New Year 2020 πŸŽ‰on Havelock island πŸŒ΄

This morning felt like a small series of victories as I had reached my run mileage target for the year and then over breakfast of banana pancakes and honey and a black coffee, I was able to get enough of an internet connection to post last weeks blog ( which at one point I thought had disappeared ) and also download the indiGo flight app that I didn’t expect to be able to do.

I then walked to the Jetty to book the ferry for the 5th January to get me to Port Blair and eventually was successful ( although at a later time than I would of liked ) and after the booking offices struggles with their connection and a problem at head office they eventually got it to work, so that’s the flight and ferry booked for the onward trip to Calcutta.

Although the internet has been down totally at the resort today I managed a connection at my usual restaurant this evening that allowed me to get 1 night booked in Port Blair and 3 nights in Calcutta via the Booking. com app so I was pleased to get that done this evening.

With a short walk along the beach this afternoon today has been a pretty chilled out day but I still managed to get more accomplished than I thought I would.

I still need to research the best way to get up to Darjeeling from Calcutta ( train doesn’t go all the way as it’s too hilly ) but I’ve got time to sort that out even if I do it when I get to Calcutta.

On the Saturday morning I walked to the islands main junction and eventually found the shop where I could top up my Indian phone network as the 3 month contract runs out on 1st January, and after a bit of a wait for him to turn up he didn’t take long to extend my contract by another 2 months using his mobile.

I then went from there to Radhanagar beach by bus and this time a couple of families from Europe were also using the bus to get there.

It was a little more cloudy today than previously so that was actually nice on the beach but between the clouds is was still very hot , I spent a few hours on the beach before heading back on the bus. One guy with his family asked where I was from while I waited for the bus and we got talking, they were from Calcutta and were interested in what I thought of India when I said I’d been traveling around for 3 months now.

By the time I got back I felt usually tired ( must be all the sun ) but as the power was out in the area again lying under the fan was out of the question, I’d of been more annoyed if I’d payed for air conditioning but the whole area seems to be without power a few times a day at the moment.

At dinner with a brief internet connection I found out that my booking for Port Blair had been cancelled due to not being able to complete pre payment with no connection but this didn’t surprise me and I’ll try to book something again closer to the time or if worse comes to worse try and camp out at the airport overnight.

This mornings run took me via the ATM and the jetty to take a picture of the bus timetables, then at breakfast I may of managed to book accommodation for the 5th in Port Blair, but only time will tell.

After breakfast I aimed to get the bus to Kalapatha beach. and it arrived just about the time it should of, the ride to the beach was a bit scary and I needed two hands to hang on as it’s a single track road and the driver had his foot down so at times it felt like we were going over. But we made it in one piece. It was nearly high tide when I got there and had to navigate though the water at some points to find a quiet bit of beach a little further along from the main crowd.

After a couple of hours and a lunch of a coconut and a couple of small bananas I decided to start walking back along the beach not being sure how far I could get as the tide was still quite high but I got back to the resort ok in about an hour.

Power failures continue to happen a few times a day but always early evening, I suppose because demand is greatest as people return from their day out. I’ve gotten used to them now but there’s been a big influx of people come in today for the New Year that I don’t think expected them, luckily most places have generators that at least provide emergency lighting. I’ve seen a couple of places that are advertising New Year’s Eve party’s and would imagine they would be affected by the power cuts.

As I was going to bed I spotted a cockroach on the wall in the room and it’s strange how the sight of something like that can start you reminiscing about the ” good old days ” , it was only probably only about 2 1/2 to 3 inches long but the biggest I’ve seen here in India since I got here but still not half the size of the ones I’d seen in Belize Central America.

As I lay in bed it didn’t bother me that there was a cockroach in the room as in Belize they would wake you up at night by running over your face, generally you would sleep with just your face uncovered and the only way you could tell if it was a cockroach or a large spider ( never saw a small spider in Belize as they were probably eaten by the large ones ) was the speed they moved over your face, this was a bit unnerving for the first month or so but most people got used to it, although some didn’t and would wake everyone up with their screaming for their whole tour of 6 months or if they were lucky 12 months.

The guy that had moved in the hut next door started snoring while I lay there and that just kept the Belize theme going, as we lived in 16 man Nissen huts and every hut had at least 1 snorer, ours was a Scottish armourer named Dougie who would frequently find himself sleeping on the floor in the morning because someone had tipped him out of bed in an attempt to stop him snoring ( it was never me Dougie, someone always beat me to it ! )

Sorry I could go on forever about Belize stories but I’ll stop there for now.

We also had the generator here running all night because of power cuts but at least it drowned out the snoring from next door and there was also the first rain since I’ve been here in the Andaman Islands, it arrived during the night and proved to me that the roof doesn’t leak at least.

