The rest of the afternoon was spent on the thickening snowfall and snow-covered road to Karakol. It is a small town of green avenues and wooden cottages at the far eastern edge of Lake Issyk-Kul. That day, it was snow-covered.
At dinner, we had this yummy dumpling called, Manti which is very similar to that of Georgia’s Khinkali. They are steamed dumplings consisting of ground meat and spices in an unleavened pastry shell.
We stayed in a family guesthouse which has spacious rooms, a private bath and Wifi. Just what we needed!
Russian Orthodox Church
The Holy Trinity Church has its innate charm being made of wood.
“It was built of hewn logs in 1894-1895 on the ruins of the brick church. The facade of the church is decorated with carvings, the bell tower is located at the top. On the roof you can see the traditional gilded domes of Orthodox churches.”
On our way back to Bishkek, the capital city, the long drive brought us to stopovers which just made us fall in love with Kyrgyzstan even more. The snowfall has stopped, the sun is out and just perfect to check out the canyons and the lake.
On the southwest part of Karakol is a totally different scenery. We were told that this will be the longest drive so far but since we were greeted by brown to reddish mountains with traces of snow along the way, there was no time to get bored.
This mountain has its legend (about a woman who was torn between two lovers) and is perceived to resemble a broken heart. Look at how charming the back side is.
We had to stop again in order to capture its natural stripes.
Jeti Oguz Canyon
The Jeti Oguz Canyon or the “Seven Bulls” Canyon, a geological protected area (nature monument), is an extraordinary formation of red sandstone cliffs. “The name derives from the rock formation’s resemblance to seven bulls and a legend about a khan’s unfaithful wife.” An interesting story too. Around the area is a popular outing spot for hikers and yurt camp.
The sun is shining brightly but still blissfully cold when we explored the Skazka or Fairytale canyon. We were wondering why is it named “Fairytale” and so we looked around and found this tip which looks like a castle. Fair enough, the rock formations have a very majestic appeal. There are also other bizarre arrays in the area. There is a ridge which resembles two walls of fortification, something like the Great Wall of China.
Stunning as it is, the place is where your imagination can play around to see patterns which resemble other structures with arches and columns.
Moving along the south part of Issyk-Kul Region, the lake itself is a grandeur of beauty. We just can’t leave the country without at least feeling the water. It is amazing to witness a body of water lined by rocks, surrounded by shores of snow and snowy mountains on the horizon.
Then there is that perfect spot where mountains overlook the sea.
There are still so much to discover but we had to head back to Bishkek City to catch our early flight the next day. It is also a shame that we only got to wander the area around our hotel, Bishkek Centrum Hotel as there was no time left. Although, this would be one great reason to come back, right Sergei?
Cholpon Ata is a resort town in the northern part of Lake Issyk-Kul. A snowfall was not at all in our expectations so when it snowed that day, we were beyond ecstatic, Cristina most especially.
Open Air Museum of Petroglyphs
At a distance, this area looks like a vast collection of rocks. But if you look closer, there are actually drawings and figures depicting ancient times.
“It is thought that the site was once an open-air temple, where people worshipped the sun and other celestial bodies. Many of the stones feature animals, including snow leopards and deer.”
This particular Kyrgyzs house across the road caught my attention. It looks like a cross-stitch pattern.
Rukh Ordo Cultural Center
“Rukh Ordo, on the shore of Lake Issyk-Kul is a cultural center dedicated to five of the major religions in the world: Catholicism, Orthodox Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism. Rukh Ordo was designed to be a spiritual center and starting place for interreligious understanding and peace.”
Although, it was continuously snowing and the cold was biting our toes already, we were still able to explore the grounds and found interesting figures along the way. It is a walk through history and religion.
Here’s a glimpse of Lake Issyk-Kul, “the world’s second largest alpine lake. Even though it is surrounded by mountains, Issyk-Kul never freezes, thus its name means “hot lake” in Kyrgyz. The lake itself is surrounded by protected marshlands, two mountain ranges, and many popular resorts and destinations, including Karakol and Cholpon-Ata.”
The drive to Chon-Kemin Valley and into the village is a refreshing shift from Dubai’s busy atmosphere. For a moment there, we owned our time in a very laid-back environment. How is this for a start?
Or this tree-lined pathway which seems to have been waiting for us? Such a romantic spot. Or is it just the hopeless romantic me?
