Friday, January 30, 2015

Experiencing Male, Capital of Maldives

Like anyone who hails from an English speaking country, i have always wondered the basis for the name of Male, capital of Maldives; was it the result of a ridiculously high ratio of men in the city? 

By the time i travelled to the capital city, i am still none the wiser about it origins although we should always remember it bears no resemblance to the English word we know of since the country's official language is Dhivehi; the citizens were, however, highly conversant in English! 

Male (pronounced as Mar-lay) was mentioned in a widely shared online article as a place of attraction tourists should avoid as there was nothing to do. 

In my walk from the jetty to Villingili Ferry Terminal, the above would be one of the nicer buildings i saw (there were not many) and it housed the President of Maldives' office. 

In that roughly 45 minutes walk, I could somewhat agree with the statement that Male doesn't have much but this would be the place where large group of locals congregate and would still be a place to visit if the local experience is something you look forward to. 

Furthermore, i didn't manage to check out the local markets which should be an experience on its own. If given a chance, i would have stayed in Male for one day to check out in detail what else it has to offer, just for the fun of it. 

Despite being one of the densely populated islands in Maldives, Male was pretty clean and i didn't get the overwhelming feeling of being inundated by many, many people. 

Cars and motorbikes were plentiful for an island smaller than Pulau Ubin

Safety enforcement was lax as no motorcyclist wore any helmets and even the men cleaning the facade of a shop on level two were not properly harnessed! Damn, they reminded me of the time i had at Forest Adventure

As Maldives is an Islamic country, no alcohol is allowed to be sold with the exception of exclusive islands catered for overseas tourists. Hence, you can bottles of sparkling juice in its replacement! They do look like beer bottles though. 

Guess what else we chanced upon!

A cemetery! Guess this would be the last place many tourists would hope to stumble upon even though the tombs were nothing like the Muslim tombs we see in Singapore. Or maybe i am wrong; this is not a burial ground?

We thought we have finally reached the ferry terminal as many people were entering into this building. Turned out it was the hospital! Haha.

Colourful wall murals spreading education messages. 

We had to ask our way around and finally got to Villingili Ferry Terminal! Damn, there was nothing on the signboard that indicated "Villingili"! Whatever the case, Maldivians are friendly, so do not hesitate to ask!! 

With over two hours to spend, i would recommend a place near the terminal where you can rest your feet, in air-conditioned comfort! Look out for the above building and go to the sea horse brasserie cafe! There was even free wifi! 

For cheaper, local fare, check out the local food street i mentioned before and dine with the locals. Check out my post here for the details. 

Don't want to spend money? Then sit in front of the jetty and enjoy the fumes of lazing boats with their engine running under the hot sun. 

Time finally came for us to board the ferry to Maafushi! 

Passengers boarding other ferries to other parts of Maldives. By the way, Maldives maybe small in land area but it has over a thousand islands spread over a huge area. Hence, taking a ferry / speedboat is a slower mode of transport with many people opting for seaplanes or domestic airlines. 

This may not be a scene tourists would see if they go directly to the resort islands from the airport; a rubbish boat. 

It's unfortunate that almost all tourists have the impression that everything is perfect in Maldives without even trying to know more about the country.

Not everything is rosy in the country and you would be surprised to find scenes less than poster perfect. Is it bad? Not to me since every country has their own set of problem and it's better to be aware of them rather than assuming everything is fine. 

Anyway, it's time to leave Male for Maafushi! 

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For my Maldives itinerary,
click HERE.

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