In the month of May, one might have noticed that there were some people missing. Too many to list (okay fine I was lazy, but you know who you were). It was empty enough since it was the hols and all, but boy oh boy the emptiness was emptier than Nic’s tummy after training! XD Just kidding Nic I ❤ you deepdeep. While we were slaving away on our internships, these guys traveled to sunny side MAURITIUS!
How was it, you might ask? Was it a sexy exotic place? Did anyone have summer flings (STEAMY STEAMY!). But I think I’ll let the story below speak for itself. Three of the people who went, Shan Qi and Mei Hui and Azrul have graciously volunteered their time and effort to share with us their story (plus Mei Hui and Azrul are so free nowadays XD ). So without further ado we present to you a post…
by Shan Qi and Mei Hui
“Tesh sent me here because he was involved in a road rage and is in the hospital now, with a broken nose. You have two choices now: to detour to the hospital first, or to put your stuff at the villa and then visit Tesh,” – that was how we were welcomed by Tesh’s friend upon our arrival at the airport, only to find out later that it was all a prank. Talking about the Mauritian way of welcoming people…
So we headed towards Jet Villa – our accommodation for the next eleven days – instead of going to the hospital. Located in the tourist area of Flic en Flac (which is in the west of the island), Jet Villa was just a stone’s throw away from the beach. We were greeted with a “cocktail party” at the villa, except that there was no real cocktail but finger-licking finger-food (no pun intended) and tropical fruit juice. Exhausted from the flight and long road ride, we spent the rest of the night chilling away at the villa and the beach. Sunset in Mauritius was really early – at around 6 pm, and by 6.30 pm or so, the sky was already pitch-black. After dinner, we took a stroll along the beach, gazing at the galaxies of stars adorning the night sky. The cool mild weather was a great escape from Singapore’s 35°C oven. However, mosquitoes were pervasive in every corner of Mauritius. And we all came to the conclusion that the favourite pastime of Mauritians was to kill mosquitoes.
It is my hometown, duh. ~ Tesh
Being the true-blue crossers that we are, we began each day of our trip with a refreshing morning run along the beach. Wait, not all of us though, as to some of us, waking up at 6 in the morning is really a pain. Hehe. The regular ones were Norman, Azrul, Eugene, Melvin and Mei Hui. Three cheers to them for being so disciplined! So on the morning of our 2nd day, we did a 45-minute run on the sand (which was really challenging) while watching the sun slowly rising from the horizon. After a hearty breakfast of sunny side up, sausages, baguette with cheese, yoghurt with honey stars (and the list goes on), we started exploring the island, which was 3 times bigger than our little red dot but with only one-third of our population. Our first stop was the Trou aux Cerfs volcano, where we went hiking down – yes, down but not up – the treacherous terrain covered with dense vegetation. The path was narrow, muddy and slippery, with thorns and insects threatening to attack us along the way. We emerged from the volcano with scratches and bites from mosquitoes and some of us, bees. Nonetheless, it was a thrilling experience.
Next, we went sightseeing at the Grand Bassin (literally the ‘big lake’), a place considered sacred by the Hindus. Looming tall at the entrance was the towering statue of Shiva the Hindu Goddess. The water in the lake was thought to be holy as it was apparently brought in from the Ganges River. After Grand Bassin, we visited the Black River Gorge viewpoint. It was Tesh’s favourite viewpoint for a reason – the view was indeed breathtaking. We had our picnic lunch there, and proceeded for more sightseeing, picture-taking and cam-whoring at the 7-Coloured Earth, Chamarel Waterfall and Chamarel viewpoint.
