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wojtekd Port Blair - A travel report by Wojciech
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Port Blair,  India - flag India -  Andaman and Nicobar Islands
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wojtekd's travel reports

Hang out the hammock under the palms...

  16 votes
Page: 1 2
This is the destination for the travelers who do not care about comfortable hotel rooms, air conditioning and sophisticated meals in the fancy restaurants. On the Andaman Islands you will find virgin nature, an escape from the crowd..


Port Blair travelogue picture
The Andaman Islands lie in the Bay of Bengal 1200 km from Chennai (former Madras) but only 200 km from the coast of Myanmar. There are more then 500 islands in total but only 26 of them are inhabited. During the 18th and 19th centuries, missionaries from Europe arrived on the islands to convert the locals. The tribes were faced with diseases for which they had no natural immunity. Now the remaining locals live in the reserves and the tourists are not allowed to bother them. Emigrants from West Bengal and Tamils dominate the 300 thousand population. The main and the only highway with bridges and ferries connects the three main islands: South Andaman, Middle Andaman and North Andaman. To get to the other islands you will need to use public boats.

Favourite spots:
Havelock boats
Havelock boats
1. Wonderful underwater gardens full of coral and color fish. The archipelago has been already cleared after the 2004 tsunami. Lovers of diving and snorkeling are returning again from far away to enjoy the beauty of the underwater world in Mahatma Gandhi National Park. But the majority of visitors are young people from all over the world from all over the world lured by the legend about tropical islands where you can hang around under the palms for as little as 5 dollars a night.

2.Beaches. The most beautiful beach on Havelock called by Time magazine “the most beautiful beach of Asia” lies near village No. 7. Swimming and snorkeling are the main activities. For 250 rupees per hour you can rent a motor boat to sail around the island – it takes usually 4 hours.

On No. 3 there is a little bazaar where you can buy for pennies your bananas and papayas.

What's really great:
Ladies from Neill
Ladies from Neill
Neill Island! This island is even smaller and more remote then Havelock. Only twice a week a boat goes from Havelock to Neill, but it is also possible to go to Neill via Port Blair which is connected to Neill Island every morning. There are only three guesthouses and government resthouse to stay on the whole island. To stay in this little paradise for one night you pay 300 rupees for the hut with a net or twice as much in the fanciery cottage. The most beautiful beach on this island – Satipur has not any single shelter. It is hard to survive there in the strong, tropical sun but you will, you will be rewarded to be alone in this nice spot.
I spent time swimming, as well I took walks through palms and bougainvilleas paths to the distant villages (the farthest is 5 km away) watching everyday life in the little courtyards surrounded by thatched houses.

Sights:
Port Blair travelogue picture
Port Blair

This is in fact the only town on the Andamans and the capital of the archipelago. It is hard to find any monuments here but it has some oriental charm – especially the bazaar quarter of Aberdeen, full of small shops and eateries. This is also the area where you will find internet cafe charging 30 rupees per one hour the the slow connection to the world. Inexpensive hotel (I recommend “Shah-n-Shah”) will cost you 400 rupees for room with a shower.

In Port Blair there are three interesting museums: Marine, Anthropology and Fishing. But the most interesting for the tourists will be Cellular Jail – built by the British at the end of 19th century. They offer a “sound and light” spectacle every evening.

Accommodations:
Ferry to Neill
Ferry to Neill
Havelock Island
It is the most popular of three distant islands where you can land with your permit. Two or three boats per day depart from Phoenix Bay jetty to Havelock. It is advisable to buy ticket a day in advance – when I arrived from the airport (moto rickshaw cost me 40 rupees) they said that there was no more space on the afternoon ship. I did not trust the clerk and I was right: I managed to get aboard paying the fare directly to the crew. They charge 200 rupees for sailing in the upper class and 150 for the deck. After 3 hours sailing to get to the Havelock jetty. All guesthouses on Havelock are located on the north-eastern coast of the island. And all of them were already full when I as looking for accommodation – even the government resort “Dolphin”. The owners offered me an option to sleep in the hammock under the palms – for just 50 rupees.
The villages on the remote islands have no names but are numbered.

