I walk this summer 2020 more than last year. Its partly because I cannot travel. In the first place, I came to work in Europe with the reason of travelling. In the first year, I was able to travel only 3 countries due to work commitment and shortage of budget. 2nd and early 3rd year, I was busy with my studies. I finished all my exams which I insanely decided to take and now , like other people I am stuck with covid situation and lock down when I finally able to relax and travel.
The island I am living is called Isle of Man and it is a small island in Irish sea between Ireland and uk. Its a bit bigger than Singapore but only have 80000 population compared to 5 millions in Singapore. Isle of Man have many hidden beaches and glens. This year I decided to walk Raad Ny Foillan , coastal path which is 100 miles in total length. Raad Ny Foillan means way of the gulls in Gaelic. It is interrrupted coastal walk to see the entire nation.
I am an explorer with zero sense of direction , but I still wander into unknown place all the time. My cousins nicknamed me Miss the Lost World. But past bad experience has not convinced me to stop exploring. My balance is equally bad as I have small feet compared to my body weight. I had multiple ankle sprains in the past.
My boyfriend is always my biggest supporter and my walking talking GPS. He needs a little push in the beginning but able to walk once he becomes fully awake which is a very difficult process. Walking him up needs alarm with snoozes, purposely annoying him by opening the lights and windows, showering him with kisses and last threatening him I would not plan any activities with him next summer. Well, after all these tectics, he still needs 2 hours to be fully awake.
We went to Port Grenaugh to walk to DerbyHeaven. It is 4.5 miles coastal walk.
We were aware it would rain but determined to walk 2 hours none the less. It was rugged coastline with churred rocks and slippery narrow coastal path . One needs to be careful not to step on the shrubs at the edge.
I am ok with climbing up but not ok with climbing down. Steve had to go ahead of me and I needed to hold his shoulder as support. We found several caves and coves. Some cove are like small private swimming pool as the area is completely surrounded by rock.
Sometimes the pathway ends abruptly as footpath was lost in land erosion..Then we needed to get inside private farm land to continue walking. Its very kind of farmers to allow strangers to pass through their land. I was nervous about cows as I was wearing bright red jacket. When we were young, we were told bulls do not like red color and tend to charge at people wearing one. MY boyfriend said it is a myth . But I could not do anything as I was wearing bright red shirt underneath jacket. I tried not to look back at staring bulls. If they could talk, they might have told us to get out.
We saw a hidden beach called Port Soldrick. It was middle of nowhere and formed from a gorge. Gorge is a place between two valleys. I am always excited to find out hidden beaches. My friend told me about name of beach just recently.
My boyfriend needed to go back as he was working evening shift . I was in dilemma whether I should continue the walk alone without him. I asked him like a child whether I would be ok to walk alone without him. He showed me direction how to get a bus back to Douglas once I arrive Castle Town. The path ends at Derbyheaven and I need to walk from there to Castle Town to get a bus. At that moment, I thought walking alone may be theraputic to calm myself and good to upgrade my confidence. We parted after kissing and hugging * ( I know its cheesy but we are still very much in love after 3 years of dating ). If he can, my boyfriend would choose to sit and play games all day. But unfortunately, he ended up with crazy girl friend who is restless and tend to get lost easily . So he ends up walking many places with me and he said he enjoys walking with me in nature. When I am with other friends, I miss him a lot.
Back to my story , I walked alone after enjoying newly discovered beach called Port Soldrick. After half km, I ended up at blind end with a locked gate. I frantically called back Steve as there is no bus service from Port Grenaugh to Douglas unless I walk for hours. Steve unfortunately did not pick up the phone. I ran like a goat to catch up with him. Luckily he was waiting for me near the narrow path to be my human walking stick
He said ” I know you need help with this downhill” with a grin. I told him ” may be God does not want me to walk alone ” and I really mean it. Well, I can talk all days how much I love him and I have many reasons to love him. Walking with me is just one of them. 😊
If you want to have some adventures and if you are not afraid of paranormal places, you have to go to Mull circle and Chasms. Both of them are walking distance to Cregneash village , a popular tourist destination in South of the island ( Isle of Man ). I have a walking enthusiastic friend called Heather who walks extensively in Isle of Man. Last year, Heather walked more than 1500 miles and she is planning to achieve similar or more this year. Today, we picked Heather in Port Erin on the way to Mull Circle so that we could spend time with her while walking. We drove to Cregneash village ( a village which has been maintained the same like 200 years ago with lots of stony houses and farm ). We parked our car at allocated car parking space near Cregneash village. ( please read my other blog about Cregneash village if you are interested )
We had to walk uphill slowly until we reach the areas where Isle of Man people built look out places in World War II where the soldiers detected traffic of air crafts by using radar system.
Mull circle has six pairs of graves and they were built as burial sites for Vikings or important people in late Neolithic time ( 3500 BC ). It is at such a strategic view where you can see whole of Port Erin town and part of Port St Mary.
The unusual ring of stones has been well known to local people, but it does not have a good name. People have told stories about sudden disorientation here, weird moving lights, some have heard unexplained sounds – as if galloping invisible horses. Most impressive is the story about a ghostly army of horsemen riding along the stone ring .
Despite its name Meayll Hill Stone Circle (Meayll in Manx means “bald”) is not a true megalithic stone circle (like Stonehenge) – it is a unique group of passage graves.
Local historian P.M.C.Kermode and Scottish scientist W.A.Herdman organized first excavations in the mysterious stone circle – one in August – September 1893 (results published in 1904) and next – in 1911 (published in 1914). A.S.Henshall explored the graves in 1971 (published in 1978).
Findings show that Meayll people were skilled potters who produced diverse, richly decorated vessels. There were found many sherds of these vessels. These urns were used to hold the remains of the deceased – in each burial cist were placed several such urns. There were found also cremated bones, flint arrowheads, knives and – rounded white quartz pebbles. Some of these can be seen in Manx Museum.
As the result of repeated excavation plus attempts of treasure hunters, there is nothing much left in Mull circle apart from those stones which are erected more than 5000 years ago
After leaving Mull hill, we headed towards Chasms and Spanish Head of Isle of Man.
The way to Chasms is a downhill path towards a building called Chasm café ( some people call is Sugarloaf café ). It was quite easy to reach there. But the hard part is going beyond the gate and fence where you need to walk around the deep creeks of the rock . The gate can be found near the café and it leads to the cliff. As the creeks are covered superficially by bushes and shrubs, one can easily fall into the deep creeks into the sea.
