Andaman Islands: journey to Long Island

Testimonial: Holiday in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (India) – The islands are still a lost world to the big civilization.

This is it. We’re home! Unpacked the suitcase and a pile of pictures. Ready to tell you about our journey to the far – far away Andaman Islands. So as not to bore you, conditionally review is divided into two parts: emotional (for those who just want to know how it is there) and practical (for those who are going to go).

To dream or not to dream, everyone decides for himself. I wanted to go to the Andaman Islands 10 years ago after a conversation in Cambodia with a traveler. It was not difficult to buy tickets. But those 10 years came like a blink of an eye and during those 10 years many things happened. Several times the river of my life took such steep turns that the islands seemed like a distant dream star. But as a birthday gift for my Beloved, this is what I chose. I wanted to give him a piece of me: My most unusual dream. Oh! It’s one of the most iconic feelings of fulfilling your dreams. Perhaps it’s worth the dream! And you can dream a lot – then you always know the answer to the question what to do? You just have to find the right dream for the moment!

Distraction. I can not say that the islands were paradise on earth :) It’s a different, but very real life, with a daily schedule that depends on the tide of the sea. And that depends on the moon. We were on Nile Island. There’s no Internet and communications don’t always work, and you seem to be a man from the future, caught up in the past. Perhaps a fitting illustration of island life: this is a huge dead turtle lying on the beach, dug up on all sides by a dog, trying to somehow get under its shell and eat a bite. But in vain. The turtle gets all the way to the ants, crabs, and other little island dwellers. Uncomplicated food chain and the laws of nature.

The sea is also azure here. and it is little salty, transparent to its depths.

And there are stars in the sky like a star factory. I thought I could see several other galaxies. Also surprising and impressive are the trees on the island. It feels like they are thousands of years old: so powerful, large and different.

Holidays in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (India) photo

On this virtually unknown island, time has its own routine. For the entire day we met only 14 white people on the entire island. Of these, one girl from Lithuania, who speaks Russian. Unexpected and pleasant. She told us about the Elephant Hotel, which is run by a girl from the Ukraine. Concerned about the food (everything around is so spicy that our white bellies already refused to eat at all), we did not delay and decided to find her. Natasha, with one year old Nathan in her arms, fed us in the night with tomatoes and cheese of her own making. And yes! She really lives and raises a child on a lost island! But the next day we were disappointed – Natasha didn’t have the promised delicious dinner of fried barracuda. She didn’t have a collapse: she had a fight with her Hindu man, and he left with the workers. There was no one to cook for her. So the guests of that wonderful ECO hotel cooked for themselves. Sasha and his family (with his wife and two little kids), Roma a fisherman from Crimea, and Europeans from various countries. Elephant Hotel is a wonderful world on a wonderful island. I think I need to tell you more about it, maybe some of you want to rest so and my review will be a valuable idea. This is an eco settlement on a tropical island. Rooms are bamboo bungalows with mosquito nets. Showers and toilets are separate outside, for everyone, stalls. Of course there is no air conditioning, but there is electricity! Natasha doesn’t buy or sell anything in plastic, she does everything herself. Our cuisine is as native as can be made from the products available on the island. She makes her own cheese, ravioli, sour cream, etc. She keeps chickens and maybe some other animals. Recently, there was a loss: stray dogs, of which there are an incredible number chewed up 5 chickens at night. Well, there are no conveniences, guests only white people from different countries, many with children from 2 years. Or are already of age. What to do here? At night you listen to the sounds of the jungle, as gekonchiki and spiders or other animals fight. And during the day to fish, go to the beach, walk, eat mangoes and papayas, talk to people.

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Holidays in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (India) photo

Some days there was a Krishna festival on the island. The local people gathered for it, probably in their most beautiful clothes. You could tell at once who the local shaman was. By the expression of their eyes, by their clothes, the shamans of different countries are somewhat similar to each other. Very bright, colorful and loud sounds that the women made were like high bird trills combined with drums and bells created a bacchanalian carnival orchestra.

