Sunday, October 22, 2017

Honeymoon Day 17: Seeing my 90-year old Grandmother in South Africa

Honeymoon Day 17: Seeing my 90-year old Grandmother in South Africa

An early 4:30am wakeup (oof!) to get to the Praslin airport and a hearty "Orevwar" to the magnificent and magical Seychelles. We had an early flight out of Praslin to Mahe, to make the 1-per-day Mahe to Johannesburg, South Africa flight. Though early, we were extremely lucky that planes were even leaving Praslin. Our Taxi driver said that planes couldn't land yesterday or the day before because of all of the rain and storms -- one plane went from Mahe to Praslin yesterday and couldn't land in Praslin so had to go back to Mahe... and then circled for an HOUR (this is a 10-15min flight) to find a safe and appropriate moment to land back at its origin. Whew. So that would have been nuts. Our crazy honeymoon trip is planned with very minuscule room for error, so we were incredibly lucky on this timing.

On the way to the airport some crazy tourist driver was tailgating the taxi driver, racing to get back to the airport I think. They kept tailgating till our driver pulled over and then the tourist immediately sped off in front of us on the dark and windy early-morning damp roads. His car then slipped or screeched due to the damp roads and he hit a curb! Jeez! That was crazy. Our driver slowed and could tell the driver was OK (he didn't hit a tree or anything, just rammed into a curb) -- and then called his buddy who owned the car rental company to tell him about it. That was insane.

Anyway! After that excitement we got to the airport fine, with our nice packed breakfast from the hotel. The airport was entirely closed on arrival but soon opened up and we sat in the nice Air Conditioned waiting area.

Everyone (us included), just waking up. Waiting benches to check in outdoors!
Packed breakfast provided by our epic hotel! Yes that is a passionfruit to-go!
Little gecko in the bathroom
Jewelry shop
Coffee shop
The Praslin waiting area was cute, just two shops -- a souvenir/coffee shop and a jewelry shop. It was so early and they were just opening up. The Coffee Shop guy made a coffee and walked it over to the Jewelry shop girl! Very fun and fitting hospitality for the small island of Praslin.

Off to Mahe!
We headed to our plane and it was again a De Havilland plane labelled "Made in Canada"! Nice. The ride to Mahe was much smoother this time than the way to Praslin. We are so lucky we didn'y try to leave over the past 2 days! It was super smooth and we arrived and then checked into the Mahe International Terminal.

Open cockpit again, you can see the pilots driving the plane!
Orevwar Praslin!

Back in Mahe
"Baggage Claim" -- a metal window where the walk the bags over from the plane and push them through!

The International Terminal departures section was quite a bit bigger than the arrivals we got into last week from Paris. It was also gloriously Air Conditioned which made for a nice relaxing couple hours as we waited for our plane to South Africa. We headed to Duty Free to use up our remaining Rupees and Euros... Takamaka Rum!!!!!!! We went nuts and got a few bottles, some small ones for gifts, and a regular sized one to take home and share with friends. I also got the Takamaka 8 year "St. Andre" aged rum to share with my buddy Frank at some point. We hung out in the store for a bit and got a few nice gifts and some SeyTe tea as well. We were tired from the early morning wakeup but quite relieved at the relative simplicity of this travel day compared to what we could have dealt with had we left a day or two earlier. And now... off to South Africa! What a trip!

An Amarula Elephant greeting us on arrival!
Arriving in SA was straightforward and customs was fast. Again, with quick turnarounds and tight schedules on this trip, we were pretty organized when it came to having a plan about transportation. We had arranged in advance to stay near the relatively-new "Gautrain" train system, something SA was still building during my previous trip there in 2008 and was completed for the World Cup Soccer match in 2010. It had tons of security, was super organized, and quite pricey as far as things tend to go in South Africa (something like $15 USD one-way). We headed through the terminal towards the Gautrain and then as we were getting closer saw that the next train left in 6 min... go go go!!! We swiftly bought our tickets and got onto the train just in time. I chatted with some fellow on the train who was also just coming back from a glorious trip to a fancy island -- he was coming back from Réunion Island. I told him about our plan for Kruger Park and where we were staying, "Oh, those private resorts are great!" he said as he was pretty familiar with the area up north. We are definitely in for a treat on this trip... Michal is even MORE excited for this part of the honeymoon. :)

