I intended to choose one favourite day in each city, but that proved impossible. This list is ridiculously long, but shows how ridiculously fun my trip was!
- My trip was off to a great start as I spent my first day with Patrizia and Roberto by the sea in Fiumicino. That’s my actual favourite day, but it’s technically not in Rome.
- Day 3 was an action-packed day where I walked all over the city and saw Piazza Navona, fell in love with the Pantheon, and saw Vittoriano, and saw an Argentinian jazz concert.
- Or, actually this day was awesome, when I went to the Italian market, saw a bunch of beautiful sites on Patrizia’s bicycle, and went clubbing in Rome with Chuck!
- The first day that came to mind as a favourite was the day I hiked down to Positano with Frank & Cathy, swam in the ocean, and after being stranded in Amalfi, hitched a ride on the back of a stranger’s scooter.
- Oh, and this day I swam to a beach-cave, and saw the most breathtaking gardens in Ravello, high above the town with a gorgeous view of the sea!
- And this day, when I met Fraser & Olivia in Capri on the way to the blue grotto, and ended the day in Naples.
GREECE (mostly Crete)
- I loved the day I visited Preveli Beach, which has a fresh river that pours into the beach.
- Chania was a beautiful town, with history and the prettiest lighthouse.
- But I can’t leave out the views from Santorini, and eating shrimp for the first time in 12+ years (and learning how to dissect it!)
- I absolutely loved the day I spent with Marieke, Myrthe, and Iris riding the trains and hiking through the Swiss Alps. Breathtaking!
- But I also really loved the day we harvested pumpkins on the farm, and the dutch pancakes Marieke made for dinner.
- And the last day on the farm, when Bastien took me out for a fondue dinner in Lausanne.
- My first full day in Brussels, Yves took me on a long walk through the city and taught me so much! I also fell in love with Magritte that day.
- I absolutely loved the family dinner we had, and picking up my cousin’s kids from school.
- Oh, and then Vanessa took me makeup shopping, and I took the train to Paris to see Flora and celebrate Caroline’s birthday. I can’t believe all that activity was one day!
- My first full day I reunited with Diane, Bastien, Antoine, Julie & Arnaud, and Flora of course. We had brunch and walked past le Louvre and to the Eiffel Tower.
- I really enjoyed kicking around with Julie & Arnaud, seeing Notre Dame, and then finally eating the boeuf Bourgunignon I’ve been dreaming about.
- This day was downright amazing – I saw a view of all of Paris from Sacre Coeur, and the Arc de Triumph, and ended it with Flora at Pitchfork, the concert.
- I only spent three days in Goa, and this day that ended with Ondi was spectacular.
- Off to a crazy fun start with a fancy rooftop brunch.
- I loved shopping for Indian fabrics, seeing the craft fair, and hanging out with Divya’s friends.
- And on this day, Divya’s family took me out for lunch, I learned how to eat on a banana leaf (and embraced eating with my hands), and went to Weekender music festival!
- And the last day was the best day, when Divya and her family surprised me with the gift of a sari, dressed me up, and took me to an Indian wedding!
- I loved the day I scuba dived and hung out with Kamey, Ruth, and Serkan.
- And the day Kamey and I checked out Villigilli and took a bunch of pictures.
- The day that ended with a night at the airport wasn’t my favourite, but it’s a fun story.
Today is my last day in the Maldives. How sad. This week has been so fantastic! I’ve felt such peace and love here. I had breakfast first, some kind of curry with kidney beans and chick peas, served with roshi, of course:
I went to the beach for my last morning swim.
And met the cutest hermit crab:
I met Kamey for lunch, and enjoyed grilled reef fish for the last time. It was good to see Kamey one last time.
At the airport I bought some stamps, and used my last bit of Maldivian currency on a passionfruit jam:
Back to Bangalore! As my dad said, “welcome home”! I was warmly greeted by Divya and her friends, who were having fun on this Saturday night. I dropped my bags at her home, changed, and we went to a busy restaurant/bar. I’ve gotten used to having Divya order food for me. We had various shared plates, mostly of spicy and flavourful meats. Our favourite was the deep-fried, bacon-wrapped chicken on a stick! After we left, there was a man riding a bicycle that said something to us. When I asked what he had said, I found out that he was biking around and selling tea from a carafe on the back of his bicycle! So I asked for a cup, it was delicious!
