Monday, January 31, 2011
Male > Colombo
By 11am we’d landed at Bandaranaike International, where an old mate from the Maldives met us with a characteristic Sri Lankan smile and “Hello Machang!” With his surfboard strapped safely to the roof of his Toyota sedan and ours stowed between the seats, we set off into the madness of Colombo. The hustle and bustle is mesmerizing. The roads are packed bumper-to-bumper, while cows and people of every shape and size cram the pavements. And as with many other Asian capitals, everything just clicks.
By midday we’d reached the city centre and the spot where Shiran had to dump us and move off to deal with more pressing business. But not before a provisional surf sesh was penciled in for a few days hence. We were duly loaded into a van and taken on to our home for the night, Casa Colombo. It had been an outside bet due to it being part of a package trip, but turned out to be this ridiculously larny old mansion, recently restored. Double king-sized beds, thick carpets, fluffy white gowns, spiral staircases, the works. Needless to say the night was restful and by morning we were ready to hunt surf and spirituality.
Colombo > Rambukkana > Kandy
Within the hour we were off the train at Rambukkana and onto a tuk tuk bound for Pinnewala Elephant sanctuary. Despite having just about grown-up amongst the elephants of the Eastern Cape, the sight of these incredible animals, even in a semi-wild state, always makes one feel miniscule. The age, strength and understanding of an elephant is mesmerizing and for hours we sat quietly watching them bathe in the waters of the (Pinnewala); wise, old eyes alert as they splashed and sprayed water over themselves and the rest of the herd.
By mid-afternoon it had started to drizzle, prompting us into action as far as buses and the next leg of our trip were concerned. Once more we were back amongst the madness of a sub-continent afternoon as we stood clutching our backpacks as our bus bobbed and weaved past vehicles both in our lane and on-coming. We were just about still alive when two-and-a-half hours later we arrived in Kandy, last capital of the old kingdom. Off to the tried and tested Ye Olde Empire Inn we went, holding out for a hot shower and a place to watching the Boks play rugby against Wales later on in the evening – neither of which happened unfortunately.
Kandy > Nuwara Eliya
Revitalized and ready to take on the new day, we head for a little bakery called, funnily enough, ‘The Bake House’ for fresh croissant and top-notch cappucinos. From there it’s on to the chaos of the main bus stop (our first of the trip) to see if we can flag down anything headed in the direction of the mountains of Nuwara Eliya. Dubbed ‘Little England’ for its rolling, green hills and chilly temperatures, the sleepy hollow is a good place to catch a tea tasting and to generally just unwind in fresh mountain air. The bus trip is idyllic and comfortable and within no time we’re docked in Little England and furiously hunting down the King Fern Guest House. Eventually we round a bend and there she lies, nestled away among a forest of ferns (believe it or not) on the hillside. It’s bloody chilly out, something we didn’t really expect despite everybody saying as much, and we hit a long, hot shower and wrap up in longs and a jersey before we’re ready to do anything again. The afternoon session kicked off with lunch in the village followed by a very short walk around the fabled Nuwara Eliya market and off up the rise to St Andrews Hotel for a few quick rounds of S#*THEAD. Soaking up Britain’s imperial majesty of old and a few G&T’s as the sun dipped beyond the tea plantations was lekker. Not quite a heavy right-hander on Sri Lanka’s tropical south coast, but a very close second.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Kudahuvadhoo, Dhaal Atoll - July 2009
For that first hour, the majority of which was in darkness, we chatted away about the possibilities of what might await us. Our guide knew a little more than us for obvious reasons and let us in on the secrets of a very seldom visited, unnamed surf break that worked beautifully when the swell was big. He also mentioned the amazing fishing in Dhaal and the stark beauty of some of the uninhabited islands in and around Kudahuvadhoo (“Kuda”), the Atoll capital. But pretty soon that sun was up and the tropical heat blazed down on us from a cloudless, blue sky as our launch carried us amongst reefs (Faru), sandbanks (Fingahlu)and palm tree covered islands and on towards our destination.
It was unanimously decided that we weren’t going to wait around for the weather report and would just go ahead and arrange fishing gear for the evening. Fishing gloves, strong line and round, plastic contraptions to tie our lines onto were procured; along with a fishing dhoni (wooden boats), food for the evening and the inevitable bucket load of bait that we’d be needing. With our dhoni stocked and enough fishing tackle and bait to see us through to the next millennium, we headed off into the late afternoon.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Once back on the boat, the heavens opened once more – drenching us, but also putting the cap on some incredible diving and a memorable morning amongst the natural elements.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
And as good an excuse as any to get off the mother island and away to the south; hunting for surf, a bit of fresh seafood and some chill time somewhere a little less frenetic than Male.
