Saturday, August 12, 2017

Maldives, 2017



"LIFE goes by in the blink of an eye. Appreciate the moment" 

" Don't listen to what they say. Go see " 

" An ocean breeze puts a mind at ease " 

" My 6 days 5 nights in Maldives - my first exploratory visit; experiencing the sunny side of life & saying hello to sun, sand & sea in Maldives from 6-11/8/2017 together with my travel buddy, K C Leong & his spouse "  

Travel Itinerary: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia > Huhulmale > Male City > Huhulmale > Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

In Late 2016 & early 2017, I purchased online 4 Air Asia promotional tickets departing Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) to Xian (China), Manila (Philippines), Jakarta (Indonesia) & Male (Maldives). I am glad that I was able to visit according to schedules all these 4 cities, free & easy, one on solo (Jakarta) and the other three  cities with my travel buddy, KC Leong, my Qigong mate and also a sunshine runner. 

I had in the past visited North India (New Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Kashmir, Manali, Mcleod Ganj, Simla, Leh & Ladakh ) & Sri Lanka, so the time has come that I should do a visit to Maldives, my dream country & a short flight time from Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) - merely 4.5 hrs ! This dream has really come true for me in 2017 ! 

Maldives is one of the 10 smallest country in the world (the other four smallest countries I had visited are ie Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino & Vatican City). Maldives have 1,190 tropical islands spreading over 90,000 sq km in the Indian Ocean, the world most dispersed country !  

Given the small size of Male city, Hulhumale town (airport side) & nearby atolls, you could easily do a walking tour as soon as you land in these places after a short ferry ride, the main stream of public transport in Maldives. You can also opt for a faster speed boat (public & private) service or the more expensive seaplanes if the atoll you are staying is located far from Male city or airport. Most of the private resorts are able to arrange airport transfers to the atoll you stay as soon as you land in Male airport ! 

August is a low season in Maldives so hotel accommodation is reasonably low (US$80-US100 for a double or triple bed room) in comparison to the high season, which can be double in price especially from December to April (the dry season). 

The weather in August is around 29c to 30c during the day and the sea breeze makes it quite pleasant to do a walking tour in Maldives during the day & evening. But expect intermittent rain which happens in most of the afternoons and lasts for 2-3 hrs. Due to a bad weather, our atoll visit to Rasdhoo and a submarine undersea tour (booked by KC's wife) were canceled (no show) so what a big disappointment to our group, if not, our  group visit to Maldives would be a wholesome one ! In travelling, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose due to factors beyond our control or lady luck was not with us at the time of our visit ! 

Taxi fare to major hotels (normally a 3-5km ride) in downtown area is around US2.5 - US$4) inclusive of 1-2 pieces of  luggage. The established hotels in male city or Hulhumale have their own transport to take you to ferry terminals or airport for a fee. As most of the streets in downtown Male are made of small lanes, so be extra careful when you open the taxi doors (left or right) as either sides have motorists zooming past ! The town buses in Hulhumale do not allow passengers with luggage to board  their buses so just beware of it !

Food prices sold in major supermarkets or provision shops are double or triple that of my home country, Malaysia and if you love spicy food, Maldives is the right place for you to dine but without a beer or alcohol drink as Maldives is a Muslim country ! But in private resorts, this may be allowed but check first before your booking ! Most of the processed food & beverages sold in supermarkets or provision shops are fully imported from nearby countries. 

Total Expenses incurred (6 days): Rm1,562 + MVR601 = RM1,733 (US$405) per pax - based on cost sharing of food, public transport & hotel stays for 3 adults

Air Asia airfare: Rm783 (US$183)
Hotels (5 nights, triple bed room) : Rm1,344 + US$18 (green tax) + US$186 = Rm2,217 (ie Rm739=US$173 per pax, cost sharing for 3 adults)

- 1) Newtown Inn Male Airport, (1 night): Rm378.54 (US$88) inclusive of Green Tax (Deluxe double + 1 extra bed) 
- 2) House Clover Hotel, Male City (2 nights): Rm483 (US$112.80) x 2 (Superior room, triple beds) + US3 x 3 x 2 nights for Green Tax
- 3) UI Inn, Male Airport (2 nights): US$102 + US$84 inclusive of Green Tax) - Honeymoon suite, triple beds 

Food: 450MVR
Groceries: Rm20
Airport Bus: RM6 x 2 (Kuala Lumpur) + 20MVR x 2 (Male Airport)
Ferries: 43MVR
Sundries (sea sick pills): 8MVR
Taxi: 60MVR

Exchange rate: US$1=Rm4.28, US$1=15MVR, RM1=3.50MVR

Travel Highlights :

1) Male International Airport (everlasting smiles as soon as you land after a short, transit or long flights from your home country)


2) Hulhumale (ideal for an overnight stay before venturing out to atolls, Male City or nearby private villas by speed boats etc) 



3) Male City (buildings standing tall but watch up for motorists zooming in and out of the narrow side lanes around the city) 



4) Vilingili Public Beach (ideal for a day or night visit, 24 hrs ferry services from Male City !) 


5) Thilafushi (an industrial site, not touristy but just enjoy the ferry ride)


6) My travel buddy, KC Leong, a sunshine runner & spouse (3 musketeers from Malaysia-boleh roaming free & easy in Maldives) 



Going to Maldives for whatever reasons ie snorkeling, honeymoon, water sports, sightseeing or "eating wind" etc. How about having  a haircut first in Male but certainly not a pay cut if you are looking forward for a 4-5 star private villa moonlight stay costing US$1,000 a night ! After a local hair cut, you will certainly look like a typical sunny Maldivian experiencing the sunny side of life in Maldives !


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