From the Sublime to the Sublimer....?
31.12.2016 - 04.01.2017 30 °C
Saturday morning, bright and early, we were up packed, dressed and on our way by 7:30. Once again on the MRT to the airport, a relatively quick trip and then after navigating our way through the airport, we settled down to breakfast and coffee before catching our flight. We were flying with a Singapore Airlines subsidiary, this time Silk Air. All went smoothly and in no time we were on our way. It was a relatively small number of passengers and we had 3 seats for the two us. Cath happily devoured the Singapore Straits newspaper while Ian snoozed. Although a shortish flight, it was quite bumpy for most of the way, through white clouds, so it was a great delight to emerge from the clouds and see the Maldives iridescent in the morning sun. They really are gorgeous! The landing was interesting, as it appeared we were going into the ocean with the land appearing at only the last moment. To give you an idea of the size of the place, the aeroplane had to do a 3 point turn to head back to the terminal!
The day was hot, humid and windy, but after a short sojourn in a lovely little airport lounge, we boarded a seaplane for Veligandu. What a sensational way to arrive! Seeing the Maldives from only a few hundred metres up is like watching a string of jewels strung out over the aquamarine ocean. We are slowly working our way through the blue colour palette. And Veligandu is indeed a jewel. We landed in the sea close by the island, if you can call it an island, as it is only about 600 metres long by about 100 metres wide! We were greeted by a friendly hostess, who took us to our villa and explained the ins and outs and then finally left us alone to soak it all in.
It was New Years Eve and we had been invited to a sunset cocktail party on the beach; it may have been advisable to avoid the 2 cocktails prior to the party but that's not how we roll. The other guests on the island appeared to be mainly European and Chinese and they were frocked up for the event, with one English woman in a full length Morticia style black number accompanied by her largish husband all in white resort wear. Fourteen more and they could have been a chess set. Cath immediately had the Marshmallow man in mind. A few watermelon or champagne cocktails later and we were invited to the other side of the island for dinner on the beach, which was about 15 steps from one to the other.
As we took our seats for dinner, surrounded by fairy lights and the beautiful ambience of waves rolling in, we were invited to get in the party mood. Instantly Cath was transformed into the white ostrich courtesy of a very strange headdress and Ian became the golden leprechaun. God, how tacky and yet with enough bubbles on board, anything goes. Dinner was a gourmet buffet, but Cath really only had eyes for lobster...mmmmmmmm lobster. It took all her strength not to go back for seconds and thirds.
Not much later we skived off with our bottle of wine to sit on our private beach. We must admit that we were very, very drunk. Upon arriving in the room we found that the Moet fairy had visited and left us a nice little night cap. Sensibly (we know what you are thinking, how very unusual that sense was applied) we did not open it but saved it for the next morning's entertainment.
After a deep snooze, we awoke to the sound of surf rolling up to our beach. Somewhat bleary eyed, we climbed into our bathers and took the obligatory ten steps to the water for a lazy paddle. The water must be 26 degrees, very easy on the toes. It was breakfast time however and there was no time to waste, considering we'd slept in until ten and managed a quick video chat home.
The buffet well and truly lived up to it's reputation, with every imaginable breakfast choice. Life is too short, so naturally we decided to try as many of them as possible, Cath accepted the champagne but Ian declined, displaying an unusual amount of restraint.
Feeling, and possibly looking, like a pair of overstuffed fairy penguins, we waddled around the island back to our villa, only to find the cleaners in residence. It was tough but we trundled on a bit further, chatted to one of the Balinese masseuses outside the spa and whilst walking along the beach, were visited by "Harry" the baby reef shark who swam right up to us, no fear at all. He followed us along for almost the length of the island, just doing his own thing. The water is so clear you can see the fish everywhere, no need for snorkel or indeed swimming, although Harry appeared not have noticed the fish, he was more interested in following us along like a puppy. Finally we made our way home. A surprising 1.6 km in all. We had finally slowed down to holiday speed, island time. We made the obvious choice to follow up with our celebratory Moët as we sat on a couple of banana lounges on our deck, surveying the amazing turquoise water.
There are 2 bars on the island and we found that we were not located in the middle but very close, less than 20m from one of them; obviously our reputations had preceded us. After a very strenuous day of lounging on the beach, by the pool, in the spa, which was in our courtyard, more cocktails were in order at about 4pm, followed by more food. We may have progressed from overstuffed fairy penguins to emperor penguins or in fact dugongs. Getting up was becoming an ordeal. Ian started making strange "aarfing" noises as he floundered to his feet.
Happy birthday Ian.
The day started very early, before sunrise in fact, not Cath's best time of day. We stumbled out to the beach, the private one that is, to discover a German interloper lounging in our hammock. She disappeared quite quickly at the sight of Ian, which may or may not have been related to him being clad in only a dressing gown. Our little part of the island has the best view of the sunrise and we were lucky enough to have a clear sky to view it. There are few words to describe the beauty of a pink sunrise above sapphire water so I will not even try, let your imagination run wild or google sunrise in the Maldives I guess.
And then more of the same really. Hard decisions to be made: pool or beach; read a book or the internet; cocktail from page one or three; more food or not; sleep or awake; sun lounge or hammock? We should mention that the food was exemplary on all occasions, every conceivable kind of dish to tempt one, why not go back for second or even third breakfasts?
Ian had a very demanding afternoon being massaged and beautified by the Balinese massage girls before we made the long trek to the other side and end of the island to view the sunset. If the sunrise made us speechless the sunset was.......there are no words. We have some time-lapse footage and when we have figured out how, we will edit and post. After dinner we decided an early night was in our best interests and arrived home to find birthday gifts and the bed decorated in flowers and palm fronds spelling "happy b'day". Awww aren't they sweet?
Are you tired of it yet?
We now have a routine of lazing. Breakfast is followed by the pool, lunch is followed by the beach, dinner is preceded by cocktails and a quick viewing of the staff cricket match, at which Ian sang a rendition of "C'mon Aussie c'mon", and then the bar is visited before a wine on the deck of our room before bed. Life is full of many lessons grasshopper. What have we learnt? We are uniquely equipped for:
- Island time
- Lazing by pools, beach or the deck
- Excessive consumption of cocktails, wine and food
- Meandering short distances
- Reading - Cath should complete book number 3 today
There are lots of opportunities to do activities like dive trips, water skiing, sailing etc but it is very demanding removing oneself from sedentary activities like lazing and staring at the view. This was our last night on the island and we were determined to take the sunset dolphin cruise - in theory. Meantime, after another knock out lunch, Ian kept a close watch on relaxation central, while Cath treated herself to a massage. Our last dinner on the island and thankfully our favourite waiter Ali was there. Ali was always ready with a joke, a smile and to share some of his life outside work with us. All the staff on the island were wonderful; friendly, warm and welcoming, but Ali was special and he sort of got Aussie style humour too.
Is moving on to Iran day. Up early-ish for another great big breakfast, one last swim and a couple of cocktails before we catch the sea plane back to Male. Well actually, Ian won the cocktail stakes for the morning: 3 to 2 - what a guts, but it was the last drink for two weeks! The sea plane ride from Veligandu to Male was awesome, we sat at the very front of the plane and were able to see, hear and experience the pilots doing their job, as there was no door between the cockpit and the cabin.