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Mauritius Trip: The Grand Finale

August 20, 2011

After the South Africa trip, instead of going back to Singapore with most of the others (whom i very sadly waved goodbye to at the airport), Teshil, myself and four other extenders returned to Flic en Flac. We went for dinner together and after that I returned to the villa and spent the night alone. It was quite nice having a big apartment to myself, really.

I would begin the third and final leg of my grad trip – the Mauritius Trip the next day. It was named “Mauritius Trip – The Grand Finale” by Teshil because it would be the last official trip he would be organising due to him graduating, and it was a nice coincidence that it would be the last leg of my travels. It would certainly turn out to be a grand finale for myself.

Behind the scenes

The next morning, I went for an early morning run down the beach. I got out very early and it was drizzling slightly, but i continued on, extremely fearful that I might get lost on the way back. After a shower I made breakfast in Teshil’s villa and proceeded to mind my own business. Soon after, I got bored and went to find Tesh, and caught him preparing small gifts welcoming the participants to Mauritius on their beds. He was a little disappointed when he saw me, but then upon realising that now he had an extra pair of hands, made me help him.

After we were done Tesh dropped by his house to pick up some things and I met Tesh’s mum and dad. His mum was very nice, later on calling some uncle who was in the city to buy KFC burgers (which tasted really nice unlike the one back home) and pass them to Tesh for lunch. I also managed to have a chat with his dad. I was very impressed that despite the relative state of development compared to Singapore, Tesh’s dad had a company which was at the frontier of engineering, dealing in renewable resources. I do believe he would be a very good role model.

In the afternoon, we went to the airport to fetch the Mauritius Trip travellers. We played a prank on them, pretending that Tesh was sent to the hospital and so i was there to receive them and many of them believed it. Some of them were visibly shocked. After the joke was revealed they were relieved and probably exasperated that they fell for another of Tesh’s pranks. We proceeded on our long journey to the villa at Flic en Flac. By then, we were rather tired (me of waiting more than anything else) and after a short debrief went to rest.

Trou Aux Cerfs

The next day, we went to the volcanic crater Trou Aux Cerfs. Unlike the previous time I was there a week earlier with people from the South Africa trip, it was bright and sunny this time around. Mountains could be seen in all directions. Unfortunately for the group, it was not possible to see the bottom of the crater from the lookout point. However, Teshil managed to use my camera and with his height and outstretched hand snapped a picture, which can be seen in my South Africa post. Over the years, the crater collected enough water and was now a small lake overgrown with white flowers covering the entire water surface, so much so that it was not possible to see the water at all. Although the group was not very keen, Teshil announced that we would be hiking down the crater. It was an experience we would not forget in a long time – in a bad way! The atmosphere inside the tropical forest was humid and there were lots of bugs flying around. I was stung by a bee and was pricked a number of times when I grabbed thorny stems to steady myself on the unstable and muddy trail. Some people ended up badly scratched (Vanessa in particular) while others were slipping on the soft muddy track. Eventually, we reached the bottom to see nothing. A conservative description of our feelings would probably be that we were disappointed considering the amount of effort and discomfort we experienced. On the way up, it rained and we were all drenched. In view of the experience we had, i recommend not to hike down the volcano.

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Left and Right: Views from the crater rim. Tua Mamel is in the right picture.
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Left: Teshil enters the start of the hike, a small hole in the shrubs. Right: Reaching the bottom of the crater.
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Above: View of the crater from the bottom. It is covered with tropical trees and shrubs.

Grand Bassin

After the hike in the rain which got us drenched, we proceeded into the bus and headed off towards Grand Bassin, were a big reservoir was located. There was also a giant statue of an Indian deity at this place. Teshil informed us that the Mauritians are deeply religious, making a pilgrimage once a year on foot to this location. He described people selling food along the way from the towns as we looked at the wide straight road leading to the location. There is a central lake at the temple area where people pray and give offerings. The ground at this lake is considered sacred and to step near it one would have to remove his shoes. Some people fish for the carp in the lake, which would probably contravene some rule but apparently nobody cares.

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Above: The very tall statue of the hindu deity.
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Left: the long road that pilgrims walk on to reach the statue. Right: Trip friends jumping for joy at not having to walk to get here.
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Left: The very large reservoir. Right: Steps leading to the holy area of the temple.
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Left: Offering from a hindu worshipper. Right: Many carp swim in the lake.

