Published: May 13th 2006May 13th 2006
Hello from Mauritius!
We'll warn you that this blog might not be as exciting as usual since we spent the week on the beach in Mauritius and it was a "vacation from the vacation".
Most of you probably haven't ever heard about Mauritius, like us, when our travel agent told us that we would have a lay over there on our way to Asia. But we looked it up and it is a small island in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar and we figured why not spend a week there because when else would we get to go to Mauritius.
We had tried booking an all-inclusive thing from Africa and that didn't pan out since we are now in a dispute with the travel agent and VISA (its a really long story....and we are in the right). So instead we booked a rental car and decided we would do it ourselves, driving around the island and staying at different beach places as we went.
The island was used as a plantation island and is still used heavily to produce sugar and textiles. The population is 1.2 million, made up of mostly Indian and
Chinese, although the French did colonize the island and French is still the official language. It is a really intersting mix and clash of cultures when you have boulangeries beside curry stands. Every one also spoke english, so don't worry girls, I didn't have to bring out my rusty French, but I thought of you guys while eating my pain au chocolat!
Flic en Flac
The first beach we stayed at was really lovely and since it was Sunday, there were loads of local families picnicing on the beach and swimming in the water. Really nice to see locals enjoying their beautiful beach and not just us tourists. The landscape around Flic en Flac is pretty with sugar cane fields everywhere and the occasional sheer cliff rising up from the fields. I had a pretty nasty cold for the first few days we were there, but nothing sun and sand couldn't cure.
We headed up to the north part of the island and the island's most touristy area. We stopped on the way in Port Louis, the capital, which has a pretty waterfront. It also was very congested and we laughed at their version of Silicon
Valley - called "Cyber City" - consisting of two futuristic buildings. We also stopped at Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam (yes, that's a mouthful...he was the first President after independence...and everything is named after him) Botcanical Gardens. They are beautiful gardens, completely free, and it was again nice to see locals enjoying the park as well as tourists. The biggest draw to the Gardens is the giant Amazonian lilly pads and they really are cool. We really wanted to try and float on them, but decided against it....
In the north, we stayed at a lovely beach, Trou aux Biche. Paul went scuba diving and had a great time. The highlight was seeing a bunch of eels and cool fish that he tried to describe to me... We had some lovely seafood dinners overlooking the water while we were there and even got to see a wedding.
The East Coast
The east coast is said to have some of the best beaches on the island, so we wanted to check that out. In particular, Ile de Cerfs is very well known. We headed out to the island and it was a great place for lunch and some lounging around.
Giant Lilly Pads
At Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Gardens.
Paul's 26th birthday was on Thursday and we decided to treat ourselves to the beautiful Hilton on the island (on points of course). We wanted to get full advantage of our time there, so we checked in at 10 am and didn't leave till 4 pm the following day....Mom and Dad you taught me well! As we have travelled and stayed at the odd Hilton along the way, we have continually been impressed at the treatment we have gotten due to Paul's Diamond Status. It didn't fail us in Mauritius and we were upgraded to a suite with....5 rooms (bedroom, sitting room, 2 bathrooms, dressing room + a huge patio)....2 TVs....4 telephones....free t-shirts....fruit basket....petite fours. Our front desk guy joked that Paul must be the Prime Minister's son when he found out we were travelling for 6 months. We didn't break it to him that we don't usually quite make it to the Hilton! We maxed out our time there and went waterskiing, wakeboarding, paddle boating, sailing in the hobi cat, lots of lounging, and walks on the beach. It was the first time either of us had waterskiied in the ocean and it was so cool to
see the turquoise water and coral beneath your skiis.
I also used the opportunity to use the hotel's spa and had my eyebrows threaded for the first time. This is the Indian way of removing hair and it sounds just like it is - they take regular thread and somehow pull out your hairs. Well it was the most painful thing ever and Paul thought I was having a lovely time at the spa when really it was 20 minutes of pure torture. I think I'll stick to waxing and plucking!
For Paul's b-day night, we went our for a nice dinner and of course cake. Not a bad way to spend your b-day, although I don't know how mine in August will ever compete.
We are now in Singapore and have a few days here before we fly to Borneo for a week and then we fly back to Malaysia and start working our way north.
Happy Mother's Day!
There are more photos below