At breakfast I saw a Memorial Day biker rally go past that I had seen advertised the previous day at the Jetty starting at 7 o’clock that I had thought about going to watch but then decided to have a bit of a lie in instead this morning, Not too sure what it was about but there were a few truck loads of people ( men and women on separate ones ) and maybe 15 bikes and scooters flying Indian flags and a police escort.

In the restaurants here I’ve noticed a few people with Kindles or other Ereaders and think that’s a definite for traveling now as the 2 books I had bought with me were finished in the first month, so I’ll look into ordering one off Amazon when I get to Calcutta. I may even be able to do this blog on it which would be easier than my phone.

The bus timetables that I took photos of have proved useful as I’ve been able to predict approximate times from them.

I feel that if I come back to India in the future which is quite possible I should try to make more of my time on the Andamans by organizing ferry’s and accommodation in advance as it has proved quite difficult, Neil island would of been nice to spend a couple of days on and perhaps some day trips to smaller islands.

I got the bus after breakfast this morning straight from near the resort all the way to Radhanager beach which saved me the walk to the junction and spent a few hours walking along the beach and sun bathing, Radhanagar is such a large and relaxing beach to be on as you can always find space.

I started New Years Eve off with my final run of the year and looking back at this year starting in Toronto in the cold and snow but having a great community in Tribe fitness to get me though the winter and reach my aim of being fit for the World Police and Fire Games that took place in China in August and then my running year finishing out here in the heat of the Andaman Islands whilst traveling around India. So although short runs to finish off the year, I’ve had no major injuries, and lots of good memories in regards to running this past year.

Before breakfast I went for a walk along the beach, it can be unusually quiet with the tide a long way out you can’t even hear the sound of the waves just the rustling of leaves in the trees if there is a breeze which there was this morning.

I’ve made no real plans for New Years Eve apart from going over to Radhanagar beach later for the sunset, there are a few parties going on that I’ve seen advertised but I’m to old now to want to spend the New Years Eve surrounded by strangers, at one time I would of enjoyed it but now family and friends are the people you want to be around on those occasions.

So in the afternoon I got the bus to Radhanagar beach with the intention of watching the sunset on 2019 from there and then watching the sunrise on 2020 from the other side of the island in the morning. Actually the beach was fairly quiet especially when you get away from the approx 100 metres of beach where you first go on to it.

after dinner I came back to the resort and sat on the porch ( with a dog at my feet ) in the dark and reflected a little on the last year and how lucky I am to have my health and be able to do what I love and travel. I do feel fortunate to have an amazing family and two great kids although adults now that make me proud, as well as people I’ve meet along along the way that I consider friends.

In the morning I was on the beach before it was light along with a few people that looked like they had been there all night to watch the sunrise on 2020, I hope that the year is good to you all. I then got in my first run of the year taking it easy and enjoying the nearly empty roads.

As it was still too early for breakfast I went for a walk along the beach finishing at my usual restaurant for a breakfast of banana porridge and honey and a black coffee.

I managed to send a few New Year messages after breakfast once the power had come back on and organised a scuba dive from a boat tomorrow morning which I’m a little nervous about as I’ve only done a resort course in Cancun in the 80s before and messed about at the bottom the Falklands pool with some Navy divers that had taken me under their wing in the 90s.

I was going to go over to Radhanagar beach in the afternoon but changed my mind as it had clouded over and I had received an email to confirm my hotel booking for Calcutta and knowing how long it can take an email to download here and make a payment if that’s what they wanted I decided on a walk along the beach this side of the island then down to the junction to pick up a couple of things and back to resort to try to sort the email which took a couple of hours all together to download and pay a deposit but I’m glad I got it done.

On the walk to the junction I tried to figure out why I was so anxious about the scuba dive tomorrow as at one time it wouldn’t of bothered me in the slightest and I’d of jumped at any opportunity like that without even thinking about it, but now I’m older I’m so much more risk adverse, in my twenties I generally didn’t think I’d see thirty unless I changed but somehow I made it and calmed down a bit in the post thirty years. I think the fact that i worry a bit more about the consequences of the things I do now is a good thing and will allow to continue my travels but with less risk to myself and probably others. ( I guess I’m just loving life as it is at the moment ). I’m sure I’ll be fine tomorrow after all what’s the worst that could happen ?

I had arranged to be picked up at the resort at 6 o’clock and was just starting to think no one was going to turn up when someone on a scooter pulled up about 6.20, it had been quite awhile since I was on the back of a bike, in fact I remember it being a trip from Stanmore park in London to Windsor on the back of a friends Honda 750 who I thought rode like a bit of a lunatic, but the dive centre was only 5 minutes down the road and this guy didn’t give me a white knuckle ride.

