Back to Doha. Amedee Maingard Lounge – Mauritius. Emirates Business Class Lounge – Dubai.

Doha City

Doha City from globalchampionstour.com

It took me a while to write this post … getting used to Doha weather and settling in our new home! YES we have got an accommodation finally and it does take much to turn the house into a home… But how exciting! It has been quite cool in the beautiful city of Doha since I came back, beginning of February and it is only now that the temperature is starting to make a shift upwards. A few weeks of rain and storms went by and now the beautiful blue sky is back again. I have also started driving on the right side of the road. It seemed weird at first and the traffic is still the same but I am getting used to it. Fortunately for me it is not as hard as I had thought. I am also getting used to my BMW 3 Series (sports line, twin turbo), which is great fun to ride (0 to 100 Kms in 5.6 secs) but easily intimated by the numerous Toyota Land Cuisers, Audi Q5, Q7, Land Rovers and other huge vehicles!

Amedee Maingard Lounge, Mauritius: Okayish

The trip back to Doha started with Amedee Maingard Lounge which is intended for Air Mauritius passengers and its partners. It is a relatively new one which has been built with the new passenger terminal. The old lounge was smaller but cosier and warmer. This new one is quite big with two levels. Level 1 is surprisingly deserted; all the activities seem to be happening on Level 2.

Since the lounge is very bright, it will be hard to find a quiet ‘dim’ place if you want to rest/sleep. And, anyway I have not seen any couch or recliners for that purpose.

Food availability and variety seem to depend on days. I have been through the lounge many times before when there was a limited choice of food; luckily this time the variety of food offered was reasonable.

On the plus side: it has a very nice area dedicated to children.

You will find things to do if you have at most one hour to spend in this lounge; however longer than that might become boring.

Emirates Business Class Lounge, Dubai: Massive

Being my first time in Emirates Lounge in Dubai, I must admit I was pretty impressed. It cannot be compared to the business class lounge in Mauritius airport, particularly in terms of size and crowd.

The Emirates lounge was very busy even though it was around 5 in the morning. So many people travel business class? Really? Eventhough the lounge has lots and lots of seating areas available, it was quite hard to find a free table at that time. However if you keep walking till the almost end, you can find some quieter areas.

Emirates lounge also offers a variety of hot and cold food well distributed throughout the lounge through different buffet areas; however there was no porridge offered – a bit unfortunate for my two year old toddler — and not a great choice of food. (Maybe it was because of that time of the day).

If you fancy using your computer, the lounge has 2 business centres with computers, as well as showers, couches, magazine racks and several quiet areas. And, if you fancy a massage, there is also a spa available!

Overall it is a great lounge and I am sure anyone can find plenty to do even if you have hours to kill. The only thing that can still be improved I think is the variety of food offered.

Flying Emirates A380 Business ClassA Great Plane for Technology Savvy Travellers

The trip back to Doha in Emirates A380 was an iota better than when I left Doha for Mauritius. It was a night flight again and the noise in the cabin did not allow us to sleep much. As mentioned in my previous post, the Emirates A380 is a great aircraft. Top technology. Very advanced. The bed lies completely flat and a mattress is also offered if desired which makes it very very comfortable.

However I would recommend business class only for people who can sleep like logs or for those who do not sleep, particularly when it comes to the price of the business class ticket. As for the technology addicts, they will be over the moon.

Given I was unable to sleep, I enjoyed the bar/lounge; there was plenty of finger foods available and your favourite drink served as per your order.

From my view: if you want to sleep and it’s a night flight and you are not fussed then (paradoxically though) economy will do the job. If you intend to make the most of technology (don’t forget you have internet access on the plane!) then Business Class is the way to go. The price difference between economy and business and how you intend to spend your time on board might also help you decide which class to fly.

Have you travelled Emirates A380 Business Class or Economy at night for 6 to 10 hours? How did you find it?

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Holidays in Mauritius with a Toddler (Part 3/3)

Blue Bay Mauritius

The last leg of the holidays was very relaxing and although we didn’t visit ‘new’ places we had great fun with family and friends. The next adventure starts again now: back to Doha, Qatar in Emirates A380 (Check out my next post about the trip back).

Blue Bay Marine Park – A MUST SEE

Blue Bay Marine Park is a must see during your trip to Mauritius. Although the beach itself is not one of the nicest in Mauritius, the sea is a stunning landscape. The drive to the south of the island is totally worth it with great views. The Marine Park is very popular with both locals and tourists; however, as a result of incessant sea traffic and cropping up of many industries around the region, the marine park is in constant degradation.

I was very surprised to see the huge crowd at Blue Bay, enjoying the beach, waiting for boats to take them for a ‘glass bottom boat’ trip or to one of the small surrounding isles. The boat ‘owners’ sit at tables with beach umbrellas and ‘ready’ to fulfill all your requests! Bargaining is the ‘normal’ thing to do, else you will pay more for the same service that you could have got for less.