Historically, it has been a dangerous place and that is why children and pets are not allowed to go beyond the fence. Recently 51 year old man died after falling into the creek near Chasms.
Chasms is an amazing rock formation in Isle of Man which is the home of hundreds of puffin birds. Unfortunately, it is not reachable by public and puffins cannot be observed up close unless you have a good pair of binoculars. Sugar loaf rock can be seen properly if you take a boat trip from Port St Mary to Man of Calf island. As I don’t have good balance, both Heather and Steve , my boy friend prohibited me from walking beyond the gate. So I took some pictures from far.
More than that, I found out there are some hearsay stories about Chasms as some people have witnessed ghostly women walking or running around Chasms . So I would not recommend to go there without any companion and it would be better if one can go there during the day time instead of evening or night time .
We tried to stay inside the fence and walk around until we can see glimpse of sugarloaf rock formation where puffins live. I could see colonies of puffins but it was hard to appreciate their details. Even without sighting of puffin birds, sugarloaf is still a beautiful thing to observe.
We walked around Chasms and admired people who have courage to walk on the rock with deep creeks. A few of them came back and they looked tired. Steve said falling into the creek is so much different from falling into the open sea as you most probably get injured during fall and nobody will be able to rescue you as the creeks are deep and narrow.
As I am now writing about Mull circle and Chasms, I am going to include Fleshwick bay in this article. Fleshwick bay is a hidden beach near Port Erin, but quite far from Cregneash. You need to drive out of Port Erin Town and go towards Surby road. From Surby road, you need to drive towards the farmer cottages with narrow lanes. Car parking on the road is quite difficult as the roads are narrow. Next to the bay, there is a limited car parking space, but it can be crowded especially during summer.
My favourite of the trip to Fleshwick bay is driving down towards the beach where you can see isolated house surrounded by mountains. It is such a breath taking view and I can never get tired of that view .
Fleshwick baby is a gorgeous beach and suitable for people who like kayaking. You can also climb up mountains surrounding the bay and can enjoy panoramic view of the bay.
We saw some ducklings with their mommy duck and Steve was pretty much fascinated by them .
I will write more about Isle of Man as I have no where to go because of lock down. I hope you enjoy reading this and hopefully more people can visit this beautiful island in the future.
Dhoon glen is one of the steepest glen in Isle of Man (an island in the Irish sea between UK and Ireland ). Isle of Man is a small island with 80000 population and the isle has many legends associated with fairies . Many folks believe in fairies and some of them even claim fairies have visited them. But when you visit glens, you develop some delusions that may be fairies do exist there. It is because you can see a dense canopy of trees, beautiful wild flowers, tress covered with mosses along rivers and they do look like places for fairies. TO make your imagination wild, some areas have crafted tiny houses and statues, purposely arranged to look like fairy houses. Isle of Man also has a landmark on the main road to airport where people say ” hello” to fairies so that you will not have bad luck on the island. Even the buses have installed personal announcement saying ” Hello Fairies ” when the buses pass that particular landmark.
Dhoon glen is a big glen on the coastal pathway to Ramsey ( northern part of island ). In 1800s, it used to be a popular tourist destination as there used to be a small passenger ship ” Manx fairy ” which ran daily from Douglas to Ramsey and Dhoon bay used to be transit point where tourist could get off the ship in small boats to spend the time on the beach or to wander in the forests surrounding the glen . In late 19th century, around 8000 visitors by sea and further 42,000 visitors by road visited Dhoon glen in a typical season. When electric Tram arrived in 1897 to isle of man, it boost the number of tourists to Dhoon glen and the glen even started charging tourists 1.5 pence per person . Nowadays, Isle of Man does not have many tourists like before and not many people go to Dhoon glen as the steps are quite steep ( 190 steps ) and there are many more open glens in Isle of Man where you can reach easily by car. It also adds extra bonus to Dhoon glen because you can still relax there on your own as it is not a crowded place.
The waterfall half way down the valley is the inner Wooar or Big girl and is one of the highest waterfalls in the island falling over 40 metres ( 130 ft ) in two drops.
We went there in May , 2020 in the evening. In isle of man , you can still see the sun till 8 pm in May as it is spring. We had difficulty to park the car that time as there were more than usual number of visitors as it was on Saturday. You can see the Manx tram station ” Dhoon glen ” at the entrance of the glen. After passing the railway, there is a small landing area with big trees where you can sit and relax.
Then we went down the stairs on the left side. If you turn to right side, you might end up going to the wrong direction. Stairs are made of Manx stone and they are not the nicest stairs as they are uneven . The pathway can be slippery with dry leaves and mud. Before you go to the area of waterfalls, you need to pass through the forest which is so beautiful as the sun rays falling through the leaves.
After passing through the forest, we walked along the pathway in parallel with the river. The flow of water from the river and tweeting of birds were very soothing to our souls.
As it is the spring season, we could see wild flowers along the pathway. The flowers are called blue bells and they look like velvet carpet . Blue bells can have other colours such as white and pink.
We passed through many steps with varying heights and we had to be careful as we could easily slip and fall.
We walked past the waterfall towards the beach. The path has small waterfalls which finally lead to two big drops of waterfall. The total height is 130 feet and it was a bit tiring especially for me as I tend to get muscle ache easily . It took me longer time to arrive beach and it was nice to see my friends were settled at the beach and waving at me.
The beach is ragged and full of pebbles and stones.
I found a big flat stone where I lied down and had a nap as I was very tired at the end of trekking although it was only 2 miles . I looked at the blue sky and thought of my blessings with nature. As usual, I said thank you to the place for having me for a few hours before I left. I will write about other glens as soon as I have enough time. Thank you for reading my blog.
After Northern Ireland tour, we went to Republic of Ireland from Belfast to do Ring of Kerry tours. When my friend told me, the tour costs only 20 GBP, I did not believe her in the first place. On the other hand, I thought service might not be good. I was pleasantly surprised when I found out the tour is very good with nice coaches and good tour guide. I booked via trip adviser and needed to pay extra 2 GBP (22GBP ) . It is still very worthwhile. The same tour can be done from different towns and the price is more expensive if you start Ring of Kerry tour from Belfast.
First of all, we took the bus from Belfast to Dublin . It was around 12 GBP per person, then we went to Killarney from Dublin by train which cost us 24 GBP per person. As you might have been already aware , the earlier you can book for the train, the cheaper the price will be. To make you understand, I will post the picture of the train route.
As you can see above photo, we can not directly go to Killarney from Dublin by train. We have to get off at a town called Mallow and have to change another train to Killarney.
