Maldives Rowing Volunteer
So selections done all that was left to do was obtain a passports, three visas, book flights, accommodation and try to find winter clothing in a tropical paradise where the mercury never drops below 26 degrees! All in the space of 11 days – how hard could it be.......???

Well it turned out that we needed two passports to be issued and although you may be able to apply for them in Addu you can only collect them in Male – problem number one. Problem number two there is no Korean embassy in the Maldives the closest one is in Sri Lanka and if you apply for visas here it takes 14 days. So I was now going to have to fly to Sri Lanka (with all passports) on the 8th to apply on the 9th collect on the 11th and be back ready to fly to south korea from Male on the 13th. Oh and you also needed a visa support letter from South Korea with the names of the travellers on it before applying. That is all very well if you know the names of the four people going! The last place was to be filled by a coach from the Maldives and after four false starts we finally confirmed the fourth person, Sarey, at 1300 on Thursday. A manic rush then ensued to get all paperwork re- printed and signed by the relevant people before they left for the weekend at 1500.

Hithadhoo from the air
Sarey was packed off to Male to get his passport on Saturday.  Sharu-u and I followed on Sunday to pick Sharu-u’s up so that I could fly to Colombo weighed down with paperwork, photos, letters, signatures and documents from all over the place! It was Sharu-u’s first flight ever and first trip to Male which like everyone he found very crowded and built up compared to Addu. Also a day spent sitting around in passport offices was not what he had imagined his first trip to the capital would involve....

Colombo Rowing Club
Sharu-u returned to Addu Sunday evening, Sarey stayed in Male and I went to Colombo. Hasna having been to India once had her own passport already so no headaches there. After handing  the wadge of paper over to the Korean embassy I made my way to the Colombo rowing club enjoyed a 2km scull in a fine boat (lovely and light after all the coastal boats) and then settled down to a sundowner with the club captain and ex captain and a chat about the craziness of this year’s Oxford Cambridge boat race. Further excitement was added by the Indonesian earthquake which we felt in Sri Lanka and the Maldives and the subsequent Tsunami warning that was issued just before I was due to fly. My taxi driver was convinced we would be swept to our deaths by a wall of water at 1620 while I was more certain that I would die imminently as a product of his and the other road users crazy driving. Luckily we were both wrong and survived the journey to the airport.

Winter clothes...
So amazingly now we’re just waiting to go - we have got tickets, passports, visas, insurance and amazingly located two fleeces, one enormous trenchcoat and fur lined gloves from a friend of Sharu-u’s brother to keep us all warm. It was one degree last week and has warmed up to 10 degrees this week so not too bad! The go down at the National Olympic Committee was trawled yesterday for tracksuits that would fit – lots of XXXXXL’s and not alot of mediums left – towels, socks and pins.

So next news will be from Korea where cold temperatures, different food (Hasna’s mum has loaded us down with Maldivian staples and forbidden her to eat frogs and insects!) and skinny racing boats await.......

If you want to check out where we're going it's Chungju South Korea and the website address is: 

It comes complete with funky music!

X Tash



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