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A MALDIVIAN AFFAIR - #Guest Post by SHALINI BAISIWALA

A solo trip is pretty memorable and enviable in my opinion; and even more so when it’s an overseas one. I recall the time I had to make a work trip to the Maldives – a tropical island nation in the Indian Ocean, just off SriLanka. It was a work trip for me as I had just been accorded a very prestigious assignment of re-styling the interiors of a 7 star luxury resort.


I was super ecstatic to be on an overseas trip on my own; that also to a tropical island renowned for its uber luxurious resorts the world over. In fact, it has some of the world’s most expensive resorts where even Hollywood stars holiday as the privacy factor is high here.


I landed in Male – the capital of Maldives at 2 am local time and was frisked off to a tiny matchbox hotel in one of the alleys of the city. I was appalled and a bit frightened by the look and size of the hotel. Trust me when I say that I spent the entire night in a tiny square of a room with little or no elbow room; I sat on the bed staring at the door and yes I had jammed a chair under the handle. I was terrified of being there – my first and last such experience. Later on the client clarified to me that this was one of the best hotels in Male- Male is a single night stopover for tourists as they rush off to the more exotic resorts immediately when they arrive in the day. But at night all water traffic is suspended and so one has to make do with such accommodation. Whatever – I was determined to never again and I didn’t!


In the day time I discovered Male to be quite unimpressive in sights and sounds as I walked around to take it all in. This gorgeous gold dome belongs to the gorgeous Islamic centre in Male which was opened in 1984 and was one thing that I quite liked in appearance from afar.

With narrow lane-like roads, Male had a surprising number of taxis. I rode in a couple of them and was amused with the rip offs of Sonu Nigam / Shahrukh Khan songs which were sung in the local language and were blasted from every street corner with great love.
I came upon a signboard advertising a trip to the depths of the sea in a submarine. Thrilled I signed up and went in or rather down the hatch to immediately come running back up again as I felt too claustrophobic. The crew were quite bemused and assured the embarrassed me that they are quite used to this as most folks feel faint to be confined so.
I did finally settle down and watched the gauge like a hawk as the submarine plummeted 40 m below sea level. Unfortunately the water outside was somewhat dark and murky and the double glass lined windows offered a blurry view of the sea life. So even though I couldn’t take pictures, it was quite a thrill to watch coloured fish and other sea creatures scurry around us. Quite the aquarium feel but it was the fish watching us ;-)

Soon it was time for me to take an air taxi- something I was quite excited about as this was again a first for me – to the island where my project was located. Air taxi is simply a seaplane service to ferry people across the many islands of Maldives. Incidentally Maldives is made up of 26 atolls; an atoll is a ring like coral reef formation which encloses a lagoon and consists of a chain of islands. In total there are about 1200 islands in Maldives which is predominantly an Islamic nation.


While on the plane ride, the view of the azure blue sea dotted with plenty of aquamarine lagoons was bewitching to say the least. I wanted to simply jump into the sea below as the waters were pristine clean in beautiful hues of blue. Some areas were so clear and shallow that I could see all the way down to the sea bed. The sea around Maldives usually remains calm and rough waves are seldom seen. It’s an ideal destination for paddling in the sea and many resorts offer motor boats and yachts to their guests to enhance the experience.
Almost every island has this quintessential sight of a thatch covered pavilion insetted into the lagoon where one was wade in quite easily during low tide. The resort I stayed in had this serene setting where I spent many evenings with a glass of wine and my laptop as I worked and day dreamed alternately.


I stayed there for quite a stretch of time and it took a lot of time to acclimatize to the heat factor as we are very near to the equator and the humidity is almost 100% there. In fact the salt content in the air is so high that I found myself dozing off in meetings; much to my embarrassment. It was later I learnt that this happens to most everyone on their first time around.


One of the best memories of being there are these giant coral pieces that would drift in with the tide. I was thrilled to find this one but then my enthusiasm was dampened when I was informed that it’s illegal to carry it and the customs will arrest me if I do so. I consoled myself with carrying some tiny bits of it which were okay by the law.
In fact I was told of the many souvenir shops in Male that cheat tourists by selling them such pieces with a certificate of “authenticity”. Then at customs the poor tourist has to cough up a fine, the souvenir is confiscated and duly returned to the shop – it’s quite a racket there. I did walk into a couple of such shops and was assured wholeheartedly by them that I will be allowed to carry these items. Hmmmmmm!!!