Kilarney is a charming expensive tourist destination with lots of horse wheel carts etc. All hotels are run by local and there is no hotel chain . I notice a lot of nice restaurants there . I assume most hotels are originally houses, transformed into inns by owners . As a result, you feel like you are staying at a local Irish house. We booked a motel named Kilarney Inn. It cost us 100GBP per night without breakfast. If you browse booking.com or agoda, you will find out the price can go up to 500 GBP per night for some hotels. The staff are nice and welcoming at Killarney Inn and they cater delicious breakfast too . We need to walk around 15 minutes from town centre to Kilarney Inn.
The next day we went to the Killarney town center to catch a tour bus for Ring of Kerry tour . The Ring of Kerry is a scenic drive around the Iveragh Peninsula in southwest Ireland’s County Kerry. Its 179km-long, circular route takes in rugged coastal landscapes and rural seaside villages
When our tour started , our tour guide stated that Johny Cash wrote the song “forty shades of green” based on Irish scenery. We have seen lots of green mountains and trees along the way.
In the beginning, we passed through River Laune and a beautiful town called Killorglin .
I will write our stops with headings because those places are ones I could really see and walk around.
1) Kerry Bog village
It is a Irish traditional village composed of thatched houses. The Kerry Bog Village is set at the foot of the Mcgillycuddy Reeks, Ireland’s highest mountain range . You can see almost extinct Kerry pony and Irish hounds ( the world’s largest dogs ). The hounds were once used to hunt wild boar, wolves and Elk. It was also regarded as royal dogs and general population was not allowed to own them. They can be as tall as 90 cm and as heavy as 70 kg. Nowadays, not many people can rare Irish Hounds as they are difficult to maintain and very expensive. At Bog village, they looked unwell and tired. They were kept in the cage in the sunny area.
There was also history about potato famine. When potato blight ( fungus ) invaded Irish farms in 1845 to 1849 , a lot of potato and tomatoes were damaged leading to death of many people because of starvation . As Ireland main food is potato, a lot of people suffered financially and physically. At that time, typical Irish family had many household members and children living in such small dwellings .
Infant/ maternal mortality rates were disturbingly high in Ireland during 18th/19th century and average lifespan of people living in these times was on average 45 years.
Among other things, I also learnt that the reason the windows are so small in certain cottage was due to tax purposes. Under the laws of the land in Ireland, people paid more for having larger windows, as it was seen as a luxury to have more light. It is believed that such a tax was the reason for the half doors, as light was allowed in the top half of the door when needed and this was not taxed. It was this tax that started the famous phrase ” daylight robbery”. ( information from pamphlet distributed at Bog village )
Cottages did not have toilets like we have today. Instead they had to make use of a p’o ( a special pot usually placed under the bed ).
Farmers had to loan money with interest from wealthy people to do plantation . When they could not pay back the loan, the loan sharks could confiscate the farm and houses. I also found out people were forced to leave their house by loan sharks by legal orders as well as mechanical restraining . Sometimes people died inside their house as the authority threw fire into the chimney when the house owner resisted to leave.
There is a Red Fox inn at Bog village and they sell delicious Baileys coffee. I was eager to try baileys coffee and I got severe gastritis after that. ( It tastes so good and you should try if you have strong stomach ). By the way, Bog village entrance fee is 6 Euros per person for adult and 4.5 Euros for a child.
2) Iveragh Pennisula /? Dingle Bay
I hope I am writing this correctly. The bus stopped at the scenic location around Iveragh Pennisula called Dingle Bay.
The place is breathtaking. I could recall the area had traditional celtic musician playing pipes and Irish folks selling handcraft items.
I took above photo from the bus and believe that that is Kells Viaduct who was last used in 1960. The trains used to come from Dublin to Caherslveen by Dingle Bay via Kells Viaduct .
3) Brendan Ferris Sheepherding Demonstration
The highlight of Ring of Kerry tour is sheep dog demonstration. It is such a marvelous show and only cost us 5 Euros per person.
Kells Sheep Center is run by Sheepdog trainer Brendan Ferris. It is located on the Ring of Kerry on the N70, halfway between Cahersiveen and Glenbeigh. Brendan trains Collies around 20 minutes per day to become excel in sheep herding . Training period takes more than 1 year and trained dogs can be as expensive as a car. Our tour guide said we can go back home with the conviction that if dogs don’t listen to us, they are just merely lazy or pretending to be naive.
We went in the summer, and it was very sunny. I was sweating in the crowd. I recommend to bring umbrella if you go there in the summer.
The bus passed throught the town called Cahersiveen which has population around 1000. There is a catholic church in Cahersiveen named after a lay person , Daniel O’ Connell ( very unusual in Ireland as most churches are named after saints ) . Daniel was referred as the liberator who fought for equal rights and religious tolerance of Irealnd in early half of 19th century. He was born from wealth Catholic family and decided to gain the equal rights for Catholic people in Irish parliament which was denied many years. The bus did not stop in Cahersiveen but I could manage to take some photos from the bus.
Another famous person in the town is Hugh O’Flaherty, a catholic priest who saved many lives of Jews and Prisoners of the World War II.
Our tour guide explained that the Catholic priests have involved in politics of Ireland in a positive way.
4) Waterville village
Our bus passed through the Waterville village. It became popular because of American comedian Charlie Chaplin who regularly visited the village and finally bought a holiday house there. There is a statue of Charlie in the center of the town in his memory.
5) Com an Chiste
Our Bus stopped at Com an Chiste around 30- 40 minutes. So we had a time to take photos .
It is a place which is 700 ft above sea level , and regarded as the best place on the planet to view stary skies at night. On a clear, moonless night, you can see over 4000 stars with the naked eye.
From there, you can see Scariff island, where Fr Francis O’ Sullivan , a scholar rebel, priest and wanted man, was caught and beheaded by British troops in 1653.
Another popular destination is Skellig island where star wars movie “The Force awakens ” was filmed. It is UNESCO heritage site because of 6th century monastic buildings. There are day tours depending on weather , but guests are not allowed to stay there and there is no facility such as toilet , water and food supply in Skellig island. Only 180 visitors are allowed to visit everyday and there is no safety measures . The boat trip last 45 minutes and tourists are allowed to stay 2 hours at the island. The steps are steep without rails and difficult to climb. Even when the sea is calm at mainland, the water near Skellig island is turbulent. Our tour does not include visiting there.
6) Scariff Inn
The bus stopped at Scariff Inn, which is well known for Irelands best known view with the meal. The sea food is delicious and as I expected, overpriced. After the meal, we had a few minutes to enjoy the scene outside the restaurant.
