When the Week Ends in Malé City

Villingili Ferry
A man stands in the doorway of a ferry to Malé City's fifth district Villingili. Late night fishing trips and barbecues at Villingili and Hulhumalé are among the most popular activities during weekends of Malé.

The capital Malé City, a city so small yet so unique, and while one may assume that its size would prevent the native Maldivians from finding much entertainment, nothing could be far from the truth. The almost 6 square kilometers of the city is packed with people, providing the natives unlimited ways of unique entertainment. Throughout the week days spanning from Sunday to Thursday, most Maldivians busy themselves with their daily work. The two days of weekend holiday, Friday and Saturday, are usually spent on fun and entertainment.

The entertainment begins after work on Thursday, when groups of people of all ages make plans on how to spend the weekend. The fun starts with evening football matches, a sport that has become extremely popular in Maldives. The night kicks off with coffee and tales of the week. The sleepless Malé’ stays up late on Thursday nights. It is almost as if no one sleeps. The youth spends the night with friends at discos or at the coffee houses.

Some locals able to afford it leave the city to spend some quiet and blissful time in peaceful serenity of resorts. Relaxing at the beach and enjoying quality time with their colleagues and friends. Expatriates and classy foreigners also leave the city to enjoy the blissful weekend at hotels like Hulhulé Island Hotel. Nearby inhabited islands are also highly visited by the city dwellers during weekends. Surprisingly enough the island cultures and ways are very much different from the Malé City life.

Late night fishing trips and barbecues at Hulhumalé and Villingili are also among the most popular activities during weekends of Malé. Groups set off in small boats with fishing gear and spend the night enjoying the starry sky, clearly visible without the pollution from the city lights, the ocean breeze on your faces, and the silent whisper of water lapping at the boat. As you lose yourself in the fun of fishing, the whole set up gives you that feeling of utter freedom, the feeling of having escaped the rough and stressful city life.

Some groups also tend to spend the nights at uninhabited islands. Blissful enough, the uninhabited islands provide a strange feeling of being one with nature. Being surrounded by trees and the sandy beaches, with complete privacy, is a dream that deep inside everyone desires. The groups spend about a day away from the capital before they reluctantly return with their catch.

Saturdays are spent on barbecuing at Hulhumalé beach, a famous barbecue spot. The setting sun casting eerie shadows over the beach as the flames dance around in strange shapes. As if compelled by the flames as they rise and fall, you lose track of time. The most exhilarating feeling hits you when the flames finally die out and the fish is laid over the ember. You get that blissful feeling of achievement as you realize that the fish you are about to indulge was caught, cleaned and cooked by no one other than you.

Most of the equipment used in the process, such as the traditionally used coconut shells, and disposable dinning utensils are available from the local shops at Hulhumalé. The coconut shells are laid on a layer of ash, and set on fire. When the shells have burnt into pieces of ember, the fire is extinguished using salt water. A grill is placed over the amber and the fish is treated with a spicy sauce made with a Maldivian recipe. Sometimes wrapped in foil, the fish is then placed on the grill. One the fish has been cooked well, it is served on paper plates usually with fizzy drinks.

The beauty of it is that despite the practice having sprung quiet recently, the groups have not drifted away from the traditional Maldivian methods. After the yellow sun spends its last moments lingering over, it slips beneath the horizon leaving the beach completely dark except for the moon light and distant flames. The sandy beach lay before you inviting you to lie on the soft sand to enjoy the water splashing at your feet. The weekend ends in fish and fun leaving you once again ready and prepared for the stressful life of the city.

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