Friday, October 06, 2017

Honeymoon Day 14: Torrential downpour and bright sunny beach in La Digue

Honeymoon Day 14: Torrential downpour and bright sunny beach in La Digue

Soursop for breakfast! Yes! I tried the noodles this morning as well and they were incredible. Man what an epic buffet this is.

After a solid brekkie, we headed towards the Ferry Dock. Our plan today was to travel to the island of La Digue in the Seychelles. It was described to us as being a bit more like "the way Praslin used to be" or "Old Seychelles". It has much less tourism and certainly much less resort-type spots, so it would be a better slice of "local life" as one of the staff at the hotel described it. We were psyched to go check it out and also to experience their famous beach.

We got to the Ferry Dock via a transfer from one of our buggy driver friends from the hotel. He took us in this fancy RAV4 Hybrid looking thing, it had a fancy logo on the front and said "Hario" but was a RAV4. Fanced! He took us all the way to the Jetty which was perfect so we could buy tickets for the Cat Rose II to La Digue. Our driver called it a "more traditional Seychellois island". He was awesome and told us stories on the way, that as a kid they made their own go-carts and drove on the streets of Praslin then (less cars on the road back then), and he laughed that they made handbrakes with a stick! So cool. He made it sound like La Digue now is a bit like Praslin was then.

Fun to have a local in conversation for a while as we drove to the dock, so I asked some more questions. "When Seychellois people travel, where do they go?" He said very commonly folks go to South Africa because there is a similar currency value. And, he added, "And of course many people go to Dubai... for shopping"! Thought those answers were pretty interesting. I guess when your island is so remote, the answer could have been just about anywhere! These two places are some of the few spots that have direct flights to and from Mahe, so that could be a reason too.

Anyhow, interesting conversation! We got there, got our tickets, and boarded the ferry to La Digue. The ride was smooth... to start. We went to sit outside and enjoy the views and breeze.

Off we go!
Back towards Praslin

About halfway into our 15 min boat trip, one of the folks from the boat asked somewhat hurriedly (though not as urgently as I would have suspected), "Would you like to come inside? The rain is coming." Enjoying the light breeze we said "We're OK"... to which we got a very weird look... OK...

20 seconds later... WHOOSH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! RAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It came out of nowhere and was insane. The seas got choppy and it was coming down like crazy. In we go :)

Skies look a little rainier now!
Everyone trying to stay dry
It was only a quick 15 min ride, but now it was POURING. We of course did not suspect this at all so we didn't bring any jackets or umbrellas! Whoops :) We had towels so we used them as rain covers over our heads. Apparently you often book a bike rental at the Ferry Dock in La Digue to bike around but... maybe not :) We chatted with some locals under the awning who were hanging out, smoking cigarettes, chillin' (there was even a dog there just taking a nap!) and we talked about the rain and how it was crazy and when it might let up!


Off we went, walking down the main street of La Digue for an adventure...
Here's a video of the rain!

Since it seemed a bit too damp for bikes, we proceeded on foot. This honeymoon is nothing if not a grand adventure, right?! So off we went and found a few local shops, most closed, but it was cool to see a bank and a post office and so on.

Local homewares shop
With our "rainjacket" towels on
Fun stuff at the grocery store
Seyte Island Tea!

We sat for a while under the awning on the supermarket steps and waited for the rain to pass, watching people on bikes
AMAZINGLY they had Romany Creams, my favourite South African cookie!
Our walk down Main St. was awesome, and the supermarket had a bunch of fun stuff we bought for snacks: Mint Romany Creams, Liqui Fruit and Ceres juices and more weird Pringle-y chips. After our snack of cookies and water, and chillin' on the steps of the supermarket for a bit, the heavy rain had mostly stopped. We continued our walk amidst a mild rain, but it was OK now to walk.

We wandered past a church and a school (the school proudly had a sign posted saying they ran on 100% Solar panel electricity!) Also we walked by a Cell Tower and several Artist Studios. We wandered by some guy's yard and he had a ton of boat junk in his front yard, looking like he was working on various boats and fixing them up. (If you recall, The Seychelles is sometimes referred to as the "Garden of Eden") -- "If this is the Garden of Eden, then that must be Noah's Ark!"