Along the way, we passed through a stretch of beach which was spectacular. I just googled and found out it was called Derrynane beach . I am sad that I did not have a chance to walk along that beach as the bus did not stop there. I really recommend making it as a stop.
7) Sneem village
Among all sites, Sneem village is my favourite. I had a very nice vanilla ice cream there. While other people were looking at wool shops, I ventured towards the church and found out little pyramids around the church .
The project of building pyramids was begun in 1988, financed by the Arts Council of Ireland as a result of Sneem winning the National Tidy Towns award the previous year. Using stone and coloured glass, Irish artist James Scanlon and his team have created a magical effect, marrying the natural to the human world.
Actually, the pyramids were created like the way fairies went. I walked around pyramids, sat beside river and listened to the sound of the river, scattered with the calling of birds. It was amazing.
8) Ladies view
Our last point is Ladies view at Killarney National park. It is a scenic point and the most photographed place in Ireland according to Irish Times. It was named according to the time, ladies in line waited for Queen Victoria arrival. To arrive Ladies View, we passed through Gap of Dunloe.
Our guide said the oak woods in Killarney National Park is infested with invasive plant called rhododendron ponticum which destroy diversity of the woodland by rapidly proliferation and replacing other plant species.
Ring of Kerry tour lasted 6 hours and the bus driver recommended us to go and watch celtic dancing show called celticstep at the Killarney race course which is 10-15 minutes drive from town center.
It was an amazing show with a lot of talented dancers and artists who got awards internationally. The way they stepped on their toes and heels made me wonder whether they would develop osteorarthritis at the young age. The sheer pressure on the feet for years might cause wear and tear on the joints. They all look young and fit and seemed enjoying dancing. A lady sang beautifully and all of them are very good looking.
The only annoying thing was a few girls who were sitting behind us carried away with the show and kept on kicking our chairs .
Initially, the tourguide offered us to go there with free of charge transport. The buses came and picked up tourists after the show. Unfortunately, our driver did not turn up and we needed to beg another bus to take us. Instead of dropping us at our hotel, the bus driver only stopped in front of the pub, ( may be intentionally so that a group of tourists would end up drinking over night ). A lot of tourists on the bus protested and became grumpy, but all of us had no choice, but had to got off the bus.
Personally , this tour is just a small part of Ring of Kelly and I am thinking of returning with my partner to drive on our own. If you want to know ” off the beaten track” tour, please read following blog. The writer sounds like he knows Kerry very well. 🙂
Being a nature lover, I think Ireland is more authentic and more worthy to visit than UK . I am in love with Ireland and its people. In spite of teaming with sad stories of violence, revolutions, conflicts, Irish people are very warm. I have heard many stories that Ireland is pretty unsafe, and might be still true. But I did not feel it when I was there , ( may be because I was in many cities which are much more unsafe than Ireland ). The only thing I can complain is Belfast is not designed for tourists and it was very difficult for the tour bus to stop and fetch the passengers.
I went to Ireland when I was very down last summer 2019 . I thought of going there alone. Luckily, one of my Uni classmates joined my trip unexpectedly. So we had a nice time , catching up.
Here are a few things I did in Ireland with my friend.
In Belfast, I stayed in a travel lodge hotel in city center just for two nights. The first day was just to relax and look around the area. On second day, we did a Northern Ireland tour.
Near our hotel, there was St Malachy’s Church . a gothic style church which is regarded as one of the most romantic buildings in Belfast. It was built in 1941 and inspiration of the design come from the galleried chapels of rural Ireland. We did not have a chance to go in as it was quite late when we arrived.
Then we walked to the city center to see Donegall square. We admired the statues around that area, but we did not have chance to see Library and Titanic museum. One girl whom I met during the trip told me Titanic museum is very good to visit and you need a few hours to cover.
I would like to post following photos to show that architecture of Belfast is in danger of being shitted everyday by pigeons and sea gulls. Take note, they choose to shit on the heads usually.
Then we walked to St Mary chapel which is the first Catholic church in Belfast. As most people in Belfast were protestants, it was such a milestone for Belfast in 1784.
Then we walked around chapel lane and observed the mural paintings of Belfast. Belfast have many street artists and mural paintings are used to express the idea , culture and political view of people . There are even some tours which focus on mural arts. I should do the tour one day.
To travel around Belfast, I took the tour from Tripadvisor called ” Game of Thrones Filming locations tours of Northern Ireland. The tour was 45 GBP per each and duration was around 9 hours. The tour includes Giant Causeway, the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge and the Dark Hedges.
In between these places, the bus stopped at some scenic places . Here are the stops along the Giant causeway route .
Ballygally bay and castle
Ballagally is a beautiful beach town on Antrim coast.
Ballygally castle is the 17th century castle and it is well known for having at least 3 ghosts. The most famous one has been around for the best part of 400 years. The popular theory is that the ghost is that of Lady Isabella Shaw, wife of Lord James Shaw.
Legend has it that Lord Shaw wanted a son, and when his wife delivered his heir, he snatched the baby from his wife and locked her in a room at the top of the castle. While trying to escape to search for her beloved child, Lady Isabella fell to her death from the tower window! Another theory is that she was actually thrown from the window by the cruel Lord Shaw or one of his henchmen!
Lady Isabella’s ghost is reputed to be a “friendly” spirit who walks the corridors of the old castle. Over the years many guests have reported strange experiences and have felt a presence in their rooms! There are also endless stories of unexplained noises in the night and an eerie green mist over the castle!
Ballygally Castle is very proud of its permanent ghost resident and has dedicated a ghost room for the curious travelers.
For those brave enough to visit the room of Lady Isabella, make your way to the top of the spiral staircase. if you would like to find our more about the Castle History and a Ghost Tour with a member of the hotel staff please call +44 (0)28 2858 1066.
The bus stopped at Carnlough harbour because it was the location in one of the scenes of Games of Thornes. Apparently, I have no idea about that movie as I have never watched it. But I like that peaceful atmosphere and there was a nice coffee shop. We were given a few minutes as a toilet break.
I saw a memorable plate about a war pigeon called Paddy at the harbour. During World war II, pigeons were used as messengers to carry coded information. Paddy was released in Normanday and returned back to the base in 5 hours time which was the fastest time recorded. Paddy lived 11 years and was given Dickin medal which is animal equivalent of Victoria cross. Paddy was the only Irish recipient of Dickin medal to date.
Among all destinations, I love Cushendun the most. It is a very beautiful town.
