Monday, December 5, 2011

At the islands of ANDAMAN

Before I share my Andaman experiences with you, let me introduce to you my group members.
First is Deepu. This guy initiates and organizes all our trips.
Next is Shiv. He Cracks one good joke for every hundred pathetic jokes. But is an inseparable member of our group.
Next is Pramod. He is the official photographer of our group but never takes any pictures of us till we request him.
Ravi and Arun were supposed to join us but could not make it due to some personal reasons.
And then there is me.
I, Shiv and Deepu are friends from our college days. Deepu and Pramod are childhood friends. And that’s how Pramod became our friend.
Recently we named our group as “THE CLAN”. And we also got some t-shirts and printed our group name on it and decided to wear it in Andaman.
So Deepu “THE ORGANIZER” had moved to a different city for over a year (2010) and came back in 2011. Since we didn’t go anywhere for one year we planned to go on a big budget trip. To a place where at least people from our friends circle had never been there. And one day Ravi suggested that we visit Andaman and we all agreed to it.
We surfed a lot on internet regarding Andaman and found it has some of the Asia’s best beaches there. 
We booked the tickets about 4 months back and since then have been waiting for this day.
The movie Zindagi na milegi dobara released sometime in July was a source of inspiration for our trip. I should say at least me and Deepu watched that movie 50 times before going for our trip. We liked the first song where they show all the 3 actors packing their luggage, travel in taxi's, reach airport, flight etc.
And finally it was 22nd of October. It was a Saturday.
I had a weekend off but the other three guys were working. I had all the day to do my packing.
I left my home around 8 o clock in the evening to avoid the Diwali rush. I had a quick dinner and boarded the city bus, but to my surprise the traffic was less. I kept calling everyone else to make sure everyone had left their home. I was the first one to reach the city main bus stop and then Shiv arrived. My back was already aching carrying that heavy luggage and realized why they didn't show the actors carrying their luggage from their home till the airport or bus stop in the movie(Coz that is really tiresome). We met the other two guys at the city railway station. We started cracking jokes about anything and everything around us. But I could tell that everyone was super excited about this trip.
The train arrived half an hour earlier than the scheduled time (It happens rarely in India). The first thing we noticed once we got into the train was eunuch’s asking for money. Since two guys from our ticket were cancelled, the TT allotted those seats to other passengers. We checked our flight tickets and kept talking for some time. Deepu kept cursing Pramod for not getting the camera tripod stand. After sometime we all went to sleep. I could not sleep the whole night. Maybe I was excited or maybe I was feeling cold. And to add to my woes I suddenly started feeling hungry around 1 o clock in the night. I could see even Deepu wasn’t sleeping (Which is extremely surprising). Rest of the night I spent listening to songs on my I-pod. The train reached Chennai around 4:15 in the morning. We came outside the railway station to the nearest bus stop. We were supposed to go to a friend’s place. His name was Deepak. 

Chennai railway station

Shivu called him up and took down the details like the bus number and the street where we were supposed to get down. We were supposed to get down at T-nagar and if possible jewel street (Deepak’s room is close by from here) Now the people of Chennai speak only Tamil and none of us knew that language. Some speak English and Hindi (Our official language) is unknown to them. Chennai is extremely hot and humid. We all were sweating at 4 in the morning. After waiting for 30 minutes we finally found the bus 11a and boarded it. There were very few people in the bus. Pramod used the GPS in his mobile and saw the place was 6 kms away. We asked the bus conductor to inform us when the bus reaches the stop but that old guy was not bothered. Shivu told us that we were supposed to get down at a street called Jewel Street, but when we asked the conductor he gave us a weird look. Then we asked a lady who was sitting in front of us about the address. She knew where t-nagar was but she had no idea of Jewel Street. And she got down before us. The passenger sitting next to us was also new to that place.
Finally the conductor got us down near T-nagar and Deepak came there to receive us. Then we told him that none of the people in the bus knew where Jewel Street was. And he said that he never mentioned any jewel street. He said Joyalukkas Street. We all looked at Shivu and burst out laughing. We freshened up in his room and then had breakfast along with him. Deepak had already booked a cab for us from his room till the Chennai Airport. It was a 30 minute drive from his room till the airport.
Initially we had booked the flight for 22nd of October, but the flight was postponed to 23rd Oct. I still had the 22nd ticket and security at the airport did not allow us to get in. We again had to go to the jet airways counter and get new tickets. We took some snaps inside the airport for our memory. We boarded the flight around 10:30. Since this was Shiv’s first flight experience we had to sacrifice our window seat to him.

