Dreaming of Mangroves

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#1 Feb 5th, 2012, 16:14
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#1
A Havelock Trip Report

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Today I decided to write up a long overdue Trip Report. This one concerns our visit in February 2006 to the Andaman Islands. It is not a coincidence that five years later I am still imagining Beach Number Three, Beach Number Seven, the jungle and the mangroves of Havelock, whilst wondering if and when I'll have a chance to make a return journey to this dream destination.

The notoreity of the Andamans as the epicentre of the tsunami in 2004 was still fresh in our minds. During a trip to Kerala we encountered a young English couple who had just returned from Havelock Island and who shared their pictures of Beach Number Seven with us. At that stage, our itinerary was unfixed, but it had not included anything beyond Southern India. Mr TD in particlar was enthused by the idea of flying to Port Blair and thence to Havelock by boat; so we insisted at a Cochin travel agency that they secure tickets for us from Chennai to Port Blair.

To cut a long story short, we found ourselves landing a few days later at the tiny airport in Port Blair after enjoying a very short flight from Chennai at even shorter notice. Luck was on our side.

Our first night was spent at the Fortune Resort in Port Blair. We had booked over the internet from the mainland and they came to pick us up at the airport. It was part of a package organized by the Barefoot at Havelock resort. So we did not actually choose this hotel ourselves. It was a bit grubby but we were too elated by the prospect of the boat trip to Havelock the next day to pay much attention. We had dinner and went to sleep early.

Next morning our mini-bus collected us and one other passenger to deliver us to the dock, ready for the sailing to Havelock.

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[to be continued]
Last edited by theyyamdancer; Feb 6th, 2012 at 12:13.. Reason: Correction to text
#2 Feb 5th, 2012, 16:29
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#2

Cheers

Waiting for the next post, and meanwhile thinking, what a beautiful community Indiamike has become, when names of the members are so familiar, and we read about the experiences shared by each other, enjoying every bit of it.
#3 Feb 5th, 2012, 17:32
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#3
The gentleman who joined us for the boat trip was to be our constant companion during the next week. Let's call him B. He is an Indian gentleman of a certain age who had back then been recently widowed and had thus decided to sell up the majority of his possessions and hit the road, staying in different countries, revisiting favourite haunts, discovering new places. He wanted to replace the life of the householder with that of the sannyasa. Well, not exactly, for a Bangalore Brahmin does not give up wordly pleasures so fast! A meditation in the jungle? A beach for pranayama? Where is a finer destination than Radhanagar, so called Beach Number Seven, named "Best Beach in Asia" by Time magazine (two years before our visit).

I have written about this encounter before at IndiaMike. I will make no apologies for writing about it again. For it is such serendipitous meetings that mark our lives.

One of the most enjoyable trips in India to date (as I said in the "Most Enjoyable Journey in India" thread - started by Steven Ber a long time ago!) was this boat ride from Port Blair to Havelock in the Andamans in February 2006. Mr TD and myself spent almost the whole journey in conversation with B. who was about to become a good friend and inspire many of our future travels in the North East of India. We met him on the hotel bus in Port Blair taking us to the dock and we all three of us boarded the boat together and in fact spent the next week in Havelock deep in conversation!

The camaraderie on the boat was memorable; everyone was sharing food and reading materials and discussing their plans for Beach Number Seven or Beach Number Three. To while away the long hours of the crossing we started playing a game where you go through the alphabet and name a certain category of a chosen topic. For example, geographical locations in India, A to Z. That caused a riot and a lot of laughter. On deck it was an ongoing party with everyone joining in: the Bangladeshi extended family next to us on the bench, the Israeli backpackers, the German honeymooners who had just left an ashram...

Naturally the scenery was terrific too, especially as we got nearer and nearer to our destination and the dense vegetation of the Andamans hove into view. It was a calm crossing so nobody felt ill. We were introduced to the delights of munching on Haldiram's snacks. Their Moong Dal is now a firm favourite which we always pack for road (or train) trips.

I do not have any photographs from this journey, unfortunately. But I remember it very clearly in my mind's eye. What is very strange is that one week later when we returned to Port Blair on a similar journey I cannot remember a single moment of the crossing. I must have been blissed out after so many days of wilderness, sunshine, swimming, snorkelling, excellent conversation, refreshing sleep, long jungle walks and marvelling at nature's beauty.



A picture of our destination:

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#4 Feb 5th, 2012, 17:35
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#4
excellent writing... reminds me our trip thanks...
#5 Feb 5th, 2012, 18:30
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#5
Thank you drk, Hyderabadi and sanndeb, for your appreciation.

This is another view of Radha Nagar:
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The beach was covered with small crabs, which made walking on it a delicate exercise. Unfortunately, I do not have any photos of them. In fact these photographs were taken with a Point and Shoot Yashika and I have today re-photographed the prints with a Nikon Coolpix. The wonders of technology!

