Escape into rural Maldives
There comes a time in everyone’s life when they get tired of sitting at a desk year in, year out, doing the same things over and over again. Some call it “mid-life crisis”, some call it “wanderlust”, but I prefer to think of it as nature itself calling out my name over and over again, telling me that this isn’t what human beings were designed for.
That’s when I know I have to take a few days off work, pack a few bags, print out a couple of Google Maps and vanish.
With technology like 3G mobile internet available at nearly every point in the Maldivian archipelago, it’s hard to get lost if you have a phone with a GPS and apps like Foursquare, Layar and Maps loaded. Discovering local favorites becomes as easy as turning on your phone.
Maldives at Last !
After landing in Ibrahim Nasir International Airport in Malé, one of the first things you should be doing is getting your phone a local SIM card and applying for the 1 Gigabyte internet connection. Grab the next speedboat to the capital island, and walk into the MTCC ferry terminal to check up on boat schedules to the nearby islands.
It’s better to take the boats rather than flying to the countryside, because for one, you’ll get to experience what it’s like to live in a country that’s almost fully seas and oceans, and you’ll also make new friends with the friendly Maldivian people.
You should pack as little as possible, preferably just a backpack, because anything more than a backpack quickly becomes a burden. Keeping an eye out for multiple pieces of luggage isn’t something you should be bothered with, on a trip where you set out to be as free as possible.
Arrival into the islands should be simple enough. Disembark as soon as possible, ahead of other travelers and find the guest house representative , he will be waiting for you. It’s highly unlikely you’ll ever find a bathtub, but you’re in for a treat if your room has what’s called a “Valhukotari”, which is local for ‘Well-Room”. Some of these rooms are well-appointed and spacious enough to have a well and a bench! Meanwhile, there are other accommodations in the more rustic settings that offer a “Gifili” instead of a bathroom. These are entirely open air bathrooms which let us bath under the canopy of the sky.
Of course, it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for peeping toms though!
Usually your arrival will be at the end of a day, which means it would be prudent to grab a quick shower and set out to look for a nice spot to dine at before spending a night either walking the shores of the island feeling as lost and happy as Robinson Crusoe or just going to bed, your mind lulled to sleep by the gentle sighing of the waves at the breakwater.
Experience the island life
The Maldivian Islands are filled with tiny little treasures… a hidden temple here, an ancient graveyard there. These places can have astoundingly intricate stone carvings or lacquerwork that will leave you with more questions than answers about the enigmatic origins of the people of Maldives.
There’s nothing more to be said about the beaches that hasn’t already been written or photographed and available all over the internet, because yes, it’s as perfect as they’re depicted to be. But you cannot truly say that you’ll know exactly what it feels like to stand at water’s edge, your feet dipped in the sea, your eyes absorbing the vivid seascape painted with the colors of a fiery sunset and the sibilant whispers of the warm westward wind wending its way home.
The Vibrant sea life
The only thing that can beat the experience is lying in the sea, your head cradled by the power-soft beach and your body being massaged by the warm brine of the Indian Ocean; you can close your eyes and drift off to liminality in your mind and imagine Mother Earth cradling you in her lap.
While there’s abundant flora and fauna in the woodsy parts of the larger islands, the wealth of the Maldives lies below the surface of the aquamarine seas. Rent out a pair of flippers and a snorkeling mask and poke around the house-reefs of the islands, where you will encounter thousands of colorful tropical fish, hundreds of types of iridescent corals and perhaps a couple of encounters with a moray eel and an inquisitive octopus or two.
If you have a PADI Diver’s license, join a day tour available at some of the more developed islands and understand why the Maldives captures the imagination of millions of divers around the world. While being one of the warmest, prolonged skin diving in the Indian Ocean can cause hypothermia, still lets you stay under for far longer than other places.
Where the time stands still
Check out the historic places like the Utheemu palace in the north, or the abandoned Royal Air Force base in the south if you like to poke around and flip the pages of history, or just laze away the days surfing the waves and catching the perfect winter tan that only the very wealthy used to sport back in the late 90’s. Often, a helpful shopkeeper at souvenir shops and cafes will point you in the right direction for yet another discovery if ever the internet fails you.
Time stands still once you’re immersed in the daily idyllic life of the villagers in remote island communities, where the biggest thing to happen would be a fantastic catch of fish or a harvest of vegetables. You’ll find that your energy slowly recharges itself and a million floating points click onto a unified idea, and the inner strength that you’ve always wanted to summon comes to you naturally.
That’s when you know that it’s time to head back home. But not just yet, because jumping right back into civilization can be quite a culture-shock. It’s a good idea to spend a couple of days in the capital city as well, hanging out at the cafés and soaking in the idle banter of the local populace as well as other travelers.
You can now get a taste of Maldivian island life whilst staying in relaxing, clean and comfortable surroundings – or even round off a fantastic diving holiday on a safari boat with a few extra nights on land. We’re delighted to announce that Maldives Dive Travel is now offering guests the opportunity to book guesthouses on local islands, get instant access to the guest house page here
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