If there is one “must do in Kyrgyzstan” that tops my list, it is to stay for at least a night in a local Kyrgyzs family. That should include sleeping in a yurt (a portable, round tent covered with skins or felt and used as a dwelling by nomads in the steppes of Central Asia).
Since they are not feasible during winter, we stayed in Guesthouse Jekshen instead, owned by this adorable family.
The immersion introduced us into a bountiful Kyrgyzs culture, food and adventure. Here is our lovely room and the view from our window.
Going back to the journey from Burana Tower, we arrived at the village around lunchtime. After a quick nap, we were treated into a lunch, no, more of a feast. Mind you, I don’t eat lamb but Kyrgyzs people eat sheep meat like chips, so I had to join in and surprisingly, it is delicious! Their fresh bread and jams are also divine.
When Sergei said that the afternoon will be spent on horseback riding, I thought that he was joking. I had to process how possible it is for us to ride and navigate a horse going to the mountains, when we are first-timers and it is freezing! But he was serious and very encouraging at that. I immediately thought of our medical insurance. It is a good thing that we have our World Nomads Insurance so we hopped on our horses, more secured. After we were briefed about simple commands, the four-hour ride began.
The first few minutes was scary but then we got used to the bumps, the steep pathway, the slopes and the cold. The “Choooooo!” and “Drrrrrrrr!” commands enabled us to survive. I must say that I enjoyed this experience the most, something I’m very proud of.
There is an old saying in Kyrgyzstan that “Horses are a man’s wings.” True enough, horseback riding is a popular activity for both the locals and tourists, particularly in the picturesque surroundings of the Chon-Kemin Valley. This is definitely the highlight of our first day. One for the books!
Of course, the snow adventure wouldn’t be complete without the sled ride. It was a hilarious ice breaker.
To culminate the day and after the sumptuous dinner, we got the chance to wear the Ak Kalpak, a traditional hat worn by males in rural areas. It is usually made from four panels of white felt with traditional patterns stitched into them as decoration.
It is kinda cute, actually.
The Burana Tower was our first stop after a fulfilling early breakfast. This large minaret is near the town of Tokmok, and is one remnant of the ancient city of Balasagun, which was established by the Karakhanids at the end of the 9th century. There is an external, winding staircase that lets you climb the top but unfortunately, it was closed when we visited.
Around the area is a collection of Balbal (tombstones) which were used to honor the dead, and sometimes marked the spot where a body was buried. Along with these are petroglyphs (rocks with carved images depicting ancient culture and practices).
It is also worth checking out the Museum and of course, these IG-worthy spots.
From Bishkek, this tower is a good stopover towards the far-flung towns.
Have you ever felt betrayed by circumstances that every nerve in your body shouts out, “No way! This can’t be happening!?” That is exactly how I felt when a trip that’s about to unfold in two days from that moment became impossible. Dismay is an understatement being that we had to cancel every booking and set aside the itinerary that we have researched on for weeks. Little did I know that this mishap (which didn’t pull our travel enthusiasm down), will instead bring my friend, Cristina and I, to this Central Asia beauty, Kyrgyzstan. It was a crazy alternative at that time (I didn’t know that such a country exists) but it proved to be the right choice. Undoubtedly.
Kyrgyzstan is a country rich in natural beauty and proud nomadic traditions. It is along the silk road and has vast mountainous range. We witnessed how striking the contrast is between white, snow-covered mountains against the blue skies. Being on the road for hours became entertaining and calming upon seeing these scenic views.
It was a cold Wednesday morning (winter in February) when we arrived at Bishkek (Manas) International Airport via Flydubai. One great thing about this country is that it is visa upon arrival for us, Filipinos and most nationalities. Hurray! All you need to do is submit your passport with valid visa, fill up a form and pay the USD50 fee. The easiest visa application that I have experienced so far! You can find more information here.
Since we had a very short time (literally a day before our flight) to plan the trip, we decided to book a tour guide. Thankfully, I was able to stumble upon Mr. Sergei of Globuslanding Tour online who arranged everything for us – airport pick up and drop off, accommodations, transportation, tours, activities and even our meals. He was our all-in-one guy! If you like to visit Kyrgyzstan, we highly recommend his service as he knows how to tailor your itinerary based on your budget. He is also interesting to talk to, knowledgeable and will keep you safe on the road.
A tip, Kyrgyzstan has a totally different ambiance in Summer, the peak season. If you are after for greeneries, hiking, camping and other outdoor adventures, you might want to check out the country’s transformation during this season.