A bird's view of Andaman

1st day: Cellular jail.
We reached Port Blair (One of the several islands of Andaman) around 12:30 in the afternoon and took a taxi to the city to check out some lodging options. The taxi driver gave us some free info regarding Andaman. We saw 2 lodges in Phoenix bay area but the rates were costly and the rooms were not so good. Then we moved to the Aberdeen market area and found a lodge there. The rooms were pretty good. Pramod bargained a lot and we finally fixed a price. We checked into our rooms and sat quietly there for sometime in the AC. Then we asked Pramod to show us the printed T-shirts (The CLAN) and everyone was disappointed with the printing.
After sometime we enquired the reception below regarding a good place to eat. He suggested us a restaurant called “The Light House.” It was a ten minutes walk. The restaurant was quite empty. We ordered some soups, chicken and fish. The service was very late but the food was too good. But sadly they didn’t serve liquor. We spent almost two hours there. The service was late and also we ate a lot. Finally we enquired with the waiter and he said that they had another branch down the road where they served beer. We planned to go there in the night.
Then we walked towards the cellular jail which was just 10 minutes away from there. When I first saw the famous cellular jail from outside, it looked like a government post office to me. I was very disappointed. But I had no inkling about what was waiting for me inside. The structure from inside was magnificent. But one look inside the cells and the prison and you can feel the pain and torture which our freedom fighters had gone through some 60 – 70 years back. I won’t get into all those details. Deepu and Pramod took lot of snaps. I and Shivu were always ready to pose for them. We spent some 2 hours there and then it was time for some light show. We had to buy new tickets for them. The light show was all about the Indian freedom struggle and we all got bored very easily. We left the show mid way and came back to our room and had some tea.

Entrance of the cellular jail

Cellular jail from the inside

Then we got some beer bottles into the room and watched the cricket match on TV. By the time we finished our drinks it was quite late. And we were too tired to go out for dinner. So we ordered for some food to the room and finished our dinner. And we all slept off.
2nd day: (Ross, Viper and North Bay Island)
Our second day in port Blair started pretty early because we were four guys in one room and we all had to share one bathroom. The previous night we had arguments about who would get up first in the morning. And somehow we decided Shiv would be the lucky one (I never saw him agreeing to it). So once everyone was ready in the morning, we went to a restaurant nearby to our lodge and had idly’s. The waiter gave 5 idly’s in each plate and except me everyone finished it. Then we walked till the sports complex and bought tickets to the ferry. Actually it was a 1day package trip(Morning to evening) which included a visit to Ross Island, Viper Island and North Bay Island, free lunch and snorkeling would be at extra cost. Before leaving the room we applied sunscreen cream on our face and hands. I applied a little extra for that extra protection, but later once I started sweating, the sweat mixed with the cream, a white color liquid started flowing down my face.
First we reached Ross Island. Now all these islands have lot of historical importance. This island was used by the Britishers before independence for their guest house. It’s a paradise for photographers. Lot of the buildings has been destroyed in the 2004 Tsunami. But still the ruins are equally beautiful. One can see tree growing over the buildings. There are lots of Japanese bunkers as well. (They had occupied this island for 3 years)
So Pramod started taking pictures of everything apart from us. And whenever he took our pictures it was either blurred or over exposed. There were beaches on either side of the islands. We took lot of snaps over there. Drank tender coconut water and also ate kulfi (Ice cream).
Ross Island-1

