By Idries Abdur-Rahman, M.D.
After basking in luxury for the 36 hour journey to the Seychelles surely the actual vacation would be a breeze, right? A vicious bout of traveler’s diarrhea, a hotel infestation and pornographic tortoises might make you think twice.
Fast Facts about The Seychelles:
-The Seychelles are a group of 115 islands although only three of them are actually inhabited by the country’s approximately 95,000 residents.
-Victoria, located on Mahe island, is not only the capitol of the Seychelles but also the world’s smallest capitol city.
-While Creole is the “official” language of the Seychelles, English and French are widely spoken and all three languages are taught in the schools.
-Tourism is the Seychelles’s largest industry followed by fishing and off-shore banking.
-All Seychellois students receive a free laptop and the government is working to provide island-wide free wi-fi.
Welcome to the Seychelles. As you can see the arrival and departure action on the island is pretty slim. Alright by me, less people means more private paradise!
After clearing customs and immigration (which was pleasantly quick) we met our pre-arranged driver from the Hilton LaBriz resort who was waiting in the arrival hall holding up a sign with the name of yours truly on it. I quickly converted some US Dollars to Rupee and we headed to the black Hilton car for the quick ride through the center of Victoria to the Hilton LaBriz boat jetty..
And here it is, the Hilton LaBriz boat jetty where guests start the 35 minute journey from the main island to Silhouette island home of the LaBriz resort.
A group of about 20 boarded the ferry bound for Silhouette Island. When I made the hotel reservations months ago I had no idea that the hotel was not on Mahe, the main island. I also had no idea that the only way to the island was either a roundtrip ferry transfer (at 100 Euro or about $110 per person) or private helicopter (at 650 Euro or about $700). Luckily I figured the whole separate island, ferry transfer thing out when I was in the lounge at LAX waiting for the flight to Addis Ababa which gave me enough time to cancel my rental car reservation and contact the hotel to quickly arrange for the airport transfers and the ferry ride.
Adieu Mahe Island. The waters were a bit choppy and I have been know to get a bit sea sick from time to time. I’ve never actually vomited (knock on wood) so I guess I get more sea nauseous than sea sick. Either way, the trip was quick enough at only 35-40 minutes that I succumbed to neither and actually enjoyed the nice breeze and sea air.
Here are the Missus and I after 36 hours of flying and 19 years of marriage enjoying the quick journey to Silhouette Island. What! You guys have been married for 19 years?! But you look so young!! Awww shucks….I know, I know..what can I say, the genes have been kind 😉
Okay, guess I did get a little bit “sea nauseous”. Oh well,
Land ho, Silhouette Island in the foreground as we drew nearer. And no, that is not me. It was a long journey sure enough, but it wasn’t so long that this relatively tall black guy became a significantly taller white guy. No, he just happened to step into my otherwise perfect picture at the last minute. Thanks!
I have to say that I was immediately struck by how turquois blue the water was. When I was at Cape Point in South Africa earlier in the year (Cape Point is where the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean meet the warm waters of the Indian Ocean), I remember our tour guide telling us the warmer the water the lighter the color. If that’s true, I was looking very forward to dipping my little tootsies into some nice warm water. Now, if you saw my brother and I on The Amazing Race floundering in the deep Pacific waters in Bora Bora (him more than me, just sayin’), you know that getting in the water ain’t my thing BUT I still do love looking at the water and sticking my extremities in it from time to time.
As the boat pulled into the jetty on the Silhouette Island side we were greeted by a bunch of staff one of whom was jamming a mean tune on a guitar. Well hello, welcome to the Hilton LaBriz Resort and Spa!
Soon we were whisked to the buggies that serve as the only form of motorized transportation on Silhouette Island.
Fresh coconut juice in hand, we were headed to our villa.
Villa # 401. A deluxe beachfront villa with a pool. Thanks for the upgrade Hilton! Daddy is real happy!!
The villa was pretty homey with hard wood floors and high wicker ceilings.
My favorite part of the villa had to be the deck with tons of covered and open lounging spaces.
Ohhhh myyyy. Is that an outdoor shower? You know I had to go all Blue Lagoon at least once and become one with nature.
This little wicker love seat was going to become my favorite lazy mid day nap spot. What better place to dream while the ocean breeze blows through the leaves of the palm trees towering over the deck.
Yep, that’s a close up of the pool, our own private pool that is. Hell, with a private pool I knew that even I would have to put on my swim trunks and make a splash at least once.
If not for the wasp nest you concealed, you had great promise to be our Scrabble arena.
And last but not least, we had our very own private-ish beach of sorts. Private because it was in our back yard, private-ish because the beach outside of the boundary of our backyard was public and had frequent visitors meandering up and down it’s expanse frequently taking a gander in our yard while they meandered.
