A Casual Travel Essay by an Unlikely Traveller
I have been tasked to write a “travel” article but I do not consider myself an expert on travelling. In fact, I hardly travel although I love travelling. I know some of my peers have a need to travel at least twice a year – which is my aim, but I have never achieved that aim. There are always obstacles thrown my way – finances (being the key), leave (a huge sigh) and other family commitments. I cannot claim to dispense any advice, and everything shared here must be taken with a huge pinch of salt.
When I was deciding where to go on honeymoon in December 2016, I had just joined the world of litigation a few months earlier. As I did not have any background in litigation, the getting up at work was a steep learning curve to say the least. As such, I did not devote much time to my honeymoon planning. In fact, I did it very quickly. I simply went to TripAdvisor, and decided by price. I chose Kurumba Maldives, not because the resort looked exotic or enchanting, but because the price was a sweet point for a peak holiday season. In addition, as I was really busy with work, I did not want to have to plan for a trip. I decided lounging in a resort doing nothing was perfect compared to planning a long and event packed holiday. I just wanted a nice break. My sweet fiancé agreed with my plan.
Now the huge irony is – I actually do not like the sun, sand or sea. In fact, I have a huge phobia of the sea as I had previously nearly drowned twice. I know – all my friends and colleagues were baffled by my choice of honeymoon destination. However, like I said, I liked the idea of simply chilling against the backdrop of the charming beaches and the sea. It must be the result of extensive marketing by Maldivian resorts.
Against all odds, I managed to enjoy myself. When I first reached Kurumba, I realised it was the oldest and first resort in the Maldives. They had an enormous number of staff from Russia as Russians were their main target tourists. Their service was of course charming and courteous.
I went for “safe” outings at the beginning. I tried my luck to see if I could spot the dolphins out in the ocean. My husband and I were tremendously bored because we did not spot any dolphins for a long while. They offered us wine, and other sweet drinks on board the boat for us to hydrate ourselves. The guide told us to cheer and clap loudly as he claimed that the dolphins would be attracted to such sounds – although I secretly suspected he wanted to kill our boredom. Lo and behold, after an excruciating long wait, the dolphins did appear. Everyone on board – in particular, ironically, it was the adults who started screaming, and not the young children. The men were busy with their huge cameras trying to capture the dolphin jumping up. I did not bother with such shots as I did not have a particularly good camera with me, and I was busy holding on and trying not to fall in the rocky boat. I wanted to see the dolphins, not swim in the ocean with them. The palpable excitement among the passengers on the boat got me into an excitable mood as well. As such, the boat ride which appeared interminably boring at the beginning was hugely rewarding at the end with the visit from the dolphins.
On the second day, I decided to try snorkelling. This was a remarkable achievement for me as I had a huge phobia of the water. I decided to conquer my fear because during my boat ride, I was enticed by the incredibly crystal-clear waters, and the gorgeous fishes swimming around. I felt a strong urge to see them in closer proximity, and decided to take the plunge into the deep end. I did it alone without my husband because he could not swim. All of us wannabe-aspiring snorkelers had to first undergo an hour long lesson in a pool. I made fast friends with another lady in the pool as both of us were snorkelling alone while others were in pairs. When we were ready to take off to the beach, my husband came with me. He was worried about my safety, so throughout my snorkelling session, he walked along the beach under the 3pm unforgiving and unrelenting Maldives sun to keep a look out for me. He told me it was not too hard to keep track of me because I was wearing a pink swimsuit, and that stood out like a sore thumb in the sea.
When I first started waddling towards the sea, I realised I had huge difficulty moving with my fins. Certainly, we just had an hour-long lesson in the pool, but practical reality is always a stark contrast from theory. I tumbled around clumsily, and for an instant panicked and thought I could not breathe. Thank goodness, I could still stand up and start again. However, once I overcame my fear, I managed to swim and move rather easily among the group. I was, however, incredibly disappointed that not all parts of the sea were crystal-clear. Nonetheless, this did not mar my overall enjoyment as I was rather pleased that I managed to snorkel the entire planned stretch without any hiccups. I must thank the experienced guide for being there with us, and giving me comfort that they were swimming alongside us.
On the third day, my husband and I went parasailing. Again, this may sound rather tame to the adventurous but it was another feat for me, to be able to conquer my fear of heights. I had many fears and thoughts before we took off. I deliberated if I should wear my goggles lest I fell into the sea. Then I decided I should not wear my spectacles because I could not afford to lose them. The overall experience was extremely thrilling. We took off on the boat itself. We simply had to sit on the deck, and a guy would release the sail slowly till we were up and away in the air. I admit that timid me was screaming my lungs out. My husband reached out to hold my hands to calm me down, but that made me even more hysterical. I yelled back at him to hold on tight and not be concerned about holding me. However, once I was up there, the view from above took my breath away and I did not want to go back down. I could see the alluring sea beneath me, and the stunning beaches close by. I would love to do it again, and again. When we got back into the boat, we were on an all-time high. I volunteered to take photos and videos for everyone who went after us.
The resort threw in a free honeymoon dinner on our last night there. It was the most fine-dining restaurant on the island – of which name slipped my mind. It was not as refined as fine dining restaurants I experienced in Singapore, but I still enjoyed the experience. At the beginning, I did not enjoy my meal. We were seated in an extremely dark corner on the beach, and I was bitten by mosquitoes. Thereafter, after hearing our concerns, the wonderful waiters seated us in an area that was better lit. I pretty much enjoyed the new seating area because I was on a strip of board that stretched out into the sea. I could see the sea on my left and right side. It was very thrilling to see small sharks swimming around me while I consumed my dinner. At the same time, I was haunted by the thought of meeting these sharks during my snorkelling trip – which thankfully did not happen.
Overall, it was an enjoyable three-and-a-half-day trip for me. I definitely felt I made the right choice to go to the Maldives despite the fact that I was not into the sun, sand or sea. It was super leisurely. All the activities were planned for us, and all I needed to do was to open the activity book and pick my choice. I would love to go back there again, some day.
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