What’s it all about?

This week is my final blog entry about my time in India and what an amazing time it has been!

This final Indian entry is all about my visit to the Andaman Islands, to the beautiful Neil Island and exploration of the beaches. The main mode of transport between the Islands here is ferry and I’ll be sharing my experience as well as some top tips, so read on to find out more.

 Neil Island Ferry

The ferry to Neil Island was much smaller than our ferry to Havelock Island and we weren’t able to go outside on this one. It only took us around 1.5 hours to get from Havelock to Neil Island, which felt like it flew by, especially with the Indian film we had playing as entertainment. With the air conditioning making us feel comfortable we were in no rush to go anywhere and again, we were happy to take in our beautiful surroundings. The views from here were fantastic. We were surrounded by islands full of greenery and the sun was blazing! If only it would have been this lovely whilst we were staying in Havelock – typical.

Similar to our arrival at the Port in Havelock, it was just as manic at Neil Island. This time however, we were much more prepared and decided to wait and tried to be one of the last passengers off the ferry. Though this seemed like a good idea, people were already started to board ready for the next trip back to Havelock. As we left the ferry we were blissfully unaware of the mayhem that was ahead of us, though the weather had turned sunny our luck was about to change!

Neil Island accommodation mayhem

We got to our accommodation and again they wanted cash upfront but whilst travelling we avoided having large amounts of cash and relied on some super handy travel cards. This was not to our advantage here. The hotel we had booked wanted cash up front and could not accept card – which is pretty common here. We then tried to find a bank to take out the cash but with limited cash machines and none of them working…we had no access to money. After hours of trying to come to a resolution, they finally agreed we could complete a bank transfer to pay for our accommodation. After the stress of sorting this out was over, we decided we would try and eat. Our accommodation wasn’t near any local restaurants so we thought we would eat there.but the restaurant didn’t open until 7.30pm, another common practice in India. What a day! The only way to end this night was to chill out, load up some movies on my laptop and get a good night’s sleep. We attempted to walk to the beach, which was right outside the hotel but the beach was covered in coral and rocks and in the dark, this didn’t make a good combination.

A new day and we were feeling positive…until we were woken by builders literally next to our room…at 7am. Luckily I’d set my alarm for 7.15am as I wanted to be up and out, making the most of my short time here. We decided we’d make the most of the sun and take a walk to the bank which was 3km into town. This was also our only option as we had no cash to order a tuk-tuk or taxi. Unfortunately, our efforts were wasted as the bank was still out of service. However, the Gods must have been watching down on us as on our walk back our tuk-tuk driver from yesterday came by and offered us a free lift back to our accommodation – there are some decent people in the world and small deeds like this restore my faith.

Back at the hotel I attempted the bank transfer on my phone but India was not listed in my Banks oversea transfers. Even on the computer the internet wasn’t strong enough to sort this out. We were lucky we had family at home who had internet and were able to make the payment for us.

Neil Island beaches

We decided a walk to the local beach would help us relax and enjoy our time again, so we headed for the beach. We were pointed in a few different directions to find Sunset Beach but eventually a kind man gave us a lift to the beach (2 lifts in one day!) and we were able to relax and snorkel. I think it’s unusual to see people wandering around on foot here. There’s not much around and it’s quite a walk to get from one place to the next so people tend to use transport rather than walk.

This beach was lovely but still a little rocky. I felt a little worried as we swam in the shallow water with the rocks not far below us. The weather soon resorted back to rain and being in the water was the warmest place to be.

We decided we would try to walk back to our hotel along the beach front rather than the road and it was a beautiful walk that had rock pools lined along it all the way. I even saw this amazing crab that was yellow with black markings. I tried to identify the species but was unable to, so if you know the name of this pretty little thing, please let me know! There were also little sprouts of life popping out of the rock pools. Lush! 

Knowing if we left it too late it would be too dark to walk along the beach, at sunset we headed to the beach near the hotel. It was lovely to see a pack of dogs settled in the shade of the trees on the beach taking in the sunset. I didn’t blame them it was so peaceful and all that could be heard was the gentle swishing of the sea and the birds singing harmonically. The sunset was breath-taking and as it set a really intense heat beat down on us just before it was swallowed up by dark clouds and a pink layer appeared between the sky, sea and clouds. Finally, the sun went so red and disappeared.

Ferry from Neil Island back to Port Blair

Our 3 days here had gone in the blink of an eye. Unfortunately, due to our cash situation we hadn’t been able to do much but it was lovely to relax here. We even tried the cash machines one last time before leaving…but no luck, then on our third and final try we managed to get some cash. Finally! We were excited at the prospect of even being able to afford to pay for a drink.

At Neil Island Port you have to check in before you are allowed to board the boat. Lots of people were being sent back and told to sign in! This ferry was definitely the most comfortable. It was cheaper and the seats were more relaxed and less of an up-right position. It only took us around 1hour 45 minutes before we were back in port Blair.

*** TOP TIP*** Check in at the office at the Port before trying to board the boat! Or, you might find yourself doing a lot of walking before you can get on board!

The day had come when it was time to leave and though we tried for a few hours to book our next destination, we didn’t have much luck. So, after one of my beloved masala omelettes we were on our way the Port when we decided to go and visit Corbyn’s Cove. The beach here was lovely and quiet but there were plenty of warnings about the water, making it very clear that there was a high risk of crocodiles being in the water! So, we just stayed on the beach…though I couldn’t quite lay comfortable for some reason! Then on the tuk-tuk ride to the port we requested we passed the Gandi monument.

What’s it like to work here?

The internet here really wasn’t great. I struggled to use regular apps at times, let alone teaching from here. Even the locals had troubles. For instance, we went to the post office and had to go back a few times because the power kept going down. Even what may seem like a simple job, like photocopying a passport, was a struggle to complete.

What’s up next?

Next week my time in India finally draws to a close and I head to one place I’d ALWAYS wanted to go….AUSTRALIA! Follow my journey along the coast of Australia, starting in Melbourne.

If there’s more you’d like to know please do not hesitate to contact me. travellingteacher@iqbar.net .