About our days at the Barefoot at Havelock, there is little to report. The most momentous event was an earthquake, which happened early one morning when we were still half asleep. I recognized the event; it is a common occurrence in Crete.

One day we were told to hurry down to the shore to witness the resident elephant take a bath. There followed a flurry of activity as everybody grabbed their cameras and rushed to get wet, swimming alongside the friendly animal.

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On our last night at Barefoot, we met a couple who were on their honeymoon. She was from the USA and he was from Andhra Pradesh, and we had a long chat with them and admired her beautiful henna patterns.

Several times during the course of the week, we took hired goggles and masks in order to view the underwater sea life. The optimum place for this was at the far end on the right of Beach Number Seven, past the nesting crabs, over the rocks, and in the shelter of a cove where the waves were less turbulent. I wore a shirt in order to protect myself from the tropical sun whilst spending hours in the sea.

Some of our fellow passengers from the boat journey were encountered again and again, and we shared a rikshaw with some Israelis. It was a small and friendly place, Havelock.

Another time I would like to visit Neel Island. I have read many good reports about it here.

When we reached Port Blair again we felt immediately welcome and went souvenir shopping in Aberdeen Bazaar. The T-shirts I bought then are still in use, though the colours are faded, unlike the memories I brought back with me.

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Last edited by theyyamdancer; Feb 5th, 2012 at 19:35..
#6 Feb 5th, 2012, 20:04
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#6
Thanks for sharing your experiences, theyyamdancer! Wonderful write up! And the photos are amazing! What a beautiful place!!
#7 Feb 5th, 2012, 20:25
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theyyamdancer, got to see this report on the homepage just now, lucky me! Seems like you have had a great trip. Now I understand why you keep enquiring about the best beaches here !

Nice report and I would have liked some more photos !
#8 Feb 5th, 2012, 20:36
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#8
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaisyL View Post Thanks for sharing your experiences, theyyamdancer! Wonderful write up! And the photos are amazing! What a beautiful place!!
Thank you Daisy. Indeed, I am a beach person more than a mountain person, as most of my friends would testify. But among the beaches of the world, this surely ranks in the top ten.

Quote:
Originally Posted by naveenamohanrao View Post theyyamdancer, got to see this report on the homepage just now, lucky me! Seems like you have had a great trip. Now I understand why you keep enquiring about the best beaches here !

Nice report and I would have liked some more photos !
Hi Naveena, thank you for your appreciation. I think you are under the impression that this was a recent trip! Read it again. Well, I am always on the look out for a good beach, but this one is hard to beat.

Yes, I will post some more photographs soon.

One of the reasons for starting this thread was to experiment with different treatments for photos.
#9 Feb 5th, 2012, 20:59
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#9
Here are some photographs from Aberdeen Bazaar at Port Blair:
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#10 Feb 5th, 2012, 23:57
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#10
More photographic evidence of the splendour of Havelock, which for once leaves me speechless.




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#11 Feb 6th, 2012, 00:29
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#11
I can't go on pressing that button on every post!. Let me just say...

Like

#12 Feb 6th, 2012, 11:52
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#12
Many thanks, Nick, for your appreciation. Also thanks to those who did press the like button (Mariska, Julia, and others). These pics are good to look at when it is cold and snowy!
#13 Feb 6th, 2012, 12:06
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#13
Fabulous report - especially since this is an area that I really want to visit at the soonest. Ever since i heard of nicobar being out of bounds for tourists (and lakshadweep as well), my desire to visit the andamans has intensified.

Good going TD - waiting for more.
#14 Feb 6th, 2012, 12:08
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#14

Thumbs up

Thanks my luck that I logged on to IM when it was the first thread on Home page ....

Now-a-days IM has become a high class Travel Literature..., thanks to theyyamdancer as well as kshil, drk, sougata, sagarneel, vaibhav and many others offering so many beautiful write-ups to the readers like us.

Thanks again ... great going.
aamar payer tolai sorshe...(I have wheels under my feet)
#15 Feb 6th, 2012, 12:15
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#15
Quote:
Originally Posted by vaibhav_arora View Post Fabulous report - especially since this is an area that I really want to visit at the soonest. Ever since i heard of nicobar being out of bounds for tourists (and lakshadweep as well), my desire to visit the andamans has intensified.

Good going TD - waiting for more.
I thought I'd finished actually. Let's see.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Duronto Jajabar View Post Thanks my luck that I logged on to IM when it was the first thread on Home page ....

Now-a-days IM has become a high class Travel Literature..., thanks to theyyamdancer as well as kshil, drk, sougata, sagarneel, vaibhav and many others offering so many beautiful write-ups to the readers like us.

Thanks again ... great going.
This one is just a snippet.


Thank you both for the encouragement.
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