Our ‘boat owner’ promised us an unforgettable experience – it was one indeed. We paid Rs 300 for one hour for 3 adults and 2 kids which I thought was a great deal. However I was quite disappointed with the state of the corals. Although we were told 80% of them were alive, I saw only 10% alive ones. Fortunately though, there were lots of beautiful fish and the kids had a blast. I have never seen so many beautiful fish in one spot at the same time! My dad decided he wanted to swim with the fish; mask, palm and tuba were free and provided by the boat. He loved the experience. The skipper was a nice guy with a great sense of humour and as I said before, it was a beautiful experience.

Do give me a buzz if you’ve been to Blue Bay Marine Park. Did you enjoy it?

Check out the beautiful pictures of Blue Bay Marine Park.
Blue Bay Mauritius

Blue Bay Mauritius

Blue Bay Mauritius

Blue Bay Mauritius

 

Blue Bay Mauritius

Blue Bay Mauritius

 

 

Holidays in Mauritius with a Toddler (Part 2/3)

 

Mauritius beach

Mauritius

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The holidays in Mauritius are still on and activities and outings are part of our everyday life now; there’s so much to see and do in this paradise island. Here is a list of a few other things we did these last weeks.

Trianon Shopping Park – Intresting shopping outlets

Trianon Shopping ParkWith around 80 shops, cafes and restaurants, cinema halls, this mall is one of the busiest of the island offering a wide variety of both local and international brands. There are many parking spaces and it holds regular events.

A big plus: an entertainment area for kids called Cocotown Kids. It has a huge climbing frame, many interesting activities for both small and big kids as well as a café/restaurant with small tables and chairs. The price charged for three hours is Rs 300 and there are lots to do in those three hours. My daughter loved Cocotown and so did I. We have to go again!

 

Mauritius Aquarium – Not recommendedMauritius Aquarium

After having been to the Sydney Aquarium – where more than 700 species are on display – I must admit that the Mauritius Aquarium was a big disappointment. True, my expectations may have been too high. However, to call the place an aquarium would be a hyperbole. There are many big salt water fish tanks and one very big water tank. There were a few interesting fish and although the website advertised for a ‘ray’, we simply couldn’t find it. The sharks were probably baby sharks and there were about two turtles. All this for the price of Rs 300 for an adult and Rs 150 for children aged between 2 and 12, which is quite a rip off I think with regard to what you get to see.

Mauritius AquariumThe water tanks are placed at quite a height, which made it very hard for my 2 year old daughter, my 3 year old nephew and my 5 year old nephew to see much, if not, anything at all. We had to hold them all the way through for them to be able to have a look. Not very convenient for anyone I must say.

Mauritius AquariumLuckily for us, the children were simply amazed with the turtles and the baby sharks. They know nothing about inconveniences – fortunately for them. They kept asking me about the ray as I had told them they would see one in the ‘aquarium’. Hmmm …

Mauritius beachAfter the ‘aquarium’ they went for a quick swim in the Trou-Aux-Biches sea, one minute drive from there. It was not a great beach but as I said earlier, children are so fortunate to see only the fun side of things, reminding me of the poems of The Lamb and The Tyger in Blake’s ‘Songs of Innocence and Experience’.

Casela – Great fun for kids

Casela Park MauritiusThis nature park has recently been uplifted and looks much better than it did two years ago. It is beautifully maintained and ‘visitor-friendly’.

Because of my daughter’s naptime, I could only spend around two hours in Casela; however, even a full day might not be enough to enjoy all the activities. We walked past the giraffes and straight to the petting farm. The ducks, geese, turkeys, chickens, turtles were all quite eager to be fed. We decided to go and feed the kids (baby goats) …… It wasn’t a good idea after all as my 9 year old niece really freaked out causing the other children to get scared too and I’m pretty sure the baby goats got quite scared with so much screaming.

Then we walked to catch the bus for the safari. The safari was quite interesting although the number ofCasela Park Mauritius animals cannot be compared to those from Perth zoo, for example. We saw mainly zebras, ostriches, 2 baby rhinoceroses, a few species from the antelope family. I was pleasantly surprised to see an oryx – the oryx is the national animal of Qtar, the UAE, Oman, Bahrain and Jordan. Unfortunately for us the giraffes and the ‘big cats’ were in separate enclosures.

The safari took a while and by the time it was over, it was 5.00 p.m. which was Casela’s closing time. We will definitely have to go back for other activities.

Here are a few more pictures of the beautiful place:

Casela Park Mauritius

Casela Park Mauritius

Casela Park Mauritius

Casela Park Mauritius

Casela Park Mauritius

Casela Park Mauritius

Casela Park Mauritius

Casela Park Mauritius

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emerald Park Shopping Centre – Okayish

Emerald Park Mauritius

Photo Credit: thunderpanths

This is a rather small shopping centre which is not really for kids. If you want to eat or drink something (healthy) with the kids, apart from one vending machine, there is absolutely nothing. I’d say, it’s somewhere you could go to buy clothes or toys for the kids (only 2 shops are relevant for that) but where they will get really bored.

