Christmas 🎄 on the Andaman Islands 🌴 ( Havelock )

After my walk along the beach on the Saturday morning, I went into the small shop across the road to pick up some water and see what little treats I could get myself for Christmas Day here and ended up picking up some strawberry Oreos and a packet of what looked like Tuc biscuits/ crackers. I’ll have a look at the bigger shop in Swaraj Dweep later but I don’t expect Turkey with all the trimmings this year.

I made another trip into Swaraj Dweep this afternoon just to pick up a few items but I get the feeling it won’t be necessary to stockpile stuff over Christmas, I’m sure there will be restaurants open for tourists such as myself, I may not get a traditional Christmas dinner but I won’t starve. I did pick up a few things though to make it feel like Christmas ( it’s not Christmas if you don’t eat too much !! ).

I was awake early here on Sunday morning as my sleeping pattern tends to be bed not long after it gets dark then wake up as it’s starting to get light so that’s a lot more sleep than I’m used to probably around 10 hours.

I got out for a decent run while it was still quiet and then a walk along the beach. The restaurant at the resort is still being built but has been open for a couple of days so I thought I’d try it for breakfast, there were no menus as of yet but I could see they had eggs so asked for a plain omelette and some toast with butter and a black coffee, but what I got was 8 pieces of toast and butter with sugar sprinkled on it and black coffee, the coffee was ok and I ate some of the toast, but I ended up back at my usual place for a second breakfast of banana pancakes and another coffee.

There was some work going on across the road on what looked like the local electrical substation with guys were up and down bamboo ladders running cables across the road so not the usual WiFi at the restaurant but hopefully it will resolve the recent power cuts in the area.

I decided to try and work out the bus times on the island as I intend to be here a couple of weeks. I enquired at reception and was told that they run every 30 mins and that one should be along at 25 past so thought I’d get one at 5 to the hour but as I walked up at quarter to the hour one went past so I decided to walk part way to the main junction on the island which is about 2 k and get the bus to Radhanager beach from there, it was about a 15 min wait until it came and covered the 10 k to the beach much quicker than I had on a bike a couple of days before. I decided that I would stay for the sunset that was supposed to be good on this side of the island.

On arrival someone got talking to me and when I said I’d been traveling India warned me about the North especially Delhi ( a lot of people here really seem to have a downer on the North ), After being on the beach for about hour I decided to get out of the sun for a bit and get some lunch, I’m still not sure about some of the things on the authentic Indian menus ( and I’m often the only westerner in some places I go ) as there so different to Indian food we have in the west but the vegetarian rice thali I had was good and I’ve still not had any problems with the food here which I thought I might do.

Radhanager beach really is very clean compared to others I’ve seen in India even in Goa and as I returned I saw a lone plastic bottle that I’d spotted earlier and going into environmental mode thought I should have picked it up when I went to lunch and put it in the bin, it was just above the water line and moved up occasionally, one woman came along and picked it up and I thought good for you ! but then she just threw up it further up the beach, it then blew past me again and down towards the water and another guy came along and kicked it into the water, so that was as much as I could take and went and got it and put it beside my bag to dispose of later. After about 20 mins a guy that had been sitting behind me near the trees must of it seen what happened and felt guilty and asked if he could put it in the bin. He then came back and started talking and asked if I wanted a beer which I declined but thanked him and we spoke for a bit about the usual where are you from, traveling and what I thought of the Andaman Islands etc.

One other thing that intrigued me while I sat on the beach waiting for the sun to set was the march of the hermit crabs all heading in the same direction West, probably got something to do with the setting sun , hundreds probably went past while I sat there and not one in a different direction, Google could probably give me the answer but that would spoil the fun, if it happens again I might follow them. They probably just borrow into the sand above the high tide mark but they all just seemed to be in a hurry to get somewhere before the sun went down.

I was able to get a few photos before heading back for the bus. Radhanager beach starts to get really busy for sunset, from about 3 o’clock lots of people start arriving and when I left just before 5 there must of been thousands of people on the beach mostly taking pictures.

I ended up getting a different bus on the way back but got dropped off at the same junction and walked the rest of the way back to the resort.

In the morning I got another easy pace 5 k done before giving breakfast at the resort another go which they got right this time as the omelette arrived and not so much toast without sugar on it this time along with a black coffee, I had taken my own peanut butter and honey in case I ended up with just toast again.

After breakfast I made my way back to the main junction as I had decided to try a visit Elephant beach which is mostly accessed by boat from the main Jetty but if your willing to walk the 1.8 k from the road along a track you can do it that way. The track is about 8 k from the main junction so I got the bus there, I’ve stopped trying to work out the bus schedule as they just turn up when they turn up and certainly not every 30 mins as I was told.

