Arriving in the Andaman Islands

On the 12th of April we arrived in Port Blair, located on Lower Andaman Island, in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.  We went to the dock to check about ferry tickets to Havelock Island, and there was a ferry leaving in just a few minutes, at 8:30am.  Unfortunately, we weren’t ready to head to Havelock Island just yet.  We still needed to use the internet and withdraw money from an ATM.

NOTE: The Andaman Islands are relaxing, EXCEPT for purchasing ferry tickets!  The ticket office is unorganized and chaotic!  Our guidebook indicated that you can’t buy tickets for same day travel, but you can if you get to the office by opening time at 9am. There is just a risk that you will wait in line so long that all the tickets will sell out or the office will close before you get a chance to purchase tickets.

Before running our errands we got in line to purchase ferry tickets.  I stood in the “Ladies Line” thinking it would be faster than the general lines.  I had to wait half an hour for the ticket counter to open, and even once it opened it still took an hour for me to purchase the tickets!  Some of the women thought they were entitled to cut to the front of the line, and there were even men from the nearby line leaning over the dividing rail and reaching into our window to buy tickets!  There were also other foreigners in front of me slowing down the line.  One girl hadn’t realized that you have to fill out a form with the destination, date, and your names before you can purchase tickets.  Two other girls were traveling to restricted Islands that required extra paperwork for which they had to make photo copies of their passports and other documents, while they were at the front of the line.  When I neared the ticket window there were two local women trying to buy tickets, but the ticket clerk had already told them “no.”  I couldn’t understand what he had said, but perhaps the boat they wanted was full or canceled.  They still kept their forms and money shoved through the window and pestered the ticket clerk, who was clearly annoyed by them.  The female security guard yelled at them a couple times, but didn’t remove them from the line.  They persisted for at least 20 minutes, but finally gave up.  It was a test in patience, but we were able to get tickets for that afternoon, departing at 12:30pm.  Next we found an internet cafe.  Then we searched frantically for an ATM that would accept my debit card.  We tried two banks before hiring a rickshaw driver to take us to a third.  We tried all three banks on Lower Andaman Island, but none of them worked.  It was almost time to board our 12:30pm ferry, but we had read that there were no ATM’s on the smaller islands, and we didn’t have enough cash to pay for our rooms and food.  We finally went back to State Bank of India and tried the other ATM than the one we had tried the first time around.  Thankfully it worked, but we weren’t sure if we’d make it to the dock in time.  Off we sped in the rickshaw, ran to where the boat was, and made it just in the nick of time.  Whew, that was a close one!

Two hours and 45 minutes on the ferry, and then we were on Havelock Island.  Time to relax!

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