Lemonicks https://www.lemonicks.com Acclaimed Travel blog of an Indian couple who bring travel stories from across the globe. Tue, 27 Jun 2017 07:37:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 Kindness is Everywhere in Iran https://www.lemonicks.com/asia/iran/kindness-everywhere-in-iran/ https://www.lemonicks.com/asia/iran/kindness-everywhere-in-iran/#comments Tue, 27 Jun 2017 05:40:04 +0000 https://www.lemonicks.com/?p=20169 We meet many people on the road, both locals and travelers alike who help us in time of need or distress without expecting a return. Last week of every month I bring you stories from travelers who have experienced kindness on the road and like to share and spread it for the love of travel.

Kathleen Poon takes us to Iran for this month’s story. Let us see what she has to say about people of Iran. I am excited. 😀
Over to Kathleen Poon.
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Ancient ruins Persepolis

We had already been in Iran for … Read the rest

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We meet many people on the road, both locals and travelers alike who help us in time of need or distress without expecting a return. Last week of every month I bring you stories from travelers who have experienced kindness on the road and like to share and spread it for the love of travel.

Kathleen Poon takes us to Iran for this month’s story. Let us see what she has to say about people of Iran. I am excited. 😀
Over to Kathleen Poon.
= = = = =

Ancient ruins Persepolis

We had already been in Iran for five days, and by this time, my sister and I were convinced that travelling in the land of Persia was indeed a positive experience. Due to the negative media publicity about Iran, understandably there are many misconceptions surrounding this country. Every preconception I had about Iran was challenged on each day of the trip. We were delighted by the rich Persian history, architecture, art, delectable food but the one thing that truly amazed us was the kindness of Iranians, and this reality was quite evident when we were driven from Shiraz to Esfahan.

Tomb of Hafez-Shiraz

*****

The melancholic Persian songs played on the car radio lulled us to sleep. I don’t know what the songs were about but it must have been about love, lost love, heartache, or…perhaps a lost goat.

Although the car had air-conditioning, we could see the weather outside was hot. It was spring in Iran, there were times when temperatures shot up to mid-30 degrees Celsius and got uncomfortably hot. We drove past dry and rugged landscape; some areas were dotted with cypress trees but the land was arid and barren.

Our driver’s name was Mustafa and he was tasked to drive us, not only around the tourist sites in Shiraz but from Shiraz to Esfahan as well, after which we would be dropped off at our hotel in Esfahan. We didn’t interact much with him for he spoke little English but he seemed like a nice man.

Mustafa was a careful driver and took care of us during our five-hour journey from Shiraz to Esfahan. He made sure we were comfortably cool with the air-con, and every now and then he asked us, “OK?”. We gave him the thumbs up and went back to sleep.

Morris minor toycar-Mustafa’s car

Mid-way through our journey we stopped in a small town. Mustafa could not say ‘lunch’ in English but made the sign for eating, and so we understood. He led us to a restaurant and as soon as we sat down at the table, the waiters gave us the menu but Mustafa said ‘wait’. We were puzzled as to why he wanted to us wait. Nevertheless, we waited, looked at the menu which was unfortunately in Farsi and there were no pictures.

We asked the waiter for a menu in English but he could not understand us. Once again Mustafa asked us to “wait”. Wait for what? What seemed like an interminable time, we decided to go ahead to order our food and not press for an English-language menu. As long as we could see what others were eating, and if the dishes looked good, we would order the same!

‘Mustafa, we order now, we eat’.
‘Wait’, said Mustafa looking flustered, and he disappeared.

Within a minute or two, Mustafa returned to our table with a gentleman who happened to be a tour guide with a group of Italian seniors. The tour guide spoke to us in English that firstly, Mustafa would like to apologize for making us wait as he was looking for someone in the restaurant to help translate for him, and secondly, he would like to recommend the fesenjan, a local dish of grilled chicken served with walnut and pomegranate sauce!

We could not believe that he went all out to find someone who could communicate with us! We were so touched by Mustafa’s thoughtfulness that we invited him to join us for lunch. But he politely declined and the tour guide continued to translate that Mustafa’s wife had packed lunch for him and that he would eat in the car.

