A Strangely Familiar Place

Originally published on PassionPassport.com

It’s been a long time since Soo Sing Chang left home.

Photo courtesy of Soo Sing Chang (@_s00__)

Photo courtesy of Soo Sing Chang (@_s00__)

Malaysia was warm and the sky was blue. It was the warmth she craved while in Berlin, her new home, where the winter was long and cold and gray.

Soo missed the sun.

So a ticket was booked — Mauritius in January for a nine-day escape from the dreariness of northern Europe.

Though the plane landed on a small island off the coast of southern Africa, it felt like a homecoming of sorts.

And later, as Soo walked around the capital, Port Louis, she felt as though she were walking the streets of Penang, her hometown.

Everyone took to the streets during lunchtime, speaking English and French and Mauritian Creole.

Photo courtesy of Soo Sing Chang (@_s00__)

Photo courtesy of Soo Sing Chang (@_s00__)

They shuffled in between stalls in the Central Market, looking at dried fruits and spices.

They hurried by buildings with huge wrap-around porches that enclose and invite.

Everyday life bustled with a vibrant, colorful mix of cultures.

The “star and key” of the Indian Ocean had been home to so many over the years — Arabs, Portuguese, Dutch, French, and British — and now, the Mauritius of today is alive with a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multilingual population.

Nature was all around — dolphins at Tamarin Bay, huge water lilies at the Botanical Gardens, meters upon meters of coral beneath the waves, too many species of palm trees to count, breathtaking sunsets.

Shining sun, blue skies, shimmering water, and warm, warm weather.

The atmosphere felt strangely familiar — though maybe it’s not so strange after all, given how similar Mauritius is to Soo’s hometown, Penang, Malaysia.

Mauritius is home to so, so many and, for nine days in January, it was a home to Soo, too.