Author Archives: talkingthailand

Gill On Being a Jillaroo

Horses at Jillaroo School, Australia
Horses at Jillaroo School, Australia

A few years ago, I started my love affair with foreign lands but at the time I wasn’t sure whether I was brave enough to begin this journey alone, so I researched ways that I could travel but with like-minded people. What I found seemed right up my street. I’ve always had a love of horses, so the Australian Jillaroo/Jackaroo School was the perfect way to spend eleven days doing something different in Australia’s outback.

Horsey Games, Jillaroo School
Me and My Trusty Steed

Day 1
After a quick stop to buy cheap work clothes, hat and boots and the all-important booze for our nights on the ranch, we arrived at Leconfield, 50km east of Tamworth in New South Wales. We were shown our rooms, I was sharing with a woman called Emily, and we were over the moon when we found out we would be sleeping in the, fondly named, Penthouse.  Believe me, even though it was a dark and dingy shed, it was the best room on the farm, most of the others got housed in the sheep shearing shed. The one down side was that it was so cold at night and we wore socks, hats, and hoodies on top of pyjamas to try and keep warm. And getting up in the middle of the night to go to the toilet in the main house didn’t help things either.

The Penthouse at Leconfield
The Penthouse at Leconfield

Day 2
We got given our horses for the eleven days. I got a lovely bay stallion that went by the name of Lightening. Don’t believe everything that the name suggests because he was the slowest horse I have ever ridden. Actually, lazy is the word, no amount of geeing him on was going to make him go any faster.

Jillaroo School, Australia
My Horse, Lightening

Leconfield was a working farm and as such there was a roster of different jobs to do. One of those jobs was to get the calves into their shed at night. There were two calves and their mother and every day they hung out at the top of the field. It took us quite a while to get them down to their shed, arms waving and yelling, trying to make them go in the right direction. Poor things were probably scared to death! At one point, there were three of us racing down the hill after one calf but it decided to double back on us, so we had to chase it back up the hill only to start again. It was as if the cows were laughing at us racing back and forth after them.

Jillaroo School, Australia
Cow Chasing

Day 3
We had to get up at 6am to milk the cows. We had to sit on a small stool at the back end of the cow, not easy when the cow was stamping its feet almost knocking us off. I managed to get a few litres which, being a totally self-sufficient farm, was put in the fridge for use at breakfast.

Cow Milking, Jillaroo School
Cow Milking

In the afternoon, we rode two hours to the top paddock for our first cattle muster. A very hard task to learn, especially when you are on horseback and the cattle seemed to have other ideas. But we managed to herd them into a fenced off area where they were weighed for the owner, Brian. He was 85 years old and still riding horses, and managing his 4,600 acre farm. 4,600 acres seems huge but when you compare it to some of the other farms and sheep stations in Australia, it was actually quite small.

Cattle Muster, Jillaroo School
Cattle Muster

Day 4
Day four was spent in the forest chopping down trees which we had to debark and load onto a truck. No mean feat because we had to clamber up a slope to get the trees and the only way to get them down was to slide them down onto the dirt track. Trees are heavy! Then we had to strip them of their bark and load them onto the truck to take back to the farm.

Tree Fellng, Jillaroo School
Tree Felling

Day 5
We rode to a large field near the farm and practiced trotting and cantering which was great fun, even though it took me three attempts to get my trusty steed to comply. Rather than kicking with our feet, we learned how to control the horses with our knees, a slight squeeze is all that’s required to get your mount to move but I don’t think Lightening understood the concept of move!

Jillaroo School, Leconfield
Jillaroo School, Leconfield

Day 6
A well-deserved day off, so we went to town for more provisions, followed by lunch and a few cool beers at the local pub.

Day 7
Day seven consisted of mustering the sheep back to the farm. We caught three of them, sheared them and watched two of them get slaughtered. It was not a pretty sight but our lesson of the day was that the farm had no choice, the sheep were no more than food and wool. Even the dogs and horses had jobs to do and we were told not to pet them.  The remaining sheep looked naked after its recent shearing and appeared to be watching the massacre in terror, then it speedily retreated to the nearby field, safe for another day.

Day 8
Our second cattle muster, this time we had a go at throwing the calves. They may look very cute and cuddly but when we tried to catch them, attempt to grab their back legs and throw them on the ground, we soon realised how strong they were. We learned how to separate the male and female cows and calves in order to count them, so the farm knew they were all present and correct.

