Mauritius is an island located on the Indian Ocean. It has a total area
of 1860km², about 3 times the size of Singapore; about 1.1 million population.
Often I was asked where exactly is Mauritius? I would always tell, "next
to mainland Africa". Mauritius' neighbouring countries are Madagascar,
Reunion Island (to France), Seychelles (a bit up north) and not so far
away from South Africa.
With Air Mauritius
Departure on the 3rd May from Düsseldorf to Paris with Air France and
from Paris to Mauritius with Air Mauritius. The total flying time direct
from Paris to Mauritius - about 11 hours. My first time travelling on
Air Mauritius, it was a very pleasant experience and I had a good impression
on the airline. The cabin crews were friendly and attentive, however
it was not overdoing kind of good service. We were served juices and
water very often between meals. The service on board is comparable with
other Asian airlines. My good feeling for Mauritius already started
on board Air Mauritius. I was then quite sure to meet other friendly
and hospitable Mauritian on ground as well.
4th May - 14th
Our two weeks in Mauritius was not just a private holiday but also visiting
our friends, the Danet Family. We put up with this family who are living
in Mahèbourg for the whole of two weeks. Whenever we want to visit other
parts of the island, we would either take a taxi or borrow his car.
Driving is on the left just like in Malaysia. One funny thing is exit
out of highway or motorway lead by a roundabout. Mahèbourg located on
the south-east, the nearest town from Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International
Airport. It is a small town crowed with locals especially on Monday
- the Weekly Market. Not many tourists are seen here and the beaches
around are calm and not crowded. Our friends rented a house by the seaside,
it is so near that we could walk down to the beach within 30 steps!
Due to the houses are built next to one another and there is no pedestrian
ways between houses leading down to the beach. It made the beach looked
like private beach. We were told beaches in Mauritius are public beaches
that belong to the Queen of England. The Waterfront in Mahebourg is
worth a visit. It is within walking distance from town centre, just
behind the fresh market and the bus terminal. It is a beautiful park
where you can see young couples walking hands in hands, anglers and
elderly sitting by the water relaxing. This happens mostly in the evening
time when the weather is cooler. Blue Bay Lagoon at south of Mahebourg
has beautiful and very clean aquamarine waters. This part is also not
popular to tourists unless one travels a bit further to the west, where
one could find a Malaysian proud - Berjaya Resort on the Le Morne peninsula.
(Southwest of Mauritius) You will also find a lot of families at Blue
Bay in the evening to swim, picnic, snorkel or just walking along the
BOIS CHERI A tea factory since 1892. Bois Cheri is
worth a visit, here we have a chance to see the tea plantation around
the factory; and to learn the transformation from tealeaves to beverage.
Mauritius is very famous with its vanilla tea. We had our first taste
on board Air Mauritius and were totally excited about it. Bois Cheri
is not only a tea museum but also an active tea factory. It provides
1 hour guided tour in the factory, where we could witness the process
of plucked tealeaves being transported on a conveyer belt to a drying
area where leaves are allowed to dry for 24hours. Then leaves are cut
with machine and sent to the high heat dryer (110°C) for further drying.
Later the leaves will go through fermentation, flavoured and finally
packed for export. Teas harvest season is in the summer (from NOV -
APR). During winter lesser tealeaves are collected and the factory operates
only 2 days per week (Wed and Fri). Teas tasting and tea boutique are
available at the chalet on top of the hill, here we could see a beautiful
panoramic view of the south of the island.
L'AVENTURE DU SUCRE at Pamplemousses (www.aventure-sucre.mu)
is a sugarcane museum. As we looked out of the window in the airplane
upon arrival, we could see these beautiful green carpets below us. Sugarcane
fields are spreading out across the island. Mauritius produces rum and
raw sugars for export. I was told the best quality of raw sugars are
produced for exportation and Mauritius imported cheap sugars from nearby
islands for local consumed. Basically what we could see here are the
machines like sugarcane juice presser and many historical pictures about
the histories of Mauritius and how immigrants came to work in the factory.
It would be a bit too boring for kids because there are too much to
read and not many things to see.
