Gili Lankanfushi has two rules — no shoes, no news. Picture: Gili Lankanfushi
Gili Lankanfushi has two rules — no shoes, no news. Picture: Gili Lankanfushi

Two words I never wanted to hear in the Maldives

It's late Thursday night and after flying for 15 hours, I land in Male, the capital of the Maldives - unsure of who our Prime Minister is.

From the internet-free zone of Male airport, I go to the jetty where a speedboat picks me up to take me to the luxury resort of Gili Lankanfushi.

The island was voted by TripAdvisor in 2018 as the best hotel in the Maldives, and one of the top five in the world. It is a favourite among honeymooners looking to get away from it all.

Once on the speedboat I'm handed a cold towel and a juice - and told to remove my shoes.

"It's a barefoot resort - you won't be wearing them your whole stay," says my host. Lovely, I think! Very relaxing!

He hands me a bag to put them in, that immediately strikes fear into my heart. On the side is printed: "No Shoes. No News."

"What does that mean? No news?" I ask.

My host explains as if to a child - "while you are here, we encourage you to switch off from the news so you can properly relax".

But, but, but …. How I am to know who our Prime Minister is? It could change any minute now!

It’s all about the art of relaxation at Gili Lankanfushi, Maldives. Picture: Stevie Mann
It’s all about the art of relaxation at Gili Lankanfushi, Maldives. Picture: Stevie Mann

At Gili Lankanfushi everything is designed to compress relaxation - so you chill out completely - and as quickly as possible.

On the jetty I am introduced to my personal butler (called Ms Friday) and take a buggy to the room to check in. I'm given another welcome drink, snacks and a tour of my villa - which sits on stilts above the impossibly aquamarine water.

In the bedroom I'm shown a television that is covered in a black cloth and placed in a distant corner of the room. "We are no shoes, no news," says my Friday.

But despite being tired - I need to know one thing - and one thing only - "What is your Wi-Fi password?"

I can't get on the network fast enough. My Friday is explaining the marine life and tide times - and I'm like "yeah, yeah" - scrolling through Twitter to find out what the hell is going on in my country.

Turnbull is still PM, but can he hold on? How did it come to be that Peter Dutton might be our prime minister?

And what's the time difference again?

Life comes at you fast in Australian politics. On Tuesday Turnbull had called for a spill and survived. On Wednesday, as I was packing my sunscreen and sandals, Dutton refused to rule out a second challenge.

What? Not now Peter!!

 

Dining on the beach at the award-winning Gili Lankanfushi. Picture: Supplied
Dining on the beach at the award-winning Gili Lankanfushi. Picture: Supplied

 

On Thursday, as I was in the air all day, Cormann, Fifield and Cash visited the Prime Minister to tell him he has lost support and urged him to call a party room meeting.

Later in the day they resigned from cabinet. The prime ministership was in play.

On Friday I wake up and am slack jawed at all the beauty around me. Bull sharks swim under the villa, and the sun comes up over the ocean. It is also incredibly silent and peaceful - there is no speed boats or jetskis, no one playing music, no screaming children. The only thing I can hear is the rustle of the perfect palm trees as they sway in the breeze.

I feel myself start to relax until something niggles at me … that's right - it's the unstable political situation back home. Who is the Prime Minister again?

From the deck you can have your morning coffee, with your feet in the water - and then slip on a snorkel mask and slip into the water. Breakfast can be taken in villa or by a beach where you sink your feet into the sand and enjoy a heady buffet - with everything from sashimi to champagne laid out before you.

And all around is this stunning blue, green water. But I am having trouble dragging my eyes away from my screen. On Friday, things are happening quickly back home. When I wake up, Julie Bishop and Scott Morrison emerge as challengers for the Liberal leadership. The solicitor-general releases advice indicating Dutton can stay in parliament.

There is a petition. There is a party room meeting.

 

It’s hard to concentrate on the beauty when there’s a leadership crisis.
It’s hard to concentrate on the beauty when there’s a leadership crisis.

I have a spa treatment. It's the island speciality and involves a length of bamboo being gently rolled down your back and then warmed sandbags (Maldivian sand) being placed down your spine. The floor is made of glass and underneath swim the most incredible tropical fish. I try to relax into it, but in my head I am counting how many Prime Ministers we've had in the last six years and it's stressing me out.

After the massage, I get back on Twitter. Bishop, Morrison and Dutton all nominate for the top job, but to my distress (I liked her) Bishop is knocked out in the first round of voting. She will later go to the backbench.

Morrison wins the second round 45-40 to become Australia's 30th prime minister.

When I come back from a swim and lunch at the Overwater Bar, Morrison is being sworn in. I am too scared to log onto Twitter. It resembles a fast moving stream of sewage and is giving me anxiety.

I go to outdoor yoga the next morning and there is young couple who are from Sydney - on their honeymoon. All they want to talk about is the spill. After a deep, guided meditation with a visiting wellness practitioner, we ride our bikes back along the jungle path for breakfast and bitch about politicians.

 

Crusoe Residences at Gili Lankanfushi Resort. Picture: Supplied
Crusoe Residences at Gili Lankanfushi Resort. Picture: Supplied

 

They are furious. They didn't vote for Morrison, they don't want him, how did he end up being our Prime Minister? "Something's got to change in our system - our country is becoming a joke," said the groom, getting red in the face.

I feel sad. They should be in a honeymoon bubble, here in paradise. They shouldn't be getting angry about politics back home.

I think of how it used to be, before technology became ubiquitous- even in the most remote corners of the earth. Before we had Wi-Fi everywhere (the only unreliable Wi-Fi seems to be back home, in Australia) people would go for months without hearing the news.

Gorgeous resorts like Gili Lankanfushi set everything up just so, so that guests feel totally relaxed and blissed out. No shoes, no news. But it is us - the news addicts - that are our own worst enemies.

Speaking to some people in senior management at the resort they say they have tried institute a formal digital detox at the island but it hasn't had a huge take up.

When it comes to technology - we are massive addicts.

And Australia's drama queen politicians aren't helping.


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