Black River Gorge

We were supposed to go to the papyrus forest, but visibility and weather issues brought us to the Black River Gorge instead. It was a really nice sight, with White-tailed Tropicbirds flying around. Although the wind was rather strong and gave most of us a chill, we were really amazed at the sight before us. We had lunch there before we moved on to our next stop.

Along the way, we stopped to pick some goyaves and tried them – fresh from the plants. Because had not eaten goyaves before, we were intrigued by the taste of the fruit. It looks like a lime, and upon peeling the thick green skin the soft fleshy part of the fruit oozed out together with tiny seeds, which was eaten together with the flesh. The taste of the goyave could be described as somewhat similar to lime, though the seeds add a totally different texture to the fruit altogether.

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Above three: The magnificent Black River Gorge
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Above three: Picking goyaves from a goyave shrub.

Seven Coloured Earth

After the fruit tasting session, we moved on to a natural formation called the seven coloured earth. Teshil told us that a long time ago, people could drive up all the way to the mounds but because people started collecting the soil, eventually the colours faded and they had to seal off the place. Hence, it is not as nice to look at anymore. Personally, I cannot really identify all seven colours in the earth. Perhaps this would be a reminder for us to try to protect what nature we have so that our future generations would be able to experience it for themselves as well.

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Above: The seven coloured earths

Chamarel Waterfall and Viewpoint

We then proceeded to another nice sightseeing location, the Chamarel Waterfall. It was really tall and far away, and we had some fun posing with the waterfall. On the way back, we stopped by the coast to have a view of the blue waters of the Indian Ocean, looking towards Africa. Actually, I have no idea where we were at that point in time, but a logical guess judging from the position of the sun led me to conclude that we were along the west coast of Mauritius.

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Top: The Chamarel Waterfall from the viewpoint. Above: Posing with the Chamarel Waterfall.

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Above: View of the west coast of Mauritius.

La Citadelle

The next morning, we went to visit the Citdadel in Mauritius. Teshil had some errands to run and so he left us roaming around the grounds. It was expectedly fort-like in design. Because it was built up on elevated ground, it provided us with nice views of the city, Port Louis and the horse racing track. Apparently, horse racing is a very big thing in Mauritius, which also involves punting on the local’s part. The race would be broadcast on the radio too.

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Above: Views from La Citadelle. The city of Port Louis can be seen in most of the photos. The horse racing racecourse is seen in the last photo.

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Above: A description of La Citadelle, so no further elaboration was necessary.

Cap Malheureux

We then moved on to the Unfortunate Cape, which was so called because many sailors had wrecked their boats on the rocks out in the sea. Fortunately, it looks very nice today, though i suspect going out into the waters we would be able to see some sunken boats. There were many rocks in the sea and we clamoured onto them for photographs. We egged Caroline to pose as a mermaid but as you could see from the photo, it was not a very mermaid-like pose from her. A special mention should be given to Tai Hau because he managed to find his way to a rock in the middle of the waters without getting his shoes wet.

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Top left: The unfortunate cape. Top right: Us posing on the rocks. Above left: Many rocks of the cape. Above right: Clamouring on the rocks.

Pereybere

We then moved on to the main event of the day, sea activities at Pereybere beach. First of all, our group went to do parasailing. It was quite fun and i brought my camera with me to capture some bird’s eye views of the bay. We also went for a bumpy ride on donut-shaped floats tugged by a speedboat. The speedboat ride was mean! I flipped once while Wenhan flipped twice. I was trying to get the girls flipped but apparently, when you sit deeply in it is very hard to get flipped when the boat turns. Finally, some of us went kayaking in the bay. We kayaked out into the coral reefs where the waves were crashing and it was quite fun to ride the waves, although the kayaks ended up taking in a great deal of water. On the way, it also rained and after a decently long time of kayaking we returned to the beach to seek shelter in a pavilion.

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Above: Sea activities at Pereybere. The last photo is of the kayakers less Teshil, who was with Sijing on a double Kayak.
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Above left: A sand sculpture of a mermaid. Above right: Grown men playing a form of marbles on the beach.

Visiting Tesh’s home

The next day, we stopped by a Tesh’s house opposite the prison to mingle with his family members. His dad is actually a very accomplished person! Tesh went on to explain about how he lived in his house when he was young. It was quite interesting roaming around his house and I tried very unsuccessfully to befriend his dog, who was pathetically scared of humans. Some trackers went to take pictures at the prison gate opposite Tesh’s house. Tesh told us that many of his neighbours were also his kin and the village community feeling was very apparent, because an old man came and greeted Tesh once we stepped outside.