Nightlife:
Cellular Jail in Port Blair
Cellular Jail in Port Blair
Do not expect any nightlife out of Bort Blair. (In the capital of the archipelago you can check the expensive hotels for night activities - I do not know about them). For the backpacker like me swimming and snorkeling are the main activities. On Havelock for 250 rupees per hour you can rent a motor boat to sail around the island – it takes usually 4 hours, other destinations are also possible.

Hangouts:
Overgrown ruins on Ross
Overgrown ruins on Ross
Ross Island



This little island is visible from the top of the Cellular Jail tower in Port Blair. You can reach Ross by motor boat departing each morning from Water Sports Complex. It is worth the 60 rupees for a round-trip sailing and 20 rupees for entry to see there the ruins of the administrative centre of the British. An earthquake in 1941 destroyed the elegant buildings and wide roads. Present day Ross Island showcases remnants of what were a Presbyterian church, a library, and a bakery. The ruins are overgrown by trees and plants like in Angkor...

Restaurants:
Port Blair travelogue picture
Eat with the locals! Local people are very easygoing and hospitable. They live from fishing and husking coconuts. Copra is still one of the main sources of income. Often they offered me coconut drinks – absolutely free of charge. The only problem is communication – their english is poor.
The last developed of tourist-accessible islands is Long Island. But I did not go there since the transport is less frequent.
The Andaman Islands are a land of immense natural beauty - forests lead down steep hillsides to rocks, empty beaches, white sand and green mangrove forests.
The temperature stays fairly even most of the year, between 22ºC and 33ºC . There are two rainy seasons, one from June to mid-September and the other from November to mid-December. The best time to visit is from the end of November to the end of April. December and January is the busiest season.

Other recommendations:
Havelock
Havelock
How to get there? There is only one airport – in Port Blair. Jet Airways, Indian Airlines and new low-cost carriers fly there from Kolkatta and Chennai. Economy fares will be anywhere from USD 250 up from Chennai (the closest mainland city). An irregular journey by ship takes a minimum of 48 hours from Chennai or 72 hours from Kolkatta. The last expensive bunk cost 1500 rupes each way. Foreigners need special permits to visit the islands, if you arrive by air it will be issued on the spot in the Port Blair airport. If you are wishing to travel to the Andaman Islands by sea it will better to apply for the permit in advance from the Ministry Of Home Affairs in New Delhi or from the Foreigners Regional Registration Office located in Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi and Kolkata. Permits are free and are valid for 30 days. Sorry, tourists are not allowed to visit any of the Nicobar group of islands.
You can find more pictures from the Andamans on my website: www.kontynenty.net/Andam1.htm

Published on Wednesday May 7th, 2008


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Fri, Apr 09 2010 - 08:29 AM rating by sujoy

Nice to c ur report on an indian travelspot. Gud details and photographs . Like ur charming presentation . Thanks

Sat, Feb 20 2010 - 02:37 PM rating by pavankumar

excellent report.plan to visit soon.pavankumar

Tue, Jun 03 2008 - 01:28 PM rating by magsalex

A very interesting report.

Fri, May 16 2008 - 04:44 AM rating by louis

Excellent report about very interesting place. It is nice to read report about so remote and unknown islands.

Sat, May 10 2008 - 06:16 AM rating by marianne

As usual an excellent report with useful info and very nice photos

Thu, May 08 2008 - 06:19 AM rating by davidx

As informative and stimulating as we have come to expect when we see your name.

Wed, May 07 2008 - 04:35 PM rating by mistybleu

Excellent report and an enjoyable read.

Amanda

PS well done on getting MOM.

Wed, May 07 2008 - 05:49 AM rating by rangutan

Another fantastic report! Great, you choose very exotic places to travel too!

Wed, May 07 2008 - 04:50 AM rating by jorgesanchez

Wonderful report about a place very rarely visited. Useful information as well, and nice pictures.

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