*****

The kindness that we experienced at the restaurant was just another unexpected thing that we encountered during our trip in Iran. Unexpected because of the general misconception that Iran is hostile towards foreigners.

Some might say, perhaps they are kind to tourists in hope to receive tips. That could be true, however, offering hospitality is part of the Persian culture and national pride, therefore many Iranians are genuine and warm towards foreigners. In fact, the driver who picked us up from the airport in Tehran offered dinner at his house with his family. However, we declined because we had only just arrived in the country, feeling excited but mostly mixed with trepidation, unsure of the situation in this misunderstood country. A few days later, the same driver mentioned that his dinner invite at his house was genuine, it wasn’t for money. If only we were brave to accept his invitation!

Not only are they kind towards foreign tourists, Iranians are well-mannered and soft-spoken. I love listening to them speak in Farsi for the language sounds wonderfully poetic and just as well that the Persian culture is renowned for their poetry. Because of their genteel nature, Iranians despise poor behavior, as such, they speak gently and respectfully towards one another. Once again, that was apparent upon arriving in Esfahan.

Mustafa is a local guy from Shiraz, and I could sense that he wasn’t sure of the route to our hotel in the city centre because he stopped three times to ask for directions. Each time he stopped to ask for help, be it from a young or elderly person, they gladly gave information. No one was rude to him or looked away to avoid giving help. Even at the traffic lights – as the lights turned green, a truck driver continued to give directions to Mustafa for additional five seconds, and yet no one honked at us!

Bicycles for rent

My sister and I found it very surprising because it is uncommon in my home country Malaysia where people are afraid of strangers stopping to ask for directions. Many Malaysians are generally not familiar with street names, they rely on landmarks instead. Also, there have had been snatch theft incidents on the pretext of asking for directions. As a result, Malaysians are more wary than usual – they either walk away or brush off the stranger.

But not in Iran.

*****

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Kathleen is a travel writer and blogger from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She blogs at Kat Pegi Mana: Where Is Kat Going . Her friends often ask her, “Where is Kat Going”, whenever they meet for they see the wanderlust in her! Through her blog and writing, Kathleen aims to inspire people to appreciate and connect with various heritage and cultures around the world.

You may also want to read some of the earlier posts on the same theme.
Kindness on the Road
Surviving America
Good deed not dead!
Lost and found

If you have been helped by someone during your travels and want to share your story with the world, feel free to connect with me in comments section.

If you want to travel places with us, I suggest you to join us on my Facebook travel page.
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Finnair Review Economy Class A330-300 https://www.lemonicks.com/europe/finland/finnair-review-economy-class-a330-300/ https://www.lemonicks.com/europe/finland/finnair-review-economy-class-a330-300/#comments Fri, 23 Jun 2017 03:51:19 +0000 https://www.lemonicks.com/?p=20285

I looked down through my window. I was flying over a range of some barren mountains with sporadic snow covered peaks in sight. Where was I exactly? My immediate reaction was to look at the screen in front of my seat. The flight map showed we had crossed Pakistan and now I was flying over Kabul, Afghanistan. Afghanistan, one of my dream destinations. At least I could see how it looks from above. 🙂

As the flight moved further up north, the brown mountains changed into sparkling white. It looked like the glistening snow was inviting me with open arms. … Read the rest

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I looked down through my window. I was flying over a range of some barren mountains with sporadic snow covered peaks in sight. Where was I exactly? My immediate reaction was to look at the screen in front of my seat. The flight map showed we had crossed Pakistan and now I was flying over Kabul, Afghanistan. Afghanistan, one of my dream destinations. At least I could see how it looks from above. 🙂

As the flight moved further up north, the brown mountains changed into sparkling white. It looked like the glistening snow was inviting me with open arms. To say I was excited, would be an understatement!

It was not the first time I was flying to Europe. For me, going to Europe is like going to my comfort zone. But I hadn’t visited any Nordic country before. And I hadn’t flown Finnair before! And neither disappointed me. 🙂
Finnair doesn’t fly from Mumbai but it has direct flights to Helsinki from Delhi thrice a week. It takes 7 and half hours to reach Helsinki.

Here is, how my experience with Finnair was.

Finnair means ‘Your shortcut to Europe’.

