Asia, Countries, Culture, UK

Atoll target of 1.5 or die

We’re all holding our breaths over COP26, and few more so than in the Maldives where it really is an Atoll target of 1.5 or die.

The 1500 Maldivian islands only exist because of a delicate balance between Man and Nature.

And we’re reminded by the Maldivians ahead of the climate change conference that their critical time has arrived.

The prognosis is not helpful though that we can keep the rise in the world’s temperatures down to 1.5 degrees.

And it all looks like a hollow promise as the mission statement from COP26.

A Maldivian speaks

Flagging it up: Aminath Shauna

‘The difference between 1.5 degrees and 2 degrees, for us, really is a death sentence,’ Aminath Shauna, the Maldives’ minister for environment, climate change and technology, warned ahead of Glasgow.

Tbs Maldives are, of courset, caught between a rock and a hard place.

Reliant on us tourists to keep the economy alive it’s that very influx of visitors which is threatening their very existence.

Ingrid spoke passionately about sustainable tourism when we met far away from our Irish and Black Forest, Germany roots.

Marine Research

Vanessa, or Mother Turtle as I christened her, had come to the islands to lead the marine research there in Kuramathi.

And that means protecting the coral.

And so when you’re snorkelling around its neighbouring island of Kandolhu be careful where you put your feet.

The advice is to relax, be floaty, and take in the marine life.

And resist the temptation to take a breather by standing on the coral seabed.

Mother Turtle and Murty Turtle

The thing though is that not all of us are born with fins on their back.

And some of us, the swarthy ones, come into this world with hair on our lips.

And that’s what will keep you back as my guide in the Red Sea informed me as it blocks your nasal ducts.

Modern Maldives

Sea playground: The Maldives

None of which will stop me returning to either Jordan or the Maldives.

Nobody knows bette than the Maldivians of course in how to progress their islands.

And the hotly anticipated island resort Siyam World is being flagged up as a game changer.

Siyam World islanders had an opening ceremony before the arrival of the first guests,

A different world

Spelling it out: Siyam

The first arrivals were warmly welcomed with a traditional Maldivian dance and bodu beru.

Guests are invited to make the most of the resort’s WOW! 24hrs Premium All-Inclusive with an ever-expanding A-Z of WOW! experiences.

From mastering the waves with unlimited access to the Indian Ocean’s biggest floating water park, Siyam Water World

To finessing their footwork on the resort’s international FIFA-standard football pitch.

The resort offers a dozen restaurants and bars.

Just eat

A bitta Pitta : And a light breakfast

Breakfast is served at beachside buffets Tempo and Baraabaru, while Jungali, Mint, The Orchid and Together form a quartet of all-day pool bars.

As evening falls, guests can dine their way across culinary continents, with à la carte Spanish, Japanese, Indian and Thai cuisine at Andalucia, Arigato*, Kurry Leaf and Takrai.

All of is complemented by Siyam World’s signature contemporary Maldivian restaurant, The Wahoo Grill.

Night owls

Heron good things about…

Night owls can head on to the island’s 24hr sports bar KulhiVaru, while underground wine cellar and fine dining room, Barrique, is also available at an additional charge.

Veyo Spa, a natural haven set within the lush tropical jungle, is the jumping off point for a journey of continual healing.

Spacious treatment villas, relaxation areas, hydro facilities and self-service health bar Himeyn Bageecha which translates to relaxing garden form a nurturing space in which to restart, refocus and reconnect.

Guests can test their limits with the ultimate beach gym workout, Seashore Bootcamp.

Or soothe body and mind with sunset meditations, Asana yoga and Pilates.

Beach life

The sun will rise again: For the Maldives

Exuberant adults meanwhile can live their best lives at Siyam World’s epic beach pool and foam parties,.

Or get wet and wild with exhilarating seabob and banana boat rides, electric jet surfing, flyboarding, snorkeling and diving at the resort’s watersports centre,

Shipwrecked. Kids will be in their element with an array of excursions and activities at the Little Explorers Kids Club, for children aged 3 to 11.

So, to sum it all up, this is a 54-hectare haven blessed with more than four kilometres of white sandy beaches and six kilometres of house reef.

How to get there

Let’s swim for it: That’s the Indian Ocean

Siyam World, Maldives is located in the popular Noonu Atoll, a mere 40 minutes’ direct seaplane ride from Velana International Airport.