Cattle Muster, Jillaroo School
Cattle Muster

Day 9
With the trees that we had collected on day four we built the fence around the house. It was extremely hard work but thoroughly enjoyable. It was such a sense of achievement when the task was completed, even though I somehow managed to put my finger in between the hammer and the post. Ouch!

Day 10
Today’s lessons were calf branding and ear tagging. These calves were slightly bigger than the ones before, so they were much stronger. The animals were also ear marked, so they could be identified at a later date, which meant ripping a bit of its ear out. It wasn’t over for them yet because they were branded, twice if they were male, and castrated. I felt more than a little sorry for the helpless creatures.

Cow Throwing and Tagging, Jillaroo School
Cow Throwing and Tagging

Day 11
In the morning, we had a horsemanship lesson. We took our unsaddled steeds to the paddock and all stood in a circle. The ranch manager told us how the horse would respond if we gently ran our thumb from under its cheek to its shoulder, it would follow us without reins. We put it to the test by walking slowly back to the stables with the horses duly following. I think the real reason they were following us was that they knew it was feeding time! The afternoon was spent playing horsey games, egg and spoon races and races in and out of poles. It was great fun and I think even the horses enjoyed it.

I didn’t embark on this adventure thinking it was going to be a breeze in the park, it wasn’t but we learned a lot in those 11 days, not just on how to care for our horses but it was necessary to act as a team and to be able to communicate with one another. We were presented with a reference to say that we had basic experience in all the activities that we were involved with, so if I ever wanted to work as a jillaroo again then Brian’s reference was a good one to have. I had an absolutely fantastic time in Leconfield, yes it was hard work but I got to ride over some of Australia’s finest countryside and I had plenty of laughs along the way.

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How to Travel to a Destination Without Internet

How to Travel to a Destination Without Internet

These days it’s all too easy to use the internet to research a destination and find out about the country you may be visiting for things to do and places to go but what did we do before this new age of technology? I have a love hate relationship with the internet, it’s great for finding out about things and maps are especially helpful when you’re out and about but where is the fun in that? I like challenges, so here are my ideas about how to travel to a destination without using internet.

Travel Books

Invest in one or two good travel books like the Rough Guides or Lonely Planet, which really won’t take up that much room in your luggage. They are full of useful information from what a country or city is like to where to sleep and what to eat when you get there. You’ll be able to find out about the weather, the currency, practical telephone numbers and whether you need a visa. Everything the internet will tell you but isn’t it so much more satisfying to read a book and find out things that way? Maybe you’ll think differently.

Talk to People

When you land in a new country after a few days you’ll get your bearings and naturally start talking to like minded people you meet in cafes, bars or organised tours. Think of them as a resource of information and ask them about their travels so far, Where they have been? How did they get there? What did they think of it and is it worth going? They might tell you about somewhere you hadn’t thought of going yourself, so you’ll really be able to make the most out of a destination. Don’t forget chatting to the locals, they are the ones who really know what’s what so make friends and listen to what they say.

Go To a Destination Without Knowing About it First

You could pick a destination, go to the travel agent, book a flight and arrive without doing any research whatsoever. Look up places to stay in your travel books and just turn up. Keeping basic safety in mind, walk around the city exploring its many streets and alleys and see what you find, talk to others for help and advice, get on a bus to somewhere, anywhere and see where you end up. Generally just go with the flow and experience life as it happens.

Travelling without internet can be a liberating experience, you’ll become more aware of your surroundings and you’ll also experience the here and now. What an achievement it would be if we could find our way without relying on Google.

Would love to hear your thoughts 🙂

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Top 6 Parks in Bangkok

In the sprawling metropolis of Bangkok, with all its pollution and towers of concrete, who would have thought that there are pockets of green dotted across the whole of the city. The parks of Bangkok not only add to the diversity of this wonderful place but also provide a natural setting for the millions of people that call Bangkok their home to relax, exercise or simply to enjoy. Here’s a list of the top 6 parks in Bangkok for you to explore.

#1 Suan Luang Rama IX Park

Rama IX park is the most beautiful park I think I have ever visited and I go there a lot and out of the top 6 parks in Bangkok it’s my favourite. The park covers some 200 acres and has 2,300 plant species including trees, shrubs, climbers, foliage and flowering plants. The park is split into six different areas.