There were-the usual forms to fill out and photocopies of passport and visa to be done, before watching a short safety film and then be fitted out with necessary kit it was then over to the beach to go though the drills once again in waist deep water, there were 3 others doing the boat dive along with me. We each had an individual instructor with us all the time, with the weight belt and tank it felt quite heavy until we were it the water and some air added for buoyancy to the vest, we went though all the drills and hand signals again in the water and I initially had to come up briefly when I first went under as I got used to the feeling of breathing underwater again but I was fine and we went though the rest of the signs, clearing the mask and regulator and equalising ear pressure drills ok then waited for others to finish theirs before boarding the boat to take us out to deeper water.

At the dive site we watched one instructor as he demonstrated entering the water by rolling in off the side while holding the regulator and mask with one hand, ( I had visions of my mask and regulator coming off ) they motioned me to go in next and to my surprise there were no problems mask and regulator stayed in place and I was in the water breathing normally. We waited for the others then began to descend, I had to equalise the pressure a couple of times going down but felt relaxed and was able to enjoy the experience, we went down to about 12 metres on a small reef for probably around 30 mins which is longer than I expected, we were basically guided along by the instructor who pointed out various things and kept checking we were ok. There were lots of small tropical fish as well as shoals of small fish that we went though, the water wasn’t as clear or reef as colourful as the blue hole off Belize and the Carribein but was a great experience and something I would do again perhaps to level one next time I get the chance.

When we were all back on the surface we boarded the boat again and I felt unusually queasy as I got back onboard but managed not to throw up over the side but I could see another guy felt the same as he got out of the water and did throw up. We headed back in and got rid of our kit and were shown the photos that were taken but as I didn’t have an android phone or memory stick they said they’d email them to me so hope to get them though later. By the time I had walked the mile or so back towards the resort I felt well enough to have some breakfast and although only toast and jam and coffee it was enough.

In the afternoon I got the bus over to Radhanagar beach again and as I felt I hadn’t done much in the way of excerise in the morning decided to walk the length of the beach a few times then found a place to settle and watch the sun start to go down, catching the bus back at 5 is just about right then to get a quick shower and get some food near the resort.

It felt good to be up early and get a short run in the morning then over the road for breakfast. I had noticed the guy that runs this resort struggling a bit the last couple of days with guests complaining about power cuts, WiFi, and rooms not being ready, the girl that worked here when I first got here and seemed to be the main organiser is now working in another hotel down the road so I think he’s having a hard time at the moment, it’s a shame cause he’s very helpful, I hope it gets better for him.

After breakfast I wandered down to the dive centre from yesterday as emailed photos had not come through by this morning so I bought a memory stick from in town ( another thing to add to list of travel essentials in future ) but made the mistake of not carrying enough cash on me but he let me off being 8 rupees short of the 700 asking price and got the whole of the dive trip loaded onto that.

Walking down to the main junction this morning I past a sports pitch and the local school were obviously out on recess, I noticed amongst them 2 teachers both carrying what in the UK we would of known as canes and if you went to school in the 60s or 70s may have had one used on you, in Canada it was the strap and I experienced that a couple of times. Now I’m not saying that I agree with it ( it could never be bought back, solicitors in the west would have a field day ) but perhaps disciple in schools hasn’t disappeared from everywhere in the world and Indian children of school age seem very polite and well behaved. ( Just saying ).

In the afternoon at high tide I managed to get far enough out into deeper water to have a decent swim at the beach across the road from the resort, you can walk out around 3 to 4 hundred yards and still stand up providing your not trying to walk on coral, even in the boat yesterday probably a mile off shore the bottom was only 12 metres.

My worldwide adapter that I had with me finally couldn’t cope any longer and burnt out this afternoon with all the power outages and a generator that seems ungoverned when it comes to output as you have to switch the ceiling fans off completely when the generator is started as even on the lowest setting the fans try to take off. Just made me think of the fire hazards these huts are really and if I’d have enough time to drag my bag with passports money and tickets out quickly enough ( I’d have to try but not stupid enough to risk life and limb I hope ). Oh well a trip to pick up an Indian USB adapter tomorrow, lucky I’ve got a fully charged power back with me.

Friday is a big day for Indian families coming out here for the weekend and one guy started talking to me as I sat out the front about my thoughts on India and where I was from then returned with his daughter to take a picture of himself and I together I got one of us together as well that I’ll put up on the site.

This morning I got my last run in the Andaman Islands done as I don’t want to pack wet kit tomorrow for my onward journey to Port Blair and Calcutta.

As this is my last full day on Havelock island I plan to visit Radhanagar beach one last time and then make sure I’ve got everything sorted for tomorrow.

Although Havelock island may not of been paradise it’s been a great place to spend Christmas and the New Year and although l’d like to have seen more of the islands this time I’ve enjoyed it.

Well I’m going to wrap it up there for now and try to get this posted online.

I’ve got 3 days initially booked in Calcutta so unless I extend it I may be either in Darjeeling or on my way there next time you hear from me, it’s somewhere I’d always planned to visit and should be quite different to most places I’ve been so far.

So until next time take care

Regards Chris

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