It’s been one of those inevitable travelling days. To our surprise we drove through the morning Chennai traffic to the airport in rain but by the time we took off, delayed by a couple of hours because of fog in Delhi, the skies had cleared and just over two hours later we landed in Port Blair in the Andaman Islands. Things looked very promising as we flew in over some of the 300 scattered white sand-fringed islands surrounded by turquoise water.
The guide books describe Port Blair itself as ‘gritty’, a necessary evil to be endured as a jumping off point to the outer islands, and while you could scarcely describe it as fragrant, after stifling, chaotic Chennai, the open airy streets of the town seemed very welcoming. There’s a cooling sea-breeze, the traffic is manageable, and by that I mean that it is physically possible to cross a road on foot, and the locals we have met today have been very friendly.
According to the poster in the ferry office the ‘National State bird’ of the Andamans is, rather unexcitingly, a pigeon but the ‘National State animal’ is a Dugong!
We spent the afternoon first finding a room for the night and then trying to arrange a place on a ferry out to Havelock Island tomorrow. The room is at the Aashiaanaa Residence, a place a lot less grand than the name suggests but the tiny calamine lotion pink room is only 1000 rps with aircon. We had to hunt around several agencies to get a place on tomorrow’s ferry but we finally succeeded although it will be on the more expensive private ferry at 800rps a seat rather than the 300 or so on the government one. At least to will be a faster trip.
Fiery chicken from the tandoori oven at the roof top restaurant at Lighthouse Residency II for dinner this evening. Excellent!
Awoken by the wailing siren of what we assumed was the testing of the Tsunami Early Warning Alert. The low lying Andaman and Nicobarese Islands are very close to the epicentre of the 2000 tsunami and the Islands were devastated. Half an hour later, the siren sounded again. It’s test. Got to be. And anyway, we’re on Marine Hill.