We got back from the Holland American Lines cruise called MS MAASDAM feeling energised, rested and satisfied with the whole holiday experience. Our adventures on the cruise was quite amazing. Met many celebrity performers and seen many thrilling performers. We went to Trincomalee to hop into the cruise which was making the pit stop on their 50 days cruise from Sydney around Asia.
The whole day on the cruise was jammed packed with activites. As it was our 1st time (there will going to be more) on the cruise, we were just taking walks on the first few days, eat and watch daily movies.
The invitation to demo, cook and prepare dinner was on my schedule and I wanted to get on to it immediately. But my host Matthew said, the days we are at sea is when the cooking activities starts. So Chandra and I totally enjoyed ourselves getting to relax and rest as it is something we hardly do when we are home.
As we sailed away from Trincomalee, it took an overnight cruise to reach Hambanthota which is at the south of Sri Lanka. Usually upon arrival on a designated pit stop, we were allowed 6 to 8 hours site seeing. You can follow the cruise tour guide which you require you to pay or you can go site seeing yourself.
Chandra and I decided to check out the taxi, tuk tuk waiting to be earning their money for the day. We have earlier 10 days before, explore a few states in Sri Lanka. We will write a post on it soon.
Initially, in Sri Lanka, I saw everyone using the tuk tuk and thought we should too. Though at first, I thought they looks like road racers. We hazzled 2 for the best price and he took us to see fishing village, the market, botanical garden and a few more places. I think I just love the country side scene more then the others.
Then we were at sea in the Indian Ocean for 2 days cruising to the Republic of Maldives. An archipelago of 1,192 coral islands grouped into 26 coral atolls (200 inhabited islands, plus 80 islands with tourist resorts) in the Indian Ocean. We were told many of the island shave disappeared as it has sunk, being the lowest country in the world.
We went to Male, the capital and it is the most densely populated island in Maldives, maybe even in the world. Chandra and I walked around with many other friends from the cruise. Their currency is so colorful of cowrie shells, nature and their lifestyles.
I think most Maldivian loves chewing betel nut. I can’t help seeing the number of betel nut sellers in the market. There were more betel nuts sellers then vegetables sellers. I watch in fascination why there were many men crowding the betel nut stalls.
To me, it is equilavent to coffee, tea or wine tasting as they took turn passing around the whitish or pinkish lime powder. And you see heads shaking left to right or nodding in agreement to the flavors as they chewed and spit. Quite a sight but not to behold!
We cannot help but noticed they have more motorcycles then people in the island. The roads we walked were jammed packed with motorcycles. Narrow as it was, cars are squeezing in the lanes. Male the capital of Maldives is a buzy island. And with the amount of motorbikes and cars, I wonder how many more years before they sink. Are they not realising that! Luckily, it was only a day trip.
The loveliest island that we were allowed to visit was Uligamu. Of all the thousands of island, most are not inhibited and the goverment do not allow many islands to be visited for fear of human contamination. I think it is a good move. But we were happy Uligamu is allowed to develop and we were allowed to explore this beautiful island in Maldives.
A very small island with only 4 to 5 lanes. The sea is stunning, so blue and clear. We tried walking faster to reach the seaside. But we couldnt, as we were fascinated with the tropical fruits tree they grew.
As we walked, fruits trees were in every house. Custard apple, breadfruit, mangoes, bananas, belimbli, coconut trees, pomegranates, guavas and noni were every where.
I love their creativity. To protect the fruits, they used plastic bottles to cap each fruit to protect them from insect sting. If the whole tree is fruiting, they used a net to cover the whole tree. It was practical methods we can learn from. Brilliant idea, I think!
We spotted 2 sisters breaking nuts from a very familiar tree we had in Penang. In Penang, we had not done this cracking nut anymore. But I do know, you can get it from Thailand. The tree is huge, the leaves are broad, it changes color when it wilts. The fruits is all over Penang, we kicked or left on the road until it dried out with no one bothering what to do with it. Have a closer look in the pail then you know this dried nut on the ground or roadside in the kampong area.
Recently, I received a package of this sweetly toasted crunchy nuts as a gift from Thailand. It looks almost like almond but slightly smaller in size. But in Uligamu, they cracked open and just eat like peanuts.
It took 15 mins to walk from one end to the other end. The tender took us and automatically everyone started walking to the other side. Here the sea is stunning! Chandra and I were both amazed as we were seeing the blue clear transparent sea for the first time. You stand in the water, you can see your own legs.
We had a good laugh at ourselves. The reason is, we went to Uligamu with the tender in the 1st trip. (the little boats used hung on top of the cruise). We saw most people taking along a big bag. In it were towels and mats.
As we sat and observed in the tender, we whispered that we will go, sight see and return to cruise ship as it was a small island. But as we walked to the sea, and saw most people taking off their shirt and blouse.
Underneath was the swimming costumes and bikini, we felt so silly. We could only take pictures with our clothes on, standing on the clear blue sea. it does not feel right or good. Coming so far and not swimming in the clear blue sea. I know, I will regret if I don’t take a dip.
We quickly went back to the cruise and got dressed with what is needed, packed the towels and headed back to Uligamu. Waaaa, ran into the blue water and played like a kid. Happiness as the waves swallowed you up and drinking very salty water. But ended up laughing at our silliness.
Uligamu was the highlight of the whole cruise holiday. Seeing tropical fruit trees and clear blue sea makes my day. I feel very blessed with what we have. The simple lifestyle is ideal but we know people are making ends meet. We must not waste food or money uneccesarily in our life.
The next few days were at sea as we will be cruising back to Langkawi. So we again watch movies, be entertain by world famous performers like Peter Mehtab, world famous inner magic circle Magician.
Ms Maasdam is quite a delightful medium size cruise to enjoy. Talks by world famous book writers which I totally enjoyed is Sri Lankan writer Ashok Ferrey who speaks about his motherland and also shares book writing flairs. I went 2 times to be thrilled by award winning concert pianist Tomono Kawamura. She gave 2 stunning performances. Daily activites kept us running from events to performances.
We return to Malaysia thru Klang and back to Penang with the intention to go cruising again. Read more about our holidays in Sri Lanka and cooking on board Ms Maasdam.