Holidays in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (India) photo

The island is not big, but it is still a long walk around. there are 3 options for means of transportation: bike 100 rupees a day, scooter 400 rupees a day, tuk-tuk 100-200 rupees trip. At the exchange rate of 1 rupee is approximately equal to 1 ruble. We took the bikes. It’s great to ride a rusty bike on asphalt, surrounded by palm trees and bananas :) the waves, sea, sand – can not describe in words the children’s delight! But there is not a big but. The road is small and narrow: the width equal to one car. constantly have to yield to the passing transport, which used to signal you a lot in advance. With unused rubbed all the tender places, so we moved the next day on a tuk-tuk or walked.

Holidays in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (India) photo

About the beaches: In general, there are only two places on the island where you can swim. And swim well at high tide. All other places on the island are dotted with rocks, remnants of reefs, trees, and a very large strip of shallow water. Going through all the obstacles to the depths is painful and long. For swimming, the beach at one end of the island and the beach at the other end of the island are suitable. They are called the sunrise beach and sunset beach by the locals. We liked the dawn beach more, the beach for swimming is wider, the entrance is more pleasant. But anywhere on the island is very curious at low tide. You can wander around the rocks and exposed reefs, play with crabs and live barnacles, watch the little fish.

Holidays in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (India) photo

We didn’t figure out where to snorkel from shore because of the waves and the difficult entrance. So we took a boat and snorkeled with it at high tide. Cool, not to compare, of course, with Egypt, but Beloved says he saw a huge fish the size of me. I, unfortunately, missed everything. We didn’t get lucky with Sunset either. The weather was awfully clear, so the sun just went down, not projecting its rays all over the sky and not displaying the full spectrum of sunset colors. Well, okay, but we were rewarded with dinner at the SeaShell Hotel. Something on tripadvisor wrote about their bad food? I guess it’s all about the fact that they cook Indian, food for Europeans. For our delicate white bellies! And a big thank you to them for that! This is the most delicious place on the island so far :) Also we walked around the island to the rock, which nature pulled down the middle, and now it is not a man-made bridge. Impressive beauty. When I need to remember a beautiful moment of his life to fill the energy of memory, I will present this picture: the clearest transparent sea, which is blue refracted by sunlight, huge rocks rocks break waves, creating a foam of splashing, palm trees and grow right on the boulders and a huge rock bridge connects the island and the sea.

Holidays in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (India) photo

Perhaps it would be useful to write about what is not on the island:

1. No normal cigarettes 2. No swimsuits, swimming shorts and other accessories: towels, masks… There are too few foreigners, and Hindus swim in T-shirts and pants or knee-high underpants. Women swim in tights and tunics on top. In general, Hindus hardly ever bathe, because they usually come to the island for 2 days to see it, and are afraid that they will get sick in wet clothes while they are drying. And to change clothes does not allow religion. 3. There is no official currency exchange. The only bank is closed. The only way to exchange dollars to rupees is to walk into a hotel restaurant or try to pay in dollars which can be difficult to predict. Officially it is forbidden to change it. If you fly directly to the islands, it makes sense to change either in Delhi at the airport or in Port Blair. But the bank is not open on weekends. And again you won’t change at Port Blair at the official rate. 4. There are no ATMs or acquiring. No one will accept cards. 5. No internet. We found wi-fi only in 1 place, the work is highly dependent on the number of users. But the funny thing is when we found wai fi – we did not want to use it. So good to rest without internet. 6. Almost no phone service. SMS go, you can talk if you are lucky. 7. Almost no good food. All food is either very spicy or with lots of spices. 8. There is no service and customer orientation. Hindus haven’t heard of this, and even if they had, they wouldn’t understand it. They are Buddhists or Krishnaists, they don’t really need the money. 9. There is no check out at 12. Here the estimated check out time is 7-30 at the Nile and 8-30 at Port Blair. 10. There are little or no hotel rooms available. Most are blocked and bought out by local Indian tour operators. so reservations should be taken seriously. The exceptions are ECO hotels. 11. In hotels or good restaurants you cannot eat at any time you want. there are breakfast, lunch and dinner times. And earlier or later than the appointed time, unfortunately, will not be served. But even this time does not guarantee fast cooking. On average, it takes 30 to 60 minutes to cook. 12. No souvenirs other than seashells.