Mr Bricloage which is a DIY type of shop is quite an interesting place. I bought a small swimming pool for my daughter and she absolutely loved it. It was relatively cheap. I really liked the fact that it is not an inflatable one so hopefully it will last a while. Lots of interesting DIY stuff for kids too.

The other shop is  Pridemark. It sells brand clothing at a bargain price. Although I could only find one shirt  for my daughter I bought 3 dresses for myself! If you like brands for affordable prices, this is the place to go.

I’ve got a few other things on my bucket list for the coming weeks. Would you have any suggestions?

Top 15 Street Food to Enjoy in Mauritius

Mauritius Street Food

Photo: holidays.airmauritius.com

Mauritius has inherited from the cuisines of both its colonisers and its immigrants. It took from all these cuisines to become what is known today as the ‘Mauritian Cuisine’. The local food here is a real potpourri: Indian dishes, Chinese and Japanese dishes, Italian food, etc – all of them cooked with a ‘Mauritian twist’.

Dholl puri also called Dal Puri – Savoury

Mauritius street food

A flatbread stuffed with yellow split peas (Daal) and usually eaten with lima beans curry, some rougaille (tomatoes braised in oil, onions, thyme, garlic/ginger, salt) and some chillis. There are many ‘dal puri’ vendors on the street and it is sold at affordable prices.

 

 

 

 

 

Gateau Piment – Savoury

Mauritius Street Food

Photo: Global Table Adventure

Called ‘chilli cakes’, these are in fact, daal cakes! They are made with yellow split peas, ground into a paste and mixed with chilli, salt, spring onion, shaped into balls and fried in hot oil. It can also be eaten with bread as a ‘light’ lunch.

 

 

 

 

Halim – Savoury  

Mauritius Street Food

Photo: Cannelle et Cardamome

A soup, made with lentils, spices, beef or mutton, and some wheat. Sometimes, yellow split peas are also added and this soup; it can be eaten with some bread and chilli paste!

 

 

 

 

Boulette­Savoury

Mauritius Street Food

Photo: l’express.mu

Steamed balls made with chayote or even with fish served in a soup. Very popular with locals.

 

 

 

Mine frit – Savoury

Mauritius Street Food

Photo: recette-ile-maurice.com

Fried noodles in a ‘Mauritian style’, served with beef or chicken.

 

 

 

 

 

Briani – Savoury

Mauritius Street Food

Tash Briyani from Perth

Traditional rice dish, made usually with beef, chicken and fish. It can also be made with lamb, mutton or other meat products, or even with only vegetables. Unlike the ‘Indian’ briani, the Mauritian one is not too spicy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Macatia coco – Sweet

A sweet bun filled with coconut and sugar. Macatia coco is usually sold by a vendor on a bike and who calls out for customers as he rides by either honking or shouting at the top of his voice “maacaatiaaa cocoooo’!!!

Mauritius Street Food

 

 

 

 

 

Poutou – Sweet

Steamed ground rice, coated with desiccated coconut.

Mauritius Street Food

Photo: recette-il-maurice.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poudine Mais – Sweet

Mauritius Street Food

Mais means corn and ‘poudine’ is a pudding. ‘Poudine Mais’ is Corn powder cooked with some water and sugar; raisins and desiccated coconut can be added.

 

 

Gateau Patate – Sweet

Mauritius street food

Mum in law’s Gateau Patate

A sweet potato fritter made by boiling sweet potato, crushing it and mixing it to some flour; then the ‘dough’ is flattened and cut into round shapes. The ‘circles’ are filled with desiccated coconut and sugar, then folded to form semi-circles and fried in hot oil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Confits – Savoury

Mauritius street food

Photo: ibolo.mu

Unlike the French confit, the Mauritian ‘confit’ consists of fruits like mango, pineapple, tamarind kept for a few days in some water and vinegar with salt. This is usually eaten with chilli salt and/or chilli paste. And trust me, it is chilli hot!

 

 

 

 

Napolitaine – Sweet

Mauritius Street food

Photo: mysweetmauritius.blogspot.co.uk

Unique to Mauritius, the ‘Napolitaine’ forms part of what the locals call “Gateau Francais” — French cakes. These are in fact french pastries but adapted to the local taste.

Very easy to make, Napolitaines consist of two shortbread biscuits sandwiched together with some jam and covered with pink icing sugar. Delicious!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gateau de l’huile – Savoury

Mauritius Street Food

Photo: indian-ocean.com

Fritters made by coating vegetables with ground chickpeas (besan flour) and deep frying in oil. Popular ones are made using sliced potatoes, bread, aubergine. Gateau de l’huile (oil cakes) also include gateau piment and samoosas.