At the airport:

My flight was in the morning at 10:40 AM and in my opinion it’s a convenient time to fly out compared to those early morning/late night flights. I could sleep well through the night and left for airport after a quick breakfast. The flight was on time.

On reaching Delhi airport everything was done very smoothly. While boarding I was pleasantly surprised to see flock of Indians traveling by Finnair. Of all the popular airlines, why would Indians prefer Finnair, so I thought. Later I came to know, Finnair is a favourite with not only Indians, but many other fliers as well. First and foremost reason, you can break your journey and explore Finland at no extra cost!

Like many airlines, Finnair has also introduced a Stopover in Finland Program for long-haul passengers traveling between North America and Europe or Asia. The idea is to offer passengers a small holiday up to 5 days, in order to break up what is a long journey. Isn’t it a fantastic idea? If you are travelling between Asia, Europe and the USA, you get to explore what may be a new country for you? The Finnair website also helps you book a hotel or activities in your choice of town in Finland.

In-flight Services:



This is an area where one forms an impromptu opinion about the airlines he or she is travelling. That’s what matters the most to most of the passengers. The in-flight services. Right?

The moment I entered the aircraft, an air hostess led me to my seat and made me comfortable. Another one brought a glass of water to the passenger next to me. Though I was traveling in a small group, we all had booked separate seats as per our choices. I had my favourite window seat. 🙂 A trolley of free soft drinks, wine and beer was brought once the airplane was at cruising altitude. The flight attendants on this Finnair flight were generally friendly and attentive. When those around me rang their call buttons, a flight attendant always arrived within a minute or so.

Food & Beverages:

I had pre-ordered a vegetarian meal which was served on time. As accompaniment I enjoyed the Finnair blueberry juice, and then had extra serving of my favourite Tomato juice. Ah! I had red wine too! Of course, there were tea, coffee and non-alcoholic drinks as well. But still I think there is a room for improvement in this section.

The galley at the back had refreshments like aerated drinks and pretzel and rye crackers which could be had throughout the flight, and we utilized this opportunity to straighten our legs, to have a chit chat while enjoying our snacks.

Entertainment:

Although no Wi-Fi was offered on this flight, there was an in-flight entertainment screen provided in each seatback. The screen was clear with brightness level settings and a tilt you could easily adjust. However, I felt the screens were losing the touch screen functions. It required firm touches in order to get a response. So mostly I used the remote control provided under the armrest.

There were movies from different genres and categories “comedy, drama, action and classics”, albeit not too many choices. Since it was a daytime for me, I watched a couple of films back to back. I hope Finnair will consider giving more options in entertainment section for economy class.

Interiors:

finnair review economy class a330 300 lemonicks.com

Traveling in economy class makes me prepare myself for a cramped seat, especially if it is a long flight. But not on this flight. A cursory glance inside the aircraft told me, the seats were not as cramped as they are generally in economy class.

I was happy to see that there was enough space and enough leg room. I didn’t feel uncomfortable during the flight. The aircraft was A330-300 with seating arrangement of 2+4+2. There are two sections to the economy cabin, with bathrooms situated in between them. Both sections felt airy and spacious.

The seats were upholstered in pale blue patterned fabric that was well-accented by the lime green and beige packaged flannel blanket and lime green pillow. Also, there was a set of in-ear headphones and water bottle tucked into each seat-back pocket. Seat-back screens were connected to an audio-video on-demand system with remote controls in the armrests, and also had a credit card swipe system for payments.

The plane landed in Helsinki so smoothly that I didn’t feel it! With a short taxi to the stand and only a couple of minutes’ wait until disembarkation began via an aerobridge.

LIKED THIS REVIEW? PIN IT RIGHT AWAY !!  ↓↓

Overall, I was satisfied with the flight. I would certainly consider booking another Finnair flight.

Have you flown Finnair anytime? What was your experience?

If you want to travel places with us, I suggest you to join us on my Facebook travel page.
P.S.- This article belongs to www.lemonicks.com. Reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited. If you are viewing this on a website instead of your RSS feed reader, then that website is guilty of stealing our content. Kindly do us a favour. Please visit our site and help us taking action by letting us know against this theft. Thank you.