The Garden of the Great King with Ratchamangkala Pavilion at the centre with three ponds and different kinds of trees, plants and flowers lining each one. The layout reminds me of the Taj Mahal.

Rama IX Park, Bangkok
The Garden of the Great King

The Botanic Garden where many species of plants are used for research, conservation and education and Thakon Phrakiat Pavilion, a beautifully ornate temple that sits, all alone, in the middle of a lotus pond.

Rama IX Park, Bangkok
Thakon Phrakiat Pavilion

The Reservoir is a large lake created to reduce the effect of flooding in east Bangkok. People are able to enjoy boat rides on the lake or to practise Tai Chi on its banks.

Rama IX Park, Bangkok
The Reservoir

Romanee Garden with flowers and plants that have been taken from other parts of Thailand and used to re-create the different environments that can be found here so that people can imagine that they aren’t in Bangkok.

Rama IX Park, Bangkok
Romanee Garden

The Water Garden, a natural bog-like habitat which is home to a number of aquatic birds and animals including huge water monitors who lurk under the water waiting for their next meal.

Rama IX Park, Bangkok
The Water Garden

The Sanam Rasdara is used for outdoor performances and, at the end of each year, the lawn is filled with flowers and plants for sale, as part of the Magnificent Plants that Beautify the Suan Luang Rama IX Flowers Festival.

Rama IX Park, Bangkok
Sanam Rasdara

As well as these six areas, there is an International Garden which has different gardens from around the world. Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, English, French and Italian gardens have all been created to show the different garden styles of each country.

Rama IX Park, Bangkok
International Garden

Suan Luang Rama IX Park
Nong Bon
Bangkok
10250

Open: Daily, 5.00am-7.00pm
Admission: Free, 5.00am-9.00am and 5.00pm-7.00pm; 10 baht, 9.00am-5.00pm
Getting there: The easiest way to get there is to take the BTS to Udomsuk and take a taxi from there

#2 Lumpini Park

Lumpini Park is another favourite of mine. Located in the middle of Siam and Silom, it’s a wonderful place to relax if you are out and about. It is around 142 acres and, although not as big as Suan Luang Rama IX, it still offers a lake, where boats can be rented, paths for jogging, a wonderful variety of trees and flowers and around 30 species of birds. In the eastern corner there is a Chinese clock tower built by Italian architect, Mario Tamagno, for the Siamrath Phipitthapan Trade Fair that was held in 1925. Throughout the year Lumpini Park is host to a number of festivals such as the Bangkok Street Festival.

Lumpini Park, Bangkok
Lumpini Park, Bangkok

Lumpini Park
139/4 Witthayu Road
Pathumwan
Bangkok
10330

Open: Daily, 4.00am-9.00pm
Admission: Free
Getting there: From Sala Daeng BTS (exit 6) cross Rama IV Road

#3 Benjakitti Park

There isn’t much to Benjakiti Park, not if you compare it to some of Bangkok’s other green spaces, but located right in the middle of the city it provides some respite from the busy goings on of Sukhumvit and Asok. With a big lake in the middle and bicycle and jogging tracks that surround it, the 52 acre park sees exercise enthusiasts flock there each evening. For those that don’t fancy jogging there are bikes for hire at 50 baht an hour. There’s also a playground, skate ramps and swan boat rides for kids.

Benjakitti Park, Bangkok
Benjakitti Park, Bangkok

Benjakitti Park
Ratchadaphisek Road
Bangkok
10110

Open: Daily, 5.00am-9.00pm
Admission: Free
Gettingthere: From Asok BTS (exit 4) go down Ratchadaphisek Road and Benjakiti Park is on the right hand side

#4 Benchasiri Park

Located next to Emporium Shopping Mall is the humble Benchasiri Park. At only 11.6 acres, it is one of the smallest parks but, due to its central location, it’s still a popular place. Suan Benchasiri means Park Commemorating the Fifth Cycle Birthday Anniversary and it was built to honour the 60th birthday of Queen Sirikit in 1992. Surrounding a central lake, there are many species of trees and plants, as well as several sculptures, areas to skateboard for the younger generation and exercise or just to sit and relax.

