My sister Diana came to visit me over Chinese New Year. She had 2 weeks holiday so she planned one week in Dubai and for the other week she looked at visiting either Egypt, Maldives, or a host of other places but finally decided on the Seychelles because – get this – her flight from Beijing to Dubai was roughly US$1,000 and to add on the Seychelles leg from Dubai was only US$200 more. Not bad huh? Considering that I paid US$850 for the same flight that cost her $200, she got a great deal.
What the heck are the Seychelles? It is an archipelago of 155 islands in the Indian Ocean about 930 miles east of Africa and northeast of Madagascar. The red “X” below represents Dubai:
Diana flew direct from Beijing on Emirates (9 hours) and I met her at the airport where we continued our journey (4 hours) to Mahe – the main island of the Seychelles.
FLIGHT – I wasn’t very impressed with the Emirates flight at all. (1) There were serious air quality issues and the flight attendants had to go up and down the aisles spraying air neutralizer. (2) “Hot” towels were almost cold by the time they got to me and they were so scraggly and worn-looking that they were barely held together by what was left of the threads. (3) No I.C.E. system – I guess shorter flights do not have I.C.E. so no on-demand movie viewing. There were supposed to be 2 movies on the flight, I think, but due to some technical error, the first movie was repeated halfway through so there wasn’t enough time for a 2nd movie. (3) The blankets smelled grossly sour – imagine the smell of baby puke or smelly feet. Diana had to open up 3 blankets before getting to one that was least smelliest. Not pleasant at all. (4) Food was so-so. I had the omelette and Diana had a cheese sandwich. (5) Alcohol had to be requested – I know it was only 9am but I think Emirates is stingy with their alcohol.
IMMIGRATION – will skip this tale to be revisited another day. In short, the lines took forever and we were mistaken for either prostitutes or DVD ladies. This was the only blemish on our otherwise lovely trip.
GETTING FROM MAHE TO PRASLIN – I had planned the trip so that we would do the outer islands first and then come back to Mahe at the end. We got some rupees at the airport ATM, then hopped on a taxi to the ferry terminal (called a “jetty” here) in Victoria.
At the jetty we bought our tickets (40 Euros each, one-way) for the 50-minute boat transfer via catamaran to Praslin.
The Catamaran ferry was much nicer than I had expected. We must have gotten a new boat as all the seats were clean and bright, there were tray tables in front of each seat (like on an airplane), flat screen TVs to watch a movie (I don’t know what movie they were playing but it was horrible – like a “Look Who’s Talking” remake). The ride was quite gentle and the rocking actually put us to sleep.
PRASLIN – At last! We arrived in Praslin. After collecting our bags from the luggage hold, we went in search for a taxi. A nice lady saw that we were lost and called one for us.
We were expecting a rinky dinky little car like in Mahe but instead a huge SUV in the form of a Toyota Fortuner pulls up in front of us – leather seats, moon roof, fancy radio system and all. I checked for the presence of a “Taxi” sign on top of the SUV to see if we were indeed getting into the right vehicle and not some pimp-mobile. It even had new car smell! 100 rupees and 10 minutes later, we arrived at our guesthouse on the Western end of the island.
BEACH VILLA GUESTHOUSE – I had booked us into a B&B called Beach Villa for 90 Euros per night. It is located right on the beach at Grand Anse. “Anse” means beach or bay. We were shown to our room (clean, roomy) where we promptly dumped our luggage and then walked the 10 meters from our room to the beach to check out the sunset.
The ocean was so beautiful at Grand Anse – barely any waves and the sand was so soft and fine and clean. No seaweed at all except for some small dried up patches closer inland. We took in the fresh ocean air, enjoyed the sunset, and marveled at the amount of stars we could see.
After a quick unpack, and a bit of drama where Diana locked her passport into the room safe but couldn’t recall the password, we headed out in search of dinner. Good thing I remembered my flashlight as the streets were not lit up at all. We had our first meal at Britannia Inn – Diana had a crab curry (so yummy!!) and I had grilled job fish (so-so).
Locally brewed, Bavaria-style beer, “Eku”:
More on what we did in Praslin…