Friday, October 28, 2011

Mauritius Travelogue - July 2010 - continued


Our next destination was a ship making factory. Here models of ship were made out of wood. The efforts taken to make small parts of the ship was worth appreciating. I learnt that the white cloth to make the winds of the ship was dipped in tea solution to give them that dull finishing. Every detail of the ship was carefully crafted and they looked very real like. Ashish was specially fascinated with a model Harley Davidson and we bought that as a memento from this place. We also bought a small ship model for our showcase. Another fascinating thing in that factory was colorful globes. They were lit from within and the bright radium colors made it really exciting for me. But since they were too bulky and costly, we did not get one for our showcase.

Then there were a couple of branded stores from Boss, LV. We met Vritika and Aditya the love birds there. Though our private taxi was very comfortable but we still missed our group in the bus whom we met the first day. Anyways, next destination was an Indian temple and a Sacred lake, the Grand Bassin/Ganga Talao which we dropped due to lack of time. There was a nice view point from where we saw a beautiful view of Mauritius with a huge water line and mountains kissing the water. The sky and the water became one at the horizon.

Then we had lunch in an Indian restaurant where fortunately we got very simple home like rice/dal food. After a nice hearty simple meal, we went to see the "Trou aux Cerf". It was told to us that this was a dead volcano which is dead from last 10-20 years. When we went there, I expected at least something close to a volcano, but this was just a small crater in the middle of the valleys where rain water was collected. Though it was disappointing as a volcano, it was a good view point and the climate was amazing up there. We saw couple of small water falls and Black river gorges in the way to Chamarel. Chamarel is a 7 colored rock garden and that was another disappointment. The 7 colors which they mention were maroon, black, Red, brown, yellow and steel blue types, which was nothing distinct or great to see. Somehow it reminded me of the butterfly garden we visited in US in the Museum of Science which was a small balcony with 10-15 butterflies in it and we paid some 80 $ to see that. Anything and everything can be sold if the marketing team is strong. The only exciting thing in the rock garden was the giant tortoise which was a new species for Khushi. She has 3-4 tortoise toys which she was able to correlate with this giant turtle I suppose.

Our South tour was over and we went back to the hotel. After resting for couple of hours we realized we haven't booked for our dinner tonight. Yes, many of these big hotels have this booking system. You have to book in advance where you want to have your dinner. You have a choice of Italian, Indian, French, Chinese etc. So this time we tried to book in the Italian restaurant where we got the booking after someone else cancelled. The Italian restaurant, "La Faya" is located near the Nirvana area where kids below 16 years are not allowed for all valid reasons. Nirvana is an exclusive area for honeymooners and love birds with a big swimming pool and exclusive beach area for them. You can drink and chill out around the pool bar with complete privacy. So coming back to La Faya, it was a perfectly located romantic restaurant with sea waves touching the edge of the platform and tables laid down with candle light dinner arrangement on that platform. We preferred sitting inside because it was very cold as it rained few minutes back.

We had a three course meal with excellent cream of tomato soup, salad, pasta and pizza and for the first time in my life I had tamarind sweet. Yes, 'emli' as a sweet with coffee ice-cream, it sounds only, sour. But it was pretty decent. Then after our romantic meal, we ladies went in our rooms and these boys had a boy's night out. They were going to hit the disc and enjoy the night life there. We would have joined them, but I wasn't keen on going out with Khushi to any noisy and smoky place, so we chickened out. Meanwhile I and Priti were enjoying the photographs on the laptop. It was amazing to see them.

Next morning, as per our schedule, we had a North Tour to Botanical Garden, Port Louis, Caudan Waterfront and some "Marie Reine Da la Paix" (view point in short). Out of the above locations, we had already seen the Port Louis and Waterfront which were the main attractions. And none of us are Botanical garden types, so we dropped the plan and decided to enjoy the water sports in the hotel.

