Friday, 20 March 2015

Travel rules no one tells you

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If you haven’t heard of Robert Reid, do it now! A super awesome travel writer who has been published in so many prominent publications, I have lost count. From Lonely Planet to National Geographic Traveler to The New York Times... as I said he is super awesome. I LOVE his witty writing and his blog is full of inspiring anecdotes from his myriad travels. While reading one of his recent posts on 44 Little Travel Rules No One Tells You, I thought of writing a few of my own. They aren't as great as Robert's, but I hope you enjoy them anyway!

Have any tips you would like to add? Email them to me on ruchika@travellerstories.com and I will post them on my blog and on my Facebook page with your name and your website link.

  • It’s okay to watch TV in your hotel room.
  • It’s not silly to want to do touristy things. I giggled like a little girl out of sheer excitement when I sat in an ancient tram in Kolkata. Okay, that was silly. But it’s OKAY to be silly.
Yes. I clicked random people on the tram in Kolkata!
  • Be safe, but don’t be over cautious. Often the most memorable experiences are those that happen unexpectedly and often involve strangers.
  • It is good to get lost. Some of the best stories are about the times you got lost and all the things that went wrong. If you don’t like getting lost, sit at home.
  • Don’t judge people or places if they don’t uphold your values and beliefs. There is no right or wrong when you’re travelling. Travel is all about finding yourself in unfamiliar territory. Smile and enjoy it. That IS what travel is all about.
  • Accept kindness from strangers as often as you can. Yes, your mom told you not to speak to strangers. And there are plenty of evil people in this world, and shit happens all the time. But there are some insanely nice people out there too who you would regret not knowing just because you were too fearful.
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  • You don’t HAVE to follow the must-do checklist of a destination. You CAN visit Amsterdam and NOT smoke up or drink. There are other things to see and do. This is what I did.
  • It’s okay to visit a destination without knowing anything about it. I know how valuable it can be to know the place you’re planning to visit, to read about it or prepare a list of things you shouldn’t miss on your visit. But every once in a while, it can be fun not to plan anything at all. That is, if you like surprises. Although, if you don’t, why are you travelling at all?

Thursday, 19 March 2015

PHOTO FEATURE: Hotel Zilwa Attitude, Mauritius

Much like its cousin, Zilwa Attitude is quite the luxurious hotel. I particularly love the d├ęcor and the use of natural resources like bamboo and wood. The artwork in the room was exceptional; things I wish I could have taken home! There were paintings bearing short poems, driftwood mirrors and unique light fixtures. One of the walls bear a riddle written in the local Creole language. I managed to solve it only after some easy clues thrown my way from the hotel manager! I also liked the colour scheme in the rooms; mine was replete with red, grey and white, while other rooms replaced the red with yellow and orange. Just like Blumarine Attitude, the bathroom here was a screen separation away from the bed. The room opened out to a garden. Walk a few metres ahead and there is a pool and adjacent bar; all with a view of the beach.

Here are some photographs from my stay:

LOVED this artwork!























The sitting area in my room
 
The open bathroom

Poetry on canvas

Such a gorgeous mirror

Can you solve this riddle?

The subtle play of colours

This is the surface of a small table kept in the sitting area; love the texture
I love the way this lamp reflected light all around the room

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

PHOTO FEATURE: Hotel Blumarine Attitude, Mauritius

On rare occasions, I find myself lucky enough to stay in a luxurious property. Don’t get me wrong; I love staying in hostels and guest houses, but it is certainly nice to live in luxury every once in a while. Since my Mauritius trip was hosted by the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority, I had the opportunity to stay at two of the Attitude Group of hotels: Blumarine Attitude and Zilwa Attitude. 
Located on the north coast of the island, Blumarine Attitude overlooks the wide Anse la Raie lagoon. It contains182 rooms that showcase contemporary design. Some of the rooms have the showers integrated with the bedroom, giving them a fresh look. They have a lovely swimming pool and a private beach too.

Here are some photographs I clicked during my stay.

Sit back and enjoy the view...
























My room; beautifully set up for my arrival :)

























The new-age bathroom

A view of the spa from my room


You can swim in the blue waters during the day and stare at the stars at night.