As for us, here is how Kyrgyzstan froze our bodies and melted our hearts all at the same time. Brrrrrr…
Just a heads up, as the country is not yet fully developed as a tourism hub (to my liking), don’t get too obsessed about class A toilets and Wifi epecially while on the road. Be prepared of the outdoor loo and being disconnected from the world, even just for a while. If there’s a dire need for you to get connected through, hotels/guesthouses have Wifi or you may purchase a local sim card to get 3G data.
We only had three full days to discover Kyrgyzstan and although it was too short to reach all the attractions, those three days were more than enough to satisfy our cravings for nature, adventure, peace, inspiration and bliss. It is really true that everything happens for a reason, that discovering Kyrgyzstan was not an accident. It was willed for so that I will begin healing and believe that I am not beaten but blessed. That when something valuable is taken away, a much better blessing is coming. I’ll just let life surprise me.
You are a wonder Kyrgyzstan! May the world see how gorgeous you are.
I hope that you enjoyed reading this blog and may you be inspired to travel too. Please do not hesitate to like, share and comment below.
Spasibo! Rahmat saga!
I love to dress up. Just the thought of putting up an ensemble makes me giddy already and honestly, it is what lures me to go to presumably uninteresting events. It makes me happy mixing and matching what’s available in my wardrobe. Not that I have the best ones or that I constantly shop but I like to keep pieces for years since fashion for me, is a rotating wheel. I also tend to overdo things or dress up according to my mood and on ordinary days, find comfort on shirts and jeans. It just goes to say that my style can be a hit or miss sometimes.
My interest in fashion must have rooted from my Mama. She is fabulous herself and has the best eye for the right fit and right color combination. She would dress me up and my sister lovingly and later on allowed us to embrace our own style. I still remember my childhood Christmas days when she would bring me to a boutique and let me pick what I would want to wear for Christmas and New Year.
Now, when this Korea Winter trip became feasible (after we got our visas, yay!), I knew that I have to prepare my outfits. Not just to be stylish but to survive the cold weather which I have very low tolerance to.
I took photos of each set so I won’t forget. A total time-saver!
K-world, pardon me for saying this, but I am not a K-pop or K-drama fan. Although, hands down, I adore Korean fashion. When we were in Gangnam and Itaewon, I have hearts in my eyes seeing slender women with flawless hair and poreless skin, walk the streets in very chic coats and boots. It was amazing! Like the street is a big fashion show! What’s more interesting is that they are not brand-conscious at all, which is perfect for me. I witnessed how the youngsters flood the flea market in Dongmyo and just to myself I exclaimed, “That’s me! I also love the flea markets in Dubai!”
If there’s one benchmark that I hold in my style, it is to wear cheaply bought items with great promise or be thrifty yet fab. I don’t even mind preloved items that is why, I love flea markets. Besides, I get more compliments from my flea picks and it is a great feeling being reminded that it is not always about the price tag.
Here are five outfits that I wore during our trip which you might find useful on your own winter wonderland.
The Comfy Traveler
This is a very basic ensemble. The main idea is to layer and start off with thermals. They are very helpful in fighting off the cold. I always had 4-5 layers on top and 3-4 layers on my bottom. Again, I am cold-intolerant so the layering might be too much. Just try out what works for you.
It was a chilly night in Seoul when I arrived, so my ear muffs (Daiso) and tube scarf (Brands for Less) were comfort pieces. Plus, they are cute too! On top of my oversized hooded sweater (The Wardrobe) is a quilted black jacket and I just wore my old brown boots. My touch screen gloves here is also from Daiso.
The Sophisticated Lass
I had hesitations on wearing thigh-high boots but they proved to be comfortable, warm, classy and they elongate the legs. I got this pair for only Aed25 at the flea market in JLT (this is around Aed100+) online. My Atmosphere coat is also from the flea for only Aed30, almost unused, and my scarf, for only Aed5. I’m so proud of my hauls!
Again, layering is essential and that’s where your old winter clothes come in. The knitted sweater underneath my coat for example, was given to me by my Aunt 7 years ago. It doesn’t matter much what you put underneath, after your thermals, as long as you are comfortable. Just pay more attention to your topmost pieces.
To break the dark colors a bit, I wore my cream bonnet and blue green touch screen gloves, both from Brands for Less.
It is also worth noting to wear an ensemble that would fit your itinerary. This was the day when I wore Hanbok (traditional Korean dress) so all I had to do in order to wear my pair was to remove my bonnet, scarf and coat. The coat was also a good match for my dress.
