This is continuation of Part-5.
Day-9: 29th Dec 2007
Wandoor trip was finally on, after Subramani leaving behind his Pondicherry desperation decided to arrange something outside YHAI itinerary. For the trip he charged us Rs. 350 per head extra as it was outsourced to some travels. At 9.30 am, a katara jeep came to pick us up at the hotel. As at Wandoor no proper food is available, we bought bread, butter, jam at a bakery on the way. At 10 am, we reached Chidiyatapu(not sure abt the name). From there we were taken in a boat to Mavadera beach. The ride through green coloured water made us feel out of the world and reminded us of various movie sequences of Mauritius.
At the beach, first we did swimming with life jackets on. After one hour we were taken into middle of sea and were shown live corals through snorkeling. With prior horrible experience of snorkeling at North Bay, I was mentally prepared second time. I avoided spectacles to make the snorkeling equipment fit properly. After jumping into water, I had a brief glance inside water the view was amazing even though I was not wearing spectacles. With sufficient practice, I was able to breathe sub consciously through my mouth. It was mission accomplished for me. Next time for such an activity I will definitely carry contact lenses.
After snorkeling we came back to the beach and had the bakery items as lunch. After lunch we roamed here and there exploring the beach. The place had still remains of tsunami destruction, many a time we had photographs standing besides the uprooted trees. At 2.30 pm, our boat was ready and we came back to Chidiyatapu. Our jeep was supposed to come at 4 pm, so while waiting we had tender coconut water at the same place and it was very horrible.
At 3.45 pm, the jeep came and took us to next destination Wandoor beach. Honourable President Pratibha Patil had visited this place a day before. Because of her visit, the place had a newly laid helipad. Some trees were uprooted to make way for helicopter landing. It’s very disgusting that such things are done for the safety of VVIPs.
Then we waited for the sun to set. Here also there were many uprooted trees. We took many silhouette photographs of these objects. We also took photographs of ourselves in different pose, style and modes. After sunset we left the place, came back to hotel and freshened up.
In the mean time we called up Vinay, asked about tickets to Havelock. ‘Sorry’ was his reply, but he promised to arrange ticket for 31st Dec. Then the brainstorming for Havelock started again. After dinner, Subramani came up with information about alternative way to Havelock. One can take a bus upto Rangat which is further (71 km from Baratang). From there one can take a ferry to Havelock. Well, Mr. Subramani you could have told this information 2-3 days back itself. We could have extended our Baratang trip to Havelock. Taking Rangat option into consideration we decided to give Vinay another chance and planned for Mount Hariet trek for the next day.
Day-10: 30th Dec 2007
We got up early as usual, but I didn’t had enthusiasm to go out because of stomach upset, courtesy coconut water which I had at Chidiyatapu. Later, it was time to say goodbye to Ragha, Mr. Bhusan & family. They left to the airport at 7.30 am. At 8 am, my conditions improved, we decided to stick to our plan of Mount Hariet.
We could have got ready by 9 am, as we thought of bathing with hot water, but geyser in our room was out of order. The maintenance guy tried to do some workaround, nothing worked finallt and we were forced to have bath with normal water. After the entire circus by 10 am we got ready.
To reach Mount Hariet we followed the instructions given by Subramani. From Brichgunj junction we took a city-bus to Gholghar, from there we took an auto Chattam ferry terminal. We reached there at 11.20 am and bought tickets for 11.30 am ferry. The ferry ride of 15 minutes took us to Bamboo flat. After getting down we took a jeep(Rs. 300 for round trip) to Mount Hariet. The ride was initially through civilized area, after half way we entered into reserved forest area. A km before the peak, driver stopped at the forest department checkpost. We had pay them Rs. 110 totally(Rs. 25X3 for entry, camera Rs. 25, jeep Rs.10)
At 12.20 pm, we were atop Mount Hariet. The place was just like a normal park and we were supposed to spend one hour. Looking here and there we came across a board in which details of Mount Hariet were given. In it a 1.6 km trekking route to Kalapathar was mentioned. Instantaneously we decided to trek, as we were particular of doing something different in Andaman. The trail was similar to regular trekking in Western Ghats, but the trees seemed to be more taller and greener. While trekking we came a across a green snake, very carefully we proceeded without disturbing it. Trekking for a few hundred meters, we came across a small stone formation. We had a close look at it, someone had written black stone on it. We thought it might be some prank and after a small break we proceeded further, but the path seemed to be going downwards. Then we assumed the junk stone to be Kalapathar and started our return trek.
