· “Always be yourself. Unless You can be a Unicorn. Then Always be a Unicorn”
Happy Halloween! An occasion where all sorts of mystical creatures emerge. After more than 20 years of visiting the Maldives, I might not have seen a whale shark yet, but I have seen a unicorn. Not just once, but twice. At the Hard Rock and SAii Lagoon’s kids club who host an “awesome Unicorn Party”. Then, later at the main restaurant buffer Unicorn Froot Loops not only provided another encountered with this mystical creature, but also satisfied my American-bred addiction to high-fructose corn-syrup.
Ocean Indian cuisine in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Hard Rock and SAii Lagoon’s Ministry of Crab serves up a true delicacy crab biryani which we thoroughly enjoyed during our visit there:
“Cooked with 1.5kg of the finest Mud crab from Sri Lanka, this is the largest deshelled crab dish on our menu and preserves the ideologies of the traditional biryani with our own take on it. Each clay pot serves 6, includes 12 eggs and is accompanied with a Fresh Mint Sambol, hand ground on our Miris Gala and the Classic Malay pickle.”
I do love when resorts bring local flavours to luxury ingredients. With this post, I am adding a “Crab” tag so that this crustacean can take its place alongside its culinary crustacean, Lobster.
While all the other resorts are competing on the best amenities (like specialised dietary preferences) and comfortable lodging for their guests, Amilla is putting the same attention to care and comfort to their…chickens. The marketing team has even gotten in on the project with alluring branding for the compound dubbed “Cluckingham Palace” (the top rooster dons the royal moniker of “Sir Clucks-A-Lot”)
The project is more than just a galliphile consideration, but also means that vegans can enjoy eggs on the island. Most vegans shun eggs because of the conditions under which they are produced. Some vegan friends keep chickens as pets so they can give them a comfortable life and enjoy their eggs in return. Ostensibly, “free range” eggs should have this same acceptability, but often the regulatory standard of “free” is lower than the vegans’. But if you have any questions or concerns or just curiosity, guests are welcome to tour the Palace. It’s so ornithologically appealing that quite a number of non-chicken birds frequent it as well.
Amilla even hired a poultry nutritionist who created 8 page guide to what scraps can be given to the chickens by the kitchen, including:
Raw green potato peels — Potatoes are members of the Nightshade family (Solanaceae). Green Potato peels, especially when they turn green from exposure to the sunlight, contain the alkaloid solanine, which is toxic. Sweet potatoes and sweet potato skins belong to a different plant family and do not contain solanine. They are safe to feed to your chickens.
Avocado skins and pits — These contain persin, a fungicidal toxin, that can be fatal to chickens.
Raw meat — Feeding chickens raw meat can lead to cannibalism.
Broccoli: Yes. Broccoli is safe to feed to your chickens. It is high in numerous vitamins and low in fat; mine prefer it cooked. You can give it to them in a suet cage to keep them pecking all day.
Tomatoes: Yes. Chickens love tomatoes! Tomatoes are high in vitamin C, K & B9, fiber, potassium and antioxidants. Chickens cannot eat the plant, leaves or flowers they are poisonous as they contain solanine.
Strawberries: Yes. Strawberries are a favorite treat; they are high in trace elements and vitamins A, C & B9. Also contains an anti-inflammatory component called quercetin.
Peanuts: No. We are erring on the side of caution here. Peanuts can be bad for some small birds and mammals, there’s no reliable information on chickens. When in doubt: don’t feed it to them!
Oats: Yes. They can eat raw or cooked oats. Some research indicates that oats fed to pullets helps to reduce feather picking. Oats contain vitamins and minerals also some protein.
Miscellaneous —chickens also enjoy shrimp tails, unsweetened yogurt and spaghetti. One customer told us they serve pumpkin to their chickens because it is a natural dewormer.
QI: How does an octopus smell? A: Depends if he’s had cabbage chilli for dinner (ba-dum-dum). *BUZZ*. A: With its nose? QI: *BUZZ* As this Harvard researcher determined, and like so many other activities in the octopus’ fascinating life, with its suckers (“Touch and taste? It’s all in the suckers”)
Always up for a ice cold sweet, I uncovered the biggest selection of ice lollies I’ve seen in the Maldives at Jumeirah Maldives. Over a dozen varieties of various fruits and flavours and different shapes to boot. Foraging for my “Not Yet Seens” on our annual tours, the resort might want to consider #13 here.