It is also accessible via a 30-minute domestic flight to Maafaru Airport followed by a 10-minute speedboat trip.

For more information, visit Siyam World or follow on Instagram, Facebook, Twitteror TikTok.

For booking enquiries email: stay@siyamworld.com or check out the latest offers at www.sunsiyam.com/siyam-world/offers.

So, back to the Messres (or should that be Messers) in Glasgow this next month it’s Atoll target of 1.5 or die.

 

 

 

Caribbean, Countries, Culture

Aruba and Mother Turtle

Arriba, arriba Aruba and Mother Turtle…. we’re joining the countdown to the hatching of their chicks.

Now I’m indebted to my old friend (less of the old, Bandanaman) and award-winning Travel blogger and Caribbeanophile Tara Povey for showing me the marvel that is a turtle march.

Tara videod her turtles under the cover of darkness in Barbados, waddling out of the sea and onto the hatching beaches.

Loggerhead turtle

While the rest of us went snorkelling (translation: swallowing) off our catamaran on our expedition.

Although I did get to see me my turtles when I returned to Bim the next year.

Heroes in a half-shell

Now because we like to share the love in good old Caribbean style I’m shining the spotlight now on Aruba, off the coast of Venezuela.

Green turtle

Our Aruban friends have invited us to join them in counting down to their turtle hatches this summer and autumn on Eagle Beach.

Some of their breeds have in fact started early… with the first Leatherback nest laid this season for Bucuti & Tara resort.

Not Our Tara though… or is it?

Hawksbill turtle

Don’t worry that you might have missed out, the Green, Loggerhead and Hawksbill sea turtles are still to pop their heads up.

The turtle package

Now we’ve trodden the turtle path here before in our occasional Travel Pack series but make no apologies for going turtley overboard here again.

So pay attention at the back, there will be questions later…

The hatching

Now our heroes in a half-shell really, really love Aruba which is a constituent part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Because they travel 1,350 miles every year from Canada to the warmer beaches of Aruba to hatch.

So what’s our excuse?

Mother Turtle

Well, it is their own birthplace and they obviously want their little ones to be Arubans too.

Making her mark

Mother Turtle lays an average of seven nests in one season with each averaging 80 viable eggs.

After an incubation period of 55 to 75 days, hatchings emerge from the sand and make their way to the sea.

And little scene-stealers them they often use their moonlight as their guide.

Now Buculi & Tara know their turtles and their hatching habits and they help their visitors witness the turtle trail.

Godmother Turtle I: Edith in Aruba

They will call, or text, you when a turtle shows signs of hatching so you can get out and see it for yourself.

Now Modern Man is told that witnessing his offspring being born is beautiful.

But hands up, squeamish old me found it a challenge… the Scary One should have been in my shoes.

Protect our turtles

A nice clean turtle hatch is more for feardies like me.

Godmother Turtle

Now every Mother Turtle needs a Godmother Turtle.

And in Kuramathi and Kandolhu in the Maldives that was German carer Vanessa and who, admission time here, did have her favourite… Selma.

And if you want to follow the turtles

Vanessa, and anyone who devotes their life to turtles, will tell you exactly what you need to do to protect them.

Godmother Turtle II: Vanessa in the Maldives

In Aruba, that would be Edith, president of Turtugaruba, who teaches visitors about the life cycle of sea turtles in Aruba.

And how best to protest them.

So Arriba, arriba Aruba and Mother Turtle. 

MEET YOU BY THE BEACH

 

Asia, Countries, Ireland, Sport

Sri Lanka, 73 years and more a Resplendent Island

Happy Independence Day to all my Sri Lankan friends.

It’s been 73 years since you took back your ancient island from British control.

And although today’s National Day won’t have the colour and spectacle that any of the 47 before I’m sure that you’ll make the most of it all the same.

A more solemn affair this year it was marked with a tree-planting ceremony as part of the theme this year which is ‘Prosperous Tomorrow – Prosperous Mabimik.’

It was under Palm Trees that I became an honorary Sri Lankan. No, not in the Resplendent Island, but others south of the Sub-Continent, in the Maldives.

The Sri Lankans populate the teardrop Atoll islands in the Indian Ocean where they work in the resorts.

In the Palm of my hands

And it was to the Sri Lankans that I graduated in my time off from my party in Kuramathi in the Maldives.

The staff would spend their spare time in their favourite pastime of cricket.