Today is my last full day in the Maldives, and the only day I’m not scuba diving. I had asked Ruth, the tourism consultant I’d met a few days ago about potential day trips to other islands. Unfortunately Friday is like a weekend in the Maldives, and very few of the ferries run. Ruth suggested I visit Villigilli, and arranged for Kamey to escort me there and spend the day with me – for free! I had met Kamey a few times before – he was in the tourism office when I first walked in on Monday night, and he walked me to the dive club on Tuesday morning. We had coffee with Ruth on Wednesday too! I was happy to have the opportunity to spend more time with him. I woke up super early, around 6am, and enjoyed a morning swim.
I wandered the island and had breakfast at Iberry. The meal below is roshi (the flat bread) with kulhimas (fresh fish). I ordered a fresh passion fruit juice too!
I stopped in one of the grocery stores and slowly looked at everything they had. The non-alcoholic beer looks just like, well, beer! I bought some hair oils, and some spices, and a lemon-flavored beer, and relaxed on the beach a bit more.
I was to meet Kamey at 1:30pm, and I wanted to eat first. But everywhere was closed! I hadn’t realized that most shops and restaurants would be closed until 2pm. I went back to Iberry – they were open in the morning, they should be open now, right? Wrong! But the woman working there was incredibly nice, and cooked me lunch anyway! Beef curry with rice, and some fish. Thank you! I hurried to meet Kamey, and we walked to the ferry:
We took the speedboat to Malé this time. It was smaller than the ferry, cost 25 ruffia (about $2) instead of 5, and had seats similar to an airplane.
In Malé, we stopped for a coffee at the Seahorse, which is directly above the ferry terminal and has a great view. Kamey was shy to have his picture taken. He brought along his camera for the day, and is used to being on the other side of the lenses.
We walked across the island to get to the ferry on the other side. This is the third time that Kamey and I decided to walk instead of taxi/bus; that made me really happy. We passed a beautiful mosque…
And this monument below to the lives lost during the 1988 coup d’état, in which Abdullah Luthufi took over the capital city Male with the help of a group of Sri Lankan Tamil secessionist mercenaries. The ordeal ended quickly thanks to the Indian army’s intervention.
The ferry to Villigilli only took about 20 minutes. We took some pictures along the way:
Villigilli is a tiny island with virtually no tourists. It used to be a resort island until the government converted it to be a home for the native Maldivians, so they can have an affordable place to live that’s not far from their jobs in Malé. It’s kind of awesome because it’s a short commute to the bustling capital island/city, yet they live in this peaceful paradise. Kamey taught me that the Maldives protects their trees. Any tree over 25 years old requires special government permission, and trees over 50 years old, well even the government can’t cut those down. It sounds like they took this principle even further in Villigilli in the process of converting it from a resort, and that cutting down trees here is virtually never allowed.
Hey look, sugar cane!
I couldn’t get over these beautiful flowers, casually strewn about the sidewalk beneath the tree that bears them.
I usually hold people up when I stop for pictures, so I liked that Kamey squatted next to me and joined in.
We walked the entire perimeter of the island:
The seats below are very typical and you see them all over the Maldives. It’s a metal tube frame, and a net. There are even swings like this! They are crazy comfortable, and a good example of the laid-back aura you feel throughout these islands.
He took me to a restaurant for a snack. This restaurant had a little fish pond that wound around the entrance. If we dined here, we could have chosen our fresh fish!
Sparkling pineapple juice with a view! The ocean is just behind it, but you can’t really see.
I took a dip in the ocean while Kamey went for coffee. There was a lizard in the public shower stalls!
We headed back to Malé and Kamey took me to dinner at his friend’s restaurant/coffee shop. Today’s opening day! I had wanted to try garuthdni, a traditional Maldivian fish soup. I wasn’t expecting it to be clear!
He showed me how to eat it too. You rip up the roshi, the flat bread, on a plate. Add bits of chili and red onion, and spoon the soup on top. Mix it all up with a squeeze of lime. It doesn’t look very appetizing, but it was really delicious!