 

 

 

Gateau Doux – Sweet

Mauritius Street FoodTranslated as ‘sweet cakes’, these are sweets usually made with gram flour, milk powder, condensed milk, sugar and almond, rose, or vanilla essence. Some popular ‘gateau doux’ are ‘Mawa Samoosa’, ‘barfi’, ‘laddoo’, ‘gulab jamun’, ‘rasgoulla’, ‘sutalfine’.

 

 

Alouda – Sweet

Mauritius Street Food

Photo: ailgingembre.blogspot.com

Sweet milk flavoured with rose syrup and served chilled with some tukmaria seeds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are numerous other street food in Mauritius like the ‘Poudine Vermicelle’ (Vermicelli Pudding), the ‘Poudine Manioc’ (Tapioca Pudding), ‘Merveille’, ‘Gateau Arouille’ among others.

Do you know any other popular Mauritian street food?

 

Holidays in Mauritius with a Toddler (Part 1/3)

Mauritius

Mauritius

 

Mark Twain, after his visit in 1896, quoted an islander as saying: “Mauritius was made first and then heaven; and heaven was copied after Mauritius”. Mauritius is known as a “Paradise Island”. Although at first I did not quite understand why, with time I have come to realise that Mauritius is indeed a paradise island.

Mauritius is a democratic state, located approximately 2000 kilometres to the south eastern coast of Africa and lies east of Madagascar on 20°5, 57.5E. It has an area of 1865km with 330 kilometres of coastline. Mauritius is 45km in width and 65km in length. Discovered in 1505 by the Portuguese, the island was occupied successively by the Dutch (1598-1712), the French (1715-1810) and the British (1810 to 1968). On 12 March 1968, Mauritius became independent. Republic Day was proclaimed on 12 March 1992.

The local cuisine has therefore inherited from a melting pot of immigrants to the island, mainly from Europe, East Africa and India. In Mauritius it is normal to eat some daal just like it would be normal to eat a croissant, a baguette, a pizza, some fried noodles, some briani and drink some tea, an ‘alouda’ or a cappuccino.

Eventhough the last colonisers of the island were the British, French language was still widely used. Settlers who decided to stay were allowed to keep both their language and religion. The ‘Code Napoleon’ forms part of the Mauritian law and French is still widely used, much more than the English language. For example, most newspapers are in French, the main news bulletin is in French, and the language is more widely spoken by the population than English.

The Mauritian population consists mainly of people of Indian descent who follow mostly Hinduism and Islam. According to the 2001 census by Statistics Mauritius, the major religion is Hinduism (48.5%), then Christianity (32.7%), followed by Islam (17.3 %) and Buddhist (0.4%).

The island is politically stable and people are free to practice their religion. There are numerous mosques, temples, churches and other praying places which can also at times be seen side by side or on the same street.

The local buses are quite reliable and it is the means of transport of many locals. A big percentage of the population also owns a car, adding to the heavy traffic jam mainly in the mornings and afternoons. The roads can be quite narrow in certain areas, plus at times a driver will have to try to drive his way through pedestrians, motorbikes, bicycles and some stray dogs!

I still find it very funny when I think of one of my colleagues in Australia who was surprised that Mauritius had roads and cars!!! Yes readers, Mauritius has both roads and cars. Recently, it has become more and more ‘normal’ to come across cars like Ferraris, Aston Martins, Range Rovers and a few other luxurious cars. And yes, Ive also seen a Lamborghini and a Maserati! For a small island, with only around 1.3 million people, and with no natural resources, this can be quite surprising.

Mauritius has depended on sugar exports for decades but has had to diversify its economy in the last years. Some areas of rising economic activity include agriculture, manufacturing, tourism and finance – particularly banking and business outsourcing. The island is well known for its beautiful beaches and exotic hotels, among which are some world-award winners.

With a beautiful blue sky almost whole year round, a flat income tax rate of 15%, comfortable temperatures whether it’s summer or winter, beautiful beaches, free schools, free hospitals, free transport for students and pensioners, among many other facilities, who wouldn’t want to live in Mauritius?

Places to visit or not to visit

La Croisette – Worth a visit

Shopping Mauritius

Quite modern architecture and layout. Lots of shops with local and international brands. Food court, restaurants and cafes with affordable prices. Regular events. Cinema halls. Clean with play areas for kids. Both lifts and escalators with an underground car park. Easy to use your baby stroller/pram.

Tang Way – Worth the detour

A ‘supermarket’ where you can get almost any product you want – both local and imported. It has its own bakery, pastry shop and you can also buy fresh chicken and fish. Definitely worth going to get a good idea of the local produce and the popular food items with Mauritians.

