Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Maldivian Sojourn

This post being a sequel to the earlier one (written separately so as to aptly describe and separate our 'first impressions' and the 'stay'), would start with probably no candid starting word or phrase. Well, after a luxuriating bath and some well-deserved rest, we set about exploring our options on the island. We were very pleased to realise that the beach started just a few yards away from our cottage, but what struck us pleasantly was the serenity surrounding us. Maldives probably was one of those islands which despite quite a bit of tourists, is evenly spaced throughout the year owing to its pleasant climate and hospitable people. Most of the tourists were Europeans and it would surprise quite a few that German is almost a quasi-official language at least in the resorts. I mean, even the library has more number of books in German than in any other language. Anyways, we sauntered about looking at the various facilities in the resort till evening after which we sat by the beach-side cafe for a couple of drinks. The evenings were magnificent, to say the least, with one the most beautiful sunsets I have ever been privileged to witness. And to add to the ambiance was beautiful live music which added precious somethings to our serene moments together. Thus ended Day 1 with dinner, which does deserve a special mention not just because of the quality and variety but on the hospitality part of the waiters and the chefs as well, which had its share in making our overall stay more memorable.

Well rested and feeling pretty good about the place, Day 2 began with us exploring the beaches and the water. Not having enough opportunities back home for putting on my swimming gear, I am sure you would appreciate my itch to get into the ocean and let the waves caress me all over. I will cease to get more mushier about all this but I am sure you understand my exuberance here. So after splashing about for a couple of hours (my missus never learnt to swim and so was content to stand on the sidelines cheering on her man and reading something about high society marriages etc) and living my dream of spending sunny afternoons on beaches and reading, we got back to the cottage. We then showered and dressed for our first 'official' activity - the sunset cruise. Here the speedboat takes couples into the middle of the sea and 'into the sunset' as I would like to put it and I must say that the view caught me spellbound. I assume the readers know my cynicism to such things and so very well appreciate here my use of the adjective. Nevertheless, we returned in a hour or so and after a splendid dinner of Maldivian and Sinhalese cuisine at the resort, retired for the day.

Day 3 began with us enrolling for a tour of a local Maldivian island (Risadhoo) post my favorite activity of each day there - breakfast. We roamed about visiting a few more parts of the island till the tour guide called for us. Local islands in Maldives give us a more candid view of local culture. But first I think I would like to apprise the readers with some facts on Maldives. A pure Muslim country but with an amazing literacy percentage of 98.2%. Almost everyone speaks English, it along with Malay, being a concurrent part of school courses here. And to add to that, secondary education was free and compulsory. We roamed about the island, took a few pics of the 'Dhonis' (local fishing boats), did a little artifact shopping and sped back to our resort by late evening. Then we showered, dined and retired for the day but boy, don't I love beach evenings.

Day 4 in hindsight was the most adventurous I have gotten in a long time. We had enrolled for a 'Island hopping' programme spaced over the entire day virtually. In this the guides took us to three islands: a local island (to enrich our knowledge of local culture), a luxury island (to make us rue over what we were missing on our resort island) and finally for a barbecue lunch on a desert island. Though the visit to the luxury island was nothing much to comment about except rue about the inability to afford the same, the local island visit was an enriching experience as we learnt about customs, habits and everyday lives of Maldivians. We then cruised towards the desert island and by the time we landed there we were close to being famished and so after eagerly devouring the barbecue we were set off to explore the waters. This time I was prepared with my snorkel gear and I waded along and enriched my marine knowledge. Spotted quite a number of coral formations, both developed and nascent apart from a wide variety of fishes. Sorry for not being able to provide any decent pics of the same owing to my unpreparedness on that account but promise to carry an under-water camera the next time along. Thus after spending a couple of solitary albeit serene hours snorkeling we headed back to our resort.

Day 5 was a no-activity day as we lazed about. I did a little more snorkeling while my missus delved on some further reading and broadening her horizons. Come sunset and we visited the sting-ray feeding site where a guy in a kind of rubber gear gets into the water and feeds chunks of meat to sting-rays. Man those creatures at close-range can be ominous though they keep clear of humans I heard. We then dined, played some Foosball and retired for the day.

Next morning we packed, had breakfast and got aboard a speed boat for airport. Thus ended our week long sojourn at the peaceful isle but we came back with fond memories of our honeymoon.


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