At 2 pm, we were back to the park, took some snaps from the watch tower. The driver grumbled that we have taken more than one hour. While returning the driver stopped at some point and said twenty rupees, twenty rupees. We wondered what the viewpoint has to do with twenty rupees. Then driver clearly said that the landscape view of ‘North Bay’ from that point is on the back side of twenty rupees note. We were very delighted that we were at the viewpoint of such significance. Have a look at our snap from viewpoint and also image the of 20 rupees note.
After clicking photographs, we hurried towards bamboo flat terminal and were just in time for 2.30 pm steamer. At 2.45 pm we were back in Chattam. While traveling Suhas called up Krishna and asked it there any chance of going to Havelock next day. He replied there are five tickets booked by Darshan travels for Rs. 250 per head, and we had to discuss about the same with Vinay. Trip to Havelock was still a possibility ! We tried to call Vinay, but his mobile was unreachable.
Then for lunch, we took an auto ‘Light House Restaurant’ near Cellular Jail, there Anil had sea food. While having lunch we called up Vinay told him that we want three out of five with Krishna and he promised us to get the same.
After lunch we supposed go near Saagarika for gems shopping. Before that we thought of doing window shopping one or two shops near Medical. We went to a shop of S. K. Sarfaraz. In his shop there were lot of variety of gems and were looking fresh. He showed genuineness of a few pearls by keeping it next to the fire. Totally we spent two hours in that shop and together we did shopping for six thousand rupees. For a brief duration we had become experts in jewelry designing as we discussed a lot about matching between corals and pearls !! After gems shopping we concluded the day by buying T-shirts, curd and fruits. We took a bus back to Brijgunj junction.
As soon we came back to Palm Groove, we looked around for Vinay, as he had promised to get us three tickets for the Havelock trip. When we met him, he made some weird expression and told sorry that he was given tickets to his regular customers. Once again he broke the promise. We speculated that he might have sold actual Rs.150 ticket in black for Rs. 1000. He ditched us two times ! In case you are coming to Andamans beware of Vinay of Vivek travels, he is definitely not a person whom we can trust upon.
Anyway, Havelock was not there in our fate. Even if it is 7th best beach, there are six other beaches better than it. Also, we had got saturated like anything by seeing sea for so many days and we wouldn’t have done many things being in Havelock for six hours.
Day-11: 31st Dec 2007
Our return journey flight was on next day and it was certain that we have no chance of going to Havelock. We got up very casually. Anil from somewhere got enthusiasm for fishing. He took myself and subramani to Aberdeen bazazar for buying fishing equipment. He bought a few hooks and fishing line.
After lunch at Palm Groove, Anil searched the scrap yard for some wooden stick. With the help of carpenter he got a nail attached to a stick. At 3 pm, we left to Cabyns Cove beach, as it was nearest beach to Palm Groove. We took a bus till Carbyns chowk and from there we walked for a km for reach Carbyns Cove beach. First we took various solo photos as we were wearing Andaman T-shirts. Anil got his equipment ready. As the waves were too much, we couldn’t find a ideal place for fishing. Anil lost the enthu after trying for 15 minutes. Then we had snacks sitting on the beach rocks and later we had brief beach walk. There was no proper sunset view from the beach. When it was almost dark, we decided return to hotel partially by walk and rest by bus.
Overall it was a disappointing day. We were supposed go to Havelock, it didn’t materialized. In Port Blair environment no where there was an environment that it’s going to be a new year next day. After dinner we played Poker, got bored as we were only three people. We saw a few new year programs in TV channels. Anil and Suhas slept early, but I was awake till 12 midnight and welcomed 2008.
Day-12: 1st January 2008
At 7.45 am, we had breakfast and left to Veer Savarkar airport. We finished all check in and security formalities by 9.30 am. We boarded the plane at 10 am and it took off at 10.20 am. Here is the video I shot while taking off.
We landed in Chennai at 12.20 pm and took an auto to bus stand. The 2 pm KSRTC Airavath was full. In SETC bus seats were available. We took the tickets immediately, kept the lugguages and had some fast food in a hurry. At 2.30 pm the bus departed. In the bus I met some new people. Initially I chatted with Madhoosudhan a software professional. After that I slept for while. Till last 2 hours the journey was very boring, then when I was just having glance at highway boards to look for distance of Bangalore, I accidentally talked to Lokesh, a property consultant. The casual chat turned into a big discussion. He asked me many curious questions about our Andaman trip. Then the discussion topic changed to property price, real estate and who’s who’s in the real estate market. With the discussion, the time moved very fast and we were back to Bangalore in a jiffy. I got down at dairy circle and took an auto back to home concluding my dream Andaman Trip.
My series on Andaman Trip ends with this post. To be followed by a Retrospect post.