PALM TREES, OCEAN BREEZE…

Aatya (Aunt) aap kaha hoooo???” is the opening line thrown at me on the Sunday call with my niece. She is just 8 years old! I say “I am in Pune! why??” then she goes “then where were you before??”

I am confused with this sudden cross examination because I can’t seem to remember the context of these questions! Then she asks, “which fish did you eat?” and then it dawns on me that she is referring to my oh-so-short Maldives trip! Since the trip had ended on Wednesday, followed by 3 days of hectic work in office, I had all but forgotten that I was on a vacation. Once I remembered and recounted what I did / ate at Maldives, the niece wants to know more. She runs to get the World Atlas and then begins our priceless conversation. Regular readers would know by now that I unabashedly declare to be a dud in geography but when my niece; who happens to think I am the smartest in the family; asks geography questions, I have no-where to run and hide!

She wants to understand where Maldives is, so she could plot it on the map. I guide her to the location and she is ecstatic when she finds it! 😊 then she asks where in Maldives did we go. Clever girl is never satisfied with dismissive answers! Then we found Malé Atoll on the map and so it went on for almost 10mins. All this while TH was laughing his head off looking at my face because he knew my comfort with geography and he also knew my image was at stake here!

As usual,TH and I planned and booked this vacation at a lightning speed. We were looking to squeeze in a quick getaway by utilizing floating holidays and sandwich leave. So, our options were Sri Lanka, Philippines, Indonesia, Maldives and a few more places in Asia. We got a great deal for Maldives air-fare plus the fact that it offers stamping on arrival for Indians, made us finalize Maldives as our destination. We stayed in the Paradise Island Resorts which is 20 odd mins away from the Malé Airport by speed boat. It’s a beautiful resort surrounded by pristine CLEAR blue waters. It’s a perfect spot to just relax and lounge either on water or on the bed or the beach chairs! Our single point agenda being “to chill”, we did exactly that during our 3 nights’ stay there.

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We had sting-rays, baby sharks, eels and other variety of sea creatures to keep us some exotic company and we loved every bit of our encounter with them.The resort was full to the brim, this being a high season in Maldives. But since it’s a sprawling property spread across the entire island and thanks to some great management, we never felt crammed for space. Only places where we saw crowd were the restaurant and the swimming pool. We did not bother going to the pool since we had a quiet lagoon all for ourselves right behind our abode.

We had opted for full board stay since there is no-where else on the island to go and have meals. The resort has 3 restaurants which cater to all its guests. The food served here is average and the resort should invest in some good cooks/chefs to make it better! I got more options since I eat sea food. So, I indulged in some octopus, tuna, clams, shrimps, squid etc. The fruits on offer were bursting with sweet nectar of nature! I happily ignored otherwise forgettable desserts and hogged the fruits with every meal.

The resort offers multiple water sports activities and if you are interested in them it’s better to book them in advance as they have limited seats per day. The tropical sun was too much for us to brave the heat and tan to attempt any of the activity. The max adventure we got was by dangling our feet from the jetty when stingray was right below us or when I ran in shallow waters to capture the photos of baby sharks at 6AM!

We also lifted our lazy bums out of the soft white sand to reach near Malé for a submarine ride and that was an entertaining experience. The underwater world has always fascinated me, and I always get a sense of how trivial our existence isin comparison to the cosmic design. Other than this mildly exciting activity, all we did was – drink coffee (we would have preferred beer, but it was atrociously expensive), stroll on the beach, sit on the jetty waiting for the swift baby sharks and unhurried stingrays and click some mandatory selfies.

Maldives was an idyllic holiday for us for two primary reasons – one because it’s a stunning tropical “one island – one resort” getaway and second because it’s so expensive that we happily skipped any tiring activity!

The trip was a fantastic one for me till I spoke to my niece. After that it has become a memorable one – with most fond memories being associated with my conversation with her recounting my stories, answering her basic cute questions about “did you eat a real real octopus?” or “did you just float on your back in the lagoon when sharks swam under you?”.

It’s exhilarating to travel and it’s even more fascinating to tell the tale of your experiences to a child who wants to know everything about it! 😊

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