Monday, 15 December 2008

Travel with me to Andaman...

I would like to share with you people about my journey to the islands. Lets get to it straight.

It was late night, almost 1 a.m when we started from our home to the Chennai Kamaraj domestic airport. Since there were several rumours saying that the flight is gonna be hijacked and that airports were targetted, we started early. Our flight was scheduled to departure by 5:55 a.m. But due to some problem it was later re-scheduled to depart at 7:55. It was our first time flight and I was highly excited. Anxeity marked my face. When it was 6:00, my dad asked me to get ready for check in. It was a decently big queue and we saw many celebrities there. Since the flight was delayed, we were offered snacks (yuck!). We waited at the lounge there and moved on for security check. When we were standing in the big queue, we saw Daniel Balaji – Kaaka Kaaka co-actor. He was short and was very casual. Fine, it was then time for security check! I knew that the alarm would beep when I pass thru, and guess what? It happened too... The alarm started ringing and I was re-checked! It was my purse, who was the culprit. Anyways later, I was allowed. We moved near the glass doors from where we could clearly see the landings and take-offs of flights. We took a lot of photos there and the awesome air-hostess who were making announcements exchanged looks with me ;) ..! We were looking out and suddenly a known face was glancing at us! Ooh! It was Prakash Raj – the well known actor of T & Kollywood. Once he recognised that we were looking at him, he waved his hands and boarded into the Paramount airways's bus. When it was just fifteen minutes to go, we even saw Pokiri-telugu's villain (The Police officer).

It was very boring by then and time was moving very slow. We played word building game for time pass there... and once the IC 549 Air India to Port Blair call came, we ran and completed the remaining procedure. We were taken near the aircraft by a very old bus. I took as many as 45 photos in the airport itself.

The flight looked very much like a volvo bus with deep blue coloured seats. Thank god! We got one window seat, and I sat there! Yipee!!! When everyone were there, the air-hostessess explained us how to wear all those safety stuff when in danger. Out of the three air hostess, one was absolutely mind blowing. She was very beautiful. Ok. Lets continue, the plane was then taken to some location and was kept there for some 5 min. Then the call came, “This is your Captain S.Reddy ordering for a Take Off...”. Then, I could sense the real inertia, the plane started and moved with a great pace and took off. Wow! Chennai was looking very beautiful. Though the city was not a well planned one, it looked extremely fine. We then got vanished between the clouds and I could sense the pressure difference in my ears later as the altitude was increasing steadily. We were offered idly and coffee. The packing was neat and clean. The food was fresh too. Fruits were also given. After having a nice breakfast, I allowed my sister to sit in the window seat (after all giving and taking is a part and parcel of our life). K... Then, we got the sight of small small islands which were characterised by a very shallow shore. The altitude was steadily decreasing and then, we took a small video of the landing. When we successfully landed, we felt it like a piece of cake. Then, I asked to the air hostess to allow me to have a peep at the cockpit. She refused but the pilots called me in. I went there and thanked them for a great journey. I introduced myself and they too. They were well dressed in white and wore cooling glasses. They were happy to note that we were on a holiday trip and wished us a good luck. We were not allowed to take any pics of the cockpit, so came off. Listen, the Port Blair Veer Savarkar airport was nothing but just a small building of a floor height and was looking very primitive. We picked our luggages and moved out and our guide, Mr.Arun was standing right there with a relatively new Maruti Omni E(ight seater). He was well versed in Tamil, Hindi and a little Bengali. He was infact a tamilian born and brought up in Andaman.

We were offered stay at the Hotel Blair. The room was not so good but fine for a 4 days stay. We were very tired due to the delay of flight and slept for a couple of hours or more. We left our room to eat lunch in Anand V/NV hotel. We were not able to tolerate the smell of fish and somehow adjusted to complete our meal. Then it was time for us to go to the ROSS Island.