Running along the beach by the amazingly beautiful sunrise/sunset! ~ Mei Hui
Day 3 was the long-awaited sea-activity day! We started by visiting La Ciatdelle and Cap Malheureux, two coastal viewpoints located in the North. What struck us most were the crystal clear, aquamarine waters of the sea shimmering in the warm morning sun. And so, non-stop photo-taking (and posing) with such scenic backdrop left our poor stomachs growling, and we proceeded towards Pereybere beach for our lunch and water sports. Hungry as a horse, we all made a beeline for the kebab, which was uniquely and deliciously served with baguette. Energized and contented, we then rushed for buoying and parasailing. During parasailing, we crossers were the only lucky ones to spot dolphins out in the sea. I had the most perfect, bird’s eye view of the cute creatures as they were just right beneath my feet as I went soaring up the sky. After that, we explored the different stalls selling local delights at the beach, experimenting pineapple sprinkled with curry powder and avocado dipped in sugar. Eric was the happiest among us all.
The lovely beaches which are nothing like Singapore’s, oh, not forgetting the equally lovely beach babes 😉 ~ Eugene
On the 4th day of the trip, Tesh brought us to visit his home, which was right opposite a mental health care centre. All 20 of us had a good time chatting with his parents and secretly laughing at his photos as a child. After that, we headed to the Le Pouce Mountain for our second hike of the trip! Armed with the ambition of reaching the peak, we braved through moss-covered rocks, dense vegetation and muddy trails, but not forgetting to stop occasionally along the way to take pictures. The 2-hour climb was tiring, but the view was indeed rewarding. From the top of the mountain, we could capture a round-island view of the whole of Mauritius – and trust me, it was breathtaking. Later that night, we had an inter-apartment cooking competition during dinner. We were given 30 minutes to shop for groceries at the local hypermart, and another one and a half hours to prepare our dishes. Our group – comprising of Siew Min, Melvin, Eric and the two of us – emerged as one of the winners for our delicious bruschettta and beef pasta.
The unique mountains, and the breathtaking view from the peak. ~ Azrul
Day 5 was another sea-activity day! We started out with sightseeing at the Natural Bridge. As its name suggests, it is a bridge formed naturally from the erosion of rocks by sea waves. The sweeping waves were so powerful that the waters hitting against the rocks turned foamy and as white as milk. Following Natural Bridge was our snorkeling trip. We had a fun time swimming and floating around in the cool, pristine waters as we enjoyed the view of the beautiful marine life – the array of uniquely-shaped corals, schools of colourful fishes – and at the same time swallowing down gulps of salty water. Some parts of the sea were so shallow that I was cut by the corals, which left a 5cm scar on my leg.
From Blue Bay, we proceeded to Mahebourg Waterfront, where the famous model shot was taken. After having a hearty lunch at KFC, Tesh brought us to a local spot hidden away from the knowledge of the usual tourists, for a local activity called cliff jumping. It involved more than just jumping off the rock cliff into the gurgling river water below – it took a lot of courage to conquer the fear of heights, and a lot of faith to take that leap over the dangerous rocks, down into the river. We began with a ‘test-jump’ from a big boulder of about one-storey’s height. Some of us were terrified and hesitated to jump, while some of us were like Tarzans, excitedly going for our second and even third jumps. After that, those bold enough moved on to a higher cliff – this one about three or four stories high. The danger of this jumpspot lied in the rocks jutting out from underneath the cliff, which we had to leap over or we would end up like dead fish on them. So the challenge was to jump hard and jump far. Standing there watching the gushing water beneath my feet, my heart was thumping so hard I could hear it in my ears. A lot of stupid thoughts ran through my mind as I stood there, hesitant – will I die? What if I hit the rocks? But the longer I stood at the edge, the more afraid I became. So before my fear consumed me, I told myself, “Heck lah, just jump!” And I jumped – far and hard to avoid the rocks. The free fall was terrifying. In that one-second or so, I felt completely overpowered by gravity, dragged by a strong unseen force down, down, down. Then came the SPLASH! And I was in the water – safe, unscathed. The experience, the whole adrenaline-rush was so thrilling that I went for a second jump. But one thing I learnt from cliff jumping was to NEVER jump from a building, even if you are contemplating suicide. The feeling of free fall was just too horrifying to bear.
