Sunday, 24 August 2014

Planes, Boats, Automobiles, a Lion Fish and the Maldives


Things always go mad in the Motor Trade when you’re due to go on holiday, I had sold more cars than usual, the phone was ringing constantly and I needed to leave for the airport in the next 30 minutes or we would miss our flight to the Maldives. I had a car going out, and the bonnet cable had snapped. Rover in their wisdom had routed the bonnet release cable underneath the bonnet and out of reach, so when it snapped, it was impossible to get at. I had tried from underneath the engine bay to get to the broken cable, but my arms were scratched and burned off the hot engine. In temper and frustration and as a last resort I punched through the grille and forced the bonnet up, now my knuckles were a mess too, my day couldn’t get any worse or so I thought.

I still had things I needed to do, so I checked the airport web site, just my luck for the first time ever when I was going on holiday the plane was on time. The journey to the airport was pretty uncomfortable, we had booked a return trip with the local taxi firm, and I wasn’t sure the car they had sent should have even been on the road, I was convinced that there was no oil in the shock absorbers, and I wasn’t convinced that there was any in the engine. I was contemplating asking him to turn back as I didn’t think we were going to make it all the way. They should have been paying me to travel in the Taxi, not the other way around. I should have learned my lesson not to book them as the same firm had once picked me and my mate up in a Transit Van, with 2 park benches in the back, what made it worse was the benches weren’t even screwed down so we were sliding around in the back whenever he turned a corner, then there was the time when the car caught fire and i had to walk the rest of the way to the pub with my shoes smouldering after stamping the dashboard out.

Our holiday was an absolute bargain, and I was beginning to realise why when we got to the checkout we were told that the start of our holiday would be delayed by 24 hours as there was a problem with the plane. Apparently there was a crack in the Planes windscreen and the regulations for planes are a little bit stricter than for cars, they couldn’t ring the local windscreen firm and have a new one fitted on the runway, so they were going to put us up in a local hotel for the night.

I had too much work to do back at the garage, so I rang the taxi firm who dropped us off to try and get the driver to turn back and collect us. They said they couldn’t contact him and woild have to send another car for us, but as this wasnt a pre booked trip it wouldnt qualify as an “Airport Special” or even as our return which we had already paid for so they would “have” to charge us full price. I knew I was being conned but I was desperate to get back so I paid, needless to say that I have never used that Taxi firm again, a lot of firms (especially Car Sales) try to benefit from short sighted short term gain, I didn’t mind them using shit cars, but I object to being ripped off and they lost my business for ever.

The next day when we returned to the Airport, we were greeted with even more bad news. Our plane was being diverted to Gatwick to pick up more passengers. I started to doubt the cracked windscreen excuse when i realised that they had actually filled the plane with passengers and saved them selves all the fuel for a return trip to the Maldives by delaying us for 24 hours. I needed the beach and I wasn’t best pleased, another passenger was even more displeased, she hadn’t been told that we were diverting to Gatwick and she was furious as she had driven from London to Manchester that morning and considered it to be a waste of time and money. She was demanding that she and her 4 kids be upgraded to first class for the inconvenience. It wasn’t the Stewardesses fault, and I’m sure that if it had just been her, they would have done it, but her 4 kids had been running riot and she was paying no attention to them. One had been eating a bag of Maltesers and was covered in chocolate, so was the seat the little brat had been sitting in, and also the armrests all up the isle where he’d been running out of control. The chocolate covered kid had nearly fallen on me but I had managed to catch it by its hair and stop my linen pants being ruined, any way at least it had chosen to go back to its own seat to blubber, rub its head and stare at me, that kid wasn’t going to come anywhere near me anytime soon.

Clearly the woman hadn’t thought things through as her car was in Manchester, and we were now 200 miles away in London, she issued an ultimatum to the Stewardess that unless they upgraded her she wanted to get off the plane. The Cabin Crew stopped short of deploying the safety chute and throwing her down it, but she was out of the door before she had chance to change her mind, they had already had enough of her whining and her unruly kids on the 35 minute flight to London, and they realised that we had another 13 hours ahead of us to the Maldives, the Women, her kids and her luggage were promptly kicked off the plane. All the passengers clapped when the nasty bitch finally went through the door and we could get on our way, how she was going to get her car back from Manchester I don’t know, and I didn’t care, but somehow I knew it would be her Husband who would cop for it when she got home.

