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Holiday at the Maldives

by Jasper van Capelle in Travel and weekendtrips , 03 januari 2004


Been in Sitges? Done New York? Bored of gay sex holidays? Then you might wanna try a vacation at the Maldive Islands, a tropical paradise in the Indian Ocean. The Maldives constist of some two thousand islands, spread across 100.000 square kilometres. Only thirty-three of these islands are bigger than one square kilometre. Two hundred islands are inhabited and seventy have been trasformed into holiday resorts.

The Maldive Islands are an exclusive holiday destination with lots of sun, pearly white beaches, healthy air and clear, warm sea water. There are rigorous building restrictions and therefore buildings are never higher than the largest palm tree.




An exception is the capital, Mali, which is a kind of Manhattan where skyscrapes dominate the skyline.
Tourism and the lives of ordinary Maldivians are strictly separeted. You're not allowed to visit a non-tourist island without a special permit. The almighty president Gayoom has good reasons to prohibit the mingling of his citizins with tourists: most of the Maldivians are very poor while the national income is, thanks to tourism, one of the highest in the region.



Holiday Destination

The Maldives were discovered as a holiday destination in 1973, when an adventurous Italian diver got carried away with the beautiful underwater world. When he arrived at the islands, time seemed to have come to a stand-still. The women were topless and took care of the children, while the men earned a living by fishing. Now all this has changed. Even a university is under construction.




The population of the Maldives is Islamitic, but they have their own interpretation of this religion. However, drugs are strictly prohibited and one can land in jail even for smoking one joint. Alcohol will be confiscated at the airport, but is returned to you on leaving the country.
Homosexuality is also illegal, so you can't be too open about it. At the resorts you usually meet only other European tourists, and they don't express problems with a gay lifestyle.

This means, however, that the Maldives are certainly not a destination for people looking for a sex holiday.



The flight from Europe to the Maldives takes approximately fourteen hours, and after that you're transported to your final destination by a small plane.
When you're considering a holiday at the Maldives it is very important to make a well-considered choice. It's almost impossible to go from one island to another on a whim, so when your resort doesn't live up to your expectations, you're stuck there nonetheless.

Resorts

In September we've visited two resorts: Helengeli and Velaveru. The first was exceptional. Besides the beautiful beaches there was a lot of space and the island was cleaned every morning. The accomodation was well-equiped and had it's own private beach. The bar was cozy, there was a diving school and the resort offered several excursions. But the real paradise lies below the water. But be aware, even at the beach you sometimes see the sharks and sting-rays swimming. At Helengeli there's no telephone, nor internet, which makes it relatively inexpensive. And, I didn't miss them...



Our second destination proved to be a bit of a disappointment after our experiences at Helengeli. The travel brochures had promised an earthly paradise with all modern conveniences. But, unfortunately, the reality proved a bit less exciting. First of all, we didn't get the bungalow we'd booked because it was being renovated.
The standard room we got instead was thin-walled, from the windows we didn't see the exciting nature but other chaletsd, and the nicest part of the island was the furthest removed from all facilities.

The fitness centre consisted of only one very old Kettler Machine, which didn't even work properly before I fixed it, and the airconditioning didn't get the room cool.



Finally, we discovered that our all-in arrangement didn't include some very basic needs, especially when you go diving and you have to drink lots of water. Bottles of bottled water you had to buy, they weren't part of the "all-in".



To make things even worse we were initially seated near the kitchen during our meals.

After some serious complaining most of these problems were solved. But we'd decided to visit the Maldives because we love to dive.

And the diving school proved to be excellent, and we've spend many pleasurable hours in the beautiful world under the surface of the sea.

Diving in tropical waters is a lot more exciting than diving in the cold, murky waters of Europe, where your vision is probably less than a metre and the fishes are not as colorful as in the Indian Ocean.



 







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