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Above: Informal picture.

Le Pouce

After that, we went on to climb our first mountain in Mauritius. This hike was definitely more pleasant than the Crater one we did earlier. The views were magnificent, and although I got lost halfway trying to find the route up (I climbed up a very slippery slope and was unable to get down, so eventually I bashed my way through the jungle to find an alternative route back down), eventually we found our way at the top. The only consolation from getting lost was probably the fact that Sijing who followed behind me and hated bugs alot (except butterflies) encountered them dime a dozen and was complaining throughout. In fact she had mentioned that we had better be on the right track because she had to encounter so many bugs on that trail. But anyway, up at the top we saw a very peaceful scene, with Port Louis far out in one direction, and mountains all around. The feeling of accomplishment at having conquered a mountain and the reward of a magnificent view lays to rest all the difficulties of climbing it. From the top, we saw that it was beginning to rain and indeed Tesh received a warning call from his friend who was aware that he would be leading a group up a mountain today. Remembering the drenching hike up the crater a few days ago, I descended very rapidly down the mountain, overtaking everybody in the process even though I was the last to leave the summit. That was funny.

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Left: Starting our climb up the mountain. Right: The mountain we had to climb. It was called Le Pouce because it looked like it had a thumb sticking up.
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Above: Climbing up Le Pouce mountain and taking pictures at the intermediate plateau.
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Left: The summit within view. Right: Caroline and Sijing making their way up the steepest part of the mountain near the top.
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Above: Views from the summit, with Port Louis in the background.

Cooking Competition

After our climb, we headed to a supermarket for grocery shopping. Each villa was tasked to produce a meal later that night. Then, we went back for a cookout competition (suggested by me) and although Tesh was initially apprehensive on the cooking abilities of the group, eventually his fears were placated and he even commented that we were a bunch of closet cooks in the hiding. Eric’s group for one made Bruschetta (which was actually a side appetizer dish to the actual meal) and our group made Frittatas. The food was really really nice and the event was definitely a success! The cooking process was quite funny because Wen Han from my villa was of very little help and we were making fun of his total uselessness.

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Above: Great cuisine from the cooking competition.

Pont Naturel

The next day, we went to the natural bridge and also heard the whistling rock. It was my second time visiting the place (the first being with the South Africa Trip people) and thankfully there was no overcast sky, but simply spectacular views all around. The waves were crashing in full force and wearing our shoes we clamoured all over the rocks and over the natural bridge. The reason for the landscape was due to the lack of corals out in the sea which would normally break the waves. This was coupled with the strong winds bringing in strong waves and the rocky nature of the coast. I went to a far side of the cliff to try to take an emo photo, because it was quite apt with the cliff and strong crashing waves, but the effect did not turn out so well.

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Above: The spectacular views from Pont Naturel.

Blue Bay

We then went to Blue Bay for a round of snorkelling. Because I had done it previously with the South Africa Trip people, I did not take my camera with me again. As such, there are no underwater pictures this time. I spent my time paddling and chasing fish and it was quite fun not busying myself with taking pictures. Actually, I find the reef very dull and grey. I suppose that it is the effect of climate change. Hopefully, the situation would be transient and all the nemos and dorys can enjoy healthy reefs again.

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Above: Our guide, whose name i believe is Oliver (corrected by Shanqi).

Mahebourg Waterfront

After the snorkelling, we went to the Mahebourg waterfront where we visited a market and ate KFC (because Tesh said that the KFC in Mauritius was much better than the one in Singapore). After that, we went walking around the waterfront and saw the island on the cover of the Lonely Planet booklet. I dubbed it the Lonely Island, with no affiliation to the duo whatsoever. It was quite quiet and nice. Its definitely a relaxing destination and I would not mind strolling along this waterfront to destress any day.

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Above: Views from Mahebourg Waterfront.

GRSE (Grand South-Eastern River) Waterfall

We then went to do cliff jumping in the GRSE waterfall. It was quite scary at first, but quite exhilarating after a while. Some girls were daring enough to try cliff jumping too, although they suffered some injuries to the side, back, and front. For a first hand experience, Si Jing could provide more information. We jumped once at a lower rock, which was about 10 metres above the water. After that, we jumped from another higher rock, about 20 metres above the water. That was really scary!

Back in the villa at night, I went to the beach and saw some beautiful stars – something I could never see back home in Singapore, in East Coast Park (the only lights in ECP are those of giant ships and planes). I think I could make out a galaxy as well.

