Friday, March 02, 2012

To The Maldive Islands And Asia

The Africa portion of our expedition is now behind us and we begin our journey towards Asia. The longest flight of the trip is between South Africa and the Maldive Islands, 6 hr and 40 mi. We took in two lectures and I gave a short destination briefing on these colorful islands. Our jet was forced to take a more southerly route over Madagascar as Tropical Cyclone Irena was hovering over the central part of the island. We saw the east coast of Mozambique and the west coast of Madagascar and then it all went to cloud. We arrived in the Maldives (3 hour time difference) at 9 PM and transferred by boat to our island resort.

Self portrait in front of the Explorer jet on the tarmac in Nilspritz, South Africa

She is a beautiful aircraft and I'll add some pictures of the inside of the cabin on a later post

The coast of Mozambique just north of the capital Maputo

And the west coast of Madagascar near its southern end. Right at this point the clouds became thick for the rest of the trip over the Indian Ocean and we missed seeing La Reunion and Mauritius.

Indian Ocean sunset on February 29, 2012

When the sun rose on March 1, this is what we woke up to, sprawling villas built out over the lagoon

This is part of the Addu Atoll, still in the southern hemisphere. The Maldives span from 8°N to 1°S. Addu is the southern most part of the archipelago which contains 26 different atolls. This view is off the back deck of my villa.

These villa's are constructed on stilts over the water of the lagoon and there are steps down into the water from the deck. The water temperature is a balmy 83°.

Wooden causeways lead out to the various villa's

Over 17,000 coconut palm trees are on this little island

We are staying at the Villingili Resort, part of the Shangri-La hotel chain. Each TCS and Starquest traveler receives a $300 credit to use at the resort anyway they like (except the spa) for various activities that are offered. Night fishing, a dolphin cruise, turtle adventure, snorkeling, scuba and other activities are to choose from. Hmm, what would I do with my credit?

Para-sailing! That's it. I've never tried it before and it looked like fun

We take off from the flat deck of a speed boat. First the guides inflate the parachute while only attached to the boat.

Then, after I am in the harness and attched to the chute, it's up, up, and away!

It's as easy as riding an elevator and a 1,000 times more fun

Slowly the rope is unleashed and I'm climbing up into the sky above the lagoon

At maximum length, I was about 500 feet high and could barely see the two guides on the boat. What thrill! I had wanted to do it again, this time taking my camera with me as the view of the island was spectacular. But today, the speedboat was overheating and unable to take me on a sky ride again.

Coming in for a soft landing on the boat

Another activity I signed up for was cooking class with an Indian chef. Today we were to make Tomato Shroba and Chicken Curry

One neat rick I learned is to have all of the ingredients prepared and ready ahead of time. Although this was done for the ease of the class, it made the whole operation move smoothly

Our chef did 3 years training in India to be a chef at resorts. He was very kind and helpful to our small group of three. That's Michelin Place in the red top, whom I have traveled with on various expedition for 20 years.

The chef shows us the tandoori oven where we will make naan, garlic naan, chapati's and cheese naan.

After rolling out the dough, the cakes are placed on the side of the tandoor

The Maldives have been a pleasant respite from the hectic pace we had been keeping and now we are refreshed and ready for Thailand!

1 comment:

Gaelyn said...

I'm sure liking the idea of 83 degree water. Guess that's the cold wind has me shivering. And parasailing is definitely on my list.
I'm loving your adventure.