And a few more hedika treats:
Our friends from the dive club joined us. Coffee in the Maldives is the equivalent to bars/drinks in most of the rest of the world. I’ve come to love this custom; it’s so relaxed and people have a different aura when it’s coffee and not cocktails. Would you believe Kamey picked up the tab for EVERYONE tonight, including my dinner? I couldn’t believe it. What a generous guy!
Beautiful diving today, as always! We had finished our skills lessons yesterday, and today’s all about fun! There were several eels with menacing stares. I loved seeing the schools of fish. I’d see a fascinating fish and focus on that, when all of a sudden a huge school of fish would sweep right around me! And then another school, and another!
I’ve never felt like such a part of the world. I am a part of the world! Is there anything more beautiful than that? I feel so connected. In those moments under the sea, I realized that I don’t want to be at the top of the food chain; I just want to be a part of it.
I stopped for lunch; I’ve been enjoying fish with every meal here. It’s so tasty, gives me great energy for scuba, keeps me full forever, and I feel nice and light – the opposite of how you feel after french fries or pizza. Lunch has been grilled fish with vegetables or a salad (I ask for that instead of rice, which isn’t as tasty and doesn’t have as many nutrients). I went on a long walk to the far ends of Hulhumale. It’s a small island, and you can easily walk the length of it in 30-45 minutes. I saw this beautiful park…
I love the benches, decorated with random shattered tile. I hope they’re recycled.
I don’t know why my mascara is smudged. I bet I was sweating, it’s so humid here!
I walked to the beach to watch the sun set. This guy had caught this octopus right here, in the area I’ve been bathing in all week! Though it doesn’t get more than 4′ deep (there’s a breakwater protecting it 100 meters from the beach), there are so many sea creatures!
I showered and changed for dinner. My outfit is completely made up of things I purchased on this trip! Sandals from Greece, Maldivian pants, Indian tunic, and Italian purse. Most of these were necessary purchases – I had brought one old cheap pair of sandals that made me stumble, so I replaced them; the pants I had were too hot for the Maldives, my legs were sweating; and I planned to buy this purse after I ran out of time to sew one for myself before the trip. But that tunic is just dang cute!
I went to an Indian restaurant named Bombay, and totally treated myself. I had dal makhani with rice and naan, paneer chicken, and a caramel custard for dessert. Including the mango juice and iced coffee than accompanied my meal, and a tip it was $22. A total treat, as most of my meals here have ranged from $2-10. There was enough food for two people, and the server kindly packed the leftovers to go.
(I added some more details about last night in the blog post below, btw)
After waking up on the airport bench, I started my morning by illegally streaming the last 30 minutes of The Fault in our Stars, a movie I hadn’t finished on the plane to India 2 weeks ago, and cried at the airport, not for the first time, and certainly not for the last. I think I like crying in public; I’ll have to explore that weirdness another time. I hunted down some coffee and an authentic Maldivian breakfast, mashuni (chopped tuna with coconut, pepper, onion, and lime) with roti (flat bread), and a boiled egg.
Then took some pictures with flowers as I waited for the next bus back to Hulhumale. The trees in the Maldives have the most beautiful flowers; this one had fallen onto the ground.
That’s where I met Serkan, at the bus stop. He seemed to be a business traveler, and I was curious as to where he’s from and what brings him to the Maldives, so I said hi. I’m always more comfortable when I start the conversation with a stranger than when someone approaches me. If I’m approached I assume they have an agenda, innocent or not. But if I’m the one that says hi, well, it’s on my terms and within my comfort zone. I do this all the time: make sure I’m the person initiating conversation. Even when I’m at the airport looking for a taxi and a bunch of drivers approach me, I walk past them and approach a driver with an official cab that’s not flagging me down. Serkan is from Istanbul, but had lived in LA for years, something he proudly shared with me, an American. He’s a travel agent, often booking honeymooners in the Maldives, and is here on business. I was right! But he seemed to know very little about the Maldives – he brought a bottle of whiskey which was confiscated, obviously. He was looking for a guesthouse to stay in Hulhumale for the night before continuing on to the resorts he works with. I told him what little I’d learned in the last few days, and pointed him in the right direction for a guesthouse. He asked if I was free for dinner and we planned to meet at 8pm. I walked back to my guesthouse and made sure I wasn’t followed, but there was no need to worry this time. I’ve come to realize I have incredible intuition, especially with people.
