Andamans Travellogue- Part 1

With a Copy of the handwritten Boarding pass at the Chennai Airport terminal

The Veer Savarkar Airport (Port Blair)from outside

Talking to an Auto Driver( so unlike Chennai w.r.t to Rates)

Resting at the Phoenix Bay Jetty...one gear shift of my head while dozing, and I would be in the Indian Ocean...

Andamans was a trip that I would remember for one thing, Lazing and Peace all over. Andamans in off season has its own disadvantages, but the advantages simply outweigh as the kind of influence loneliness,peace and agenda-less lazing brings is actually worth documenting.
For the first time I was boarding an early morning flight, so I was at the airport at 3 30 am, 2 hours after I had dropped my friends at college, after watching the night show of TASHAN at Mayaajal. My friend to join me, Kirti Saurabh, came at 3 45 am, in time for the boarding.What was a departure from the norm was that, they didn’t give printed boarding passes, but on a general printed sheet, they were writing by ink, the passenger details and the other codes required to fill in details. Not such a great way to fill in for all the 100 odd passengers. On the flight both of us didn’t last beyond 20 minutes, after which we dozed off, only to be woken by the airhostess for our mid air 5 am breakfast. We quickly settled for Cup o Noodles, and went back to dozing.,before we were woken up by the captain’s announcements that it was very bad weather 35000 feet above sea level, and we could expect thundershowers in the Andamans. It brought a smile to my face, as that would be a welcome break from the heat of Chennai. We got some great shots of Andamans 15 minutes before the flight landed, first images of the island from the skies.

We landed at 7 am, and we spent some time reading maps at the airport and deciding where to go. After some googling on my laptop, we decided that the places that one could visit were Havelock,Ross Island and North Bay. We were also for this place called Corbyn’s cove, but later found that Andamans wasn’t the place where u decided on a jiffy to travel to a place, but was largely bovine, because of governmental regulations on travel by road/ship. Most of the places(islands) are accessible only by ships or ferries, and it takes quite a while to transport, even though the place may be very close. So we decided on our target places for the next 2 days and moved out of Veer Savarkar Airport( Actually the guards at the aiport seemed to push us out literally, as incoming passengers shouldn’t be waiting in the airport...strange). We got more info from an auto driver who passed on his bits of wisdom to us. An advise as always. Never pick a cab/auto in the airport quarters, walk a distance towards the road leading to the airport and you would get autos for normal rates. The people of the andaman’s are not money crazy and would charge very normal auto rates for commuting within various parts of Andaman.

We took an auto from the airport to the Phoenix bay. The auto drovers speak Bangla if they dot for some strange reason speak Tamil. From here regular boat ours are conducted. We spent sometime at the Tsunami memorial and the canon that were placed there. After that we gave in to the hardsell that the tour operators were making to us.

These boat operators are very slow, and once they give you the tickets, they take their own time to bringing their boats. Since it wasn’t such a hot day we decided to lie down for sometime at the edge of the jetty, to cool off. The boats took eternity to arrive. You would get your chance if you booked individual tours as the clubbed ones in terms of locations have different boats. The boats came and we had to get into the damn boat. It was a slightly cramped boat, but since we took the first row of seats, we could expand our legs and sit, and since there were some naughty children playing in the boat, with glee seeing the sea, we decided to do a hostile bid for their seats and slept peacefully till the boatman, woke us up with North Bay.
Its a very rocky beach, and nothing much to explore here, as these guides don’t give you enough time to soak into the place. North Bay is a huge island, typically the Treasure island types, but has no accommodation to stay at. You would be most welcome to set up your base here with some equipment, but its better to ask the A&N Forest department, once before you plan to camp here.
It looks like the ruins of a small seaside settlement, propped up by these tourism folks. You would be guaranteed peaceful naps here.

North Bay is where you would get a full Reliance signal, and i used this to check on my college emails, and blog a post from there.North Bay looks a deserted place, with a few channa masala operators selling that, and if there is a crowd, sometimes a smart aleck would come and sell some rice lunch. But you get a lovely view of the island, which extends very deep(you would know this if you travel in a ship, where one gets the side view of North Bay).
We spent a couple of hours in North Bay sleeping, getting in to the water and eating tons of channa masala, as that was our first stint with food at the andamans. We also slept a lot during our journey in the ferry that goes along very slow, so as to give the turtle a complex.
Ross Island was the next stop...but the boat doesn’t go to Ross island immideately. The bovine being first went to Port Blair and unloaded some passengers and got new ones flocking to see Ross Island at 2 15 pm. We were allowed time only until 3 30 pm, so after the boat dropped us at Ross Island, the passengers did a hurried walk through. Ross Island, weather permitting is a beautiful place to laze around, walk through British ruins, through small forests. We went for a small dip near an abandoned place, and as it looked like the rains were imminent with the smell of Wet Earth, what better way to prepare for it than pakodas and hot tea. As the drizzle started, we also saw the spotted dear roaming behind us. The ferry left us back on Port Blair(Phoenix Jetty) at 4 15 pm. We had just walked a few metres and we were caught in the rains. Both of us managed to keep our bags in a shelter and came out to click some pictures of an Andaman evening in the rains. Here go some of them. In a conversation with a few stranded locals, we gathered that the whole phoenix bay was submerged in the 2004 tsunami(Thats why a Tsunami memorial in a jetty)

After the rains, we needed to get accomadation, in the melee of touring we had not registered in any lodge/hotel. So we enquired around some hotels. We found that Hotel Shompen and Sun sea were the best hotels in the city close to the Shipping Yard. But we didn’t want to spend so much, especially when our only aim was to get some rest till 4 am, as we had a 5 am boat to catch the next day. We trusted an auto driver to show us a place for around 500 bucks with a Television(to catch up on the much hyped up Chennai vs Kolkata IPL game)
We found a shady place near Aberdeen bazaar, close to an autostand on a hill, and decided to snooze for a while before we set out on our dinner. Dinner- the best place to go for vegetarians would be Annapurna. Very good food and decent ambience. The place goes dark by 6 pm, and shops tend to close early also.

After a sumptuous dinner, we went to bed, making sure we make optimum use of the single charging point with our electronic paraphernalia.

PART 2 Coming up...
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