Andaman - The Land of Diversity : A complete Trip Report

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#16 May 1st, 2013, 14:24
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#16
Great going Ruchira...
#17 May 1st, 2013, 19:45
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#17
Quote:
Originally Posted by asishdas View Post The major languages spoken in the Andamans in numerical order are Bengali (32.6%), Tamil (27.61%), Hindi (22.95%), and Telugu (14.84%). Source: Wiki
We are everywhere , isn't it ??? Last week , I went to HAL market of B'lore and believe me or not there more than 90% were Bengalis.

Sorry wont hijack your thread Ruchira. Great informative stuffs. One couldn't get more info of Andaman anywhere else in Internet, than what they are getting and will be getting in this thread.
#18 May 1st, 2013, 20:01
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I believe HAL market at B'lore has got a few sweet water fish stalls.... ha ha ..
#19 May 1st, 2013, 20:08
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Originally Posted by asishdas View Post I believe HAL market at B'lore has got a few sweet water fish stalls.... ha ha ..
Bang On Sir. It has got quite a few... Even Hilsa.
#20 May 1st, 2013, 21:15
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Wow!!!! Ruchira, so nice start and NICE photos
aamar payer tolai sorshe...(I have wheels under my feet)
#21 May 2nd, 2013, 13:23
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Thank you soumik and durontojajabar.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mithun123 View Post One couldn't get more info of Andaman anywhere else in Internet, than what they are getting and will be getting in this thread.
You expectation is tooo..... high to achieve .

I summarized some information on Andaman from internet only

During the planning phase the difficulty I faced was I was not getting much time for research and reading the whole TRs in IM to get the required information was not very easy for me.

So I am trying to organize the TR in a way so that the one who needs only the information for planning and does not interested in the whole story and my experience can easily get that at the beginning.
#22 May 2nd, 2013, 22:16
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Beautiful photos, thank you for posting this report. I was hoping to get to the Andamans during this trip but I think I will run out of time.
#23 May 6th, 2013, 16:14
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#23

Tour Operators and Accommodation

After the ticket is booked I started planning.
For doing it quickly I started contacting various tour operators and also started reading about Andaman.

I have received a lot of plans from various tour operators and started customizing them by comparing different plans and reviewing the information about the places I read and referring to the map.

After 3-4 rounds of review and adjustment the final plan was made.I was fascinated by the details of the Long Island. A remote island with no motor vehicles or telephone network. It sounded a very romantic one.
But I had to drop the plan of staying a night at long island due to the short time span and of course due to unavailability of good staying option at that island.
(But honestly speaking when I actually saw the island from the boat approaching the island or from the long island jetty when the boat halted for 10 minutes it did not look that special to me).

After the plan was finalized the question was whether should we pre-book with an agent or we just arrive at Port Blair and arrange everything ourselves.
By that time I had booked the Teal House at Port Blair for the first 3 nights.So with 3 days accommodation arranged and the plan ready we could have taken the advantage of the off-season at April.

But what made us uneasy about that was the boat tickets. We did not have any idea about how much rush there may be and whether we would be able to book those tickets ourselves without wasting much time.

But the quotes we were getting for a 9 nights trip for 3 from the different tour operators of Kolkata and from the companies in Delhi or Chennai with prominent presence in the web was around Rs 20000-22000 p.h without airfare and food which was too costly for us.

Then I started searching for tour operators in Port Blair and found a number of them. When started contacting them the estimated cost lowered down to Rs 15000 or below.

Andaman has hotels to suit everyone's budget. You can get a hotel at Rs 6000 or just Rs 600. So, the main factor to reduce the budget is the choice of hotel.

We don't travel in a very leisurely an luxury way. Our requirement for a hotel in all out tours is (we only spend the night at hotel): it must have a good bed to sleep and have a clean toilet to fresh up.

So, when we ask for cheap package with budget hotel a number of operators like Baba Loknath Tours and myAndaman.com and Mr Krisnamachari Maranganti pointed out that they are not the right person.