Cashendun is a ferry port which is a stone throw away from Scotland. It has become popular because of its colorful past, exotic architecture, caves and churches. Clough-Williams-Ellis ( 1883-1978 ) was the famous Welsh architect who designed some of Cushendun buildings. We did not have chance to visit those buildings.
I found an interesting seat called Fuldiew seat at the cushendun port. In 1803, a tragic story of two lovers happened . The tomb of the boy was dated back to 1803 which can be found in St Parick’s church. The legend has been told repeatedly for over 200 years with some embellishment . The Fuldiew seat was erected to commemorate the tragic story of lovers by district development association in 2013.
The story of Fuldiew story was like that . An 18 year old boy named John McAlaster had a childhood sweetheart, Mary, to whom he was engaged. John went out to sea as a sailor and supposed to come back to Cushendun to mary Mary . Instead, he died aboard , killed by someone and his body was returned to his home town by ship . Mary was not aware of that in the beginning . However, when she found out about the tragic death of her lover, she died of broken heart. People found her dead body lying next to tombstone of John. She wrote some words on the tombstone using sharp stone.
Before we arrived at Giant cause way, the bus stopped near Dunluce castle which was built around 1513. The iconic ruin of Dunluce Castle bears witness to a long and tumultuous history. First built on the dramatic coastal cliffs of north County Antrim by the MacQuillan family around 1500 and later seized by the ambitious MacDonnell clan in the 1550s during an era of violence, intrigue and rebellion.
We did not go to the castle although you can choose to go if you are interested in seeing archaeological remains. Entrance fee is 5.50 Euros for adult and it opens daily.
The Giant’s Causeway is a UNESCO world Heritage site. I had never seen many hexagonal stones lying close and fitted to each other before. These columns of stones were transformation of larva erupted from fissure of volcanoes.
Before you venture there, please look carefully at below photo. It is the map of Giant’s Causeway and one of the main attractions is Wishing chair. Unfortunately, the chair was occupied a long time by some tourists that time ( may be not aware of the fact that they should give chance to others, even it does not mean our wish can be granted by simply sitting on it ). So I did not have a chance to sit on it. Basalt stones are cold , shiny, smooth and quite nice to sit on them actually.
When I googled it, I found out the photos of Irish women sitting on it in 1900 with the hope of selling their religious memorabilia ( mirrors, hair brushes , booklet etc ) to travelers. The chair is perfectly formed by columns of basalt stones.
To make your wish come true, you need to wiggle 4 times, then rub the stone to your left with your left hand. saying your wish before sitting. ( you never know unless you try it yourself )
The science says these beautifully stacked stones were formed 60 millions years ago. However, another side of story is a legend. According to Irish legend, Giant Causeway is formed by an Irish giant named Finn McCool who got into trouble by fighting with Scottish giant called Bennandonnar. The latter wanted to claim Ireland as his property. Enraged Finn threw away boulders into the sea to make a way towards Scotland. After arriving Scotland, Finn noticed he could not beat enormous Bennandonnar and had to run back to Ireland by passing through Giant Causeway . He was rescued by his witty wife who conned his enemy by portraying Finn as a baby. Bennandonnar ran away thinking Finn as the son of his enemy. His enemy thought if the baby was that big, father would be impossible to beat.
Dark Hedges were rows of very old beech trees which were planted in 1775 by owner of the property James Stuart. The intention is to create an imposing approach to unwanted visitors. Like other places of Ireland, the folk believed that trees are regularly visited by ghosts.
The place became popular because of Games of Thrones movie. The old trees are surreal and gives very artistic illusion . I am quite upset to see tourists wrote graffiti on the trees.
The highlight of the trip is Carrick-a-Rede Bridge which was situated along Giant Causeway route . The bridge connects mainland and a small island called Carrick-a-Rede. You need to walk around 30 minutes to walk up and down the hills to reach the bridge. At least, you need 1 hour to visit the bridge . The island was formed from volcanic eruption and it was linked to the mainland by a flimsy bridge . The bridge was made of plunks linked each other with wires of ropes.
The bridge was originally used by salmon fishermen during summer . It is no longer used for fishing as salmons are very scarce now. It was used only during summer in the past and dismantled during winters. However, as the site became a tourist attraction, the bridge has been open year round as long as the weather is permissible. Rope access specialists have to check the safety all the time . When the weather is bad, tourists are not allowed to cross the bridge. We need to give entrance fee and need to walk quite a while. There are lots of stairs . The view of the rocky coastline mixed with basalt , hardened larva ( dark rock ) was mesmerizing. I was glad that we had a good weather that time.
When we pass the bridge, it means we are passing through the mouth of volcano. I can imagine the skill of fishermen as they used to cross the road with one hand holding the rope and one hand holding bits and pieces of fishing gear and fish.
The trip lasted for 9 hours and we were tired when we arrived back. Even with that, we managed to go to a buffet dinner and had a fantastic meal.
I will write about tours in Republic of Ireland soon.
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.
Today 6th Oxctober 2019 is the mile stone of my life . Its because I have swam with hundreds of sharks in Maldives. I am someone who is obsessed with sharks since I was a child. I remember my parents took me to cinema to watch Jaws which was very popular that time. That instilled me with fear of sharks .
But I know there are many harmless sharks and I trust tourist industry will never do anything risky. So I and my boyfriend booked a tour to see Manta rays and sharks.
The tour starts from 9am and it cost 50USD per person. As usual we gathered near Arena resort office and collected our life jackets and snorkelling gears. At first I was disappointed as the boat for today was quite small and my favorite tour guide whom I met yesterday was not in today. Yesterday we went for another tour and many tour guides followed us. So we had luxury of being looked after by many tour guides and I was worried about safety of small boat as well as number of staff ( only one tour guide ) for our group. But we eventually found out our group have so many friendly people and we began introducing to each other.
The first place was for watching dolphins. If you read my previous post, I have already mentioned about watching a dolphin pod in Maldives part 2. But today, dolphins decided to show us their acrobatic skill. They started to jump in the air one after another and I believe they wanted to entertain us. What intelligent and friendly creatures! I cannot even imagine why anyone should harm them. Some of photos are shared by Alex and Merry who are from China and Indonesia. They are very nice couple and we only met them today . We clicked on camera and not sure whether we could get good pictures as dolphins appeared in the air unexpectedly and rapidly . But I believe I did capture some of good photos although images are small.
