I know that we’re all supposed to hate Mondays and usually, I do. Or at least I do when I’m in the UK, leading a more expected life.
One of the interesting things about travelling is that you often forget what day of the week you’re on. Right now, I’m not 100 percent sure what day it is, one second I’ll check – it’s Sunday.
If I were back in the UK, then I would be glad to be off work but the looming presence of Monday, the new work week, would be haunting my every action. Like the day after leg day or the repercussions of when you order a meal for 4 from the Indian takeaway, and there is only one of you.
On that note (I’ll get back to Mondays in a minute), we’re actually in India right now and have just ordered a takeaway, it’s an Indian take away, or… well is it just a takeaway?
A couple of weeks back we were lucky enough to stay in the White Pearl Resort in Mozambique. This is near a busy little tourist town called Ponta Do Ouro. By town I mean a couple of shops and restaurants set just off a pretty beach. Plus, a range of low-key resorts set into the tree-lined hillside.
White Pearl is swanky. I mean, over £1000 a night swanky. Thankfully, we were invited to stay, which is handy as everything we own amounts to less than £1000.
We were there for three days in a private bungalow with our own butler. All meals, all food. As I’m sure you can imagine, Alex and I can eat our own body weight in food a day, so we probably cost them £1000 in food alone.
Getting back to my distant point about Mondays. The resort arranged a day of activities for us that just happened to fall on a Monday. It started with diving with man-eating sharks, though as I write this, it sounds like they resented letting us stay, but no, we chose to dive with the potential killers.
Doing a backwards roll from the side of a boat is disorientating at the best of times – have you tried it? – But when the first thing you see when you look down is two huge bull sharks, it takes all one’s nerve not to head off to the surface screaming out bubbles as you do so.
The dive was at a place called The Pinnacles which are basically the tops of underwater mountains. We descended down to around 30m (100ft), which is very deep. At the bottom, a chunky, 1m (3ft) fish, called a Grouper, took a liking to me and decided that he wanted to get as close to my mask as possible.
So, let me take you to the scene - there are three or four bull sharks dotted around. Then at one point a hammerhead shark. To have this inquisitive fish try and eat my mask was a little challenging. In the end, I had to fend him off with my tank tapper – which is a bit of metal, that looks a lot like a thin sword, that you top your tank with to signal other divers. So yes, I basically played ‘On Guard’ with a big fat fish while surrounded by huge sharks.
Now given what a usual Monday looks like, getting out of bed, wondering why the weekend is so short and quite often wishing you were dead (just me?) – this shark experience made this Monday a winner. Yet it didn’t stop there.
After that, we were asked if we wanted to go on a horse ride down the beach. Now, I rarely turn down new experiences, but I am not a fan of horses. I know some people love them, but they remind me of a dumb hairy dinosaur. I agreed anyway, and though clearly, I was showing signs of nerves – by repeating, ‘I don’t like it’ – ‘get me off’ – ‘it’s going to eat me’ – that kind of thing. The guide ignored my pleas and instead took Alex’s horse by the reigns and told me to follow behind.
It was an adventure, I didn’t like it, but I can now at least say I’ve ridden a horse down a beach – not sure when I’ll say that, but it’s on the back burner just in case.
You’d think that would be enough excitement for one day, but the whole concept of the White Pearl really is offering amazing days. And for Alex and I, who are lucky enough to travel a lot, they went all out.
We’d eaten a lot the day before and were going to take a light lunch. We forgot to tell this fact to our butler, and as we didn’t actually mention anything about lunch to him, he set up a table on the beach, under a gazebo and just brought us everything on the lunch menu. Of course, we didn’t eat it all (this is a lie).
After the amazing food, and then having to be wheelbarrowed back up to the resort, we set off on a safari to find hippos and crocodiles.
I have a lot to tell you in this update so as far as hippos and crocs go, we drove to a lake, we saw them, it was amazing, we drove back…
If a day’s memories could be food, this Monday was now a giant chocolate cake, and all it needed now was the cherry.