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Lapland’s Culture: Reindeer & Sami https://www.lemonicks.com/europe/laplands-culture-reindeer-sami/ https://www.lemonicks.com/europe/laplands-culture-reindeer-sami/#comments Mon, 12 Jun 2017 14:29:11 +0000 https://www.lemonicks.com/?p=20116
There is no other sound except crunching of snow under their feet and tinkling of sleigh bells tied around their neck. I am cozily snuggled in a wooden sled with a rug casually thrown over me. It is half past midnight with temperature dipping to around minus 20 degrees. There is a chill in the air as expected. We are passing through a snow covered forest and the reindeer are gently pulling my sleigh moving in line.
Reindeer, sleigh and snow … that’s what one expects in a Nordic region during peak winter.

Relaxed, I am gazing at the stars, … Read the rest

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There is no other sound except crunching of snow under their feet and tinkling of sleigh bells tied around their neck. I am cozily snuggled in a wooden sled with a rug casually thrown over me. It is half past midnight with temperature dipping to around minus 20 degrees. There is a chill in the air as expected. We are passing through a snow covered forest and the reindeer are gently pulling my sleigh moving in line.
Reindeer, sleigh and snow … that’s what one expects in a Nordic region during peak winter.

Relaxed, I am gazing at the stars, ruminating about these harmless animals and the life in Lapland in general. Lapland brings a picture of its best known creature aka reindeer and Sami people in front of me.

The reindeer.

They are much more than just innocent cute looking animals. As they live in forests, these harmless animals are almost wild but docile and indifferent as well. The reindeer outnumber people in Lapland. There are approximately two reindeer per person in Lapland.

The Lapland reindeer can endure a very cold climate with much snow. Reindeer hooves adapt to the seasons well. During summer, the foot-pads become spongy and provide extra traction possibilities. In winter the pads shrink and tighten. The sharp rim of the hoof can cut into ice to keep the animal from slipping. This also makes it possible for them to dig down through thick layers of snow.

For the indigenous Sámi people of Lapland, reindeer are the lifeline and an integral part of their life and culture. For centuries reindeer have been providing transportation, food, warmth and, of course, company to Sámi people in demanding weather conditions of Lapland. It would not be wrong to say that reindeer and Sámi people are inseparable.

laplands culture reindeer sami @lemonicks.com
Reindeer Safari, anyone?

Sámi people

If we look into the past, it tells us that the Sámi people were nomads and with the change of weather, moved with their herds in search of grazing lands. In the challenging long winters the life is hard, but Sami people have tried to keep the culture alive. Hence, for this reason, reindeer herding is legally reserved only for Sámi people in Finland and in some parts of the Nordic countries.

There are approximately 80,000 Sámi people across the northern parts of Sweden, Norway, Finland and parts of Russia. Inari region of Finland, has one of the biggest Sámi communities of Finland, with about 2000 Sámi living in the area. Total Sámi population in Finland, is approximately 9000 strong.

Spread of Sami tribe across Nordic region.

The Sami people are also called as just Sami or Lapps or Laplanders. They are an indigenous Finno-Ugric people inhabiting the Arctic area of Sápmi. They are the only indigenous people of the European Union. Sámi people do not speak Finnish but their own language. And the native Sámi dialects have hundreds of precise terms for snow, ice, water, fire and other natural phenomena. The Finnish govt. is making all efforts to retain their culture and celebrate their uniqueness.

In Finnish folklore, an element of mystery is associated with Lapland. Many a myth stem from the ancient beliefs of the Sami and survive to this day through word of mouth. In Sami mythology, everything has a soul. Thus, every living and non-living being has a story. They all carry knowledge and wisdom within.
While you are in Lapland, if you are interested to learn more about Sámi people and their culture, make sure you visit the Sami museum, Siida.

Reindeer husbandry

Timo and his beautiful wife Armi

Armi sang a song for me.

According to my local guide Timo, with all the modern technologies in hand, it is not a matter of survival anymore for Sami community. But it is still a major livelihood for many (approximately 10% of the Sámi people) in the region and is considered an important tradition to keep alive.

In Lapland, the knowledge of reindeer husbandry has been passed down from generation to generation and the terminology related to breeding and raising reindeer is very specific to this region. During touristy season, they bring reindeer from the wild and use them for tourism purpose. And that’s how Timo and his beautiful wife Armi live with a mix of traditional and modern culture.

