China, Maldives · 7 Days · 10 Moments · October 2016

Clint's trip to Maldives

7 October 2016

Last Diving Day Our second to last dive was the wreck of a cargo ship that struck a pinnacle and cane to rest bow angled up and listed 45° to starboard at the base. A quick swim over w Redey, and we descended down the deck. It sank in the early 80s, and looks like it was for the most part picked clean. EVERY surface was covered with small corals and fauna: tons of fish in the cabins and lockers, cleaner shrimp, nudibranch and a few green turtles. We snuck up inches behind one that was distracted trying to eat something out of a crevice. I got some good buoyancy practice swimming carefully through the scaffolding in the deck, but dared not descend into the dark hold... We ascended up the pinnacle, also covered with life. Amazing dive. Second dive was riding a legitimately gentle current along a huge wall. This too COVERED with coral, fish, eels, and beautiful soft corals. Had to use a careful finger to poke myself clear of it all as we ride along. Almost perfect last dive!
Island Internet The islands are interconnected to the internet via microwave towers. It's extremely expensive, and China slow, but a really cool solution. It was on a lot of tests in IT school, but they never explained who used it. Neat to see it in action.
Early morning walk through Maafushi streets. It's amazingly quiet and peaceful. Just a few early risers; veiled women sweeping the sand streets perfectly clean, runners delivering groceries on foot. The sun rises and the first golden rays are as hot as noon. We all make a gentle sidestep into the lanes of shade on the side of the road and continue. If you hold your breath you can hear the constant rush of the breeze ruffling the palms and the gentle roar of the break out on the reef. The muezzin moans his lilting scratchy call over the broken loudspeaker for morning prayers, and the day begins.

6 October 2016

Day Trip to Biyadhoo We booked a day trip to a neighboring resort. In Maldives, the islands are either local (Islamic rules) or resorts (quarantining booze, bikinis, and PDA on a beautiful tiny island). Biyadhoo looks like it was built in the late 70s. We arrived to Crystal waters with tiny reef sharks... paradise! The beach was stunning, and the island pretty well kept. We relaxed on the beach all morning, had a great lunch with too much chocolate pie (raaare delicacy here), his in the shade if the bar all afternoon, and set out snorkeling around the island before our boat back. We saw ragle rays & green turtles and many fish, but looked like the reef had been really beautiful, and recently been damaged-lots of bleached or algae covered coral. There was a mysterious collapsed pipe up current from the reef... so sad, but it looked like it was gradually regenerating. Dry off and a beautiful sunset ride home.

5 October 2016

Our traditional evening commute to yet another beautiful sunset on Bikini Beach!
Diving with Manta Rays We headed out to Manta Point. First dive, we tried spotting them from the surface, but there were other boats, and jumping in scared them off. We followed the reef in a "mild" (very strong) current which was a new skill. We saw several green turtles nestled in the reef. Victoria made a friend with get buddy: Maribel from Spain. Second dive we jumped carefully near a known cleaning station, and just laid on the bottom and waited as still as possible in a strong current. First, hundreds of little eel fish popped up out of the sand all around us, snapping invisible plankton out of the current. Then, one shadow slipped in behind us, & began slowly circling the big pinnacle. Then a second joined. Eventually they started circling together, almost playing or dancing with the sun behind them it was really beautiful, and a lot of the artifice & distraction of the scuba gear faded away. For just a moment, we were part of the reef.

4 October 2016

First day of diving, and another sunset from Bikini Beach.

3 October 2016

We set out early to meet up with iCom. Moosa aka Captain Jack was our guide. We made a 2 hour trip out to a "cleaning station", playing 2 truths and a lie & categories. We joined a few boats already patrolling the channel. Our guides surveyed the water from the roof, & jumped in when they thought they saw something. Once we saw another boat jump in, we all piled on. Basically it's a race to get to the shark. You have about 2 minutes to give chase and free dive down to it before it escapes into the channel. It's madness on the surface, with boats and humans racing to out-manoeuvre eachother to get there first, dive down to shove a GoPro in its face or get a 10M selfie. I hope it's not too distracting to the shark, scaring him away from getting cleaned off by reef fish... really amazing for the humans though. It was a dream come true for Danielle. It seems glacially slow from the surface, but takes all you have to pace out cruising. Once it spooks, it's gone on a few seconds.

2 October 2016

Woke up early to a cool sunny morning at Lily Rest. Let Danielle sleep, tried to make some coffee, and checked out the shore. We grabbed a good buffet breakfast from the hotel (featuring tuna & coconut jelly salad, roti, and delicious papaya). We got ready and walked straight to "bikini beach" the only part of the island where women can show their legs and shoulders. We were among the first to arrive, so it was beautiful and pristine: freshly raked white sand, crystal water cleaned by receding tide, and shade from perfectly positioned coconut trees. It was like swimming in a pool, perfect temperature, barely salty, fish tickling your toes. Danielle and I did some snorkeling from the shore in the morning. In the afternoon we interviewed all of the local dive and your shops and formed a leisure plan for the week, starting with a whale shark trip.

1 October 2016

Long flight from SZ > KL > ML We lucked out and got the red seats on the first leg, but departure was delayed by the 4 SCREAMING kids a few rows up. The airline politely asked the family to deplane, and they politely refused, incurring the hatred of all fellow passengers. So much cool stuff to see from the air over Vietnam, Malaysia, Java. We had great curry noodles in KL airport, tiny seats on the flight to Male. Our hotel picked us up with a nice boat taxi from the airport. It was an exciting, bumpy ride with planes landing right over us, cargo spots unloading themselves, and a couple of close scrapes with other water taxis. We arrived to a lovely loft hotel room at Lily Rest, with a big bed and the A.C. blasting. It's going to be a great trip!