Benchasiri Park, Bangkok
Benchasiri Park, Bangkok

Benchasiri Park
Sukhumvit Road (Between sois 22-24)
Khlong Toei
Bangkok
10110

Open: Daily, 5.00am-9.00pm
Admission: Free
Getting There: Phrom Phong BTS

#5 Chatuchak Park

Located in Chatuchak district, the park is around 75 acres and was opened in 1980, making it one of Bangkok’s oldest parks. There is a train museum in the park and a lake in the centre with a few bridges crossing it. It is a popular place, especially in the evenings, for people to go and enjoy the cooler temperature by the lake. It is situated right by the BTS and MRT stations and Chatuchak Weekend Market and JJ Mall are nearby.

Chatuchak Park, Bangkok
Chatuchak Park, Bangkok

Chatuchak Park
Chatuchak
Bangkok
10900

Open: Daily, 4.30am-9.00pm
Admission: Free
Getting There: Mo Chit BTS, or Chatuchak MRT

#6 Rot Fai Gardens

I happened upon this beautiful oasis by accident when I visited Chatuchak Park but it’s so much quieter than Chatuchak, almost as if not many people know about it. What used to be a golf course which was converted to a green space for the people of the city, there are actually three parks in one, Rot Fai Gardens, Wachirabenchathat Park and Queen Sirikit Park. It spans 150 acres and it feels like you are entering private property until the landscape opens up to green expanses with huge palm trees and flowers of every colour. There are fountains in the pools which dance to music and a butterfly garden, although there are plenty of butterflies fluttering around the park itself, as well as birds and other animals, like the water monitors that frequent these spaces in the city.

Rot Fai Gardens, Bangkok
Rot Fai Gardens, Bangkok

Rot Fai Gardens
Kamphaeng Phet 3 Road
Chatuchak
Bangkok
10900

Open: 4.30am-9.00pm
Admission: Free
Getting there: Chatuchak BTS. Walk through Chatuchak Park and cross over Kamphaeng Phet 3 Road

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A Short Tale of Ceviche

Cancun, Mexico
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Beach_Cancun.JPG

In 2000, I took a trip to Cancun in Mexico, with my boyfriend and his family because his sister was getting married and they had chosen the Moon Palace for the venue.

The wedding was fabulous and the hotel was stunning with several restaurants, a huge pool, bedrooms with a hot tub for two, and ocean views. Most of the time we just hung around the hotel, but me and my bf ventured out alone a couple of times.

One day, we were chilling on the beach when we started talking to this Mexican guy who turned out to be a fisherman. As the day progressed he told us that he was going on a fishing trip the next day and would we like to tag along. Yes, of course we would, although the boat didn’t look up to ocean travel, we weren’t going to pass a chance up like this. We agreed to meet the next day and off we went all excited about the prospect of the day ahead.

The following day, we met the guy as arranged and he told us that we couldn’t go fishing because the sea was a little rough and it wouldn’t make for a very successful day’s catch. Although, we didn’t really fancy our chances in the tiny boat he had, we were so disappointed and we resigned ourselves to find something else to do.

The guy said, it’s okay you don’t have to leave, I have some fish that I caught already in the fridge, so why don’t we hang out and I will make you dinner. Our frowns turned upside down and we cracked open some cold beers. The beach was the perfect setting for our little impromptu day, the wind lazily blowing as we sat in deck chairs, watching the blue ocean crashing onto the white sand.

Our new found friend produced a tray of my first ever dish of ceviche, raw fish flavoured with lime, chilli and coriander, with potato crisps to scoop it up, so simple yet very delicious, I can still taste it now.

We had a fab day, ceviche on the beach, cold beer, sun shining, new friend=simple pleasures in life and some fond memories.

Stranded in Tunis

Tunis, Tunisia
Source: https://global.britannica.com/place/Tunis

In 1989, I took my first ever foreign holiday to Hammamet, in Tunisia, with my boyfriend, at the time. It was exciting, to say the least, to be going on holiday somewhere new and exotic.

The first few days we just explored Hammamet. We relaxed on the beach and took the obligatory camel ride. We even got dressed up, as Bedouins, to enjoy a traditional feast out in the desert. So far, so good.

One day, as we relaxed on the beach, a guy approached us. He asked if I had any European money, because, apparently, he could sell it on the black market for a higher price. Being a little naïve, I opened my purse and began rooting around for some change. Meanwhile, he was coming closer with a jacket over his arm which I hadn’t noticed. After a few minutes, we realised that he was going to try and snatch my purse and we chased him away.

Afterwards, we heard of the very same thing happening to others in the same resort. So we counted ourselves lucky that he didn’t manage to succeed.