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Our trip was only 8 days. In this time it is difficult to visit different islands of this wonderful archipelago. Though, of course, we wanted to. We heard a lot of stories about the local tribes, but refused the idea to negotiate with fishermen and swim to see this wonder. Firstly, it was dangerous enough, and secondly, the fishermen can’t go out to sea every day. With us there was a 4-day ban for the reason that someone drowned. So we need more time for the expedition. Went to the museum in Port Blair, looked at pictures and calmed down. In short, we can say that the island of Nile,

Holidays in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (India) photo

Now here’s a short guide to the island: We got there by three flights. Moscow-Delhi. Delhi-Calcutta-Port Blair. Tiring, but bearable. Flights can be delayed, which is what happened to us on the way back. So, it’s better to take extra time. The Delhi airport is quite large and comfortable. But some local airlines do not take off from the same international airport. You may have to drive across town. Ferries from Port Blair to Nile Island run until 2 p.m., but day tickets may not be available. They are on sale until 2pm the day before. The ferry is full, but everyone sits according to the seats listed on the tickets. For the return trip, it is better to buy tickets the day before departure. Due to weather conditions, there may be delays or cancellation of the flight altogether. I do not know how to book ferry tickets online, so you will have to spend the night in Port Blair. Finding a hotel a day away is difficult. Better to book in advance.

Holidays in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (India) photo

About the hotels on Nile Island. Of the hotels we saw, the best was the Silver Sand. It is the only one with a beach where you can find a spot and swim at high tide. It has a pool and good food. I am very careful what I write about the cuisine, we only tried snacks and cocktails. I mean at 9000 per room, it could probably be worth the money. The Holiday Inn looks nice, but it is on the edge of the island and a long way from the beach. The Seashell Hotel is good with a restaurant and more or less working wi-fi there. But no beach for swimming and no pool. You can see the best beach on the island and the beach is very far away from the centre of the island. It is very far from the center of the island with the market, the pier and other traffic. Hotel Tango did not impress us. We stayed at the hotel Kokonat. In my opinion it is worth the advertised price: 4300 for a room with air conditioning. It stands on the beach, but you can not swim, the room is spacious, hot water, fan, air conditioning, large bed, balcony. All amenities are there.

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I list only those hotels on the island, which are designed somehow for European tourists. And there are a lot of small hotels for locals. And there are almost no rooms.

And for the final, I publish the budget of our 10 day trip. We spent $600 on food, transportation and entertainment. Airfare Tickets 82000 rubles. Hotels 49,000 rubles, of which 14,000 were not planned for hotels in Port Blair. We had assumed that we would go to Nile Island right away.

Andaman Islands: journey to Long Island

Traveling through the vast expanse of India, I quickly grew tired of the many beggars in the streets, and I thought it would be nice to go somewhere inland. To the Andaman Islands, for example. But when I arrived at Port Blair, the largest city in the Andamans, I quickly realized that even here the local beggars and helpers would constantly disturb my peace. It was then that a venture began in my mind to try to get to one of the many nearby uninhabited islands, of which there were plenty in the region.

In Port Blair I bought provisions, bought antidote against poisonous snake bites, and ordered a hammock for the night, as the tent was washed away with its inhabitants in the rainy season. The outfit is packed . We can go to the pier in order to negotiate with the local fishermen for my ferry to the island. It didn’t take long to find the right person. A local guy named Binoy was just planning a trip to Long Island. As he told me, the island is a real backwater – no one around.

Andaman Islands: Journey to the Long Island - Photo 2

Andaman Islands: journey to Long Island

The bargaining with Binoy was as follows:

Me: “How much will you charge for shipping to the island?”

Him: “Give me a hundred rupees.”

I said: “It’s not a hundred, make it fifty.

He said: “It’s a deal, let’s do it for twenty.

My new acquaintance had a donga, a local boat, equipped with a motor. The boat looked all right, but as soon as we got farther out from the shore the first big wave came over the boat and us. I quickly undressed, stuffed my wet clothes into a bag, and began strenuously scooping water out of the boat. Binoy looked in my direction and waving his hand, repulsively said: “Come on, it’ll drain itself out. Let’s better sing a song or something.”

