Summer feel all year round, majestic villas on coral islands, alluring beaches with ocean water that go from light blue to royal blue, heaven underwater, and food that range from all over Asia to western cuisine. Oh yes, it’s Maldives.
North of the equator of Indian Ocean lies Maldives; a country composed of 1900 coral islands formed around 26 atolls. It is the lowest country in the world, as it is just 5 meters above sea level. It was in the 1970s when tourism started in Maldives. It began with just two resorts that transformed their economy. Now the country has more than a hundred and tourism became the country’s main industry. And now, Maldives is one of the must-visit countries on most travellers’ bucket lists, including me.
Tiger Airways now offers the Singapore to Male route as their newest flight destination, making them the only budget airline to cater this flight. We happened to have the coolest pilot who woke us up in the middle of the five-hour trip with an announcement that we are passing Sumatra and that we can see an active volcano outside our right window.
During landing, we saw the aerial view of Hulhule and some islands near the island, and they looked as appealing as the ones I saw over the Internet. We went for a late lunch right after checking in. Food won’t be a problem for any traveller in Maldives as most of the restaurants serve both western and Asian cuisines. You name it and they got it. You can have a decent meal for $15.
We didn’t waste time. Afterwards, we headed for a Male tour that cost us $10. Our tour guide, Rauf, took us around the city capital of Madives named Male. We went to The National Museum, Sultan Park, and The Friday Mosque, but we didn’t go inside because of our summer attire. There are no shopping malls or food chains in the city. I didn’t even see a movie house, but Rauf said there is one. Instead, there are souvenir shops and a wet and dry market.
Most establishments accept USD and some even accept SGD. Things are pricey – they import commodities from other countries except for seafood. I had a hard time looking for local products for pasalubong. I ended up buying a box of Pineapple Tea from Sri Lanka for $4 and some refrigerator magnets for $2.50 each.
At night time, Rauf brought us to the beach side for a BBQ dinner. BBQ dinner seaside in Maldives means tables and chairs right on the beach, sand art with candlelight, fish and hotdog cooked over charcoal, friend chicken and rice, fruits for dessert, and no lights on the table. We really thought the BBQ will be cooked on the spot, hehe. Their dishes were a bit spicy and it was my first time to eat a semi-spicy hotdog and it’s yummy. The beach ambiance was nice even though the wind felt cold on the skin. The requested BBQ dinner cost us $26 each for a party of 6.
So, we hung out in the beach after eating and played with the rather playful Phyto planktons. These creatures are one of the things I was dying to see in Maldives. They’re so small and fine like the sand, and they glow on the beach like they are sea stars. I didn’t have any luck taking photos of them however. How I wish I brought my tripod with me that night. Everything went well and it was just the start of our three-day stay in the country.