The Gautrain was quick and on-time, and we arrived at Sandton Station near our hotel in 20 min or so. Of course, then we proceeded to get completely lost on the way to the hotel. We asked someone in the bus station how to get to the hotel (It is around the corner from the Gautrain station... should be a 5 min walk!). The attendant asked us "Are you OK to walk?" as if we were the first people to ever ask how to walk there (we only had 1 bag of luggage each!) We learned why as it was reasonably warm outside and we proceeded to get super lost on the way there. We went outside and wandered for much too long, and then asked some fellows at a hotel we ran into on the way how to get there. They pointed us back into the Mandela Square area, and then we headed into the indoor-mall. We asked a bunch of people in the mall where our giant well-known hotel was, and NO ONE knew where it was!! Haha that was an epic comedy of errors. The mall was literally ATTACHED to our hotel (InterContential Sandton Towers -- it's a business hotel attached to Nelson Mandela Square), but no one seemed to have ever heard of it. Haha, that was insane. I referenced one of my Dad's famous jokes, "Don't ask me, I just work here!" After much exploration in the mall, we found the walkway to get to the Conference Center/Hotel and checked in. Hooray!

Upon checkin we heard those magic words, "You've been Upgraded" (sweet!)... "to our Executive Level"... sweeeet. They gave us a nice juice at the front desk but then we continued up to some high floor checkin area and we got an upgraded juice at our 2nd checkin.... Appletiser and Grapetiser!!!!! These are my favourite sparkling apple and grape juices from South Africa and I was keen to make sure Michal got to try them... and we got them FREE at CHECKIN. YES!!!!!!! So this was crazy royal treatment and we headed to our room which was super high up in this giant tower. We arrived to find fruit and wine in our room on arrival. Truly a red-carpet welcome! I was concerned about getting some food in me as I needed to start my Malaria pills asap since we were headed up to Kruger Park the next day... but first, gotta go meet my camera dude!

Whoooa we are high up!
An amazing view of Johannesburg... this room was crazy

Totally insane upgraded room, this was amazing
I had arranged in advance to rent an SLR camera from a rental agency in Sandton that was just around the corner from our hotel. The dude showed up exactly on time and I headed downstairs to pick up all of the equipment. The plan was to leave the large bags here in the hotel the next day and take just a short-term bag with us on Safari, along with the heavy camera equipment. I rented from the stellar company A Lens For Hire ( and Peter treated me super well there. He helped advise on what types of lenses I might use and provided everything in pristine condition, 2 batteries, chargers, lenses, lens hoods, strap, camera case, camera lens cases... the whole thing. All I needed to bring and leave with was a 64Gb CF card :) Since we were on our honeymoon he extended an awesome deal and gave me a great discount on renting multiple lenses.

Here's the "kit" I decided on for the safari was this, after much research:
  • Canon 5D Mark III body, battery, charger, etc
  • Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II USM Lens
  • Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens
Super epic stuff! My buddy Dave at work has the Mark 3 and so he let me borrow it in advance of heading to South Africa so I could familiarize a bit with the complicated focus modes and autofocus methods (which are kinda crazy complex). So all of this was perfect and we were ready to try to get some great animal photos on Safari!

And now it was time to eat something and take our malaria pills... how about... High Tea?! This epic "Executive Floor" had it's own included lounge area and a super sweet waiter too. The High Tea was available for many hours per day "as you like" and was super convenient as we needed some food swiftly to take our pills. The dude was super nice and there was a free cocktail hour thing later. We were going to be meeting up with James and Dané later and I was hoping they could get a chance to check this out too. I asked him "Would it be OK if we bring some family to the canape and cocktails later?" They weren't staying at the hotel and so I wasn't sure what the hotel's policy would be for guests. His response was hilariously unexpected. He said, starting off very seriously.... "You know... we don't have Apartheid anymore in South Africa..." and then his face turned to a huge jolly smile, "There's no discrimination! All are welcome!!" What an unexpected response and such a funny fellow, he continued to joke and make us feel very comfortable and brought us some awesome high tea food and teas. Malaria pills: check!