Our Hanbok are from https://www.instagram.com/gureumi23 They will really transform you into a Korean princess.
The Cute Sensation
Winter clothes can be very expensive but the good thing is, you don’t have to buy everything. This jacket I’m wearing was lent to me by my colleague. What’s also fun in traveling with a group is that you can switch items, such as this bonnet from my brother.
Other flea items on this ensemble is the cute winter dress and fur-lined, thick leggings which I believe achieved the K fashion. To match my scarf and to bring a pop of colour, I wore a thermal pair of socks of the same shade. This ensemble was perfect during our “kids for a day” trip to Everland.
The Street Gal
Have you noticed the coat? It is the same one I wore on The Sophisticated Lass. I just buttoned it down so it will look more like a dress paired with my black denim pants from flea. The boots is by Toms sold in a much cheaper price by Brands for Less. It is a brilliant store with lots of winter stuff. Got our heat packs from there too.
The Korean School Girl
I have envisioned this day, having my moment in this romantic tree-lined path in Nami Island. So if there’s one outfit that I really prepared for, this is it but I promise you, I would have worn my brown boots here instead of kicks. I had no choice though because my feet got so sore from all the previous days’ walks that I had to switch for comfort. Not so bad, eh? I felt younger, lol.
So let’s dissect the outfit. Bonnet and gloves are the same ones I wore in the previous looks. Now, this fur-hooded-dark orange-bubble jacket is the real deal! It is a jackpot item from the flea which I only got for Aed35, in very good condition and all. I also love the fur-lined hood. I’m like a husky.
I doubled my upper and lower thermals here knowing that the place, still with snow traces will be very cold. Next piece I wore is a pink sweater topped by a checkered coat (also from the flea last year), and a scarf at Aed5 from flea, where else?
After the bottom thermals, I wore thick leggings, leg warmers and my black basic skirt.
There goes my five looks which gave me a mountain of laundry, ugh! I enjoyed wearing each one of them, nonetheless.
Actually, to save you a lot of luggage space and kilos, you may just bring one or two sets of winter outfits and the rest you can buy in Seoul. The flea market in Dongmyo and retail shops in Dongdaemun offers a variety of affordable choices. From chic coats and jackets, hoodies, sweaters to pants, leggings, socks, boots, gloves, scarf, bonnets and masks, you name it and they have it all.
For guys, this outfit collection of my brother is also A+!
What’s your favorite look so far?
Bundling up has never been this fun. You can definitely stay warm in style without hurting your pockets.
Enjoy the process of experimenting, exploring and finalising your looks. The only person who can stop you from being you is you, so just express yourself and be happy!
I hope you enjoyed reading through and got some tips and inspiration for your own winter escapade. Please feel free to share your thoughts and suggestions below. Better yet, post your most favorite Winter OOTD!
A paradise with beaches surrounded by very fine white sand and gifted with turquoise water, lush jungles, and laid-back tempo are just some of the many ways to describe Seychelles. Honestly, six years ago, I would not have even imagined visiting this place because Seychelles belongs to the list of the most luxurious destinations around the globe. I will not lure you into believing that it is cheap because it is still expensive (especially the tours and excursions) but with the advent of holiday packages nowadays, travelling on a budget to one of Mother Nature’s favorites is possible.
Seychelles is an archipelago and country in the Indian Ocean, off East Africa. It is composed of 115 islands, three of which are the hub for tourists flocking the islands mostly in the peak months of July and August. Mahe is the biggest, housing the city capital Victoria, Praslin is next, and La Digue is the smallest.
I literally closed my eyes when I booked this holiday but we came home with no regrets. Having said that, this is how to fit Seychelles into your budget.
1. Go for holiday packages
Holiday Factory is legit. I initially wanted to book airfares and accommodation separately (DIY), but when I was checking the ticket prices four months ago, it was already skyrocketing high. Thankfully, Holiday Factory launched a package deal which included roundtrip Air Seychelles tickets, transfers, and a hotel in Praslin – Chateau Sans Souci, with free breakfast. We loved our stay in Chateau. The staff is very nice and helpful. Wifi though is tricky as it is only strongest within the reception area but other than that, it is a quiet place to stay just a few minutes from the airport and Anse Kerlan beach.
