A Travellerspoint blog

Seychelles 2

Mahe Island

Darshini and Maria

Darshini and Maria

Karin, Nawal, Lana and Shakey 241112

Karin, Nawal, Lana and Shakey 241112

Darshini, Shakey and me  011212

Darshini, Shakey and me 011212

Darshini and Nawal in Victoria 281112

Darshini and Nawal in Victoria 281112

The single ladies working at Hilton Hotels in Seychelles are from different countries and cultures. It's really an international house, a melting pot of diverse beautiful people. First, there is Darshini from Malaysia, my host, then Shakey from Uzbeckistan, Nawal from Morocco, Maria from Russia, Lana from Mauritius, Gemma from UK (quiting the hotel), and Karin from Germany. I am sure there are more whom I didn't have the opportunity to meet. I was introduced to a few management guys as well such as from Melbourne, Turkmenistan, India, Turkey, Philippine and Mauritius. A Malay chef has just moved to Johannesburg. It was an interesting mix.
Seychelles is an amazing country made up of about 115 islands with over 85,000 population. It is well-known for its beautiful pristine beaches, undisturbed flora and fauna and a 'paradise' for honeymooners and visitors looking for peace and tranquility. Coco-de-mar, Seycelles identity coconut which has become rare. Looks like a woman's backside.

Coco-de-mar, Seycelles identity coconut which has become rare. Looks like a woman's backside.

Seycehelles is associated with an endangered specie of coconut called coco-de- mer which resembles the backside of a woman. It is a protected tree, rarely found on the island. Mahe is the main island with Seychelles' capital city, Victoria which is noted for being the tiniest capital city in the world. And It is tiny!Sir Selwyn Selwyn Clarke Market, Victoria, Mahe Island 281112

Sir Selwyn Selwyn Clarke Market, Victoria, Mahe Island 281112

Big fish in the market.

Big fish in the market.

The local crafts at Sir Selwyn Market, Victoria

The local crafts at Sir Selwyn Market, Victoria

Victoria market street

Victoria market street

Back street stalls in Victoria 281112

Back street stalls in Victoria 281112

I spent a day and a half there moving around the city. There wasn't much to see but I love the market (Sir Selwyn Selwyn Clarke Market). The fishes are big and fresh. To cut and clean the fish, we have to pay an extra Seychelles Rupees 25 and SCR 3 for a plastic bag. ( 13 SCR = 1 US$). The money exchange booth takes big denomination like US$100 and small denomination get 15% less. Make sure your US$ are clean and fairly new for they reject old and dirty notes. The local products and crafts are mostly based on coconut and vanilla. I bought a few packets of vanilla tea to take home. Shops are closed on Saturdays and Sundays which make it difficult for tourists to shop and look around.
The Big Ben Clock Toweer in Victoria, landmark of Victoria 281112

The Big Ben Clock Toweer in Victoria, landmark of Victoria 281112

The clock tower in Victoria was built in memory of Queen Victoria in 1903 (mini replica of the clock at Victoria street junction and Vauxhall Bridge, London) is the landmark of Victoria. This is definitely not a place for ardent shoppers, all things including food are expensive. Looking for sitting down restaurants can be quite tedious if you don't know the place because there are few such restaurants around. Hotels and guesthouses are pricey, including Berjaya Resort. Public transport can be a headache. Cabs have to be booked earlier and you can't find them plying the road for customers. Buses are quite erratic and old. There are no hostels for cheap accommodation for backpackers. The government doesn't want such tourists but welcome the ones with money to spend. The local people speak mostly Creole and French and some English. Majority of them are Roman Catholic with some Hindus and Muslims.Mosque

Mosque

There is a small mosque in Victoria and quite a big Hindu Temple.
Hilton Alamandar at Mahe island Seychelles 011212 (3)

Hilton Alamandar at Mahe island Seychelles 011212 (3)

Hilton Alamandar at Mahe island Seychelles 011212 (5)

Hilton Alamandar at Mahe island Seychelles 011212 (5)

On the way to the airport for my flight back, we stopped at Hilton Allamandar for lunch. The hotel seafront is beautiful. I am most fascinated by the colour of the Indian Ocean depending on the day and the sun. Dark blue, dark green, green, turquoise, light turquoise and light purple are crystal clear and bewitching. It took my breath away to see the different hues of colours simmering under the sun.
The drive from Hilton jetty in Mahe to Victoria was quite scary with very narrow winding roads but the scenery is superb. Victoria has a population of about 20,000 people.
In spite of the availability of beautiful natural islands, Seychelles has built a man-made island called Eden island where the rich live or own a house.

