Sorrows in the Andamans Part II: Now with Less Sorrow & More Trepanging

Okay. So where were we? I need to write things down before I forget them. After a couple of near misses, we managed to get on a boat that left Long Island for Havelock, which is where all the tourists go. Again: this is pretty clearly what we should have done from the start. But: that’s not what happened. And honestly, Long Island is pretty nice: it’s just rather remote. Once we discovered, on our last day there, that there was a small store it seemed to open up.

But the boat to Havelock takes about four hours, and while it rained a little – we arrived in the Andamans at about the start of the rainy season – there were dolphins following the boat, which we failed to take a picture of. Just imagine it. Dolphins! And eventually we landed in Havelock and presented our permits and everything was stamped all over again and we were met by a rickshaw from our hotel and it seemed like we were moving up in the world: it was a little disorienting to be in a place so full of three- and four-wheeled vehicles. Our little shack was made of bamboo which looked a little familiar: in the Chin villages in Myanmar, we had actually seen bamboo being harvested to make rafts which then floated rocks down from the river that goes through Mrauk U to Sittwe to make the new harbor, at which point, presumably, the rafts were abandoned and they floated down to the Andamans (we saw some of them on the beach in Long Island) where they were turned into shacks for tourists. And that’s the story of how bamboo rafts work.

The beaches on Havelock are beautiful:


Our hotel was on a beach that was maybe not the best beach for swimming because it was extremely shallow for a very long way out. But this makes it basically an ideal beach for a three-year old:


As did the extremely large number of sea cucumbers that could be found in it:


So Harriet went trepanging:


I’m not sure what type of sea cucumbers these were – maybe these? – but there were a huge number of them in the water, and Harriet could make large piles of them. When you pick them up, they spit out water – this is technically known as evisceration. Also the beaches were full of hermit crabs.

So we went to the beach and had a good time. Kim and I went diving in shifts, which was extremely nice. It was relaxing. Eventually we caught the ferry back to Port Blair, where we spent the night in a very strange hotel patronized by the Rotary Club; then we caught a flight back to Kolkata, and spent a nice day wandering around there before taking a midnight flight back to Bangkok. And that was the end of that.

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