And following my mantra of seeking out those who play and pray whenever I’m away I asked for a game.

They welcomed me with open arms which is what I did too letting the ball come between bat and pad and landing me LBW.

But not before I had broken my previous best score of 0 from my schooldays.

Did I say though that I had scored two in my previous innings before running myself out and grazing my knees and hands on the synthetic pitch?

Of course us of the Scottish variety are more adept at kicking a round leather ball around the pitch so I was confident that I would be able to hold my own in their football game.

Football crazy

Wrong again as I hadn’t factored in my age compared to these athletic Asians, and the fact that they were more used to the 30C heat than this native of a frozen Northern European land.

And so when my opponent whose multi-syllable first name I hadn’t a chance of pronouncing took up the ball on the wing he just glided past me and left me doubled over and gasping for air.

All of which they took in the most magnaminous manner and with the kind of manners that we could all do with emulating.

And so when I hooked up with my party again the word came back of the Sri Lankans who wanted to know when ‘Mr Jim’ was returning to the island to play cricket and footall with them.

Of course the best place to see Sri Lankans is in their own backyard.

Our Little Corner of the Earth

And anybody in Ireland who may have considered visiting Sri Lanka will immediately have been advised to go to the most famous Sri Lankan/Irish citizen Tess de Kretser.

Tess is the owner of Olcote in Ceylon, which stands for Our Little Corner of the Earth, and is a fusion of Sri Lanka and her adopted home of Ireland.

Tess has regaled me about her hotel both at her Sri Lankan nights in Dublin and also when we lunched together.

We could all do with a little corner of the Earth right now, and I’m sure I could find myself a cricket pitch nearby. I would even make up the numbers for the local team, as long as it’s a children’s team.

 

 

 

 

Adventure, Asia, Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Ireland, UK

The travel pack… we (you, me and the turtles) came from the sea

If I could talk to the animals, learn all their languages, maybe take an animal degree, I’d study elephant and eagle, buffalo and beagle, Alligator, guinea pig and flea – Bobby Davro

And this is one I’ve been thinking on, and I’m possibly spurred on my old pal, Ireland’s Travel Writer of the Year Isabel Conway of Travel Times.

She is walking in Kinsale, Co. Cork for endangered animals. Although while she’s doing something I’m more Mr Do Little than Dr Doolittle.

So to launch this series (and I’ll try and stick to this one this time) I’m starting at the beginning…

Where we came from, the sea, and celebrate all things who live there, big and small, colourful and grey, beautiful and those who only a mother could love. First off turtles…

Turtley Japanese

It’s easier when they come to the surface

Yakushima, Japan: Now my first issue in getting to know our old friends from the sea is that I’m not a great swimmer, and an even rubbisher snorkeller.

And more of that later but here’s how you can see a sea turtle without even getting your feet wet.

The rainforest island of Yakushima, off Kyushu‘s southern coast, is home to the largest spawning grounds for loggerhead turtles in the North Pacific.

Between May and August, more than 500 turtles take over the shores of Inakahama Beach and lay their eggs.

And here’s where it becomes a spectator sport.

Because later in the summer we get to see the newly-hatched infants scramble their way to the ocean.

Turtley Bajan

And we’re limin’ in Barbados

As magical as that sounds you really want to try and dip your toe in the ocean.

And strap on that big rubbery snorkel and mask to the face… and believe me if I can do it you can too.

The first encounter I had with turtles in their natural habitat should have been on my first trip to Barbados.

Only I’d overdone it on the rum, both that early morning at Foreday Morning.

That’s the booze, mud, paint and Soca festival for the locals.

And then on the boat which took us out to meet our heroes in a half-shell.

And so while I did see schools of beautiful fish I never did get to meet Mr Turtle.

Fast forward a year though and I was back and determined to catch me me turtle.

As fate would have it I didn’t just get to shake snorkel and shell with one turtle but two.

I was staying at Club Barbados couples hotel, alas alone…

I had invited the Scary One, perhaps not very clearly.

And maybe when one of her beloved gardening or interior decorating shows was on and she had distractedly said no.

Before coming back at me a few days before I travelled to ask me why she couldn’t come.

Anyhoos I went out solo and found that I was the only single in the hotel… and the ocean.

Like the Scottish buses you wait all day for one, and two come along the same time, Mr and Mrs Turtle.

And because this is a family blog I’m not going to tell you what they were up to.