Artist Studios


"Noah's Ark"

ZilAir Helicopter!!!!!!!

Then we saw ZilAir!!!!! This was awesome. When we had booked the planes to and from Seychelles, we were able to get the flights from Paris to Mahe and from Mahe to JoBurg on airline points, but the Mahe to Praslin and Praslin to Mahe flights were not possible on points, and were a bit pricey for 15 min flight! Our timings were not possible with the Ferry either, so we had looked into ZilAir, the helicopter operator in the area to see if it was roughly comparable to the 15 min flight. We figured instead of $140, maybe it's like $200? And that would be kinda cool to take a Helicopter if it's about the same price? WOW it was NOT $200. :) Can't remember how much it was, but I think it was like $700 or $800 for a 15 min trip!! Whew! So this is what the rich and famous travel in :) It was quite funny to see their sign and one of the helicopters sitting there on La Digue and chillin'.

Onwards we continued to the L'Union area which is officially a "national park". We paid our entrance fee at the gate and were happy to support the upkeep of this glorious area! Inside the park was the main event, the famous Anse Source d'Argent which is apparently the most photographed beach in the world! That was still a bit of a trek further, as first we got to see some other crazy stuff. First up were some giant land tortoises! At first they were pretty cool and it was interesting to see them... and then we found out that it was currently, uh... mating season... so, yeah. "Garden of Eden" indeed!

Coconut husks

Uhh... so that happened
Here is a PG version of the turtles just hanging out, before things got weird.

Next up was a vanilla plantation and we continued our walk towards the glorious Anse Source d'Argent beach. We weren't sure exactly what it looked like, "Is this it?!" we figured as we found some small inlets and chilled there for a bit.

Cool hut

Nice inlet... almost there...

So we stayed there a little bit and then walked just a litttttle bit further... OH! THERE IT IS!!!!!!! Now THIS is IT! Anse Source d'Argent was absolutely glorious and it was as if it was patiently waiting for us. We walked onto the beach off the 2nd inlet area and... as we literally walked onto the beach... the sun came out, gloriously. AS. WE. ARRIVED. That was one amazing welcome, let me tell you. Incroyable!

Still cloudy... wait for it...
Boom!! Sunshine!!!!!!!!!!!

This place is super epic
What an amazing place!!

So that was a truly beautiful beach. We went snorkeling and I took some GoPro photos and video, it was awesome. There were some HUGE fish that an Italian family was pointing out for us. What a GREAT TIME!!!!!! It was exceptional weather, and AS WE ARRIVED!!! Paradis! It was hard to believe this was the same day as the giant torrential rainstorm we got caught in on the way to La Digue. Pretty crazy stuff.

Here are some pics from Snorkeling.

HUGE fish!!!!!

Rock on

And some video of by far the best snorkeling of the trip!

After an awesome time of snorkeling and chillin', we wanted to try to make it back for the 4:30 ferry. Of course we didn't bike to the beach and there are definitely no sort of busses easily accessible here on any sort of normal timetable. We asked a lady at a coffee shop near the entrance to the beach if she could please help us out to call a taxi. She first asked a tour group bus that was leaving if they could take us as well... sadly they were totally full. She managed to call us a taxi and that was solid. Given it was our only way back and he knew we wanted to make the ferry, we began the "negotiation dance" on the price. His first offer was 250 rupees (about $18). "But we paid only 150 coming out (about $10)" -- of course we had walked out! This got an awkward silence in response. "How about 200 then?" The next 5 min he asked us lots of details about this theoretical taxi we had taken out and what colour was it, etc. We said it was black "Oh, there are no black coloured taxis, that's not possible!" I think the issue is that the folks on the island try to agree on a general price for flat-rate fares for tourists, so if someone else is undercutting that's prob not how they want to handle it. So our made-up story about the 150 rupee ride may have caused some havoc in the La Digue taxi driving community that day! Ha, but of course as we got to the dock we did see plenty of black-coloured cabs. So, he prob knew we were playing the "negotiation dance" too. Oh that's always so awkward and a little odd when traveling somewhere! 