Lounge Area
"High Tea Menu"!!

Quite a spread!
We had a quick shower and got ready to head to see Granny. This would be the first time Michal was going to meet my Grandmother and one of the key reasons for choosing to come to South Africa on the honeymoon so we were hopeful and nervous that the visit would work out smoothly. Thankfully, my awesome cousin James and his lovely wife Dané arrived and had expertly organized everything. I had only "met" Dané via Facebook thusfar as well so it was great to meet in-person as well: a super sweet and awesome newly-wed couple!

James drove us to Granny Leah's new place where she had moved to since my last visit in 2008. She had recently turned 90, on October 31st the year prior (2016). It was so, so, so lovely to see her. We arrived, parked and walked in to find her up and quite alert. She was at first a bit quiet, but was just "taking it all in", and was so happy to see me. My parents had been priming her about this visit during many Facetime calls every other week in advance for a few months, so as to prepare and remind her that our visit was happening. What an awesome opportunity for Michal to meet her. It was a very nice visit.

We chatted for a little bit and Granny had a bit of food that the nurses had left for her to have. We chatted and soon set up a Skype with Mom and Dad, and then with Norm and Glenn and baby Kayleigh. Granny's face lit up when she saw the baby!

This was a really meaningful visit, and we had such a nice chat. I showed her our wedding program that I had brought along with us, and read her some portions of it, including the dedication we made to her (that she was unable to travel to the USA for the wedding but that she was in our thoughts during our special day). I brought it up close so she could see the style of the writing and how the program was laid out. A few months before, James had played our wedding ceremony video for her on his iPad (I had uploaded it to YouTube as soon as we got it from the videographer, so that he could more easily access it in South Africa) -- so she was familiar with our ceremony and the event. My parents had also told her lots about our wedding over many Facetime and Skype chats.

James was such a mensch and so supportive. It was a tough visit for us to make but a really nice benefit (and one of the main reasons for) choosing South Africa as one of the stops on our trip. Her room location itself was much nicer, brighter, and cleaner than her old spot where I visited in 2008. Of course then she had her own unit and kitchen (and cat!) and could still do a lot of her own cooking which she enjoyed, but given that she needed significant more help now she was clearly in good hands. The staff was lovely. This place was bright and had lots more windows than her previous place.

Michal had a chance to chat with Granny as well and for Granny to get to know her a little. Granny said to my parents afterwards how sweet Michal is and how she is a "perfect match" for me. :) The end of the visit was of course very hard. I knew my visit was representing my Dad here in South Africa and in a way I was also acting as stand-in for him on this "goodbye" visit. We had such a nice chat and she was so happy to see us, and yet also I knew leaving was going to be hard. I sat down with her quietly at the end of the visit, held her hand, and wished her well, wished her relaxation and happiness, and how lucky I felt that Michal had this chance to meet her and that she could meet Michal. We had a few last hugs, kind words, and a little wave as I left, turning the corner and walking down the hallway with tears streaming down my face.

(Note upon typing up this blog post on 10/22/2017): My special Granny Sarah Leah Bates (z”l) passed away only a few months after this January 15th visit. We didn't know at the time how much longer we would have to speak with her after this visit, and were hoping desperately that she would be well enough for this visit. My parents said that her energy and attitude were the best they had been in about 6 months at the time of our visit. Both while during the visit, and also in hindsight, we feel extremely lucky that we had this chance.

As if reading my mind, James had a plan for after the visit. He took us to a South African grocery store to look around and buy awesome sweets and snacks. Literally the most perfect thing we could do after such an emotional and tough visit. Such a well organized visit and I'm super grateful for James's foresight.

At the grocery store we got some Biltong (the legendary South African dried beef jerky), of course. We tried some weird "Cream Soda milk", some chocolates, and more Appletisers of course! We got some nice treats to try then and there (good comfort) and then headed back to the hotel to drop off the huge camera and go to the canape hour before heading to dinner in Nelson Mandela Square.

