tree..."
"COME DOWN NOW, YOU'LL FALL AND BREAK YOUR LEG!"
"No No... Donít worry I'll just climb till there and..."
"IF YOU DON'T COME DOWN RIGHT NOW, I'LL BREAK YOUR LEG"
"Grumble... grumble... mumble... mumble... Ok Ok..."

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-034.jpg


We found quite a few pieces of multicolored coral all along the sand. However somebody had cautioned us carrying back any, to avoid harassment at the airport security.

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-035.jpg


This sure is a nice pic. What you can't see here is the effort that went into this pic: Compose frame, set timer (10 secs max in the auto mode), click and run across the sand to sit beside Sangeetha... only to realize that I am a second or two late... and I managed to get a pic of my bum? Ok; one more try... and one more! (Note to self: Read camera manual to figure out how to increase the self-timer window.)

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-036.jpg


Mr.Anil Mandal, stays in nearby village and comes to the beach every evening to catch a fish or two...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-037.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-038.jpg


We managed to catch a partial sunset, due to the clouds on the horizon and started walking back...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-039.jpg


Mr.Mandal was still trying his luck, he waved at us... we waved back and walked away...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-040.jpg


By the time we reached close to the resort, it was fully dark...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-042.jpg


Lights from the navy ship...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-041.jpg


Had an early dinner and had a long chat with Harshita, who recently joined the resort as the resident naturalist and has some really great ideas about how the island and the waters around can be protected.

The day we arrived on Havelock, we had asked the front office folks to take care of the return ship tickets for the morning of the 23rd Sep.

Later that week, during a casual conversation with our cab driver, he was telling us about life on the Andamans and mentioned that his kids study in Port Blair and he visits them almost every week...

"Sirf bees-pachees minute ka rasta hai..."
"Bees-pachees minute?? Par ferry mein to do ghante lage."
"Nahi, mein helicopter mein jaata hun"
"Helicopter? Havelock se Port Blair helicopter service bhi hai? Hame to kisi ne nahin bataya."
"Haan service to hai, par regular nahin, agar minimum 8 passengers Port Blair se reservation karaye, to helicopter Havelock aata hai.. aur return flight rehta hai. Kabhi kabhi flight cancel bhi ho jata hai."
"Paise kitne lagte hain?"
"Locals ke liye 350 rupees aur tourist ke liye 800 rupees"
"Kya 23rd Sep ke liye service hain?"
"Dekhna padega, sirf 22nd night ko confirm ho sakta hai ki flight hai ya nahin"
"Aur ticket kahan se lena padega?"
"Aap mujhe paise de do, agar helicopter ticket nahin mila, to ferry ticket arrange kardonga"

I was a little skeptical about handing over Rs.1600 to someone we had just met about an hour ago... but Havelock is a small place where everyone seems to know everyone else. So I just gave him the money and jotted down his name + the cab number

We were just about to finish dinner when a guy from the front office walked up to tell us that the helicopter tickets were confirmed and a cab would be waiting to pick us up at 10.00am the next morning.

Went back to the room to start packing up and did a little bit of star gazing from the sit out before winding up for the day. We were really looking forward to our first helicopter ride the next day!
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Old 14th October 2009, 09:40   #39
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Lightbulb 23rd Sep 2009 - Havelock to Port Blair.

For a change, we woke up a little later than usual on the morning of the 23rd Sep, finished breakfast, settled our bills and walked around the resort and beach for a recap...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-003.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-004.jpg


Said goodbye to Wendy...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-005.jpg


Wendicks did not seem so happy about being woken up from his snooze...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-006.jpg


Soon it was 10.15am and our cab was waiting to take us to the helipad. Reached the helipad got our tickets and we were sitting there waiting for our ride...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-008.jpg


As usual, the weather in the Andamans turns on a dime; what started off as a clear morning sky, was very soon overcast and we were worried about the flight getting cancelled if it started raining heavily. It was time to sing 'Rain Rain Go Away!'

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-009.jpg


At around 11.15am we heard the noise in the distance, which grew louder and louder till this bird came in to land!