Here is a list of all the tour operators that we contacted:

1. www.myandaman.com: contact@myandaman.com

2. www.andamanguru.com: contact@andamanguru.com or 9933251013(Mr.Shiva Guru)

3. andamanislandview : andamanislandview@gmail.com or 9933226816

4. BABA LOKNATH TOURS & TRAVELS-Mr. Sankar Saha. (Mob.09933258602)or babalokenathtravels@yahoo.com

5. Andaman Bay Tours & Travels(Mr Sushanta Bairagi)- contandamanbule@gmail.com or 09933221126,09476033253

6. Varsha Andaman Holidays (Mr Eswara Rao)- varshaandamanholidays@gmail.co m or 9434264167/9933298876

7.Mr. Krishnamachari Maranganti - krishna.chari4848@gmail.com

8. Uttam Das-uttam8186@gmail.com or 9933264170

9. I contacted Hotel UK Nest of Rangat and they gave the number of their tour operator Mr. Mohan 9474203626

One tour operator contacted me directly, probably got the number from any other I contacted.

Srthika Tourism--tourism.srithika@gmail.com,Liton / Malathy,9531844988 / 9769529888 / 9476097834

From all of them I got the lowest budget from Srithika Tourism and andamanguru.com.
The rate of Sushanta Bairagi was marginally higher from these two.
But I was not sure whether Srithika exists at all (and it was evident from his plan that he is not very experienced one, but he said he would be able to arrange accomodation at the postal dept. guest house at Long Island. After reaching Port Blair I enquired and found in actual he exists) and how would be the service of Andamanguru. But for the 3rd one, one of my friend had traveled with Mr Sushanta Bairagi 2 years back and rated him good. Even my friend has regular contact to him.
So, I finalized with Mr Susanta Bairagi for Rs 9350 for all transportation, entry fees and hotels except for the first 3 nights.

Mr Bairagi later told us that we could reduce the cost farther 10-11K by using auto rickshaw around Port Blair and in Havelock and Neil.

My suggestions:

1. If you are going in peak season it is wise to pre-book.
2. If it is not in peak season (Dec-mid Mar) you can go without booking. You'll get a number of cars at the airport and can bargain.
Autos are also available in the Port Blair town and in Havelock and are cheap.
Cycle, scooters and bikes are available on rent too.

3. Getting ticket for Havelock and Neil are not a problem in the off-season.
If you are not going to these islands in the same day of your arrival, you can take the help of the driver of the car or Auto you use for the day. They'll charge a per head commission.
4. Getting ticket from Havelock/Neil counter is not a problem. We went to the counter for the enquiry on the boat timing. No queue was there and even the boat ran with many empty seats in it.
5. Only problem is getting the ticket from Rangat to Havelock. Many islanders travel in this route, so it does not depend on tourist season.

Accommodation:

1. If you are not looking for very luxurious accommodation first try to book the Andaman tourism guest house/resorts. They are the best in that budget. A private property with same facility and service will surly charge at least 50% extra.

2. The Teal House at Port Blair and Dolphin Resort at Havelock can be booked from the Andaman House in Sector-5, Salt Lake. Rest can be booked from Port Blair. Though the staffs at the resort told us that we can book it by sending application by fax and then sending the draft to the tourism office. But I did not get any response from their office.

For booking these you need to contact an agent at Port Blair.

3. If it is late and it is not possible to get the tourism guest houses, there are a number of hotels available in all the places. Unless it is peak-season it will not be difficult to get a hotel.

4. Apart from hotels accommodation is available at Port Blair Ramakrishna Mission(location is nice and we all know the ambiance )

The places we stayed at:

1. Teal House of Andaman Tourism at Port Blair(AC Rs 900 or Non-AC Rs 600)
2. Hotel Ashna at Mayabundar(Rs 700 for Non-AC room, Rs 1500 for AC DB room)- 03192 291171,9434287027/28,9474226200
3. Turtle Resort of Andaman Tourism at Diglipur(a very good one) - Rs 600 for Non-AC room
4. Hotel Saurav at Havelock (Rs 700 for Non-AC and Rs Rs 1600 for AC DB room)- 9434291908
5. An unnamed new guest house beside Neil Bazar(would not recommend the ground floor rooms, 1st floor rooms should be OK)

For good Bengali Food
1. Port Blair: Swapan Sweet Stall & Bengali Hotel(beside YMCA) - 9434274678
2. Diglipur- Hotel Hira at Diglipur Bazar(Near Road to Madhupur)
3. Rangat- Aroma Restaurant at Mahanada Market, Rangat
Last edited by ghosh.ruchira; May 8th, 2013 at 00:48..
#24 May 8th, 2013, 14:39
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#24
Now it's the time to tell the story

After the ticket was booked the planning was going on in the full swing, the leaves were applied in the office. 'Andaman' was the topic occupying my conscious thinking for at least 3-4 hours a day.