2. Pick one base island
One way to cut cost is if you stay at least three days in one of the islands and transfer to other islands as you wish. Prices tend to get high if you only stay for one night and if you are renting a car, two or three days are required as minimum. We stayed three nights in Praslin (plus one night with free hotel booking when our original flight was cancelled due to bad weather), and a day trip to La Digue. Temperament and culture-wise, Praslin is somewhere in between busy Mahe and very laid-back La Digue so we got a very good deal.
3. Stay in self-catering houses/villas or Airbnb accommodation
If I have not booked a package, we probably would have used Airbnb. It is way cheaper than hotels. The good thing about self-catering is you can cook your own food especially if you are staying there for a week or so. Most goods in Seychelles are imported so expect that they are priced higher but are still cheaper than if you dine in buffet restaurants and hotels. It is also smart to bring along with you non-perishable food. Tucked in our luggage were cup noodles, loaf bread, sandwhich spread, chips, cookies, coffee and tea. We never got hungry.
Here is a detailed price list of goods and meals in Seychelles for your reference.
4. Rent a car
Taxis in Seychelles are eyed as the last option for transport because they are insanely expensive. Our hotel is 30-45 mins. by car from the best beaches in Praslin so we hired a Kia Picanto for 120 Euros/530 Dhs., for three days (40 Euros/day) from Bliss Car Hire. I highly recommend them because their cars are well-maintained, with comprehensive insurance, free GPS and very professional staff. You may pay in cash or credit card onsite and they deliver and pick up your car at your preferred location. Aside from the rent, we only paid a full tank of fuel at Rs 270/70 Dhs for our whole stay. Bear in mind though that it is right-hand driving in Seychelles and the roads are curvy, steep, narrow and dark at night time so be very careful. Still, we’re glad about renting a car because we owned our time and it is very convenient. We named her “Prassy” and we miss her already.
If you don’t fancy renting a car, buses are also available but be prepared to wait and it is better to choose staying in locations closest to the bus stops and main attractions so you will have the option to walk just in case.
5. Eat in takeaway restaurants
I believe that buying our meals from takeaway restaurants saved us a great deal of our money. I budgeted 75 Dhs per meal for two but as it turned out, we only paid Rs 100/30 Dhs per meal for the both of us. Awesome, right? They have delicious Creole food served with rice and salad.
Our personal favorite is the Happiness Take Away Restaurant, just a few steps away from our hotel. They serve a variety of chicken, fish, beef and pork dishes and are open from 12pm to 10pm.
On our last night, we thought of having a celebratory dinner so we requested from them a whole Creole grilled fish with sauce for Rs 220/60 Dhs. This was served with rice and salad. A fresh catch, the fish is so yummy!
6. Marvel in the splendid beaches
Undeniably, the beaches in Seychelles are the magnets for tourists. We would have done island hopping too (Cousin, Curieuse, St. Pierre) but unfortunately, it is out of our budget. Thinking about it now, I’m glad that we didn’t push through with the tours because it gave us plenty of time to laze around the beaches and gave us a slow-paced itinerary. We are not water babies or good swimmers at that but we love to spend time at the beach. Nothing is more rewarding than the feel of sand on my feet, the calming ocean breeze on my skin, hearing the rhythmic sound of the waves and looking at the changing shades of blue water in front of me. Divine, mesmerizing and priceless moments like this are my kind of luxury.
Let me share with you our top favorites:
Anse Lazio, Praslin
Even though this beach is 30-45 mins. away by car from our hotel, it is worth every visit. Anse Lazio is definitely a “must-see” in Praslin and often regarded as one of the best beaches in the world. The moment I laid eyes on this beach bordered by granite boulder formations on both ends, I was blown away.
Since it is the best in Praslin, it tends to be crowded so make sure to come early by sunrise and before 9am to have enough time to cherish the beach for yourself and to find your perfect spot.
More information about the beach can be found here.
Anse Source d’Argent, La Digue
Just wow. In all angles, the beach is gorgeous! No wonder this is tagged as one of the best in the world and was in the film ‘Castaway’. We came here after a treacherous trek in another part of the island so seeing this heavenly sight is truly a reward for us. I felt like I’m in a Flintstone plot because the granite rock formations are more abundant and seemingly placed at just the perfect spot.
Access to the beach is through L’Union Estate where we paid Rs 100/30 Dhs per person to also explore the entire property. The beach is protected by a coral reef from the open ocean making the water shallow and the waves small which is perfect for swimming and snorkeling. Again, you have to be early as this beauty is a La Digue favorite for tourists.
There is also another stretch of the beach which is free of rock formations and is more private. The scenery is just equally beautiful.
