We Left Luton airport on board the First Choice 767 aircraft heading for Male. Good airline, lots of legroom and the food was very good. Ten hours later we landed in the Maldives. We did not have to look around for our contact there as they found us first. A one hour stopover (quick beer and a look around) and then boarded the Dash8 22 seater aircraft bound for Gan. Overflying all the Islands and atolls on the way down was amazing, hard to describe unless you were actually there. The colours were out of this world, and a beautiful azure sea as I’m sure you all remember. A lot more of the islands were inhabited as we flew over them and they are building a lot more resorts over the next few years.
We landed in Gan an hour and a half later and after a five minute drive arrived at the old sergeants mess which is now a hotel and has been extended etc. so you would never recognise it as the sergeants mess of years ago. We went down to our room, which was a bungalow next to the beach, had a shower and then went out to the pool to cool down.
A few beers later I was laid by the pool and thought I had never been away.
What I had forgotten was the utter peace of the place. The only thing we could hear was the sound of the waves on the shore and the odd chit chat twittering away. Heaven!
Had an early night because we were both utterly knackered and then we were both wide awake at 0300. Still we saw a cracking sunrise to make up for it.
We had breakfast at 0700, anything you wanted (within reason) and then off for a wander around.
First place we went was the MCU jetty as I saw it from the car on the way to the hotel. Nothing has changed, even the MCU hangar was still there with a boat on the slipway that looked as though it had been there forever as it was falling to pieces.
Went up to the Astra cinema, the sign is still on the front of the building. It didn’t look as though it was in use any more as when I looked through the windows on the front doors there was litter in the foyer. There was a photo on a notice board inside the front door, which I think had been taken by Lawrie “Geordie” Dodds when he was out there a few months earlier. How it finished up in there is anybodies guess. He has been out to Gan three times so far.
Couldn't get around to the 6 SU/ATC buildings as it is now part of the airport complex and it was all fenced off and guards on the gate.
The Blue Lagoon transit lounge was still intact although it was stood empty and looked a bit tatty and where the fence was that we all used to lean over drooling over any available female had gone, and there was a building stood in its place. The sea fed swimming pool that was behind the 180 Club was still there, although not in use, and alas, the 180 Club had long gone.
The church is now a mosque with a loudspeaker on the top of it, which used to go off at regular intervals with the Imam calling everyone to prayers every few hours.
We could not get across to the other side of the island, as you could not cross the runway due to guards/barriers etc. So basically, we were restricted to one half of the island, but it did not bother us too much. There was still plenty to see.
The causeway that was in ruins when we were there back in the 70s was now a two lane raised road running across to Fedu. Back in the 70s the water really used to flow fast and deep through the causeway channel as it was on legs, but with the design of the new one it is concrete all the way down to the seabed with narrow openings every so often to let the water through and the water was really shallow.
A couple of days into the holiday I paid one of the locals $25 to use his Honda 90 for the day. No red tape out there lads, no helmets etc. we just rode off with the wind and sun in our faces. We rode across to Fedu and then on up to Hittadu. The old transmitter site that was up there has long gone and a power station built on the site where it used to be. The roads are in excellent condition, all tarmaced and lined. It was like being back in the UK, but without the cold and rain!!
We had a good day out on the bike and took quite a few photographs. When we got back to Gan I dropped Ann off back at the hotel and went for a ride on my own just to have a look for some of the old haunts. I saw one block from the road that looked in quite good condition so drove up the drive to have a look. It was block number 37 according to the number on the end of the building. Just as I went to get my camera out a local male came up to me, he was the owner of the block. We got chatting and he invited me in to the block, which was now his house. Imagine having a whole block for a house, amazing. Where all the shower blocks had been and the laundry section that the room boys used he had converted into bedrooms and other living rooms. I was well impressed. I stayed chatting and looking around for about half an hour or so before I finally took my leave and went on my way.
At sunset we went out on the causeway to watch the sunset. Marvellous!
Just as I remembered it, only way back then, I don’t suppose I took as much notice of them. Have some brilliant photographs which I will upload and put a link in when I have the chance.
On day six, the manager came to see us mid morning and asked us if we would mind leaving a day early. The first thought in my head was “What the bloody hell is he talking about!” After I had calmed down, he explained that they had overbooked and if we did agree he would book us in to Embudu Village that was another resort on an island just a few miles from Male. We would have had to leave the day after anyway as we were booked into a hotel in Male for the last night originally as the return flight was early in the morning, and we could not leave Gan and get to the airport in time on the same day. We told him we would think about it and let him know.
It took Ann about thirty seconds to make up her mind, so off we went to see the manager and told him OK.
The following morning we flew up to Male, where we were met off the plane by a rep from the hotel. All the bags and baggage were taken out to the jetty where the launch was waiting to take us to the resort.
It took about 45 minutes to get to the island and we couldn’t get over how small it looked. We later found out it was just 300 yards long by 150 yards wide. So for the next two days we did nothing but sunbathe, swim in the warm sea and have the odd beer!!
So after two days really chilling out it was time to leave. Speedboat to Male, took 15 minutes (a bit quicker than the launch we went out on!) Then wait for the aircraft to take us back to UK. Landed at Gatwick and it was freezing. We left a temperature of 34 Deg to come back to a temperature of 5 Deg, Brrrrrrrr!!
Well what can I say, Bloody marvellous holiday!
Click on link to see some pictures.