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Above: Jumping into the GRSE.

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Above: Starry starry night.

Port Louis

The next day, we visited the city of Mauritius – Port Louis. It was interesting roaming the streets looking at items for shopping. I bought a wooden mask after some bargaining and it now sits in the display cabinet. I was thinking of buying some wristband things but there were no more nice ones left. After a very cheap lunch of faratas and lassi like drink, where we mingled with one of Teshil’s friend (who was a very fast runner), we walked over to the water front. We roamed around the waterfront, and bummed around after our long walk because it was quite hot.

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Above: Roaming around the Port Louis market.

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Above: Roaming around the waterfront of Port Louis.

Quad Biking

After we got back, we went on to do Quad biking near Flic en Flac. There was no race track so we could not go fast, but rather we quad biked in a deer hunting park (though it was off-season) and got to see the deer roaming around happily. In some of the pictures, it is possible to see structures set up for camping while hunting for deer. I was pleased to be given a 300cc bike while the others had only a 250cc bike each. The guide was younger than us but he told us that he was 40. The rest of the group believed him and Jack commented that he looked very young but I did not really believe that guy. True enough, the guide revealed that he was pulling our leg after all. Anyway, unfortunately for Jack, his bike died and we accidentally left him behind until I caught up with the guide to inform him that Jack was missing. Soon after we were united again with Jack and Lydia sharing one bike. We saw some interesting sights like a coral rock in the middle of the park and a hybrid tree caused by a typhoon that broke a branch on one tree and it penetrated the stem of another tree, resulting in a hybrid plant that had leaves with the ability to repel mosquitoes. We also saw a banyan grove and we took pictures with the aerial roots which were twined into a rope. Finally we were treated to hot towels and a drink. That was unexpected and the owner of the place sent us back in his pickup truck.

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Above: Quad biking till it got dark.

Baie du Cap

The next day, we travelled along the circumference of Mauritius, accompanied by Teshil’s mum, and I do not know where we were going. We stopped by Baie Du Cap where Teshil attempted to Cliff jump into the bay, and he was followed by some others. I didnt bother because a wet pants so soon in the morning would be very uncomfortable indeed. We bought coconuts, however, and it was very refreshing to drink that.

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Above: Baie du Cap. The colours of the ocean was really really beautiful, especially when viewed from the viewing point.

Gris Gris

After that, we went to have lunch at Gris Gris public beach. There were many dogs playing in the beach, and after exploring the place we settled down to have a picnic style lunch. I saw Teshil playing with a stray and it was amazing how quickly the dog took to him and started playing with Tesh too. The dogs waited for scraps, which were aplenty because our food had chicken bones. After lunch, I went clamouring all the way down to the sea level to check out the tide pools, but sadly the only crab i saw was a very dead and red one.

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Above: Gris Gris public beach. A rocky coastline at the headland with tide pools down below.

La Roche Qui Pleure

We moved on a little bit to the left side to the weeping rock. The waves crashed right up the cliff and got some of us wet. Interestingly, one of the dogs at Gris Gris had followed us over, and knowingly lead the way to the weeping rock. That was a really cute, although severely malnourished looking dog. The rock got its name because there seemed to be a face in the rock and as the waves crashed on it the eyes of the rock seemed to be crying.

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Above: Us at the weeping rock. The last photo seems so nice with everybody doing their own thing.

Rochester Falls

We then went to Rochester Falls were we saw some locals cliff jumping and one of them jumped from the tree on the right! I think he took 3 seconds to get down into the water. Teshil was thinking of trying but he backed out because he was unfamiliar with the waters. I have no idea what was going on his mind, and with his mum saying something he cliff jumped from the rocks at the side of the cliff. The rest of us tried, but no girls went this time. The water was really really cold! It took quite a bit of effort to climb up the cliff from the bottom because I was freezing by the time i reached the cliff.

I think that when we got back at night, we played a game of charades. We were really tired though. Teshil broke us up into 3 groups and the game was facilitated by his sister. I think I was in group 2 and because we had some star players like Eugene and Wen Han, we were in the lead all the way to the end. However, the bonus round at the end was worth double the points and we were overtaken by a hair’s breath by group 1.

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Above: Cliff jumping at Rochester Falls.

