'Away from the sumptuous water villas of the Maldives, trouble is brewing in this renowned 'honeymoon heaven'. This is the story of a nation you won't read in your glossy weekend supplement.
Gatecrashing Paradise clearly depicts a guesthouse scene largely undiscovered, which offers the chance to experience the warm communities and rich culture of island life.
In Gatecrashing Paradise Tom sets out to explore the other Maldives, not the one where all the tourists go. Until quite recently tourists were very restricted when it came to Maldives travel. That's changed and as a result small guest houses and hotels have sprung up and you can make your way like Tom around the island by local ferry services and domestic flights. You don't need an economics degree to know most of the money from the five star resorts would have gone straight back to their overseas owners. Tom [travels] all around the scattered atolls of the low lying nation where he encounters climate change concerns (nothing is naturally much more than two or three metres above sea level), worker exploitation, tsunami fears and some decidedly murky politics, often as opaque as the lagoon waters are transparent.
Gatecrashing Paradise is an entertaining travelogue that visits the corners most tourists never see.
Chesshyre is an affable and enthusiastic traveller, and his sojourn in the Maldives covers interesting ground in a country full of contrasts.
I loved it. Tom Chesshyre discovers that beyond the glossy brochures lies an almost undiscovered country that is brimming with life, yet also a paradise teetering on the brink of trouble.
I loved Gatecrashing Paradise. It should be mandatory reading for all visitors.
Revealing aspects of a surprising little tropical nation wholly unknown to holidaymakers, Gatecrashing Paradise compares honorably with Arthur Grimble's A Pattern of Islands.
Tom Chesshyre bravely and entertainingly exposes the dimensions of the Maldives that the tourist board is strangely shy of illuminating.