In contrast to our way out to La Digue, it was nice and clear on the trip back to Praslin. It was a littttle choppy as we left La Digue but generally chill. We got back much more smoothly to the Praslin Jetty and walked to the bus stop. Rather than being overly fancy and calling the hotel shuttle (not necessary), we weren't in a rush and we wanted to try to catch the local bus. A nice Australian girl at the bus stop could tell we were totally unclear which bus to catch, so she was super helpful. It seemed they came on pretty random timetables, and if we had just missed one it could be a while... but we waited about 4 minutes only! Wow. Our bus shows up and ZOOMS into the bus lot area. How perfect. And we knew the bus was cheap but it was crazy... it was 10 Rupees for BOTH OF US. 35cents each! And this was for a 20-30 min ride -- as compared to the 200 we had just paid for a 10 min drive on La Digue! So the bus was pretty epic. The bus was also full of charm and absolutely nuts. The driver barrelled around corners at a pretty awesome speed and drove haulin' ass with the windows all open for natural air conditioning. If you want to get off the bus you just yell "Devant!!!!!!" since there were no bells on this older bus. If you do that, the driver opens the door with the bus still going at full speed! He then pulls over, you get out, and then he drives off with the door still open a bit before closing it, as he's driving. It was pretty hilarious and insane. (Still though, nothing could be worse than bus drivers in Peru!) What an epic local experience, and... only 35 cents!

Crazy bus
Our stop!
We got off the bus and walked up to the hotel gate before taking a buggy-ride up the hill back to our room. Time to relax for a bit after the fun and long day out. We chilled for a while and that was great.

For dinner again this evening we returned to the Curieuse restaurant, the Indian/curry place we had gone to a couple nights before. We got lots of interesting stuff tonight. Brocolli with cheese and cashews, which was very creamy and so good. We asked for advice on what to order and they suggested Mongolian Chicken and Black Pepper Beef -- the same two dishes that we were looking at! Nice. Michal got a Passionfruit Mojito, and we got another hilarious drink called "Girls Just Want to Have Rum"... but it was for ME not for Michal!! haha. So tasty.

Chillin' back at the room
Our deck pool!
To the Curieuse restaurant

Good times!!

"Girls Just Want to Have Rum"

Mongolian Chicken and Black Pepper Beef... that was so good

What an awesome place and such lovely service and beautifully prepared and tasty food. That was amazing after a day of getting caught in the rain. We then ordered a Banana Cinnamon Creme Brulee with Banana Chips... and as our timing went today... just as we put down our spoons... a nice waitress from the restaurant came out very intently but soft-spoken, "Would you like to come inside... now?!" We learned our mistake earlier in the day on the boat, as this polite phrase means, "It is mere seconds from a total and utter downpour." The server looked quite nervous so we moved somewhat swiftly to a covered area. And sure enough, 10 sec later, BOOM!!!!!!!!!!!! Pouring rain!!!!!

Our dessert, just before the rain
Inside! See the servers carrying things into the covered area with giant umbrellas
It started coming down like CRAZY!!! Pouring!!! WHOOSH!!!!!!!! The speed at which the servers moved everyone in was really quite impressive. They then had to clear all the tables, lamps, etc. We sat there and watched the rain a little and then headed back to our room in a buggy. They had a whole system for taking you by buggy when it was pouring, the buggy zipped up so you didn't get wet and it was quite cool. I complimented our buggy driver about this and he said, "We are trained for this!" As we departed the buggy that night, he said "Shalom!" to us! Very nice, he said he loves languages and tries to learn some things from all the many international guests at the hotel. It has been so fun to meet all the different buggy drivers, they are all super friendly and fun and they really add so much to the whole hotel experience.

We were happy to be back safely in our "home" and enjoyed the rain from inside our awesome room. Amazingly, there was another treat waiting for us that had been delivered to the hotel room, a tasty coconut square.

Dessert #2!
What an awesome day. To top it off, we even got an amazing Raffles Praslin beach bag delivered!!!!!! Our first day driver told us he'd try to get us one because it would be very helpful for us going to and from the beach. What an awesome awesome bag. We are definitely schlepping this thing back home to San Francisco. :)

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