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Maldives Travel

The Gelateria adjoining the Seagull Café in Male is the hangout of the city’s hip youngsters (in the background is the gold dome of the Islamic Center). Located in Fareedhee Magu, the cafe is open from 9 am to 12 am on weekdays and from 4 pm to 12 am on Fridays, the weekly holiday.

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The homemade ice-cream at the outdoor café (which serves excellent, if somewhat astronomically priced, seafood platters and continental and Thai cuisine with a local twist) is surprisingly delightful. The servings are enormous! We were told street food was cheaper but late one night my friends and I got ripped off by a smiling coconut vendor at 30 Maldivian Rufiya apiece (one Rufiya is equivalent to about three Indian Rupees).

The Maldives in happier times

The Maldives, an Indian Ocean archipelago of 1,192 coral atolls (of which 200 are inhabited), is the smallest Asian nation. These islands, barely a few meters above sea level, are a magnet for wealthy tourists and scuba-divers: the former flock to their pristine beaches, the latter come to experience their wealth of stunningly beautiful coral reefs and marine wildlife. Over the last week, the Maldives, an Islamic nation, made international headlines for violent street protests culminating in a coup d’état that overthrew its elected president, Mohamed Nasheed, who has held office since 2008. The political situation is worrying for the Maldives’ economy, which is heavily dependent on tourism. Not long ago, the Maldives were the happy isles of the Indian Ocean. Reminiscing on a visit he made to the Maldives in 2010, Yahoo! India’s Travel Editor BIJOY VENUGOPAL presents a dramatic photo-essay of a happy-go-lucky yet strangely troubled island nation