Turtley Floridian

Paradise Coast

And you’d better bring your fins with you when you go to SeaWorld in Tampa Bay in Florida.

That is where I met me sea turtles that were recuperating (and few better places) before being returned to the sea.

Where they’ll swim for years in a loop from the Atlantic Ocean to North Africa.

Before using magnetic fields to find their way back to within 40 to 50 miles of the beaches where they had been hatched.

And to think that I can’t even get to the end of my road.

Without having to either ask someone for directions or call for a search party.

Hatch of the day

Now again because it’s all about us the turtles have been known to make their way to the nest beaches of Marco Island and Naples.

And those who make it their life’s mission to know and protect our turtle friends say.

That the Paradise Coast at the southernmost tip of Florida is where to go for your turtles.

Turtley Maldives

And here in Kuramathi and its wee sister island the 1.2km Kandolhu you get so close to the turtles they become your friends.

Which obviously means giving them names.

Selma was the superstar in Kuramathi in the Maldives when I visited, well the half-shell superstar.

Her keeper Vanessa, a German from the Black Forest, well away from any sea, is the human superstar as she runs the Island Eco Centre.

If you can snap a new turtle with your Go-Pro camera.

It is left out in your room for you on Kandolhu then you too can adopt a turtle.

Now since us humans are all making such a mess of it since we wriggled out of the seas and evolved.

Into the flawed form we now occupy, wouldn’t it be better if we slithered back into the seas.

Only, the turtles probably prefer us to keep our distance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Africa, Asia, Countries, Culture, Europe, Food, Food & Wine, Ireland, Pilgrimage, UK

Happy Jewish New Year

Rosh Hashanah, Happy Jewish New Year, and because we want to see off this bloody year, and pray to Yahweh for a better new year, here is when and where all our cultures see out the old and bring in the new.

Hello, Chinas

Pandamonium

The Chinese New Year: And sitting down for our annual Chinese New Year celebration with Wendy Wu Tours in Dublin in January at Chai Yo we gave sympathy and Chinese tea (and every food known to man that you can eat with chopsticks) for the plight of the poor people of Wuhan.

Little did we know, of course, that we would be suffering too within weeks. The Year of the Rat should have been a warning.

And what are you all having?

Next year when it will be celebrated in February will be the Year of the Ox and he is much more our reliable carrier of all our human burdens.

And rest assured I’ll be back in Chai Yo next year with Wendy’s friends, the Two Johns, before hopefully we follow The Son and Heir out to Wuhan’s neighbour Chongqing.

Iran the bells

Smiles from Iran. http://www.itto.org

Nowruz (Iranian New Year): And there is a diary date in my calendar which I can’t bring myself to delete – my trip to Iran which was deferred after the Americans fell out with them again and then this virus came along.

I do hope that when I do get out there it’s in a March when they celebrate Springtime when it coincides with the Northward Equinox.

They trumpet in the day, colour eggs and eat a hearty soup, Ash-e-Reshteh noodle soup.

Sri Lanka is my cup of tea

Sri Lankan New Year: And here we have two Sri Lankan cultures celebrating a date, April 14.

Aluth Avuradda, the Sinhalese New Year, marks the end of the harvest and is one of only two occasions when the sun is directly above Sri Lanka.

You’ll be eating small oil cakes called kavum and plantain dishes.

The Tamils of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka celebrate with new clothes, music, sweets and rice colour kolams (street art).

The Tamil Diaspora too celebrate April 4… so Malaysia, yes, and The Maldives too where one pasty-faced Scotsman once became an honorary member of the staff’s football and cricket teams. Yes, Mr Jim is coming back to Kuramathi.

While if you’re Irish (lucky you) you’ll know about the greatest Sri Lankan-Irishwoman, my old friend Tess De Kretser and her Olcote in Ceylon resort.

Ethiopia will take years off you

Enkutatash, Ethiopia: And this has become a fixture on my calendar in Dublin over recent years thanks to my friends at Ethiopian Airlines.

It, of course, takes years off you, not just the meaty food which you scoop up with your bread, and wine and Ethiopian coffee.

But also because it’s on the Julian Calendar which means that this will take seven years off you.

Scotland, the home of Hogmanay

Scottish Hogmanay: And in the words of the greatest dustman in television soap opera Norman ‘Curly’ Watts who decided the Scots owned New Year.

Well, they do own Hogmanay. And why Hogmanay which is what we call New Year’s Eve.