So much Biltong!
The canape hour was great and our fun server was there again and happy to see us. He brought us some wine and some snacks to keep us going before dinner. That was fun to be able to have James and Dané there with us to enjoy it too.

We headed down after that through the maze of the mall that we had somewhat traversed earlier that morning, to go to a restaurant called The Butcher Shop that Joreg, the General Manager of the Raffles Praslin, had recommended. He used to work at this same hotel we were staying at, the InterContinental Sandton Towers and was there for many years! So when we told him we were off to JoBurg after Seychelles, he immediately recommended The Butcher Shop and said we had to go there. It was a solid recommendation as the meat in South Africa is still second-to-none with just about the entire rest of the world! I asked our server for a recommendation and he suggested the Sirloin on the bone. It had an amazing flavour, and was very soft and delicious.

Making sure to tick all of the necessary boxes for a new visitor to South Africa, we got some Boerewors (the best South African sausage) for an appetizer! The sauces were also fascinating and very different than anything I had tried before on previous visits. "Peri Peri" was a hot sauce, kindof like a BBQ sauce (and the name was familiar from the advertising for Nandos in London). We also tried the Black/Green Pepper sauce, which was very good and is more of a "standard" South African sauce type. We also tried a sauce called "Monkey Gland" which is a very unappetizing name for a very delicious sauce! It is a combination of Mrs. Ball's Chutney, Worcester Sauce, and a few other ingredients. It was tangy, sweet, and so good. A perfect combination with these incredible steaks. As per James's recommendation, we also got out steaks "basted" which I think means they added some more sauce to it as it was cooking.

Boerewors for an appetizer!

Sirloin on the bone with black pepper sauce

Michal got a "lady's cut" of the Filet Mignon with the crazy "Monkey Gland" sauce and a baked potato
Verrrry exciting
We had an awesome dinner together and had a super interesting chat about South Africa vs. the United States. I always truly enjoy those types of conversations with folks who have grown up in another country, as you get a totally different perspective on things you think are normal. We covered some pretty intense topics: healthcare, social issues... it's always so interesting to have these kinds of conversations with people who had a totally different history to you. This was all amazing and a great end to a pretty bustling day.

Malva Pudding
We finished off with a Malva Pudding (just to try it!) and said farewell to this nice couple before heading back to our room to get packed to head back to the airport the next morning. I called Mom and Dad to chat more about the visit with Granny while Michal napped. And then we packed up our "safari bags", ready for the upcoming adventure the next morning. Our plan in South Africa was mostly to spend time in the Kruger National Park, but since I have family in Johannesburg, we slotted in some well-orchestrated plans to see folks on either side of the Kruger trip. Since Kruger is very far from Johannesburg (some 6-8 hrs of driving or so), we decided to stay in JoBurg for 1 night on either side of the safari trip, and would leave the large majority of our clothing at the hotel the next morning... then head to Kruger for 4 nights... and then come back to the same hotel to stay for 1 more night before heading on to the final country of our honeymoon. This "buffering" was a great plan and made for a much more relaxed plan -- though as you can see we still crammed in 1000 awesome visits and adventures in this short time.

The staff at the hotel outdid themselves again, as we returned to find rose petals "Enjoy!" and some snacks and wine waiting for us, as well as a familiar chocolate on our pillow (memories of Switzerland!) to help encourage us to efficiently pack our safari "go bag" and all the camera stuff. Onwards!

Some fruit, chocolates, carrot cake, plus dried fruit and dried mango! And of course, some Biltong!

Lindt Chocolate!
Sufficient snacks for the trip -- Appletiser, my favourite (and my Mom's childhood favourite) chocolate bar Cadbury's "Top Deck", some fruit sticks, and BBQ snacks, some Maynards gummies that I'd already opened at this point, a recommendation from James: Lunch Bar and Chocolate Log, and a South African Kit Kat, as well as the must-haves: Dried Mango, 2 packs of Biltong, and some Droëwors (kindof like a cross between Biltong and Boerewors)

Monday, October 16, 2017

How to help the NorCal Fire Victims

The last week has been horrific here in the Bay Area, with the news on non-stop reporting terrible stories of people losing their homes, and even their loved ones, to the fast and far-spreading fires that have ripped through the Santa Rosa, Napa, Sonoma and Northern California region.