The rest of the flight was great, and the transfer “speed boat” was waiting for us just a short distance away from Airport Arrivals. I was a little disappointed to be travelling by speed boat, not just because I had expected it to be like Sonny Crockett’s 42 foot Wellcraft Scarab, but because I had tried to book the Sea Plane and had been told by the Travel Rep of the firm we booked the holiday through that it didn’t go to the Island that we were staying on (roughly translated, she couldn’t be bothered to check, or make the arrangements for us).

The Island was Paradise and it was an All Inclusive resort, we were given free drinks on arrival and we sauntered down to the beach just in time to see the Sea Plane arriving with some of the other guests on board. I took a photograph and started to compose an email to the Travel Rep “Dear Travel Rep, You know the Sea Plane that you said didn’t go to the Island that we are staying at, Well guess what? “

The scenery was fantastic, there were shoals of beautifully coloured fish, Black Tipped Sharks and Stingrays swimming just yards from the shore. The food was great, the staff were so nice. I asked our dedicated waiter Labib if he knew the score at the Man United game as I had missed it while travelling and from then on he used to come to our table every morning and tell me all the sports results that he had specifically memorised to report to me, the staff asked me if I would like to play football with them, and as there was no TVs in the rooms they also invited me to watch Manchester United play on the TV in their staff quarters.

I was admiring the magnificent display of food available and I happened to mention to my Girlfriend that the soup looked good, the guy that dished it out and also made it overheard me and you could see his chest swell with pride in his work, he was overjoyed as he ladled out an extra big helping for me, which technically I hadn’t actually asked for, but hadn’t got the heart to refuse. From then on he waited for me every night and as soon as I walked in, he came over to tell us what soup of the day it was, so for two weeks I had soup every night, it was 40 degrees outside, and I was eating red hot soup, that’ll teach me not to compliment people, after 2 weeks I was sick of the sight of soup!

Usually I can’t relax on holiday, I was forever on the phone underwriting vehicles for the trade, answering emails or checking my works web cam to see if there are any customers on my pitch. With no 3 G signal I couldn’t do this and was forced to enjoy the beauty and tranquillity of Maldives, and pretty soon I forgot about work all together. This was the life, I started to question the sanity of Tom Hanks and the film Castaway, if I was marooned on a desert island and I saw a ship going past, I would hide in the deepest undergrowth I could find, why on Earth would you want to be rescued, was at the time beyond me, the Universe works in mysterious ways and the answer was soon forthcoming.

We had been there for a few days when my girlfriend at the time was bitten or stung on the foot, her ankle and foot were swollen and looked incredibly painful. Again the bar staff  took it in turns to relay a supply of ice cubes and towels to us, and making them into a cold compress to relieve the pain and swelling, but it was getting worse for her. There were medical facilities at the resort but only to dispense aspirin and plasters, I was afraid that we were getting beyond that as I could see she was in tremendous pain. I kept asking if she was alright, and she assured me she was. Now when I am feeling under the weather I make sure that everybody knows and suffers with me, but she was different, as long as I had known her she had never had a day off work, or moaned about having a cold or anything, she used to say Children get colds, Men get Flue and Women get on with it, to be fair she did..

Again my “Hope for the best, plan for the worst” instincts had taken over. I had seen a
Pterois (Lion Fish) in the sea not far from where we had been walking through the surf. I knew they were extremely poisonous, the bite/sting was on my Girlfriends foot and she had developed several of the symptoms that were associated with their stings which could cause paralysis and also prove fatal  (I’d Googled Lion Fish on the Computer in Reception). I had enquired and pre warned the staff at reception to be on stand by in case if she did need urgent medical attention. I was told that there was a possibility of getting the Air Taxi, but after 6.00 pm it went dark (Pitch Black) and our only option would be to sail to the Prison Island. This sounded like it would make an ideal plot for the next Die Hard film so I thought I would call the “Prison Island” excursion Plan B.  I also thought it best to keep my Lion Fish theory to myself as I didn’t want to panic her and make the situation worse than it was already.

The crew on High Alert 
We were rapidly burning daylight and she looked like she was getting worse, I kept asking her if she was sure that she was ok, but it was about 10.00 pm that night I knew she wasn’t, I heard the first sniff.  She’d had all day, but she chose that time at night to succumb to the pain, she could no longer walk, or put any weight on her leg. But it was too late now to get a ride in the Air Taxi!