An early reference to the term is from The Scotch Presbyterian Eloquence as deriving from the Greek word agia mine or ‘holy month’.

More like a hooley though as many libations are taken to keep out the cold.

Which is probably where the tradition of bringing coal, shortbread and whisky with your when you go first-footing, being the first person to cross someone’s threshold (first-footing).

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO WHOEVER YOU ARE AND WHEREVER YOU ARE

 

 

Caribbean, Countries, Europe

Bitchin’ Beaches… five around the world

The reopening of beaches in Europe has got us all talking about our own favourites.

And I guess I’m luckier than most in that I live on the coast – in North Berwick in Scotland.

And as we all slowly get back on the beaches here are my five faves on foreign shores.

Caribbean at last

Made it: Doing my best Robinson Crusoe

Englishman’s Bay, Tobago: The great thing about Tobago is, that all the beaches are public.

And its most famous adopted son Robinson Crusoe climbed up this very beach.

Before kindly leaving a hammock there for me.

See www.visittobago.gov.tt and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/02/09/on-your-marks-get-set-goat/.

Der beach

Strand Pauli, Hamburg: This is not what you expected, right?

In the heart of Hamburg, near the Rieperbahn, by the River Elbe they have put up a beach bar. Das ist Gut.

See www.hamburg.com, Hamburgers and ships and Why German trains always run on time.

Fort’s worth it

Fort Lauderdale, Florida: This is what jet lag is made for.

And the best time to get out on the palm tree-lined beach is early, early in the morning when it is deserted.

See https://www.fortlauderdale.gov/visitors and https://www.visitflorida.com/en-us.html. And https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/23/fort-lauderdale-and-miami-a-tale-of-two-sittings/amp/.

Sea plane

Kuramathi, The Maldives: The perfect place to fall asleep in a slumber when you’ve flown 18 hours by two planes and a seaplane www.turkishairlines.ie.

There is a smaller island still, 200m x 200m, Kandolhu.

Visit http://www.kuramathi.ie, and https://www.kandolhu.com. And https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/04/04/atoll-tale-the-maldives-2/amp/

Eau you beauty

Twirl power

Cannes, France: Where the Fast Set go but the pace is slow particularly in neighbouring Mandelieu La Napoule.

There you’ll see jet propellers and skiers and impossibly primped poodles. You belong!

See https://www.cannes-destination.com/discover, https://cotedazurfrance.fr/en/to-do/art-and-culture/visit-the-chateau-de-la-napoule-in-mandelieu/ and The Boat D’Azur.

Where is your favourite beach? Let me know and we’ll share a sandcastle.

MEET YOU ON THE BEACH

Asia, Culture, Flying, Food, Food & Wine, Ireland, Sport

Atoll tale – the Maldives

It’s a good drying day on Kuramathi but then every day is… the temperature rarely dips below 28 degrees at any time of the year.

And so I’ve got the spare togs and towel hung up on the clothesline by the outdoor shower.

Wet after my early morning swim in my infinity pool which overhangs the Indian Ocean.

Look at me… still doing my household chores

But how to dry out myself after a Champagne and cocktail-fuelled karaoke and beach party the previous night?

A leisurely one kilometre walk around  Kuramathi is guaranteed to sweat off the booze. 

And we’ll meet some interesting characters along the way. 

Won’t you join me?

My new best friend

My pal Gordon

Gordon, my house gecko is the first to greet me, dancing around my feet as I leave my room before scuttling off through the reeds.

Somewhere above him in the palm trees a birdie warbles a morning song.

And memories of me murdering The Eagles, Elvis and Neil Diamond the previous evening come flooding back.

It’s 8am on Kuramathi which would be rush hour back home.

Ttopical flowers

But here only the occasional electrical buggy bus or old-fashioned staff bicycle passes by on the sandy path while the only jaywalkers you’ll encounter are cooing couples.

Some gentlemen even hold parasols for their sweethearts to shield them from the sun. 

I like this kind of traffic

Does this look big in me?

My own sweetheart is probably wrestling with a brolly back home in blustery, rainy Ireland… the thought quickly passes.

Ne’er a flutter of wind comes off the Indian Ocean.

Bus stop: On Kuramathi

Just as well really as this is a conservative island and it wouldn’t do to have a gust lift up my sarong as I amble along the coast.

Not that you’re likely to see another soul but still.

There’s every chance though that you’ll spot turtles and black finned sharks in the clear blue sea. 

