Thursday, February 12, 2009

Lost in Andamans

There is a long pending post (gonna be an year long if I don't post now) on mine and Pv's trip to Andamans. Now that I have a reader for this post (its u Arun, you better read) who is going there, I thought it would be useful for to blog it. Also, this gives me a great chance to relive those chweet memories :-)

We took a kingfisher flight from Singara Chennai to Port Blair. As the pilot reached well ahead of time, he was asked to fly aorund in the skies of Andamans before they could find a landing space in the Veersavarkar(named after a freedom fighter) airport. The pilot kept circling the various islands and told us about each of them. The flight was not full, so we managed to get a window view to see those lovely bluish green shades hitting the sands, the bushy bushy islands -- a splendid sight I should say.

For those of you who know us well can guess what we did for the acco - yep, we went there without booking any acco. From some friends we got contact of this person by name 'Andman' Sekhar who became our tour guide (finally we realised that there was no need for a guide). We checked each and every hotel there and finally decided on Fortune Bay Island Resort. We had to make stories to the receptionist there on our futile attempts to make a prior booking. You can make such stories there to show that you really really wanna stay there and they will give you a room. But hey!! It is always better to book ur acco ahead of time unless you are like one of us who deliberately does not do. We were lucky to get a sea facing room.

DAY 1 - We planned for a week's stay in Andamans. The first day we went to cellular jail. It was so heartening to see the place and read the sufferings of the freedom fighters. The place is well maintained and don't ever miss the light and sound show. Its so good and just moves you so much. From there we left to 'Chidiya Tapu' in a omni arranged for us by A.Sekhar. On the way we saw some remains of the tusnami disaster. It has a beautiful beach and there is hardly anyone. Though we could not go all the way as some tree had fallen, we really enjoyed the beach. Actually there were only 4 people including us. It feels so nice to be out of the maddening crowd that too after marriage :-). The most memorable part of this place was we suddenly started hearing some hushing sounds coming so close by and we could no identify where the sound came from. Soon, we saw the rain moving in the direction of where we were standing. It was so cool and refreshing. On the way back, we stopped at a tea shop to sip some real hot chai....

DAY 2 - The next day, we left early morning to wandoor. This is the place from where we took a jetty to the Jollybuoy island. As we approached the island, we were asked to move to some smaller boats which had a glass bottom thru which we could see the fishes and corals underneath the water - it was a sneak peak of snorkelling. Just as we reached the place, one of the sailors took just took a jelly fish which was moving on the shore. It was a slimy feeling as I held it in my hand. We were a group of 25-30 people out there on the island. There were couple of guides there for snorkelling. To blow off some myths about snorkelling -- You don't need to know swimming, You will not feel it suffocating on wearing the mask. Just listen to what the guide says and hold the rope he shows. Just dip your head in to the water and keep going into the waters and see the real beauties of nature's creations. Some wonderful fishes, colorful ones, sea cucumbers which are the most laziest of the lot not wanting to move. Its just an amazing experience - don't ever miss it. Remember to take spare clothes to change after snorkelling.

DAY 3 - On the third day we took a ferry to Havelock island which is supposed to be one of the loveliest islands there. Make sure to book your tickets in advance as there are only 2 boats every day. I would recommend taking the Rs.150/- ticket and not the normal Rs.100/- one as it is really hot out in March and so one can't spend much time outside in the deck. Also, the ship is a very normal one not the luxury ones like in Titanic. So, there will be the smell of diesel and if you hate that do take the seat in the air-conditioned coach.

We reached Havelock in the afternoon after some 2.5 hours of sea-sickness for me. Like before, we did not book any acco here too. We used our usual tactis to get 2 day's acco in Dolphin - Government guest house. We have never seen such a beautifully maintained 'government' guest house. We took the Rs.1500/- cottage - sea facing ones. They were so big and nice. After check-in we got help of some local guy there (one of the guides whom we met at the Jetty - most of the guides are reasonable and trust worthy) to rent a bike. It was mid day and we rode to Radha Nagar beach - Asia's most beautiful beach. On seeing it you will realise why. We spent a lot of time on water and then drove back to Dolphins for lunch. The food was good like home made and only costed us 300 for 2 full days - can you believe that!!! That evening we went there again for sun set which was so beautiful.

DAY 4 - We had put alarm to get up ealry morning for sun rise. We were so dumb found on seeing the sun rise. That day we left for elephanta beach for another round of snorkelling. The next day we moved to Sea shells as we had to check out from Dolphins. Sea shells was good but Dolphins was great. DAY 5 - We spent our last day in havelock just relaxing on the sea shore.

DAY 6,7 - We came back to Port Blair the next day and spent another day just lazing around in Fortune enoying the breakfast there. Not to miss at fortune - breakfast, aaloo kaju sazbi, walk in the resort and the resort itself :-) If we go next time, may be we check if they offer candle light dinner. Even if you don't get reservation in Fortune, just go there for a meal.

One place we could not cover and desperately wanted to go - Baratang island, the place where you can find the tribes and if I remember correctly it was one the way to Nicobar. This is a day's trip by itself - so plan accordingly.

Other places one can visit if there is time - Ross island (has some British style buildings), some beach in Port Blair (not worth really) and other islands.

Time to go - Season is between Nov-Feb. It is good to go just after the season as it there is absolutely no crowd. Infact you will see the same set of people as in your flight :-). However, it will be hot.

Carry - Sunglasses, sunscreen lotions, tissues, hats
Wear - Loose clothes, tshirts, capris, tracks

Eat outs - There are plenty. If you are a veggie Annapoorna is a good choice. Remember that all these places close around 9pm as it gets dark very fast.

Shopping - There a whole lot things one can buy - t-shirts with pictures of Andaman, shell based wall hangings, some pearl jewellery (not sure of its authenticity), sea shell like ear rings which come for 10-15 bucks (my fav)

Wallet factor -- The total trip costed us around 50K. Stay at fortune is expensive but as many people say the place you stay can make or break the trip. Snorkelling can cost close to 500bucks. If you hire a guide, it might cost close to 3K for him and the vehicle. It should be okay to take an auto to move around and they go by meter.

Overall, it was a lovely trip and we had a great time. All I can say is -- we are waiting to go again!!!


Sum said...

Hey Aarthi!
How are u?? Hope u remember seeing me at ACT long ago.....
So, how have u been???

Aarthi said...

@Sum - I am doing good. I have a bad memory Sum :-( I don't seem to recollect your face... Need some memory boosters.