My original plan was to spend a day in Male City, have a good tour, sleep a night before travelling north. What I had not known was that Aathy had planned a day tour for us, so it was a pleasant surprise for me. Well, a guided city tour is definitely better than me walking around blindly. As the rest of the group would be heading to the airport after the tour, I decided I would check in to the hotel after the tour too.
After seeing vast oceans for the past week, the small city looks strange now. Tall buildings and seriously densely populated. The main mode of transport is by motorcycles and you could practically see them everywhere. The plus point of having a guide was that he could show us the important buildings in the city. A small and young country, but they had a city full of historical buildings.
Male city is a small city and we walked around on foot mainly. I guessed our guide was showing us all the important buildings that all tourists should not miss. The oldest minaret and mosque. I was a little unsure if we could enter and was quite surprised to see a Chinese couple who walked right in without much thoughts. We could enter the open grounds but not into the main building.
It was an old building and back in those days, most of the buildings were built with hard corals. I had a chance to see this in Tanzania but this was slightly different as it was intricately carved. Excellent workmanship.
The guide went through some of the common rituals of the islamic faith. I realised that I was actually quite familiar, perhaps because we are multi-racial and multi religion, something that I had always taken for granted. We moved on and turned from the main road to the smaller streets. I wasn’t quite sure if I would have lost my way if I had been on my own. I had always enjoyed the narrow side streets of any city because those were where you would be able to see how the locals lived.
It was nice to see some greens in the city amidst all the concrete buildings. This was a little park and here sits the island’s oldest tree.
At the other end of the park is the Islamic centre. I was taking photos and the guide walked over to me and said he would show me the best angle to capture the centre. He was right. From where I was initially, i could not capture the minaret and the main building. His spot was good. 😉
Looking back from there, I took a shot of the war memorial wall and a sculptural piece to celebrate their 50th birthday. Yes, Maldives is also into her 50th year of independency.
We had circled round the main buildings of the city and we were back to jetty area at the seafront. The city square was where a lot of activities took place. There was a young girl with her father feeding the pigeons and the girl was running around chasing after birds. The guide suggested we take a look at the local markets. There were 2 main markets, a general one which sold most meats, vegetables and dried goods and the other one, a fish market.
The market was right next to the seas and as we made our way there, we could see all the anchored boats delivering goods to the different markets. Some of the fishing boat had just come back from their fishing trip and some were bringing in other food stuff and local produce from different islands.
Surprisingly, the market was very well organised. They were arranged in rows in accordance to what they sold. And do not be surprised, at the very last row, there were an entire row of shops selling ‘faked’ sunglasses and handphone accessories.
Across the road was the fish market. In contrast, the vendors along the street were much busier than those in the building. The ones along the edge were selling smaller fishes or fillets of the bigger fishes. On entering, I was a bit taken aback when I saw the huge fishes lying on the tiled platform. Felt a bit strange as I had been looking at them underwater when they were very much alive. Now they were all lying there motionless. Blue fin tunas were protected and were caught only using lines, so that was good to know.
After the visit to the fish market, it was shopping time. The guide brought us to a row of souvenir shops. I wasn’t too interested so I wandered off a bit. Mike suggested that we had some free time and we could meet up after dinner. The guide suggested to meet at the city square so the guys could pick up their luggages from the boat and head towards the airport. For me, I decided to hang around with the guide and since there were only the 2 of us, he decided to give me a little tour on his motorbike. We circled the entire island along the coastal road. We even stopped by to have a fresh coconut by the roadside.
I joined the rest of the group at the city square around 5pm and it was a teary goodbye with the crew. I took a cab and got to the hotel, The Beehive. Other than the location which was a bit far from the main jetty, the hotel was great. The room was beautiful and it was nice to be on a proper bed after a week on the boat. One tip though, do not stay out too late. I got back at 1 am and i was shocked to see a chain lock on the main door. Lucky I managed to get the attention of the counter lady who opened up for me. Apparently for safety reasons, most smaller hotels locked up after midnight.
A good night’s rest and the next day, I was flying off to Dharavandhoo airport in the north where I would be going on my part 2 diving trip on board MV Amba. Time to set off again. 🙂