CHAPTER VIII THE infidel sultan of Sandabur, from whom we had captured the town, now advanced to recapture it. All the infidels fled to join him, and our troops who were quartered in the [outlying] villages, abandoned us. We were besieged by the infidels and reduced to great ftraits. When the situation became serious, I left the town during the siege and returned to CaIicut, where I decided to travel to Dhfbat al-Mahal [Maldive islands], about which I had heard a number of tales. Ten days after embarking at Calicut we reached these islands, which are one of the wonders of the world and number about two thousand in all.l Each hundred or less of them form a circular clufter resembling a ring, this ring having one entrance like a gateway, and only through this entrance can ships reach the islands. When a vessel arrives at anyone of them it muft needs take one of the inhabitants to pilot it to the other islands. They are so close-set that on leaving one island the tops of the palms on another are visible. If a ship loses its course it is unable' to enter and is carried by the wind to the Coromandel coaft or Ceylon.