I forgot to tell you, singing is one of the favorite pastimes of the local population. Songs are sung practically everywhere: on public transport, while walking down the street, playing cards. Luckily, I had time to learn a couple of local hits, and started singing along to Binoi as far as I could hear. In between playing tracks, I tried to explain to the boatman that the water on the boat wasn’t going to come out by itself. It had to be helped to leave the boat. When we reached the mangrove forest with songs, it was raining tropical rain and crocodiles came out of nowhere. It is worth noting that the sides of our rickety dongy were not much above water level and the whole boat was filled with water on the inside. “Don’t worry,” Binoy said with confidence in his voice, “when crocodiles aren’t hungry, they won’t attack humans.

Andaman Islands: Journey to Long Island - Photo 3

Andaman Islands: journey to Long Island

We did not reach the shore of Long Island until late in the evening. Contrary to what Binoy said about being uninhabited, the island was still slightly inhabited. The little village at which my guide and I disembarked consisted of a few huts and a school building a couple of stories high. Darkness outside was thickening, there was no desire to spend the night in the woods, to sleep in a hammock near the village – too. I decided to ask the natives for a place to sleep. However, all the houses where I asked for overnight accommodations sent me in the same direction. That is where I went.

After walking a little and climbing a mountain, I saw a fence. Behind the gate, which bore the inscription “Rest house”. There was a huge and very beautiful house, covered with flowers and fruit trees. None of the owners or guests were inside, and all the doors were tightly locked. Only the door to a tiny little room, apparently a utility room, was open. Here I decided to spend the night.

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In the middle of the night I heard the sound of approaching footsteps. A light came on behind the door to the room. I figured it would be better to go out on my own, than for the hosts to find me here asleep, so at least they would not kick me. I opened the door and saw the two Indians embracing. The surprise of my appearance made the eyes of one of them become huge and raised a shout, while the other sat down and covered his head with his hands. I tried to explain to them that I was not a demon, but simply a traveler who had decided to spend the night here. The guests seemed to calm down, but I slammed the door behind me and went back to sleep.

Andaman Islands: Journey to Long Island - Photo 4

Andaman Islands: journey to Long Island

But I didn’t get any sleep. Not half an hour later, I was awakened again. Hey man they say it is dangerous to sleep here. There’s a lot of snakes. I immediately remembered the moment when something rustled quietly beneath my ear, terribly frightened, jumped up and hit the low ceiling. I turned on the light. I saw three small green snakes crawling around.

My night acquaintances invited me into the living room. There was everything like in a normal modern apartment – big soft sofas and comfortable armchairs, carpets on the floor, and an expensive TV with an LCD screen. I was laid on the floor. They themselves also squatted on the floor nearby. I didn’t quite understand why I couldn’t sleep on a soft sofa, but I was too shy to ask. No snakes crawling around, and that’s okay.

I was awakened early in the morning. The first question my new acquaintances asked was, what am I doing here on the island? Just, I said, I really wanted to live away from people on a desert island. “You’ve come to the wrong place,” they said, “tourists usually come to Lalaji Beach, and only in winter. It is located on the opposite side of the island . It’s not possible to get there now, it’s out of season. The trail that runs through the forest is completely washed away by the constant rains, and no one will take you to the dong, because the waves are very high.

Andaman Islands: Journey to Long Island - Photo 5

Andaman Islands: journey to Long Island

The village school teacher explained and sketched the way to Lalaji as best he could . At the end of the story he looked at me skeptically and waved, “You won’t find it anyway. He was right.

I started walking along the way teasing monkeys and smelling the scent of orchids. There was only one path to follow, and I could not stray from it. Then there was a branch, then another trail, a fourth, a fifth. For several hours I walked in circles through the forest. It seemed that the sea sounded somewhere nearby, but still the path brought me back to the same place, where mango fruits fell from a tree right on my head. At some point I decided to move through the forest thicket, right into the noise of the surf. I took out a sharp machete and began to cut through the jungle. The vines were the most dangerous and difficult to traverse I had ever seen: not only were they very difficult to cut through, but they were also covered with tenacious, hooked thorns. It didn’t take me long to cut through. After torturing myself for a while, I was back on the trail.

