Friday, 21 December 2012

New Era

It's been a long time since I last wrote on here. 3 reasons:

1) My wife arrived on Praslin.
2) I kinda felt like I had nothing worth saying.
3) I had some stuff to sort out in the real world.

So now I decided to write for one main reason It's Dec 21st 2012. Some people think it means it's the end of the world, others think there's a dimension shift (the end of the world as we know it), finally there are those that laugh at the former. I belong in camp number 2.

Click the image above for a full explanation of all the symbols in the Mayan calendar. Be warned, it will mess with your head, Guaranteed!

CORRECTION: After further research, I've found that the stone above is Aztec and is often confused with the actual Mayan calendar, shown below:

The Mayan calendar ended, but hey my copy of Windows 7 only takes me to 2099, I'm sure that doesn't mean the end of the world, although I'm sure the world and tech will have changed a lot by then! If the world ends at midnight at least I've documented the past few months.

Coming here from the UK with a group of 6 others, it was much easier to settle down and aclimatise to the local environment. Mrs Lau had it pretty tough in that she wasn't really prepared for the heat or the extended drought. I didn't mind the drought too much living alone, as I'd fill up bottles when the water was on and also collect rain water, sometimes I'd collect 80 litres of rain water in 3 hours! But the issue with the drought is that the water is turned off during the day-between 9am and 4.30pm-  during that time Suki is usually at home.

Needless to say, turning on the tap and nothing coming out has started to grate a little and I think we'll be pressuring our landlord for a water tank soon. A couple of very good friends have been kind enough to ask us what we want for Christmas, things that we miss. I guess the only things we miss are reliable running water and a vacuum cleaner. I don't think anyone owns a vac out here. Sweeping every other day is now a routine as is cleaning up gecko poo. Not much fun.

But this blog is not an emo rant, so lets keep it trill and on the positive tip. Here's some fun things we've been upto over the past 3 months:

Le Domaine de L Orangeraie La Digue. CHILLING:

Scuba at St Pierre with Simona at White Tip Divers:

Batfish. Slightly off topic, but we also saw TDKR, what an awesome film!

Hawksbill Turtle:

Say Cheese:

Flying to Bird Island (Population: 50). Baggage handling is done by a tractor; it's very old worldy:

Beaches like no other:



Chilling with these prehistoric beasts. These giant tortoises species are descended from a species 250 million years old. Eventhough they weigh upto 300kg, they float (that's how they arrived in Seychelles) and have survived what seems like several cataclysmic events. Needless to say, regardless of what the Mayans predicted, I'm pretty sure these giant toroises and their children will outlive us and go way beyond the new era.

Back on the main island of Mahé, Mrs Lau decided to test her Blu-Ray disks in the cinema. She has a showing there on 18th Jan:

We also found some other cool things at the dilapidated craft village on Mahe. It's a great shame what has happened here, but it seems that the craft village does need a bit of TLC:

I guess that's all for now. I'm not sure when I'll feel like blogging again. I don't just want this to be a photostory kind of blog. Hopefully the blog paints a realistic picture of the islands of Seychelles and gives us all food for thought. It's not always paradise, indeed I crave things like seasons, not having to wear sun cream and obviously all my family and friends. I miss you dearly. The only thing I don't crave are material possessions. Maybe we are moving into a new era.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas!

WL and SC.x

Monday, 5 November 2012


There's been a slight delay in uploading this as I've been busy preparing for Miss Chan's arrival. Thankfully she arrived safely and so now I can tell you all about a few days out on the water in October...

I'd never thought of myself as much of a seaman. People had often talked about the joys of fishing, but I couldn't think of anything less appealing than sitting on the side of a lake or on a boat for hours on end, waiting and just hoping for something to bite. I've heard that during these long waits you will also accrue quite a few bites yourself mainly of the mosquito variety.

Then one evening, a good friend 007 (Also known as Double O) invited us out on a fishing trip. He informed us that we'd be meeting at Cote D'Or at 5.30am. This involved waking up at 4.30am-an early start for a Saturday (or indeed any day). The plan was to go to the dropoff. However, this plan soon changed when 007 was called in for a special mission at the palatial complex where he works. We therefore had only a 6 hour window to catch as much fish as possible.

Upon boarding, J greeted us with "Welcome onboard, today we're going to kill some fish. There's only one rule. We don't catch and release". The skipper K got us off to a speedy start and before we knew it we were riding the waves watching sunrise.

"20 miles offshore" is the safe distance if you don't want to meet any Somali Pirates, so I was relieved to see that the GPS never went beyond 7 miles. Although, to be honest piracy levels in Seychelles have dropped to 10% of the levels of 2010-standing at 25 incidents a year. Due to military intervention (a lot of it classified), the levels continue to drop. The press still like to market fear, but we can safely say that these guys go out 5 days a week and have never come across any pirates. Our crew, J and K joke that they see themselves as Pirates.

There wasn't much biting at first, but as I had already set out super-low expectations (see paragraph 1), I wasn't that bothered by the lack of action. We were on a nice boat and I was just happy taking photo's of the £500 Penn International reels.