Ross Island-2
Then the ferry took us to Viper Island. Now this island previously was used to torture and hang hardcore freedom fighters of India. There was a gallows built to hang the prisoners. The ferry guy was also our guide who would give us brief introduction about the island.
Now this island is named as viper for 2 reasons. One is that a British vessel called viper met with an accident and sank near this island. Another reason was the presence of lot of viper snakes on this island.
This island was used by the British to inflict the worst torture on Indian freedom fighters. No food is available on this island, lot of snakes was there and this island is surrounded by water from all sides with crocodiles in it. So anybody left in this island-death is imminent. The guide gave a very emotional speech on the torture inflicted on our freedom fighters because of which we all are enjoying our freedom. Deepu was the first to clap and lot of people overcome by their emotion paid him money. Duration on Viper Island was short coz there was nothing much to see. 
Finally we proceeded to North Bay Island which is famous for its underwater corals. The guide offered to take everyone for snorkeling for extra money. We 4 paid immediately and were super excited. On reaching the island we found 2 lockers for rent and immediately kept our belongings there and got into shorts. We had to wait for our turn since there were lot of people, but the wait was worth it. We were put in life saving tubes and the tubes were tied to each other. We were given the snorkeling kit which included a pair of glasses to protect our eyes from water and a pipe with one end above water and the other end in our mouth to facilitate our breathing. The guy would pull me and since the tubes were tied along, everyone would be dragged in water. We had to immerse our head in water and watch the underwater corals; fishes of different colour and many more colorful God knows what things. It was funny coz while breathing in the pipe; we could hear lot of funny noise. It was a very good experience and a good rehearsal for our future scuba dive.
We reached port Blair around 4:30 in the evening. While coming back there was a discussion in the ferry among us and Deepu decided that we all should leave to Havelock Island tomorrow. We all agreed. So once we got down, Deepu was desperate to go to Havelock Island by chopper. But we could not get any proper information. One auto driver agreed to take us to the booking counter of chopper and Deepu and Pramod left in that auto. I and Shivu started walking towards our room. People follow strict rules in Andaman while driving and hence they don’t like jay walkers on road, especially tourists. So I and Shivu had a small argument on the road coz he was jay walking. Once we reached our room I got a call from Deepu saying that the auto driver had taken them to the speed cruise booking centre rather than the chopper booking center. The phone connection is pretty bad in Andaman. The person on the other end can hear our voice after 3 or 4 seconds. I asked Deepu to come back to the room. 
By the time he came back it was 5:30 in the evening. There are 2 specialties of Andaman. One is that it gets dark here pretty soon. It will be so dark at 5:30 in the evening; you will feel like its 7 or 8 in the evening.
Back in the room we all decided to let go the chopper idea and instead book the speed cruise. I can tell that Deepu was very depressed about not finding the chopper. So we left Pramod in the room, we 3 took an auto and reached the cruise ticket booking center and bought 4 tickets for the next day.
Then we decided to go the Light house restaurant where they served liquor. The waiter in that restaurant had a unique way of opening the beer bottles with the help of a spoon. We all were very impressed with that and decided to try it later, since it would save Deepu’s teeth whenever we don’t have an opener. (He opens beer bottles with his teeth)
After gulping down couple of bottles of beer, our brains switched off and our hearts started talking.
I Shiv and Deepu got into a personal discussion (can’t tell you the details) and the discussion started from somewhere in 2002. The food was amazing especially the fish and beer was chilled and we were on a holiday. So there was no stopping us. The waiter became a good friend of us and hence allowed us to stay beyond the closing time. We paid him good tips and walked towards our room. And even though we were drunk, we had to pack our luggage because we had to vacate the room early in the morning and board the cruise. Again in the night some joke between Deepu and Shivu turned into a small fight and I had to intervene to stop it. (Since I am senior to them and highly feared and respected... Just kidding) and finally we slept with the AC in full swing.