After getting changed for scuba, I walked along the beach towards the dive center. I love how quiet it is here in the mornings.
A mosque I came across along the way.
And some komorebi photography, of course:
In that 20 minute walk, a good 4-5 men offered me a lift on their scooters. But I love to walk.
Scuba as excellent again today. Look at that frog fish!
Today I got sunburned. This trip is the first time in my life I’ve forgone sunscreen. The hot sun felt so good on my face and shoulders. The small dive group today had a lovely conversation. We talked about the fact that life and experiences are more important than money. Mitte, my instructor, told me that he left a big job in Japan to come to the Maldives, and that even though he has a much smaller income now, and no fancy car and watch, he’s so much happier. You should have seen him squeal with delight when we saw that tiny white fish-thing with the black polka dots! He has such vibrant energy! Then Dhous, the guy with the silly smile and the yellow t-shirt, asked: what has more power, a gun, money, or a pen? Mitte jokingly answered money, but the pen is the answer. I commented that the key is the mind that fuels the pen. It was so great to commune with people that have such clarity, peace, and lust for life. My spirit was shining.
When we returned to the dock, there was a fisherman hauling in his catch of the day.
Saji, a Maldivian who is also going for his Open Water scuba certification, bough this yellow fin tuna, below. He’s a good 18-24″ long, FAT, and only cost 80 ruffia, about $6. Damn, Maldivians eat well! Super fresh fish all the time!
I’m sleep deprived. I had only slept about 3 hours at the airport. I took a nap on the lounge on the roof of the guesthouse I’m staying in. Had a bite for lunch. Then bought some sunscreen and took a nap on the beach, it felt so good to rest in the sun.
In the evening Kamey, the guy who works at the tourism office that connected me with the dive club, came by so I could pay my bill. He invited me to join him for a coffee. I can’t believe I almost said no, but I’m so glad I said yes! We met with his boss Ruth, a woman from England who has been living in the Maldives for the last few years. We chatted about scuba diving, and she told us about one of her favourite spots, and the sea life she’s seen there. I asked Kamey if he has a favourite island (he’s visited hundreds of them!), and he mentioned Formula (I’m certainly spelling it wrong), a one-island atoll in the far south of the Maldives. An atoll is a ring-shaped chain of islands, and the Maldives has 26 of them. As a one-island atoll, Formula has a natural lake in the middle of the island, and as its protected from the ocean by the island surrounding it, the tiny pebbles on the beach have been polished smooth over the years. Kamey and Ruth said there’s nowhere in the world that has the same shining smooth pebbles. I told Ruth about my trip, and my wish to leave my job and my country for a new experience. That’s when she told me that her partner is head of engineering at this tourism company Secret Paradise. And that he’s always looking for project managers! I beamed at the idea of possibly working with them in the Maldives! I floated on air as I walked back to my guesthouse to get ready for dinner.
When I met Serkan, he was sitting with Ruth! They had connected through a mutual contact and were discussing travel options for Serkan’s clients. It is a tiny island, after all. We chatted and Ruth told us about Maldivian culture. She also told us that the Maldives gives its people a plot of land on their native island when they marry. Maldivian men instantly became more attractive to me. She also explained the custom of hedika, a traditional Maldivian snack of small eats served with black tea in the afternoon,. This is the meal I shared with Abdullah and Fatith my first day in the Maldives.
Today I leapt out of bed at 6:30am, and headed to the roof of my guest house for breakfast. Most of the other guests, and tourists in the Maldives in general, are Chinese. I have yet to meet an American visitor.
I walked to the beach, intent to get more than just my ankles wet.
After a beautiful morning swim, I went to the scuba dive center. They fitted a wet suit and flippers for me, loaded up the boat, and we were off!
The views are incredible!