Posted by zuraidaharahman 23:12 Comments (0)

Seychelles 1

Silhouette Island

Seychelles was not in my travel map. Though curious about the country, I thought I would want to visit other countries that are more tempting as Seychelles was like Malaysia, so I thought. I remember some years back in the 80s, I lectured a group of Seychelles headmasters and teachers who came for a short course at IAB Genting Highlands where I was working then. Unfortunately I never kept in touch with any of them. Darshini

Darshini

But when Darshini invited me to visit her there, I jumped at the opportunity. She is working with Hilton Labriz in Silhouette Island. I didn't have the faintest idea where it was and how it was like. I was glad she invited me and I decided to go. I was in a place where time stood still.
When the boat arrived at Silhouette island jetty from Mahe Island, I took off my sandals and stepped gleefully on the fine sand jumping with joy that I was there finally. And Silhouette island is a beauty!!!
The next day was an exploring day. With a hotel guest from US, Christine, Darshini took us around Hilton Labriz and later hiked at Ramasstu hill overlooking the Indian Ocean. The Indian Ocean from Tamasstu Hill, Silhouette

The Indian Ocean from Tamasstu Hill, Silhouette

At Tamasstu Hill with stunning Indian Ocean

At Tamasstu Hill with stunning Indian Ocean

The view from there was simply spectacular. The black jagged volcanic rocks on top of the hill add to the mystery of the place. The Indian Ocean multi-colours hues spark incredible aura around it. From there we could see the North Island where Prince William and Kate Middleton spent their honeymoon, making the island more magical. The beach, a small cove, was pristine white with crystal clear water. We lingered there inspite of the hot sun, reluctant to leave the arresting beauty of the hill.
P1000055.jpgOn the same day we visited the turtle pan where 5 endangered turtle were cared for by the government.Patting the oldest male tortiese in Silhouette Island 241112

Patting the oldest male tortiese in Silhouette Island 241112

The oldest one is a male aged 30 years old and I learned that the patterned back of a turtle shows that it's a male and a plain one is a female. The Dauban Mausoleum in Silhouette Island

The Dauban Mausoleum in Silhouette Island

The Dauban Mausoleum tells the history of a French nobility who first settled and owned the island and brought prosperity by creating plantations for copra and vanilla.The swampy area outside Hilton boundary. The water is calm reflecting the hills and the green.

The swampy area outside Hilton boundary. The water is calm reflecting the hills and the green.

The Dauban Mausoleum in Silhouette Island

The Dauban Mausoleum in Silhouette Island

The swampy area nearby creates illusion of tranquility by reflecting the green mountains and coconut palms. crab

crab

The crabs are so big but they are not for the plate as they are devoid of flesh. Another lesson learned was the coconuts in Seychelles are of different variety compared to Malaysian coconuts. Everything else is the same except the coconut fruits where Seychells coconuts are oblong with small nuts, whereas the Malaysian variety are round with bigger nuts. Cyril scrapping coconut - Silhouette Island

Cyril scrapping coconut - Silhouette Island

I saw a local Creole scrapping a coconut flesh to get the milk, using the old traditional scrapper which I used to do when I was young. I was excited and approached him and we talked. Cyril owned a licensed guesthouse approved by the government. Unfortunately I couldn't get the contact number as he wasn't around when I stopped by the next day as promised.
Pristine beach at Silhouette Island

Pristine beach at Silhouette Island

Pristine long beach, crystal clear water and stunning view at Hilton Labriz, Silhouette Island, Seychelles

Pristine long beach, crystal clear water and stunning view at Hilton Labriz, Silhouette Island, Seychelles

Silhouette is the third largest island in Seychelles and of volcanic origin. It was declared as a National Park in 2010 and there was no roads or cars there, with a small population of Seychellois. However, there was a small primary school, medical centre, sundry shop, playground and a community hall catered for the villagers only. Hilton Labriz is the only hotel there and there are no restaurants for visitors except at the hotel. Transporting guests to La Passe, Silhouette Island by helicopter.

Transporting guests to La Passe, Silhouette Island by helicopter.