3rd day - Havelock “The heaven” Island.
Morning when we woke up the room was extremely cold. My head was heavy and lots of funny sounds were heard from my stomach. I felt like somebody was snorkeling inside my stomach. To keep it simple I had a mild hangover. By the time we all 4 were ready it was time to reach the phoenix bay jetty from where a bus would pick us up till the cruise. We had booked deluxe tickets (They were the only tickets available) and hence we thought that they would serve at least a burger in the cruise. We withdrew money from the ATM, drank tender coconut and rushed to the jetty. The bus picked us up till the boarding point. We got our luggage checked in and got our boarding passes. Our seats were on the 1st floor of the cruise. The view was amazing and we felt like royal.
Once the cruise started we kept looking around if anybody would serve us some food. But after some 45 minutes we realized there will be no food. Deepu bought us some chocolates which were sold at twice their price. But the chocolates were digested even before it reached my stomach. I desperately wanted some food to feel better. Finally we reached Havelock Island and had some buttermilk. Wow... That really put me back into my usual self. 
A view near the jetty at the Havelock Island

We got 2 autos and checked out 2 beach resorts. It was pretty costly. Finally we reached a resort called Holiday inn. There were 2 sections over there. One was AC rooms and the other non-AC rooms. We finalized 2 non AC rooms. All those rooms were made of thatched roofs. We decided to try all these coz if you want the comfort of a house everywhere you go: then better stay at home. Actually we wanted to save money. These are all located along the beach. So we just dropped our luggage at our room. My room was on the first floor and all these rooms had open bathrooms. i.e. you just have a curtain to cover it and no doors. So we dumped our luggage in our rooms and went for a stroll on the beach. But we saw that the water was too far from the resort and Pramod was very disappointed. He thought (actually all of us) that the waves would be hitting the edge of the resort. But it was half a kilometer far. We took some snaps and then hired couple of 2 wheelers to go around that island. We decided that we better book our return tickets in advance and hence went back to the place where the cruise had dropped us. 

Deepu again started enquiring about the chopper but we could not find any information. So our only option was the same cruise ship and even this time only deluxe tickets were available. We had to wait for a while before we got the tickets. And then went to a nearby restaurant for lunch. It was quite late and we all were hungry and tired. The restaurant was pretty expensive and food was not good. Somehow we finished our lunch and headed towards Radhanagar beach which is the most famous beach in Andaman and one of the most beautiful beaches in Asia. It was about 9 kilometers from our cottage. The roads were surrounded by thick dense forest. These forests are original forest untouched by human. The trees are extremely long and provided shade all along the road.
Road to Radhanagar Beach
 Our ride till the beach was amazing. We reached the beach around 4 in the evening. The moment we saw the water we all unanimously said WOW!!!! The water was so blue; it looked like some beach in Mauritius. We had taken a pair of shorts and immediately got into the water. The water was so clear, even if you are waist deep in the sea you can still see your feet and sea bed very clearly. We kept playing there till dark and then had to move, since after dark nobody is allowed to stay on the beach. 
Sunset at Radhanagar beach