Timo took me to a little hamlet with a couple of log huts and a reindeer farm named Joikun Kota. On a visit to a Sámi farm, you get to learn about their culture and lifestyle.
Lavvu, the Sámi traditional house, is something like a tent or tepee. It is made of reindeer pelts or hides by stitching them together. Inside surface is of reindeer fur as it is soft and warm. With slow fire at the center burning 24 hours, it keeps the residents warm & cozy. The fire acts as a fireplace as well as a cooking area. Of course there is an outlet (like chimney) at the top to ensure the circulation of fresh air.
A reindeer skin rug is used on hardwood or tile floors to keep the surface warm.

Activities involving a reindeer

Reindeer were the primary means of transportation in Lapland till snowmobile dominated the scene.

In modern days, reindeer are used for safaris and other activities. On a safari tour, if you wish so, you are able to drive your own reindeer sled for a stretch of a 2-3 KMs in the forest. It’s not too fast and trust me, it’s a fun ride!

Since number of reindeer is more than the people in Lapland, it is obvious that low fat reindeer meat is a strength in the region’s cuisine. Similarly, dried reindeer meat is a Lap delicacy. It is as popular as it was in olden days.

So if you eat non-veg, Reindeer is the local delicacy you must try in Lapland. Souvas, the signature dish of Sámi, is a lightly-smoked reindeer meat which is cooked over slow fire. The thinly sliced hot smoked reindeer meat is served on flat bread with lingonberry jam and is a winner hands down.
The people of Lapland have always made the best of whatever is seasonably available in nature. Besides reindeer, they have berries, potatoes, freshwater fish and wild herbs in their traditional cuisine.

Coffee being prepared in traditional way.

After my delicious meal, I had a strong cup of coffee, also prepared in the traditional manner. A coffee pouch made of reindeer leather was put into a copper kettle over the fire. There is a certain etiquette for drinking your coffee. Ask your hosts to teach you. 🙂

The reindeer skin is lush, elegant, and soft to the touch. Reindeer skin is also used as mats as they keep the surface warm. The hide is also used to make bags, pouches, throw, rugs, wall hangings, mittens, hats and shoes.

I also visited a Reindeer Park and had the opportunity to feed the reindeer. Imagine, reindeer eating from your hand! I have done it! They eat mainly lichen, moss, hay, grass and other plants.

Facts about reindeer:


1. The reindeer antlers can grow as much as 2 cm in a single day! And every year the antlers fall off. In the old days, the antlers were used to make tools or handcrafts.

2. Don’t touch them while feeding or any other time. Also, don’t click pictures with flash on. Reindeer feel intimidated.

3. Reindeer are well adapted to the Arctic climate. Their hooves and food pads change between seasons as per the conditions on the tundra.

4. Nordic region is extremely cold and how do reindeer keep themselves warm? They have two layers of fur with a tremendous insulating capacity. While the inner layer is woollier and dense, the outer one is long-haired with hollow, air-filled hairs.

5. They are ‘earmarked’ by their owners. Small carvings or cuts are made in the reindeer’s ears. These marks are ancient marks of their family. It allows the herders to recognize their herd when they cross over to other territories.

6. Do not ever ask a Sámi how many reindeer he has. He won’t tell you. It’s considered a bad omen to count the number of reindeer one has.

7. There are allocated reindeer parking areas and parking a reindeer is much easier than parking a car. 😀

There are several reindeer safari with or without a meal. Depending on your budget and time you can choose one. You can do a day safari or night (which I highly recommend). During night safari, rejuvenate yourself with a bonfire, coffee or soup and an interesting session about life in Lapland before you start your return journey.

Have you been to Lapland? Would you want to go there?

Getting there:

Getting to Lapland is fairly easy once you are in Finland. There are regular Finnair flights from Delhi to Helsinki. From Helsinki you may drive down or catch a flight to Ivalo. I would recommend you catch the flight to save on time.

Stay: I stayed in Holiday Club Saariselka. In my opinion, it is the best place to stay in Lapland. Very family friendly place, they have all in-house facilities for you to experience. They also arrange for all your outdoor activities.