Learn NEVER to jump off the building. I mean, learn to cliff jump. ~ Shan Qi
Finally came shopping day on the 6th day! We took a public bus from Flic en Flac to the capital, Port Louis. The public transport was nothing like our SBS or SMRT. Instead of EZ-Link card, there was a bus conductor (with really amazing memory) collecting bus fares from all the passengers. And instead of pressing the bell to stop, we had to pull a rope right on top of the window to ring the bell. The shopping place we went to was reminiscent of Bugis Street – a street bazaar with confusing intersections, overpriced merchandise and where aggressive bargaining was the only way to survive the ‘bloodsuckers’. After buying tonnes of souvenirs and local products to bring home, we had our lunch at the marketplace – a perfect place to experiment all the local delicacies. We had the famous dahl poori, a type of flat, deep-fried bread stuffed with gravy, lentils and little spices. And one cannot eat dal poori without having another local favourite, alouda. It was a type of vanilla drink with sago and topped with ice cream. Indeed, dahl poori and alouda were just the most perfect combination for lunch – both cheap and yummy too.
The wide variety of yummy Indian food, especially the heavenly alouda and dahl poori. ~ Melvin
Day 7 was a day of more sightseeing to the south and southeast part of the island. We started from Baie du Cap (Cape Bay), and then to Gris Gris (Grey Grey), another coastal destination where we had our picnic lunch. Next, we headed towards La Roche qui Pleure (literally ‘the crying rock’) near Gris Gris. The place was named so due to the holes in the rocks that were always dripping with water. To me, these places were more than just tourist destinations with spectacular scenery; the lovely blue sea, vast azure sky, warm sunshine and cooling sea breeze provide the most perfect environment for contemplation – of how blue the seas can actually be, of how much we are deprived of in our concrete jungle, and of how much a paradise Mauritius truly is.
After dinner was Amazing Race, a bonding activity planned and hosted by Tesh and his friend. All of us were divided into 3 big groups, and had to compete with each other to find the ‘treasure’. We were made to run from one station to another, from our villa to the cemetery to the casino to the beach and back to the villa again. And at each station, we were given a clue and some form of riddle which we had to crack our smart brains to solve in order to proceed to the next station. All eyes were staring at us as we ran along the busy street, but it was really a lot of fun.
Because having a local friend to bring us around is far better than going alone. For example, you get to go to the cemetery. ~ Tai Hau
Day 8 was our first free-and-easy day. Due to different preferences of activities, we were divided into 3 groups. The first group went for skydiving (which costs $10 per second, for a total of 40 seconds). The second group went shopping and to visit the sugar cane museum in town, while Eric, Melvin, Eugene and I went deep-sea fishing. We (especially Eric) were determined to return with fishes like giant tuna, swordfish, and perhaps a whale to make the others regret for not coming with us. We were lucky in the first half an hour. Not long after casting the trawl line, we caught a bluefin tuna! We were so excited and filled with hopes and so certain that we were going to catch a shark next. However, the first hour went past, and then the second hour, and the third – nothing. “Patient, patient,” Eric said. “Good things come to those who wait.” So we waited and waited. It was already our fourth hour out in the sea, and our guide decided to use part of the tuna we caught as life bait. Smart move, because in that one hour or so, we caught 6 fishes in total! Including an inedible angelfish which we intended to release at first. But we posed with it and photographed so much until it died.
So, carrying the packet of freshly caught fish, we went to the supermarket to shop for ingredients before heading back to the villa to cook our fish. Eric, our great cook, skillfully demonstrated to us how to marinate the fish with spices before sending them into the charcoal. We had a wonderful time sitting by the pool barbecuing potatoes, drinking cold beer and eating mozzarella-baked fish. Great food, great weather, great company – great life.
You can catch big fishes (like whales) at deep-sea fishing. ~ Eric
Day 9 was another day we so eagerly looked forward to – the famous Catamaran cruise! Donning our floral-print shirts and sundresses, we happily set out for Gabriel Island which was off the northwest coast of Mauritius. The entire journey took about two hours. Lunch was the delicious BBQ buffet set out on the beach, with free flow of food. We were advised to stay as near to the BBQ pit as possible, so that when the bell was rung for lunch, we could rush there to be the first in the queue. After a scrumptious meal of pasta, grilled fish and fresh salad, we lazed around the beach, having heart-to-heart talk, sun bathing and just watching the world go by.