It was still dark outside. We boarded a bus towards airport. I thought of pre-booking a cab, but it didn't happen. I felt drowsy seating in the bus. I gained the consciousness just before Airport and looked at my watch and shocked. Only 20 minutes was remaining to reach airport terminal and board the aircraft . Why there was this much of traffic in the road at this early morning . We got down and started running. My husband told me to accompany my mother-in-law while he gained speed. We too were running. I reached at an old looking building and was confused about which way to go. Suddenly I looked at the watch and it was 8:30 which meant that the flight not only departed but also reached Port Blair by this time. It must be a nightmare


I suddenly woke up with a start and stared at the surrounding. Oh...what a relief...I am in my room and it was a nightmare.

I have a habit of having this kind of nightmare. Even I had dream of missing my train sleeping in the train berth .

But this nightmare make me more serious about the planning. The next day I took the print out of my etickets, placed it in the bag that I would carry and booked the Megacab for picking us up. My husband argued that 3AM would be a bit early for a 5:30AM flight and considering that we would need only 15 minutes to reach airport. But I was over conscious.

So, we waked up shart at 2AM on 14th morning and got ready. I had the anxiety in me. What would happen if the cab has not come . But nothing happened. The driver called at 2:45am and the car came exactly at 3AM. We did not waste much time. We carried the luggage to the car, locked the doors and started by 3:15AM.

The cab dropped us at the airport new terminal at around 3:30 AM. It was a very windy morning. Even the hand bags placed on the trolley was taken away by the wind.

We collected the boarding pass from the counter quickly and started our first photo shoot of the trip.

The journey was uneventful. I had a high expectation on how good it would be to see the Andaman Islands from the see. But I was disappointed. It was foggy outside and we could get the glimpse of the islands only a minute or two before entering into the airport area.

We landed at Port Blair and the aircraft came to a halt. It was 8AM.
#25 May 8th, 2013, 14:55
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#25
Ha ha ha...you almost gave me a shock! I thought you have really missed the flight. Oh, what a relief..it is only a nightmare! Great start, ruchira..keep it up!
#26 May 8th, 2013, 15:32
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I have seen that in all my travels by air, my luggage was the last few to arrive in the conveyor belt. This time also it was no exception. When we came out of the airport gate after collecting the luggage there were only 2-3 groups of passengers behind us.

Just after exiting we were surrounded by a number of drivers asking 'Do you need car?'
I was just thinking of switching on my new airtel connection to search for our car, a man came forward to us and asked 'Ruchira Ghosh?' I nodded. He was Sushanta Bairagi the tour operator cum driver cum guide for our trip.

He dropped us at Teal House at Denalipur. I booked non-AC rooms there (AC rooms were not available) from the Andaman House at Kolkata first 3 nights.

I went to the lady at the reception and produced my booking slip. He checked his record and told that as per their record we have booked only for 2 nights and showed the receipt she had.
Strange!! I paid Rs 450 as advance for 3 nights but in there receipt it was mentioned as Rs 300
'So what I need to do now?' I asked.
'Today the tourism office is closed. So you need to wait till tomorrow. Tomorrow you need to go to our office and talk to them. We can not do anything to sort this out. Now I can allot the room for you. But I am telling at the beginning that there is no maintenance at all. You can check the room and decide.'
He called one staff to show the room.
I was anxious again. One tour operator had earlier told me that we should cancel the booking at Teal House at it is very ill maintained and full of cockroaches.
'So, what if I don't like the room? Will you refund the advance? Or as we have paid just 25% if we stay for one day will you adjust the advance?'
'No m'am. We can not. For that too you need to talk to the tourism office.'

After a brief discussion among ourselves we decided to stay at least that day there and went to check the room.

Just after unlocking the room the staff pointed at the crack at the ceiling and mentioned that no maintenance was done in last 10 years and govt is not giving it to private ownership.

I was not able to find out his interest in wanting the property to be in private ownership. I have seen larger cracks in the private hotels in the hills

But believe me the room was not bad at all. It was quite large with two single beds placed together, 2 chairs, 2 tables, and a TV which was not working. The staff told that it was just kept here, Non-AC rooms are not provided with TV. To my surprise both the room and the toilet was very clean. Though later I found one cockroach at the bathroom but overall it was good.

The property is at a slope of a hill. So, the front of the room was totally open. You can get a glimpse of the sea from the window.

