I’m no artist, but I’ve always been amazed with how beautiful our world was created. I imagine it as a huge canvas meticulously designed and crafted by one great artist. The refreshing tropics, the warm colors of the autumn leaves, the cool winter hues, and how each species dwell on it. Most of it I’ve only seen in photographs, places that I know I could only visit and explore in my imagination.
But until a few weeks ago, I never thought that I could get the chance to actually see my photos come to my life. I never thought that I’d get the chance to visit another country (apart from the place where I’m currently working as an expat). The fantasy turned into reality as I discovered a quiet and beautiful place called Maldives, an island nation located close to Sri Lanka and India, and probably even the smallest country in Asia.
I’ve now felt the difference of travelling to a different place from travelling to your place of work. Moving to Dubai as an expat and travelling to Maldives are two completely different milestones for me. I felt burdened by the idea of leaving my comfort zone, not knowing when I would come back. There was this feeling that I wanted to go but didn’t want to but I have to. Travelling to Maldives is a completely different story. I was excited and so were my friends – my travelling companions. We have not yet reached our destination, but we were already planning where to go next. I think that travelling does that to a person – you just can’t get enough. I was nervous excited.
The airport was small, which was good because that meant that we didn’t have to worry about getting lost or being left by the bus/train because the boarding gate is thousand of miles away from passport control. Their immigration officers were also nice, when asked what welcome and thank you was in their language they answered nicely. Although upon departure they could be really strict when it comes to bringing water bottles containing more than 100ml.
We stayed in a 3-star hotel in Hulhumale, Globus Beach Inn. It’s not like the island resorts that you can see in google or tripadvisor. But if you’re on a budget and you just want to go island hopping, I can definitely recommend this place. Their staff was nice and friendly, and the neighborhood is peaceful and quiet, and it’s only 5-10 minutes away from the ferry station. If you’re a fan of coffee (we’re talking about black, bitter coffee here), their brewed coffee is worth bragging.
Our first stop was Club Med Kani, located in Kanifinolhu Island. The place was amazing, and since I did not take the swimming test for snorkeling, my friend and I decided to tour the entire place. It was amazing and the soft drizzle made me feel like I was back home. Even the smell of dew made me reminisce of my past when we were kids playing in the rain. Though we were a bit tight on schedule and never got the chance to try all their activities, they do have lots of stuff to do like snorkeling, kayak, beach volleyball, zumba, aquafitness, and so on. You can also have pool access or play chess with their giant chessboard.
Himafushi is like the souvenir shop island. Most stores in Hulhumale has souvenirs but here everything is cheaper, since they craft the souvenirs themselves and need not to import it from various places. You can get key chains for as low as $2 but if you’re planning to bring home gorgeous accessories for your mom it could cost you $35 or less – it depends on what type of stone or dead coral was used for it. But you can always use the power of haggling! If you felt like you didn’t get to buy for everyone on your list there’s always Duty Free at the airport. Unfortunately, haggling is not an option.
Of course a tour would not be complete if we did not get to see their capital. Ferry boat from Hulhumale to Male would cost 5.50 Rufiyaa per person so that’s less than a dollar. The ferry travel takes approximately 30 minutes. So before travelling, better make sure that you got your schedule in check for any excursions. We’ve seen paradise, but Male is not one of them (no offense to the people of Male). It had its own beauty, but it’s not something to brag about. Male is like the Satwa/ Bur Dubai version of Dubai, or even the Manila equivalent of my country. But despite the lack of aesthetic appeal of Male it still has a better side to it. You won’t fear pick pockets and the locals are helpful, friendly, and nice.
I did get to have my first snorkeling experience. I’m not a good swimmer (I barely passed my swimming class) but that did not stop me from seeing what’s under the sea. (thank God for floaters!)
We did our side trips and did our own island explorations.
On the day of our flight, we didn’t want to leave. I think all travellers develop some sort of attachment to their “temporary home.” Whether its the beauty of the place we visited or the idea of going back to reality, we really don’t know. But one thing’s for sure, we want to do it again. If we can go back to Maldives it would be awesome, if we can visit another country it would be even more awesome.
On our flight back home I was asked what the most memorable part of the trip would be for me. I answered with confidence that it was jumping off the boat and my first time snorkeling. But when I pondered about it I realized that it wasn’t any of the activities. Seeing the beautiful Maldives was just a bonus for me. The best part for me would have been the time I spent with my beautiful ladies – Mercy, Rhea, and Liza. How we disrupted their serene island, and the never ending groupies on almost every part of the country.
Maldives is just one part of the artwork I’ve seen. There’s more that I need to see, which my heart longs to see. The warm colors of the autumn leaves are waiting for me and I definitely want to build a snowman