04 Mar - 23 Mar 2011 Havelock

South Asia
Republic of Incredible India, the world's biggest democrazy
Andaman & Nicobar Islands
Havelock Island
Beach No. 5
Gold Star Beach Resort +919476015038
Basic and adequate beach bungalow with private terrace and attached bathroom, for only INR 600.- or US$ 13.30 per night. Of course, no wifi. Indifferent staff.

Click below for an interactive road map of the Gold Star Beach Resort on Havelock Island and for directions:

Living the good life of blissful beach bums at Beach No. 5 on Havelock’s east coast, a low-budget bamboo-shtetl where the Star of David reigns and where kosher or not-so-kosher Israeli junk-food menus are thankfully written in Hebrew (e.g. “Israel Salad”, “Sabich”, "Hummus in Pita"), and enjoying: (i) the white and clean sand beaches, albeit infested with millions of sandflies, (ii) the turquoise and shallow lagoons, albeit packed with lumps of broken coral, resulting in all but impossible swimming during low tide, and (iii) the green tropical rainforests, albeit dotted with hundreds of rubbish dumps, consisting mainly of thousands of empty water bottles from the top seller Bisleri (for which independent tests revealed levels of pesticide concentration up to 100 times higher than EU norms).

DM Konni: Donning my scuba gear, diving with Barefoot Scuba’s rather inexperienced PADI instructor Martina (INR 1,575.- or US$ 35.- per single dive from a converted dungi fishing boat; dive sites: Johnny’s Gorge, The Wall and Aquarium), floating over desolate coral cemeteries in this previously pristine marine environment, witnessing at first hand the death knell of the planet’s coral reefs (the worst coral die-off that I have ever seen, driven by human-induced global warming but still unashamedly denied by the unscrupulous sales reps of the dive industry and explained as eternal natural cycle where the corals would recover within the next few years) and learning that the sea-surface temperature had risen by almost 5 degrees only ten months ago (from a long-term average of 28°C to a peak of 33°C) which changed a once colourful u/w world into a monochromatic tristesse; good luck Terra Titanic...

Exploring Havelock's picturesque sandy beaches, taking more than one dip and snorkelling (i) off the wild and hard-to-reach Elephant Beach aka Hathi Tapu in the northwest of the island which once had a rich coral reef formation (now bleached and dead but still with plenty of colourful reef fish since it may take up to three years for some fish species to be affected by the loss of their coral habitat), (ii) off the scenic and famous Radhnagar Beach aka Beach No. 7 on the island’s west side, a 2-km long arc of perfect and untrodden white sand backed by stands of 30-m high mahua trees with trunks that grow along the ground for many metres before they begin to grow vertically, and (iii) off the rather remote Kalapathar Beach, with an old elephant training camp, in the east of Havelock Island.

"And everybody knows that the Plague is coming 

Everybody knows that it's moving fast 
Everybody knows that the naked man and woman 
Are just a shining artifact of the past 
Everybody knows the scene is dead 
But there's gonna be a meter on your bed 
That will disclose 
What everybody knows..."

Enduring a week-long period of almost uninterrupted downpours with a daily rainfall average of about 200 mm during this supposedly dry northeast monsoon season (the average precipitation for Port Blair for the whole month of March is less than 30 mm) and a dense blanket of clouds without a single ray of sun as if the first nuclear winter had already begun, hearing in the news about a massive offshore quake which had caused a devastating tsunami and a major emergency in an atomic power plant in Fukushima/Japan (25 years after Chernobyl/Belarus) and wondering if the ongoing rains are already a radioactive fall-out from Japan, trying to keep sane on this lost planet with the help of an almost unlimited supply of VAT 69 (INR 615.- or US$ 13.70 per 700-ml bottle at the local wine shop near the island jetty) and listening to Peter Schilling’s Die Wueste Lebt.

Matt: Suffering a severe bout of moquito-borne dengue fever aka breakbone fever (my symptoms: flu-like fever, nausea, rashes, bone pain, nose bleeding), lasting several days, and being treated symptomatically with Konni's tender, love and care, but not with aspirin since this could worsen the bleeding. 

Saying goodbye to Havelock, a heavily commercialised but still nice enough must-go place on the Indian part of the ever-developing Banana Pancake Trail (with acquisitive locals, bland pseudo-Indian food and a rubbish-strewn environment), and embarking on MV “Rangat” (fare for non-islanders: INR 195.- or US$ 4.30 per person in seat class, one way) for a pleasant boat ride through Ritchie’s Archipelago to Long Island (island tax for foreigners: INR 20.- or US$ 0.45 per person).

Click below for more blog posts about scuba diving in Southeast Asia
22 Feb - 10 Mar 2013 Pulau Tioman
26 Sep - 24 Oct 2013 Tanjung Karang
20 Mar - 07 Apr 2012 Iboih Beach
16 Aug - 15 Sep 2011 Tanjung Karang
04 Sep - 05 Sep 2011 Lebo

Click below for more blog posts about the Andaman Islands
26 Mar - 30 Mar 2011 Port Blair
25 Mar - 26 Mar 2011 Rangat
23 Mar - 25 Mar 2011 Long Island
02 Mar - 04 Mar 2011 Port Blair

Click below for a summary of this year's travels
2011 Map Konni & Matt

Recommended books - click below for your Amazon order from the United States:

For Amazon schnaeppchens from Germany, please click here
For Amazon bargains from Canada, please click here
For Amazon bargains from the United Kingdom, please click here