Monday, December 15, 2014

Gulhifushi: Anantara's Desert Island (Maldives Diaries)

The sun was partially out after lunch so I had to take some more photos.  Overcast skies provided convenient protection against the otherwise unhealthy sun. I rushed to the reception to arrange for a shuttle that would take me to Gulhi Fushi. The ride didn't even take 5 minutes, way past Naladhu to the right and Veli to the left. It was a small island populated by 2 waiting staff: the charming Gayan and the bright-eyed Amsal.

Gulhi Fushi (“Paradise Island”) is small you could walk around and across it in 15 minutes. There’s a bar/restaurant, a kitchen, an ocean pool (6 feet deep) and several cabanas with light green bean bags. There’s a white cot where the sand bag is. 

During low tide, this sand bar turns up allowing leisurely walk to Veli, reminding me of the islands in Rihivelli. Gayan kept giving gifts, it was embarrassing: from apples to “magic drinks” which he specially concocted. Later that afternoon, he’d challenge me to guess the contents: I got 3 out of 4. Mango, lemon, passion fruit and – finally! – “bitter lemon”.  He was quite pleased I didn't get the last one. The younger and bashful Amsal, assigned to the kitchen, didn't get it either. We laughed as we guessed. “You’re crazy,” I had to chuckle.

Adorable pair of Gayan and Amsal, Gulhifushi's only inhabitants.

Miracle drink
Before leaving the island, Gayan offered the catch of the day, one that isn't on the menu. I ordered two because I wanted a slice of seafood gastronomy: grouper with rice ($39) and white snapper with rice ($39) and Gayan’s “miracle drink” ($12). 

The garoupa was heavenly: it was tender and melted in the mouth and way tastier than any fresh catch I’ve tasted in a long time – and I am not even a fish person. Curiously, there were a hundred flies circling our food. “It’s the bone that smells  that drives the flies in,” Gayan said.

Earlier, I asked Gayan why dogs were prohibited all over the Maldives. “They are dirty, like pigs,” he said. I countered, “But I know of Malaysianwho even have half a dozen dogs. Dogs are common in Malaysia.” “Aww, they’re not all-Muslims,” he replied. 

Maldives prohibits a lot of things: alcohol, any religious propaganda, dogs, pigs, bikinis (unless you’re on “privately-leased resort islands”, where you follow the rules set by the resort owner).

After early supper (5PM), I hopped back on a shuttle and went straight to the souvenir shop and got a CD. I still had $40 left and if I don’t consume it, it doesn’t get refunded. I bought Ahmed's "Dhaalu Raa", a Maldivian CD with vocals at $49. Turns out, the souvenir shop isn't part of the “consumable items” so I had to pay cash for this. Even a post card here is more expensive – a dollar a piece. It was 2 pieces for a dollar at Fihalhohi.

The artist, Ahmed Nasheed (left), spins Maldivian rhythms with a minimum of instruments: guitars, drums, sax, bass, organ and euphonium, mixing boduberu (a traditional music and dance form employing 3-4 drums and a thumping beat) and dhandi (a popular folk dance usually participated by 30 men and believed to have originated from the Minicoy Islands), with lilting sound characteristic of music from seaside villages. I was of course pleased with myself despite parting with my $49.

I settled my account then rushed back to my speedboat for my ride back to Maafushi. Before that, I saw a manta ray leisurely floating close to the shoreline while a heron (or crane) looks on. The fowls and fauna of these islands are amazing. Suddenly, $178 was clearly worth every cent, including what I wasn’t able to “consume”. I was pleased with myself.

This is the Eye in the Sky!

Secluded area to relax in.

It literally means "Paradise Island".

Natural Ocean Pool. they've sequestered a cove where sea water could rush in creating a natural pool.

Fish is cooked wrapped in banana leaf and served liked this. It's like unwrapping a gift at Chritmas.

Garoupa was beyond deicious although its "fishy' stench tends to overpower.

White snapper tasted fresh and delectable.

Gulhifushi's main lobby.

At sun down, the waters reced and a sand bar appears moving towards neighboring Veli.

Anantara's smaller Gulhi (Gulhifushi) and the local island of Gulhi are in this area map.


Ramakrishnan said...

Such a glorious and breathtaking island-so idyllic and picturesque !

eye in the sky said...

Thanks, Ram. I love how it seems "deserted". Like having a private island of your own.