Lovely La Passe jetty at Silhouette Island for guests to land and check out to Mahe

Lovely La Passe jetty at Silhouette Island for guests to land and check out to Mahe

Lovely La Passe jetty at Silhouette Island for guests to land and check out to Mahe

Lovely La Passe jetty at Silhouette Island for guests to land and check out to Mahe

Guests are transported by boat from Mahe to La Passe, Silhouette which takes about 45 minutes boat ride. Other alternative transport is by helicopter. There are a few small guesthouses run by the locals with government approval. Buggy is used to ferry guests to hotel. Since there are no cars, biking is a good activity. Walking and hiking are other activities that can keep guests occupied. Of course the translucent sea water will beckon anyone to have a dip. I did that. Diving and snorkeling are quite popular.
Braving the snorkeling activity with Darshini and Julian's help.

Braving the snorkeling activity with Darshini and Julian's help.

After hiking, in the afternoon Darshini and I went for snorkeling. Being a non swimmer I was quite apprehensive over this activity but to my mind this was a challenge which I must take. After all I was in Seychelles. Fortunately I got Julian as a guide. Though only 20 years old, he is very encouraging and I had full confidence on him. The sea was choppy, so there wasn't much activity under water that I could see except seeing a turtle, and a few fishes which I couldn't identify. I swallowed quite a lot of sea water which made my stomach turned causing me to puke on the boat. Darshini also had a rough time. No matter, I was able to conquer my fear of water. Thank you Julian for being so patient.
Full_moon_281112.jpg Romantic full moon at Silhouette Island, Seychelles.

Romantic full moon at Silhouette Island, Seychelles.

The pristine white beach fronting Hilton La Briz was over 2 km long and walking on the beach is heavenly especially on full moon night. Full moon at Silhuette Island, Seychelles

Full moon at Silhuette Island, Seychelles

I was really bewitched by the beauty of the full moon over the Indian Ocean. Darshini and I walked the beach bare footed under romantic moonlight accompanied by Julian.
Though isolated, Hilton Labriz offers serenity, tranquility, comfort and style. Ideal for honeymooners and those seeking peace and quiet away from the hustle and bustle of daily life challenges. It's good for the soul, body and mind.
The beach at anselarscars trek - just as stunning.

The beach at anselarscars trek - just as stunning.

with christine

with christine

Since Darshini works in Hilton Mahe 3 days a week, I was left on my own doing my own thing.Hilton_chalet.jpgHilton resta

Hilton resta

I used this opportunity to explore Hilton, the beach, the swamp and the hills. Hiking alone to Anselarscars trek to the beach was an experience. The scenic beach is just as awesome as Ramasstu trek. The local village is just as attractive and clean and the people are friendly.
Silhouette, you take my breath away and hope to see you again some day.

Posted by zuraidaharahman 04:55 Comments (0)

Visiting Nepal 3

Nagarkot and Katmandu

From_rooft..rt_Nagarkot.jpgThe_mist.jpgAnisha_tyi..arve_161012.jpgTo Nagarkot on Sunday 14 Oct 2012 held up by massive traffic jams and late leaving Pokhara due to the two older ladies who took their time to join us in the bus disregarding the scheduled time as usual, we arrived Nagarkot already dark. We were not able to see where we were going but I could feel the uneven, winding road. We arrived at Fort Resort Nagarkot almost past 8 pm, tired and hungry. The room was nothing to shout about, small with limited hot water. Met a group of Malaysian Chinese from Melaka on tour too, mostly senior citizens. Electricity was off many times and at 4am, we had to grope our way in the dark to get ready for prayer and to see the sunrise at the rooftop.
It was a misty day and the sun didn't come out but the mist made the mountain looked mysterious. Then only we realized we were on a mountain resort with stunning views of the valleys and the Himalayan. After breakfast, we took the dreaded drive down the valley towards Katmandu to do our last lapse of sight-seeing.
As usual the traffic was bad. Compared to KL, Malaysians should not complain. The one exciting place we went was Bhaktapur City. Bhaktapur or Khwopa in Nepal language was the cultural capital with a history dated back to 8 century. It's a UNESCO World Heritage, inhabited by Hindus and Buddhists, rich with rituals and festivals. The main Square of the city is Durbar Square, where stone arts, carvings and terracotta arts and the 55 Window Palace and the Palace Golden Gate are. If you are an admirer of old buildings and architecture, this is the place to be. We completed the tour and of course, we were made to wait again for Badir to go and get the irresponsible ladies who were late every time. It was a most irritating and disgusting behaviour for senior people to show. As for me there will be no repeat trip with these two selfish women. When they wanted to visit other Stupas and temples we declined to go and they had to go on their own but again we had to wait for them to come to dinner when everybody was hungry. No apology, not even once. Bloody selfish and arrogant. It was such a relief that the tour was over and had no desire to meet them to say goodbye at KLIA. I hope I don't ever meet them again.
In spite of these thorns in the flesh, I had a good time with the other 6 members and thanked Izan for organizing the tour. We got along fine and had great fun. I specifically told Izan not to include me if these two come along. Izan also has no desire to include them in any of her trips in the future. Now I can tell the Nepalese who worked in PD that I have visited their country.