If you want to travel places with us, I suggest you to join us on my Facebook travel page.
P.S.- This article belongs to www.lemonicks.com. Reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited. If you are viewing this on a website instead of your RSS feed reader, then that website is guilty of stealing my content. Kindly do me a favour. Please visit my site and help me taking action by letting me know against this theft. Thank you.

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Mauritius beyond beaches https://www.lemonicks.com/africa/mauritius/seven-reasons-visit-mauritius-dont-involve-beach/ https://www.lemonicks.com/africa/mauritius/seven-reasons-visit-mauritius-dont-involve-beach/#comments Thu, 01 Jun 2017 14:47:48 +0000 https://www.lemonicks.com/?p=20031 Seven reasons to visit Mauritius that don’t involve a beach

Mark Twain called it “paradise”, and Joseph Conrad “a pearl”. The visuals of turquoise blue waters and white sand beaches pop up in our minds on hearing Mauritius. No doubt Mauritius is one of those few places in the world you can fall in love with immediately… even before landing.


But is that all? Is Mauritius only about picture perfect beaches? Have you ever wondered what else can Mauritius boast about? Mauritius isn’t just about beautiful beaches.

Very few people know that Mauritius has another side to it which gets … Read the rest

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Seven reasons to visit Mauritius that don’t involve a beach

Mark Twain called it “paradise”, and Joseph Conrad “a pearl”. The visuals of turquoise blue waters and white sand beaches pop up in our minds on hearing Mauritius. No doubt Mauritius is one of those few places in the world you can fall in love with immediately… even before landing.


But is that all? Is Mauritius only about picture perfect beaches? Have you ever wondered what else can Mauritius boast about? Mauritius isn’t just about beautiful beaches.

Very few people know that Mauritius has another side to it which gets overlooked. With history of different cultures, geological wonders, natural spectacles there is much more to this tiny gorgeous island called Mauritius.
If you are planning to visit the country, explore a different Mauritius besides just the beaches. Experience the new Mauritius!

Indulge in history

Much like India, the history of Mauritius is also linked to the British. In 1834, the British government chose Mauritius to bring in labourers on contract from other countries. Thus Apravasi Ghat became the place where Indians & Africans set their first step on Mauritian soil. They came via sea to work, mostly as plantation workers in sugarcane fields. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, it also houses a museum that narrates the story of the role it played in Mauritian history.

Tip: The tour is free but photography is not allowed inside.

In contrast, Chateau Labourdonnais, another beautiful heritage site, tells us about the other side of plantation history… i.e. of the people who owned the plantations. Inspired by Italian neo-classical architecture, the residence was built mainly from teak wood and has a double colonnaded gallery.

Explore greener pastures of Mauritius

Mauritius National Botanical Garden is one place you should start your explorations. Formally known as Sir Seewoosagur Botanic Garden, it is one of the most visited attractions in Mauritius.
The garden is located in the district of Pamplemousse. It was initially opened as a private garden by the French governor of Mauritius nearly 300 years ago, later to become the national botanical garden of Mauritius.

The garden is so big that if you are really interested to explore it thoroughly, it might take a few days to cover the whole garden! It is populated with more than 650 varieties of plants among which are the famous Baobabs, the Palmier Bouteille, the ineluctable Giant Water Lilies, medicinal plants, a large spice garden and many more.
One of the main attractions of the botanical garden is the 85 different varieties of palm trees brought from different corners of the world. Other indigenous species of plants are also exhibited here.

Charge: MUR 500
If you are interested in seeing the lush green natural carpets, head over to Le Telfair & Golf course for a game of golf or two.

Wildlife in Mauritius

I can visit Mauritius just for this reason! For those who are interested in wildlife, Mauritius has plenty to offer. Though it has a relatively low diversity of wildlife compared to other African countries, you can still enjoy Lions, Caracals, Tigers, Zebras, Ostriches, Deer, African Antelopes, White Rhinoceros, Impalas, Kudus, Camels, Mauritius Kestrel and many more. Many of these are now extinct, for example the ever famous Dodo.

Casela World of Adventures

reasons visit Mauritius don’t involve beach

Nature, wildlife and adventure, all three put together makes a Casela World of Adventures. 😀 You can rough it out on a quad bike, or a slow Segway, hang on to ziplines, or if you don’t mind, unchained lions are waiting in their enclosures to hang out with you! You can feed the giraffes or ostriches, say hello to Zebras by taking a safari. The park is a great attraction for even kids.