BLUE PENNY MUSEUM The museum is at the Le Caudan Waterfront
in Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius. For stamps collectors, Blue
Penny Museum (www.bluepennymuseum.com) is a must to visit. Mauritius
is the home of the very famous and priceless Post Office (ONE PENNY
& TWO PENCE), the first stamps issued in Mauritius in 1847. These first
issued stamps were then collected back from the market due to some printing
mistakes. It was later being found out that there wasn't any mistake
on these stamps. Due to not many pieces issued, they became so expensive
and valuable. This museum is founded by The Mauritius Commercial Bank.
Many interesting historical items can be seen in the museum such as
ancient sailing maps, binoculars, documents, paintings, sculptures and
LE SAINT AUBIN situated on the south of Mauritius,
near to Soullac. Le Saint Aubin was built in 1819, a sugarcane estate
house. It is a very typical and big colonial house, which has been converted
into a museum and restaurant. In order to have lunch here, one must
make a reservation beforehand. We spent a relaxing afternoon in the
tropical garden, where we saw banana, papaya, oil palm and coconut trees.
One could have a look at these fruits on the trees for once, instead
of at the exotic corner in the supermarket. Although these fruits are
nothing new to someone like me from Malaysia, still it is nice to look
at them fresh on the trees! Besides, it is also nice to visit the Anthurium
and Vanilla plantation. Next to the plantation there is this vanilla
house, where one could see a short film how vanilla sticks were dried
and processed. Last but not least a visit to the rum distillery, a chance
for us to watch the rum-making process and taste the rum direct from
the barrel. Mmmh,,,first grade 80% rum, I am still alive! I wonder why
there is no fresh sugarcane drinks sold by hawkers? Anyway, Mauritius
produces great rums. Don't forget to get yourself a bottle of Flamboyant
at the airport duty free before flying home. The best rum I have ever
DOMAINE OF YLANG YLANG Many of us have heard of Ylang
Ylang somewhere or seen it on the back of a shampoo or shower gel under
Ingredient. A day excursion at Domaine of Ylang Ylang gives you a chance
to discover these exotic trees and to experience the nature and the
beauty of this tropical valley in Mauritius. Ylang Ylang is a tree about
1.5m to 2m tall. The branches grow in a Y form. I wonder if these trees
are cut and forced to grow in such a shape in the early stage or it
is by nature so! (Yet to find out) The yellow flowers of Ylang Ylang
are used to produce essential oil for bath, perfumed shower gel and
aroma therapy. One could also visit this perfume distillery at Domaine
Ylang Ylang. We also did a jungle trekking at the Domaine of Ylang Ylang.
As we walked down the valley, we found so many guava trees which we
could help ourselves with the fruits. In this tropical forest we also
got to see some cinnamon trees and some other unusual plants. It is
important to put on a pair of walking or sport-shoes, otherwise it is
impossible to do the trekking. Beware of the mosquitoes! It is advisable
to rub some anti mosquitoes lotion or cream on your body. I never got
attacked by so many mosquitoes at one time like here.
CAP GRIS CRIS (Souillac) Cap Gris Gris is at the most
southern point of Mauritius. Mauritius island is surrounded by coral
reefs. The reefs break the waves about 1 to 2 km away from the beaches,
that's why we found calm water in lagoons. It is a perfect place to
learn swimming. Cap Gris Gris is the only point that is not protected
by any coral reef. The strong waves roll inshore and hit directly against
the rocks. It is not a safe place for swimming and snorkelling. However,
the scene here is absolutely breathtaking and standing on the rock to
feel the strong wind blowing is really overwhelming!
PORT LOUIS Port Louis is the capital of Mauritius.
This is the part on the islands where one could see more modern buildings.
Whereas houses in most other parts of Mauritius are with flat top and
very square looking (because of the cyclone). There are also some very
charming old colonial houses at the backstreet. This reminds me of Kuala
Lumpur, besides all these beautiful and modern skyscrapers, stands beside
a row of old town houses. Port Louis has this unique character as well,
a mixture of old and new.