And then there was the hammock. You look so idealic, too bad you were covered in bird poo. We could have had some really good times you and me if only you cleaned your act up a bit!
I said last but not least to the private-ish beach but the real last but not least was really you beautiful bed. 36+ hours of travel and six airplane meals later (and more lounge food than I care to admit to), I was shamed by my other half into skipping dinner. Dinner ixnayed I took a quick shower and you and I became good friends even before the sun had fully set.
Sorry, apparently 30 seconds of video upload is the maximum for this platform and my shortest sunrise video was 44 seconds, drats!!!! Oh well, enjoy the pics!
Now one of the benefits of jet lag, and yes there are benefits to jet lag, is that you tend to wake up really really early in the morning.
The benefit to waking up really really early in the morning is that you catch a beautiful sunrise. Successful pano attempt ?
And you get to do that all by yourself. Granted it was 5AM but I was still surprised to literally be the only person stirring for what seemed to be miles in either direction.
That meant I got the entire beach and this beautiful sunrise all to myself. Nothing wrong with that let me tell you.
Its probably a good thing that I was alone because I was contorting my body into all kinds of funny and probably somewhat obscene shapes and positions trying to get the perfect angle for this sunrise and for this massive swaying palm tree.
Wish I could just take this palm tree home.
Just like Pringles, one pic is never enough.
Neither is two, this palm tree was magnificent.
Of course, I had to get a bit artsy fartsy and play around with depth and blurring effects on the camera.
Yeah, here too.
Almost there……..about to greet the sun.
Well hello Mr. Sunrise, nice of you to finally join me.
Sunrise done, I headed to the gym for a good 75 minute workout. Aren’t you pound of me? I’m proud of me. 75 minutes is good even for at home so that’s the equivalent of like four hours in vacation time. Now what happened after the gym? Well, that was a shameful gorging at the breakfast buffet, but I’m not going to share pics of my shame. Just trust me, it was shameful, very, very shameful.
Now Silhouette island is an eco-reserve so that means that there isn’t a ton of stuff to do if you are not super outdoorsy. We came for nothing but relaxation so not much to do was just fine by us.
The rest of the day was just a lazy day chilling in the covered gazebo playing our favorite adult game (get your filthy minds out of the gutter)……Scrabble. Followed by
a walk on the beach. The beaches on Silhouette island were beautiful but the rocks and shells made walking on them sans shoes a bit painful.
I’m always a sucker for a beach shot with beautiful turquoise waters and low hanging clouds. After an afternoon of Scrabble and slow lazy walks, we headed to dinner. And yes, it was a buffet….again. And yes I gorged myself…..again. Yep, you can kiss that 75 minute workout goodbye! At this buffet I reunited with sushi for the first time in a longtime.
We came back to our villa to find this little fella chilling in the bathroom. Okay, I get it, we are in the tropics and Gecko’s eat bugs so no harm no foul, right? Wrong! Unfortunately he wasn’t our only goes that evening. Our second visitor (who by the way The Gecko clearly did not eat) was too fast to get a pic of but just imagine the huge cockroach from Men-In-Black. Well, he was twice the size. Tropics or not, cockroaches I don’t do.
And then this happened! What started off as a little tinge of something in my tummy turned into a full blown deluge. Yup, travelers gastroenteritis was here and I couldn’t keep things in no matter how hard I tried. I won’t paint a full picture but this artistic shot of the toilet lets you know where I spent the entire night.
And so it went all night long….bed to bathroom to bed to bathroom. Each time I got up to go to the bathroom, the Gecko and roaches were now joined by scores of dead flies that seemed to be multiplying on the bathroom floor by the minute.
By morning I was feeling worse and the weakness and dehydration was starting to kick in. Luckliy there is actually a small travel clinic staffed by German doctors on the island so I grabbed my plastic bag, called a buggy and headed to the clinic. I wanted Cipro and Lomotil. As a germophobe type-A doctor I always travel with my personal pharmacy but of course this time I was in a post-call packing rush and forgot all my pharmaceutical goodies. Despite my request for Cipro and Lomotil (doctors love it when patients make specific requests, right?) the nice German doctor gave me Perenterol, a medication that I never heard of but apparently is a yeast that I presume competes with the infectious buggies in your gut thereby killing them.
This is my artistic way of telling you that the medicine just didn’t work. And to boot, night #3 brought with it more roaches. Some big, some small, some on the floor, some on the furniture. If I wasn’t so damn sick I probably wouldn’t have slept at all.
I guess the roaches were starting to get comfortable with our presence and no longer felt the need to conceal themselves.
Some were big and on the ceiling,
some small and on the floor,
others liked the sink while some were partial to the furniture.