Both pretty stuffed after a hot and tiring week at the coalface, it wasn't long before we were both sprawled out on top deck, hats covering our faces and light sea-breeze bringing welcome respite from the searing midday sun. Needless to say, we didn't see much on our way down, apart from a very decent 2-3 foot of swell breaking off Kandooma, and arrived at Guraidhoo at 4ish. The ferry was packed to the rafters with folk coming away for the Eid break and they poured out onto the island now. It suddenly dawned on us that a spot to sleep for 2 nights might not be that easy to come by. Fortunately we were lucky enough to bump into our old mate Adam at the Surfers Shack and he arranged us a twin room at Riptides, which suited us down to the ground.
The rest of the evening past uneventfully and by 7am we were back on the Male bound ferry boat, relaxed and recovered and into the final stretch of 2010.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
The Players: Aussies, Kiwis, Saffers, Yanks, Russians and English.
The Venue: Central Atolls (South Male/Meemu)
The Drink: Katemba (Red Wine & Coke)
The Dream: Five days of 'Good, clean living'
It all kicked off on a breezy, sundrenched Male morning with the loading of boards and the collection of our last guest from the airport. Within minutes of his arrival we had all been ferried out to the awaiting Safari boat, handed a cold beverage and and made our way onto the top deck. Surf in Maldives and their entourage were underway with a decent sized south-east swell due to arrive tomorrow and fill out by Wednesday...
Day 1: Male Airport - Kandooma/Guraidhoo (South Male)
Well, the swell certainly hadn't struck by the time we reached Guraidhoo (Natives), but we live in hope and five of us paddled out into 1ft surf off Kandooma Resort for an aperitif. The break didn't get any bigger, but we all had an absolute jol riding party waves and just generally stuffing around getting used to the boards. By 6pm the surfers were back aboard the safari boat and a cheeky tropical sunset set the tone for the rest of the night.
Day 2: Guraidhoo - Muli (Meemu)
Day 3: Muli - Formula One break - Rabban Dhihuraa
Most of the afternoon was spent cruising across to the other side of the atoll where we 'moored' (anchored) just off another uninhabited island. The snorkellers amongst us hadn't seen much action yet and were gone before we even had the anchor down. The reef turned out exceptional and untouched, and teaming with fish. This session was followed by another quick game of skim cricket, a few cold ones and a serious hand injury to our mid wicket fielder after another searing pull shot from Bombski. The late evening was spent around a freshly prepared fish braai (barbeque), laid out amongst home-made candles and palm frond cushions, and put to bed with night fishing and a full round of cigars.
Day 4: Rabban Dhihuraa - Kandooma - Riheveli
Day 5: Riheveli - Male - Dhonveli
And so it happened that the most epic surf conditions of my two years in the Maldives were to happen on our last morning at Kandooma Point. The waves mellow and nobody else in the surf; Amber, Andy, Wardy and myself paddled out to meet the advancing train of picture perfect wave trains. Despite being a fairly heavy break onto a shallow reef, they averaged 3-4 foot and broke beautifully from right to left. Without a breath of wind and not a cross current in sight, we sat and chewed the proverbial cud for close on 3 hours before finally calling it a day on a cracking surf trip into the central atolls. The rest of the day would pan out pretty chilled in comparison despite a stopover at Chaaya Dhonveli.Until the next time...
Good clean livin'!
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Friday, July 30, 2010
The wildness of the Indian Ocean has calmed down, the wind and rain seem to have subsided for the time being and everything is back to normal on Male, the island capital of the Maldives.
Got a call from James mid-morning and snuck down to Male Point (‘Towns’) to have a look at conditions. With the sun out, a light westerly blowing and 2-3ft swell it was a great opportunity to get into the waves after the massive conditions of the last week. I spent perhaps an hour catching cheeky lefts with a young Brazilian girl called Mariana and then went off to meet my girlfriend for lunch. Life is good in the archipelago.
“Boat-trips (Surf In Maldives Pvt Ltd.) and the occasional surf camp are the only ways to surf this unique group of 1,200 coral islands based around 26 atolls. Typically the reefs passes are deeper than in Indonesia and the South Pacific with classic set-ups abounding. Swells travelling south-west across to Indonesia bestow part of their energy on this chain before continuing their journey. Separated into the North Atolls and South Atolls (the south has the most spots) the region boasts year-round swell with high period being March to April. Two monsoon seasons, the north-east monsoon from December to April and the south west monsoon, from May to October breaks up the surfing season shifting the focus from north to south accordingly. Predominantly reef-passes, waves like Sultans and Tiger Stripes have developed deserved reputations for epic barrels and raw Indian Ocean power. Sea temperatures remain steady at about 27ºC or 81ºF.” Magic Seaweed