GRAND BAIE Grand Baie situated in the northern part
of the island, 17km from Port Louis. It is popular among tourists and
the beaches around are recognized to be better than the south. Grand
Baie offers plenty of accommodations and other facilities to tourists.
There are middle-range and budgets hotels, holiday apartments and bungalows.
Getting around and travelling to other parts of the island from Grand
Baie is very convenient. There are car rental and taxi services, besides
enough banks for foreign currencies exchanged. Here we see a lot of
Polo Ralph Lauren boutiques selling their clothing for half the normal
price. It is a good chance to get ourselves some new good quality pullovers.
I was told these shops are allowed to sell the items for certain period
of time, so before the contract is due they have to get rid of the stuffs
by selling them half the price. Beware! Many of these boutiques accepted
credit cards on surface only. Whenever we wanted to pay with our cards,
we were told to change our cash (Euro) at the nearest bank or we should
be paying for the 3% surcharge on cards. It is advisable to carry cash
when going for shopping. Grand Baie Bazaar is also interesting to visit,
where all kind of little souvenirs could be found. There are many cheap
Levi's Jeans, Hugo Boss T-shirts and other imitation goods we could
buy here. Of course the quality we get is also what we are paying for,
you can see it after one round of machine wash.
CAP MALHEUREUX Cap Malheureux is at the most northern
point of Mauritius. In November 1810 the British Soldiers landed at
Cap Malheureux and from here proceeded to Port Louis, where the French
surrendered and the British took charged of Mauritius. It is because
of Cap Malheureux the Mauritians are still speaking French today but
driving at the correct side of the road like in Malaysia. (driving on
the left). Many tourists come here to have a look at the small beautiful
orange colour rooftop Raman Catholic Church of Notre Dame.
The People &
Mauritius is a culture melting pot, there are several ethnic groups
living on this island. They are the descendents of immigrants since
17th century who arrived in Mauritius for different reasons and at different
period of time. The Indo-Mauritius (Indians) is the largest ethnic group,
Creoles is the second largest (mixed African and European decent), Sino-Mauritians
(Chinese) and Franco-Mauritians (Europeans). This fact has made the
cuisine as colourful as the people. Mauritian delights are for example
Mutton or Beef Curry, Mixed Vegetable Curry, Chinese Style Fried Rice,
French Beignets or Creole Style Fried Meat. Very often in the restaurants
we would be served warm baguette and a small plate of green chilli paste
English is the official language in Mauritius. However the Mauritians
speak and understand much better French than English. Most locals communicate
with one another in Creole, a local dialect that is very similar to
French. Mauritius was French colony for 95 years and later was under
the British rules for 158 years. However the French has more influence
over Mauritius than the British. The custom and language passed down
by the French remained. One day we were having lunch in a restaurant
called Snack Salut Les Capaino (isn't the name very French) and had
a chance talking to the boss of the restaurant to find out more about
the school system in Mauritius. English is the medium of education,
kids has six years of primary education, afterwards to the secondary
school and later students are to sit for O-level and A-level examinations.
I was told examination papers are sent to UK for marking. (quite like
in Singapore) Another similarity the students have with many other Commonwealth
countries is the school uniform. Other than this fact, English is not
widely used. It is better to find your way and ask for information in
Mauritius is a truly
paradise, the people here have almost everything a nature could provide.
We were there in May, actually the beginning of winter. It has been
raining for the first of our two weeks, but we have got blue sky and
sunshine on the second week. So, we have experienced sunshine, see blue
sky, feel of the sea breeze and looking at the clear sky full with stars
at night, coconut trees, mountains, coral reefs, rain, beautiful fine
and sandy beach and clear turquoise water. Last but not least have a
taste of the great variety of foods. In general Mauritius is a very
clean country. There are rundown parts on the island where you could
see people are living in slump or poor condition areas. However, the
Mauritians love the nature, their forest, water and seas. We could hardly
see people litter on the beach, in the woods or seeing rubbish by the
roadsides. One could probably see some floating beer caps on the water
in areas dense with tourists, otherwise I have not seen rubbish on the
sea surface or beach in the south. This is what we Malaysians are lacking