After dolphin sighting, the guide searched for the mantas to swim with. Both Manta and sharks are nocturnal animals and usually sleep during day time. I am amazed at the way tour guides can see manta from very far. He warned us that Manta rays can swim fast and we need to ready to jump in once he sees one. With that instruction, I decided to give up on it. Haha. First of all, I cannot swim well. Secondly, I need someone to push me back to boat if I drift away from boat. With one guide juggling everything for whole group, I do not trust I could get help . So I watched from the boat. Most of our group did well and managed to see Manta very shortly. Manta ofcos swam away very swiftly like a celebrity chased by paparazis. The tide was very strong and my boyfriend was exhausted after chasing Manta. He could not see very well without his glasses and he ended up swimming without seeing manta.
For awhile, our tour guide kept on searching mantas but we could not find anymore at that moment after first manta disappeared. So we decided to go to shark bay to swim with sharks. Our tour guide advised us as follows ” please do not touch sharks. do not pull their tails and do not ride on them”. I was amazed and wonder whether tourists have done that to poor sharks.
When we arrived at shark bay, I was surprised it was very near to resort. We could see big sharks from the boat and they were swimming leisurely. One of our group jumped from the boat and accidentally hit one shark. These sharks are nurse shark and now only realized they are not harmful . They eat squid, stingray and small fish .So they are incapable of killing any human beings.In fact they does bite humans ( most are human fault as men think they are very docile) , 52 times recorded but none of the bites are lethal. They have small mouth with small teeth attached to a large pharynx. Nurse sharks can suck the prey into the large pharynx after swallowing. nurse shark can live up to 20 years for female and 15 years for male. . The largest recorded is 302 cm and average length is 8 to 9 feet .So the sharks we saw were both young and mature nurse sharks. Our guide brought some food for sharks and once feeding started, all sharks swam towards the boat as if they were used to feeding.
above photo is courtsey to Nim who brought his new drone to the trip. He kindly shared these precious pictures with us and also took group photo for us at the end of trip.
These sharks were not agressive at all although people accidentally touched them while swimming. Now I live to tell sharks can be friendly.
After we swam with the sharks , we went to the sand bank to have our lunch. It was sunny and quite hot on the sand bank . Thanks to our tour guide, we could sit under parasols and had our lunch. The water was shallow and we could dip in and took photos. Thanks to Merry , we could get some couple photos as well.
At that time, I became warming up to the tour guide and realized he is such a nice person. Izay made sure all of us photos were taken by him.. But I need to see his photography skills when I receive my pictures. Its amazing that tour guide can do multitasking.
I went into the sea and tried to see some fish while my boyfriend tried to recover from sun burn..His scottish skin is very vulnerable to sun burn as he is not used to tropical weather.
After lunch, we took group photo with Nim’s drone and the video was lovely.
After departing Sandy bank, we headed towards another island to drop off two of our group.
Then on the way back , we found a big manta ray unexpectedly. This time only one of us volunteered to swim with Manta ( no need to say that it cannot be me ). Kayleigh from Netherland jumped into the water gracefully although she was aware the water was cold under the drizzles. I went to the front of the boat to see manta from afar while Izay jumped in with her to take picture of her with Manta.
Manta swam very fast to get away and it was fascinating to see as Kayleigh and Izay are very good swimmers.
I did my usual cheating part. Taking selfie with Manta which probably is 10 miles away from me. 😅
The sky was very dark on the way as if storms were coming.
The water was turbulent and my boyfriend complained his bums were sore due to bumpy boat ride. But the boatman and tourguide were so chill that it reassured me in a way.
I also saw a lot of flying fish and even thought they were waterbirds forawhile.
Finally we safely arrived back to Maafushi and said good bye to each other. I was very glad that I met new friends during this trip.
water challets under construction.
On the way back , my boyfriend advised me 100th time to reduce weight and to go to gym so that next time, I will be able to chase manta. Haha. I might need to write another blog about our failing diet plan. Right now, I need to go and have my buffet.
Thanks for reading.
Edit. One of my friends told me we should wear wet suit to protect wild life from catching our diseases and we should not wear sun cream before jumping in. I did not find suitable wet suit for me. But I will avoid wearing sun cream next time
We decided to do some activities and Arena beach hotel gave us some options of day tours. There are many varieties and we can go to other resort islands where we can drink alcohol unlimited and use swimming pool. We decided not to go other resort islands as we both do not drink alcohol and tours are expensive ( 120 to 160 USD per each from 8 am to 5 pm ). We chose day tour from 10 am to 3 pm as it is not so tiring and not related to alcohol.
First of all, today morning was an excellent weather.
morning view of Maafushi
After breakfast we gathered at the office of Arena resort and collected our life jackets and snorkelling gears . Then we went to the boat to start our journey.
October is already rainy season but we are extremely lucky that we almost got away without rain. There was a short rain only at the end of trip.
We paid 25 USD for each to see turtles , dolphins , snorkelling and lunch at uninhabitated sandy beach. It was really a good deal and the boatmen are skillful and attentive to the tourists.
Then the boat stopped at the coral rich place to snorkel and see fish. A considerate mother brought bread pieces for the fish and we had a chance to see many fish from boat upclose.
Then we got off from boat one by one to snorkel. We were advised not to snorkel at shallow water to avoid injuries due to friction with coral. If you look at photos, turquoise water area are shallow and dark blue means deep water. I would recommend wearing water resistant shoes to protect your feet and wear wet suit to protect your body.
we found so many colorful fish, blue and yellow, yellow striped with black, purple and pink. I am always awed at mother nature. One thing I notice in Maldives is I hardly see plastic and rubbish floating in the river , unlike other countries in Maldives. The reason is government charge each tourist environmental fee 3 USD per day so that there is budget to clean actively. We saw a ship which was collecting rubbish from sea and all the rubbish go to India for disposal. I hope Maldives keep on doing this and as a tourist, I make sure I do not leave any rubbish behind at any public places.
After we finished snorkelling for 45 minutes, we headed to another area to see dolphins. In fact one of our tourguides found dolphin with a speed boat and informed our boat man.
I have seen some dolphins in Spain. But this time , there were so many of them at least 30. It was fasinating to see them.
After dolphin sighting, the boat stopped at the area where turtles live. We got off the boat and found turtles . They are very lovely creatures and leisurely eating some coral under water. Two of them were quite big. I was curiously looking down to find turtles while a small one was swimming beside me. He even touched my arm with his flippers. I went nuts and I was laughing and screaming out of pure ecstasy. I was advised not to touch any turtle but as it was him who touched me accidentally and I was so happy .
The current was strong and I could not swim back to the boat as we needed to go further to see turtle. One of our tour guides had to drag me back to the boat.
