Hulhumale, Maldives to Kochi, India
Day 183: Country #22
The hotel manager was very surprised when I told him that I had walked around almost all of Male and Villingili islands in one day. Our conversation shifted to life on those islands and how crowded and expensive it was. I then learned that Hulmumale and the airport was all reclaimed land, built mainly by the Chinese. This was a shocking revelation because it meant that China helped the Maldives more than double the entire country’s landmass and raised it above sea level risk. I guess no more underwater parliament sessions needed.
The residential blocks and other buildings were also Chinese construction and helped alleviate housing affordability problems. This situation felt a lot like the land reclamation work I saw and heard about in Sri Lanka, so I wanted to investigate further.
I walked north along the main road to a blank section on my map until I reached a beach and a small diving school where I talked to one of the instructors about life on Hulmumale and confirmed what I heard earlier.
Then I reached the edge of an artificial river which separated the island between north and south. There was only one road connecting the communities on the south side from the barren sand to the north. I wondered what purpose the separation served and how the north would be utilized.
As I headed back toward Central Park, a large circular open space covering up to 20% of the island, I observed endless rows of construction projects as well as a constant stream of seaplanes flying down almost as if they would crash into the unexpected new skyline.
From Central Park, I cut back to the hotel, seeing the early stages of a new shopping center/street along the way. Then I made one last visit to the beach.
I realize that my experience of the Maldivian ocean paradise does not at all align with sipping beers on white sandy beaches, but that’s because I want to learn about these countries and enhance my knowledge of the world in the most money efficient way that I can think of. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy a few moments sitting in one of the Maldive’s unique hammock-like chairs, relaxing by the water, enjoying its serene beauty.
I scheduled the flight back to mainland India to allowed me to see the numerous atolls surrounding the hundreds of islands dotting the horizon. At times, it was difficult to discern where the ocean met the sky. I’m reminded of the translucent blue waters in Atauro, Timor Leste, but at a much more expansive level.
The sense of serenity was quickly broken upon arrival to Kochi, the capital of Kerala, India, but I was looking forward to returning to civilization. The bus to the city was pretty easy to find and after a fair distance, I finally reached the older part of the city and tourist center. The geographic shape of the district reminded me of the San Francisco peninsula.
It was dark by the time I checked into the guesthouse, but I walked around to the northern shore to find food and see the Chinese Fishing Nets among a few other small attractions.
It may be difficult to pack a full beach towel, but you don’t need to because a smaller microfiber towel is thinner and lighter and can be even more effective at drying. Find a size that’s long enough to wrap around your shoulders and chest.