One point of advice to anyone venturing out there is to be prepared for the heat – its killing and I spent most of the daytime indoors. So early morning and late evenings are best to enjoy the beach. There are no touristy spots in Maldives and each resort offers plenty of activities like indoor games, movie libraries, etc. to keep the guest entertained.
Also there is hardly any agricultural produce growing in Maldives and everything is outsourced. As a result there is a lot of canned and frozen food stuffs which is not very palatable; especially for the vegetarians. They use desalinated sea water as a water supply which is not advisable for drinking since it’s been cleaned off all minerals during the desalination process. So mineral water is best but that comes at a huge cost.
Go to Maldives with a no agenda holiday; just laze in cool indoors or sip cocktails on the beach or luxuriate in the ultra-classy spa at your resort!
Have you ever been to the Maldives? Do you like holidays where you do nothing but laze or an itinerary filled one is what you crave for?


About Shalzmojo
An interior designer by profession, writing is a passion which coupled with travel love blossomed into this blog where I love to just “do my thing”! Be it recipes, food events, travel jaunts, fiction dreaming or even meditative musings; all of it’s taken up quite passionately on my blog. I am a serious wine guzzler and love to chase butterflies in my free time.

Pls do check out my post Rawla Narlai

 This post is written for the December bloghop #mymojo with Shalzmojo

Linking up for #wordsante with Namysaysso for every post deserves some love 


16 comments:

  1. Wow! Quite an entertaining post, Shalz! You are indeed a brave girl to go stay at that little hotel and work there for the timespan that you did! For me, every woman who travels alone is brave - it's something I have never tried and don't know if I ever will!
    It was lovely reading your account of your stay at Male. :) The pictures are lovely!

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    1. Thanks Shilpa! Now when I look back it wasnt so scary and bad; just my imagination at that time I guess ;-) But yeah its a memorable trip for me when I do think about it; what fantastic opportunities I have been blessed with in life!! Touchwood!!!!

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  2. Ride in the submarine and air taxi... Shalini now I envy you! Bollywood rocks, isnt it? Loved staying at Maldives with you virtually! Thanks for writing for MocktailMommies! Its a pleasure and honour to host you dear...

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    1. Dont envy me gitl; yuou never know when and where you will land up next!! ;-) But yeah it was amazing and I wish I could go back and do it again!!! Thanks for hosting me; I have simply loved being on your blog too! :-)

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  3. Truly enjoyed reading it! You never seem to miss out on details no matter how small the post is. Another remarkable solo travel story from you to read :-)

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    1. Thanks so much Keerthi; what lovely praise :-) Thank you for liking it so much!!

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  4. Wow! What better location to work from. I love a good beach holiday where you just sip on pina colada, soak in the sun and swim in the sea. Bliss!

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    1. No PIna coladas ;-) Client was strict ha ha ha!!! But yeah the view of the beach and the calm waters was everything one could ask for and more Aditi!

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  5. Oh, what an excellent work trip! I am impatient to visit right now. I know how difficult it is to writ a travel post, you have done a great job here getting all the details in.

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    1. Thanks so much Lavanya; I hope you do get a visit to this place soon :-)

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  6. Wow this sure seems like the perfect holiday destination. Loved the misadventures which are a memorable part of every trip. The info for travellers is very useful

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    1. Thanks Aks; hardly compares to the ball you are rolling on right now ;-) But yeah this was a fun trip that I can do again ....... if only ;-)

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  7. Wow! I would love this kind of work trip too!! I so want to be at that thatch covered pavilion right now... so inviting and so serene. Thanks for a lovely sneak peek of your Maldivian affair, Shalini. And thanks for the tips too :)

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    1. Yeah I hear you Shilpa; I wanna on it now again!!!! ;-)

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  8. That's a whole of experience n ONE holiday! err. sorry Work Project. You are too brave Shalini, crammed in that Male hotel - I would have given up then itself. Air taxi seems fun, submarine - hahaha can think of suffocation.
    Glad you shared about the coral reef souvenirs. Will keep that in mind and share with friends too.

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