Great to see your back Tony (and your front of course! )
I reckon that big posting in the sky will be like paradise on earth too, can't have too much of a good thing, eh!
Hello Tony,I bet you were pleased to go back if just to get it out of your system.Now that you have been back,you will know that RAF GAN as we knew it has long gone,but the magic of the place is still there.I knew it was gone when I went back the third time and we could only do two thirds of the island,then my pal Derek went out just before you and told me they could only get around to the jetty down to the causeway,that is when I knew it was gone.Mind you after 30 odd yrs you have to expect change,after all the factories are gone,even though the Maldies only had menial jobs,so what is left except tourism.A whole new generation of young people wanting to get on in life,and the internet so as they can see the outside world,totally different to our day but that is progress...A couple of questions for you...did you polish the RAF plaques on the guns? Who was the last to sign the RAF book in the hotel?...Larry....PS I dont know who put the picture up in the Astra,as far as I know only Nobby and Hodge have been inside since the closure..See you in Blackpool
Not sure what this means Lawrence?
told me they could only get around to the jetty down to the causeway
When we were there in August there was a barrier at the Western end by the runway and a security guy just past the airport building at the other end but he did let me go to the end of the island as long as I didn't cross the runway. Even so, a couple more security guys appeared to see what I was up to. I think my big camera, tripod and National Geographic T-Shirt helped. The guys at the other end let me through the barrier to get a better shot of a Dash-8 landing.
adduans still wish the british were there..the government of Maldives discriminate addu people!!
Really interesting read,you left me feeling that I want to get out there before its all completely gone.
I wonder what it was about Gan that makes us all feel like that? We have all probably travelled a great deal compared to a lot of people but Gan was very special.Myself,I think it was a combination of the guys we served with,great characters we remember,the innocence and friendliness of the Maldivian people we came across.It really was a very simple life for that year.
Larry very kindly sent me some DVD's and the one he made I felt brought it all back,he really captured Gan for me.
I can remember oggin trogging which I did a lot of,I can still remember that silence,only the sound of the sea.Larry captured that in spades.
I used to come of night shifts in the tower grab a light breakfast in the Airmens mess and then grab my snorkel and fins and spend about two hours looking for shells before crashing out.
Burying the shells and the stink of them when you dug them up again a few months later.There were always buckets around containing water and bleach to clean up the shells.I still have a big box of them in the garage.
It really is amazing how those islands remain in your mind.
I think I would like to go back but I think I would enjoy it more with a bunch of old Gannites.
I really enjoyed the report,but then I enjoy sharing all the memories I read on the site.
Best regards to you all,
Regards RAF admirer,I would think you are a youngish Adduan and us who have been back to Gan can understand how you feel.The Male government did not put an Army camp on Gan to protect you.That camp is there to protect there interests when the tourist industry really starts up and there is big money around..I promise you now...the people on Addu atoll will only get very poor jobs in the hotels.Your only chance is to try and elect a new preident who is more sympathetic to Islanders other than from Male...Good luck you will need it.Your fathers would have told you what it was like in the RAF days,and did not the government not strip Gan of everything usefull the day the RAF left.Now there is money to be made they will be back [the government that is]do your best by whatever means you can and myself and I think everybody that served on Gan wish you every sucess...Larry
I agree with everything Larry has said. All ex RAF personell who served in Gan will have nothing but happy memories of the time they spent on Addu Atoll. I know that when I left I was in tears, and if somebody had come to me when I was boarding the aircraft back to the UK and asked me to do another 9 months I would have signed up there and then. Thats how much Gan meant, and means, to me. Good luck and God bless you.
Now you tell me, you could've finished my tour for me !!!!!!
Yeah you would, living with 600 blokes must be your idea of heaven big boy !!!!!!
Oh my God! My secret's out at last.
What bloody secret !!! We all quessed when you started those ballet lessons !!!!
You should see him do the "Dance of the sugerplum hairy"
Should that not read. The dance of the Hairybum fairy !!!!
Well,it was you who started it when you gave me your old tutu, when you became pregnant by the black stoker on RFA Black Pig, and you couldnt fit into it any more!
Whit ???/ Have you finally lost it. Get pregnant. !!!! Stay off that Buckie mate, its nae doing yer heid any good !!!!!
Buckie? Thats a west coasters drink, along with the draught sherry. We east coasters stick to beer and sheep!
Stick being the word !!!!! Its a suction thing !!!!
Just bringing this one back to the top of the page for anyone who has thoughts of going back to Gan.
When I win the lottery, we are all going back to Gan.
Just tap equator village into google and you will get the fullSP,,cosmos must be welding plenty on as the price now is double what we paid in 05,in fact you can get 2 weeks on Herethera for £100 more than a week on Gan,and 4*compared to EQUATOR1*.Now how can that be on the same Atoll with the same flying time,transfers etc.Somebody price it privately and let us know how much it can be done for.The manager at Equator will take private bookings so all the costs must be welded on to the flights.Be interesting to know as I am definitely going to have one more look....Larry
Apparently Larry, when Wullie wins the lottery, he's going to pay for us all to go back!!
That will be no problem!!
Hope he pays for my airfare also ???
larry and the rest of you lads out there. I really hope that the reunion in 2010 takes off. I would be great to see a load of "mature" Gannites all together out there. I can't think of a better way to spend a week than being together with like minded individuals.
Bring it on!