Facing the Uncertainties
We traveled to Seychelles with great excitement hoping for a positive outcome of our trip. Every detail was planned three months in advance to ensure that everything will go well. It went very well indeed, except the bad experience that we had at the airport upon arrival.
We arrived at the airport on time and headed directly to the immigration for the passport control. There was a long queue of tourists waiting in line but only few immigration officers were present, and the processing was so slow that we were stuck in the middle for almost an hour. As I examined the crowd, some felt upset, others looked tired and here we are so nervous that our connecting flight to another island is just 20 minutes away to departure. We asked a favor to the immigration supervisor for a priority pass but he refused to no avail giving us an assurance that we will be on a standby even if we miss our scheduled flight. Felt embarrassed, we waited for our turn.
Two hours pass and we’re still at the airport, waiting for my friend’s luggage nowhere to find. We complained to the helpdesk along with others who lost theirs too. Our embarrassment turned to nightmare as we spent another thirty minutes waiting for nothing. So we decided to go with the flow and embrace the unexpected event. Moving on to the domestic departure area, partly empty handed, we were welcomed by another long queue of passengers checking in for their local flight. Again, we asked for departure priority and after tremendous negotiations, while extending our patience, finally, we boarded our local plane to Praslin after an hour.
The 15-minute flight helped me to pick up myself while meditating to the uncertain things that happened. At the back of my head, many questions still linger on and the madness still stirring into my mind. How could the immigration so unprepared and inconsiderate to someone’s plea even if they know others have connecting flights? Did they even value time? I think coordination and communication are lacking in their system.
As we landed on the island of Praslin, I tried to compose myself when I found out that my 50-liter North Face backpack was lost. I manage to control my anger as we waited for the next plane to arrive hoping that it carries my bag. Fortunately, it did. So we met our local driver (who had waited 4 hours for us) and headed towards our hotel. It wasted our plan during that day but we manage to remain calm as our adventure will begin on the next day.
In the Land of Coco de Mer
Seychelles is composed of 115 incredible islands. One of these is the second largest island of Praslin – a home to the endemic Coco de Mer. In the middle of the island lies the national park – Vallee de Mai, a habitat to some of the country’s flora and fauna. Getting around the forest requires an entrance fee of EUR 26 with an extra of EUR 10 for a personal guide. It took us an hour to stroll inside the forest (without a guide) following trails, seeing huge palms, water spring, a couple of lizards and the rare black parrot. There is nothing special other than seeing the biggest seed in the world (Coco de Mer), and hearing its myth.
Left: Fruit of female Coco de Mer Right: Fruit of male Coco de Mer
Sitting on the low-lying coconut tree, reminiscing the good memories of the past, I was astonished by the wonders of nature, again. The soothing sound of soft waves in the long stretch coastline of Grand Anse almost sent me off to dizziness.
As we strolled around visiting every resort’s property and beaches, we were greeted by a group of fisherman pulling out their nets with their daily catch.
In this very place is the perfect venue to capture the dramatic sunrise too.
The tropical garden setting of Berjaya Praslin Resort is our resting nest during our 3-night stay in the island. It is 10 minutes away from the seaport and 15 minutes away from the airport. The long stretch silky sandy beach of Cote D’Or Esplanade is just a walk away. We took advantage of the resort’s amenities like the swimming pool and table tennis, and of course the overflowing breakfast every morning.
A Day in La Digue
A visit to Seychelles is not complete without going to La Digue – home to the most photograph beach. It takes one and a half hours from Victoria and 15 minutes from Praslin by Cat Cocos ferry. I always recommend booking online in advance (about a month or two ahead) to take advantage of the early bird promo as the price on-site is a little expensive. To book the ticket, follow this link -> http://www.catcocos.com
Roaming around the island by bicycle which is the best means of transportation in La Digue – is such a healthy activity. Our first stop, Anse Source d’Argent – the most photogenic beach we’ve seen so far. The different formation and size of rocks felt like we are in a different magical world.
The almost impeccable view and blue hue waters of Grand Anse, La Digue doesn’t give justice to the capture of our camera compare to seeing it with our bare eyes. The almost empty beach along with the strong current of waves attract surfers to play around.
As we cycle back to the port, we passed by a small forest reserve known to be the last shelter of the black paradise flycatcher. This small reserved forest is a fundamental habitat to island’s fauna and flora. Not far enough, we discovered a nearby beach in front of a hotel, sneaking into their ground and behaving like a guest, was one of a freaking awesome experience. On the side note, all beach in Seychelles is for public use anyway.
Got my piece on the Capital Island
Mahe is the biggest island among 115 islands in Seychelles. Victoria city is the capital, widely known as the smallest city in the world. Small enough that you can walk around in less than an hour. Two of the highlights are the London-inspired Big Ben and the Hindu Temple which I believe are worth to see.
Just a 15 to 20 minutes drive from Victoria is a favorite place for beachgoers – the Beau Vallon. The long stretch of white beach is a friendly place for family with children and even retired couples who just wanted to waste time lying under the sun. Many hotels, restaurants, and bars are lined up along the beach ranging from affordable to expensive. They have a flea market every Wednesday selling out souvenirs and cheap foods from grilled fish to local Creole which is a must to try. This is a perfect place to relax and watch the sunset, too.
To those looking for an adventure, trekking the trail to Anse Major is my ultimate recommendation. We spent 3 Rupees only for this activity covering the bus fare from Beau Vallon to Bel Ombre last bus stop. It takes one and half hour to trek through the trail but it’s worth the sweat upon reaching the end. The secluded beach and a forest lagoon are just so good for the sight.
Surviving on a Fixed Budget
Honestly speaking, a trip to Seychelles cost a lot of money, except if you plan ahead and maybe, just maybe, if you are a UAE resident. We are fortunate enough that there are a lot of legitimate travel agencies in UAE which are offering super cheap deals to different countries. One of these is the deal to Seychelles for a 3-nights hotel accommodation, flight, and transfer all inclusive at a very affordable price payable in 3 monthly installments (without interest). So we took one of these deals after comparing from one agency to another, and from hotel and airplane to another.
Another big chunk of the budget is the food as most affordable accommodation offers a free breakfast only. But need not to worry, there are still affordable ways to stick to your budget. One thing we did was we brought a lot of instant food that can sustain for a week because a decent meal there cost around $25 to $50, especially in Praslin and La Digue where no cheap restaurants are available. On transportation, we mostly use public buses as it is very cheap and still comfortable, except in Praslin where public buses are so rare but we arranged a local driver in advance who never ask for an overpriced trip. On accommodation, there are budget-friendly hostels and cottages to chose from which will not ruin your budget. We personally chose http://www.georginas-cottage.com due to its perfect location – near the beach, near the bus stop, near the local grocery store. As my personal recommendation, you really have to plan ahead and possibly create a cost sheet for all possible expenses so that you can stick to the budget and control the spending.
Social Media Detox
I never knew that the internet is as luxurious as it may sound in Seychelles. During our trip, our hotel charged us separately for the internet (and according to one of the local guy, other hotels billed it as hidden charges). In this new generation, the internet is a very important tool to closely communicate to our family and loved ones, but if you’re in Seychelles, it could be a perfect time for social media detox. But not for me though, the internet is hard to resist.
By the way, the internet in Seychelles costs EUR 5 for 200 Mbps, although price varies per hotel. When we were in Praslin, it costs 100 Seychellois Rupees ($7) for 24 hours but only within the hotel wifi range. In short, no internet outside the property. Again, it is a good way for a social media detox (and of course the best excuse for work emails) and a lot of holiday rest too.
Happy travel to Seychelles.