I carried her to reception and Plan B was put into action, the boat was ready with her 3 man crew and we set sail through the Inky blackness towards the flickering light of the Prison Island. One of the crew was standing at the bow holding a lantern with a candle in it, it was as dim as an usherettes torch and we couldn’t see anything in the distance. Im like a shit magnet, and things happen to me that wouldn’t happen to normal everyday people, so when I go on Holiday, I go equipped, up until the travel laws changed I always carried my own medikit complete with syringes, Intravenous Catheters and Field Dressings. I had still managed to take a few of my essentials with me, I whipped my trusty mag light out and pushed the candle equipped pointman out of the way, he didn’t want to relinquish his position so he pushed me back. I shone my torch in his face, this insured he wouldn’t be able to see anything for a while so he went and sat down till his night vision recovered leaving me in charge which is where I like to be. I pointed my Mag Lite forward and lit up the sea between us and the prison Island, no one would get in our way.

It took us well over an hour to sail to the Island and when we docked there was a member of
the prison hospital staff waiting to meet us, the hospital was quite a distance away and he offered to get us transport, but when he came back he was driving a 1 seater tipper truck, good luck getting her to sit in the bucket I thought, I couldn’t get her to travel in anything less than the passenger seat of my Porsche.

Long story short I carried her to the hospital, and then I had to go to the other side of the Island to pick up the syringes and antibiotics that the Doctor needed to treat her. My journey was like something off a horror film, and I clasped my trusty maglite all the way there and back, I made a mental note not to shine it into the shadows anymore as all the eyes staring back at me was starting to freak me out.

A few injections later, and another trip through the unbelievable non light polluted blackness that is night in the Maldives, and my girlfriend was already showing signs of improvement. The cost of her treatment on the Island was the Maldivian equivalent of £3.00 I tried my best to give the Doctor a tip but he refused, in the end he agreed to take a small donation to the clinic he ran in his spare time. I wasn’t looking forward to getting the bill from the Hotel for 3 crew, their time, a boat and fuel. If they had the same ethics as the Preston Taxi Firm that we had used, the cost would probably Bankrupt me, thank goodness for Holiday Insurance.

Until I could claim the money back from the insurance company I would have to settle the bill, I could hardly bring myself to open it. I was expecting it to be in the hundreds and I laughed out loud when I saw the Total was a mere £29.00,  obviously the Maldivians are committed to making sure their patrons thoroughly enjoy their holidays (actually it’s not a Holiday it’s a Life Changing Experience!) , repeat business is more important to them than short term gain, and they cannot bring themselves to profit from someone else’s misfortune, there is a lot to be said for that.

The rest of the Holiday was fantastic, and went far too fast, I was very sad when our last day arrived and I could have quite happily stayed there for the rest of my life. My Girlfriend and I went back to our room after breakfast to see that our Bed had been decorated with petals, the message said “Good Luck” I think the message was aimed more at my Girlfriend than me but we really felt like the staff meant it.

Our Maldivian adventure was almost over, or so I thought when we boarded the “Speed
Leatherman Multi Purpose Tool
Boat” for our homeward bound journey to Male Airport. The Island was a spot in the distance and we had just about got to the point of no return when I thought I heard the engine miss a beat, then I heard it again, and again, a cloud of black smoke came out of the back of the boat and we ground to a halt. I wasn’t too worried and just thanked my lucky stars that it was the engine of the boat that had cut out and we weren’t making a Mayday call from the Air Taxi.

Swiss Army Knife
There was no anchor on the boat and we had no drive so we were at the mercy of the tide, we started to drift in the current as the boat bobbed up and down on the swell. The crew broke out the 3 tools they had on board which looked like they had gotten from a Christmas Cracker. They lifted the hatches up and started to dismantle the engine, that’s when one of the female passengers who was sat next to them, almost whispered in disbelief “There’s water coming in!” she was right it was coming in, and it was pouring in too, our Adventure wasn’t quite over, I put my camera down, and searched in my rucksack for the 2 pieces of equipment that I never leave home without, my “Leatherman” and my "Swiss Army Knife" I can repair anything with these, and I was ready in case the crew needed assistance.


It struck me that I should really be a Castaway, I don’t like people,  I was rapidly running out of Women who were prepared to take the risk of going on Holiday with me and succumbing to “The Curse Of The Cramptons”

What a fantastic Holiday, I need to go back, SOON!!!!!!!!!!!!  And if you haven’t been, You need to go too!







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2 comments:

  1. Thanks for a glimpse into your Maldivian holiday, I am planning on one soon. The bed looks nice by the way ;-)

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    Replies
    1. I promise you its the holiday of a lifetime, enjoy!

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