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A holiday we will go!
April 26, 2009 6:00 PM   Subscribe

Welcome to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, located to the right side of India, where you can take a ride on an Elephant on the Beach, swim with the local Fauna, and snorkel or scuba dive to your merriment.

You can also stay in one of the Hotels, and also have a look at one of the pictures that Nelson Mandela had hung in his Prison Cell, of an Andamanese Woman (picture is adult).
posted by hadjiboy (10 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
You might also want to mention that the vast majority of India's navy (including its subs) are based in the Andamans. One of the main reasons for this is that Burma has a set of three islands at the very Northern tip of the Andamans, which is has effectively leased out to the Chinese, who have a SIGINT listening station there. This report has a lot more info on the Burmese Coco Islands.

I spent a month on the Andamans back in 2006, and it is without a doubt one of the best places I've been to in the world. Beautiful beaches and tasty Indian food -- a wonderful combination.
posted by genome4hire at 6:10 PM on April 26, 2009


Also, an excellent previous post about the indigenous peoples of the islands.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:20 PM on April 26, 2009


Wow, geez, and I didn't even know about the Chinese listening Post there... shudder!
posted by hadjiboy at 6:22 PM on April 26, 2009


"Traditional knowledge handed down from generation to generation helped to save ancient tribes on India's Andaman and Nicobar Islands from the worst of the [26 Dec 2004] tsunami, anthropologists say.

But other isolated communities who moved to the islands from South East Asia centuries ago fared far worse than the indigenous peoples, evidence suggests."

posted by not_on_display at 6:56 PM on April 26, 2009


It's unfortunate that the only boats to the Andamans leave from Calcutta, Madras, and Vishakhapatnam. If you look at the map, it'd be a hell of a lot more convenient if they were allowed to leave from the West Coast of Thailand.

Having said that, I was once on an overnight bus with an American girl who's Indian boyfriend had just died of malaria while they were vacationing in the Andamans.
posted by gman at 6:59 PM on April 26, 2009


Excerpt [self link] from a documentary about first contact with the Jarawa.
posted by tellurian at 7:56 PM on April 26, 2009


Also home to the Sentinelese, one of the least assimilated tribal groups left on Earth.
posted by QuestionableSwami at 9:13 PM on April 26, 2009


It's unfortunate that the only boats to the Andamans leave from Calcutta, Madras, and Vishakhapatnam. If you look at the map, it'd be a hell of a lot more convenient if they were allowed to leave from the West Coast of Thailand.

In the aftermath of the 2004 Tsunami, I had interacted with a very nice gentleman associated with an NGO in Port Blair. He was telling me that there was apparently a very strong pressure on the government to open Port Blair up by setting up an immigration and customs checkpoint there; the tourist cartels obviously are salivating at the prospect of at least some of the Phuket crowd swinging by the Andamans. His organization, though, was against this for exactly that reason; they believed that, unlike Phuket, the ecology and the way of life for the tribals in Andamans is extremely fragile and will not withstand mass-tourism.

I would agree in many ways; as much as this is, clearly, lost revenue, I don't think India should open Andamans to the throbbing crowds from Malaysia's and Thailand's beaches. This is the last place where paleolithic tribes still survive; we could probably sacrifice Goa and Suratkal for all the beach-combing crowd. However, I'm saying this as a mainlander; entrepreneural Andamanese might reasonably disagree, of course, and being resident in South East Asia, I see where they are coming from - Port Blair a merely eight hours by ship from Singapore.

The other take-away I had from that chat (apart from an insight into the fragile ecology there and governance in union territories versus full-fledged states) was on how _vast_ the Andaman and Nicobar Island chain is. Most of us Indian folk growing up on the mainland don't usually have an idea about the territory's geographic extent; at most we see a few dots on the corner of a map with no clear context. In reality, the chain is rather spread out, as you can see in this map; assuming the island chain stretches between the 7th and 14th parallel, and taking 111 km as the distance between two consecutive latitudes, I'd guesstimate it to stretch for about 800 km. Not large, if you think in terms of distances between US cities for example, but being at the mouth of one of busiest shipping routes in the world, this makes the island-chain extra crucial in strategic terms.

That is the real reason for the Navy to invest so heavily in armoury there; this makes India a very big player in the Straits of Malacca indeed, and to be sure, we do patrol the seas there against piracy, among other things.

The distance also manifests itself in socio-cultural terms; I believe one of the problems they had after the tsunami was that some of the (not-so-primitive) Car Nicobarese had come to the Port Blair area for the first time and were feeling rather at sea, to make a bad pun. Speaking as yer average urban kid, I found it astounding; surely, you'd have visited your local state capital at some point in your lives?
posted by the cydonian at 1:08 AM on April 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Good point vis-à-vis keeping the masses away, the cydonian. I totally don't even know why I said what I did above - because I love any 'obstacle' which keeps a place looking and feeling like it should.
posted by gman at 5:51 AM on April 27, 2009


Speaking as yer average urban kid, I found it astounding; surely, you'd have visited your local state capital at at some point in your lives?
-- the cydonian
There's no point in acting all surprised about it. All the planning charts and demolition orders have been on display in your local planning department on Alpha Centauri for fifty of your Earth years, so you've had plenty of time to lodge any formal complaint and it's far too late to start making a fuss about it now.
-- Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy
posted by lowlife at 7:06 AM on April 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


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