We rode back to our resort in our wet shorts. While we were parking our bikes we could hear the sound of the waves very near to our resort. We ran towards the beach and saw that the waves were hitting the edge of our resort. We all were so happy and immediately decided that we should get some drinks and booze near the beach.
We had a cold water bath and had some tea. Oh yes... I forgot to tell you. Right from day one Deepu used to write down all our expenses and also the person who paid for it in a dairy. So while having tea, he updated his account book with all the expenses for that day. (He really made our lives easier)
Then we went and fetched some beer and ordered some food at our resort. The food prices were pretty costly, even water bottles since everything came in ship from the main land. We got the drinks and immediately settled down on the easy chair placed near the shore. One sip of beer and I felt I was in heaven. Only the angels were missing. It was so relaxing. My mobile was switched off and for the first time my mind was totally blank. It was just me, the beer, the clear sky with lot of stars and the water hitting the shore. I was not worried about anyone. I wasn’t worried about tomorrow or my future.
Deepu started talking about his plans for tomorrow and I and Pramod got irritated. We told him that he should relax and not worry about tomorrow. Yet he would not shut his mouth. He started talking about going to office on Monday and the rest of us shouted “STOP” in chorus. We tried to make him understand that once we are in the trip we should not think about tomorrow, especially since we had six days and it was not tight scheduled. Deepu misunderstood it and was pissed off. He didn’t show it but I could sense it. The drink went on till late night. We had our dinner and then we had a walk on the beach. It was completely dark and so we had to use our torch. There were so many crabs and other things on the beach. The moment the torch light fell on them they used to run towards the sea. At one point there were so many small crabs that me and Pramod were scared to move forward.
So while walking back towards our cottage on the beach I shared my iPod with Pramod and we both started listening to my soft rock collections. Pramod was very impressed with my collection. Maybe that was the first time he came to know about my taste for English rock. (He was a guitarist and used to perform long back). We kept listening to songs past mid night. I looked up and noticed that the sky was clear and there were lots of stars. And the song on my iPod went like this
“Look at the stars,
Look how they shine for you,
And everything you do,
Yeah they were all yellow”
Relaxation point overlooking Vijaynagar beach
Holiday inn beach resort
Later I noticed that Shivu had gone back to his room to sleep long back and Deepu had slept off on the easy chair near the beach. I woke him up and then we decided to go to our rooms and sleep. It must have been around 1 or 2 o clock in the night. Deepu and Pramod slept in their cottage and I and Shivu were in different cottage.
4th day- Kaala Pattar beach and Radhanagar beach:
The next morning I heard Deepu calling out mine and Shivu’s name outside our room, but I continued sleeping. After a minute I woke up and asked loudly if Deepu was still there. He said yes and I went down and opened the door. I was so sleepy that I opened the door and didn’t even check if it was Deepu. I came back and slept and could hear Deepu taking some of his luggage from our room. The next time I opened my eyes it was almost 10 o clock in the morning and the sun was shining brightly. Shivu was still sleeping. I went down to the bathroom, got freshened up and then woke up Shivu. Then I went to check on Deepu and Pramod. Even Pramod had got up around the same time but Deepu had got up early. We all 4 then went to have breakfast at a nearby restaurant since the food prices was less compared to out resort. Deepu said he finished his breakfast long back and preferred to have omlette’s again. 

After a good breakfast we took our bikes and headed off to Kaala pattar beach. It was a 6 kms ride and the roads and the view was exactly the same like Radhanagar. We parked our bikes on the beach and saw there were just 3 or 4 foreigners on the beach and nobody else. We decided that we will roam around the beach, take some pictures and not get into water here. But Deepu said he will get into water to everyone’s amazement. Pramod started roaming around collecting shells. Shivu and I roamed around taking each other’s pictures. I saw Deepu and could sense that he was in the water just to make a point rather than to have fun. I asked Shivu if Deepu was angry for any issue, but he said he is not aware of any. I told Shivu that even if he is angry the water will cool him down.
We took some pictures and then Deepu came out of water. We all 4 took some snaps together. Then we left for Radhanagar beach. Mid way we stopped to buy a flying disc and also to refuel.
Kaala pattar beach

Once we reached Radhanagar, we requested a restaurant nearby the beach to arrange lunch and we would come back after 2 hours. We kept playing in the beach with the flying disc we bought. And all the time I and Deepu were constantly keeping an eye on our bags as well. Later we went to the restaurant and had some nice fish meals. We were quite hungry and so the lunch seemed to be tasty. We paid for the lunch and went back to the beach and kept playing till dark. Then we asked a foreigner to take our snap together.
Next day was our big day. It was our scuba diving day. Hence we decided to drink less as we didn’t want a hangover to spoil it. During the drink Deepu expressed his anger about us waking up late in the morning. I wondered what was wrong with this guy. Did he want to get up and go to the beach at 5 in the morning??? I and Pramod tried to reason with him but if I know Deepu well, he acts like he agrees with us but within himself he always disagrees. (Later I came to know that Kaala pattar beach is the sunrise point of Andaman and hence Deepu wanted to go there early in the morning)