One of my favourite tropical island activities with the kids when they were young was setting up treasure hunts around the resort island where the “treasure” was a box of sweeties. Various resorts have introduced their hunts for children, but Amilla has a sort of a treasure hunt with much healthier fare. A virtual walk through their “Foraging Lunch” was shared in their description:
“This new eco-adventure sees guests led by staff including the Chef, the Landscaping Supervisor, and the Sustainability and Wellness Mentor, Victoria Kruse, through the lush island to gather edible plants including indigenous varieties such as ‘kulha fila’ (Maldivian rocket). This fun and educational interactive tour highlights the island’s indigenous and island-grown herbs, vegetables and fruit. It culminates in a feast using the freshly-plucked ingredients…Starting out on the Sunrise Beach at the southeastern end of the spacious private island resort, the guests were guided to Amilla’s jungle-clad grove known as The Plantation, where local varieties of small, sweet bananas are cultivated, as well as chillies (a Maldivian staple), lemongrass and passionfruit. Then it was on to the resort’s new Hydroponics Garden, where they discovered a wide array of homegrown greens, before moving on to the UN (short for ‘UNdo the Harm’) where the Amilla Islanders make their own cold-pressed coconut oil from the island’s bountiful supply of coconut trees. Amilla’s chicken coop, Cluckingham Palace, was the next port of call, to see if the pampered chickens there had any fresh eggs to offer…The next destination was the vast area of natural jungle that covers over 70 percent of the island. From this area, the group collected dry coconuts for coconut milk and young coconuts to make ‘mudi kashi’ (the flesh of young coconuts), with a little help from Amilla’s skillful tree climbers. They also helped harvest some wild breadfruit from 15 metres up in the jungle canopy…Finally, the group circled back to Amilla’s beautiful Mystique Garden, where the hungry team collected even more salad greens as well as sugarcane and the traditional Maldivian staples of aubergines, okra, and sweet potatoes.”
Also, helpful survival training for if you ever get marooned on a desert island. Bear Gryll’s paradise edition.
I came across a good collection of virtual tours, “10 Maldives Resorts with Virtual Tours” (for trip research or just your own vicarious escapism to paradise). Some are just 360 degree aerial photography. Some are simply panorama videos on YouTube. Some are galleries of 360 degree perspectives of various places around the island. Some do have hot spots that you can click on for drill-down panoramas. Malahini Kuda Bandos is close, but Kandima goes that step further with a clearer layout and more extensive range of island places you can explore created by “Digitally Immersive Virtual Experiences” or D.I.V.E.
The latest component of Maldives Complete to get an upgrade is the British Admiralty Maps Zoom. Another couple of legacy Microsoft technologies – Silverlight and DeepZoom – finally bit the dust. I’ve superseded it with a Zoomify control and used the opportunity to tidy up the (massive) image (props to my nephew Max Stropkay who introduced me to the Figma tool to handle the heavy graphics load).
Instagram can save the sights and sounds of your trip to paradise, but how to do preserve the scents? The tropical flowers, the salty sea air, the crisp coral sands. I asked that question with my #26 of installment #5 of “Haven’t Seen Yet”, but thanks to SAii Lagoon “M.I.Y” (ie. “Mix It Yourself”) bar, I can finally tick that one off.
The M.I.Y. boutique lets you prepare a customised bouquet from their extensive array of aroma’s in the “Aroma Lab”. “M.I.Y.” is also a reverse acronym for “Yim” Thai word “Yim”, meaning “to smile”. So, the Aroma Lab motto is, “Make a scent that makes you smile.”
The process includes product testing to ensure your skin’s suitability and affinity with the customised formula. You can wear the final olfactory cocktail directly or have it added to you shampoo and soap in your room as well throughout your stay. Finally, each formula is kept for when you return to SAii Lagoon.
If there’s two things I enjoy in the Maldives it is exotic flavours of local ingredient and the traditional cocktail of a Pina Colada. Now, Amilla has added another screw pine concoction mashing up these two into a Screw Pine Colada:
“Enjoy a Maldivian twist to your usual pina colada with the fresh flavours of our home-grown products. Our rum-based coladas are made with fresh screw pine juice and coconut water from our island – truly the taste of the Maldives in a glass.”
A few these walking tree drinks and you might just be walking into the tree (“screw pines” as also known as “walking trees”).