Zavata Circus – Not sure

Very loud so not advised for young kids. The seating facilities: not comfortable. The price of the ticket doesn’t match the service nor the show you get to watch. A let down.

Bagatelle Mall of Mauritius – Interesting Shopping and Eating Outlets

Mauritius Shopping

mallofmauritius.com

One of the must-visit shopping malls of the island. Very trendy at the moment with Mauritians. Lots to do in terms of shopping (130 shops) and a variety of eating outlets and other services like numerous cinema halls, cafes and restaurants.

Spurs (Bagatelle) – Not sure

I had some time before my daughter’s nap so I thought it would be a great idea to eat at Spurs as my daughter would be able to play in the kids corner and also eat something healthy after. However I wasn’t greeted when I went into the restaurant nor was I advised about the menu. I saw many waiters just standing doing nothing but none of them came to offer their help. After waiting for a while, I called 3 waiters; although each of them acknowledged my presence they didn’t come to take my order. After about 15 minutes wait. I decided to leave.

Jardin Balfour – Simple but nice kids play area

I know Jardin Balfour since I was little and my dad knows it since he was little. It’s been there for a while and even nicer now than it was before. It’s a popular spot with kids particular on Sunday afternoons. I love the giant tortoises, the soothing sound of the flow of the numerous water canals, the beautiful waterfalls, the green scenery, the different chirps of birds. My daughter had a blast chasing the pigeons!

Flic en Flac Beach – So… beautiful

Mauritius Holidays

Mauritius HolidaysOne of the most popular beaches of the island. Great for swimming and beautiful beach. Lots of shops, restaurants, cafes along the Flic en Flac coast. You need to know at what time you are leaving the place and avoid peak time (weekend afternoons) as traffic jam is normal in this area.

Vona Corona Ice Cream Parlour – A must try

This brand of locally made ice cream forms part of the Mauritian culture. Just like Aussies would say, ‘let’s put some prawns on the barbie’, Mauritians would say, ‘let’s have a vona’. Although the local ice cream is an acquired taste, it is a definite must-try similar to the ‘gato piment’ sold on the side of the road.

Jumbo Supermarket – Who doesn’t know Jumbo?

Situated at Phoenix, in the centre of the Island, this supermarket is one of the stops of many locals. It sells ‘almost’ everything. It has recently got an uplift, with many more shops and a much bigger and more varied cuisine in its foodcourt. The ‘Briyani’ is very popular there but so are KFC and Mc Donalds!

Azuri Beach – A must visit

Mauritius Holidays

I love Azuri. It is not only a newly created village with residences for both locals and foreigners but it also has a man-made beach. It is found on the north east coast of the island and is the location for Radisson Blu hotel, a great public café, a butcher shop, a few restaurants among other facilities.

There are many more ‘things to do’ left on my list. Im hoping I can do most of them before I leave Mauritius in a few weeks.

Travelling Emirates Business Class with a Toddler – Doha to Mauritius via Dubai.

Emirates A380

Lounge in Emirates A380; Photo: Emirates.com

It was my first times. First time travelling to Mauritius with my toddler but without my husband. First time leaving Doha. First time on Emirates airline. First time in Dubai. What a journey!

About Emirates

The Emirates Group operates across six continents with a 75,000 strong multi-national team comprised of over 160 nationalities — Emirates.com

In 1985, Emirates started its travels out of Dubai with only 2 planes: a leased Boeing 737 and an Airbus 300 B4. Now, it has a fleet of more than 230 planes, and flies to more than 140 destinations in more than 80 countries around the world.

Purchasing Tickets Online

The website (www.emirates.com) is very user friendly and it’s actually quite easy to plan and book a trip. Paradoxically, we managed to make a mistake while filling in the name of our daughter (!!!) but thanks to the phone assistance, it all got sorted straightaway (a big PLUS for Emirates airline). However because we had to make a separate ticket for my daughter, my name wasn’t linked to hers and unfortunately we could not check in nor choose our seats online.

Hamad International Airport

Hamad International Airport

Photo: aasarchitecture.com

Clearing customs at Hamad International Airport (HIA) was like a breeze. I was asked for my passport, boarding pass and my Qatari ID and those of my daughter. Being on my husband’s sponsorship, I wasn’t required to provide any other documents, which was a relief. Check-in was quite quick and efficient with helpful staff. Having 137 extra-wide check-in aisles surely makes a difference in terms of rapidity.

As soon as I went through the security checks (this went really fast too), I was stunned by the size of the terminal and the incessant movements. It was much busier than I had imagined; there were people and shops everywhere! The airport has an initial annual capacity of 30 million passengers and believed to be able to handle 50 million passengers per year upon completion. HIA has 8 lounges and 1 more opening soon. It also has a fitness centre, a 200-room hotel and quiet rooms. The airport works closely with Qatar Museums Authority and showcases many art works by local and international artists. HIA also has facilities like prayer rooms, parents’ rooms, family toilets and 5 activity nodes for children. Each activity node offers televisions, Internet browsing, toys, mini-rides and climbing frames.