5th day: Scuba dive
So next morning we all woke up on time and went to a nearby resort which conducted these scuba diving events. (We had already booked our slots 2 days back). The instructor gave us the diving suits and asked to try it. We put on the suits and then had our breakfast at the same resort. Then some more people joined for the scuba dive and along with the trainers we left in 2 boats. In our boat we were 4 guys and a family of four. (Parents and a son and a daughter) The daughter and her mother were in the diving suit but the son didn’t seem to be very interested about this scuba thing. The father was too fat and hence I realized that there was no way he could get into this tight fitting dive suit. The father asked if we were students (I was so happy coz he thought we were so young) and we said we were all working. They introduced themselves and we kept talking till we reached the dive site. It was a 20 minute ride in the boat. The instructor decided that we 4 and the girl would go in first. So we put on the gear and he started giving us instructions. I told the instructor that I didn’t know to swim and he said that I could sink in the water better. Everyone laughed. We had paid extra for the instructor to take our snaps under water. Then the training started where the instructor would tell us what we have to do in case the oxygen pipe comes out of our mouth during the dive or if water gets into our glasses etc. After a small dive Shivu got nervous about breathing under water and hence backed off. We tried to motivate him but the guy was very scared. The problem with this guy is that he reacts even before he understands what’s happening. Hence Shivu went back to the boat.
We all went for our dive. While I was underwater, water started getting into my glasses and I panicked a bit. I tried to blow it out but it was not working or maybe I was not doing it right. Then the trainer bought me up and then pulled me to some distance in water and then took me down once again. This time everything went ok but since I had gone far the photographer never came near me. The dive we felt was short as we came out of water in 15 or 20 minutes. We all were pretty depressed as we had paid so much and I was even more depressed as they had taken pictures of everyone except me. Meanwhile the elders from the other group had been motivating Shivu and finally Shivu decided to give it a second try. Now there are 2 reasons why Shiv agreed to take the dive so soon. One he must have been so tortured by the motivational speech by the uncle’s from the other group that he felt it’s better to dive and shut their mouth. Or he was worried that if he didn’t take the dive, then we 3 would tease him for the rest of his life. 
He went for a dive with the second group and this time everything went well for him. We all wanted to go for extra dive but the trainer said the climate was getting bad and we all should get back to our resort.  We asked the trainer that we wanted an extra dive and he asked us to come next morning at the same time. Back at our resort the whole afternoon we lazed around our beach listening to songs. Deepu went to the dive instructor and got the pictures CD, but the pictures were very badly taken. Late in the evening Pramod decided to join with us for a drink and hence me and Shivu went to the market and got drinks for everyone. We kept drinking till late night. Pramod was in a good mood and he went near the beach with his IPOD. Shivu had dinner and went back to room to sleep. Then started my nightmare. Deepu started playing music on Pramod’s laptop. And he played such music that got me so bored, but I dint want to stop his fun. I and Deepu kept checking if Pramod was still there or got washed away in the waves. After a while we all went back to our rooms to sleep.

