Marvellous Maldives

I’ve caught the ship’s cough in a big way and spent most of the night awake trying to clear my lungs. Still, can’t feel too bad when I hear that one woman I’m now acquainted with had to leave the ship in Colombo, owing to the fact that her husband had a stroke, another who broke her leg on the first day and has been going round the ship in a motorised scooter, is being repatriated from here, and yet another – one of the speaker’s wives in fact – also fell over and smashed her kneecap. As it happens, she is Sri Lankan so was getting it sorted out there.

 

Still, today we arrived at those gems of the Indian Ocean, the Maldives, and this cheered me up no end. We spent most of the first afternoon on the largely undeveloped island of Uligamu, mostly in the shade of the trees beside the white sand, or in the sea, because it was roasting, probably the hottest it’s been all cruise. That evening, the ship sailed to another island Uthumee and some of us went ashore to have a look round.

 

There wasn’t much to see. The place was unlit and if we hadn’t had a friendly local offering to take us to the island’s restaurant, after stumbling around for a while, I think our visit would have been much shorter. I use the term restaurant quite loosely, though, as it was really just a collection of cheap tables and chairs lit by a dim red light. They could offer sandwiches and Coca Cola  (these islands are strictly Muslim and follow Sharia Law to the letter, even to the point where we were told that women who have been raped can also be flogged as a punishment for not preventing it from happening, which is taken as a sign of immorality ) a round of which we ordered before making our excuses and leaving. Whatever wealth the Maldives makes, it would seem that not much of it trickles down to the local people, who are warm, helpful and friendly, even the boatmen touting for business. We never, of course, made contact with the local women, only saw them sweeping up leaves the following day in their full jalabayas. The local shop seemed to be stocked with little more than fruit juices, while the housing of the village was fairly basic.

 

The next day, after we returned on the ship’s tender, we came across three friendly young fellows on the pier willing to take us over to the Hideaway Beach Resort on a nearby island for just $50. (The ship’s day tour to the hotel cost £155 each, although that also included a, by the looks of it, very good lunch). Now this is more how you imagine the Maldives. Passing the array of water bungalows on stilts around the island, we disembarked into a luxury air-conditioned waiting room and were then led up the short path to the hotel where the day pass lets you use all the facilities, such as  infinity pool, hammocks, day beds and so forth.  The snorkelling was brilliant, too, the best so far, in fact, and that includes the Great Barrier reef.  Here the reef lies just off the beach, so no distance to get there either. I spotted a manta ray and a seahorse amid the large individual and countless shoals of colourful fish whose names I know not, but wish I did. Maybe fish spotting is something I can take up in my retirement.

 

It came to an end all too soon, though, as I had to return to the ship by 2pm, where I had an appointment for a session of nebulising at the ship’s surgery to ease my cough ( a pity that the book I happen to be reading, The Island by Victoria Hislop, is about a leprous island off Crete which talks in one part about a woman’s struggle for breath. Great! Even worse, the next day, a sea day, when I went to a lovely afternoon concert of flute and piano, a coughing fit, of course, started up and the woman sitting next to me made a point of shifting along the row, making me feel even more of a leper. I no longer smile when I see her!!)

 

That night, as we sailed off into a glorious sunset, we were warned not to be alarmed, but they would be putting razor wire and water cannon around the ship, and that the decks would be patrolled by guards, as we were entering the dangerous waters of the Arabian Sea, which are infested by Somalian pirates. Those of a timid nature were also put at ease by the news that the waters are also heavily patrolled by the navies of various countries. Quite exciting, really, just dimmed slightly when I overheard one of the cruise management staff telling a guest that the wire etc was only put there to fulfil insurance demands.

 

As we sail further north, the temperature seems to easing off a little, and there’s a blissful breeze on deck. Hopefully, this will also ease my cough as the doctor says that it is partly being caused by the heat and humidity outside and the airconditioning in. Thankfully, I’ve also finished my book about the lepers, and started a nice little tale about renovating a farmhouse in Tuscany. Incidentally, the book I was reading in the rough waters of the South Pacific, when I was feeling distinctly seasick was The Life of Pi, about a boy in a lifeboat with a tiger, who was suffering from the swell. Wish I’d known that before I started it!

 

Next stop Oman.