HIA

Unfortunately I couldn’t try the Oryx lounge; I was informed it was on a different level and it was already 10.30 p.m., my daughter was on the ‘sleep mode’ and I was required to board at 11.00 for the 11.45 p.m. departure to Dubai. That would be for next time.

 

Emirates Boeing Business Class with a Toddler (Doha to Dubai)

The plane left for Dubai around 11.45 p.m. and given the late hour, I didn’t have the opportunity to use any of the ‘entertainment services’ provided on board.

On the Plus Side:

  • Friendly and helpful staff
  • Spacious
  • Private
  • Very short 45 mins trip
  • Cold dinner was served; we were both hungry so it was convenient.

On the Minus Side:

  • I was informed that my 2 year old has to sit by herself on a separate seat and not in my lap as she looked ‘old enough’ to be able to do that. Fortunately she was fine with that and both the take off and landing went well.
  • Because of the design of the seats, eventhough I was sitting next to my toddler, I couldn’t see much of her. Luckily for us the flight was very short.

Dubai International Airport

Dubai Airport

Photo: news.com.au

I requested for my luggage to go directly to Mauritius which was a good decision as being on my own, with my two year old, I wouldn’t have had enough time to go through the whole immigration/check-in process again for my next flight. We landed in Dubai around 1.35 a.m. and my next flight was at 2.45 a.m. Dubai time. No time to check out the lounge here either.

I was already quite impressed with HIA being so big and busy but when I saw Dubai International Airport (DXB) then I realised how huge the latter really is as compared to the former. This time I was really really stunned! When I got out of the plane I thought I was going to get lost among so many people and signs and lights and cafes and shops…Luckily for me, the signs were very clear! I was amazed by how easy it was to get to the gate for the next flight to Mauritius. After walking with my half-slept toddler in my arms for about 20 minutes including catching a light train to get to Gate A, I started to wonder why I declined the offer to book a stroller at the check-in counter!

DXB has three terminals and Terminal 3 is the world’s largest building by floor space at 1.5 million square meters and is exclusive to Emirates airline. When we landed in Dubai, all I could see was lights and Emirates planes lined on the tarmac (till the eyes could see..)

The airport has the capacity of handling 75 million passengers per year, with Terminal 3 having the capacity of handling 47 million passengers. DXB has exclusive lounges for its Emirates first class and Business Class passengers and a specific lounge for all Emirates passengers. It also has a luxurious 88 rooms and suites hotel, a Business Centre, a health club, a variety of world cuisines, an airport medical centre, quiet rooms, prayer rooms, a post office among many other facilities.

Emirates A380 Business Class with a Toddler (Dubai to Mauritius)

Emirates A380

Photo: nycaviation.com

WOW! I cannot find suitable adjectives to describe the plane. It was beautiful. I noticed some exotic fresh flowers to decorate the plane as well as some natural orchids. The seats were very comfortable and turned into a really flat bed. I was even offered a ‘mattress’ to put on my flat bed! That was awesome! It felt really nice to lie down and rest and I quickly fell asleep.

On the Plus side:

  • Meal time is like fine dining: foods by award winning chefs served in china tableware on tables laid with fine linen.
  • ‘Light bites’ served, a few hours into the flight.
  • Over 2000 channels of movies, TV shows, music and games to choose from. Also available: movies with Audio Description and Closed Captions for those who are visually or hearing impaired.
  • You can create your personal playlist.

    Photo: ausbt.com.au

    Photo: ausbt.com.au

  • There is an Onboard Lounge where you can meet people while choosing to eat from a selection of canapés and cocktails or hot and cold beverages, served by a bartender.
  • Different kit bags for men and women, both signed Bvlgari.
  • Personal minibar next to your seat.
  • Own tablet where you can access WIFI. (I didn’t try it)

On the Minus Side

  • Consistency Issue. This time I was told I had to hold my toddler in my lap for take off, as she looked too small to sit by herself!
  • The food selection was great but at 2.45 a.m. I did not see many passengers interested in eating. Many even skipped breakfast preferring to sleep.
  • Service Issue: although I told an air hostess not to wake me up for breakfast and I filled in a form (which was never collected), I was still asked if I wanted breakfast by another flight attendant. Lucky I wasn’t sleeping then.
  • When my daughter was sleeping I suddenly saw an air-hostess by her side, lifting her head up to put a pillow. I was both surprised and upset. Surprised as I had never asked for one and upset as she didn’t ask me first. My daughter doesn’t use a pillow and she could have woken her up by lifting her head etc. Resettling a baby/toddler on a plane in the middle of the night can be a real challenge (trust me).
  • I ordered some oats for my daughter and the attendant who went to get it never came back with it. When I asked another one, she informed me they only has Muesli and oats was not available.

