Mauritius day 2: Eat and relax

I woke up before the alarm. I looked at my phone and it was 6 am in Mauritius, meaning that it would be 10 am in Singapore. That’s about the time I usually wake up in Singapore, so guess my internal clock was still on Singapore time. I still felt rather tired and I had a terrible backache, which could be due to the wrong sleeping position or the uncomfortable airplane seat. To be fair, I find all airplane seats uncomfortable so it’s not just Air Mauritius. I decided to take it easy today so I lazed in bed for a while and watched TV.

There was a movie called Les saveurs du Palais showing on TV. It was about a woman called Hortense Laborie and her time as the personal chef of the President of France. The show was in French but there were English subtitles so I could follow the plot. It was pretty entertaining and most of the story was told via flashbacks. Since it was a story about a chef, there were a lot of beautiful food and cooking scenes, which was what made me stopped channel surfing.

Now that there was daylight, I could see what the building I was staying in looked like. There were three floors with four rooms on each floor.

At around 8 am, I went for breakfast. Breakfast was served at the beach-side restaurant so instead of following the concrete path within the compound, I walked along the beach to reach the restaurant.

Sand got into my sandals but I had a lovely scenery to enjoy. It was quiet along the beach and there was nobody apart from the staff.

It was nice to eat breakfast while enjoying the view. There were a lot of sparrows and finches waiting at the sides for some dropped crumbs. A bold finch landed on my table and eyed the bread on my plate as I was taking a photo. It took a hop forwards as if preparing to steal the bread from under my nose. I quickly shooed it away.

Breakfast was the typical western breakfast. The sausage, bacon and baked beans were rather salty. I liked the crispy hash browns and the brioche bread which was tasty and slightly sweet. Despite skipping dinner last night, I didn’t feel very hungry so I only had one helping.

After breakfast, I continued walking along the beach. Yup, that’s my shadow.

I took off my sandals and waded into the sea. It was deliciously chilly. The water was so clear that it looked like tap water. When the wind blew, the water surface became rippled, looking like frosted glass. Far away on the horizon, several men were fishing. The water was up to their waist.

The seas around Mauritius seemed to be teeming with marine life. Even near the shore, I could see some small fishes. It was hard to see them as they blend into the background. I usually noticed their shadows first, and using the shadows as a base, I could find the fish.

I continued walking in the sea until I reached the other end of Club Med. Then I turned around and walked back. I found the water sports station and placed my name for the next glass bottom boat trip which was at 12 noon.

With that done, I found a beach chair in a shady spot where I could laze and read my book. With the temperature at around 23°C, it was pretty cool and I did not sweat at all.

A man came up holding a bunch of colorful clothing in his hand. He introduced himself as Raj and started chatting with me in a friendly matter. I thought he was one of the Club Med staff so I answered his questions truthfully. After chatting for a while, he tried to sell me the clothing he was holding and I realized that he wasn’t one of the staff. So I told him that I didn’t bring any money with me (which was true) and he left. But not before telling me that he would be at the beach everyday so I can look for him at any time.

I continued reading until it was almost 11 am. I saw another man holding a lot of necklaces in his hand passing by. I did not want to talk to another souvenir seller so I decided that it was time to head to the Discovery Center and check out what excursions were available.

Along the way, my sandals died. First the left, then the right. Both of them decided to spoil at the same time. The strap from my sandals detached itself from the sole and there didn’t seem to be any way to fix it. I tried pushing it back in but the strap came out again after a few steps. I was rather sad about it as I liked the sandals. Luckily I brought a pair of slippers so I quickly went back to my room to change the footwear.

At the Discovery Center, a big man wearing spectacles greeted me. His name was Nicolas and he recommended two different excursions. One was by sea along the eastern coast while the other was by land along the western coast until it ended at the south of the island. I decided to sign up for the land excursion.

Rather than paying immediately, I decided to open an account at Club Med so that I could just give my room number when making purchases and pay for all my expenses at the end of the trip. I wondered why this wasn’t done by default. So now I had to go to the reception counter to open an account. I spoke to a Caucasian lady who asked for my room key and credit card. I had my room key with me but I left the credit card back in the room. So I had to go all the way back to the room to get my card. Once I’ve opened an account, I signed up for the excursion with Nicolas. Nicolas told me that they needed a minimum of 8 people to run the excursion. Currently only two people (including me) signed up, so I needed to check back with him before 8 pm to confirm if the excursion would take place tomorrow.