Posted by zuraidaharahman 21:30 Comments (0)

Taiping Lake Garden

Green and soothing

I am never tired of visiting Taiping Lake Garden, one of my favourite places in Malaysia, for its beauty and tranquility. This is my 4th time staying in Taiping, particularly at Hotel Seri Malaysia. It's a basic hotel with no frills but situated in the Lake garden area opposite the old Taiping prison. It's OK, the old prison is a landmark. If you want quiet and peace, this is not a hotel for you because you can hear every word being uttered by your next room neighbour or upstairs occupants. Some people do not know how to restrain their voice and so they speak so loud as if they are in the same room with you. I could hear this husband and wife argued in their room. But for one night stay it was bearable, I paid RM 140 for standard room for single occupancy with a big bed.
My visit to Taiping this time was to attend Atan's (real name Fariq) wedding , son of Shahabudin and Azizah, with Wan Nor Shahidah Wan Mahtir. I have spent a night or two at their beautiful resort- style home nearby. A former student of mine, this is the couple's second son's wedding. They have trained their son well. Though a bit handicapped he is well-adjusted, responsible and matured. I like having a conversation with him with his shy straight forward opinions.
The_ring_r..sana_trees_.jpgAngsana_br..rden_041119.jpgAngsana_tr..the_ground_.jpgCold_drizz..background_.jpgMorning_tr.._the_lakes_.jpgHouses_snu.._by_greens_.jpgThe branches of the angsana trees by the lake are ghrown by moss, orchids and ferns - a pretty sight.

The branches of the angsana trees by the lake are ghrown by moss, orchids and ferns - a pretty sight.

Taiping War Memorial Cemetry

Taiping War Memorial Cemetry

Taiping Lake Garden is one of the most beautiful parks in Malaysia, spread over 160 acres. But greedy hands are trying to spoil the natural beauty around the lake with buildings and structures. The government should stop any attempt to build, including hotels. The Garden and the surrounding area are the green lung of Taiping, once clogged with buildings the uniqueness is gone. I have always enjoyed walking around the lake area, admiring the beautiful old angsana trees that have stood time for more than 100 years. Moss, wild orchids, ferns are growing on the branches making it look so authentic and majestic. The long branches reached out across the road till the edge of the lakes forming arches-like sructure. The Titiwangsa mountain range provides such serenity to the town, where nature is to be admired, not spoiled. The Colonial British established this beautiful garden in 1880 making it the oldest park in the Malay peninsular. It was originally a mining area which is rich in flora and fauna.
Taiping was formerly the state capital of Perak but after the second World War in 1945, the state capital was shifted to Ipoh till now. So there was quite a number of historical buildings and places to visit around the Lake garden, places like the War Memorial Cemetery (a final resting place for soldiers who died during the second World War fighting against the Japanese), Bukit Larut or Maxwell Hill (the smallest and the oldest hill station opened by the British. Going up there was quite an experience for me. We have to take a 4 wheel drive and paid RM6.00 for the trip. The road is narrow, horribly winding with sharp corners and it needs experience drivers to maneuver the car. The deep valleys below looked really menacing) and Long Jaafar's grave, a historical Malay figure in Perak history ( the first Malay who found tin), Taiping museum, the oldest museum in Malaysia built in 1883 and the Taiping Zoo offering Night Safari.
It is better to drive to come to this Lake Garden. Take the PLUS north-south expressway and exit at Changkat Jering. At the traffic light after the toll, turn left and then right to the traffic light for Jalan Air Kuning. Drive straight on to the town centre, crossing a few traffic lights, follow the signage indicating Taiping Lake Garden/Taping Zoo until you see a big Mac Donald sign. Drive straight on the Garden road until you get to the prison and the Hotel Seri Malaysia is on the right. When in doubt, stop and ask people. They are friendly.
I just hope The Lake Garden is well-maintained with clean lakes and ponds and green grass and trees. The people of Taiping are lucky asnd should be proud of the Garden and help to keep it clean. Throwing rubbish just anywhere is still a bad habit among some Malaysians.