One thing you learn quite quickly is that fishing is an expensive sport. The second thing you learn is that it is quite addictive too. First to land a catch was Purdy with this Bonito: 

I was up next. Big D had warned me about how hard it is to reel in big fish and 007 had also warned us that if anyone lost a fish, they would owe everyone a crate of beer. I took on Big D's advice about speed, endurance and technique; his photo's from previous fishing expeditions spoke for themselves:

I call him Big D for a reason, he used to play Rugby out in Cape Town, so any fish that can make him look small is going to be enormous! At this point, some of you may be thinking "poor fish", but Big D does fishing purely for sport. The complete opposite to J. The other day, he was talking me through how to run a fish's gills through the water a good few mins before releasing the fish back in the sea.
"It brings them back." He beamed as he said "It's such a delight to watch the fish then swim away". Needless to say, the shark and the Giant Trevally were obviously released.  

As a further sidenote, Captain M recently informed us that fish have no pain receptors in their nervous system. This kind of made it easier to sleep at night.

I was fairly nervous about losing my first fish, but luckily with swift action and some help from J, my first Jackfish came in fine. Although it was weigh to big to take home so in the end we gave this one to our crew J and K for their BBQ. (A pretty rubbish pun in there just for Mr Flo-he loves a cheap pun!)

My second catch was a yellowfin tuna. J was quite excited about the colour of the fish.

Catch Numero 2. This was big enough to make 15 steaks. I cooked them as soon as I got home and Boatswain M famously remarked "That's the best fish I've tasted since I got here!"

The weather took a turn for the worse, but NatKingCod was well up to task at fishing in adverse conditions:

Baby Bonito.

Purdy went on to land a massive Kingfish about 4ft 9in long:

We were already on the way back to Mahe when Purdy landed the Kingfish, so it was back home to get changed and cook my Tuna steaks in time for boat trip number 2.

PSP had kindly booked us a yacht for the afternoon through his company. He works an 80 hour week managing luxury yachts, but even on his day off he likes to take a boat out. He loves skippering and who'd blame him when he manages catamarans like this 51ft Catana:

We set sail for Coco island. Whilst it's air conditioned with 4 cabins, showers, toilets, kitchen etc. The best part of the boat is the netting at the front. It's the simple things in life. It reminded me a lot of "Waterworld" with Kevin Costner.

 This is Coco, where the Calsberg advert was shot:

We moored for a while and the Praslinois Possé decided to do some crazy diving off the boat. PSP also demonstrated how to dive whilst swinging off sail ropes:

I'd like to say at this point in time, I was diving off like a Chinese Olympian from the Project 119 training camp too. Unfortunately this did not happen. Instead, I slid into the sea off the back of the boat and then proceeded to have a rather traumatic experience where my snorkle blocked and for a good 15 seconds I thought I was going to drown. (In hindsight, I've learnt always to look down when you have a dry top snorkle if you keep your head up or out of the water, the top of the snorkle will be in the water and you won't be able to breath in!).

My fear of drowning at that moment in time was exacerbated by the fact I knew the sea was 12m deep and I'd only learnt to properly swim 4 months earlier in London! In the end, I made it back to the Yacht exhausted. I went for a sleep to re-evaluate my life at this moment in time whilst some of the others snorkled to shore. PSP kindly offered to take me and E over on the dingy from there I took my camera out for a little snorkle on the shallow shores of Coco. Enjoy!

At the top left of this picture it looks like there's camera blur, but I assure you it is just a school of fish.

1 week later, after the last week of term, Big D and YanTheMan invited me out on a boat trip. We set off to La Digue to watch the fishing competition:

Big D and Yan's boat "Doggy".

I don't smoke- my great aunty died of lung cancer purely from passive smoking in her restaurant. This was in the 1970's-1990's before the smoking ban. As a kid, I was quite close to my great aunty and I always felt there was a bit of injustice in people getting cancer from passive smoking, many famous Jazz musicians suffered a similar fate for example Marion Montgomery and Roy Castle. So based on (probably flawed) logic at a young age, I figured that I wouldn't want to be killing other people or myself from smoking, so I never really saw the appeal. The strange thing is my grandfather chain smoked over 250 cigarettes a week and he lived a fairly long life. That always baffled me. Even the Guiness book of record's oldest woman in the world, smoked. So if you smoke, that's cool-everyone has their thing, just don't blow your smoke in my face yo! All this aside, I've always been intrigued by cigarette packaging and design. Out here there's a brand called Mahé Kings. I kind of liked the name so played off it a bit here with the Praslin Kings:

Back to the fishing competition: all fish from the competition were donated to charity.

The catch of the day was either a huge Dog Tooth Tuna or the 150kg Marlin:

YanTheMan is quite a cautious gent; I guess you would be if you've invested £17,000 into your boat. If we set sail after dark, we would risk hitting coral heads which could damage the boat, so just before the sun started setting, Big D navigated us out of La Digue:

And as the last solo blog post for a while comes to an end, watch this space for the life adventures of Mr Lau and Miss Chan...