I was introduced to my instructor, and the one other person going for open water certification. We had a thorough introductory lesson. Every time he said “don’t do ___, or else serious injury.” my heart rate increased! I’ve been told that scuba diving isn’t hard, and that the most important thing is to not panic. So I asked my instructor and the experienced divers what creatures I could expect to see. Manta rays 6′ wide, whale sharks 12′ long… ok, I can deal with that. Then someone casually said hammerhead shark. Wha? Aren’t those people-eaters? Then someone said white shark. How big, I asked? Up to 30′?! Holy crap! But shark attacks are unheard of here. The experienced divers have such a peaceful attitude about the sharks. They called them beautiful, part of the majesty of life. There was no fear in them, just love, and that put me at ease. I also liked hearing them call the sharks “vegetarian”. I’ve also been taught that deep breathing is important while diving, and I looked forward to putting all the meditating over the last few months to work.
For some reason I was most scared as I jumped into the water, with all my scuba gear on. Silly, it was only a 4′ drop, and I wasn’t going underwater yet. But I dunno, as soon as I was in the ocean my nerves calmed. I’ve always said mental clarity is found in the water, and it was proven to be true today. I instantly fell in love with scuba! We went 10 meters deep for our first dive, for about 45 minutes. We saw the huge manta rays my instructor had spoken of, as well as a turtle, an eel, and countless tropical fish all colors of the rainbow. I was fascinated! I was swimming in the world’s largest aquarium! I felt so much like a part of the world. My energy shined.
Back ashore, we hung out on some Maldivian swings near the coast before heading our separate ways.
I dropped my stuff at my guest house and got a restaurant recommendation: Ravin’s. And look, they have this sweet little talking parrot named Tweety!
How is it that India and the Maldives have the best iced coffee? I think they whip it with ice cream to make it so creamy!
I ordered what the server recommended, grilled king fish. Finally, the delicious fresh fish I’ve been looking for this entire trip! I’m so glad I continued to try fish, this one was so crazy good!
I walked down the beach and watched the sun set.
I spent the evening in the hotel, feeding my internet addiction. One of the staff members, Sirash had told me about Hulhumale International Hotel (HIH), a hotel near the airport that has a bar. As the Maldives is an Islamic country, alcohol is strictly prohibited in the islands inhabited by the locals. I knew this before arriving, and had no qualms about going dry for a week. But I was restless, so I took up Sirash up on his offer to drop me off at HIH. I ordered a Sri Lankan beer and sat at a table intent on catching up on my blog. As soon as I opened my laptop, a gentleman asked if the other seat at my table was free. I didn’t know if he was looking for a seat or for my company, but I said yes and continued on my laptop as I had just paid for 2 hours of wifi use. I entertained his small talk (I hate small talk), but didn’t engage fully. I’m pretty good at saying “no,” without saying “no” and remaining polite. He soon got the picture and wished me a nice evening.
Twenty minutes later, another guy asked to sit with me. We chatted a bit (more small talk), and he tried to impress me with his job as a sous chef at one of the resorts (I hate boasting, and prefer casual confidence). I engaged with him a little more than with the first guy, and said yes to a beer. Then he ordered a bucket of beer! Is he trying to get me drunk? I continued to work on my blog as we talked, which obviously bothered him. He kept asking me “what are you doing?” though I had answered that question multiple times, and “are you bored?” even though he wasn’t making conversation. Come on man, we’re not on a date! I was working on my laptop before you got here; what makes you think that would change due to your presence? I quickly went from mildly flattered to irritated. I’m pretty sure he was just at HIH to pick up a woman. I asked which island he lives in, and as far as I could understand (strong accent + poor English = rough conversation), it seemed like he says at the resort when he’s working and I have no idea where he stays on his days off. He said he needed to find a guesthouse to stay at on Hulhumale, the affordable island near the airport that I’m staying on. He even asked if he could stay with me – how bold! At this point it was nearing midnight, and I was getting tired, something I made sure to share with him. He was offering to show me something – not sure what – after we left HIH; not so much offering, but more assuming we were about to go off somewhere together. I made it clear that I was heading straight to bed alone after I (not we) left. And sure enough, he followed me as I walked to the exit. I asked at the front desk for a cab back to my guesthouse (he told me he’d get a cab for me, but I take care of myself), but none were running. When he continued to follow me after I left the hotel, I told him I was uncomfortable and asked him to leave me alone. He pretended to walk away as I walked to the airport’s bus stop, but I saw him following me. I circled back and hopped on the hotel’s shuttle that dropped me off at the airport bus stop. After checking the schedule for the bus that would take me back to my guesthouse on Hulhumale, I sat down to kill 20 minutes. And then he walked up to me again. Thankfully, when I asked him to leave me alone in the middle of an airport, there were enough people nearby for him to be embarrassed, and few enough people that everyone heard my words. He disappeared, for good.
