Seen on Bolifushi Island, South Malé Atoll, Maldives. Surely not native, but adding a nice touch of colour to the hotel grounds.
Modern travel includes a whole bunch of technology. Every device has a different set of cables and batter charger. One needs an extra bag only for cables, chargers, plugs, and adaptors.
I fondly recall the days, when one traveled with a pen and paper...which I still carry.
No matter how luxurious the hotel and how good the food, one can only take both so so long. Especially breakfast, where variety is always limited. Most hotel breakfasts are the same everywhere in the world; only better Asian hotels offer western, Asian, and Indian cuisines on the breakfast buffet. Sushi or sashimi anyone? Or curry?
The cost of breakfast in hotels of the same category is similar around the world, if one converts to dollars. None are worth the price, because I always have tea, toast, and orange juice. When breakfast is included in the price of the room, I might add muesli and fruit. This time, I am trying the french toast (good), pancakes (not good), and waffles (good). I think about sashimi, which is great for lunch or dinner, but I have yet to overcome my years of eating the same things for breakfast.
The fruit in this hotel is excellent. It is flown in from India and Sri Lanka. I doubt that any fruit grows in the Maldives, because there is little or no arable land. There are fish and hotels: everything else is imported.
What you've all been waiting for...
The Fool at sea level, only slightly elevated on the deck of a house on stilts, sees the sun going down. The first two nights were disappointing in the sunset department, but today made up for it. We got our money's worth from our "sunset villa", sitting on the deck and watching the sun sink into the Indian Ocean. Staring at the vast expanse of water, I was reminded that there the next land to the south is the Antarctic...a long trip, which I do not intend to ever undertake.
Speaking with the manager about life on the Maldives and other hotels, I learned that we were blessed not to have been able to book our first choice. We were told that this hotel is booked out years in advance by the same guests. We would have found the same level of luxury (One and Only hotels are very good) and service, but the ambience is very different. Whereas this hotel (Jumeirah Vitaveli) is calm and relaxing, the other one is loud and vibrant. DJs rule the pool and beach. David Beckham (whose incomprehensible fame is irritating at best) is in residence, so I can imagine the added uproar.
We were fortunate to have been unable to book a room. We would have hated every minute...which adds to the appreciation of where we landed. We enjoy the tranquility of the pool beside a white sandy beach and clear turquoise water, with few people and little noise.
What I like about the hotel we chose: no peanuts. With drinks, either at the pool or at the bar, one is served cashews and olives, good olives. Peanuts, which I dislike, are a sign of cheapness, as displayed on US airlines (although some seem to have moved down the cheapness scale to indescribable, shapeless bits of surely corn, everything in the United States is some part corn).
Of course, there are other pleasing aspects to this hotel: setting in turquoise water, luxury, service (Asia is different from the US; in Europe, service is a dirty word), scant humanity (although full, one runs into a handful of other guests only at breakfast and dinner) and the fact that there is nothing to do...
Maldivian hotels are like cruise ships...without the movement.
Guests and staff are all stuck in the middle of the ocean. Guests are happy, because they have come seeking relaxation; staff need a job, with most for third-world countries needing send money home. Not even the management can have families with them, because the children would have no school or have to commute each day by boat, if close enough the Malé. Days off are spent playing cards, using the internet, or watching television. This is not unlike my time in Vietnam, except we had no days off, no internet, no television and no luxury, just isolation.
All needs most be planned and preparation carefully. One cannot pop out to Costco for a value pack of toilet paper or pickles. Everything must be shipped by boat or plane to the capital and then trans-shipped by small boat to the island.
Unlike a cruise ship, there is only one type of “cabin/room”. Guests stay in “villas”, either amongst trees on the beach or on stilts over the water. Of course, all building materials had to be shipped here from afar. And, the causeway to the water villas must be continually repaired, because wood rots in the tropics.
We chose a water villa--one could choose a sunset or sunrise vista (Guess which I took), because we had been warned by friends that beach villas are beset by insects. Once here, I discovered that beach villas, although nice, are surrounded by trees. These block the view of the water and make rooms dark. Our villa is light and airy. We have inhibited view over the water, but no one can look in--unless on a boat and using binoculars.
Today, I noticed a sure sign of changing times. New guests arrived on the island: a large Chinese family, a wealthy Chinese family. One can tell by the clothes, accessories, and demeanor. This is not unusual in this day and age. What was surprising for me was to see that there was an American girl in the entourage, who appears to be the nanny of the three children. She speaks Chinese, but is obviously employed to teach the children English.
In the past, white families employed an Asian amah or a girl from some poorer country to care for the children. None were hired to teach the children a foreign language, because English was the lingua franca.
Times have changed. Who would have imagined an American girl working for a Chinese family as an au pair?
If you want an idea about how clear the water is, study the below photo.
That is not a shadow in the water, rather a school of small fish. If one watches long enough, a larger fish will dash through the crowd and cause them to scatter. It is difficult to tell if the bigger fish satiated his hunger, but that’s what Mother Nature told him to do.
I do not know if it’s ironic or slothful to relax when you do not need to relax. But, there is nothing else to do at a hotel on a tiny island in the Maldives. The hotel offers snorkeling, scuba diving, and activities such as yoga, but none appeal to us. We walked around the island this morning, so have nothing left to explore. The day is spent reading, lazing, swimming, and waiting for the next meal. Tough life. One week will be enough. I’m sure that this place is great for stressed-out people, if they are able to resist their phones, iPads, and the internet for more than thirty seconds. Since I do not mind being bored, I will be able to enjoy the days of no temptations, no shopping, no filling/emptying the dishwasher, no television, etc.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.