I've personally been keen to help in some way, but keep hearing reports that the shelters are already full and don't need any more clothing or food donations. Thankfully, support efforts are super organized and there are some great resources here to figure out what you can personally do to help. Yes, some organizations are full of clothing and supplies but still need monetary donations, some still need supplies, and some prefer Gift Cards they can distribute to evacuees. There is also info here on how and where your volunteer help would be well appreciated.

Lots of info here:

A very organized and kept-up-to-date Google Doc from the Petaluma Fire Dept here with info on which shelters need monetary donations, who needs gift cards instead of clothing, etc.

On there I learned some really cool stuff, like the well-known Food Truck event organizer "Off the Grid" has a GoFundMe page where they've already raised $30,000 and are feeding evacuees and first responders with Food Trucks already. Awesome idea.

More here:

To all the evacuees and victims of this horrible natural disaster: may the kindness and compassion of your neighbours and strangers -- your fellow human beings -- bring you hope and peace in this madness.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Honeymoon Day 16: Valle de Mai national park, Indian Ocean Rum and Indian Food

Honeymoon Day 16: Valle de Mai national park, Indian Ocean Rum and Indian Food

It was quite a rainy day yesterday so it was still a bit damp this morning but finally not pouring! Wahoo. Hopefully our plane will be able to leave tomorrow... anyhow, on we went to start our last day in the glorious Seychelles. We had the last Breakfast Buffet, and of course got our favourite noodles again! I tried some of the Oatmeal with Calamansi marmalade this time. They had HUGE passion fruits (yes!) and I had a bunch of other fruit again, of course.

That was great and gave me some good energy to get out on the water and do one last snorkel. The weather was nuts yesterday so it was a bit calmer today at least. It was still cloudy and harder to snorkel, but I found a good spot between the rocks and a nice group of big white fish. That was great and I only slammed my knee on a rock twice! This was one of the best Snorkeling days -- tons of fish today!

Here are some photos and video of the last day of snorkeling in the Seychelles.

We had spent some time sitting at the main pool at the hotel but hadn't really spent much time in it, and it is a fancy infinity pool so we wanted to give it a shot. I did a "godzilla" impression in the pool, walking like a monster in the pool while carrying Michal... haha. Maybe more like King Kong?!

We weren't sure if maybe we should just chill on our last day or if we should schlep a ways into the island to see the famous Valle de Mai national park. We asked our buddy at the pool, "Should we go to Valle de Mai?" "Absolutely, it's perfect!" "Ok!" So that was that! We got a drive there from the hotel to make sure we'd have enough time there and would figure out our way back afterwards.

It is a famous park and was a very lovely walk! It was less humid today due to the crazy rain yesterday. We started off the hike seeing the famous Coco de Mer Palm Tree "double nuts" which was pretty funny.

As you can see from the Coco de Mer "double nut" Seychelles continues to live up to its reputation of being the "Garden of Eden". The nut is shaped like a women's legs and hips (ok, it looks like a crotch) and this nut is from the female Coco de Mer. The male Coco de Mer palm has a long stamen-like piece hanging off of it. Yep. Funny and kinda crazy!

The Valle de Mai is also known for the rare Black Parrot, we briefly saw some flying and also heard their call a lot which was cool. It said the long-version of the walk was 1.5 hrs, and we powered through it in something more like 50 min? Probably due to less humidity today, it was easier and more enjoyable of a walk than it would be on other days.

Giant trees!!!

The walk was awesome and quite relaxing with a light wind blowing the trees and the Black Parrots calling. Very cool. We were lucky to get to do this walk out of the rain, but the trees were so giant and had such a huge canopy, I suspect we would have still been reasonably dry even if it was raining. On our way back to the front gate area, we saw some of the really crazy "Socket" root systems -- the trees have a set of roots that plugs into this sort of socket thing on the ground. It was cool, and again, kinda nuts!

