Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Rub-A-Dub-Dub Three Days In A Tub!

Map picture

When last I wrote, our ship was in the process of departing Myanmar to sail south along the coast of Thailand towards the Andaman and Nicobar Islands which are owned by India. You may recall that during our journey, our ship encountered rather severe weather from a newly developed cyclone that fortunately was heading away from us to the north and west. It had, however, left behind rough sea conditions that created some of the worst conditions on board a ship that Lisa and I have ever experienced.

It was, therefore, a great pleasure to put in to the small harbor of Port Blair. This was not our first time to visit India, but it was certainly our first time to visit these islands. In fact, prior to this cruise, I had never even heard of them, nor had I any idea that they would belong to India being so far west of that country.

I never want to say that visiting someplace was a waste of time because I so enjoy traveling that seeing new sites in the world truly tickles my neurons. However, if you were to ask me if I have any interest in returning to Port Blair the answer would be an unequivocal “NO!” In so far as I could determine, the primary reason that these islands played a significant role in history is that their remote location has made them a perfect spot to place a penal colony. Indeed, the first imprisonments date back to 1789, and while over the years they have been relocated and rebuilt, there remains still stand today.

After clearance procedures, we were met shore side by a small fleet of air-conditioned buses which drove us across town for approximately 20 minutes to reach the enormous 19th century structure known as the Cellular Jail. Built between 1896 and 1906 by the British, it held mostly Indian political prisoners in solitary confinement. We spent much more time there than I thought was necessary being educated on the extreme brutalities of the British during their occupation of India.

Departing the jail, we drove to a conference center where we were offered some light refreshments before proceeding to a museum which was not really a museum but was kind of an aquarium. If that makes sense to you, good luck, but it was in reality what we found. Plenty of time had been allocated to visit the attraction, which Lisa and I managed to complete in about 10 minutes. At this point, we returned to the ship for lunch. Since it was very hot and humid outside, and so far we had seen nothing of interest, we decided to skip the afternoon visit to the Anthropological Museum.

Since the islands today are no longer used for the thousand political prisoners, it appears that their primary purpose is to serve as home to significant military installations most of them Naval. In any event, I can say that I went, and saw, and don’t need to come back again, “thank you.” Sadly, the requirements for obtaining visas to visit India were quite burdensome and time consuming; so much so, that I paid a company to assist in the paperwork. In hindsight, that 4 hour visit was pretty costly.

Because of the difficult sea conditions outside the harbor which still existed, the ship canceled the following day’s activities which would have been going to an outer island for a day of swimming, snorkeling and diving. Instead, we departed Port Blair early on our way to Sri Lanka, and in this way, we could make the transit at a more comfortable speed since the sea conditions were still predicted to be unstable.

“Unstable” would be a kind word. We had just endured three very unstable conditions, which has not made our crossing very pleasant. I do not want to overstate the situation so as to imply that our passage is unsafe, since it is not. Part of the problem is the fact that the storm has churned up the waters and we are being subject to two different swells coming from two different directions making things rather turbulent. To add to the problem, this particular ship is the most unstable of any on which I have traveled. We are predicted to have improving conditions this afternoon as we turn the southern coast of Sri Lanka, and it can’t come too soon. Last night I was almost thrown out of bed, and if I can tell you a little secret – I have not had a shower in three days because it is simply not safe to try and take one where our room is located on the ship. Hence, I say we have spent three days “Rub-A-Dub-Dub in our room with sponge baths only.

Nonetheless I was able to work on my photographs during the last several days, and if you will go to the webpage, I think you will see that the portfolio has been updated. Lisa and I are both very much looking forward to reaching Sri Lanka tomorrow since this will be the first time that either one of us has visited this country.

They are starting to decorate the ship for Christmas so in spite of the warm weather, I am reminded of the holidays and would like to wish each and every one of you my best wishes.

Take care,


Link to photographs:

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