By morning things were still shall we say…….running, but I felt less nauseous and was at this point more bothered by the real bugs than the GI bug and so it was time to say adios to Silhouette island and the LaBriz resort and spa. So I booked a room at the Hilton Northolme resort and spa on the main island of Mahe, called reception and told them we were going to blow that pop stand. The requested buggy came to take us to sweet freedom (I was still too weak to carry all of our luggage in the hot sun)….I mean reception. Let grab our shit….ake mushrooms and get baby! Now all wasn’t bad on Silhouette Island. The staff were in fact phenomenal and the island itself was beautiful. But alas, it was definitely time to go. Last four nights refunded (because I pre-paid for the room, something I usually never do and don’t really recommend), we were soon on the ferry ride back to Mahe island. Just in case you were wondering, a ferry ride on choppy seas when you already feel like you want to puke is a real blast! After visiting the bathroom on the Mahe side boat jetty, we hopped in a taxi and thankfully had a quick ride to the Hilton Northolme where thankfully our room was ready. The offer of a cold drink and cookie at checkin was nice but my tummy still wasn’t quite up to the task so I eagerly went to the our villa, number 103.
This villa was decked out in a dark (cherry?) wood from floor to ceiling. While I don’t think I would necessarily choose this look for my home, in this setting it actually worked just fine.
And the bathroom was huge.
With his and her sinks. No shaving remnants for you babe.
Nice water view from the bath tub.
The sleeping area looked nice and cozy (which bore out later that night when I went to sleep).
But the coup de gras was the lovely deck with
it’s loveseat and lounge chairs and of course
The beautiful beach and
and ocean views with the mountain backdrop. Call me crazy but the best part of an ocean view in my humble opinion is the actual sound of the waves crashing along the beach as they roll in and out. Lucky for me this deck had the views and the sounds. Heaven! At this point I was at about 90% thanks to tincture of time and a quick stop at the pharmacy to get my Cipro, Loperamide and Phenergan for nausea and hydrocortisone to combat the after effects of those pesky mosquitos. Now bear with me because I am going to get on my doctor’s soapbox for a moment. I bought all four of those medications and electrolyte replenishment packets for the equivalent of $15 US. $15! Back home in the states that would have easily cost me hundreds of dollars (without insurance) which is insane. If pharmaceutical companies can afford to sell their meds abroad at these prices we in the US need to push our representatives to get out of the pocket of big pharma and start imposing reasonable price caps. Okay, soapbox moment done. Point is, I was feeling better. Tomorrow was going to be a combo spa and chill day.
At checkin we were given a certificate for a free couples massage so we decided to checkout the spa menu.
In retrospect we may have gotten just a wee bit carried away. Yeah, three treatments each later (in the span of four days), it is fair to say that we got carried away but when you are celebrating 19 years of wedded bliss and you have abandoned…er…I mean left the five kids are at home in the loving care of their grandma, you are entitled to get a bit carried away, right?
And so we spa’ed and we chilled. There is nothing quite like having a Thai woman (hey, she actually was from Thailand) massage every knot out of your back while you stare out at the ocean. The only point that gave me a little pause was her firm and seemingly prolonged massage of my lower abdomen. That required some concentration and clinching if you get my drift because my belly wasn’t 100% just yet. You will be happy to know however that we both made it through just fine and I left with my dignity still intact.
Couples massage done
we slinked ourselves to what became my favorite place on the property. A tiny little alcove with three chairs
and a hammock over looking the ocean. And guess what? This hammock wasn’t covered with bird poo!
Pearched under this beautiful tree (yes I have a thing for tall, curvy palm trees, the curvier the better, just don’t tell the missus),
I kicked back and
let my tootsie out to enjoy the warm rays of the Seychellois sun.
Ohhhh, and that palm tree I was eyeballing has some hot sisters too!
And so, there we stayed until the sun set and the mosquitos decided we were their dinner buffet. Speaking of buffets, we skipped the dinner buffet, retired to our villa and scarfed down room service before turning in for the night. Tomorrow we were touring the entire island of Mahe….well, after a quick morning reflexology massage. Don’t judge, you remember that whole 19th anniversary left the five kids at home with granny thing right?
The sight and sound of paradise!
After another buffet breakfast (don’t judge I did come here first for about 45 minutes), we met Paul, our guide for the day. First stop was downtown Victoria, the capital of the Seychelles.
Downtown Victoria was nothing if not colorful and I’m going to use a word that I think is highly over-used but here it goes…… quaint.
Don’t ask me what this building is but the colors really did pop for my DSLR.
A little slice of Seychellois life. Mostly locals with a few tourists milling about.
The souvenir shops were abundant and for the most part their costs insane so you know I did no shopping here. Photos though, they were free.
Just thought this was cool
And this too…. Peace and Love!
There was a little Seychellois pride on every lamp post.
As I strolled through the center of Victoria, I spied a couple of nuns walking into a church. Not necessarily specific to the Seychelles but it caught my eye for some reason. Okay, moving on….
