Sunday, May 24, 2009

A trip to the land of the blues - III

:)
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Trip to Mauritius: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

The next thing I heard was the ringing of the phone. Sleepily navigating myself towards the phone, I managed to pick the call up.

“H….e.ll…ll.l….oo…”

“Good morning Sir. This is the concierge.”

“Yes?”

“I called to inform you that your cab is here Sir”

I flipped my wrist over and looked at my watch. Still had an hour left.

“Ok, we will be there at 8.15 as informed to us”

“Sir, the time now is 8.20”

I sat upright.

“What?! Are you sure?”

“Yes, sir.”

Totally awake by now, I mumbled something about my watch saying something else and promising that we will be there soon.

In the next 20 minutes, both of us operated on fast forward as they show in movies and managed to rush out by 8.40.

As we reached the cab, we were greeted by O’Brien – our guide for the day. We avoided his eyes and frantically dumped our carry bags in the car. That was when he made a strategic mistake.

Trying to scare us, he said “It’s very late, Sir. If we start anytime after 9, we would get stuck in traffic jams”.

That made my wife freeze in her tracks.

“After 9?”

“Yes ma’am.”, he said forcefully, not knowing what was coming up.

“Then we’ll have breakfast and come. We still have 20 mins”. Saying so, and not giving him time to recover from this blow, the missus pulled me and ran to the restaurant. Poor guy took a couple of minutes to re-draw his jaws from the ground.

I was not so much for breakfast then. We were already late by a half hour almost. And I absolutely HATE that. So I kept mumbling something as we filled our plates with buns, croissants, omelette etc.

Then the missus told me “You were the one who set your watch wrong. And you wouldn’t set a wake up call also. Don’t blame me for this now.”

But I HAD to have the last word.

I said “Ok”.

(Go Vishy!)

In 10 mins we were back at the car. With slightly heavier carry bags (Wink wink).

O’Brien chose to keep himself quiet as we pulled away from the scenic hotel. And luckily for us, the other couple that was supposed to join us for the day’s trip had cancelled their program. So we were virtually on private transfers, at group tour costs.

(Balls to you, tour operators.. Ha ha!)

Soon my heartbeat was back to normal, and my mind started functioning again. And that was when I realised why so many things had gone the way they did the previous day.

The tour operator lady’s comment on keeping time at Mauritius.. The hotel tour that never happened.. The server looking at us weirdly when we ordered food (cos it was way past closing time).. Ah!!!

Soon we were whizzing past Win-XP-wallpaper after Win-XP-wallpaper on our first day of touring Mauritius.

We had actually suggested that this day's trip could be cancelled and some adventure sport could be scheduled in its place. The tour office lady almost had a concussion when she heard that. Deeply hurt, she claimed that this was “the classic Mauritius tour that no one ever misses”.

My foot.

The first half of the day was filled with places I would not visit even on Google Maps.

First we were taken to a ‘glass factory’ that posters claimed “is to glass, what Madame Tussauds is to wax”. I thought the factory made glass models of celebs, and went in with some excitement.

The hallway was filled with row after row of glass models of celebrities’

Hands.

WTF!

Imagine being in a semi-dark hall. You look all around you. And all you see is model after model of glass bearing some obscure hand print. The only things that visibly differentiated the models were the plaques that called out the name of the celebrity whose lovely hand it was.


As I wondered why they had brought us to such a place, and what was so great about it, we moved on to the next room. Ah! That explained it.

One could take home a glass model of one’s own hand. For a thousand Mauritian Rupees.

Have these guys been smoking dope! Why would ANYONE want to do that! Who the hell (apart from Joey Tribbiani) could identify a hand!

A funny exhibit at the glass factory

We were out in a jiffy and went to the next stop of the day.

The ship factory.

Actually the ship model factory.

Actually one more ploy to try and part our precious money from us.

This ‘factory’ made models of ships (that were 3 full feet in length) and tried to test the IQ of tourists by offering them things for sale. But they met their match in me.

The sales lady kept dropping hints, each less subtle than the previous. Starting with “These ships are made of good quality wood”, moving on to “These are very popular souvenirs that remind tourists of the fun they had here”, and finally to the extent of pleading “Sir, we assure that we can pack this very well to tolerate the pressure of an international flight”, she tried her best. But I betrayed absolutely no emotions of even remotely considering a purchase. I looked at the ship models with the stoic eye of an Engg graduate at a factory in an Industrial Visit. My only thoughts were about the fun stuff that were planned for the rest of the day. This was just a formality that had to be done with. Soon the lady gave up and just let us walk around the showroom.