My first time on Emirates and in Dubai was more or less a positive experience. The technology was a bit over the top for me, particularly at that time of the night; the flashy gadgets, not really for me. Some flight attendants can be over-enthusiastic and you’d be amazed at how some manage to keep a permanent smile on their face… Let’s hope this experience is going to be much more worth it when going back to Doha.

Breastfeeding: Many Pros and a Few Difficulties

 breastfeedingThe World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding until baby is around 6 months old; then, it can be a complement to appropriate solid foods until the age of two or beyond (until mum and baby wish for). Exclusive breastfeeding means that the infant receives only breast milk. No other liquids or solids are given – not even water – with the exception of oral rehydration solution, or drops/syrups of vitamins, minerals or medicines. You’ve heard it many times before: breastfeeding is best for your baby and the benefits, huge. Unfortunately it is not as straightforward and easy as it sounds.

Before deciding to breastfeed my baby, I only knew about all the positives. Had I known what I know today about everything that it involves, I believe I would have still made the same choice. However I would have been better prepared to face the journey. This post is mainly to help mums-to-be and new mums get a bigger picture of how beneficial breastfeeding is but also what to expect while doing it.

The American Academy of Pediatrics as well as several other researchers recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months as the advantages are manifold. It is not only good for your baby but also for you, mum.

Some of the Numerous Pros:

  1. Breast milk has all the vitamins, nutrients and immune factors that will help your baby fight numerous diseases. Anti-bodies in breast milk help babies fight these even beyond the breastfeeding stage.
  2. Breastfeeding can help reduce the risk of your child becoming overweight or obese as a teenager or adult. (American Journal of Epidemiology). One of the reasons for example is more insulin in formula stimulating the creation of fat.
  3. There are various benefits due to the emotional bonding taking place while breastfeeding.
  4. Lower risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  5. Lower risk of post-natal depression (release of oxytocin while breastfeeding leads to relaxation).
  6. Lower risk of some forms of cancer like ovarian and breast cancer.

Breastfeeding is natural but not necessarily easy. It has some inconveniences and the start of the journey can be quite hard. It is recommended you start breastfeeding within the first hour baby is born and this may last for 6 months, 2 years or as long as both you and your baby decide. Hence, it is important you get it right from the start.

A Few Difficulties:

  1. The correct attachment is very important since the very beginning. So, make sure baby is attaching correctly; do not hesitate to ask the mid-wife/nurse or the lactation specialist for help in case of doubt.
  2. It can take a while for babies to learn to breastfeed. If you are still in hospital make sure you ask for help to get started.
  3. For the new born, you will be recommended to feed ‘on demand’; usually a new born feeds about every 2 hours; so, in between make sure you rest (particularly after delivery). You will need the strength, trust me.
  4. Bear in mind that you will have fragmented sleep for at least 3 months, so resting is important. Forget the 8 uninterrupted hours of sleep you used to have. It’s not coming back that soon.
  5. You need a network of supporters; be it neighbours, friends, relatives, well-wishers. You won’t be able to do everything on your own. If possible, hire someone to do the housework or the cooking or both. If you plan to do these while baby is sleeping, you will never have enough rest and will end up being a zombie, like I was.
  6. You also need a wardrobe with plenty of front opening tops/dresses. Else, it can be a real challenge at times to breastfeed your baby.
  7. Lanolin cream is your best friend; else you may end up with sore/cracked nipples, which will make it very hard to continue breastfeeding.
  8. Find the feeding position that’s best for you and your baby. Make sure you are comfortable, as a feed can take a while. Backache is a common problem.
  9. At the start, a feed will take a while and you might even doze off a few times; however while baby gets better at feeding, he may take about 10/15 mins for a feed.
  10. Avoid travelling abroad with an under 3 months old baby while breastfeeding unless you are ready to feed in public (lounge, airplane, and everywhere you call ‘public place’). It’s a very challenging situation to be in.
  11. If you live with an extended family, be ready to get in and out of a room most times of the day, in the first few months.
  12. If you are visiting friends, make sure you ask first if there will be somewhere private where you can breastfeed. Else, feed, go out and come back as soon as possible to feed again!
  13. Make sure you feed on alternate breasts, to avoid engorgement.
  14. If you feel lumps, have a warm shower and massage your breast gently in a rotating way.
  15. Read about blocked ducts and mastitis and if in doubt about anything consult your nurse or GP.