To know more about the beach and how to get there, please click here.
Anse Georgette, Praslin
If you have been to Anse Lazio first, the beach might not fascinate you as much considering the effort and preparation needed to get there. The beach is housed by Constance Lemuria Resort and offers a more private hangout for resort guests and visitors. Hotel guests are transported to the beach by a golf cart but for outside guests, a 20 to 30-minute walk from the gate along the golf course awaits. Don’t worry though because you will be entertained by the vast expanse of the property.
The resort only allows a limited number of visitors per day and it is a must to book your visit through phone or email at least a week before. You may also ask your hotel/guesthouse to do this for you.
Swimming in the beach is not so much encouraged because of the strong current. You will sign a waiver at the gate so anything you do inside is at your own risk. Most guests go there for tanning and I heard that sunset here is glorious.
Here are more inputs about the beach.
Anse Volbert (Cote d’Or), Praslin
The beach area has a festive feel to it which was just about right for our first beach experience in Seychelles. The water is calm with peaceful waves offering a great swimming spot for families. You will also notice more locals around the area selling fruits, fresh fishes, or just hanging out. The Anse Volbert village is home to various restaurants, supermarkets, accommodations and other shops.
There’s more about the beach here.
7. Visit Vallee De Mai Nature Reserve
A Unesco World Heritage, the rich palm forest or nature park which is often referred to as the “Garden of Eden” is home to the endemic Coco de Mer (bearer of the largest seed in the plant kingdom) as well as five other endemic palms.
Also unique to the forest is the Black Parrot which usually fly in pairs. We were blessed to have spotted a pair during our tour and some other interesting species too.
Whether it is sunny or rainy, it is a good thing that the forest is shaded. Thanks to the fan-shaped palm trees that serve as natural roof.
The park is maintained by Seychelles Islands Foundation (SIF). You may explore the park by yourself or avail of their free guided tours twice daily at 9am and 2pm (be there at least 30 mins. before your chosen time). There is however a park entrance fee of 25 Euros/Rs 350/110 Dhs per person to maintain the park and for the preservation of Aldabra Atoll.
I love that the forest is untouched and left as it is. I suggest that you take the guided tour which is about 30 mins. and finish off the circular path to reach the peak. As long as you follow the pathway, you won’t get lost. Allot at least two hours of your itinerary here and if you enjoy exploring nature’s flora and fauna, this one is for you.
8. Bike around La Digue
If ever I’ll get the chance to visit Seychelles again, I will definitely stay in La Digue. The island is so small that you can literally bike around or even walk. Cars are very few and they maintain it that way. No wonder this island is a favorite among tourists because it is a sweet escape from the busy and stressful outside world. Not to mention that it is also home to the magnificent beaches in Seychelles.
We really enjoyed our day trip here. Biking around is healthy and relaxing at the same time. Just imagine getting to anywhere with just your bike, the breeze on your face and the sound of birds as your tune. That spells a perfect, simple, quiet and laid-back holiday for us.
To get to La Digue from Praslin, take the Cat Rose Ferry. I booked our tickets from this site.
Since we only had a day to spend in La Digue, we took the first trip out and the last trip back.
It only takes 15 minutes to reach La Digue. The moment you reach the jetty, bikes for rent are already available for Rs 100/30 Dhs per person for a full day.
9. Hike to Nid d’Aigle (Eagle’s Nest)
This was our first activity in La Digue and it is the highest point of the island. We biked the first few meters but when the road was already ascending making it harder to pedal, we parked our bikes in an empty lot. We walked our way up and although the path is concrete towards the Snack Bellevue, it is not an easy hike.
Make sure to bring water and wear proper hiking shoes because after the restaurant, the path going to the mountain peak is challenging. Sadly, we did not reach the top as it was hard to climb up with our flip flops on (silly us, I know). We were able to capture this view though.
As we needed to rest and a fresh juice from the restaurant would have been just perfect to quench our thirst, we were disappointed to find out that it was still closed and under renovation. Nevertheless, this sweat-producing exercise was still fun.
Maybe they opened later during the day, I am not sure. We just chose to go down and find a take away restaurant for breakfast. Through kind locals, we found one just before reaching L’Union Estate. Gala Takeaway is popular in La Digue and they serve yummy snack and lunch dishes for an affordable price.
Another way to cut off the walk is to get a taxi until the restaurant and walk your way to the mountain. It will probably be expensive though.