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-010.jpg


Picked up our bags and ran towards the chopper, strapped ourselves in and ready to fly...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-011.jpg


The helicopter was a very noisy affair, but it was a great experience...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-012.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-013.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-014.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-015.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-016.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-017.jpg


There were a few Navy ships engaged in some exercises in the waters below...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-018.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-019.jpg


Soon we were close to PB...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-020.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-021.jpg


That's Ross Island...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-022.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-023.jpg


A glimpse of the Cellular Jail...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-024.jpg


A small park that overlooks the airport...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-025.jpg


Getting ready to land...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-026.jpg


The flight lasted around 25 minutes and we reached our hotel by around 12.00 noon. Just dumped our bags and went out to do some more sight seeing around Port Blair. We contemplated whether we should take one of the ferry cruises to the outlying islands. Decided against it, planning to take it easy and just hang around in Port Blair.

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-027.jpg


One more place on our itinerary was the Government Agricultural research institute. Apart from a landscaped garden, the institute has a collection of the spice plants / trees that are grown on the Andamans. This place is around 12kms from Port Blair and we thought of taking a bus. Went to the bus-stand and waited for a while for the bus to be announced.

Just like in Goa, there are a lot of foreign tourists milling around Port Blair...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-028.jpg


I followed his focus and this is what he was clicking away at...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-029.jpg


Soon we found the bus that was supposed to take us to CARI. But the bus was not in a condition to take us anywhere. After everyone boarded the bus, the driver said "Self start nahin hain, dhakka lagana padega"

First the bus was pushed in one direction and it wouldnít start. Then it was pushed in the other direction and it cranked to life. Those who had got down to push got back in again, only to find that their seats were now occupied by others!

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-030.jpg


Contd...
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Old 14th October 2009, 09:52   #40
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Wonderful narration, great details/ information and amazing shots, hotstuff. A one-stop thread for all one needs to know about Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Am hooked on to this one and shall bookmark for reference.
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Old 14th October 2009, 09:53   #41
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Lightbulb 23rd Sep 2009 - Havelock Island to Port Blair. Contd...

Soon we reached the Agri institute and did not find any other visitors in the place. Walked around the small garden and a guy who works there explained a little about some of the trees & plants in the garden...

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-031.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-032.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-033.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-034.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-035.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-036.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-037.jpg

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-038.jpg


On the way back, we stopped at the 'Samudrika'...which is something like the Cauvery Emporium of Port Blair, to pick up some souvenirs.

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-039.jpg


Our flight back to Chennai was at 6.55am the next morning. Went back to the hotel, ordered a light dinner via room service (Not so great.) and settled down to catch up on the news. It had been almost a week since we had watched TV or read a news paper!

'Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.-040.jpg


After confirming that a cab would be available to take us to the airport in the morning, we switched off for the night.


Some foot-notes:
* There are a few good restaurants in the Aberdeen Bazaar area which serve decent veggie meals and snacks. We had been to one such place called 'Annapoorna' on the evening of the 19th Sep. We should have probably gone back to that place on the 23rd evening too...

* There are some local news papers printed in Port Blair, but editions of the mainland news papers like TOI, Hindu etc. are either difficult to come by or are available only the next day.

* Airtel mobile and GPRS works just fine in most areas, except on Havelock Island where only BSNL seems to have a tower. Other networks are accessible only from areas around the beach, where you can get some faint signal from the Port Blair towers.
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Old 14th October 2009, 10:21   #42
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Great travelogue with excellent pictures. Its hard to believe that people live away on these islands in dense numbers even when it is far away from the mainland, yet a part of India
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Old 14th October 2009, 10:32   #43
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Ultimate travelogue, and super pics. Some of the pics at beach, like after Scuba dive, is wallpaper type pics, very beautiful.
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Old 14th October 2009, 11:30   #44
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Rating 5 stars for the thread. Some day if I go to Andoman I will refer this thread rather than Lonely planet. Keep going. Read you stuck to veg food when sea food is plenty. Any reason for this choice?
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Old 14th October 2009, 11:31   #45
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This is a pure fun travelogue. Evident by your pics (your companion being caged!). Fantastic reference material for me when I plan my trip! Looking forward for more.
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