Teardrops on the ocean: The Atoll

If you do see a turtle it’ll likely be Selma, who is something of a celebrity on Kuramathi as is her minder, Vanessa.

A German eco warrior and curator at the Island Eco Centre she claimed Selma as her own turtle and named her. 

Turtle power

If you can snap a new turtle with your Go-Pro camera you too can get to adopt a turtle.   

On a 1.2km island resort repeat with hoilidaymakers, staff, restaurants and bars.

And all the necessary infrastructure to make an island bobbing along on the ocean to work only the best husbandry will do.

Luckily Mother Nature lends a helping hand.

Mother Turtle: With Vanessa

I check out Kuramathi’s living, breathing pharmacy of plants on my Botany walk.

Where they cater for every ailment and condition known to man and are used in the medications.

They also infuse the dishes you will taste at the half a dozen high-end restaurants around the island. 

Chicken lickin’: And I’ve got started on that lager

This being Asia you will get your share of Eastern delicacies at the bars and restaurants you pass.

Tuck in

I have my hosts Farooz and Fern and a host of hospitable and knowledgeable waiters to thank for walking me through their dishes.

My favourite the Malaysian chicken curry, while obviously Kuramathi is a fish-lovers’ dream with the red snapper and scallops also worth a special mention.

And being Asia you can even order Chinese at breakfast… well, it works for 1 billion Chinese after all.

And this is breakfast

The European palate is also catered for with a particularly good Italian specialising in risotto on the island.

And you never have to put your hand in your pocket (just as well if you’re wearing a sarong) as you settle your bill at the end of your holiday. 

There are three options, B&B, half-board and all-inclusive.

It probably depends on your appetite and your liver, but if you come all this way and can afford to push the boat out I’d say save yourself the stress and go all in.

Howzat!

Champagne Jimmy

Back to my morning constitutional and with the breakfast of champions already in me I’m off to take part in the big game.

Buggy driver Renga helpfully gives me a lift to the palm tree-lined pitch and introduces me to Hassan and the rest of the cricketers.

It’s 38 years since I picked up a bat in anger.

Who cares about the world beyond this?

My dear Old Dad had high hopes for me and in my maiden school innings I went in to open only to be bounced first ball before surrendering my wicket the next.

Yes, I learn my lesson here watching these big hitters and go in at the fall of the first wicket .

I manage to amass a mighty two before being run out picking up a bruise or two diving for the crease.

And footie

Football the next day will be more successful with me setting up the winner.

And by the end of the week my party are telling me that their buggy drivers have been asking if they are here with Jims (sic) who is ‘a very good player.’ 

‘I’m asked if I would like to come back. 

‘Does Roy Keane like a crunching tackle?’

I can always do home games

Bruised though I am, I have discovered over the years that I am still considerably safer on dry land than in the water.

The ocean is better suited for the turtles and sharks.

Too many bubbles

Who I fear will only lick their lips at the sight of my blood the next day as I snorkel off the island of Kandolhu.

It is one of the five islands on this, the Rasdhoo Atoll.

But the sharks are actually quite tame.

And they are clearly so busy laughing at my flapping anyway to be bothered about nibbling my nobbly knee.

I’m consoled too that I’ll get a warm down later (yes warm down in this weather!) in Kuramathi’s spa.

A wee, wee island

He does know how to land this thing

When I say Kandolhu is an island, it really is just a bit of sandbank and floating coral.

Beautiful coral, but floating coral all the same.

And there is just 200mx120m of it. 

So it would take Usain Bolt 19.90secs to run the whole island.

Sea plane sailing: With Turkish Airlines’ Onur and my host Brian

Not that that curtails them, there are 30 high-end villas and four restaurants on Kandolhu.

So how did we, and the Maldives, get here?

Well, Kandolhu and Kuramathi are just two of 1,190 coral islands situated in 26 atolls or clutches across 90,000sqkms of water south of Sri Lanka.

Sea planes

I had started counting them as I was flown into the main and only truly populous island Male (133,000).

And gazed down in wonder at these teardrops on the ocean. 

Even better our barefoot pilot took us up really close to the islands by then flying down on them on his sea plane.

Is it a bird, is it a plane?

The atolls I am told take up just 10% of the sea mass that surround them, I make a start on drinking the other 90% while snorkelling.

