Malé Tour – The Maldives
After a couple of nights of luxury on the resort island of Bandos, our Maldives holiday continued with a speedboat ride back to Malé. Today it was hot, sticky and sunny as we arrived on the dockside by the airport.
We soon met up with Zaff, our guide for the week and met the others in our group too. There was Megan who was looking remarkably calm seeing as she had arrived the day before but her luggage had yet to show up. She was hoping, and had been promised that it would arrive today. There was Lara from Ludlow, Alex who had flown in from Dahab in Egypt where she lives, Umesh who had come straight from another Much Better Adventures trip in Sri Lanka and Claire who had also been in Sri Lanka! Aisling (Ash) would be joining us later as she was on a flight landing in the afternoon.
After some faffing at the airport and some time to get to know each other a little, Megan’s luggage arrived much to her relief. We then all piled into taxis organised by the ever-vigilant Zaff and had a quick ride across the Sinamalé Bridge. The Sinamalé Bridge links the islands of Malé and Hulhumalé (through Hulhulé’). It opened on 30 August 2018 and was originally called the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge due to funding received from the Chinese government. We were dropped off alongside the harbour where some shade was provided by a large sail-shaped structure that according to Zaff was the inspiration for the architecture of the Sydney Opera House in Australia. Research shows that this might not be the case, but you could certainly see the resemblance!
We dropped off our luggage on a boat that we would take later and then headed off to a restaurant called Salt where we had a delicious roasted carrot salad, a bright pink dessert of unknown substance and some good views over the harbour.
We then headed off on a tour of Malé, the capital city of the Maldives. The tour was very interesting and it gave us a chance to get to know Zaff. He was an energetic, friendly and knowledgeable guide who got on with everyone. He had a good sense of humour and wanted to learn from us too. We did correct him on a small point of geology whilst looking at a mosque. He was also keen to please and help people out so we visited a few shops to see if he could find a case for my new iPhone. We had various stops at buildings of significance in the city, we had an ice-cream each and then visited the local markets where there was plenty of fish and fruits and vegetables that we had never seen before. We even had a little tasting session of snacks from one stall and ended up buying some coconut sticks and coconut cookies. We then headed back to the harbour ready for a two-hour boat ride to our next island, the local island of Dhangethi in South Ari Atoll.
After a little more faffing we boarded the speedboat for the trip to Dhangethi. First we headed back across the harbour to the airport where Ash joined us. She had just got off a long haul flight from the UK and was bundled straight onto a crowded, stuffy speedboat ready for a choppy two hour crossing to South Ari Atoll. That was one of the reasons we had arrived a couple of days early. We had at least had a rest, a chance to recover from the flight and time to take some travel sickness tablets.
It was by now a windy day and the boat ride was going to be a little rough. The boat stayed within the South Malé Atoll to keep out of the worst of the rough seas but after an hour or so it had to cross the open ocean to reach the South Ari Atoll. Ash who hadn’t had chance to meet any of us yet started to look a little uncomfortable and was soon rummaging around in a carrier bag that she had. I couldn’t quite tell, but it looked as though she was going to be sick and was going to attempt to use the carrier bag to catch it! She was being incredibly discreet about it all so I wasn’t 100% sure if that was the case, and not having been properly introduced or having said anything to her I didn’t really want to interfere. It did finally become obvious that she was indeed about to be sick so Anna and I helped her out as best we could with some sick bags that were attached to the seats behind us.
We couldn’t help but feel sorry for Ash. She had been bundled into a boat for a rough crossing with a group of people she’d never met, she’d barely recovered from a flight, had to sit facing backwards and then had the indignity of having complete strangers help her out and watch her throw up into semi-transparent bags. Fortunately Ash turned out to be really nice and despite the somewhat awkward introduction she took it well and became one of the people in the group that we got on best with. Good going Ash, you handled it well!
Fortunately for Anna and I, the Kwells, the Sea-Bands and the fact that we made sure we sat facing forwards managed to keep the sea-sickness at bay and we arrived on Dhangethi feeling fine, if a little tired. We’d be on this local island for a few days so I’ll devote the next blog post to the things we did here as it was packed with activities.