Crazy tree root socket

So that was totally amazing and we were super glad to check out the national park. Rather than calling a hotel taxi or something like that to get back, we walked down the road and waited for the bus for a bit with an 8 or 10 person group of Italian tourists. It was quite funny to watch them trying to decide whether they should wait for the bus or give up, we didn't understand their language but they were clearly having the same debate that we were. Eventually they gave up and took a group cab when some dude drove by in a large mini-bus and offered to take them back for a somewhat exorbitant price. It was a Saturday so the buses were on some sort of weekend schedule, though you got the feeling that the "schedule" in the Seychelles was just an estimate at best.

We were sitting for about 20 or 30 min and finally decided after much debate that we'd give up and start walking to the main street where we could go to a shop or two and then wait for the bus there instead. Michal said she figured the bus was going to show up the second we left. Sure enough, just as we gave up to start to walk towards the shops... not 1 minute later... it started raining AND the bus showed up!!! We were no longer in the bus stop but I waved him down and thankfully he stopped. I was excited to take the bus again and practice my "Devant!" yell when we wanted the driver to pull over at the next stop.

View from the bus

A corner store we drove by
Back we went to chill in the room for a while, write some postcards, and do some chillin'. We got a greek salad with passion fruit dressing! That was awesome. And one more jump into the plunge pool on the deck of our epic room, relaxing and enjoying our epic view for the last night there.

We got ready for dinner and first headed to the Danzil lounge again (the place that had the amazing Singapore Sling and Praslin Sling). Tonight I tried something new and very exciting on their menu, the "Vanilla Islands Rum Tasting"!!!!!! The bartender dude was SO psyched to show off all of their rums and to teach me all about them. It was so fun and such a great experience. He was really proud that they were offering this tasting now and took a good 30 minutes with us to explain in detail everything.

"Here is some things to smell, this is not for eating" -- Vanilla Bean, Brown Sugar, Orange Peel
3 tastings and truffles to go with them!
First he explained to me "Rum" vs. "Rhum" -- one is made with molasses and the other with sugar cane. I had no idea there was even a difference, I thought one was just a different spelling! He explained to me the rating system: Unaged, VS, VSOP, XO ("Extremely Old"). There are no age-statements, but Rum is labelled similarly to Cognac (you see Cognac "XO" frequently).

It was so fun to try these, and to smell all the "smelling items" he provided first: orange peel, cinnamon bark, vanilla bean, coffee and brown sugar. He said these represented the flavours I would be able to smell and taste in the rum itself. Apparently, rum is also always Oak Barrel-Aged. As with Whisky, older is smoother. I had 3 tastes to start.

#1 was from The Seychelles, Takamaka 8 year St. Andre. It is the fancy aged version of the standard Takamaka Rum you get everywhere in The Seychelles. It had strong vanilla and cinnamon notes and was delicious. This was my favourite of the three tastings.

Next up was Savanna 7 year from Réunion Island. This one had a much stronger taste, and definitely had strong notes of coffee grounds. This one was quite intense!

The third tasting was Chamarel from Mauritius. It had more of a brown sugar flavour, a broader taste, and was less sweet.

Here's my epic setup with the bottles to look at as well. What fun! And Michal's cocktail on the side there. :)

"Hmm... tasting notes of nuttiness..."
Amazingly, our dude was super epic and loved my enthusiasm for this, and I also think he hadn't had the chance to present the rum tasting to too many people quite yet, so amazingly he poured me a small taste of the Chamarel XO, the old version of the Mauritius one!! Amazing.

So this was all amazing. He was psyched about my interest and after I was done the tasting, he brought out and showed me the fancy bottles they have of other interesting Rums from around the world. I have to imagine it's quite hard to import things or ship things to The Seychelles so he was quite proud of his collection here at the bar. I gotta say I was blown away by the variation of all of these different rums and also that it was possible to try so many things from tiny islands like Réunion! Once in a lifetime opportunity, indeed. As we were wrapping up, he had a funny pineapple-flavoured rum that he thought was very interesting and he brought a little for me to taste. So good!!

