Our inital, outbound journey was a cultural discovery in itself. After a taste of Devon only hours from home with a cream tea on the flight to Dubai, followed by hole-in-the-ground loos at Dubai airport, and then James’ breakfast curry on our second flight, we arrived at Male airport exhausted (having been travelling for approximately thirty six hours) and feeling somewhat overwhelmed. Added to this, we weren’t entirely prepared for our onward journey to Maafushi, apart from having read somewhere to get the public ferry. We quickly gathered that the airport is located on a separate island (Hulhule) and fairly easily managed to catch a 5 minute ferry over to the capital, Male.
So there we were: clueless, aching, sticky, with mopeds zipping all around us, and
without much of a clue of what to do next. Who knew that 7kg could feel so very light on your scales at home, and so very, very heavy when you are squeezing your way through a crowded, fume-filled street in 30 degree heat? I had also, in terror of being arrested for showing off my shoulders, double layered and was most certainly feeling the effects. Being British, we soon retreated to our comfort zone and found an air-conditioned coffee shop for iced espressos, and then hopped in a taxi to the ferry port, where we immediately fell asleep in plastic chairs with our feet propped up in an attempt to calm our chubby little swollen feet.
Finally, we boarded our speedboat (having shunned the cheaper, local ferry service) and were on our way to Maafushi…
After a 35 minute journey, we entered the harbour at high speed to picture-perfect turquoise seas, and knew we had made a good decision!
Since then, we have been sunning ourselves, reading, wandering, comparing the redness of our burn to other European tourists, eating inordinate amounts of tuna, swimming, snorkelling and snoozing. Our biggest highlight was a superb snorkelling trip (bucket list item completed: go snorkelling) organised through our guesthouse and led by Ali and friends, where we saw dolphins (bucket list item questionably completed: swim with dolphins), turtles, manta rays, clownfish and many more awesome things under the sea. We truly reaped the benefits of having brought a GoPro with us on that day! The excursion also included a trip to a sand bank (a tiny, uninhabited sandy island in the middle of the ocean), where we had a great chat over lunch with a Russian couple, Ruslan and Leila, about the state of Britain and Russia…
The first few days were simply idyllic in terms of the weather, but unfortunately the last few we were hit with monsoon-style high winds and rain, which kept us inside much more than we would have liked. However, it gave us a chance to book internal flights within Indonesia, our next stop, and to research where to go and what to do. Any suggestions more than welcome! We are focusing on Java, Bali and the Gili Islands.
As with so many people who travel, some of our main aims on this trip are to connect with people, understand different ways of life and find out about other cultures. We have spent a lot of time chatting with a Bangladeshi guy, Nasir, who has been working at our guesthouse, Shadow Palm, for two and a half years while his wife and child are back at home. We have learnt about his life, about Bangladesh, and about how tourism works in the Maldives: more on that at a later date.
I plan to write another post which is more informative about the island of Maafushi and travelling to the Maldives on a budget, so if you’re tempted to take a sunny island trip, keep an eye out for that!
Right now we are sat in a guesthouse in Negombo, Sri Lanka, having just had our first beer in a week (bliss) and getting ready for a snooze before our onward flight to Singapore tomorrow afternoon.