At the start of the track down to Elephant beach you have to register in case you go missing or get lost, I noticed a couple of Canadians had registered ahead of me and were the only other foreigners, Indian nationals had a separate book. The track was quite up and down and full of tree roots and though thick forest, I caught up with a few Indian families on the way and it took around 30 mins to get there.

I expected to find a fairly quiet beach as the other beaches are easier to access but was surprised to see at least 50 small boats there and probably around 400 to 500 people so it felt far more crowded than Radhanager beach as it is a lot smaller.

There was a lot going on though with Jet skis, parasailing, pontoon rides and snorkelling to do and stalls selling food and drink as well as clothing . I had bought some water at the top thinking there would be nothing down here. I found a relatively quiet spot and stayed for a couple of hours before getting a plate of fruit for lunch and heading back up the track to get the bus back ( the beach closes at 3 to make sure everyone gets back up the track whilst still light ) on getting back to the junction I picked up some fruit from the market to take back to the resort so I’d at least have something healthy there over Christmas.

In the morning I was up for a short run then a walk along the beach before breakfast but as the tide was in I wasn’t able to go as far along as usual.

During breakfast I got to thinking about some of the things that I will miss at Christmas apart from friends and family obviously, such as mince pies which I usually start making around the beginning of December and probably make a few dozen between then and Christmas, and I usually try to wait till around the 7th to put the tree and decorations up, and that’s when it starts to feel like Christmas to me. Also I still can’t help leaving a mince pie and a Bailey’s out for Santa ( sadly the carrot for the reindeer went buy the wayside as they never ate it ) but the mince pie and Bailey’s was always gone in the morning, as well as a Buck’s Fizz on Christmas morning to start the day is always nice.

Well I’ll just have to make the most of it here and make up for what I miss about Christmas next year !

After breakfast I decided to go along to Kathapatha beach on the bus and found it wasn’t as busy as when I had been there previously, I turned right and started walking away from the main beach and found a nice quiet section with some shade under the trees.

It was nice to sit under the trees and look out to sea, the water here tends to have a combination of light green close to shore then turning blue further out as it gets deeper, after a while the water just looked too inviting and I had to have another dip in the Bay of Bengal, it’s not all that easy to just walk in far enough till you can swim as in most places along the coast it’s quite rocky and the rocks are very abrasive so not easy to walk on, so after finding out that I couldn’t get out past knee depth where I was and tripping into the water anyway got out and started walking back towards the main beach while I dried off.

I decided to see if I could walk all the way back as the tide was quite a way out now and I had already walked most of the way to Kalapatha beach from the other direction, it was about 5 k by road so probably a similar distance along the beach. I made it without any problems only seeing a couple of other people along the way and only having to navigate though a couple of sections where trees extend out into the water.

In the afternoon ( Christmas Eve ) after a bit of a rest I sat out on the porch in front of the hut slowly working my way though one of the two pomegranates I had bought for Christmas. I can’t remember the last time that I had eaten a pomegranate like this but it was strangely satisfying to peel away at it and eat the kernels or seeds ? which I’m not sure. My recent experience of pomegranates is probably when eating Middle Eastern food when there added to cous cous or some other dish or sometimes sprinkled on top of a dessert.

I had made a tenitive plan the day before to get up early and jog down to Kalapatha beach to catch the sunrise on Christmas Day and had prepared my backpack ready the night before but as I checked my watch at 4. 15, I had a change of plan as I was so comfortable in bed and decided to have a lay in and as I only needed to do 10 k to reach my running target for the year could have a day off from that as well.

I finally got up just before 8 and it felt good to have a later start to the day, the resort restaurant was shut as I went past so I went to my usual place and had a Spanish omelette and black coffee for breakfast.

On the way back I managed to get a WiFi signal of sorts and sent a few messages to people, Jake tried a video call but unfortunately the signal was too weak to connect.

I decided to go and spend the day on Raghanager beach and on the way to get the bus at the main junction got to thinking about how fortunate I am to have the choice of where to spend Christmas, I do feel grateful that I am in that position.

I didn’t have to wait long for the bus and as usual was the only foreigner on it, I haven’t seen any others so far, I could easily do what most do and hire a scooter for 500 rupees a day ( around £5 ) or cycle for 100 rupees but I like doing things a little differently and feel I need the excerise from the walking.

