The lazy life - Andaman style
Andaman Islands, India, 2008-12-11 12:00 by Laerke
The Andaman Islands, a fabled destination, renowned by the few in the know for its fabulously beautiful beaches. When we were in India last we had planned a trip here but the tsunami prevented it, the fact that we had “missed” it once made us want to go even more! I was actually starting to worry that I would end up getting disappointed because of all this built up.
We flew from Chennai to Port Blair (the capital of the Andaman Islands) the only other option of getting here is a 4-5 days ferry trip, and as a cyclone were just passing Chennai we did not really feel like embarking on a sea journey like that. It rained like crazy in Chennai and on most streets we walked in water to up over our ankles. So flying it was. It took 2 hours. From Port Blair we took a ferry to Havelock Island, we went up to deck to enjoy the view and were quite surprised to see the light changing little by little, turning golden and making all the shadows long – it was a little past four in the afternoon and the sun was slowly sinking into the sea! The Andaman Islands are a part of India even thought they are actually a lot closer to Myanmar and Thailand than they are to India, and in spite of their location so far east of the Indian mainland they still run on Indian time. So our watch was saying 4pm but given the locality it should probably have been closer to 6pm.

Once we got off the ferry on Havelock we took an auto rickshaw to the other site of the island to beach no. 7, if anybody is talking about The Andaman Islands this is probably what they are talking about, if they have seen pictures it will be of this beach. This is apparently the beach. All my initial worries about ending up disappointed were washed away with the first wave, this is one beautiful beach! And despite of it being the beach it is surprisingly deserted, there is hardly anyone here. The beach consist of one very long and very white stretch of the softest sand, the water is a gorgeous turquoise shade and backing down to the beach is the jungle; tall trees and wild, green plants all over. At the end of this long beach is a more sheltered crescent lagoon, the waves here are smaller and there are some coral a little off-shore so it is possible to snorkel here, or when the tide is out you can just stand and look down at the fish – no snorkel gear needed, the water is so clear.

As we sit on the beach looking back at the jungle we can see green parrots with orange heads fly about screeching at each other, we were also lucky enough to see some black birds with the strangest tail feathers, they are like two long thin strings each with a feather at the end. I’m thinking maybe they are related to The paradise Bird. A couple of elephants and their mahouts walk on the path in the jungle just behind the beach, sometimes they walk on the beach too, afterwards you can see big, round elephant footprints in the sand.

One morning we decided to explore some of this jungle, surrounded by all the green we walked along the elephant path, constantly seeing small lizards fleeing as we approached them. We came upon a small clearing and sat down at tried to be very still, we were rewarded with wonderful birdsong and we saw a beautiful bright yellow bird and plenty of colorful butterflies. At one point I was walking along and suddenly saw a long, thin green snake quickly wind its way across the path in front of me. The terrain changed and we had to climb steeply up, but luckily the elephants had shaped the muddy inclination into a staircase, each of their giant footsteps was a step on a jungle staircase for us. Later we apparently scared a huge monitor lizard because it suddenly scrambled frantically through the undergrowth. Lots of life in the jungle.

After 5 days at beach no. 7 we moved to the other side of the island, to beach no. 5, on this side there are a lot more restaurants and plenty of little bamboo huts by the beach for the tourists. Everywhere around us we hear Hebrew, this place is very popular with the many, many Israelis who come to India. Both our neighboring huts are inhabited by Israelis. They can be pretty loud, but are otherwise harmless. The sea on this side of the island has the same incredible turquoise color that I’ve fallen in love with – I want to take this color with me. If I’m lucky I can keep it in my heart, I hope there is room for all the amazing things we keep seeing and experiencing.

We have rented bicycles and have taken little rides around the island, it is great to leisurely cycle along the small roads surrounded by a mix of green farmland and jungle, seeing kids play cricket on a already harvested field, betel nuts laid out to dry, a woman with a baby on her hip smile to me, then a couple of jeeps and auto rickshaws races past us – and for a moment you feel back in the “real” India, surrounded by dust and exhaust fumes fearing for your life, but thankfully they pass and island life continues, a hen and her baby chicken go back to searching for food in the bushes and two small boys cycle past us in white school uniforms – calling "hello” but not asking for a pen.
Tomorrow is our last day here in paradise, and I’m not sure I’m ready to leave...