Today is the last day of our holiday and both of us are sad..Maldives is the destination which suit us. When we were in Bangkok, we enjoyed bustling town with lots of activities to do plus good food. But Maldives gives us complete rest of our mind and soul which everybody needs. If you are aware, we are in a rat race competing each other and trying to outdo each other. Our mind wander and worry endlessly. A place like Maldives which has nothing much to do apart from swimming and relaxing make our mind rest for awhile. We also have to accept that sea and ocean promotes our mental wellbeing.
Yesterday I went into the ocean and floated with the slow waves in shallow water, my face looking towards the sky. There was a half full moon and many stars . There was a halo around the moon and the wind was gentle..The water was warm and soathing. I was so much comforted by the ocean that I said aloud thank you. I was born in a restricted country called Burma and not allowed to have a passport till 28 years of age. Our previous government regarded all doctors as the country’s property and we were not allowed to have a passport unless they wanted to send us to another country for semina and courses etc. So at the age of 28, I ran away from Burma after getting a passport illegally. What I mean is I was able to travel abroad only at the age of 28 with the awareness that I might not be able to go back there without facing legal actions. I have visited 19 countries since then and I am thankful to this tiny achievement and my travel diaries more than my academic achievement. Nowadays we have democracy and young generations of doctors have more opportunities and freedom compared to our time.
Before my mind wanders again, I want to continue about Maldives , especially Maafushi. Maafushi is a relatively large island ( 1.2 km) and there is still room for infrastructure and development. Its not instagram perfect place but I am so glad to see real lives of people living here. I can see women take part in building up economy as a lot of them were driving motorbikes and trucks. I also saw local girls dancing , shaking their ass in front of public enjoying themselves . They are more outgoing than I thought in spite of a myth that women are suppressed.
So this post is about real life and you will not see many perfect pictures here. Its about Maafushi with migrants, ongoing buildings , scaffolding and sweaty construction workers.
Most of them are from Bangladish and some are from India. But they seem happy to be here. Initially I cannot differentiate between Maldivians and Bangali but they pointed us that Maldivians have darker skin.
owner of local arts shop
I talked to the local shop owner called Suja who witnessed Tsunami in 2004. He owns a shop which sells paintings on the wood, glass and coconut.
According to Suja, on the day of tsunami, water rushed inside his house and he was non chalant about it and did not worry. But then he saw trucks were drifting among big waves and then only he ran towards the mosque holding his young child. The family took refuge on the attic of the mosque. The water came in only a few minutes and the tide went down. He needed to waddle in the muddy water to find his sister who was with another family and found to be safe. Luckily there was no death nor injuries in Maafushi. Only 82 people died out of whole country in 2004 tsunami although damages to houses and infrastructure cost millions. In Maafushi, only 14 houses were destroyed.
Suja refuse to label himself and his staff as artists. But the paintings they made out of wood and coconut are quite impressive and unique.
As I really wanted to buy authentic Maldivian product, I bought a key chain from him made of wood and painting.
Maafushi is also very self sufficient with school, mosques , health care centre and sports centre etc. When I was walking around I saw school children coming out from school with their cute green and white uniforms.
There is also a local bank where you can exchange money. But everywhere you can purchase with USD.
Regarding food, you can have local as well as European and Chinese food easily. I have noticed that a lot of tourists are from mainland China and India. To cater them, a lot of restaurants have display of chinese advertisment and hotels offer vegetarian diet as Indian tourists are vegetarian. I overheard some Indian tourists complaining not enough vegetarian food from hotel buffet and next day, almost every dish became vegetable. Then some of us are like 😫. Indeed, its difficult to satisfy human. But I have to say honestly that Arena beach resort surpassed my expectation ( I did not get any commmission out of hotel )..First of all, they take customers as priority. Their chefs are excellent and even simple meals like pasta is delicious. All vegetarian cusine are tasty like dahl curry , fried rice with vegetable even for non vegs.They also cater lots of salad and fruits for European tourists and their bakery and puddings are yummy.
And Arena resort did not break our bank and only charge considerable price for excellent service. All the waiters are always wanting to help us , even just now we are waiting for the boat at public lounge and one staff came and opened fans and aircon for us. Rooms are clean and provided with coffee , water and toiletaries daily. There is also a place to hang wet clothes at balcony with drainage system.
Entertainment ( acoustic guitarist and singers ) are good and can be equivalent to vocalists from Boracay ( exceptionally musical beach destination ) although they do not sing everyday.
As the island is small, franchise food like KFC and McDonald do not esist here. But if you look around, there are a lot of European food and Chinese restaurants.
A cafe which mimic Hard Rock
We did not have chance to explore the local food as we booked hotel with meal plans. Even breakfast and dinner alone is enough for big eater . Afternoon is our siesta time and we prefer to rest in our room .
Regarding activities, there are a lot of water sports you can do such as kayaking, banana boats, jet ski, fishing, paragliding , water skiing and boarding. Arena beach also has scuba diving courses and activities for both beginners and experienced diving. They have been operating diving excursions for 30 years. You can do night diving and also wreck diving . I feel like going to nearby sandbank with kayak. But my boyfriend complained of backache and decided not to do any of those. Instead, we spent lots of our time swimming or simply sitting in the ocean. We just now found out there is a swimming pool on 8th floor only after we checked out. But we still do not regret our preference on the ocean. To be frank, its the priviledge of warm countries. While in Isle of Man, water of the sea is always cold and I still cannot swim where I live. I also miss my time in Kuantan, Malaysia where dipping in South China sea was my weekly activities.
By the way, please read Maldives part 2 and part 3 to know about excursions to shark bay, turtle watching and swimming with manta rays.
Recreational activities like spa and massage are too expensive to try. Usual price is 58 USD for an hour which is almost the same like Europe..So we did not try it but if you want it, you can easily get massage in Maafushi as I saw 3 spa lounges and 1 gym.
For souvenir , there are many local shops. I was even joking every house opens a shop. Maldives do not produce garment and all are imported from other countries. So prices are above other Asian countries and you need to haggle to get correct price. But we found a shop where we get reasonable price witout hassel of bargaining. I will upload photo of that shop here.
if you want good price, Eloda is ok personally..But ask around before you buy..
The best part is sunset. Its very beautiful to watch it. I am going to miss it very much.
We are grateful to Maldives, its people for their hospitality . We will come back again one day.