Free and Easy Day 1 (Sugarcane Museum and Grand Baie)

On our free and easy day, we went to the sugar cane museum and learnt about the history of Mauritius. We then went to grand bay and finally we went to visit Club Med. Eventually we decided that we would want to spend a day in Club Med Grand Baie. Our driver had burnt his hands at work, and had his hands wrapped to look like crab pincers. But he claimed he could still drive. And drive he did, with a manual gearbox van and answering his phone sometimes as well. That was stunning. Anyhow, the visit to the sugar cane museum was really informative and we spent a bit too much time there. When we went to Grand Bay we found it to be quite a touristy place with overpriced souvenirs and boutiques. There was a marina with boats parked all around. I had wanted to do quad biking near here but the circuit had closed down. It was a pity because i heard that it was possible to jump the quad bike in the circuit, which would have been really fun. We met the group that went skydiving just as we returned to the van and they were really tired out.

When we got back, we found that the other group that had gone for Deep sea fishing was back and they brought back a really big fish, cooked it and left nothing behind. They were very burnt and after the meal they had gone to take a nap. Deep sea fishing seemed fun so it was a pity I could not do that too.

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Above: The Sugarcane Museum.

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Above: Visiting to get a preview of Club Med.

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Above: Views on the way back to Flic en Flac.

Treasure Hunt

At night, we played our second group game, which was a treasure hunt involving Teshil dressing up as a pirate. Teshil was helped this time by his neighbour friend. It was quite hilarious really and our group was very psyched up about the game. We ran all over the place from station to station, and were quite enthusiastic about it. For our enthusiasm, we managed to win the game, which was quite rewarding. I can’t even remember if there was a reward but it was immaterial. It was good fun solving the quizzes.


Gabriel Island Catamaran Cruise

The next day, we went for a catamaran cruise departing from Grand Baie to Gabriel Island, where we had a fun time tanning and eating a Barbeque Lunch. We were a little bummed that we were sharing the boat with others, and they had chopped up the better seating positions. I also saw flying fish and a dolphin on the way. It was fun sitting on one of the bows of the catamaran and bobbing up and down in the sea. Sometimes, a wave would come and drench us. It was really peaceful and I was glad to see my very first wild dolphin, even though it was only a fin.

At night, it rained and after the rain I went out to take some pictures to remember the Villa at Flic en Flac where we had been staying for the past few days.

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Above: Scenes from the Catamaran Cruise to Gabriel Island.

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Above: Night views at our villa. The first photo shows the Villa that everybody except my group stayed in. Our villa was across the road, in the last photo, which was designed like a an apartment with 3 rooms.

Canyoning

The next day, we donned our wet suits and went Canyoning. I decided not to bother with bringing my camera and just had the fun experience of trekking through the jungle, canyoning and finally ziplining and cliff jumping (the last 2 multiple times). It was a tiring day.

BBQ Night

At night, Tesh surprised us with a BBQ night with a very intesting Sega Dance performance. It was all very good fun and even a dog came to dance with us. The dog later followed us as we walked to the Casino and back upon finding that it was closed, and the next day as we left it was chasing the bus and barking for us, knowing we would never return. 😦

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Above: The nice Mauritius dog that became our friend.

Club Med

On our last day of free and easy, we decided to go to Club Med because it was a very nice place. We started off enjoying the free drinks at the bar and playing beach volleyball. Unfortunately, the sailing classes were taken up and so we had to make do with kayaking, and they even restricted where we could go so that was not so fun. We had a very sumptous lunch and also went for an archery session. It was great fun!

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Above: A most wonderful lunch buffet.

Homebound

After cleaning up from Club Med, we met with the other group that went to a Nature Park to pet lions and cheetahs, and went to the airport for our flight home. I chose a seat to get a sunrise view and I got that view as we entered KL.

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Above: Sunrise as we land in KL.
And that would conclude the grand finale to my grad trip.
At this moment, I would like to thank several people who made the trip such a success.
  • Teshil, who was the brains and organiser for the entire trip. He slept little but never let his tiredness show during the day.
  • Teshil’s chef cousins, who made our takeaway meals everyday and dinner as well.
  • Teshil’s dad, who opened up his house for us.
  • Teshil’s mum, who came with us on one day of travelling.
  • Teshil’s sister, who helped facilitate the charades game for us.
  • Teshil’s neighbour, who facilitated the treasure hunt game for us.
  • The driver Anub and the van driver, for bringing us around and being patient even though we were always late.
  • The folks of the Mauritius Trip, I really enjoyed the morning runs, the games we played in the bus, and the group massage session.
  • My villa mates, who brought so much laughter to the trip.
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