Andaman Islands I.
So, chaos from overcrowded and noisy streets of Indian continent disappeared, and we did not felt any smog and dust, no importunate poor men or begging children disturbed us, and everywhere dominated the calm and peace only.
Adventure on Vessel
The Andaman Islands could be reached by air within couple of hours. Nevertheless, we wished not to miss such three days´ lasting Indian adventure i.e. vessel navigation. To tell the truth, the real Indian way of life could be well-known inside sociable crowd with local passengers, travelling in low class. So, we are waiting for a ship in front of Shiping Corporation of India Office, in port town of Chennai, four hours before the departure to Andaman Islands. The monsoon saison did not finished yet, there is heavy rain outside, anyway, all passengers are waiting for outside, being completely wet. Mothers with their kids, old men with great pieces of luggage as well as numerous families of rich Hindu, looking forward to their holidays. All are smiling and wait patiently, without any mark of nervosity or irritation.
We arrived to Chennai, in order to reserve our ship-tickets for December, with an idea to survive this rain period on some place, situated in the north. However, the ticket-reservation is possible within three days, and we do not have any intention to stay in this dirty town any more. So, we decided suddenly that we leave this place just today. The vessel left the port shortly before dusk, anyway, with six hours´ delay, this difference could be comparable with six minutes, valid in Europe. We have to take into consideratrion, that the time passes here much slower as we are accustomed. Nevertheless, we have to struggle to get the necessary place in bus as well as on the vessel, otherwise you would loose completely your position. Anyway, this rule is valid till the moment when the means of transport moves ahead. Afterthat, all persons are smiling and start to do their friendly contacts, such as: „Hi , where are you from?“ „What is your job?“ – these are most recapitulated questions, put by local people, in order to be arranged into corresponding level.
So, we bought the tickets into cheapest bunk class, the class of cell accommodation inside the lowest part of the ship. The vessel is divided into six floors. The two lowest floors are reserved for bunk passengers. However, after first day of navigation, all WC and showers are completely blocked with grains of rice and other impurities, and so, these facilities become absolutely unsuable for us. On the other hand, we, as West tourists, can use (secretly, of course) the luxury of this service on higher stages (floors) of the ship, destined for the second class. Nevertheless, the difference could be seen in less blockade of Turkish WC, the black-beetles run under your legs wuth the same intensity.
The dining room for the second and third class is to be found on the third floor. Here,you receive your meal - rice with dhal, i.e. piquant leguminous sauce, three times a day, which seems to be too piquant to local people, too, we feel that each our cell on tongue is burning. So, we eat the bisquits and drink the tea, and visit social room, destined for the first and De-lux class, which is more cosy and the meal there is also more acceptable. We can follow Hindu movie three times a day, or read some magazines from ship library. Anyway, most of our leisure time could be spent upstairs on deck, with a view for endless sea. And when we have good luck, we can follow flying fish or even dolphins.
After three days of travelling, we finally reached Port Blair, capital of Andaman Islands. Till 19st century, the British used these islands as convicts´ colony, originally destined for criminals from the continent, later for the political disidents - the fighters for freedom and independence - were jailed there. The town is dirty, the accommodation overcharged and it is quite difficult to find free room.
Anyway, we are succeeded, so we run quickly the city centre, in order to reserve vessel-tickets for the first island, Havelock Island. We buy the subjects, necessary for outlive in the nature. David buys on market long knife for cutting bananas and opening of coco-nuts, cable and hooklets for fishing, added with another raw materials for cooking, and diving accessories, including glasses. We are exhausted and go to bed, and are sent to sleep quickly by means of narcotizing smell from sewer, flowing below the windows.
We decided to investigate the island of Havelock as the first. The island is divided for several beaches, marked with numbers. We made our camp on the beach No. 7, this was most deserted one. We are diving, fishing and taking sun shines all the day. In the evening, we make 30-minutes long passage throughout the jungle towards a well with drinking water, and to take a dinner in dhaba (local dining rooms), to taste excellent fish in kari-sauce. We return and sleep at sea rumbling and jungle sounds. However, after three days stay, we have to leave this place, owing to raging cyclone, and move to chalet from bamboo in a beach No.5, this place seems to be more civilized. The island is crossed with old bus machines, where the windows are missing, offering us marvellous view to island people, rice fields, coco forests, playing children and sleeping old men, all persons are smiling all the time.
Text: Lucia Šuplatová
Translation: ing. Jan Jonáš
Photo: David Trčka
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