Breakfast time at the restaurant

The island's famed dodo

Some of the deck chairs are placed in a tiny pool to soak your feet in
 
Clicked this walking around the property
 
Living the beach bum life

The serene blue waters




 
This trip was hosted by the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority

A photo feature on Zilwa Attitude, Mauritius, coming up.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Living in a tree house in Mauritius - AIRBNB


When you live in a tree house, you don’t need an alarm because birds come knocking on the door to wake you up. Sounds like a line from a book, doesn’t it? It isn’t. When I finally fulfilled my dream of living in a tree house (read more about it here), I was literally woken up by chirping birds every morning. I have never loved rising early so much. A spacious wooden room with a thatched roof and an outdoor sitting area cradled in a treetop—it was so cosy I didn’t want to leave. I found this gorgeous tree house in a nondescript bylane on the island of Mauritius via Airbnb.


The outdoor seating area


The tree house: interiors and amenities
This tree house is situated in the backyard of the Cadets’ home. Benjamin Cadet, my kind host, built it himself. He built it for his children, but after they left the island to pursue their education in different countries, he and his wife Yannick put it up on Airbnb.


A series of steps surrounded by leaves and vines take you up to an open-air seating area, where you can sit by viewing the sun rise and set with a hot cup of tea or coffee. The room’s door is adjacent to the seat and opens to a large bed that can easily fit two people. The bed is enveloped in a mosquito net as the surrounding tree invites many an insect into the room. There are four windows on all four walls of the room providing ample ventilation. The room also contains a mini fridge to store any drinks or eatables you may have; and a hot water kettle with a variety of teas and coffee to choose from. It also comes equipped with mosquito repellent to ward off any unsightly creatures! I for one detest insects, but I managed to stay here just fine. But first, I killed a few bugs that inevitably made their way into my room.



The bathroom however is not located near the tree house. It is set up below; a few metres away from the stairs. The bathroom is quite spacious and includes a bathing area, a toilet and a rack to keep your clothes on. There are hangers also available so it doubles up as a closet space too. The shower has both hot and cold water.



There is also a swimming pool in the backyard that you can use.


The cost of the tree house includes breakfast as well. It truly is a lavish meal. Hot coffee, juice, a variety of fruits, toasts with butter, cheese and homemade jam, and eggs prepared to your liking. Yannick goes out of her way to ensure you are fed well.


For frequent internet users, there is free Wi-Fi on the property. You can also hang out in some areas of the home when you’re not spending time inside the tree house. 

The hosts
I had the most amazing stay with the Cadets, so I am sharing in detail my experience and a little bit about my hosts.
Yannick and Benjamin Cadet (in the centre) with my fellow travellers Michael and Zita Luk from Hong Kong, who were also living with the Cadets

Ben is a scuba diving instructor by profession. He even met his wife Yannick during a dive. He began working back in the 1980s. From 1987 till 2006, he had eight diving centres in Mauritius. He then sold them off. But his contract stated that he couldn't open a diving centre in Mauritius for the next four years. So, he decided to take this opportunity to travel the world and learn new skills. He studied yachting in New Zealand, sailed the seas for years going back and forth from Cape Town and Australia, among other places, delivering boats. He returned home in 2010 and began diving again. Now he runs a smaller business, but ends up doing almost two to three dives a day.

The Christmas party that Yannick and Benjamin graciously invited me to

My stay with them was so humbling. They are such a kind couple. They welcomed me into their home like I was family. They even invited me to their family’s Christmas party. We drank, ate and danced together. But the night became even more special when I found a gift with my name on it under the tree. I couldn’t believe it. They bought me a book to learn Creole; the local language. I am so lucky to have met this happy couple. I would go back to Mauritius just to meet them again.

My Christmas gift!

The location
The only drawback for me was that the house was not located close to a beach. By that I mean, not walking distance. And that is because I don’t drive and needed to use local transport to move around. But for those who drive, the nearest beach would be 15-20 minutes away. I realised that staying in a tree house is a unique experience that can only be savoured in a setting replete with greenery. So while it may not be close to a beach, it is more than worth it to live here.

Click here to check out the property on Airbnb if you want to book it.