Biggest regret - not heading for the islands on my first couple of trips to India. Me and a colleague, only did it so reluctantly, just wanting to take the chance to explore Havelock Island - knowing full well that we will not travel all the way there on our own days off. But we were already in the vicinity, just a skip and a hop away to one of the most well-known islands of India.
A skip and a hop we did. Ferry took us 2.5 hours from Port Blair to the Havelock island jetty.
We were relieved to find out that we DO have lifeboats onboard as well hahaha
Tourists heading for Havelock are mostly local. It is apparently a popular spot for honeymoon as well. I love observing the Indian women (when they're not pushing and shoving past me). They're usually so well-dressed with their colourful sarees, complete with dangling earrings and necklaces, and hair all made up. They all seem to make an awful load of effort to look good.....
I look so bloody tanned - even pre-dives! But that's if you compare me to the Gingery Jen :P
Jen's packed sandwich of pickles and cheese for me, along with a cake and oranges. I feel so loved :)
As is everywhere in India, upon arrival we were bombarded with forms upon forms and documents upon documents to be checked and re-checked. Did I mention that to enter the airport, you must first show that you possess the itinerary or else you won't be able to enter the airport terminal. Then, after check-in, you have to pass through 3-4 levels of 'security' to your flight. It is a really lovely experience, I must say.
Jen and I both have 2 huge backpacks amongst ourselves and then this teeny tiny tuk-tuk came to pick us up. We were both quite exasperated but surprisingly all our things were able to fit in!
Finally we reached our dive center! After a quick registration, our backpacks were swiftly collected and we were shown our 5-star accommodations -
The tented cabanas! Lol. To be fair, it's a basic - no frills dive center. With a bonus hammock right outside your tent. There is no air-conditioning, but at night, it is really cool and a fan only is sufficient. I really don't mind, besides, I'd rather be out enjoying the sun, sand and beach instead of cooped up indoors. All I really need is a proper, clean shower and a bed to sleep at night.
The interiors of the tent. Two single-sized beds put together. Place is relatively clean and there is someone who cleans up your tent & toilet every day. Ample space for your things as well. And please excuse the mess of my things on the bed :P
Maybe cos it's a tent, so. during the day it's a little warm inside and during the nights, it's pretty cooling with, however, a sort of dank-ness to it - because moisture gets trapped I suppose. We were there for 5 days and I think that's the maximum number of days for me to rough it out. I was starting to get rashes from sea lice and mosquito bites all over :(
Jen said I don't look too happy in this photo :P
I MUST gush about how good the food there is. There is a resident restaurant, called Full Moon Cafe and even on Trip Advisor, I've read all sorts of raving reviews about the place. I was most pleasantly diminished of all doubts when I ordered my first meal there - a funghi pasta.
Granted, it takes too long for the food to arrive, but that's how it is with small establishments, even more so on islands. This was the first of many more satisfied meals.... Honestly, there wasn't a miss for every dish I've tried out here!
I had a lot of fun ordering their juices as well, they make the absolute best pineapple ginger juice ever! Really refreshing. Not to mention other combinations I've tried that works - orange and pomegranate, apple and orange and of course, the very sweet Indian mango juice, yum yum.
Oh, and don't let me get started on the flies here. I think there is a secret breeding ground of houseflies here, they are everywhere. It is so incredibly annoying to have to swat them off every second, on empty plates, from your drinks, midway spoon to mouth, well, you get the idea.
After lunch, we did a short refresher course and by then, both of us were tired.... I quickly booked a hammock and it was a complete bliss - gentle breeze with the sound of waves, like a lullaby luring me to sleep...
Dozed for at least an hour in that sweet, sweet spot.
Got up later and discovered that it's low tide. The beach is mostly flat so it was low tide almost 100m out. I had a lot of fun stepping over jellyfish and all sorts of marine creatures stuck in pools of water during the low tide.
One of my favourite shots.
Didn't get to dive during the first day as the boat leaves early in the morning, so it was really a chillax evening. Showered and then dinner at Full Moon again :)
Fish and chips this time - yummy as usual.
Boats leave about 7:30 in the morning, but we were already in bed by 10 hahahah we were that wrecked.
Dive sites are quite far off from the island. 1.5 to 2 hours of boat ride, so some sleep can be caught upon if need be. First dive - The Wall dive site - Beautiful corals. Took some shots of the fishes but didn't turn up that nice on photos, so I am leaving those out.
Once we've finished two dives and were making our way back towards Havelock Island, it was overcast and just like that it poured and poured along with strong winds! The insides of the boats was flooding and the raindrops were like stones on our backs - very painful! We were blamed for bringing the bad weather hahaha and told to sacrifice some chickens to make up for it. Even the top shelter of the boat was ripped off :/
The storm stopped soon as we approached the island.... Thank goodness for that, though we have to endure more teasing next few days hahaha.
As we only did 2 dives a day, the remainder of the evening was spent exploring the beach. It's very different from the dive trips I've made. They're usually crammed with the maximum number of dives and I end up feeling worse than when I'd started out. I do really like the pace of this holiday :D
The beach has so many stray dogs, lol. Quite a pity to see them around, but at the very least I am assured that they are treated more humanely than any dogs will ever get treated in Malaysia.
Day 2 diving @ The Dixon's Pinnacle.
Such a beautiful dive site. I love it that even you not on top of the reef, you will still be swarmed by schools and schools of fishes, it is truly breathtaking.
Along with a school of barracudas...
Stonefish that our DM spotted - will be an impossible task for me to find it!
Day 3 diving @ Jackson's Bar. Beautiful place as well.
Just like that, our holiday is coming to an end. Loaned one of Vinnie's many bicycles and explored a side of Havelock Island.
Stopped by this cow and just listened to it grazing for a full few minutes. It really is therapeutic :)
Later that night, both Jen and I sat in the dark by the beach and just gazed at the stars above - absolutely breathtaking.... The night is dark (new moon) and even the faintest of stars can be seen. Now if only I can share the moment with my other half :) Moments like these make me feel liberated to be alive. Hungry for more chances to explore the world and be surprised at the smallest of its beauty that takes your breath away.
Couldn't sleep on the last night and automatically woke up at 4:45am. Had a bit of an internal dispute going on as to whether or not to drag my ass out of the bed and watch the sunrise (the sun rises at 4:50-5:00am) until finally at 5:05am as I lumbered out of bed to use the loo when I saw the bright pink shade streak across the sky that I made my mind to do it.
Absolutely no regrets - I've seen a good many sunsets onboard but this is the next best sunrise I've caught (possible since Mt Kinabalu? hehe). If only I'd have a better camera kit and filter, I'm sure I could get a better and more impressive shot that this sunrise deserves.
A final shot of the impressive stack of pancakes with banana and toasted nuts
I will surely be back!