6th day: One more scuba dive
Next morning we all woke up on time and reached the scuba diving resort and had breakfast there. This time the number of people for the dive was less and hence the senior instructor decided to stay back at his office. We left in a boat with the trainers and the oxygen cylinders to the same dive site. This time the trainers asked us to take the dive in the second round. We kept playing on the shore while Deepu swam around. We told the photographer to take good pictures and also a group picture underwater. Since this was our second dive we were not given any instructions and were taken to the dive immediately. The photographer was always around me this time and kept taking lot of snaps. We saw lots of fish; we also saw a hiding octopus, some peculiar looking fish, and colorful corals. This time the dive was of a longer duration and we enjoyed it a lot. We all 4 guys were bought together underwater for a snap. By the time we came out of water it was raining very heavily. This dive was really a superb experience for us and all 4 of us were extremely happy.
Aquatic life in Andamn-1
Aquatic life in Andaman-2
Scuba dive in progress
We came back to our resort and packed our luggage and cleared our bill at the resort. Pramod went to the dive instructor got our dive pictures. And then with a heavy heart we all went to the jetty from where we had to board our cruise. All the time we kept discussing that we should have stayed one more day in Havelock Island. I wondered if I would ever get a chance to visit this wonderful island once again with my friends. We boarded the cruise and reached Port Blair (Main island of Andaman) in the evening. It was almost dark by the time we reached the main road. We enquired an auto back to the same lodge but the guy demanded a bit more money. And then we all started walking towards our lodge with our heavy bag packs. My shoulders were tired and paining and I kept wondering why we couldn’t just pay the extra money to the auto guy and reach the lodge without all these trouble. We all were dead tired when we reached the lodge. We got our triple bedroom and we relaxed a bit and saw our snaps on the laptop. Later we decided to go to the same light house restaurant.
The waiter was pleased to see us (His name is Sujith) and asked if we would keep ordering beer like the last time but we told him that we were in a mood to eat today. He suggested some nice fish and we had a nice time eating it. Now the funny thing is after eating the fish nicely Shivu says that he does not like fish. I remember when we first went to light house restaurant and were about to order chicken this guy says that we should order sea food. Now after his stomach is full he says all these things. Looking at the way we ate fish the waiter said that he was sure we wouldn’t order dinner. And it was true. We left some good tips for him and left to our room. I knew I would have a bad stomach next morning since we had so much of fish and spices.

7th day: Boring day.
The depression had started the moment we left Havelock Island. We had seen the best beaches there, did the best activity there (scuba dive), stayed at a nice resort and had the best time of our life. Hence we felt that nothing can be better than Havelock. And also it was the last day of our trip. We initially planned to visit a place called Baratong where we could see mud volcano (This started after Tsunami), lime stone caves and also see tribal people on the way. But when we were in Havelock we changed our plans because Baratong was a 3 hour drive and we didn’t want to sit in a vehicle for 3 hours in that hot climate. Hence we decided to visit another beach called Jolly buoy or red skin which they say has some of the best corals.
We had to catch a bus at 7 in the morning and hence we got up early. We went to the ATM and withdrew some cash (The trip was coming to an end and everyone was running out of money) we had tender coconut water and then went to the main bus stop which was very close by to our lodge. We had to wait there for a while before the bus started. It rained a bit and there was a rainbow formation. Pramod took some snaps of it. My stomach was not that good after the fish feast I had previous night. The bus started and Deepu slept off immediately. It was a 45 minute to 1 hour journey and the road was narrow and full of potholes. But the bus driver was driving like as if he is Lewis Hamilton and the road is his F1 track. We reached the spot and bought tickets. The tickets were pretty costly and also we had to pay extra to the forest department to get permission to visit that place. And we were not allowed to carry plastic bottles there. The ferry guys gave us empty water cans for extra money and we had to return it back once we came back (We had to pay even for that). The ferry started after a while and it was so slow like it didn’t want to reach that place. Everyone was so bored. Deepu started sleeping but me and Pramod kept disturbing him. Finally we reached the place which was a tiny island with no shops or people on it. The ferry guy offered us snorkeling either by water or by a glass bottom boat. None of us were interested to get into water and hence we went for the boat ride. The corals didn’t seem to interest us as we had seen so many in other places. Then we just stayed at the island while the other people kept snorkeling and playing in the water. We were extremely bored and were just waiting for the ferry to take us back. 