A few days later, another guy came up to us selling oranges. When we told him we didn’t want any he ran off with my sunglasses which were lying on the sand. So, you can imagine, we were feeling a little bit hacked off with all this dishonesty. We asked ourselves:

“Why did we come here?”

“Why are people trying to steal from us all the time?”

So, in an attempt to forget about this and make the most out of what remained of our holiday, we took a trip to Tunis. The tour took us to the Medina, in Tunis, Carthage, to see the ancient ruins, and Sidi Bou Said, a beautiful seaside town with blue and white buildings. It would be a great day out. Or would it?

We got up for an early breakfast, excited at the idea of a day out of Hammamet.  We met the tour bus and off we went. The journey took around an hour and we arrived in Tunis late morning. The bus dropped us at the Medina and the tour guide told us we had a couple of hours to explore.

The Medina is the old town of Tunis, which is a tourist attraction in itself.  We went into the souk and wandered through its many alleyways, going this way and that. We saw stalls selling everything you can imagine. From jewellery and perfumes to books and kitchenware. It was full of colour, with traditional clothes and shoes, beautiful silks and blankets everywhere we looked. The smells of the fresh bread and spices found their way to our nostrils.  We were so engrossed in all the hustle and bustle that we almost didn’t realise what happened next.

My boyfriend was carrying a backpack, and he suddenly turned to me, and said:

“I think someone has slashed my bag!”

So we stopped in our tracks and checked the bag. Sure enough, there was a rip in the bottom of it. Luckily, his wallet was in the inner pocket of the backpack, so it was still there. The alleyways were so narrow that there was no choice but to brush up against people on the way passed them. So a thief had taken advantage of that and tried to rob us. Again!

By this point, we had been in the souk for a while and thought it would be best to leave and find the bus again, so we could go to our next destination. So feeling a little dejected at all this thievery, we backtracked and made our way out.

The souk had many, many alleyways, all going in different directions, so it was very easy to get lost. And we did.

We tried to find the way out, and every time we thought we knew the way, we came to a dead end or ended up back where we had started. It was like a maze. And knowing little of the language, our attempts to ask someone were thwarted. Panic was rising. How were we to get out? We had a bus to meet. Would the bus wait? Surely the bus would wait.

The bus didn’t wait.

We eventually found our way out and, thoroughly relieved to be out in an open space again, we searched for the bus. There were lots of buses. One of them must have been ours. No. The bus had left. We were stranded in Tunis.

How could the bus have left us?

What were we to do?

Our earlier feeling of dejection had now turned into one of despair. And our faith in the Tunisian people had all but gone. People had tried to rob us three times, and now we had been left in Tunis by the bus tour. We sat for a moment, tried to calm down, and thought about what we were going to do.

A few minutes later, a Tunisian guy came up to us and asked what was wrong. He could obviously see we were a little agitated.

“Are you guys ok?” he said. His English was perfect.

We looked at him and, trying to keep calm, explained what had happened.

“I can’t believe this,” he said, “I am sorry you have experienced these things when you are visiting my country.”

“Don’t worry. I will take you to find the bus.”

We couldn’t conceive what he had just said to us.

“We can’t expect you to do that” we replied.

“It’s OK. I want to help you. But first I have to go home and get changed. You go to the mosaic museum and I will meet you outside in an hour.”

So, off he went and we made our way to the mosaic museum which was close by. All the time we were thinking There is no way he is going to come back! There is no way he is going to take us to find the bus!

How wrong we were.

We went to the mosaic museum and an hour later we were outside. As promised, the guy met us there and took us for lunch at a local café. We couldn’t believe how kind he was.

After lunch, we got into his car and we drove to Carthage, which was the next stop for the tour bus. The bus wasn’t there. So we had a quick look around. Then it was back in the car to Sidi Bou Said.

The bus was there.

We couldn’t thank this guy enough. We couldn’t believe this complete stranger had come to our rescue and taken time out of his day to help us.

We exchanged names and addresses with a promise of keeping in touch, which we did for a while. And now, 28 years later, even though I can’t remember his name, I will always remember his act of kindness towards us. People like that really do restore your faith in the world.