An example of of of their other crazy fancy rums, Ron Zacapa XO from Guatemala
Our bartender buddy proud of his excellent rum selection!

That was insanely fun. What an experience!

After that super enjoyable time, we headed to dinner by the pool... for Raffles Praslin's Tandoori Night!!!!!!!!!!! YESSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!! The setup was amazing, what an arrival, with the lanterns up and the tandoor cooking. It smelled like a friggin' dream.

The hospitality was again first-rate and a bit unbelievable in its epicness. We had just put our stuff down and were checking out the food and the pastry chef came up to us, "My friend told me you loved the Bananas Flambe at the Creole BBQ a few nights ago. I will make it for you when you like." OMG. It was definitely NOT on the menu or anywhere to be seen, he was definitely just going to whip it up specially for us. I was astounded. So, that's the vibe we're rollin' with! Amazing.

"I heard you guys loved the Bananas Flambe..."
But first, dinner! We headed over to the curry station and the selection was incredible. Salads, Pav bhaji, Tandoori fish and chicken, and made-for-you-on-the-spot Naan!!!!!! Oh man!! That was such a cool process, I've never seen it made so up-close. I knew it was made by sticking the dough to the side of a tandoor but SUPER cool to see it!! So fun to see how they "Garlic" a Naan to make it a "Garlic Naan" -- he asked me if I wanted Garlic and I said yes, and so he brushed it with butter and sprinkled some garlic on and then put it in the tandoor like the regular Naan. Voila, Garlic Naan!

Pav bhaji -- bun and veggie curry
Start off light, lots to eat tonight!

Preparing the Naan
Sticking the Naan to the side of the tandoor!
Ohhh man that was good!
For the 2nd round, I got their Butter Chicken (sortof like a sweet tomato sauce version of a Chicken Tikka Masala), as well as trying their Paneer curry. And more Garlic Naan, of course! This time I spoke with the chef at the Naan station more and I had lots of questions for this interesting process to create one of my favourite foods. "How does the Naan stick to the side?" He said a consistent temperature is needed to make the magic work. "Does it ever fall off?" Apparently, yes! And my most burning question, "How did you get these huge Copper Tandoor ovens to Praslin from India?!" The said they were able to ship it over, (I suppose Seychelles is in fact on the Indian Ocean...) and that the chef ordered it all specially from India to make sure he could create dishes in Seychelles the same way he made them at home in India. Totally epic.

That was super amazing. We ate like crazy and enjoyed it so, so much. The food was magnificent and truly perfect, but with all the Naan and curries we were starting to get FULL. But time for dessert! And we had to try some of the special things here. I tried these little doughnut things that you sometimes see in Indian restaurants... last time I tried them I recall they were too sweet but here they were way better than the previous ones I've ever tried! I asked the chef what the ingredients were in the stringy doughnut thing and, he said "Fried yeast, flour... and sugar", pausing after saying sugar, he said "Otherwise it has no taste". I also had a glorious Pistachio Saffron Profiterole.... seriously. This place is legendary. I also tried a bread pudding thing and a date "halva"?! Nice. There was also a melted ice cream-y drink thing with fruit in it! Whew! So I know we said we were full, but with small portions we managed to try a lot of the interesting desserts.

And finally, the piece-de-resistance...

The final touch....

The awesome pastry chef brought us our Banana Flambe dessert with vanilla ice cream. These local bananas are so sweet and so good, and the rum sauce is MAGIC. We were so full, satisfied beyond belief, and overwhelmed with joy at the kindness and dedication of the staff and chefs and everyone here. I couldn't believe they made us the dessert... and they made one for each of us, at that!!!!!!!! That was SO nice.

We headed back to our rooms, completely STUFFED and packed up our bags for our very early morning flight tomorrow. Amazed and astounded by the magic of Seychelles, we went off to bed and dreamed of garlic naan and fried bananas in rum sauce.