We tried booking for a glass bottom boat and other water sports, but they informed us that they were full and we have to book well in advance for the activities. So we hired a speed boat and went for a dolphin ride. In a speed boat they took us in the deep sea and showed us 6-7 dolphins coming on the surface to have food. As I had seen dolphins number of times, it was not a high point for me. Then we went for feeding the fish. Mauritius has no sea life near the shores. The shores are filled with dead corals and rocks, so you cannot see any fishes in the vicinity. Considering this, feeding the fish was an exciting experience. We fed the fishes with some pieces of bread. It was so exciting that I woke Khushi up from her sleep and made her feed the fish. Initially she was so disoriented that she wasn't able to figure out what is mommy trying to do. Then after sometime, she enjoyed the activity and fed the fish herself. Then we saw some clean and crystal clear beach on our way. We all were very tired by that time to go and play in the beach, so we returned to our hotel. Then we planned to make food in our rooms. We carried a rice cooker for Khushi, so I made some Khichadi (rice and dal) for everybody and Mahesh made some Haldiram Bhelpuri for all of us. It was quite nice to have homemade food in our rooms. It somehow contends us from within. And this is when you realize the value of home made food. The rest of the evening, we relaxed that day.

Next day, we were booked for glass bottom boat in the hotel. So after getting ready and having breakfast, we went for the glass bottom boat. I was astonished to see the clarity, with which the sea bottom was seen in the glass bottom boat, but unfortunately we were not able to see very nice corals or fishes as it was high tide and with kids for security reasons they were not ready to go in deep sea where you actually find good corals and fishes. After returning me and Priti decided to go for pedal boating. This activity was an amazing experience and I had fun for almost one hour in the middle of the sea doing nothing. Cold breeze, water splashing on the face and our boat floating on the water, it was more soothing than anything else on the earth. We also wanted to try canoeing, but Khushi was about to get up when we finished Pedal boat. It was very sweet of Mahesh and Ashish to baby sit while we went pedaling.

Then we went and had our lunch in "La Croque" (Indian restaurant Cumin converted into multicuisine restaurant in the day). We had some sandwiches/pastas and pizzas there. After that we decided to explore the hip malls and night life of Mauritius. So around 7 pm we went for Grand Baie which was supposed to be a hip market in Mauritius. It had some designer and branded shops with some fancy looking Chinese/Italian restaurants. And we had a horrible experience with the driver who knew no other language than French. He was a Rangeen(colorful) guy with love for music and almost forced us into his French hip hop music with volume which almost tore our ear drums. Also when we requested him to take to some bigger mall he took us to a hyper market like big bazaar in India where you get all cheap stuff for less. It was an experience in itself to surf a local hyper market in an exotic place like Mauritius. Then we realized its better to be safe than sorry, so we quickly asked him to take us back to the hotel. Though its a tourist place, it doesn't have great night life, all the shops are closed by 8 pm and 5.30 pm for the local market. The night life consists of a disco and some sleazy bars which becomes alive only at 10 pm.

Next day was the last day in Mauritius and we had to reach airport by 5 pm and our checkout time was 12 pm. So we had booked ourselves for a Blue safari, it is basically a Submarine ride in the deep sea. But in the morning, when we called Christine, we learnt that due to high tide, the submarine ride is cancelled. We were quite disappointed by it and on top of this; the hotel people were not ready to extend our timings. So we decided that we will hire a taxi and go for some sight seeing around Mauritius. So after 12.00 pm we left with our luggage to Jumbo Mall. This is supposed to be a low budget shopping mall with a lot of options for kids entertainment. So we drove there and we learnt that Mauritius has a concept of hyper mall along with branded/non branded stuff. We bought some souvenirs and indulged in a tub of Haagen-Dazs Belgium Chocolate icecream.There was a kids parlor where Khushi enjoyed the Micky Mouse ride and other cartoon character rides. Then we went to waterfront and had our lunch. We spent a quite time in Waterfront for sometime and then went to airport.

So this was an end to my fabulous trip to Mauritius. Though I would recommend Maldives far more than I would recommend Mauritius to anyone. I still feel every vacation is special in its own ways and when you look back after few years from now, we will remember only the wonderful moments we spent as a family :).

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