Over the last couple of days we have learned a lot about how to get around on Havelock Island. The only mode of transportation commonly mentioned on the internet is the auto rickshaws that ply the main routes looking for fares. There are loads of these little vehicles and they are quite efficient.You can use them to get places easily when you want and to the western world crowd, they are cheap. The prices seemed to be fixed and the drivers won’t bargain. The fares they charge are 30Rs for a ride from the jetty to the market or from the market to Beach 5 area, 50Rs to go from Beach 5 to the jetty and 300Rs return to go to Beach 7 (Radhanager Beach), this will go up to 400Rs after 4pm.
As I said, Debbie and I have been utilizing other modes of travel. Today we had a day off diving and our main goal was to get to Ranhanagar Beach. It is too far to walk so we thought we would spring for an $8 rickshaw ride. Then I thought about using the local bus. We have not been on a bus in India and I was sure it would be worth the ride. We asked at the desk at our hotel and the fellow said buses ran every ½ hour and the fare would be 15RS. Total return would be $1.25 for both Debbie and me. Now $8 does not sound like much for a cab ride but when you get here your perspective changes and you take offense at excessive charges, so local bus it is. On the way to the village to catch the bus we ran into out dive buddies and they too were headed to Beach 7 for the morning. I told them about the local bus and they were intrigued enough to join us. Along comes a third mode of travel that is rather hidden from the tourists. The shared taxi, which in physical form is a minivan, and when I say mini I mean mini, they are not much bigger than my Honda Fit but are in the form of a van and in India they can seat 9 or 10 paying passengers plus the driver. Anyway, we waved down one of these vehicles and they charged us 10Rs ($.25) per person for a ride to the market where we could catch the local bus. These shared cabs also ply the main routes and once you know they exist all you have do is flag one down. They will pick you up and drop you off where you want.
At Village 3 (the market) we stood at the bus stop and within 10 mins the bus arrived, the four of us tourist types loaded and we were off. We were the only tourists on the bus. The ticket man came around and when T went to pay she hand the man 60Rs, 15 for each of us. He handed her back 22 of the rupees and 4 tickets that said 9Rs fare. What a deal, $.25 each, so Debbie and I spent 36Rs return instead of the 300 we had expected to pay, the amount we saved bought our lunch today. If you pay attention and don’t always default to the easiest solution you will soon have saved enough money to extend your trip by a day, do that enough and you can stay an extra week.
The ride was a gas. I don’t know if T & M ride buses much but they headed straight for the back seat. Now, local Indian buses are not in the best of condition, in fact they are not in very good condition at all, I’m sure they would not be allowed on the road in Canada. Coupled with the Indian roads we had quite a trip. It was about as bumpy as our boat rides have been the last 3 days but the bumps were much more abrupt and each bump was magnified because we were 2 meters behind the rear wheels. The ride took about 15 mins and when we rounded the last corner there at the end of the road the most alluring azure sea. When we walked the last 50M of roadway and strode out on to the beach we had in our vision what has been rated as one of the most beautiful beach in the world. I don’t know how close that rating is but it sure is great beach. It is a couple of kms. long and 50M deep with wonderful soft, white sand that extends into the water as far as you can walk. Debbie and I spent 3 hrs. in and out of the water, playing in the waves and just chilling in water so clear you could count the sand grains.
We had other things on the agenda but this laid back island has grabbed us and we decided to put our pressing tasks off until tomorrow.
We have been trying to frequent different restaurants to see what the island has to offer. Last night we thought we would drop into the Café del Mar, at the Barefoot Dive Centre. Had time to spare prior to the 6:30 opening so we walked 25 or 30 mins. from the Emerald Gecko. We arrived and were at a table waiting for the restaurant to open and rushing into the restaurant comes 3 fishermen, M our dive buddy was among them and the was carrying a 20kg traveli. He spent his afternoon of the day off diving pursuing his passion, fishing. He had great success and brought back a big fish for dinner. Part of the trip deal was any fish caught went to the restaurant to use as meals for the patrons but he got 2 free meals, one for T and one for himself. M had a smile ear to ear. It’s funny how even though we had no plans to meet our dive group,we four managed to spend a good part of our off day together. We nabbed a ride in an auto rickshaw on the way back from the restaurant.
It was a good day, a relaxing day, we needed it and using the different modes of transport was a good way of tying our activities together.