Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Essential Andaman in 8 night / 9 days - Detailed Travelogue - Day II

Day 2 - 18th Jan

It was our second day at Port Blair. It was planned to make a trip to North Bay Island (water borne and Under water activities) and Viper Island Where freedom fighters of first war of independence were jailed by British.

Starting at about 0800 we all, in our best of travel cloths, reached the Water Sports Jetty to take a boat for this trip. Water sports jetty is where the morning activity of  boats going to North Bay, Ross and viper islands. As we reached the jetty, the diving companies approached us claiming that we have to book our activities particularly diving here it self. I did book a fun dive. It is a different story that there is no need to pre book any activity. All of these people have their set up at North Bay and everything can be booked there (and may be at better bargain depending on the customer base for the day)

Clear Water  Sea Urchins can be seen from Jetty

Water Sports Jetty

A View of Public Garden from Water Sports Jetty at Port Blair
It was a rainy morning. It was drizzling off and on. Weather was heavy and we were worried about sea state while travelling by boat. However, by the time we sat in the boat, weather had improved a bit. Taking 0830 boat which started little late we reached North Bay in about 40 minutes. As the boat approached the jetty (temporary one made from floating plastic blocks) the sales man landed up on the boat. The introduction given by him about the underwater activities that you can do there was good but he was primarily selling the Russian Glass Bottom boat and Semi Submarine rides (each costing 1850 and 1800 per person respectively). Our views about the activities here are coming up later in this post.

North Bay appeared to be a beautiful island whose small beach area was utilized for various activities. There were centers of various water sport organization on the beach. Apart from them there were places to eat and also toilets were available for ladies and gents. Also available was fresh water at per bucket rate (I think Rs 10 per bucket) for taking fresh water bath post a dip in the sea.

We went for Russian boat ride. This boat has a big under water kens fitted for viewing the marine life under water. It is a high speed boat which moves out at slower speed for better viewing and comes back at high speed to give high speed boat ride thrill to passengers. The boat also had a guide to tell us about various underwater fishes and corals.

We also wanted to take a semi  submarine ride but after talking to fellow passengers we dropped that plan as they did not recommend it. Thereafter I went off for fun diving. In this the instructor gives you the briefing about signage  during diving ( hand signals). There after he straps on the oxygen cylinder, put on the eye mask and mouth pipe on you and makes you practice the breathing using the oxygen tank.

Once the practice is over you are taken underwater. Unlike regular diving where it is essential to know how to swim, in the fun dive all you have to do is breath properly using oxygen from the mouth piece and see the underwater world. The diver accompanying you is the one swimming and also carrying you along. It is thus a very safe and enjoyable activity. My fun dive along with underwater video that they take and underwater photos (both given to you later in the day) lasted for an hour.

Diving Dry Practise
Me Underwater

Wow Experoence

Beaming after successful Dive

People going for Snorkling

Divers in Foreground and Snorkelers in the back ground
Balance group did not go for snorkeling or regular glass bottom boat / sea walk. They had fun soaking in water and photography. The water in Andamans is not as saline as it is on the west coast. I did not feel too much salt deposits on the body and consequently a need to take a fresh water bath.

After having something to eat and a cup of tea we took the return boat which was to take us to Viper island and then back to Port Blair. Boat ride to Viper took another 40 minutes or so.

Viper was the  earliest penal settlement created with two hundred of our soldiers who fought against British in first war of independence in 1857. Since the ship that brought them here was called Viper, the island was named after it. At that time it had separate jails for men and women. The inmates were regularly taken to Ross island to build the settlement for British.

Viper now has only a Gallows Room on a hillock, a impressive red coloured building beautifully constructed but used for hanging people. This is where some very famous people / freedom fighters were hanged by British. Most other old structures are now nonexistent. Major damage to them was caused by 2004 tsunami. It is a place that makes one emotional.
Details of Fansi Ghar

Fansi Ghar, Beautiful Building and Shedy Past

Beam used for Hanging of 1857 warriors 

So Called Kachahari or Court (kangaroo Court)
We returned to Port Blair through Marine Jetty. Rest of the day was spent in a small trip to Aberdeen bazaar and dinner etc.

As for under water sports are concerned, we did not find the Russian glass water boat worth its cost of Rs 1850 per person. The semi submarine ride also is hyped at Rs 1800 per person. Other activities can be done but then too we felt that they are better done at Havelock or Neil islands.

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