I’ve caught the ship’s cough in a big way and spent most of the night awake trying to clear my lungs. Still, can’t feel too bad when I hear that one woman I’m now acquainted with had to leave the ship in Colombo, owing to the fact that her husband had a stroke, another who broke her leg on the first day and has been going round the ship in a motorised scooter, is being repatriated from here, and yet another – one of the speaker’s wives in fact – also fell over and smashed her kneecap. As it happens, she is Sri Lankan so was getting it sorted out there.

 

Still, today we arrived at those gems of the Indian Ocean, the Maldives, and this cheered me up no end. We spent most of the first afternoon on the largely undeveloped island of Uligamu, mostly in the shade of the trees beside the white sand, or in the sea, because it was roasting, probably the hottest it’s been all cruise. That evening, the ship sailed to another island Uthumee and some of us went ashore to have a look round.

 

There wasn’t much to see. The place was unlit and if we hadn’t had a friendly local offering to take us to the island’s restaurant, after stumbling around for a while, I think our visit would have been much shorter. I use the term restaurant quite loosely, though, as it was really just a collection of cheap tables and chairs lit by a dim red light. They could offer sandwiches and Coca Cola  (these islands are strictly Muslim and follow Sharia Law to the letter, even to the point where we were told that women who have been raped can also be flogged as a punishment for not preventing it from happening, which is taken as a sign of immorality ) a round of which we ordered before making our excuses and leaving. Whatever wealth the Maldives makes, it would seem that not much of it trickles down to the local people, who are warm, helpful and friendly, even the boatmen touting for business. We never, of course, made contact with the local women, only saw them sweeping up leaves the following day in their full jalabayas. The local shop seemed to be stocked with little more than fruit juices, while the housing of the village was fairly basic.

 

The next day, after we returned on the ship’s tender, we came across three friendly young fellows on the pier willing to take us over to the Hideaway Beach Resort on a nearby island for just $50. (The ship’s day tour to the hotel cost £155 each, although that also included a, by the looks of it, very good lunch). Now this is more how you imagine the Maldives. Passing the array of water bungalows on stilts around the island, we disembarked into a luxury air-conditioned waiting room and were then led up the short path to the hotel where the day pass lets you use all the facilities, such as  infinity pool, hammocks, day beds and so forth.  The snorkelling was brilliant, too, the best so far, in fact, and that includes the Great Barrier reef.  Here the reef lies just off the beach, so no distance to get there either. I spotted a manta ray and a seahorse amid the large individual and countless shoals of colourful fish whose names I know not, but wish I did. Maybe fish spotting is something I can take up in my retirement.

 

It came to an end all too soon, though, as I had to return to the ship by 2pm, where I had an appointment for a session of nebulising at the ship’s surgery to ease my cough ( a pity that the book I happen to be reading, The Island by Victoria Hislop, is about a leprous island off Crete which talks in one part about a woman’s struggle for breath. Great! Even worse, the next day, a sea day, when I went to a lovely afternoon concert of flute and piano, a coughing fit, of course, started up and the woman sitting next to me made a point of shifting along the row, making me feel even more of a leper. I no longer smile when I see her!!)

 

That night, as we sailed off into a glorious sunset, we were warned not to be alarmed, but they would be putting razor wire and water cannon around the ship, and that the decks would be patrolled by guards, as we were entering the dangerous waters of the Arabian Sea, which are infested by Somalian pirates. Those of a timid nature were also put at ease by the news that the waters are also heavily patrolled by the navies of various countries. Quite exciting, really, just dimmed slightly when I overheard one of the cruise management staff telling a guest that the wire etc was only put there to fulfil insurance demands.

 

As we sail further north, the temperature seems to easing off a little, and there’s a blissful breeze on deck. Hopefully, this will also ease my cough as the doctor says that it is partly being caused by the heat and humidity outside and the airconditioning in. Thankfully, I’ve also finished my book about the lepers, and started a nice little tale about renovating a farmhouse in Tuscany. Incidentally, the book I was reading in the rough waters of the South Pacific, when I was feeling distinctly seasick was The Life of Pi, about a boy in a lifeboat with a tiger, who was suffering from the swell. Wish I’d known that before I started it!

 

Next stop Oman.

One thought on “Marvellous Maldives”

  1. Two for the price of one with this post – still, it’s worth reading a second time!
    Hope your cough is easing off. I had the same in Cuba, probably also made worst by the hot, humid air outside and the air conditioning inside (not to mention the pollution in Havana). But as you say, you have got off quite lightly compared to some of your companions (and last year’s unfortunate hem encounter!).
    The Maldives hotel sounds another one for the bucket list, especially in the UK’s winter.

    Like

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