At the end of the trip, we had a lunch in the boat as it was raining and unable to have lunch on the sand beach as planned. Then a small boat sent us to a uninhabited island fron our large boat. At the sight of island, we all smiled as it was perfectly beautiful.
For me I think uninhabited islands are required for the turtles to lay eggs. We humans encroach into their lands selfishly for centuries. We also notice crabs running around . My boy friend was totally fascinated with behaviour of crabs. He kept on reminding me not to scare them off. In the end he got multiple videos of crabs.
some of crabs are very big and you can imagine their size based on the size of holes they created on the sand in below photos.
We walked around the island and walking finished in 5 minutes time.
After walking around the island, I sat on the sand in shallow water and tried to absorb everything around me. My heart was filled with gratitude as usual ..In fact , leaving that tiny island was difficult.
As soon as we got on the big boat, all of us were very tired . Small kids fell asleep on the boat on the way back. It was a bit tiring under the sun for 5 hours with swimming in the ocean. It was totally worthit.
First of all, everybody knows Maldives is a luxurious destination and peole spend 800 to 1500 USD per night to stay at a private island resort in the middle of Indian Ocean. But if you have read my previous posts, you must have noticed I am a budget traveller. The reasons are
1) I do not earn a lot to behave like a celebrity
2) I do not believe in extravagant life style and trying to be a minimalist.
First of all, you need to know which flight directly goes to Maldives. For us, we booked air asia 6 weeks earlier which fly directly from Bangkok ( Dan Meong airport ) to Maldives ( Male ) .It cost us 300 GBP for each return ticket including luggage fee and inflight meals. Like I said earlier, its difficult to get cheaper as a lot of people cannot go to Maldives.
Secondly, I combed through each and every website for cheap and clean accomodation in Maldives. Maldives have total 26 atolls which are combination of 1192 coral islands and the largest named , Gang island is merely 14 km long . Some of islands are very far from main airport and needs private jets. So if you want to travel with a buget , please do not choose islands which are middle of nowhere and choose the ones which are accessible with public transport.More than that you might not want to be in a boat for many hours to reach your destination island. The islands which are quite near to Male ( capital of Maldives ) can be found below map.
For us, we choose Arena beach resort at Maafushi island. Maafushi island is 1.5 hour boat ride from Male.The island is only 1.27 km long and can finish walking in 20 to 30 minutes from end to end. Its the second destination if you catch public ferry from Male. To make it clear, I will use the description made by the hotel.
If you want public transport ( I assume you do as you are reading my article ), you need to know time tables of ferry from Male to your destination. Usually public ferry have vacancy although you need to book 1 hour earlier. Its not possible to book public ferry via internet. If only cost 2 USD per person . Please see below time table.
Please take note that there are two ferry boats departing from Male’ on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. If 10:00 ferryboat is missed in any of these days, 15:00 ferryboat can still be taken. On other days, only 15:00 ferryboat is available from Male’. There are also two ferryboats departing from Maafushi on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. Guests can choose either 7:30 or 12:30 ferryboat in any of these days. On other days, only 7:30 ferryboat is available from Maafushi.
Step-By-Step instructions to reach Arena Beach Hotel & spa Maldives by Ferry Boat
1. All the tourist to Maldives will be arriving to Male’ international airport (Ibrahim Nasir International Airport), so you are too.
2. Catch a ferry to Male’ from the Airport (every 5 minutes there will be a ferry to Male’). It takes just Ten minutes to reach Male’ and will cost USD 1 or MVR 10 per person.
3. Once you arrive to Male’ take a taxi to go “Villingili ferry terminal”. The taxi fare should be about MVR 30 to MVR 40.
4. There will be a scheduled ferry to Maafushi which leaves Male’ at scheduled times (please refer to the above table) on daily basis (except for Friday) from Villingili Ferry Terminal. Guests are required to buy ferryboat ticket from the ticket counter at Villingili Ferry Terminal. Tickets could be bought few minutes before the scheduled time of departure.
5. Guests will enjoy a 1.5 hours Journey with a beautiful scenery of chains of islands and surrounding coral reefs.
Bear in mind, above instruction is intended for people who stay in Maafushi island but your destination might be different. Other instructions are very accurate and helpful. Airport to Male transfer is very efficient and fast. Once you arrive Male, you can go to ferry terminal by getting a taxi. Taxi anywhere cannot be expensive as the islands are very small..Make sure you change USD to MVR at airport to pay for public transport. At our time, we got the rate of 1 USD to 15MVR. Most places accept USD too.
From Male, it took 1 hour for us to get a taxi as they could not understand me. So you might need to show written words Villingilli ferry terminal to them as the taxi drivers can be confused. Eventually the staff from information counter came out and helped us to get a taxi. The taxi driver only charged us usual rate 35MVR and I gave him 50MVR as I like his honesty.
If you like franchise food , Burger King and secrete recipe is at Male. European food is available anywhere although original Maldavian food is similar taste to Indian food. They like dahl and chick peas with some masala for meat.
After we arrive at Villingilli ferry terminal, we got tickets and needed to wait 2 hours for our ferries as our flight arrived at 12 noon and our ferry was at 3 pm. It was Wednesday and there were plenty of vacant seats although Wednesday has only 1 ferry for whole day . There are shops nearby Ferry terminal although their hygiene is questionable. Irritating thing is flies are everywhere due to hot weather. We decided to take only bottled water or drinks .
You might be sort of person who like luxury. But I want to urge every traveller to take public transport for environmental reason. We should do our part while younger generations are trying their best to reduce consumption of energy and resources.More than that, these public ferries are safer. Staff are very considerate and willing to help with big luggages. They do not even expect tips.
When we arrived at Maafushi , we do not need to take further transport as everywhere is reachable on foot. We are lucky that Arena beach resort staff was there waiting for us to help with luggages. Bless them.
If I have not told you, we booked Arena beach resort with sea view and balcony 2 months ago. As we include two meals per day , the price was 100GBP per day with tax and environmental fee , I gave 760 GBP for 7 nights. Ofcos you can say its not cheap but compared to what other people spend 13000GBP for 7 nights, our budget is an achievable goal.
I will always suggest to take hotel with meal plans as restaurants are not cheap in Maldives. Even water bottles are expensive 1USD for 500 ml water bottle. As Maldive is islamic country , alcohol and bikinis are prohibited in most of public islands like Maafushi. But mind you , we also have bikini beach in Maafushi and you just need to know where you can wear your bikini. There is a floating bar which usually come to island to sell alcohol. But they can ne expensive and one can of beer is 6 USD.