This came in the form of going in search of baby Leatherback turtles. These are huge animals that can get to 3m (10ft) in length. I’ve wanted to see one of these since being a small boy. We had been told that we’d mostly missed the egg laying season, so we were going to hunt for hatchlings.
The resort had arranged for us to meet up with one of the rangers who looks after the turtles and they were going to drive us along the beach looking for them. It was nearly 11 pm by the time we set off (we had to wait for low tide), and the moment we arrived at the beach, we saw a little turtle heading for the ocean.
The cutest little thing, smaller than my hand, rushing its way to safety. The babies are at most risk when they are on the beach; birds, crabs, evil humans are all out to get them. But once in the ocean, they stand a much better chance of survival.
The jeep set off and after no more than five minutes driving the guide yelled ‘you’re in luck!’ and as he turned the jeep, we could see a huge Leatherback digging in the sand.
She was a late arrival, which sometimes happens as the turtles can often travel thousands of miles to return to the same nesting site.
Unlike some other turtles, who if they get disturbed will head back to the sea, once a Leatherback has started digging she’ll carry on regardless.
This allowed us to take a seat and watch the proceedings. It was kind of magical really. Leatherbacks can lay over 200 eggs, and the whole process from digging to laying takes over an hour.
We sat there and felt extremely lucky to be part of nature at its best. And that was the cherry on the top of that Monday.
On Tuesday, I ate some yoghurt that disagreed with me and threw up my breakfast – so you know, it’s all swings and roundabouts.
On the subject of roundabouts, don’t stay up all night and then go to Hong Kong, it makes you feel like you’ve spinning out of control on one.
The cheapest way to get from Mozambique was to go over into leafy Johannesburg and get the flight out from there.
This whole trip we’ve been heading for India and as we had yet to get our Indian visa we had to go to the Maldives to apply for it.
We’ve never been to South Africa before, and on this trip, we only managed seven days in Johannesburg, but I really want to go back. The people were friendly, we stayed in two super kooky places, and we had a chance to rest up a little – while drinking fancy coffees.
The cheap flight to the Maldives involved flying to Hong Kong, which is about eight hours past the islands. Staying in Hong Kong for ten hours and then flying on to Male, the Maldivian capital.
The way the timings worked meant that we arrived in Hong Kong after being awake all night. Super exciting way to arrive in a hectic city. After ingesting enough coffee to bring down an elephant, we buzzed our way around the city.
Hong Kong has one of the most iconic skylines in the world, and the view from the peak looking over the city is stunning. After this point, lots of things are a blur or at least seen through blurry tired eyes.
I know we managed to get back on the plane though or I wouldn’t be sat here typing.
In Male, one of those places that people tell you to avoid, we had two nights in a sweet hotel. I can see why people would say not to spend much time there, given all the pretty islands, but it’s a nice enough city. No worse than most others we’ve visited. Plus, as a dropping off point for all the fancy islands, it’s really quite nice in its own right.
Often with travelling, you hear people say not to do this or that, or not to go here or there. Usually, they’ve not been, just heard it was bad. Or they rushed through the place and didn’t give it enough time to show you it’s charms. I’m not sure Male is charming, but people are always saying avoid Bangkok, and that’s a wonderful city.
Anyway, I digress. We moved to one of the pretty islands and were there nine nights. The idea was to sort out the visa, turns out they’d changed the opening ours of the visa place and logistically we couldn’t get the year’s visa sorted in time.
After lots of ‘they’ve done what?!?’ and ‘How the hell can they just change the opening times like that?!?’ We had to revise our plans.
Thankfully, the airport we were flying into in India allowed for the e-visa, which is 30 days on arrival.
So rather than travel slowly around India for several months, we’re blasting our way around a few sights for one month and then heading into Nepal. Once there, we should be able to get the year’s visa – that’s the basic plan anyway.
If you’re wondering why I’m skirting over the Maldives, well, if you like beaches and doing nothing it’s an amazing place. If like me, that makes you want to open a vein, then there isn’t that much to say.
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