Posted by zuraidaharahman 05:03 Comments (0)

Visiting Nepal 2 - Pokhara

Sunrise at Sarangkot

Boating_in..hewa_131012.jpgLake Phewa 131012 (2)

Lake Phewa 131012 (2)

Sunrise in Serangkot

Sunrise in Serangkot

The valley in Pokhara with low clouds

The valley in Pokhara with low clouds

The 5 senior ladies at Serangkot

The 5 senior ladies at Serangkot

At Devi's Fall

At Devi's Fall

The 5 senior ladies at Serangkot

The 5 senior ladies at Serangkot

The road trip to Pokhara from Katmandu on 12 Oct 2012 was a nightmare. The 200 km distance took more than 6 hours for us to reach our destination, Shangri-la Village Resort, Pokhara. The road was horrendous, narrow, some unpaved, winding and overburdened by endless lorries, buses and cars. There was no toilet stop along the way. So, be prepared to empty your bladder if you go to Pokhara or going back to Katmandu by road. The torturous trip made me see a dead body (I suspected) by the roadside covered with dust. Way down the hill, an ambulance was struggling to get there, I guessed. So sad.... However, the bad road was compensated by stunning natural beauty with breath-taking scenery of terraced-rice fields, mountains, green forest colourful villages and clear river water. We stopped at Hamlet restaurant along the way, an open-air restaurant surrounded by green terraced-rice field for lunch, prayer and rest. Beautiful setting and delicious food.
Early the next morning, we made a trip to Sarangkot, a high lookout point for Himalayan sunrise. Indeed it was so stunning. The colourful glow reflected on the mountain range, making the tips of the mountains shined like gold. How lucky those Nepalese are who live there and could feast their eyes on this natural beauty everyday. There were so many people at the lookout, tourists and locals stationed themselves ready with cameras and videos. In my eagerness to snap as many photos of the mountains and valleys, I left my strategic place for sunrise and immediately someone took over the place. So, I didn't get a clear stand but able to snap some photos of sunrise in between tall people in front of me. The scenery and view were unbelievable.
It was fun Pokhara, visiting the Tibetan Refugee camp, Devi's Fall, boating in Phewa Lake and shopping at Lakeside market. Devi's Fall was great but rather intimidating. The story told was that in 1961, a Swiss lady fell in 100 meters deep fall hole and her body was recovered two months later. The Fall is safely fenced up now and visitors can enjoy the sight away from the side of the Fall. Since it was Saturday, the Tibetan Refugee camp was closed but the showroom was opened.
The boating at Lake Phewa was rather disappointing for me. I thought we would be cruising the lake in a covered boat so that we could relax and enjoy the scenery. But it was an open boat under hot sun and there was no relaxing. However the boating activity was good for we saw the beauty of the lakeside.
After the boating activity, we were left at the lakeside market place for shopping. In all my travels whether in groups or alone, I have never shopped for 4 hours straight before. Shopping wasn't my thing. The 5 ladies I went with, were crazy shoppers and walked and walked the shops endlessly. And I followed the crowd and enjoyed it in some way. By 6.30 pm, my feet gave way and I needed to stop and rest. I managed to persuade them that I would wait at the restaurant where we were supposed to have traditional Nepalese dinner and a show at 7.30 pm. By 9 pm everybody was tired and sleepy and we took our leave before the show ended. It would be an early rise tomorrow as we were leaving for Katmandu and Nagarkot by road.
As Badri promised, we stopped at an old mosque in Dulegande just outside Pokhara. It's a small mosque for 700 over Muslim population there a midst other dominant religions like Hinduism. They are very poor and in need of help to extend the present tiny mosque. We stopped to chat with the mosque officials and to use their toilet facilities. We hope we could get some donations for them when we go back to Malaysia as Izan will be bringing another group in December 2012.Hanfia_Gau..hara_141012.jpgIzan among the children at the madarsah at the mosque.141012

Izan among the children at the madarsah at the mosque.141012


Of course the road trip back to Katmandu was as nightmarish as when we came in. In fact it was worse with lorry and car accidents. We deviated a bit at a pretty Rest area for toilet and then continued on. By the time we entered Katmandu, the ladies were pining for another toilet stop and there was none. Fortunately the driver spotted a presentable restaurant where they were able to ease themselves and continue the long journey on.
I like Pokhara and would like to visit it again some day, maybe when the road is built. When? The flight there was also unreliable. I hope when Nepal is stable and being developed, they would not destroy the natural beauty and guard it jealously.

Posted by zuraidaharahman 19:42 Comments (0)

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