breastfeeding

Some Precautions and Pieces of Advice for Breastfeeding Mums

  • Make sure you have a healthy diet.
  • Resting is important.
  • Avoid caffeine (as it does pass through breast milk).
  • Avoid smoking, passive smoking, alcohol and drugs.
  • Make sure the medication you take is safe for breastfeeding mums.
  • If a few times after a feed, you notice your infant restless, crying, throwing up, consult the pediatrician, as there may be a problem with lactose tolerance or reflux.
  • Avoid using a soother while you are breastfeeding; once breastfeeding is established it can then be used when settling your infant.
  • Don’t worry about ‘stares’ or about negative comments; you will quickly learn that as a new mum (i) you will always be judged (too protective, too relaxed, not patient enough, too patient, too strict, too cool, etc. etc. and you can even be all of them!) and (ii) everyone knows better what’s best for your baby and how you should handle him. Just be relaxed and tell yourself everyone means well…

breastfeeding mumSupport is Essential to a Successful Journey

Many will tell you they understand how hard it is; if it is a breastfeeding mum then you can trust her! Talk to one if you are not sure about something. You may find the solution to the problem you are facing.

With breastfeeding, you will find yourself consciously unskilled at first; however with consistency, patience and determination, you will very quickly become unconsciously skilled! Mood changes are common during and after pregnancy, occurring in up to 85% of women within the first week after the birth, peaking on the third to fifth day. Very often, this may be a factor in discouraging mums from continuing breastfeeding. The blues will pass, so hang in there! If you still do not feel well, do not hesitate to talk to your GP.

It is important that your partner is fully supportive and also understands the benefits and difficulties of breastfeeding. The support of your immediate and extended family, of friends, of the community will be very helpful throughout this journey. Think about all the benefits exclusive breastfeeding will have for your precious little one; this will help you stay motivated.

Breastfeeding in Mauritius

In Mauritius, exclusive breastfeeding lasts for about 2 months and then there is the introduction of water and formula around 4 to 6 months. Mauritian mothers tend to breastfeed until around 2 years. The main reasons for the introduction of water and formula is the lack of information, the belief that milk is not sufficient and employment. The rate is very low as compared to the recommendation of the WHO: a survey found that only 17.9% exclusively breastfeed their babies up to around 6 months old.

Although there is no law about breastfeeding in public, I have rarely seen a mum breastfeeding a baby nor do I know of any designated rooms for breastfeeding in shopping malls, airport or other places. Although there are no support groups that I am aware of, help can be obtained from the local health centres.

Recently a workshop has been launched by the Ministry of Health to celebrate the World Breastfeeding Week, with the view of promoting exclusive breastfeeding during the first 6 months and continuing breastfeeding beyond. The ministry is also launching a campaign to sensitise people about the benefits of breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding in Qatar

A study on breastfeeding by Sidra Medical and Research Centre has found that many Qatari mothers discontinue breastfeeding after 40 days, or after three months due to lack of information and access to professional lactation support. 
It says this is the major reason for low rates of exclusive breastfeeding among Qatari Women. The rate of breastfeeding in Qatar is significantly lower than the global rate.

I doubt it that it is ‘normal’ to breastfeed in public here, in Doha and I have not seen designated areas in shopping malls till now. In view of the World Breadfeeding Week, Sidra Medical and Research Centre has also launched an awareness campaign to sensitise mums, particularly working mums about breastfeeding.

It’s great that Doha Mums has a breastfeeding support group, which mums can join and where they can discuss common concerns over a cup of decaf tea or coffee!

Breastfeeding in Perth

Aligned with the WHO, The Australian National Health and Medical Research Council recommends exclusive breastfeeding for around 6 months; then breastfeeding should continue alongside complementary food until 12 months and more (as long as the mother and child want to). According to a survey, it has been found that “less than half (39%) of babies are still being exclusively breastfed to 3 months (less than 4 months) and less than one quarter (15%) to 5 months (less than 6 months)”.

It is good to know that in Australia, it is your legal right to breastfeed in public and there are laws in place if ever you get discriminated against on this ground. There are 230 local Australian Breastfeeding Association groups throughout Australia and you can rely on their help.

Perth has a few shopping places with breastfeeding rooms: Myer, David Jones, Ikea. Given it is a modern and well-developed city, Perth could do more to offer specific breastfeeding areas for mums and bubs. I also wish Perth airport had one.

To Conclude

In Mauritius, the maternity leave has been extended from 12 to 14 weeks and in Australia, it has been extended to 18 weeks. We are unfortunately still lagging behind as compared to countries like Sweden (six months) or Denmark (52 weeks on paid leave)!

Breastfeeding is something that both mothers and babies have to learn to do; it may take two to three months to establish breastfeeding and feel you have it under control. Support is very important, first to get started and then to keep going.

I was fortunate to deliver my baby in a private hospital where the help and support were fantastic. I decided to stay up to 5 days to make sure I had it right. Given the numerous benefits exclusive breastfeeding has in the first 6 months and breastfeeding has for babies, it would be great if more could be done towards supporting new mums through more information and professional lactation support. Mums must be helped to get it right from the start so that this journey is a pleasant, stress-free one.

Do you think there is enough information about breastfeeding and support for new mums out there?