It was 10th June, a pleasant day devoted mostly to packing in the morning! After settling the bill at hotel in Colombo we headed for the Maradana station and boarded the train for Katunaikye. In an hour we reached the station and took an auto to the Bandaranayke International airport. First time since we left India, I managed to catch up on my reading by remaining glued to the ‘Inferno’ by Dan Brown a perfect book for holiday! Later in the evening we tasted the local savories of chocolate peanuts, chocolate biscuits and even a mango flavored tea!! Our Emirates flight took off precisely at 8.30 PM and we just managed to scroll through the hit movie list when the flight descended onto the match box like runway illuminated in dark as we saw the picture flashing on the TV screen. Ibrahim Nasir International airport on Hulhule island was fairly crowded as a number of flights come from all over to the remote island nation. A pleasant surprise awaited us, as we emerged out. Just across the terminal was a boat jetty where the efficient staff quickly loaded our baggage on the boat! The boat silently streaked through dark sea towards Male which was illuminated. A scene akin to a James Bond movie! A short walk from the jetty in Male brought us to the hotel. The streets were full of revelers enjoying life! We dozed off immediately as we hit the bed.
|The harbor in Male|
Next day started with a nice breakfast on the terrace restaurant which provided a view of surrounding hotels and restaurants and the distant island of Hulhule (the airport) where the constant view and drone of incoming and outgoing flights looked fascinating. Soon we were on the streets. The best thing about Male is it is just about 1.5 a km long and less than one km wide! The boats tethered to the jetty bobbed up and down with the sway of waves. The water was so clean that even fish and the bottom were clearly visible from the jetty despite so many boats and small ships in harbor. We took a long walk along the President Jetty, the local vegetable and fruit market and fish market! They were a sight to remember where the juicy papayas, bananas, water melons and host of other fruits were neatly stacked and were in abundance! Tempted, we too purchased a papaya!
|Fruit and Vegetable Market in Male|
|The Villingili island beach|
Next morning we walked around the local market and tried to book the tickets for the ‘Whale Submarine’ dive and went to their office. Despite persuasion they insisted on payment in USD for the ticket, a currency which I was not having with me. A search around from local banks did not bear any result. Disappointed we tried our luck with a local company Maldivian Holiday that made a couple of calls and told us that the Submarine Company had agreed to give us tickets as a special case after approval from their sales manager. After a quick lunch, I got the ticket from the office and returned back to hotel feeling victorious! Maldives is one of the few places in the world where tourists can ride a submarine and see the underwater world! Overlooking the mosque is the solid, round, blue-and-white tower of the - the squat minaret. Though it doesn't look that old, it dates back to 1675.
|Boarding the Whale Submarine in Male|
|A full view of the Whale Submarine|
|The Hukuru Miskiiy Mosque, Male|
Later we watched the sun set near the Hulumale Ferry terminal, as the speed boats and other bigger boats zipped across in the harbor! We now looked forward to the Submarine dive the next day.
A hurried plan to swim in the wee hours of the morning next day was one of the best decisions. Just after a cup of tea we hopped over to the ‘Artificial beach’. It has been carved out of the piece of land with sparkling sand ensconced within rocks with inlet of sea water. We were surprised to see more than two dozen women, small children and even older men on the beach enjoying the cold water. We too plunged in the water with all clothes on! This was perhaps the first time in my life I was swimming not in swimming trunk but adhering to the local dress code! A thoroughly enjoyable swim as the bigger waves kept beating on the divider of concrete tide breakers. After return to our room we had a fresh water bath and soon after breakfast headed to Jetty No.1, the pick-up point for a Submarine dive. After half an hour of wait the boat that was to ferry us to the Submarine wharf appeared and a group of twenty odd people who had assembled hopped in to be ferried across to the waiting submarine in the middle of the sea!! We were welcomed on board the longest and the most comfortable ’Whale Submarine’ by the captain and the crew. They helped passengers to go down the hatch from the conning tower to the comfortable glass window seats! What followed for next 45 minutes was an experience which is incredible and what dreams are made of. A demonstration on the safety procedures followed before the submarine dived to the depth of 30
|Underwater world as seen from submarine|
A video of Underwater world
The day to bid adieu to lovely Maldives had come. The heavy downpour that started at night continued through the morning. The previous day’s addiction of the swim in the Artificial beach prompted us to head in the direction even before the breakfast. We walked through the light drizzle to find a group of youngsters reveling in the waters besides a group of men and women. The swim was very refreshing and the constant drizzle from the sky up above was a perfect soother. After the breakfast we went for a walk around the town which had suddenly fallen silent! We realized later that it was a Friday (holiday for Jumma)! After the stroll we returned to our hotel and completed the packing and checked out of the hotel. At 4.30 PM the flight took off for Colombo providing one last magical glimpse of this dreamy vacation as the small islands trailed past from the view. At Colombo the flight landed by 6 PM and we got ready for the next flights to Chennai and Delhi.
In the early morning hours, the flight descended into Chennai and we headed for Mamallam( T Nagar) from the airport. A lovely breakfast of steaming hot idlis and coffee rejuvenated us once more. Later in the day we took the flight to Delhi after exploring the evergreen markets of T Nagar. A fitting finale for the lovely trip!