We got ready very quickly and left hotel at 9:30. The day was reserved for the city tour and we started with the cellular jail.
You need to pay Rs 10 p.h and Rs 25 for camera to enter cellular jail. We started with the gallery. It is good. But if you want to minutely follow all that displayed at the gallery it would take you at least half a day.
At the first floor gallery we saw bird that is not seen around Kolkata. It was one kind of a bulbul. We ran for some times behind it. But with no luck

We had to complete other museums and most of all I was hungry. So went out of the cellular jail within 2 hours.
Our next destination was the fisheries museum. Before entering the museum we spotted a olive breasted sun bird at a bush. It posed for a few snaps and we happily entered the museum.

Rest of the day was uneventful. we visited all the places as per the plan and returned to the Teal House at 7:30 took bath and went for dinner at 8:30pm. We had veg meal(Rs 100) at Teal House with Rice/Roti,Dal, bhaji, Rajma,Alu Dam, raita, banana. The taste was good.

We had decided by that time that we would not move to any other hotel for those 3 nights. But we had to talk to the office about the 3day's booking. So after dinner I went to the reception. The shift was changed and a man was sitting there. I approached him for the booking slip that they took from me in the morning and told him the case. He requested me to wait and after sometime showed me another receipt on my name for the last day. So, there was no problem. They sent 2 separate receipts, 1 for the first 2 days and the other one for the last one. I guessed that the source of problem was the dates put by the Kolkata office. 14th was my check-in date and 17th is the check-out date. So, in the slip it should be written as 14-17, but the person at Kolkata office had written it like from 14 to 16 April which must have created the confusion.

But the important thing was the difference in the attitude and approach of the two staffs posted in reception in the morning and at night. Where the receptionist of the morning shift was trying to discourage staying at Teal House from the very beginning the man in the night shift was careful about creating a positive impression about the service they offered. I clearly saw two different groups of people there. But did not find the reason why staffs should discourage us.
I enquired about the conducted tours of Andaman Tours which as per my knowledge should start from Teal House and I had seen 7-8 good quality buses standing at the premises. But he told sadly that there was such conducted tours before, but it had been 3-4 years since the program had closed. Again I did not understand the reason..
Last edited by ghosh.ruchira; May 8th, 2013 at 16:46..
#27 May 8th, 2013, 17:53
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We like to visit the local fish auction market where fishermen sells their fresh catches be it Puri, Gopalpur or Digha-Mandarmoni. Why should Port Blair be a exception? We told Sushanta da that we need to visit the fish market and he did not object. So the next morning Sushanta came at 6 AM and took us to Jungli Ghat Machchi Basti.

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We returned to Teal House, had breakfast with butter toast and left again for Ross Island. Sushanta da told that there was a boat every half an hour, we should board the boat at 8:30 and return by the 11:30 boat. We reached the jetty beside the water sports complex at around 8:20. Sushanta da booked the ticket and given to us. A boat was just to leave. We rushed to it. It was for Ross Island and half-empty.
I was just going to board, one crew stopped me and asked for the ticket. I asked my husband to show the ticket. Just watching the paper from distance he said 'woh dusra company ka hai, woh boat ayega..' (It was of another company. Their boat would come). So I had to come back to jetty. The boat left for Ross Island.
Phone numbers were there in the ticket. So, we called one number. The person picked the phone told us that the 8:30 boat cancelled as there was no other passenger. The next boat would come at 9:30.
We had nothing to do for 1 hour. So started capturing photos. The breeze was pleasant. But it was started becoming hot and the place started becoming crowded.

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In the meantime we spotted a few with the ticket of BP Tours. At around 9:30 a boat came and the crew stared shouting 'BP Tours yellow ticket'(that was for 3 islands). We went to the crew. But he did not allow us to board.

We again called the number in the ticket and heard the same thing 'boat will come'. The overcrowded boat of BP tours for the 3islands left the jetty.
The time was getting wasted unnecessarily and I became angry. I called Sushanta da and told him to come and solve the problem. Within 10 minutes he came and asked the manager of BP tours. Earlier we spoke to him over phone and it was he who did not allow us to board the 9:30 am boat. But this time he lied '2 boats went to Ross Island. How did you miss them?'

Finally the next boat came at 10:30 and we reached Ross Island at 10:40

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#28 May 9th, 2013, 14:12
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A comprehensive information for us who wish to visit Andamans. Thanks Ruchira. Pl. continue with your T.R
#29 May 9th, 2013, 15:38
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Thanks Bhutnath
#30 May 9th, 2013, 18:31
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TR Continued...