Pretty soon we were out of that place, and moved on to the first tourist spot of the day: (hold your breath, ladies and gentlemen)

The Volcano!

We were kinda excited about this one. Finally some interesting stuff which we cant get elsewhere!

O’Brien took us to a hillock (at Trou Aux Cerfs), and pointed a large pit in the valley and exclaimed “THIS is what remains of a terrible volcano.”

We peered over. The ‘pit’ was quite large, and the air was heavy with reverence.

I managed to whisper out a quiet “when did it last erupt?”

“Oh don't worry. Millions of years ago"

Plop.

(That was the heaviness vanishing into thin air)

Why again would someone want to see this? It’s been millennia since any activity happened at this place, and these nutty folks were crying over spilt lava?! Why, had this been in India, kids would have been playing cricket all over the place.

Anyway, there were some good 'valley view' points there, and we started clicking pics together.

Can you see the ocean behind?

(Tip to Honeymooners: Buy a tripod for your cam and take it along. We did. Helps a lot, later when telling others that both of you went on the trip, together)

Soon we were back in the vehicle, and went on a scenic route to a place called 'Ganga Talao'.

En route to Ganga Talao

En route to Ganga Talao

There is a huggggeee statue of Lord Shiva on the way to Ganga Talao, towards the end.

Legend has it that Lord Shiva appeared in some saint's dreams and asked him to get water from the Ganges in India, and build a temple in Mauritius. And so he did at this place.

The actual temple near the pond looks like some kind of department store outside, with quite a few statues of different lords erected there.



Soon we were on another scenic route to some gorges and waterfalls.

And the last stop for the day was a place called "seven colored earth". It was a place with mounds of dark mud that was in different hues. Fine, it was interesting to the extent that I wouldn't have minded watching it on NatGeo or Discovery. But coming in person to see this was a huge disappointment. Seeing 'seven colored earth' on different posters and pamphlets, I had expected it to be something spectacular. But those guys hadn't lied. It was just that - seven colored earth. Nothing else. Nothing great.


Boy fishing inside Tortoise's mouth

Soon we were on our way back to the Hotel. One more scenic route.


Overhead irrigation systems are omnipresent at Mauritus

With quite a tiring day behind and ahead of us, we retired for the night after some time at the private beach at the Hotel.

13 comments:

San said...

:) :) :) :) :) :) :)

Ananthasubramanian said...

Didn't you tell me that you were actually engaged in lot of adventure sports? :P

King Vishy said...

@san..
:) :) :) :) :) :) to you too!

@ananth-etc..
This was just one day da.. Quite a bit of the story remains to be told yet :)

Nikhil said...

Can totally relate to your glass factory rant.

When I went on a similar "Countryside tour" at Amsterdam, we were taken to a "Cheese factory" and a "wooden shoe factory". I mean, WTF???

King Vishy said...

To my arms, mate!!! :)

buddhan said...

Kalakkitteengaley...
Departmental Store where statues are arranged was fantastic.
Keep posting like this...
thanks...}}

King Vishy said...

Thanks thalaivaa!! :) Glad you found time to read through all that!!

San said...

hmmm... u must've had fun also.. why dont u post abt the fun part of ur sightseeing instead of dismally entertaining pieces abt how u got sick of all this... :D

King Vishy said...

The rest of the trip was all fun.. It was only the first couple of days that had a lot of 'surprises' like these :)

Karthick Prabu said...

Mokka vaanginatha ippadi beautiful ah sollirukiye :P

"20 more minutes, we will have breakfast and come", this is the best!

"The volcano erupted millions of years ago", this is 2nd best. LOL * LOL. I must have been there to see your face reaction when you heard this.

visit to shop that had only celebrities hand - hehehehehe. Pity you machi. Glad that they stopped with hands :P This is 3rd best.

"buy our ships, we will pack well for international travel", this is 4th best.

All the best :P

King Vishy said...

Whatay in-depth analysis! :D thanks KP..

Anonymous said...

put up pictures of u with ur wife also...

subs said...

Apparently, i told you over sms. Now on blog- wonderful writing.