10. Explore L’Union Estate
It is a former coconut and vanilla plantation in La Digue. With only Rs100 entrance fee and Anse Source d’Argent to reward you, it is worth going to.
There you go. So you see? Seychelles can be for budget travelers too. You just have to focus on what delights you most and be wise on your spending.
Here are more tips to help you out plan your trip.
- As beaches have no changing stations, bring along sarongs, large towels or an easy dress for covering up. Bring your beach mats too and use waterproof bags.
- Currencies accepted are Euros, USD and Rs. Almost all establishments accept these currencies along with credit cards but takeaway restaurants only accept Seychellois Rupees (Rs).
- Souvenirs are cheaper in airports.
- Visa is not required but make sure that you have proof of your accommodation and return ticket.
- Bring an insect repellant especially if you are going to explore the forest.
- Aqua shoes may be necessary in rocky beaches such as Anse Source d’ Argent.
- Visit Tripadvisor forums for more tips.
Our Seychelles escapade is over but it is one holiday that I will treasure forever. I now understand why people travel. Experiences and memories are truly riches that are insurmountable by anything material.
I am also grateful that we did this trip against all odds because it is not every day that we experience living in paradise. You are amazing, God!
I hope you enjoyed reading this entry and may this inspire you to quit the “what-ifs” and just go.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” – Mark Twain
Please do share your comments and suggestions below and if you have traveled to Seychelles recently, I would love to know about your experience.
We failed to see Okatse Canyon but that’s alright because in between keeping awake and falling asleep (I was seated in front), the Black Sea of Batumi was a welcoming sight.
Upon entry to the city, I felt that it was finally summerrrrr! (insert Olaf singing here)
Batumi is definitely Georgia’s summer holiday capital. It has a very relaxing atmosphere with a subtropical climate. Located in a convenient natural Black Sea bay in the region of Adjara, Batumi is not only an important seaport for the entire Georgia, but also a tourism capital of the country.
In contrast to the black long skirts worn by women in Kutaisi, shorts and mini skirts are the trend in Batumi. In my mind, I felt relieved knowing that we can finally get out of our jeans and blend with the rest of the tourists, which are mostly Europeans.
We booked an apartment just a walking distance from the famous Seaside Park-Boulevard. For the price we paid, it is a great place to stay. It is spacious (with living room and with complete amenities). The owner and his family are very nice too.
You may pick fruits from the tree behind us. We did and it was fresh and sweet!
The city has also embraced the modern civilization as around the area are high-end hotels and structures featuring European and Asian architecture. From the articles that I have read, it is apparent that over the last ten years, Batumi has changed a lot.
After settling in and a much needed shower, we headed out to the beach and had a cotton candy stop-over. Why not?
Batumi at night is very alive. Families, friends, tourists and locals are everywhere in the Boulevard gathered for tours, talks, bike rides, night life and more.The modest structures in the afternoon transform into majestic sights at night.
One amazing structure along the Boulevard is the moving sculpture of “Ali and Nino,” which is believed to be a “celebration of true love without boundaries and prejudices.” I felt the heartwarming slow movement of the steel figures towards each other, creating a dramatic union for a moment and the heartbreaking separation afterwards. It was amazing to witness such a story told without words and yet, creates a great impact on the viewers.
“The two figures represent a Muslim boy, Ali, and a Georgian princess, Nino, from a famous 1937 novel by Azerbaijani author Kurban Said. The tragic story ends with the lovers separated by the invasion of Soviet Russia.”
It was already getting cold and we were dead tired so we walked back to our apartment.
On our second day in Batumi, I woke up at 5am (as always) and since my friends were still asleep, I thought of heading out to the beach for a short walk and to witness the sunrise. It was lovely walking in the cool breeze and having the streets to myself except for occasional joggers and still-not-home ‘late nighters’.
After a breakfast of coffee and leftover Khinkali, we headed out to another direction towards the Europe Square. The streets were still empty, to my delight.
The Europe Square is one of my favorite places in Georgia. It is centrally located in Batumi and around it are unique and exquisite buildings. Our photos here looked like we really traveled to Europe. For both tourists and locals, this is a popular site for relaxation.
It would have been nice if we lingered more in Batumi (there are really great shops around) but knowing that we would need six hours travel time back to Tbilisi to catch the free walking tour, we started walking back to the apartment. All we managed to buy were these pretty-looking cherries.
And guess what? They’re very cheap too.
Although we had a very short stay in Batumi, this beautiful city treated as well. If you desire a resort-type ambiance, this is your best choice in Georgia. They have an international airport too!
