Until recently you needed a special visa endorsement to get into Port Blair and the Andaman Islands. This is due to the fact that this set of islands is a major Indian Navy zone. This island chain closer to Malaysia than India but it is clearly a strategic location for the Navy.
This is also the port with the most disorganized approach to welcoming cruise ship passengers. We were told that they need to see us all face-face. While this could have easily and better be done in the 7 month old wonderful terminal building, it had to be done in the hallway at exit from the ship. Needless to say the mood amongst some passengers was not good. We have heard since then that the ship management made concrete suggestions to the port authority for future cruise arrivals. There were lots of taxis and tuk-tuks available.
We had no tour planned, so we did what we are getting use to doing: get off and find a taxi. This time we hired a tuk-tuk for 3 hours with a short list of must-see items. Of course Gerrit (that’s me writing) stupidly forgot the provided map but in the end we managed just fine. Pat negotiated a suitable fee and off we went. Our first stop after an exciting ride was the Cellular Jail, a reminder of how wonderful (sarcasm intended) colonial occupation was. The building is in great condition with guides placed in strategic places for explanations. Entry was 15R each plus 25R per camera so not even $1 entry fee. Many of the cells (the whole jail was geared to solitary confinement) were open with working doors. Also restored was the gallows and the work shed. We thought 15 minutes would be enough but in the end 45 minutes were spent there, an hour would have been better as there were good exhibits in the Exit building that we skipped (we will look up the history at home).
We then toured the water sports facility, cricket club, cycling arena on the way to downtown Port Blair and the Aberdeen Market starting at the Clock Tower. This is a wonderful area that is a typical hustle and bustle Indian shopping area. We spot Procter & Gamble (although the contents probably didn’t have any of their products) as well as the ubiquitous material shops. Pat brushed up on her negotiating skills and came out with some more tops. We stopped somewhere else for some snacks and a few other items. We walked down the main street to another square near the bus station. There is located a large status to Ghandi. There were the usual cows wandering around as well. When we return home I will add some video to give you an appreciation of the din and intensity of traffic in India.