get on record.
Flight from SFO to FRA was not fun. I didn't get the lift I usually
get on departure, and it was a long flight. I had a window seat, but
there wasn't anything to see, so all it meant is I was pretty much
trapped in my seat. We got to Frankfurt just about on time, which was
good since I had 1:45 for my connection. There was a young Indian
woman on the same flights, and we helped each other find the right
gate. We were allowed into the gate area for just long enough to get
settled, and then herded out again, so we could enter as they
collected our boarding passes. After a short wait, they announced
that we should board the aircraft, with no controls, just a cattlecar
boarding. By now it was time to sleep, even with inflight internet
available, but there was a very unhappy and noisy child on the flight,
so it felt as if shreiking started everytime I dropped off, and
earplugs weren't enough. 22 hours after leaving SFO we arrived in
Chennai, and I found that Babs and Lot, DL7AFS and DJ7ZG, who have many
DXpetions as a couple, and who I've worked many times, were on the same
flight. A number of others turned up in the next hour or so,
including Frank DL4KQ, and Joe, AA4NN, who'd flown on a Air
France/Delta flight from Paris. We were met by a delegation from the
NIAR, who took us to a nearby hotel so we could get a couple of hours
of horizontal time. We spent a long time back at the airport getting
our baggage checked and struggling to pay our excess baggage fees (I
had 36 kilos with a 15k allowance, so had to pay 1050 INR (about 23
USD). Most of that overage was 4 plaques for the humanitarian effort
done by 5 Indian amateurs after the tsunami. W0GJ carried the 5th.
Andrea IK1PMR and Claudia K2LEO arrived from Turin at Chennai during
the night, too, after a very messy set of flights.
We stayed the first night at Ripples Resort, which had been selected
from afar, and turns out to be inadequate for us, because it's
surrounded by higher terrain, although in a bay opening to the sea. I
had garlic tiger prawns for dinner at the New Lighthouse, an outdoor
cafe in Port Blair, and then had puri with sabji (vegetables) for breakfast.
Andrea, Claudia and I went to town to change some more money and do a
bit of shopping. Soap was easy, but we couldn't find sunscreen, nor a
useful internet connection. Andrea really can't see very well, and
Claudia is very timid, and so I had to hold both their hands to get
across the road. They are very brave to do trips like these. The
Aberdeen Bazaar in Port Blair was heaving, but we weren't hassled at
all, in fact, were given help when it was clear we needed it, with
trying to catch a taxi. We ended coming back the 5 km in a motor
rickshaw, a small three wheeler.
Frank and Sara scouted out another place, the Megapode Camping Resort,
the budget companion to the Megapode Nest Hotel, where the main
functions of the VU4 Hamfest (the excuse for this operation) are being
held. This location is brand new (we're the first patrons), and is on
top of a hill on the east side of the island. The accomodations are
large and pretty comfortable fixed tents on concrete slabs and have
electricity for fans and lighting, and fixed complete plumbing. The
shower is a hand-held telephone style head, and an area of concrete
that drains under the edge of the tent. There's only cold water
(actually, at times the water is hot, because of the sun on the
pipes), but given the air temperature, this is only a very small
hardship. There's no airconditioning, and that's a bit hard. We're
all jet-lagged a bit (it's 12 1/2 hours difference from home), and
that and the heat are affecting us all.
Sara (VU3RSB, Sarath Babu Rayaprollu) is our "native guide", one of
the amateurs who was here for the tsunami, and is being very helpful
(if a bit intrusive at times). In fact, he just turned up where I was
sitting to try to write.
We did some antenna and coax cable assembly last night. We'd been
expecting cables with connectors, but were given a bag of connectors
and cut cable. So, we had to go to town to find a soldering iron that
would work. We ended up with a 250 watt iron, and I filed the tip to
match the PL-259 connectors. It gets them hot enough in short
seconds, but is big and hot enough to be a bit scary for those of us
more used to chip components these days.
I had "upma" for breakfast, sort of like couscous molded into a
pudding shape. And I've turned my choice for lunch over to the chef,
and told him I really like seafood and rice.
We've assembled some antennas, and are ready to go, we think, when our
licences go into effect in a couple of days.
I brought some water purification tablets, and am attempting to cut my
plastic bottle usage by reusing the bottles and purifying at least
every other liter. It's not always practical, but as long as we're
settled in here for a number of days, it'll work.
My lodging overlooks the water, and we see and hear
traditional-looking boats chugging along. Someday I'll actually get a
photograph. It also overlooks the coast road, so I get to see some
road traffic, too. Much less traditional.
I'm going to try to hire an Enfield motorcycle to ride around a bit.
I`d not realized that they drive on the left in India. Not
surprising, but makes me wonder where the transition between here and
mainland Europe is, and where else in mainland Asia this particular
bit of British influence is felt.
This morning (17th) I had igli (sort of a dumpling) samba (coconut
chutney) for breakfast, and last night vegetable fried noodles, for a
simple supper, after having crab marsala (much messy digging for the
crab meat) and garlic prawns with plain rice for mid-day dinner. In
this heat, and with my jet lag, that seems to work well for me. Dawn
arrives at 04:30 and I've been just awake for it, so far.
We got the RTTY station running last night, it's a K2 which isn't
optimal, but that's what we have. I had new computer teething
problems before I left, and ended with a couple of damaged radios as a
peripheral side effect. I'm ascribing much of my flaky mental state
to the antimalarial, since I had some effects here after taking
another dose. I'll continue to take it, since I'd rather have
nightmares and panic attacks than malaria.
Today's breakfast was dosa, a sort of crepe with a couple of sauces,
one of which had some vegetables in it, inculuding okra. Not my
favorite. It was also the first day of the hamfest, so we attended
the opening ceremonies. The Governor of the Andamans was there, and a
couple of Ministers, as well as the local MP, all of whom I was
introduced to. I got to give Bharati the plaques. I'd agreed
NOT to speak when we arranged this with the person running the