Since we faced problems in boarding a boat, I knew that the same thing might happen when returning and that would be create more trouble for us.

So during the journey to Ross I asked the manager in the boat about the time of return and he told us that it would be between 12:30 and 1PM.

We roamed around the small island, visited the remnants of old palace, church, officers' quarters, watched birds taking bath in the water logged in old cracks and holes. We came near the shore in the jetty's side after 12 noon. We were visiting the museum from the balcony of which any boat approaching Ross Island Jetty was visible. It was around 12:20 PM. We saw a white boat approaching the jetty. We started walking for the jetty. It was in 7-8 minutes distance and the boat was still sailing towards the jetty. The boat halted at the jetty when we were some 200mts away from it. Usually the boat waits in the jetty for at least 5 minutes. So we were sure that we would reach it in time to check whether it is of BP Tours. I halted to drink some water just behind the entry ticket counter. I just started filling the bottle when my husband called me 'See..' he was pointing towards the boat. It left the jetty within a minute after reaching without taking any passengers from the island.
Disappointed, I called the boat manager to know the timing of the return boat. Instead of answering the question he started asking why we did not board the white boat just left and told that he did not know when the next boat would come from North bay we need to check the boats coming in the jetty.
There was a rest shed near the shore line, some 200-250 mts away from the jetty. We jast sat there when we saw another boat coming from North Bay's direction. Again we went to jetty to found that it owned by the other company. We came back under the shed and the same thing repeated once again.
The day was tremendously hot and going to and from the jetty under the sun
was felt difficult. I called Sushanta da and he told me that he's arranging a boat for us.
The Ross Island jetty is clearly visible from that of the water sports complex. A boat was approaching to the jetty. He told me to talk to the crew of that boat and requested him to take us back. If he didn't take us Susanta da would come in the next boat to take us back.
Again I went to jetty and talked to the crew. It was of the other company and they did not agree to take us back.
I was standing at the jetty,trying to call Susanta da. But he did not pick the phone up. Suddenly the crew came and told 'you can return to Port Blair in this boat if you now purchase now the tickets'.
I again tried calling Susanta da, but again he did not picked the phone up. It was almost 2 o'clock. I thought, 'if we can not reach Port Blair by 2:30 we would surely miss the trip to Mt Harriet today and would have no other day to accommodate it.' I was very hungry and the extreme heat made me impatient too. So I decided to pay Rs 300 and return to Port Blair on that boat.

My husband and mother-in-law was waiting at the shed. I called them in the jetty,paid for the ticket and boarded.

The boat was just started when Susanta da called me and told that he was coming to take us. I informed if what I did. He told me to got down and wait. But the boat already started and we were in complete confusion due to the series of lies and mismanagement from the morning and did not believe his words. We thought he was just worrying thinking that we would claim this extra Rs 300 from him. So I told that we need would pay this ourselves. On the halfway a very small boat cross us from opposite direction and we saw Susanta da standing in that boat. So,he manged a boat for us and actually was going to Ross Island
We returned to water sports complex by 2:15 pm. But Susanta da, our driver was at Ross Island . So we had nothing to do but wait. We found the manager of BP Tours, sitting at the same place. He informed us that he had sent a boat for us. We told them that they should tell the tourists the truth in case there was a problem. Series of contradicting lies made us confused and we would find no reason in believing their word had we knew that a separate boat was being sent for us before buying another set of tickets.

He then told us that as the day was Bengali New Year day many of the crews were on leave causing unavailability of 4 boats and as Baratang, Jolly buoy even Cellular jail and a few museums are closed on Monday every tourists chose to do the three island trip on Monday. The huge rush on lesser number of boats caused the problem.

The other boat returned quickly. So, we left the water sports complex had quick lunch and headed towards the Mt Harriet. We passed pass the Chatham Saw Mill. But it was closed by that time.
We crossed the Chatham Jetty. The car crossed the creek in a vessel and reached bamboo flat jetty. We saw many farmlands which were abandoned after Tsunami as salt water enters in the area during high tide.
We went past to the spot where the viceroy Lord mayo was killed. A stone was laid at the spot.
There is a forest guest house at the top of Mt Harriet with decorated garden. It is a good option for staying specially for the groups. The watch towers at the top offers good panoramic view.
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