We saw all the people playing in water and wondered if they had ever seen a beach. We had taken some biscuits, butter milk and water with us. We had them all. And Deepu slept off on a bench. Shivu took Pramod’s SLR camera and started taking snaps like a barber with scissors in his hand and cutting off any hair he saw. Finally after a long wait the ferry started and took us back. By the time we reached back the water level had receded there. We got off the ferry and had vegetarian meals (Which we have occasionally only) and then boarded a bus. As usual Deepu slept off. Even I slept for some time. We reached our room and watched TV and kept seeing our snaps. The only thing I could sense that was going on in everyone’s mind was that our trip was over. This trip for which we had been waiting from last 4 to 5 months was over. We all knew we had to go back to our regular life but we also knew that this trip will stay in our minds for a longtime to come. Deepu always said the waiting for the trip is always the best part because the trip would get over in no time and we would be left only with our memories.
After sometime we all went to the same light house restaurant for the last time. We had to wait for some time since it was weekend and the place was crowded. But our waiter got us a table. We sat down but neither we could drink a lot nor eat well. This was one day which just didn’t go as per our plan. We had a light dinner and took some snaps along with the waiter and walked back to our room. We packed our luggage and slept off. We had our flight next morning at 8:45.
8th Day: The long journey back home.
Next morning we all freshened up, got our luggage downstairs and cleared off our bill. We took a taxi to the airport. At the airport we saw that carrying any kind of sea shell was prohibited and also punishable. Immediately we asked Pramod to dispose of all the shells he was carrying along with him. He took his luggage bag and threw it somewhere outside the airport. Our flight was on time and we reached Chennai around 11 in the morning. Pramod wanted to have lunch at a place called Saravana bhavan (This is a chain of restaurants and are present in other countries as well) we took a taxi to the railway station. The taxi being non-A/C and Chennai being hot and humid, we were drenched in our sweat by the time we reached the railway station. At the railway station we saw this restaurant and had a wonderful lunch. Then we went to our platform and Deepu did the final accounts. Me and Shivu went to nearby ATM and got some cash and settled all the accounts. The train arrived at the scheduled time. The seats of the train were not comfortable. The journey was boring, the train was crowded and we all were sad. I kept listening to my iPod, ditto with Shivu. Pramod slept off while Deepu kept himself busy with a novel. We entered Bangalore city around 9:30 in the evening and I got down first at the first station since it was nearer to the place I stayed. The rest of them got down at the next station after half an hour.
This was the one of the best times I had in my life coz Andaman is a very beautiful place and I had been there with my best friends. 
While coming back we kept discussing about visiting Ladakh after 6 months. It would be in the month of June or September 2012. If we make it up till there you will be hearing from me very soon.

Till then take care and see you soon.
You live life only once. But if you live it right, once is enough.

From L to R (Shiv, Pramod, Ponnappa, Deepu)



  1. Wow..! thats awesome, felt like seeing andaman once again through ur blog. Only if u had told me earlier abt this, may be i would hv behaved a bit..:) he he..

  2. Mind Blowing n an Awesome one, Ur Really lucky enough to visit Andaman, Being a biology student, im tempted to see those coralreefs, molluscs, oysters, in Scuba:))) Fantabullous:))) U guys just ROCK:)))

  3. Hats Off to Ponns...for making such beautiful description abt the visit:))

  4. Had a live experience on reading it, felt I was on-board and on vacation with u all. Feels good to see people who know how to enjoy life. Hope ur next trip to Ladakh materializes soon. Good luck and Best wishes.

  5. Poonappa,
    The journey you explained is simple and neat and enough to cherish the memories.
    After reading it I felt like I am enjoying the beauty of Andaman, blue waters, under water life and scuba diving.

    Really you guys enjoyed the Andaman trip.

    Please add few more snaps, which will add more to writings.

  6. Pu,

    Nicely written had a live experience.

    Even I m feeling to go for a long trip.....

    Aneesh and Ajay Lets plan........

  7. This blog is awesome.. very well described... enjoyed reading it..

  8. Quite an informative blog this. So look forward to visiting this part of the world someday soon.

  9. nice and detailed post. Some spacing between the paragraphs would have been great

  10. Andaman is a wonderful travel location.... A very good post supported by apt photographs.......

  11. Hi Ponnappa,

    That was an awesome trip you had. I liked the details especially. I wish there were more pics. It was a good read.

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