I arrived at the beach at 10.30 and immediately decided on a swim as I’d not been able to get out far enough yet. I found somewhere safe to leave my bag after checking I wasn’t being watched ( I’m still not totally trusting and didn’t want to see it disappear up the beach ), the water was fantastic and I managed to have a proper swim.

Radhanager beach is probably the best beach I’ve ever been on with over 2k ( measured on a Strava walk from one end to the other ) of pristine soft sand and no jet skis or boats just sand and sea that is easy to get into for a swim. If you do ever find yourself on Havelock island this is the beach to head for.

My alternative Christmas dinner was a plate of fresh fruit and a bottle of water but as I said I’ll make up for it next year. After a break for lunch I went straight back in for another swim then a walk along the beach to dry off. By then I felt I had enough sun for the day and headed up for the bus back. I left around 2.30 and the beach hadn’t been that busy at all but there were quite a few arriving as I left I imagine to stay for the Sunset.

At the junction I stopped to pick up some orange juice and found a bounty bar in the freezer at the supermarket and grabbed a couple of samosas from a stall to eat on the walk back to the resort because what is Christmas if you don’t over indulge.

The WiFi signal in the afternoon was just about strong enough for Becca to get though on messenger to have a bit of a video chat with Becca and Jake so that was nice to see them on Christmas morning. Becca also sent a picture though of them out walking the dogs in her new trainers which was good.

I think I managed the over indulging part of Christmas as by 5 o’clock I decided I didn’t want to go out for a meal in the evening as I wasn’t at all hungry and I had some food if I wanted it later.

After a run and breakfast at the resort the next day, I decided to walk down to the jetty to see if I could find the main Government ferry ticket office open this time, as I was still interested in seeing if I could get a boat to Calcutta from here instead of flying in the New Year.

At the Jetty I didn’t have much luck as they said it wasn’t possible to get to Calcutta by boat from here or Port Blair at that time in the New Year but tried to sell me other trips but I enjoyed the walk to the jetty anyway.

I spent most of the afternoon trying unsuccessfully to book a flight from Port Blair to Calcutta on 6th of January and all seemed to be going alright, just slow because of the internet connection and using the SpiceJet app it eventually took me though choosing a seat and meal and began possessing the payment, that was taking a while and by a while probably 30 mins but eventually it went though and I got a message to say it had come out of my account but at exactly the same time the SpiceJet app said it hadn’t gone though and to start again, I checked emails that usually come through immediately in case it was booked but nothing seemed to have come through and emails weren’t loading, when I eventually decided it couldn’t of been booked I went to find the flight was now fully booked for the 6th as well as the 5th and 7th. I tried ringing SpiceJet customer services to check and ask about the payment that went though but the phone signal here is also very poor so couldn’t get through. So I eventually gave up and asked the resort staff who have contacts presumably with working internet connections to book me a flight for the 6th and about an 1 later they had someone on the phone just confirming that I wanted it booked. So the ticket should turn up this evening and only a little more expensive but worth it to cut out the hassle of the struggle with a weak signal.

I’ve decided that if I’m going to keep up traveling the way I do at the moment, that being not very structured or planned and just a vague idea of where I’m heading next. I’m going to have to learn to do it without internet as many places I want to go I’m sure will present me with the same problem. It’s all still a learning curve for me at the moment. but I’m sure I’ll manage and it all adds to the adventure.

I’ve slowly been working my way though some of the Christmas junk food that I bought and have got through half a tube of jalapeño Pringles this afternoon and a couple of strawberry Oreos with which I amused myself by eating the center first, do any adults still do that or it just me ? I also finished the other pomegranate and an apple to get a bit of a balance.

The flight ticket for the 6th of January turned up in the evening, it’s actually a printout of the email confirming the flight but it looks ok, I will probably only know for sure when I turn up at the desk as I doubt whether I will have a good enough connection to download the airline app or check online between now and then and the airline don’t have my email or phone number.

When I got back from a meal this evening someone had nicked the table from the front porch which annoyed me as some people just don’t seem to have any consideration for others but you can’t always control what others do so I won’t let it bother me.

On the plus side I managed to reach my annual running target this morning of 2000 kilometres so I’m pleased with that especially as it has been hard to run my usual distances whilst in India.

Later on I’m going to see if I can get the ferry booked for the 5th so at least the transport onwards is tried up for after the New Year.

I’m going to try and get this posted this morning when then connection seems to be at its best.

So I should still be here for at least another week and will just try and take it easy and perhaps venture for a scuba dive but will see during the week.

I will just wish everyone a Happy New Year now and hope all goes well for you all in the new year.

Take care everyone

Bye for now. Chris