But I did manage to spot me a turtle who, Go-Pro or no Go-Pro, I name Vanessa… or Mother Turtle, my own name for her.

A day and a night

I clearly have a taste for this island life though perhaps not the water activities.

But I will go on to make my own splash on the island and the islanders in the time I’m here.

As a guest of Kuramathi Island resort and Turkish Airlines.

I have flown us here via Istanbul.

Turkish Airlines Business Lounge… and you can always get a tune out of me

It is a 24-hour joyride with all the trappings of business class, and a stop-off in the world’s best business class lounge in Istanbul.

On our last night on the island we take a sunset cruise out onto the ocean before settling in for the night at the Sand Bar.

I’ll sleep it off

I fall into the beanbag on the beach where I almost fell asleep the first night. 

And order my Kuramathi cocktail and another and another and listen to house band Limestone.

I had heard them on the way back from the football that afternoon where they gave us a sneak rehearsal of the closing number of their set, Hotel California.

I know my way around now

I lie back and look up at the stars while letting the sound of the waves lapping up against the sand wash over me.

The only breaker is Limestone’s natty singer making a better stab at The Eagles than I had done at the Karaoke Bar:

‘You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.’

All right by me!

Travel facts

Mali in the Maldives

Resort info, see www.kuramathi.ie and www.kandolhu.com. Bookings: www.GoHop.ie/(01) 2412389 or www.TravelMood.ie Tel. (01) 4331000. Kuramathi Island Resort: Beach Villas from €2,155 pp; Over Water Villas from €2,895 pp for seven nights.

Including flight, taxis, transfers, full board. Optional basic all-inclusive package. €59 per day. Dine around select package. €99 per day. 

Kandolhu Island: From €3995pp. Jacuzzi Beach Villa. 

And always time for a drink

Ultimate Inclusions basis. for seven nights, prices correct at time of print.

Based on travel in May/June 2018 inc. flights with Turkish Airlines. 

Round trip economy class starting price Dublin- Maldives from €748.59; return business class starting price for same route, €2,166.59.

Yes, palm trees everywhere

See www.turkishairlines. com, or call: (01) 525-1849. Baggage allowance: Economy class, 30kg + 8kg hand luggage; Business class 40kg +16 kg for hand luggage in total.

*This article was first published in the Irish Daily Mail in early 2018 and I travelled with Island Marketing http://www.island-marketing-business-site.

And if you like a sunshine island… counting Britain and Ireland out obvs… then try the Caribbean https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/04/22/rumba-in-barbados/. And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/my-kiss-with-rihanna/

Uncategorized

My Sporting Weekend – racism and bigotry

World Cup winner Paul Pogba’s personal gesture against racism in wearing a black and white wristband commends him.

Which is something you don’t often hear many people say about Manchester United’s mercurial Frenchman…

The wearing of rubber bands denoting charitable or political campaigns seemed to kick in in the Noughties.

And I’m a fan www.kickitout.org although it’s more to do with destinations I’ve visited.

Band of gold

To remind me on a wet and dank day in Ireland of sunnier climes.

So I have California http://www.visitcalifonria.com and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/06/22/my-weekend-with-marilyn/ and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/07/03/stair-wars-3/at hand.

Denver http://www.denver.org and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/go-west-denver-buffalo-bill/ and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/29/the-new-pioneers/too.

And Portugal http://www.visitportugal.com and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/secret-portugal-classy-centro/

While there’s Dresden http://www.dresden.de and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/dresdens-renaissance-martin-luther/ as well.

My link with the Maldives https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/12/atoll-tale-the-maldives/ and http://www.kuramathi.com and http://www.kandolhu.com was broken.

When the band snapped over the Christmas season.

Although my memories never will.

Glasgow belongs to who?

Symbols have always been at the very heart of sport:

The colours and designs of strips or uniforms, club badges or crests and buttons.

Although sometimes they can land you in trouble.

And the players in the Celtic and Rangers Catholic and Protestant divide know it.

Whether they grew up in the West of Scotland or bought into it.

Mo Johnston controversially crossed the divide and himself (well at least when he was at Celtic, the Catholic gesture particularly provocative to Rangers fans).

While Paul Gascoigne gullibly responded to the egging-on from Rangers fans by mocking a flute player.

Another incendiary action in Glasgow’s religious tribalism, conjuring up the Protestant King William of Orange’s victory over the Catholic King James II.

That flute is OK

Sometimes even the football forces its way into the argument.