Late at night at around 1 a.m., a few of us went to the beach to watch shooting stars. So there we were, lying on our backs listening to Justin Bieber’s ‘Baby’ blasting from Norman’s speaker, as we strained our eyes to look out for shooting stars. Although mosquitoes kept buzzing around our ears, we (especially Siew Min) were insistent on spotting at least one shooting star. Most of us saw at least 5 or 6! And under the skies of glittering stars, wishes upon wishes were made.
The shooting stars! And the feeling of excitement and satisfaction when you spot one. ~ Siew Min
After a few days out in the sun and the sea, we ventured into the mountains again on the 10th day for canyoning. We had to dress in suffocating wetsuits, smelly helmets and tight harnesses with heavy metal carabiners dangling around our waists while we tracked into the jungle. With the guidance of our humorous instructors, we bravely attempted abseiling down the waterfall, flying fox across the river, and for some of us, cliff jumping, again. The half-day adventure left us so tired and hungry that we ate like hungry horses after that. For lunch, we sampled the delicious local pizza Debonair’s – no, devoured was more like it. We ordered 2 extremely large triple-deck cheese pizzas (for 3 persons), and greedily bought another family set of fish-and-chips too. Everyone else at the restaurant could not stop gaping at us as we, especially Norman, stuffed down our food like people who had not eaten for days. There was more food at night – BBQ dinner at the beach. As we were enjoying our meal under the stars, music sounded behind us – it was a troop of local dancers and musicians. They performed a few tribal dances, and even a local version of beatboxing, which gained loud cheers and applause from the crowd. We were even invited to dance with them. Today was the day I ate the most on the trip, and perhaps in my life.
Debonair’s pizza! ~ Norman
(This part was written by Azrul Azmi, who requested for his name to be bolded.)
Time flew by and before we knew it, it was already the last day of the trip. We had another day of free-and-easy, some of us at the luxurious beach resort, ClubMed, and some of us at the Casela National Park.
Even though the park was home to a huge array of birds, they were not the sole reason why we were there. In fact, we were there only for one thing: to interact with the big cats like lions, tigers and cheetahs. As we made our way through the park, we saw a swan wandering around a grass patch. Keen to take a photo with the animal, we crept towards it but before we knew it, we were chasing it around as the swan was camera shy. Further down were several species of tortoise. How much they reminded me of the cartoon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! However, they were the slow version (and I am a faster ninja too). We were entertained by the way they moved and interacted with each other, and how some of them seemed to appear smarter than the others. At last, after taking an internal shuttle bus, we arrived at the home of the big cats. Before entering the cages, we were each given a stick for defense. The lions and tigers were so domesticated that they could not even be bothered by our presence, but just lazily minding their own business. We also had a chance to see albino lions and tigers. We took our turns stroking them and also taking group shots with the animals. Then we proceeded to the cheetah cages. The cheetah that we interacted with was still a juvenile and hence was very playful. It seemed very excited to see us, and purred like a motorboat when we interacted with it (which was a good sign). We spent the rest of the day at a local town, grabbing our last chance to savor the local dishes and do a little bit of shopping before heading back to the villa.
As we formed a line to bid Tesh farewell at the airport, our hearts were heavy and reluctant to kiss this place goodbye. Eleven days in Mauritius, and we had had so much fun together, made so many new friends, and discovered a different side to each other which was never seen before. Indeed, Mauritius is a paradise laden with so many natural treasures. But nothing beats going there with a bunch of crazy close friends, who added so much laughter and colours to the trip, and turned the paradise into hell.
Oh wait, there were 11 days altogether? Oops.
Reason #11? All of the above reasons J
Well there you have it. I personally enjoyed every single bit of it since I was one of those unable to go. Thanks for sharing you two plus one! 🙂
For those who’d like to share some of their experiences, please do approach/email/facebook Emelyne and I! Take care and have fun for the remainder of your holidays, team!