Lasha then picked us up from the apartment and before we completely left Batumi, he took us to one last glimpse of the Black Sea.
Somebody got tipsy with the free Vodka and it was not me. Opppps!
It was past 5pm when we were almost at Tbilisi and just before we lavish its charm, Lasha made one more stop and tested our balancing skills. We looked silly here but we had a great laugh.
I still can’t believe how we managed to sit in the car for six hours. Maybe because the gorgeous mountain views entertained us in between naps or we were on tourist mode so we had to be flexible. Nevertheless, hurray to us for making it through!
Well, that’s about it for Batumi. Now, it is time to say Hello to the charming capital, Tbilisi.
- Photography: Cristina
- Research: Mariecris
- Tour Guide: Lasha of Tours in Georgia
- Tbilisi Free Walking Tours: Tamar
- Batumi Apartment: Rustaveli Apartment
- Tbilisi Apartment: Alicat home
#marengsingeorgia – June 23-26, 2017
I have been wracking my brain to accurately describe Georgia but no matter how I brush off this word, ‘gorgeous’ keeps on coming up. It is common, I know, but it has to be the perfect adjective for this little gem in the Caucasus region. Strategically located at a crossroads between Europe and Asia, Georgia has lush, green mountains taking center stage during summer, pretty wild flowers dancing in the breeze, vast bodies of water gushing peacefully, and rustic streets cradling interesting ancient Georgian-style architecture. If you adore nature and its rich, alluring beauty, this country is for you. My friends, Cristina and Mariecris, and I knew that it was for us, no doubt.
We planned this trip for months, booked our tickets in January (so no one will back out), and had plenty of FB Messenger conversations about budget, outfits, weather, best places to go to, tours and guide, Georgian cuisine, matching bags, matching hats, matching passport holders, matching bag tags, and oh so many more. Yep, after six years of friendship, we are that deep haha. Nah, it pays to be organized for every trip. There were still mishaps of course, but to sum it up, we were prepared.
We flew with Fly Dubai and the moment we reached Tbilisi, it was a complete switch of scenery and temperature. Greens everywhere and even on an early morning of late June, it was still cold, the nice type of cold though. The excitement level at that point was already over the edge. You’ll see why.
If there’s one great decision that we made for this trip, it is by booking a private tour guide (vehicle, airport pick up and drop off included). We reached our wish list destinations and got to them at our own pace. Our four days became full-packed with adventures and that is also because of our guide’s input in the planning. If you fancy visiting Georgia soon, we strongly recommend Lasha of Tours in Georgia who definitely brought us not only to the best places, but also to the not-so-touristy-yet-picturesque ones. We got to try the most delectable local dishes also through Lasha’s recommendations. He knows his roots and is very capable of immersing you into the country’s splendor. Plus, he is kind and easy to talk to. We requested a few side trips with him and he willingly helped us through.
Our itinerary in truth, is hectic. We would be on the road for hours before we finally reach our destination. It is a good thing though that along the way, our eyes were filled with sights to behold.
Hello to farm life.
Georgia is rich in both scenery and activities that having only four days is quite tight if you want to cover everything. Since we only had this short amount of time, we picked the top spots and thankfully, managed to stick to our itinerary. Here is how we did it.
Day 3: Kazbegi and Tbilisi
Day 4: Signagi
There you go. This is our first international trip and I am looking forward to the next one. Solo travel is rewarding and refreshing but it is also fun and fulfilling to travel with friends. You get to share with them everything, which means that every expense comes cheaper. I even saved USD50 from this trip, yay!
There is a legend about Georgia that seemed fitting for its renowned charm.
“When the God divided the Earth among the people, Georgians were late because of their traditional feast, and by the moment of their arrival, the entire world had already been divided. When the God asked them to what they had drunk for, Georgians just answered: ”To you, oh Lord, to us, to peace”. The God liked their answer so He told them that although all lands were taken, he reserved a small plot for Himself and now He decided to give it to Georgians. According to the God, the land was incomparable in its beauty and all people would admire and cherish it forever “.
You be the judge.
Madloba Georgia! You are indeed gorgeous.
- Photography: Cristina
- Research: Mariecris
- Tour Guide: Lasha of Tours in Georgia
- Tbilisi Free Walking Tours: Tamar
- Batumi Apartment: Rustaveli Apartment
- Tbilisi Apartment: Alicat home
#marengsingeorgia – June 23-26, 2017