Maldives is beautiful everywhere and even if you stay at public beaches, you cam see shark and some beautiful fish. Its sad to see corals are damaged extensively due to building . some of my travel buddies saw sharks near our resort and I hope I can spot them soon. Today is my day two in Maldives.
However if you want to go drop dead gorgeous islands, resort can arrange for you to be there whole day with 150 to 180 USD per day. You can also see dolphins, sharks and turtle day trip with 50USD per person. All these arrangement of watersports such as jet ski, para gliding and canoeing can be arranged everywhere.
Here are some of our photos in day two and I will write part 2 later.
water sports are available anywhere
souvenirs shops are many where you need to haggle
I really like our meal arrangement at beach with live band. It is totally worth it .
I did not like getting massage when I was young. But I was always asked by the elderly especially my dad to give massage as a child. In Myanmar tradition, children are usually asked to stomp on the legs of the senior citizens as they are light and their weight is tolerable . What we did as a child was we held the cane and walked to and fro on the legs of the elderly until their muscles become relaxed. In return, we were given some pocket money to buy goodies and it was a win win situation . Sometimes I asked my niece Cara to give massage and generously gave her pocket money for her 30 seconds massage. She was only 3 years and would do less than 1 minute only.
When dad is extremely tired, we call for a professional masseuse who can come to our house with mat, some herbal oil . They are usually paid by hour and it is not expensive at all in my home town. My dad loves massage and he is also good at giving it. For example he knows how to cure locked neck by massaging. He learnt it from his masseuses.
Yesterday we arrived Bangkok at 8 pm after spending 9 hours at london airport and 16 hours on the plane. We were extremely tired and sore. Especially my back was killing me. When we woke up, the first thing I wanted to do was to have a massage and my boyfriend wholeheartedly agreed. He is not a frequent traveller and he did not have any sleep on the plane and with jet lag, he needed a boost. We called room service to send two masseuses to our room. Then 2 ladies came up and as I had already expected I took off my clothes and lay down on my belly. She then said ” you have to take off your panties”. I was taken aback as I at least could wear underwear in the past. Me and my boy friend looked at each other with a grin. He was like ” I would do if you do ” kind of face..So I braced myself and I was in my birthday suit in 5 seconds.
These ladies were very good because I could sense they touch exact pressure point. If you do not know how to massage, they can end up squeezing muscles and it can be painful rather than releasing the pain. Then I remember the day I got first time traditional Malaysian massage. It was in 2004 and I was working for a district hospital in Malaysia. I had to work at least 70 hours per week and I was very tired after 36 hours oncall . My colleague , a pharmacist urged me to get massage from traditional medicine woman. It was only 30 RM ( 6 GBP ) per hour. But within 10 minutes, I was screaming and pleading to stop as it was so painful. Two of my friends were watching me in ecstacy and forced me to continue. For them massage means releasing toxin and the more toxin I have, the more painful I will be..Stopping massage in midway can make the body worse and they were encouraging me. After 30 minutes, I started to cry and pleaded the person I would pay the same even if she ends and she stopped it. And I never asked the person to do it again . But the truth is the more you get massage, the more you can withstand the pressure from the hand. So first time experience cannot be pleasant for everyone.
In 15 years time, I have tried many types of massages , Balinese, Chinese, Indian, Malaysian and Indonesian. I like Balinese style as the masseuse use not only touch but also music and fragrance to make you relaxed . They use aroma to make you fall asleep and also Balinese music. I was in Lake Toba, Indonesia walking and cycling whole day and my friends found a Batak woman who came to our challet and cured my muscle pain by two hours massage. In Boracay, a tiny island of Phillipines, I ended up spending more than two hours at night in a massage parlour and did not go back to hotel till midnight . My friends thought I was abducted and thought of reporting to police while I was having a time of my life. In Jalan Alor, KL’s busiest road, I would usualy spend hours doing relexiology. Reflexiology is very theraputic for your nerves and science shows it can alleviate migraine, backache and irritable bowel syndrome. If you look at below photo, you can see the exact point where the sole is connected to other parts of bodies. For example , massaging toes can reduce the diseases of brain such as stroke . Even if it is not right, scientific researches shows bodily touch can improve psychological well being.
I like Chinese masseuses in Jalan Alor because after doing reflexiology, you can also ask them to do pedicure and foot therapy. There are two types of massage in Thailand. Traditional massages are always more painful and you are asked to sit or lie in different positions and it can be uncomfortable. For example, you can be asked to sit on your knees with your hands behind ( duress position ). Alternative one , aroma therapy or oil massage is a better type of massage as you can comfortably lie face down and your hands can be hanging beside the massage table. Most parlours have table with holes for your face so that you can breath. The area will be dim lighted with minimal noise so that you can fall asleep. I always defend the masseuses whenever someone label them giving happy hours. Its because I know it takes months to learn about proper massage and most of them are not doing this profession by choice. It can also be very tiring after a long day for them. There is a massage parlour where I used to go in Kuantan and they employ girls from mainland China. None of them can speak either Malay or English .So I have to use sign language to make them understand. I usually give them generous tips knowing they are far away from home. Its also very interesting a lot of them know your underlying medical illness. For example my mother osteoarthritis was relieved by a Chinest masseuse who also did acupunctute. It was well spent money 10 GBP per session and mom could defer knee replacement surgery. The Chinese lady was so sincere that she refused to give treatment to my aunty who has no health issue although it meant no business for her.
Back to our story in Bangkok, while the lady was massaging me , she asked ” can I have some of your boob?” out of the blue. I was so bemused and asked ” why?”. She thought I got a husband because of big boob. ( apparently we are not married and I explained we are just partners). Then my boyfriend said ‘ I love her not because of big boob because of her kind heart”. Then both girls started to protest and insisted they would trade their boobs with mine if they could. I never thought boobs are that important especially for me. I was more disturbed for having them than not having it. I explained Drew Barrymore did breast reduction surgery and small breasts are prettier. Then they protested me to get boyfriends for them which is quite bizarre. Both of them are cute and charming. Also they are small and petite like other Siamese women..Then one of them revealed she has four children with ex husband. She looks she is in her 20s and we could not believe she is infact 37. The hilarious part was my masseuse was squeezing her breasts and showing how small they were. My boyfriend was absolutely shocked culturally and I had a crack watching their reaction. At the end of session, the girl literally climbed on my back and balanced her knee on each side of my backbone , vertebra , relaxing paravertebral or back muscles .Even after years of getting massages, I was impressed. It is your loss if you do not go to massage parlour in Bangkok .For me, it is a MUST.
with much love
real live experience regarding travels, meeting strangers and daily life.