We were taken to place called Water Sports Park in Port Blair from where we could get ships to navigate to the nearby islands. We four, then started to ROSS Island, a twenty minutes ship journey from the capital. The ROSS island was a great spot and I loved it a lot. It was a lovely sight to see, the red coloured British buildings. We moved in and saw the nature's toll over those buildings... Trees had grown all over the structure and we felt like, how did we miss such things in life! We were very astonished by the way how britishers had established a colony in the ROSS island. They had every stuff; bakery, church, officers' club, barracks, etc. Peacock and Deer marked their presence in this island and were available in huge numbers in and around the place. We had to climb to get to the old church and then got down to the Ferrar Beach. It was a good sight there, as the water was very clear. It was greatly affected by tsunami which made a lot of coconut trees to fall off. We sat in one of them and enjoyed the tides that touched our feets.


It was already 4:15 and by 4:30 we had the return journey from the ROSS Island back to Port Blair. We then had some coconut drink and left to the ship. It was good to move in the waters. You feel an up and down motion throughout and even after that ;).

Then we left to the Light and Sound show in the cellular jail. The sun was already set by 5 p.m. The show started and made us all go emotional by the low and crying voices of the freedom fighters who lost their lives in Cellular jail. Light effects gave the feel of the voices that were played and special attention was given to a tree which marked its presence during the early britishers and even now. I'll explain about the cellular jail later.

It was 7:30 by then and we felt that, it was time for our dinner. We went to a pure vegetarian hotel – Annapurna. It was a decent hotel and the food tasted good but the serving took a lot of time. Anyways that was a blessing in disguise cause, we felt that it was much better than eating in the smell of fried fish. We slept and got up by around 5 a.m. The sun was already there in the sky which marked a two hours difference between India's main land. We boarded the Ramanujam Ship which sailed us to the Havelock islands.The main attraction in Havelock island is Radhanagar beach. The beach is very well known for having a shallow depth and clear shore with a beautiful vista around. It was a boring four hours journey. The ship was completely packed with Bengali honeymooners and Punjabis. Out of these, one of the Punjabi family which sat behind us, behaved in an awkward manner and earned a LOL award from everyone. The ship was equipped with a small pantry service and time to time I ate Lays and other eatables. Generally stuffs available there were atleast 5 Rs. more than the MRP. We thought Havelock to be a no man's land but after the four and half hours of sea journey we came to know that, our assumptions were wrong. It was a complete town. It contained vehichles esp. Sumos, jeeps; great bulidings and resorts. A twenty minutes journey further to Radhanagar, reached us to the beach. It welcomed us with a small note saying welcome to Radhanagar Beach. It is a place which we should never miss in our life. It was like a paradise in earth. I soon changed my clothe and jumped into the sea. I swam there and later my dad, mom and my sis joined me. Me and my sister took my mom far away into the sea where it was just enough to drown us. My mom was afraid a little but since we were there, she felt a bit better. When the sea waves passed through us, we felt that, we were floating in air or something... he he he... We felt hungry and ate our lunch there in a very very small hotel. Ladies finger curry, Rice, Dal were served and it tasted good too... Again a boring 4 hrs journey to Port Blair gave us all headache...

The next day's program was to start as early as 3 a.m to reach a place called Baratang to have a look at the limestone caves. We then had our dinner at the same hotel Annapurna and left for our room for a small nap. We started around 3:25 am the next day and a bus came to pick us up. The bus roamed in and around the streets & boarded a few more passengers who had booked for visiting Baratang. The bus went through forests and mountains and suddenly stopped at some place. My dad, mom and sis got down to eat breakfast and since I was in deep sleep they left me in the bus itself. Later, when I woke up, dad gave me the breakfast parcel and still the traffic was not clear.

When it got cleared, one guy came and announced in Hindi that the area which we'll be crossing further belonged to Jarwas – Tribals of Andaman. He also made it clear that, none should feed them or take snaps. He added that a fine of Rs. 5000 will be levied for the offence.

The Bus then passed through the trees covered by high raised mountains and rugged roads at a great pace. It never stopped anywhere as the Jarwas are well known for their poisoned arrows. We reached some intermediate place which separated the lands. We had to board a ship and the best part in that was, even the bus was allowed to board the ship. It was a twenty minute journey and we got down in the other end. From there to the Limestone cave we had to take a small ferry boat again. This time the travel was through backwaters. It was looking green and marshy. The area was prone to crocodiles too... Oooh! Scary...

