You may recall that I won a cooking competition hosted by the Crowne Plaza Beijing International Airport and the prize was 2 tickets on Mega Maldives Airline to The Maldives. Well, I finally went in March. I decided to keep it all in the ‘M’ family. How was it? I would love to say it was AMAZING, but I can’t. I really liked it, but I wasn’t blown away. I think it may have something to do with the fact that I’m already from an island, so I know what sea and sun looks like up close.
Visiting The Maldives is not something that ever crossed my mind. I knew nothing about it, but, in keeping with my lifetime goal of travelling to every country in the world, this trip fit right in.
On the morning of departure, my travel companion, Sheree and I arrived at the airport in the wee hours of the morning to make our 6am flight. It took 8 hours from Beijing and we were the only non-Chinese persons on the flight. In fact, I think our flight attendant was a little relieved to see us.
We finally landed in The Maldives which is a group of islands consisting of several atolls off the south coast of India. The main island, Male is in the Male atoll. The airport is on a separate island and we had to take a ferry to get to Male. Male was just jam packed with buildings. It reminded me of a much more tightly packed downtown Kingston.
When we got to Male, we noticed that literally almost every other store was a pharmacy. How much medicine does one country need? Also, what was interesting was that most people had motorcycles instead of cars. We then had to take another ferry to Maafushi the island that we stayed at, which is also in the Male Atoll.
Now according to our hotel receptionist, Maafushi is 1 KM in width or circumference, I’m not sure, but either way, that’s small. Maafushi is different from the other islands that tourists stay at because locals actually live on Maafushi. Some of the other islands are only developed for tourists. That means we had to abide by Muslim laws, oh ye The Maldives is a Muslim country. The only noticeable issues were that tourists can’t drink alcohol and you can’t wear bikinis on the public beach, but on the private beach it is ok. I never really walked around the whole island because part of it is blocked off for the prison, but when we peeped through the fence, we saw people lying in hammocks. Maybe it was the prison, maybe it wasn’t, but I think that gives you an idea of what kind of place Maafushi is.
Oh, the “roads” are all compacted sand. What I mean is, they don’t build roads, they just put the buildings down in a particular pattern and whatever pathway comes from that pattern is a road. The sand only got compacted through heavy use. All the shops except the really touristy ones would shut down during prayer times and the pharmacy there was never open. There was however a number on the door that we could call if it was an emergency and the pharmacist would come, but Im sure if it really was an emergency, we could just go to the health clinic across the road.
No matter where we were on the island, we were never more than a hop, skip and jump away from the azure blue sea. I’ve never seen water that blue in my life. For some reason it made me just want to drink it all…I don’t know why.
The people were the most soft spoken people I have ever met. Everyone was extremely helpful and gentle. Of course, their training could just have been very good, but either way, it was impressive. I never saw them without a smile.
Maafushi is the perfect place to relax. The only distraction you will have are those you bring yourself. I have to say 5 days in Maafushi was enough because there is not really much to do there except swim, walk around, and get a tan. They do have some water activities that you can do and on the Friday night they organised a crab race and party. We went snorkeling one day, but other than that, we didn’t do much. There was one thing about the snorkelling though, although the water is beautiful, the underwater life isn’t so beautiful. Almost everything I saw was brown, but I did get to go to the sandbank which is smack dab in the middle of the sea. That was interesting.
So I’m glad I experienced it, It’s beautiful and relaxing in the way all islands are, but I probably wouldn’t go back, not for now at least.