Back in Hulhumale, I checked the time, 12:40am. I’ll blame my late night hunger on the beer that creep bought for me, and I sought a snack at Ravin’s, my new favourite restaurant a block from my hotel. It was 2am by the time I went back to my guesthouse, and I found the downstairs door locked! Holy crap! I had been careful enough to make sure that the bus runs late, but I didn’t think about entering the small guesthouse late at night. I called the two employees whose numbers I had, but they didn’t pick up, and I didn’t have the front desk number. My phone was at 2% battery anyway. Despite the creep I had ran into at HIH, Hulhumale is incredibly safe. I thought about sleeping on the beach for a few hours, or on one of the loungers in front of the guesthouse, but I just didn’t feel right about that. I chose to take the bus back to the airport. At least there are people and safety there. Lucky me! I found an outlet, and a seat near a store that shared their wifi password with me when I first arrived. I finished my blog posting, charged my phone, and slept on the uncomfortable bench until dawn.
Welcome to the Maldives! From Bangalore, I took about a 1-hour flight to Colombo, Sri Lanka, then another 1-hour flight to Malé in the Maldives.
I couldn’t believe that even the airport has a beautiful ocean view! I withdrew some Maldivian money, and bought a sim card with a local number.
I made arrangements through Airbnb to stay at the Travel Lodge on a small island called Mulah. They picked me up at the airport and took me to their location on the island Hulhumale; I’ll be taking the boat to Mulah tomorrow morning. I didn’t mind at all, I wanted some time in the capital city Malé anyway. There are ferries (equivalent to public transport), speed boats (expensive), and sea planes (even more expensive), connecting the 1200ish islands that make up the Maldives. Hulhumale is an artificial island connected to the island that hosts the airport. It’s just a quick 15 minute drive away.
The first thing I did after dropping bags at the bed&breakfast was head to the beach a block away!
I was so sleep-deprived. I wandered the quiet island.
I found myself at the ferry terminal. I boarded a ferry to Malé. It was a 30 minute journey, and cost 5 rufaa, about $0.30.
Malé is a bustling little city. The coast is crowded with docked boats. The Maldives is an Islamic country. That means that women dress modestly and cover their heads, and bikinis are banned at public beaches. Alcohol and pork products are banned everywhere except the resort islands.
Every inch of the island is packed with people, stores, and restaurants. I found myself at the fish market. They had some tiny fish the size of a finger, and some huge fish that are 4’ long!
Right next to it was a fresh fruit and vegetable market.
I stopped at one stand that had food I couldn’t identify. There were cigar-shaped items that turned out to be candy-like items. The kind man working the stand gave me a taste of a few of them, as well as spicy peanuts, yucca chips, and a slice of fresh mango.
I stopped at a tiny restaurant near the markets. I didn’t realize until now that I haven’t eaten in 14 hours! They had a display case with a variety of goods.
I ordered a chicken kothu roshi without any idea of what it was. As I sat waiting for my food, I realized that the 30+ people in the restaurant were all male, and almost all of them were obviously staring at me (purely out of curiosity; I would have felt so uncomfortable if they were checking me out or something). I’ve never felts so out of place. The meal I ordered totally hit the spot. Kothu roshi a spicy mixture of chicken or tuna, onions, vegetables, and chopped roshi, which is a very thin bread. I thought the roshi was pasta at the time.
I saw more of the island. There are beautiful mosques scattered about. You can often see people’s shoes lined up outside of them, and a foot washing station too.