Time: 9 Am to 5 PM
Charge: Adults Rs 700, Children Rs 450 for children between 3 and 12 years. If you book online, you’ll get 10% discount.

Visit Château de Labourdonnais

Château de Labourdonnais was built in 1859 and is an architectural masterpiece. This is an ancestral home that belongs to Christian Wiehe and his family. The château is split into two levels. The interesting thing about the architecture is that the ground floor consisting of dining room is decorated in the Victorian style whereas the bedroom on the first floor has been designed in French style.

The grand colonial home is surrounded by beautiful gardens, orchards of guavas, passion fruits and mangoes. Furthermore, a tasting bar to try their own rums and a souvenir boutique adorn it. The boutique also has jams, fruit jellies, fruit juices and sorbets made using natural fruit flavours from the orchards at Labourdonnais.

Charge: Adults Rs 750 and children Rs 400. The fee includes a guided tour of the château and a tasting of rum at The Tasting Bar.

And while you are at it, make sure you do check out these amazing cashback offers on MakeMyTrip with Citi cards every Tuesday and Saturday to find out #WhatsNewThisVacation. Click here to know more about them. I am going to be booking my next vacation using Citi, you should too!

Visit Curious corner

curious corner
Curious Corner

Curious Corner, as the name suggests, is for those of us who have curious and inquisitive minds and like to indulge in some harmless fun. Adults and kids, both are equally treated. I liked it very much.
So, if you are tired after indulging in self pampering activities and you want to give your brain some stimulating work out, then the answer is Curious Corner. Seems like, it is a house filled with a variety of delusional fantasies. As soon as you walk in, you and your brain, are both challenged to stir your straight forward thinking.

Seven-Coloured Earths at Chamarel

reasons visit Mauritius don’t involve beach

Again, this is one of the places which is not near a beach! Also, one of the more touristy spots in Mauritius. This seven-coloured earth is a rare natural phenomenon that is a must visit. This geological formation is said to have occurred as a result of decomposed basalt gullies. This decomposition was aided by the island’s hot and humid climate. It is said that if you mix the coloured sands together, they’ll eventually settle into separate layers.
So, just the sight of this colourful sand is incredible. The dunes are protected by a wooden fence with two viewing posts for tourists. Furthermore, what is most fascinating is, that the colours haven’t eroded in spite of the torrential rainfall Mauritius receives.

Charge: Rs 400 for adults and Rs 200 for children.

So, do not overlook a visit to Mauritius even if you are not a beach person. There is much more than pristine beaches. Experience the new Mauritius!

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Disclaimer: This post is in collaboration with @CitiIndia.

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Cantonese Opera in Macau https://www.lemonicks.com/asia/macau/cantonese-opera-macau/ https://www.lemonicks.com/asia/macau/cantonese-opera-macau/#comments Sun, 28 May 2017 21:53:35 +0000 https://www.lemonicks.com/?p=19974 We return to the main island after our jaunts across the Taipa island, known for its glitzy brand new casinos, charming village in the quaint Coloane, the southernmost island of Macau. Of course not before tasting the mouthwatering egg-tarts and a sumptuous dinner in Miramar.

Chinese opera macau tou tei festival
Characters in a Chinese opera wear elaborate make up

We can’t believe that we had covered all these and a lot more, in the course of just half a day. Many of these will make it into an article or two in days to come!

There was just one more thing to do before … Read the rest

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We return to the main island after our jaunts across the Taipa island, known for its glitzy brand new casinos, charming village in the quaint Coloane, the southernmost island of Macau. Of course not before tasting the mouthwatering egg-tarts and a sumptuous dinner in Miramar.

Chinese opera macau tou tei festival
Characters in a Chinese opera wear elaborate make up

We can’t believe that we had covered all these and a lot more, in the course of just half a day. Many of these will make it into an article or two in days to come!

There was just one more thing to do before turning in for the night … no, not the casinos. We move to an old part of the town towards the temple of Tou Tei, the god of land or earth or property or even wealth as you may want to call him as per your context. He is so important that it is not uncommon to see a small idol or statuette in front of most homes as a mark of respect and with a hope of protecting one’s property and may add to the assets. 🙂 He is omnipresent!