The debate du jour in English football is whether players and teams should walk off if they are racially abused from the crowd.

I never had to encounter being either physically or verbally abused over the colour of my skin.

But I was spat at on a bus by religious bigots in Glasgow as a child because of the colour of my uniform.

Which is why I was so drawn to Rosa Parks’ sit-down protest on the bus in the Deep South.

And was so humbled by the sacrifices made by black (and white) Civil Rights protesters.

On my trip through Memphis, Tennessee www.memphistravel.com and www.deep-south-tourism-com Mississippi. And www.visittheusa.ie.

Not our problem

No such discussion is had regarding religious bigotry in Glasgow despite they’re being on average one murder surrounding the Old Firm game every time the two meet.

Which they do tomorrow.

Worthy words will be expressed in Glasgow, my home city http://www.peoplemakeglasgow.com and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/04/15/sportstraveltraveltravel/.

And when (and it’s almost always when, not if) it kicks off there will be no end of head-shaking.

It’s only a kids’ game

But no talk of partial ground closures, playing behind closed doors, walk-offs, fines or points deductions.

It’s not for nothing Celtic and Rangers are called The Old Firm. The religious divide fuels their economy.

So the answer is in Glasgow vernacular: Nae Chance.

Uncategorized

Hungry and Thursday – curried Christmas Turkey

Yes, it’s a thing here in Ireland where St Stephen’s Day (Boxing Day to everyone else) is when they curry the left-over turkey.

Which obviously got us thinking about the no-neck poultry.

You’d think that they’d have a built-in antennae for the time of year when they’re most in danger.

But these guys I met in Tobago www.visittobago.gov.tt on my Caribbean adventures https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/12/07/ready-steady-goat-in-tobago/ seemed totally oblivious.

You see my cooking has come on leap and bound this year…

I even cooked something.!

After being given the recipe for Dahl curry by our hosts G Adventures in Dublin… https://www.gadventures.com/?aw_ag_id=49375547731&aw_kw_id=aud-360242417736:kwd-296402816580&aw_ad_id=297109875494&aw_nw=g&phonecode=PPC_SEM_Brand&gclid=Cj0KCQiArozwBRDOARIsAHo2s7t7hmH99Ist6icPt9oHDzkak2RC_How1OfDnhxuuj7arpD5lLi6X2MaAl0BEALw_wcB.

Of course it’s only a start and nothing like the feasts our Jordanian hosts put on for us… Petra and the sands of time And http://www.visitjordan.com

And in the desert too!

Going underground

With their zarb where they bury meat, veg and rice in a pit in the ground, add lots of embers.

And wrap it in blankets and bury it in sand.

The zarb is put on in the early afternoon and by the evening it is meltingly tender.

Not much call for it though in chilly Greystones here in Ireland.

So where’s the best curry. India? Probably. But remember it is Britain’s national dish.

Curry belongs to Glasgow 

And in Glasgow where there is a big Asian population and where they gave birth to Chicken Tikka Masala.

When Ali Aslam, the owner of the Shish Mahal restaurant http://www.shishmahal.co.uk added tomato soup and some sauces to his chicken curry.

To satisfy a Glasgow bus driver who had sent it back because it was too dry.

Scottish and Sub-Continental fusion is a definite thing.

Which I knew about being of the Caledonian variety myself I belong to Glasgow but with which I renewed acquaintance…

Piping hot

When I visited the World Pipe Band Championships… https://www.theworlds.co.uk

In ma wee hame toon Glasgow https://peoplemakeglasgow.com/visiting/top-reasons-to-visit-glasgow and https://www.visitscotland.com.

The perfect fusion between Scot and the Sub-Continent is in fact in the Sub-Continent.

Or more precisely with the Sri Lankan staff on the Maldives with Island… Atoll tale – the Maldives and http://www.kuramathi.com And http://www.kandolhu.com

Where I played cricket, of sorts, and football (chased shadows).

And, of course tucked into their food which comes from everywhere.

Although I might arrange for them to get some Irn-Bru shipped in.

And now that we’re well into the Christmas drinking… here, by popular demand, Jocktails, your favourite Cocktail column by your Scottish cocktail guru.

And this is a reminder of what we’ve got in the bar… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/01/jocktails-the-strawberry-daiquiri/, https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/15/jocktails-bajan-monkey/

While try out https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/29/jocktails-mimosas/

MEET YOU IN THE BAR