Fine, we travelled for some half an hour and reached a place ;) ... From there, we had to take motorboats to reach the land. I thought that it was a very normal journey but Oh My God! It was through the thick forest, the water was very swampy and marshy. Brown Brown all over. Yuck! If you fall none can save you. Anyways the scary journey came to an end and we had to walk through a bamboo bridge. Then we had to trek down to reach the limestone caves. Soon the trekking came to an end and we were exposed to the living limestone caves. Wow!!! The beautiful limestone caves gave an extraordinary look and were amazing. Amidst the darkness surrounded, two sink holes were found on the top of the caves, which fed the growing limestones with sunlight and rain water. We could see different formations of the limestones viz Lord Shiv, elephant, jelly fish, tulip, etc. Silica's presence gave the limestone a glittering appearance. The trek was very tiring to my mom and hence I walked slowly with her, helping her to climb up. We then moved to the ship through the motor boat and returned our way back to Baratang. On our way, we met a visitor!!! Can you guess who was he??? A crocodile..!!! It vanished soon after our ship passed by it... Then we went to take a look at the mud volcano site at Baratang. It looked as if it's a child's play. It was just looking like a heap of sand which throws cement like stuff as lava. It gave sounds like blug-glug-glog etc and was active. I used a stick and took a small sample. The lava was very cold. It was 3 p.m. already and we went to have our lunch. Note that, 3 p.m is equivalent to almost 5 p.m in the evening when refering sun as the time keeper... ;)

The food tasted the same even in Baratang, I mean similar to the one we had in Radhanagar beach. This time we had potato and curd too. We went back to Port Blair. As usual that night, we ate at Annapurna and reached Hotel Blair. That day morning I had broken one lampshade in my room.

The next day's trip was to North bay island to witness the corals. We got up by 5 in the morning with the sun and were ready by 7. We had a nice breakfast in a Tamilnadu hotel and left to the Water Sports Park. From there the ship to North Bay was by 9'o clock and so we waited there. Then we were taken to the Island and were stopped at a distance. The guides in the ship Silver Jet explained us about snorkeling ( a beta version of Scuba Diving where we can see corals and fishes just from the surface of the water). We were provided with goggles and a breather. It was a great experience. We payed 500 bucks to have a complete journey through the seven levels of corals. Me and my sister were the first ones to go and with us were a couple. They were real time cracks as they tapped their legs scaring the fishes away. We saw many corals, living shells, water anemones, parrot fishes, brain coral, clam shells. The clam shells were looking violet with a small opening which closed on themselves, when someone tried to touch them. The coral flowers were excellent. They too dissappeared once when someone tried to touch them. The sight undewater was picturesque though it was disgusting to keep legs down. The taste of the sea water was very different and chee!!! We returned to Port Blair. While having lunch, I rushed to the nearest internet cafe` for online registration of my 4th sem class. Then, after having lunch, my mom and sis went back to the hotel and me and my dad to visit Cellular Jail.

Cellular Jail:

An emotional and a must see place for every Indian citizen. It clearly gives us the picture of the sufferings that were met with by our freedom fighters. The structure contains seven wings attached to a single common tower. It contains 3 floors including the ground floor. Out of the seven, only 3 are remaining. Others have been removed, and they have been converted to hospital facilitating even tele-medicine. First, we entered a gallery where we could find the pictures of our freedom fighters who were residents of the cellular jail. The punishments have been portrayed by the statues there. Once done with this we went to see the jail and the cells. Veer Savarkar's cell marked its own importance there. The most saddening part of this cellular jail visit was, the place where our fighters were hanged to death. I felt very emotional and hence left the jail soon.

We then made our shopping and, listen! if you are planning to do the same in Port Blair, make it before 6:30 p.m cause, most of the shops are closed after that. I don't know why they do this crap but generally it is the procedure. The darkness of 6:30 is the same as 8:30 of our India's mainland and so on. So there arises a compulsion to close the shops early. Even people who work there come from the neighbouring islands and hence need to leave early. We left by IC 550 from Veer Savarkar airport. Hmm... the journey was pleasant but contained only one air hostess. That was bad anyways I adjusted for the situation ;) he he he...

Thanks for your pleasant journey with me guys.!!!

Thursday, 11 December 2008

The Andaman and Nicobar trip...

Will update you guys on how my Andaman trip was... Till then just stay tuned. I will turn up within a day or two...
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