On reaching the temple through the narrow lane, we don’t climb the steps of the temple.
Oh… that can wait till tomorrow, the main day dedicated to Tou Tei, Feast of the God festival. Rather we go into an auditorium situated right opposite it. A huge hall full of seats with a stage towards the far end. It appears as if all seats are already taken. After all, it’s a free event. However our host waves her magic wand and lo and behold three of the finest seats fall vacant. I don’t know if it was because of the respect the Macanese had for us Indians or the sheer woman power of our host. 🙂

Chinese opera macau tou tei festival
Curtain opens for the extravaganza

We are just in time. The curtains rise and after some introductory remarks the grand opera begins. The Opera is performed by a very well-known and respected troupe from mainland China.

Chinese opera macau tou tei festival
Princess Lanying

The story is from Chinese legends and the characters are portrayed by actors in interesting makeup, dressed in their silk fineries. Nearest equivalent I can think of in India is the 10 nights of Ram-Leela musical-drama or the Kathakali in Kerala. Like in most opera, it is over dramatized with songs and exaggerated actions and that’s what makes it most beautiful. The story goes as ….

 The Sword of Loyalty

Chinese opera macau tou tei festival
Ng Hon, the able commander

Wong Mong killed the Han emperor and usurps the throne. He is very happy with the Commander Ng Hon, so he married his daughter, the princess Lanying to Ng Hon.
One day, a young man from the family of the previous Han emperor, Liu Xiu, wants to regain the throne. He assembles a small army and goes to fight with Wong Mong. Commander Ng Hon seizes Liu Xiu and wants to take him to the emperor.

Just then, Ng’s mother reveals to her son that Wong Mong is in fact his father’s murderer. She brings out the Sword of Loyalty, belonging to the dead father and asks Ng Hon to take the sword and kill Wong Mong. She tells Ng Hon to also kill the princess, lest his love for her should stop him from avenging the murder of his father.

cantonese opera macau tou tei festival
Wong Mong, the wicked ruler

Chinese opera macau tou tei festival

Chinese opera macau tou tei festival

Chinese opera macau tou tei festival

When he returns to the palace, he sees his wife, the princess, is praying to God. She asks God to bless her husband. Ng Hon is moved by her good intentions and tells her about the murder of his father. The princess is moved and realizes that her father is really an evil man. She supports her husband and encourages him to kill Wong Mong. Ng’s mother comes with a red cloth to hang herself, so that Ng Hon does not have to worry about his mother being held as hostage and before she dies, she again extracts a promise from Ng to kill the emperor. The princess kills herself with the sword so that she can take care of Ng’s mother in the other world.

Ng Hon, then, sets fire to the palace and kills Wong Mong. He later helps Liu Xiu to regain the throne.

Chinese opera macau tou tei festival

Chinese opera macau tou tei festival

Chinese opera macau tou tei festival

The pictures, indeed, tells the story.

A short interview with one of the characters tells us that, there is a phenomenal amount of hard work put in before the show can be performed in front of the audience. It involves flexibility, strength and the stamina to be able to carry the heavy dress and at the same time sing, dance and perform martial arts.

Chinese opera macau tou tei festival

Chinese opera macau tou tei festival

Chinese opera macau tou tei festival

Many of the actors start as young as nine. This form of Opera has been in vogue for more than 1000 years now, gradually evolving from a simple drama to the current form that includes elaborate make-up, music, singing, dance and drama. In the olden days the female part was often performed by a male dressed up as a woman! Much like in India. (Something more on the troupe and so on).

This is clearly the icing on cake as far as our first day at Macau is concerned. We leave much contented to our Hotel to find a surprise bottle of champagne and several chocolates waiting for us! That’s a different story altogether.

If you want to travel places with us, we suggest you to join us on our Facebook travel page and Twitter.

P.S.- This article belongs to www.lemonicks.com. Reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited. If you are viewing this on a website instead of your RSS feed reader, then that website is guilty of stealing my content. Kindly do me a favour. Please visit my site and help me taking action by letting me know against this theft. Thank you.

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