I stopped at a souvenir shop where the salesperson showed me some antique coins. The shell below is the original currency used in the Maldives.
This is the President’s office:
My goal for the day is to find out about scuba diving. I don’t know much about it, but I hope to get certified within the week. I’ve tried finding information online to no avail. I found a couple of options by asking at shops that sell scuba gear. At one of them I met Abdulla, who took me to meet his friend and dive instructor Fathih. He took me to a local restaurant, similar to where I had the kothu roshi. This place had all-male clients too.
I chose three things, no idea what they are. The one in the rear is very similar to an Indian samosa, with potato and pea filling. The ones in the front had fish in it.
Abdulla and Fathih told me about the diving course, and we made tentative plans. They’re very nice, and incredibly knowledgeable about diving, but I intend to compare their offer to what the more reputable dive schools offer. Abdulla introduced me to what’s pictured below, I don’t know what it’s called. He wrapped a sliver of what I think is a nut in some kind of leaf, and sprinkled cinnamon on top. It was a very refreshing palate cleanser.
I took the ferry back to Hulhumale, and stopped at a dive shop on the way to the beach. They offered me a better deal, and I felt more comfortable with them than with Fathih, so I re-arranged my scuba plans. I also decided to stay in Hulhumale for the week instead of going to the small island Mulah. It sounds beautiful there, but it’s very far away, and there are more options for activities and scuba here. I walked along the beach in the darkness. And damn, how dark! The stars here are incredible. I had intended to do some night swimming, but immediately got a little nervous. There are so many creatures on the beach, though I was only ankle-deep in the water. I saw tiny crabs, what I’m pretty sure are shrimp, hermit crabs, and see-through fish that you could barely see. Sometimes the only thing visible was the shadow of the tiny fish. When I planned my trip here, I had intended to spend a night at a deserted island. But seeing all the creatures, albeit tiny, and how dark the darkness is made me even more nervous about that idea. I thought about my scuba plans for tomorrow, and got even more nervous about that. If the tiny sea creatures in 3” of water intimidated me, how would I handle encounters with manta rays and possibly sharks that are bigger than me?!
Divya took me to MRJ’s for breakfast today, to try some different kind of dosas. Dosa is a kind of Indian bread. We shared an idly, which is a grain (not rice) with herbs and nuts in it.
Then we had the dosa (not sure what the name is). It has a lot of butter in it, and was served with a side of melted butter. Inside is a flavourful mixture of potatoes, chick peas, and other vegetables.
We stopped at Fab India for a couple of final gifts, then stopped at a flower cart on Divya’s block. I’ve admired the chains of flowers every day I passed the stand, and the music festival is the perfect occasion to wear some! In Hindu these chains of flowers are called mallige hoovu, and are often worn in the hair as a decoration.
Divya’s family took us to lunch today. After hearing that I like spicy food, they chose a restaurant called Nagarjuna, which serves Andhra style food. It’s from northern India. The food here is served on banana leaves. It’s a common custom in India, especially at weddings. We wet our leaves with water to wash it before our food was served.
They ordered chili lime chicken (on the left), and another kind of very spicy chicken (on the right).
And some chicken fried rice, that we ate with onion-soaked yogurt sauce. The rice was definitely tastier with the yogurt!
Divya’s dad ordered the meal below specifically for me! I’m not sure what it’s called, but there’s spinach dal, and a carrot dish. You mix the dal with the rice, and with chutney or other dipping sauces if you like. I’ve really enjoyed saying “yes” to tasting everything on this trip, even without knowing what it is. So freeing! So nice to say “I eat everything,” when invited to a restaurant or a home-cooked meal! What a fascinating culinary experience this trip has been! I like being vegetarian for a number of reasons, but it’s been so fun to totally break out of that comfort zone!
After lunch (thanks Divya’s parents!), we headed to WEEKENDER for day 2. I have to be at the airport at 2am tomorrow to catch a flight to the Maldives, so I packed my luggage and took it with me. I’ll head to the airport directly from the music festival. I snapped this picture on the way to the festival grounds: it’s a vineyard! There are vineyards and orchards lining the streets, so beautiful and unexpected for India!
