After spending 3 days in Chennai, I was melting ( also because of extremely high temperatures) for a few days of seaside relaxation (the Chennai beach being extremely populated and dirty did not offer you the chance to relax). Although we changed the location for a luxury hotel about 30 kilometers south of the coast, didn’t find a nice and relaxing beach. Once I had seen a TV report about the Andaman and Nicobar Islands situated in the middle of the Bengal Bay that had been called the last paradise on Earth and so we decided to go there.
On one of these islands there is still a tribe that lives in complete isolation and rejects any contact with the outside world (as would be the last of the earthly sages). And the beaches are of rare beauty being chosen as the most exotic in all Asia.
So, why wait ? … I bought air tickets to Port Blair and hooop in about 3 hours we land on the small airport. Being an autochthonous area, we needed more interviews and forms to complete, but here we are finally on the Island … it will now begin the real holiday.
How naive …
The city of Port Blair as well as its name is actually a container port with the flair of an industrial area, so it is not a pleasure for tourists. Nobody stays here on the main island, but they all head straight to one of the two islands about 2 hours’ boat ride. Havelock or Nile Island.
The day we landed in Port Blair, there were not so many other tourists (so very few Europeans so far) only a few young people from Israel gathered in a small group. We were entering the waiting room where the tickets were also sold and we were surprised that there were actually two counters. One for men and one for women. At the desk for men long waiting line but nobody at the women counter. Oh, sometimes is good to be a woman even in India (where women are not very respected) and I’m heading straight to the window of the counter to buy 2 tickets. But the woman behind the window reprimands me with a harsh look and asks –
Are you local? No, I answer, I’m a tourist.
We do not sell tickets to tourists, only local people are aloud to take the government ferry.
I do not mind if you have a tourist ferry I will buy 2 tickets for this. In my mind I knew I was making this difference just to sell the same tickets at a price of 10 times more expensive.
Here we sell only tickets for the government ferry and close the window directly in front of my nose.
OK and where do I buy tickets for tourists now? Today there is no other ferry , I hear how she answers my question that I have not even asked yet. What do you mean? Today only one boat goes to the island and on this ship tourists are not accepted ? What is this for a method? a little bit excited and horrified I explain to my husband the situation, but he receives the same answer after arriving at the counter for the men …
After talking to the group of young people who wanted to go on the same island, it turns clear that the situation is far more serious than we thought.
Not only for today there will be no other ship but the only ship for tourists doing this route is in repair for at least one week. So if the situation remains same we have absolutely no chance to get to the other two islands. We had out flight back in 6 days … so the situation was that we have to remain on this Island without the chance of relaxation for all the time? No way … I will rather take a fishermen boat or swim till there…
The discussions with the ticket vendors at the counter started again without much success, we tried all the methods from prayers ( please, please let them cool) until the bribe attempt ( we pay you the double, triple price … no reaction) to threats ( I want talk to your boss … that makes them aggressive) and insults ( If the minister of tourism will come now here i will spitt him in the face ) Nothing helped.
In between more and more locals approached , one of them offers even to help us. He knows a tour desk where we can buy ferry tickets … he’s a taxi driver. OK, we’re going to his car, we and another pair we’ve already been friends with, packing all the luggage in the luggage compartment, and getting off the road. The guy after a 20-minute drive turns around and stops in front of a travel agency office and asks us for money. Wait a minute, as I find this Situation very strange, I give you the money after I buy the tickets and went inside the office. But the travel agent answer us just what we already knew … I’m sorry today there is only one ship because the tourists one is in mending … I can not sell you tickets. I was so disappointed but especially angry about the taxi driver.
Are you kidding us and taking advantage of the fact that we are desperate?
Pay me that I brought you here , he says, still calm, how do I know he has no tickets? … you do not get any money from me … do not think you can fool me … and as he still insisted on getting his money I started the religious method … You know that your god will punish you for it and you will rebirth as rat, not like a worm or as a parasite … He was so surprised and shocked that he took our luggage out of the car and tossed them on the road without asking for a penny anymore.
We returned to the port with another taxi and have insisted to talk to the ship captain. He explained the situation: his ship is special for island locals who must return home at night and normally do not accept tourists but … given that our “ship” is in repair he will make an exception if there are still unsold tickets after all the locals are on board, and accept to take us with his ship. We wavered for a few hours but at the end we got the tikets.
When I saw the rusty shipp I started to laugh… worst ferry of all time ! we’ll definitely sink …
We did not sink and arrived on the Havelock Island without any other incident. I took a tuc-tuc to the cottage reserved on Beach no. 5 to relax completely …
Havelock Island – the last paradise on earth is without access to the internet (acceptable) without hot water (not so badl as the outside temperature was over 35 Degrees celcius), without without electricity in the evening (Could be romantic! Finally we will see the sky full of stars at light candles) but without alcohol? We just found out here that on this island alcohol is strictly forbidden … INHUMAN!