Thursday, June 08, 2006

Maldives, Part 1: Arrival

Things you don't want to hear from your pilot just before a flight:

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is your Captain speaking. On behalf of the crew, I'd like to welcome you to Singapore Airlines flight ... er .... flight ... SQ ... [rustling sound of paper] ... SQ .... SQ ... 452, flight SQ 452 to the Maldives"

Not the most confidence-inspiring thing when your pilot can't remember the name of his flight. Nevertheless, the flight itself went fine. Arriving at the airport, the wife and I had plenty of time to admire the script used in Maldivian writing ...


...because we stood almost an hour in the queue. Nevertheless, once that was done with, we speedily got on our boat (the first time I've been on a boat transfer where the boat has cushy leather seats in an airconditioned interior) and arrived at Kurumba.


Once we got to Kurumba, we discovered that the next day was World Environment Day, to be marked by tree planting (something very familiar to Singaporeans) and reef cleaning, with resort guests invited to participate. We both signed up for it, with the wife joining the scuba divers and me joining the snorklers cleaning the lagoon, since I only just started my scuba course that very day (more about the diving in another post).

For the first 15 minutes, I despaired of finding any rubbish to clean up at all. That lagoon was clean - and any foreign matter that was there had already been grown-over so much by the marine life that it was better to leave it where it was. I swam round scouring the bottom with my eyes finding nothing except sea cucumbers, and some very irritated fish.

About 20 minutes in, a consolation prize floated right into my face - a small piece of torn plastic. Aha - now I could return to shore with my head held high, with proof that I actually cleaned up something, rather than, say, just snorkling around in a beautiful tropical lagoon having fun.

The real jackpot came a few minutes later though, in the form of a shoe. An entire, whole, heavy-duty workman's shoe drifting along the bottom. Jackpot. Real trash - something worthy to be cleaned-up.

The problem started there: for the snorklers cleaning the lagoon, the single trash bag had been given to a nice German lady in a kayak. She was supposed to roam around the lagoon, and we were supposed to deposit our rubbish with her. I lost track of her while running my search pattern, and once I started looking for her, I realised she was off on the other side of the lagoon. Failing to establish eye contact, I spent the next 5 minutes with a shoe in one hand, a small piece of torn plastic in the other, finning like mad towards a kayak that seemed to be always moving away from me. My quota of exercise for the day.

We got a t-shirt each (picture above), and spiffy certificates (which I'm using as a mousepad right now) with our names on it, proving to the world how environmentally conscious we were.

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