Flower crown time! I felt like a princess, and loved the jasmine scent.
The first band we saw was Inspector Cluzo, from France. They played fun music, and interacted with the audience a lot. The crowd and I loved it!
Later in the day I saw Jon Hopkins, who I also saw at Pitchfork in Paris 10 days ago! I snuck up super close to the stage and danced danced danced!
The night ended with MuteMath. For their last song, the singer crowd-surfed on a platform, it was wildly fun!
Divya and I got up late today. We had breakfast, dressed, and headed to WEEKENDER music festival! We went with a bunch of her friends.
This is Sarish, Divya’s friend and business partner. We’ve spent a lot of time with him, and I’ve gotten to know him a bit. He’s incredibly polite, a true gentleman, and he has a fun and lively spirit. He often picks us up when we head out to meet with friends. Thanks Sarish!
WEEKENDER is near the airport, about an hour drive away. Bangalore is crowded with buildings, but out here there’s enough space for this big fest. There are five stages, and a bunch of booths selling food, drinks, and souvenirs.
The different stages loosely represented different genres of music. There was one stage for rock, another that was mainly heavy metal, another that featured some Indian music, and my favourite was the EDM (electronic dance music) stage. I realized today that I’m in a bit of an EDM phase, and I don’t mind that one bit! Today I saw a bunch of bands:
My favourite act was Peking Duck, who ended the night at the EDM stage. They sampled a large selection of music, from old school classics to modern hits. They won me over when they mashed ABC by the Jackson 5 with Sleepyhead by Passion Pit. I also really loved the reggae mixed with Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds by the Beatles, and oh, so much more! I’ve taken to doing a voice recording at live shows, and I enjoy replaying the low-quality recording, reliving the night.
Today’s my last day in Goa. I had a masala omelet for breakfast, and the most delicious iced coffee I’ve ever had! I may have enjoyed two in a row!
I walked away from the beach and to the town. The area where the flea market is held was eerily empty.
Ondi had told me yesterday that 5 or 7 chilies and a lime are often strung together to ward off bad energy and bring good luck. I saw this discarded by the road. The chain of flowers are often used as decoration, or as an offering to the gods.
I thought this place was especially cute. The writing says “the butterfly fairies”.
I came across this building under construction. I’m not sure what kind of brick this is, but it made me think of adobo. Most of the construction in Bangalore is with cast-in-place concrete, and sometimes CMU (concrete masonry units). These red bricks seem to be commonly used in Goa.
The tropical canopy is beautiful. I felt like I was walking through a dream!
I walked to the German Bakery, per Ondi’s recommendation. I first thought, “why would I want to go to a german bakery in India?” but I was pleasantly surprised that it’s not really German. It’s a health food place!
They have a beautiful outdoor seating area. I sat in the booth below. The table is coffee-table height, and you sit on a pad on the bamboo mat, and rest your back against the part that’s painted white. So comfortable and laid-back! You can stretch your legs out, sit “criss-cross apple sauce” (that’s the PC version of Indian-style). I ordered a ginger kombucha (pictured above), and a tonic made of lemon, ginger, honey, and turmeric (not pictured). The tonic was delicious and sooo healthy, I plan to include it in my regular diet when I return to the US.
I hurried back to the beach. There’s one item left on my Goa itinerary, which was to try the local favourite fish curry rice. It ended up being one of my favourite meals! It doesn’t look like much, but there’s some fried king fish, and a curry sauce with more fish. Deliciously spicy! This meal cost $5, including the beer and a tip.
I rushed back to my beach tent just in time to meet the taxi that drove me to the airport.
Once back in Bangalore, I took a much-needed shower. Divya and I met some of her friends at Fatty Bao, an Asian restaurant I’ve heard a LOT about. It’s a beautiful rooftop, with tropical plants and a view.
We shared a bunch of different appetizers, and I ordered mushroom ramen. I’ve always wanted to taste real ramen, but it’s not usually vegetarian so I’ve never had the opportunity. Though I’m eating meat now, I couldn’t resist the ramen with oyster and shitake mushrooms! The broth had been simmered for 14-18 hours. Yumm!
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