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Indian Ocean

www.talkingthailand.co.uk/indianocean
Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka

Indian Ocean, blue and bright
Beautiful, but hidden might

Spanning the globe from the west
It touches the shores of Asia
And further east

The crashing waves
The calm of the tide
It has many guises
You need to keep it on your side

Indian Ocean you are so majestic
Hiding life, sustaining life
You keep some delights from sight

Mesmerizing

Awe-inspiring

Magnificent

Our Indian Ocean

Author
Gill Morris

Educating Yourself

www.talkingthailand.co.uk/educatingyourself
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Knowledge-is-Power-Wikimedia.png

It’s only now, later on in my life, that I love to learn about things. When I was at school I, like many others, didn’t want to learn. It was a chore to be there and all I wanted to do was to leave and get out into the big wide world.

If I had been privy to the joys of learning back then, I would have paid more attention and I certainly would have gone to university. I stayed on for a year in the sixth form, where I buckled down a bit more and, in the end, I left with 3 O levels and a couple of CSEs.

I started work when I was 18, and I had a few jobs where I had to do loads of training courses to learn how to do certain tasks, but, still, it wasn’t because I wanted to do them. I had no choice.

In 1994, I started an Open University degree. It was an Open degree, so I could choose any courses I wanted to make up the 300 or 360 points I needed in order to obtain the full degree. I chose to do science and biology, brain, and behaviour, because that’s the sort of thing I was interested in. I passed, but only just. After that, my life got in the way, so to speak. I met someone new and started a new job. There was no time to study. I guess this is one of my regrets in life, that I didn’t continue.

However, after moving to Thailand, I decided to pick up where I left off. So, in 2010, I started a psychology course which I passed with distinction. I was so thrilled with this result, it spurred me on and I continued with my studies and did courses in philosophy, grammar, and myth in the Greek and Roman worlds. 3 years later, I finally achieved a Bachelor of Science, with honours no less. I was as proud as punch when I went to the degree ceremony, with my mum, to receive my award.

I realised that studying later on in life, for me, was a good thing. I achieved much better results than I ever did all those years ago. I even did two courses at the same time and I could easily sit down all day and study. It was hard work and, sometimes, I would be tearing my hair out because I didn’t understand something, but I loved every minute of every course. As a mature student, I found that studying was such a pleasure.

When I had finished with my degree, I was so lost without it. I didn’t know what to do with myself. So, I continued to learn. I taught myself to speak and write Thai and I learned a little Hindi. I have to say I am nowhere near fluent, but I am still learning today, albeit sporadically. I’ve got a long way to go yet though. I read books and if there is a word or concept I am unsure of I will research it. I learn about places or people I don’t know about and I’ve completed a few English language courses to give me more ideas and understanding to help me in my job.

There are many things that you can learn about, and I find I don’t have enough time to learn everything, but it’s something I will continue to do and make it my goal to learn something new every day.

Do you enjoy learning?

Fun in the Maldives

www.talkingthailand.co.uk/maldives
Source: https://www.villahotels.com/en/resort/fun-island

Bodufinolhu, or Fun Island, is the most idyllic island I have ever stayed on. I will always remember my trip there because I went on my honeymoon many years ago.

Located on the South Male Atoll, Fun Island is 37 km from Male International Airport. You can chose a 45 minute ride by speed boat, or an hour and a half by the local dhoni boat, if you prefer a more leisurely way to travel. We chose the slower route, so we could really appreciate just how beautiful this part of the world is.

Our room came with its own private beach area, with our own little piece of the Indian Ocean lapping peacefully onto the pristine white sand. It really felt like there was no one else there, which makes it perfect for honeymooners and romantic getaways.

Even though the island is just 700m long and 168m wide, there was loads of stuff to do like diving, beach volleyball and canoeing. For the less active, there was fishing, sunset cruising, or dolphin safaris, or simply relaxing on the beach or swimming in the warm, crystal clear water. My husband and I went on the dolphin safari which was fabulous, made even more so when a pod of around thirty dolphins showed up and surfed in the bow of the boat for a while. It was so tempting to jump in with them and join in their fun, although they might have had other ideas.

We spent a lot of our time in the water snorkeling. The water was so clear and very shallow, but as we swam further out we approached the drop off which is where shallow turns to very deep, very blue water. We went snorkeling along the drop off a few times and, I have to admit, it was a little nerve racking because we didn’t know what was going to come out of the abyss. In fact, one day a huge manta ray appeared from the depths below and silently swam right by us. Another time, we saw a shark in the distance, but we soon realised that it was circling us. I screamed “shark!” into my snorkel and decided that would be a good time to get out of the water for a while. I am sure the shark was just being nosy and it wouldn’t have bothered us, but we were in its territory, so we weren’t taking any chances! Back on the beach, we were so excited and a little terrified at what had just happened.

