The Seychelles (2/3)

Second part of the Seychelles trilogy (click here for the first part, click on photo for larger view).

I am impulsive. I am not much of a planner and I am not too particular on details. Good thing I married my exact opposite.

I let Luke plan the whole Seychelles trip. As far as I was concerned, I was just happy to see the beach. Luke, on the other hand, spent hours on the internet, researching the best places to go, the best hotel to check into, the best activities, the best restaurants, etc. He made sure that we maximized our time and money there.

 Day 2, 1st December 2012 – Praslin Island

View from our hotel room

View from our hotel room

We woke up early that morning (even missed breakfast) and went to the port at Victoria. From there, we went aboard a Cat Cocos ferry going to the second largest island in Seychelles which is Praslin. The next time we’re riding the Cat Cocos, we’ll be there at least one hour before boarding. We nearly did not make it because we arrived about 15 minutes before the departure!

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Being born in a land locked province in the Philippines, I was very much anxious to ride the ferry for the first time. The one-hour trip was uneventful, and without any bouts of seasickness, thank God.

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While we were walking out of the dock, some locals tried to approach us and offered us a ride. For some reason, we didn’t entertain them.

As we approached the bridge, another gentleman approached us but this time, he was warm and welcoming. He told us his name – Jean Claude – and he told us that this is their business here, they would take tourists to the main attractions of the island. Luke seemed to be satisfied when Jean Claude had told us where he would take us. Luke said that that is exactly what he had in mind.

Praslin-map

It was about 10am and we were the first few tourists from Mahé who came to the island. Everywhere we went, we encountered just a few people. Jean Claude brought us to Valleé de Mai where we could see the coco de mer seed. This got us excited because when you google the Seychelles or wherever you are in the country, you will almost always see the coco de mer seed (or a shape that looks like a person’s bum) and trust me, it’s hilarious. It just reflects how light hearted people are in the islands.

The coco de mer

The coco de mer

706014_10150991933698039_825633289_o705386_10150991934668039_1313513347_oValleé de Mai Nature Reserve is magnificent. We walk around the paths and saw some unique palm trees and plants and wildlife that are only found in the island. Except for the paths, we almost felt like we were lost in the middle of an ancient forest. We were actually waiting for dinosaurs to come. We didn’t encounter any dinosaurs but lo, I saw a small snake, about two feet long and an inch thick.

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The entrance to the nature reserve is €15 per person.

After Valleé de Mai, Jean Claude took us to Pirogue Restaurant at Cote D’or for lunch. Luke and I swore to eat only seafood and vegetables during our trip because well, you won’t get fish any fresher and cheaper than in coastal regions.

I forced Luke to have octopus curry because we’ve never tasted one. Octopus tastes like squid (just saying). And I had the grilled parrotfish.

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The restaurant is located literally just across the beach. We strolled around while waiting for Jean Claude to fetch us.

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The last stop in Praslin is Anse Lazio. The Lonely Planet guide says that it is arguably one of the best beaches in the Indian Ocean. I don’t know about the other beaches in the Indian Ocean but Anse Lazio is definitely the most beautiful beach I’ve seen so far.

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Whilst Beau Vallon back in Mahé is a larger beach, it is still more crowded than Anse Lazio. The temperature of the water is just right, the sand (much like the sand in all the beaches we went to in Seychelles) is powdery white – like polvoron, the water is crystal clear, the sand on the sea bed is soft, and, it’s the first time I’ve seen a school of fish swim this close to the beach without any corals nearby. The fish didn’t mind us at all!478203_10150991936263039_755573345_o286661_10150991935993039_614618345_o

At 4pm, as much as we didn’t want to leave, Luke and I decided to get going. And right on cue, Jean Claude drove up the parking lot and went looking for us with a jungle bolo on one hand and two young coconuts on the other. There’s nothing like a refreshing drink of fresh coconut water after being spent on the beach.

Before leaving Anse Lazio, we paid a visit to the old local residents there, the tortoises. These are about 70 years old I think. Some of them live up to 200 years old!

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We headed out towards the dock. Much to our liking, Jean Claude drove very slowly. He said the Seychellois are not used to speed and haste. In Seychelles, they always take time to enjoy what they are doing.

Just before sunset, Luke and I settled to our seats in the ferry with a bottle of Seybrew. About 15 minutes into the trip back to Mahé, the heavens indulged us with the most amazing sunset I’ve seen in my entire life. Strangely, I thought about my grandmother and her death. I told God,

Let death be like this,

like a beautiful sunset,

bursting with hues of velvet and crimson and blood

like a picture that could neither

be captured nor be painted,

like a song that could not

be sung or be heard by the common ears

Let death be like this, then one would not be afraid.

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Day 3, 2nd December 2012 – Anse Major

On the third day, Luke prepped me to trek. I was a little bit hesitant because I know we’re not on our best shape but I didn’t want to ruin the moment so I just went for it.

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After a heavy breakfast and some heavy camwhoring, we packed some biscuits (because I didn’t know where to get some packed lunch) and water and headed towards Bel Ombre. The cab driver warned us to be very careful during our trek. He said to not leave anyone behind. We asked why. He replied, “well, let’s just say that some people wants easy money.”

Great. Thanks. I was relieved.

My knees were trembling as we stepped into the trail. I didn’t know what to expect but Luke was not at all worried so I calmed a bit.

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The one hour trek was not easy. There were moments when I had to keep my imagination and my nerves at bay, especially when we were walking on the side of a cliff/rock/mountain. One small step may lead to your doom. No kidding. I just reminded myself to not get too stupid.

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Don’t get me wrong though, the view is unmatched. It will drown all your fears (and your aching knees).

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Anse Major is the name of the beach that awaited us. It’s a beautiful beach but it was not worth it. The beach was rocky and within seconds after our first dip, I already had cuts and bruises.

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I loved the trek. I loved the adventure and the thrill of not knowing where the path will lead us and I loved the fact that it has a small freshwater lake but I will not go there again. LOL

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Interestingly, as I was lying on the beach thinking about how we are going to survive the trek back home with only a couple of biscuits, an old local lady hollered at me. She asked me if I wanted some lunch. I asked her how much would it cost me (thinking of how expensive it is around Seychelles). She replied, “no, no, no, it’s for free! I just want you to join us. We brought so much food and we didn’t want to carry no more on the trek back!”

It’s a miracle.

Her name is Sylvia. She’s an angel. She’s about 80 years old. She lived in the UK for about three decades until the old age got the best of her. She told me that when she came back to Seychelles from the UK, she could barely walk, “but look at me now! My daughter wouldn’t believe me if I told her I was able to trek to Anse Major!” I just love her.

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Upper right: Sylvia (the popping head on the right) and her friends.

The trek back to Bel Ombre was the same. The sights were wonderful and walking up and down the trail is surprisingly refreshing. By the time we arrived at the bus stop, we were sweating like pigs. I actually begged to Luke for us to go back to Beau Vallon. Aside from meeting Sylvia and the exciting trek, there’s nothing to see in Anse Major.

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Back at Beau Vallon: more Seybrew, Takamaka Rhum and dancing local girls.

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We spent the fourth and fifth days exploring the coastal areas of the whole Mahé Island, and the city of Victoria, one of the world’s smallest capital cities.

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