The nunnery connected to The Cathedral of our Lady of Immaculate Conception. Love the architecture.
And here is Our Lady of Immaculate Conception. And I’m talking about the church in the background not the worshipper coming out.
As we strolled the streets, me snapping pics of totally inane things, we came across the main bus depot for the Victoria public transportation system. The buses definitely looked a bit old school but they got the job done so you shall near no criticism here.
Now I’m a slice of life kinda guy so here is a slice of Seychellois life for you. Sunday market shoppers.
Now I have to give equal time to the island’s other major religion so here is the largest mosque in the Seychelles, The Victoria Mosque.
Last stop before leaving downtown was the Victoria Clock Tower. Quaint (there I go using that word again!), right? The clock tower or Lorloz as it is called in Creole, like many reviews stated, was nothing too special though I did like it’s Big Ben-esque appearance which apparently was intentional.
And last but not least, my new favorite shirt. I’m with you, Oh Beach Please! Thought about getting it for a second then I realized I have neither the bosom up top nor the right equipment down below to do this ensemble justice. Oh well, I will just leave you with that picture.
I probably could have meandered my way through downtown for a few more hours but my second half kept reminding me that Paul was waiting so onwards and upwards with the next part of our tour, the Seychelles National Botanical Garden. The drive to Mont Fleuri where the garden is located was like most drives on this island paradise, scenic and due to the curvy roads, a little bit nauseating (I don’t think I met a single straight road on the entire island).
Now I like flowers as much as the next guy, but we came here to see the giant tortoises and we weren’t leaving until we saw a giant tortoise. Okay, they weren’t quite that giant but OMG imagine if they were. That would take the giant tortoise game to a whole new level!
Now these tortoises are pretty darn giant and they all seemed quite content just lazing in the warm afternoon sun. Can’t say I blame them.
Well…..almost all of them were content to laze in the warm afternoon sun. These two on the other had, they decided to put on a show for the 20 or so visitors. And boy oh boy did they put on a show. Now I have to admit I have never given much thought to tortoise sex BUT if I had, I don’t think I would have imagined it to be as loud as it was. When I left, I have to be totally honest in saying that I was a bit jealous of Mr. Tortoise.
Sufficiently put to shame, we left the garden. I doubted that anything could possibly top what we just saw, still and made our way to Mission Lodge Overlook. Not only does the overlook provide some spectacular views of the island
Even with my lumpy bumpy attempt at a pano shot
But it also has a pretty cool history.
Originally called Venn’s Town, the lodge was run by missionaries who opened a school there for liberated African slaves who made their way to the Seychelles in the mid-1800’s.
With a history like that you would hope that the site would be a bit better maintained. None the less I was happy to see that the history was commemorated and the site did have a rustic beauty after all.
The next stop after Venn’s Town/Mission Overlook was the Tea Factory. I mean who doesn’t want a piping hot cup of tea in 85+ degree highly humid heat, right?
The Tea Factory however is more than just a tea shop. It was built in 1962 and it is the site were ALL of the Seychelles’ tea is produced (and the Seychelles are actually quite known for their tea). Oh, and it has this pretty cool tea cup and a great view so all in all despite my sarcasm a totally worthy stop.
Leaving the Tea Factory we took a winding road to our last stop of the day, the Port Launay waterfall said to be the largest of three natural waterfalls on Mahe island.
Fancying myself an amateur photographer I played around with things like shutter speed, ISO and aperture trying to capture both the waterfall in motion and
A still shot in time. How did I do?
Not impressed by my photo skills? Oh well, just enjoy the site and sounds of the waterfall then, ahhhhhhh…..
Now sufficiently car sick (it’s been a problem since childhood if I’m not driving) we decided to call it a day and head back to the hotel. This last night we made the mistake of not getting room service. I say mistake because apparently when the sun goes down the creepy crawlers come out to play, at least in the hotel’s common grounds. Half way through dinner I saw something scurrying across the railing of the open-air restaurant that I initially thought was a gecko. It wasn’t a Gecko. Nope, it was a roach and a huge roach at that (obviously if I thought it was a Gecko). And then the veil was lifted and I noticed many rather large roaches on the railings, the walls and the floor. Yup, it was time to go. And go we went. On the way back to our hotel room, we saw more prehistoric roaches running around. Yeah, we should have just stayed in and kept the roach-free dream alive. This is the tropics however and I never saw any creepy crawler of any type in the room so all in all I can’t complaint.
Despite a few bumps along the way we still had a phenomenal time in the Seychelles. Bags packed, we turned in for our last night in paradise before the long journey home. Be sure to check out part 3 aptly titled “The Long Journey Home” and of course check out part 1 (Getting there) if you haven’t already.
Don’t forget to check out parts 1 (The journey to the Seychelles) and 3 (The long journey home) below:
Part One-Getting There
Part Three-The Long Journey Home