Then it was 12 noon and time for the boat ride. It was windy today so we were unable to go beyond the reef. But we still managed to see quite a number of fishes and even one or two turtles. Because of the wind, the boat kept moving even though the skipper had switched off the engine. So each sighting only lasted a few seconds but it was enough.

Lunch was good. There were many dishes available and I was really spoiled for choice.

First I had tuna carpaccio. The fish was fresh (Mauritius is known for seafood) and really tasty.

There was so much variety that I took a second helping of appetizers.

I had cold melon soup. The chef added a scoop of sour cream, some mint, a sprinkling of chilli powder and a large bacon chip. I was surprised to find that it tasted sweet and was like honeydew juice with some mashed melon. The bacon chip was very salty so I guessed it was meant to counterbalance the sweetness of the soup. The soup was light and refreshing but I’m not sure if I liked it as I was excepting something savory and cooked.

For my main course, I went to one of those cooking stations where the chef would prepare my dish on the spot. I had to wait a little while for the food to cook but it meant that it would be hot. There were several stations, ranging from pizza to meat to seafood as well as some pre-cooked trays of rice, curries and vegetables.

I had a pan-fried fish with sauteed spinach. It was yummy, tasting savory and a bit tangy. This was my last dish for lunch. I was so full that I had to skip dessert.

After lunch, I went back to my room and took a nap. Then I watched the World Rugby Championship which was being played during this period. I didn’t know much about rugby which made it harder for me to appreciate the game as there were so many things I didn’t understand. Half the time I was wondering why they did certain things and it was somewhat irritating not to know why certain actions resulted in a foul.

Before I went for dinner, I dropped by the Discovery Center to find Nicolas. Recognizing me, Nicolas said that not enough people signed up for the land tour. He was very apologetic and asked if I would be interested to hire a taxi to tour the island instead? I decided to think about it before giving him a reply.

As I approached the dining area, I heard drumming and singing. Some of the staff were standing at the entrance, all dressed up and singing and dancing. I had to walk past them to get into the dining area. So I hesitated. It felt kinda of intimidating so I wandered around the area outside the dining hall.

The staff had laid out some light snacks so I took some while waiting to see if the people at the dining hall entrance would ever stop singing and dancing. There was also a special themed cocktail to go with the snacks so I had that as well.

The staff at the dining hall entrance didn’t stop their performance. I saw some adventurous Caucasians joined the staff in the dancing but that’s not me, so I just quickly walked past them and entered the dining hall. After finding an empty table, I went to get some food. I walked past the Indian food counter which was manned by women wearing saris. There was a man standing in front of it dressed in traditional clothes. He started talking to me in Mandarin but I didn’t realized it until I walked past him.

I turned back and he called out, “This is Indian 包 (bun).” He asked me if I was interested to try and I thought, “Heck, why not?” So I said yes.

The man took out what looked like a chappati but more translucent and chewier. The man placed the chappati flat on the plate and started ladling ingredients onto it. For each ingredient, he helpfully told me what it was as he added it. At first I thought he was saying the name of the ingredient in French or Tamil, then with a surprise (after the third or fourth ingredient) I realized that he was saying the name in Mandarin. He got the words correct but the tone was a little off so I didn’t realize immediately. All the ingredients were vegetables like radish, spinach, mushroom and a few other vegetables I don’t recognize. Then he rolled all of them up into a cigar-shaped roll. I was pretty amused and thought, “That doesn’t look like any 包 I know.”

The man then added three samosa, each containing a different type of filling. One had potato, one had cheese, and I forgot what was the last one. He also added some crunchy deep fried chilli balls which was somewhat spicy so I had to space them out.

Despite the whole meal being vegetarian, at least that’s what I suspected because I didn’t hear him talk about any meat, it was surprisingly tasty. I finished everything on the plate.

The man caught hold of me before I took any appetizers so after finishing the Indian roll, I walked to the appetizer area. I’m eating backwards today; main course first then appetizer. The roll was filling so I only took one appetizer which was a slice of smoked marlin with heart of palm salad below.

Once again, I was too full to eat any desserts. I really need to remember to leave some room for desserts.

Apparently the Club Med staff would put up performances every night. I’m sure the performances were fun and entertaining but I didn’t stay to watch. My back had been aching the whole day and I’m tired. I tried to rest as much as possible and also did some stretching but it did little to relieve the pain. Hopefully tomorrow would be better.

Towel display today

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