Near to Fun Island was a much smaller, uninhabited atoll, so one day we decided to wade our way across to investigate. The two islands didn’t seem that far apart, so we thought it would be a piece of cake. Luckily, it was fairly shallow which gave us the confidence to continue. As we splished and splashed our way across, we realised that this was not going to be as easy as we had first thought because the current between the two islands was very, very strong. We kept getting knocked off our feet and, to add to that, rays and sharks were swimming swiftly passed us, inches away from our ankles. Our splashing must have been attracting them! We didn’t make it to the atoll the first day, we thought it best to give up. It was exhausting! We weren’t giving up though, we tried again the next day and we finally made it. We were the only two people stupid enough to try, but we were rewarded for our efforts and we spent a glorious hour or so on the little atoll with no one else around.

The dining facilities were excellent and there was a great range of delicious local and international food on offer. The one thing that put me off was the fact that we had to share tables with complete strangers, but they weren’t strangers for long I am happy to say. It was actually a good way to meet other people there, and we spent the evenings with our new found friends in the bar enjoying the nightly entertainment with the usual drinks and cocktails.

During the evenings, we walked to the end of the jetty with bread, leftover from dinner, to feed the fish. I think they had cottoned on to the fact that this was where they got extra food, because no sooner as we had thrown the first piece in, hundreds of beautiful fish congregated until the bread had all gone. Then they buggered off when they knew there was no more. Actually, I don’t think fish are capable of thinking such things, but it was still a sight to see. I realised then, that it’s the simple things that can give you the most enjoyment. We walked to the end of the jetty most days as well and one day we saw bubbles breaking the surface of the water. At first, we thought it was a group of divers, but it was a small pod of dolphins coming up for air. It was so thrilling! The best part was, they graced us with their presence every single day. It was such a pleasure watching them when they were so close to us.

The summer season in the Maldives is from December to April during the dry season, which means that during this time it’s also high season, so things may get packed out quickly. We visited the Maldives in November when there can be rainfall due to the northeast monsoons. But, apart from a few cloudy days we still enjoyed ourselves there and it was still hot. So never let the rainy season put you off and if you’re a diver, it’s the perfect time because the water is clearer and there is better visibility.

I said at the start, I visited the Maldives many years ago, a time before smartphones and Facebook. I don’t have any photographs of my time there, but it’s stuck in my head forever. I’d love to go back one day, it’s on my list of places to go. It’s a stunning destination, a romantic getaway, a place to gather your thoughts. The Maldives could be anything you want it to be. It really is the stuff of dreams.

Versatile Blogger Award

Versatile Blogger Award

Thank you so much to Imageearthtravel for this award. I feel very honoured that Nilla took the time to do this. It is an inspiration and gives me the motivation to continue with my own blogging venture.

My nominees are:

www.kmihran.wordpress.com A blog with wonderful words and music

www.ceesshowcase.com Stunning photography

www.thewallgalleryblog.wordpress.com A creative art and photography blog

www.skip22037.com Wonderful walks which make you feel like you are there

www.clare-n-dean.com Thoughts and creativity from Australia

www.latitudesandattitudes.net Travel, photography and life from South East Asia

www.jdubqca.com Wonderful words in the form of poetry

www.aaronjoelsantos.wordpress.com Awesome photography

www.paintdigi.com Artistic creations and ideas

www.enchantedforests.wordpress.com Discovering the magic of forests

www.aquileana.wordpress.com Lessons from mythology

www.utesmile.wordpress.com Inspirational thoughts and positive thinking

www.theinsatiabletraveler.com Adventure, photography and inspiration

www.secretartexpedition.wordpress.com A personal exhibition of an artist

www.spardhak.wordpress.com Health, fitness, quotations and random life

7 Facts About Me:

  1. I won a bronze medal at tap-dancing when I was a child.
  2. At 17, I was a model and one of my jobs was to promote fireworks. I got my photographs in the Daily Express and Torquay Times.
  3. I came second in a body-building competition (when I used to have abs!)
  4. My favourite food is Indian and pizza. I could eat it every day.
  5. I love all things to do with nature and the natural world. One of my heroes is David Attenborough.
  6. I love wine, but I hate hangovers.
  7. I exercise most days. I love to run, swim, and work out in the gym.

🙂

 

 

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