Maldives

AsiaDestinationsMaldives

Too much sun, too little action

DSCN1546

Day 4: We walked for about 45 minutes to the sand bank towards the tail end of Dhigurah (which actually means ‘long island’ in Dhivehi) and found a little slice of paradise there. I frolicked in the water, took some bad selfies which I later deleted and looked at the neighbouring atoll with water villas in tourist envy.

DSCN1373

DSCN1441

Snorkelling after lunch just a couple of hundred metres from the hotel was surprising and strange after doing dives. But the coral beds were more alive with fish that I’d initially assumed. We said goodbye to the beach, tried to wash off the sand – which turned out to be a fruitless effort – and trudged back.

DSCN1415

DSCN1541

In an odd burst of emotion, TC actually confessed that a longer stay would have been better, whereas I was happy enough with what we’d gotten. But that’s also because I’m rather antsy about our domestic transfer arrangements which aren’t exactly fixed yet – the product of a ‘relaxed island life’ perhaps. From what we’ve been told so far, it’ll be a 6-hour wait at Male International Airport before we get onto our flight back at 12:55pm, which means our day will most likely start at 4am and end at 10pm. It wasn’t what we were told initially and these shifting plans are aggravating.

After dinner, I begged Irish once again to take me to the shops for pieces of cheap chocolate cake that helped get rid of the remainder of the Maldivian Rufiyaas that I needed to spend. With snacks and chocolate, TC and I were happy once again.

DSCN1552

Day 5: We dragged ourselves out of bed at the arse-crack of dawn, as expected. The transfers went without a hitch and then found ourselves at a semi-private room in the Airport Hotel cafe with only cold water and some fruits given to us for breakfast. Making our way to the half-baked and incredibly Thai-Express at the airport was half a mistake. Wolfing down chilli-laden dishes pretty much guaranteed a stomachache (which it did) but we were desperate for some salt in our food after a morning filled with only sugary snacks.

Still, we promised ourselves to return someday, with hopefully more money to spend on a larger and more exciting place.

read more
AsiaDestinationsMaldives

Taking a load off

eel

Day 3 of diving: Similar to day 2, with the same sort of fish, with more plankton in murky, soupy water that’s so deceptively blue under the sun’s rays. But every time there’s at least some kind of unusual sea creature to make up for it and there were some rays, turtles and large schools of fish that made me gawk.

DSCN1203

DSCN1315

DSCN1086

After paying tourist prices for a measly amount of snacks, I turned in desperation to Irish, a lovely Filipina lady running the spa next door for help. Perky, tiny and a social dynamo, Irish simply packs a punch. Having lived in the Maldives since she was 14, Irish has worked in several resorts before settling in Dhigurah because it is simply ‘the most beautiful place’ she has ever seen.

Consequently, TC and I got an impromptu insider’s guide to the local islands and Maldives in particular while we prowled the shops for food and trundled through the bustling sandy streets at 8:30 p.m. – and paid local prices for them. In that short 45 minutes, I learned more about the Maldivian developing economy, attitudes towards religion and women, the social strata and the education system than I would ever have after a few days here on my own.

We gave her pizza-flavoured tortilla with a whole lot more of gratitude than she can ever imagine.

*Leg update: Now blistering and itchy. Ugly as hell and still in the midst of praying that it won’t scar at all. 

 

read more
AsiaDestinationsMaldives

The dives so far

DSCN1235

Day 2: Sort of jet-lagged and straight into the water

DSCN1122

DSCN1183

A full day of diving after breakfast, to Manta Point and Hule Hule – sites that are about an hour away from Dhigurah. But I’ve learnt the hard way in diving, that the sea life you want to see never shows up as intended; instead, Manta Point was full of fish and coral, memorable only for the very reason that I got stung by a sea anemone when a particularly strong sweep of the current brushed me against its pretty but painful tentacles. I soldiered on and entertained the thought briefly of giving up, until the shouts from nearby boats suggested a whale shark was near.

Everyone jumped into the water – with or without a wetsuit – and congregated on a spot where the pretty big thing meandered across from below. I turned on the camera, got a mouthful of salt water from dipping my snorkel too deep and promptly choked. My short video is shaky at best, cut off by someone’s fins and bubbles in my face.

Still. A whale shark. I think that experience hasn’t quite sunk in yet.

Back at the hotel, they called a doctor – youngish and good-looking in an Arabic music video sort of way – to take a look at the leg, only to be amazed at the amount of medication I’d brought along.

“She’s a pharmacy”, they proclaimed joyously, even if they didn’t quite understand what a sea anemone is.

The painful, burning sensation of the damn sea anemone stayed all the way until I fell asleep drugged on antihistamines.

Day 3: Kuda Rah Thila and Rahndhi Wreck

DSCN1081

“Finally we know what happened to you,” the hotel reception people said when they came up to me after breakfast. “You got bitten by the Nemo plant. It’s not serious.”

That’s at least some good news, albeit delayed.

Kudah Rah Thila and Rahndhi Wreck are both sites that are barely 10 minutes or so away from Dhigurah, the former with better sea life than I’d expected. Rahndhi Wreck is less predictable and murkier with plankton, but that guaranteed at least a manta or two.

*Leg update: red and blistering, less painful now. Still looks diseased.

read more
AsiaDestinationsMaldives

A “true” resort

DSCN1224

Day 1: Long and so tedious.

But we endured, because at the end of the road is apparently clear aquamarine sea, white sand and paradise unnamed.

The flight was uneventful. But the boarding procedure was filled with well-dressed (if not overly so) Koreans, Japanese and Chinese with tons of branded shopping bags and fur coats – someone was even eating a whole cheesecake like a hamburger – , soon to be sweltering under the humid heat of the Maldives.

A guy from the Czech republic stood waiting for TC and me, ushered us to the domestic terminal a couple of steps away and said goodbye, presumably to do the same for the next few people he was going to meet. It’s his job really – to meet and greet at the airport only – and he has been doing that for the past 9 months, in his first big trip outside the Czech republic.

IMG_3792

TC and I marvelled over the blueness of the water at the airport, only to have him dismiss it as rather polluted. Then he asked us about the sea where we live and my answer was as cynical as it could be.

“How time flies,” he reminisces and sweats huge buckets. “I meet people all over the world. Some nice, some not. Some complain about the stupidest things.”

DSCN0937

DSCN0962

There was another 2-hour wait for a 20-minute flight to Maamagili and then it was yet another half-hour of a speedboat ride to Dhigurah’s Boutique Beach where TC and I are staying.

A ‘true’ resort is what the Travel Companion (TC) very kindly and diplomatically says about Boutique Beach in the Maldives, a hotel on a non-resort island, where locals in ‘tourist shops’ lay in gleeful wait to fleece tourists.

DSCN1233

We bought an all-inclusive dive package with full board and unless you’re a diver or a person who excels at very little to do, Dhigurah isn’t quite the place for everyone. It was a realisation that came like a sledgehammer to the head while we piled on the back of the lorry that brought us from the small harbour to the hotel. But the place is charming, rather lovely, personalised…and full of sand. It covers the dining area and the balcony, perfect for those who like going about barefoot and squishing their toes in it.

With 2 hours or so to spare until sunset, TC and I headed down the beach, modestly covered up until we walked past the village and could then wear bikinis to the water. Dinner was under dim fluorescent lighting (which made it hard to see the fish bones) and we were weirdly serenaded by someone’s phone music that consisted of 60s songs and cheesy instrumental music.

Somehow, I was still glad to say goodnight.

read more

Pin It on Pinterest