The four of us have known each-other since Kindergarten (KG); we lost touch for some time till Facebook and Whatsapp reunited the entire class again! Back then if someone would have predicted that one day the four of us would sit in a plane and travel abroad together, we would have laughed out loud! But there we were; boarding the Air Mauritius flight from Delhi on 11 June, 2017! And the rest as they say is history! The trip to Mauritius with my school friends was epic in every sense and here is why!
There is no Pretense with School Friends
I don’t know if it is true only for us or if it is true for all but you let the guard down with your school friends. No one pretends much, it is easier to chill! On our trip none pretended to be cool! We were four women in our forties out to have fun the way real people do! We were happy to be the middle class us, who saves for a trip and then tries to save in every other way too. Bus rides were fine, leaving an expensive shop or restaurant was fine, calling each-other silly names was fine too! I wonder why it is not the same with any other group of people other than school friends!
Laughter- It Comes Easily with Friends
With friends, particularly school friends, the entire language changes! Phrases like behan (sister), which I have not used for anyone in ages would come back easily! We would laugh because we would remember poems like “hara samunder gopichander” and sing it loud in the ocean! It was my pleasure to visit my country no. 25 with my friends. They were on their first, second or third trips, mostly first if you don’t count Nepal, which is in close proximity to our hometown Gorakhpur! I would call them ‘Kuwe ka mendak’ (frog in the well) when they would say “apne India mein …(In India …)” We did adventure too!
Shopping Comes Easy Too!
I am not much of a shopper but some of the enthusiasm of my friends for shopping rubbed of me! They were patient when I went looking for swimwear and I tried the same when they looked at makeup items which made no sense to me. I made them drink local beer and they in turn wrinkled their noses at me and declared, “this beer is different from home!”
We Talked and Talked
We were the odd people out in Mauritius, there were mostly honeymooners or families, at least from India. When we could come back to the coach on any tour, we would talk, almost non-stop! At the hotel we would talk, on the beaches we would talk, in cafes we would talk and we would laugh too, loudly at that! Honeymooners whisper and families usually keep quiet or play with their phones! We were different!
We Took Photos Non-Stop
It is no surprise that I was the photographer on the trip! They like to pose, I like to click, it was perfect! I had a brand new camera too, a Canon EOS 1300D. I have been a Canon user anyway since I started using a DSLR in 2007!
With my friends, for once the focus was on chatting and laughing though. I could happily put the camera in the landscape mode and click pictures!
There were times when I was taking pictures at dusk, and I would play with ISO but such occasions were rare on this trip. However, the higher ISO performance of the EOS 1300D was quite impressive.
I am happy to report that the Wi-Fi feature on EOS 1300D works like a charm, even when I shoot in RAW entirely. I need to turn the Wi-Fi of the camera and open the Camera App on the phone. Then I can view all the shots on the cell phone and save the pictures I want to share. It is saved in JPEG automatically on the phone. No more taking duplicate pictures from cell phone for me from now on, as I can share the camera pics easily! My experience with the EOS 1300D was that it’s pretty good for an entry-level DSLR, and should definitely satisfy as your 1st DSLR, and it’s very usable to boot.
We Were Busy Planning the Next Trip!
After the first two days we were busy planning our next trip in 2018. We practically shortlisted almost 100 the cities from around the world! I am not sure what will happen as I can’t predict the future! But I believe that fun should not stop after just one trip with friends, right?
What follows below is the guest post by my friend Anshu! I have known her and everyone else on this trip since Kindergarten (KG)! After much back and forth we decided to go to Mauritius. The biggest factor in their favor was no visa requirements for Indian nationals! After my Prague visa experience, I wanted an easy destination! But I digress, over to my friend Anshu writing about our Mauritius trip! You will get to read my version soon!
Travelling with school friends is always special. Mridula, Shweta, Sonu and me (Anshu) are friends since kindergarten who meet once a year some place in India but decided to take our summer break in Mauritius this year. We were super excited. It was Shweta and Sonu’s second visit abroad, mine third, and Mridula’s twenty-fifth (yes you read it right – 25th) but her enthusiasm was no less than ours. Understandably so, Mridula being a travel blogger who is quite sought after [It is me Mridula again, see how favorably your school friends view you!]
We spent six days in Mauritius and what memorable six days they were. Time just flew by. Mauritius is blessed with beautiful beaches and lovely cheerful people who greeted us with warmth and made our stay very comfortable and enjoyable.
I experienced para-sailing, snorkeling, and zip lining for the very first time and all of them were great fun. We got to see star fish from close up for the first time.
South Island tour was an amazing experience and anyone visiting Mauritius must not give it a miss. Food was a bit disappointing, especially for vegetarians, but Mridula – the veteran traveler – explained that getting vegetarian food of the kind our pallets are accustomed to is rare when abroad.
Anyway, the best part of the tour was the opportunity to spend time with childhood friends, everything else was just the icing on that cake.
I have the exact same feeling about doing a post on Singapore as I had for London. Both the places are popular, everyone has seen the famous landmarks a gazillion times already! Still as I have a lot of pictures from my trip, I end up presenting Singapore in pictures on my blog.
Singapore will always hold a special place in my heart. It was the first foreign country I visited. I was presenting a paper for my first academic conference at Nanyang Technological Institute way back in 1999. I transited via Changi a few times but never managed to visit Singapore till this year! I am grateful to Accor Hotels and Scoot for taking me back to Singapore after all these years. I was participating in their #escapers17 event.
So much has changed in my life the meanwhile! The country I visited for presenting an academic paper, I was revisiting it after quitting my job!
I had a great time in Singapore. I love the places where I can get around the town with ease and Singapore certainly has it. It is super easy to use the public transport with the Singapore Tourist Card. I used the underground (MRT) most of the time to get around in Singapore.
When I visited Singapore in 1999 the Marina Bay Sands did not exist. And yet I have seen so many pictures of it that I had no difficulty in recognizing it. I know I am adding the gazillion plus one picture of it but as a travel blogger it is almost a compulsion!
I loved the fact that everything around the Gardens by the Bay is not locked away under ticketing. The light show at night is free too. I also loved the fact that I got a double rainbow the day I visited Gardens by the Bay.
All the tourist attractions, including Little India, are within the walking distance from MRT. It was threatening to rain the day I was walking around Little India. I had to cut my visit short as the skies opened up soon!
The Singapore trip was extra special because two friends Sy and Gaurav took out time to take me around Singapore. Sy and I first met on a blogging trip to Thailand and Cambodia. We roamed around the Chinatown and Haji Lane.
Chinatown is a popular tourist attraction in Singapore, almost everyone goes there. But there is a local food place, close to the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, it is called Chinatown Complex Market & Food Centre. It is a huge square with small hawker shops. There are a few shops that serve out vegetarian fare as well. There is one stall- Singapore’s Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle which got 1 Michelin Star in 2016. That is probably the cheapest Michelin Star meal that you can get! And Sy knew it all!
From Chinatown we went to Haji Lane, where you find cool graffiti and cute cafes. It is also close to the Sultan Mosque which we visited.
Gaurav and I have interacted online for 10 years but we were meeting face to face for the first time, who says online world is not real? We had so much to talk, so many common reference points because of the online world. It was fun to have lunch followed by coffee. I could ask so many questions about Singapore to both Gaurav and Sy!
The Botanic Garden, Singapore is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It was a pity that I could not explore it much, as it threatened to rain! I will say, it is for the next time. And I sincerely hope that the next time won’t be after 18 years!