The jungle of Long Island fascinated me: flowers of extraordinary beauty, strange birds jumping on the branches, an incredible bouquet of smells – no Lalaji I do not need any more. There are no bloodthirsty tigers or other dangerous predators on the islands, and few poisonous snakes. During the day in this jungle is absolutely nothing to fear.

Andaman Islands: Journey to Long Island - Photo 6

Andaman Islands: journey to Long Island

It was already the ninth hour of the walk through the woods and I had no energy left to go to Lalaji. I threw my heavy backpack under a bush and started to look for a way to get to the shore. Along the way, in order not to lose the way, I marked the bushes with pieces of paper from the package of cookies and used them to get back to my backpack, until I finally lost it. An unpleasant shiver ran through me. I ran like a madman through the woods until the evening, when I finally stumbled upon my backpack. I had to beg his pardon and swear that we would never be parted again.

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I was exhausted and had no idea where I was going, flailing from side to side. My ears began to rumble. I was going down the hill in front of me. I went down, and the noise kept growing. Suddenly I saw a beautiful waterfall in the midst of lianas and picturesque tropical flowers dangling around it. And the whole scene appeared to me against the backdrop of an orange sunset. The sight of such beauty brought me to my senses. My brain started working and I remembered that water always flows to the ocean. With a confident gait, I headed down the stream, but before I had taken a couple of steps, I sank into the stinking sticky silt.

It took me half an hour to free myself from the muddy captivity. After wading across the creek, I began to look for a comfortable place to spend the night. I put the hammock to the roots at a sufficient height from the ground, put a waterproof tent on top in case of rain and fell asleep.

Andaman Islands: Journey to Long Island - Photo 7

Andaman Islands: journey to Long Island

At night the tide came in unexpectedly and I woke up to the sound of the waves crashing under me, though I had slept a few hundred meters away from the water. I had to tie my belongings in my backpack to a tree with a rope and wait to see how events would unfold. And then a heavy downpour began to fall. The tent I bought at the local market was no good and let the water pass through as if it didn’t exist. The water kept coming in. Having illuminated the space under my improvised nest with the flashlight, I saw that below, at a distance of an outstretched arm, I could see the backs of fish and snakes. The water arrived almost all the way to the hammock, but I had made sure I was preliminarily relocated to a tree.

During the night the water subsided, but in the morning the tide began again. I did not wait for the water to arrive to a critical level, and grabbed my belongings and ran into the jungle. I look at the path towards me walking peacefully towards two huge elephants. They saw me and stopped watching, and I stared at them. I thought in my head: Well, if elephants are Asian then they should be friendly. But my God, they’re enormous. They’ll trample me and they won’t even notice me. I decided to go off the forest path and walk around the elephants in the jungle. Surprisingly, as if on cue, the elephants did the same. As we moved toward each other, the big animals sped up their pace more and more, and the moment we were on the same level, they darted away, cracking and breaking the trees.

It wasn’t long before the cries of the elephant herders began to be heard in the distance. Out of sheer joy I shouted “Help!” and rushed toward the voices. There was no answer to my cry for help, and when I got out of the thicket and into the clearing all I could see were the swiftly retreating backs of the natives. I threw off my backpack and rushed after them. Soon the leading runner among the natives took a bad turn and slipped and fell into the muddy slop. His example was followed by the rest of the fleeing runners.

Andaman Islands: Journey to Long Island - Photo 8

Andaman Islands: journey to Long Island

I should note that the natives of Andaman are the very vicious natives, spitting arrows with poisonous tips, and the famous Sherlock Holmes fought against one of such natives in the story “The Treasure of Agra”. The natives I met on my way through the jungle were not of pure blood, though they wore no boots, and were nearly naked. For the first couple of hours we wandered through the jungle thickets, picking up the heavy steel chains they use to chain elephants. The natives wrapped the chain around a stick, hefted it on their shoulders, and, grunting under the weight, disappeared into the jungle. I followed one of the islanders, and soon the cottages of a coastal village loomed on the “horizon.

When I arrived at the pier, I met the men from the gestation house on the hill. “Ah, hello!” they were happy to see me. – How did you like Laladjie?” I looked at the two of them with dumbfounded eyes and didn’t know what to say in response.

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