Honestly, i wonder why i am posting this when my itinerary for the trip had detailed most of what had transpired on the first day. As usual, the answer lies with too many pictures that were taken!
So do bear with me as i bombard you in excess of about 60 photos. You don't have to read the sentences that come appended with the pics as i would likely regurgitate some of the information i have previously indicated in the itinerary.
Reaching exceptionally early to check in has numerous benefits; you can check out the various attraction points in the airport like the indoor gardens that come with therapeutic fish ponds.
We could have breakfast / lunch / dinner in peace without the need to hurry to the departure gate after clearing the customs; this step is beneficial for individuals taking budget airlines without a meal plan, like us.
As designated scrooges, we tried to squeeze in as much food as possible to reduce the chances of us buying those expensive snacks 38,000 feet above ground.
Publicity for Japan travels; when i was younger, Japan was my dream destination but now that i am about to turn 35, i have never stepped onto the ground of the land of the rising sun! Maybe i should arrange for a visit soon.
A must visit - the sunflower garden!
Note that the garden is also a smoking area; so steered clear if you are against the poor smokers who just need a puff yet could not freely light up anywhere.
Hive of activity at Changi Airport Terminal 2 - frankly, i would always prefer this terminal over the almost no-frill budget terminal; more things to do including a mini movie theatre!
Time to board the Airbus A320 - given the number of air incidents in the past year, we were of course jittery although my philosophy is that if it's your time to go, you can die anywhere.
A bed of cotton white clouds hovered somewhere near Maldives; actually, something did happen during this plane ride. The aircraft had a sudden drop in the middle even though the weather was clear; evoking loud, nervous screams from some of the passengers.
Other than the above incident, the ride was smooth sailing and the next scream heard was when the spectacular sight of atolls appeared outside the plane.
Capital city of Male - the most populated island in Maldives and the seat of government. What you see is what you get; amazingly small!
Landing on the tarmac of Ibrahim Nasir International Airport on Hulhulé Island.
Everyone was scrambling to disembark and set foot proper on Maldives! That's how exciting it was for most couples as Maldives was heavily touted as the perfect honeymoon / romantic destination.
Walking underneath an underwater tank; kidding of course! It's just the canopy of the staircase replacing the aero-bridge commonly seen in most airports.
The chance to take a photo of the aircraft in the background; in Singapore, this action might result in security officers stopping you from doing so. So rigid right?
On the way to clear customs which didn't take too long. A money changer would be available right after you collect your luggage; in addition to US dollars, you can also use Singapore dollars. The exchange rate is about 11 Maldivian Rufuyaas to 1 Singapore Dollar.
First thing that hit you after you exit - the presence of many booths from hotels / resorts which would make arrangement for accommodations and transport to the exclusive islands.
Turn left if you are hungry, as Alex was after the long plane ride. Five dining establishments to choose from; Burger King, The Coffee Club, Swenson, Thai Express and one selling noodles.
As expected, Alex went for Burger King and the chicken burger set was an eye popping US$13.50. No way am i going to pay that much to fill my tummy, not for fast food! The drinks at the coffee club were at least similar to cafe pricing in Singapore.
While Alex was digging into his exorbitantly priced meal, i explored the immediate surroundings. The turquoise green water that looked so inviting; i almost wanted to jump in with my DSLR.
Turn right (from the arrival gate) if you are going to the local ferry terminal or domestic airport for transfer to other airports in Maldives. Along the way, you can find a souvenir shop and even a telecom shop where you can purchase your mobile data.
Clear directions (courtesy of me) on how to get to the local ferry terminal.
Ticket counter where you can get a ferry ticket to Male at a price less than S$1 per person! You have the option of speedboat although i didn't compare the prices.
Waiting for passengers to embark. As we spent quite a bit of time at Burger King, it wasn't crowded and we had ample sitting space.
Water was clear despite the heavy boat traffic in that area; there were not many big ships due to the shallow waters surrounding the island.
One of numerous ferries in the area.
Trudging slowly towards Male; the time taken was about the same as taking the bumboat from Changi Point ferry terminal to Pulau Ubin. At a fraction of the price, if i may add.
The congested city view of the capital. I read in a travel article before that tourists should stay clear of Male as there was honestly nothing much to offer. I beg to differ as no matter what, you can still immerse in the local experience. Ditch it if you are into glitzy travel experience though.
After 45 minutes of walking under the sun, we finally reached Villingili Ferry Terminal! With the next departure at 3 pm, we decided to have lunch (more for me) at a local food outlet along the food street near the terminal!
Purchased out tickets first at 22 Maldivian Rufuyaas per ticket in case they run out!
Need WiFi and an air-conditioned place to rest your feet? Check out the Sea Horse Brasserie at the ground floor of a tall modern office building next to the ferry terminal.
The beverage menu for your reference; you can have lunch there as well since there is a ala-carte menu. For those who are super hungry, go for the buffet which didn't have much variety in my opinion. Note: the restaurant had a problem with house flies!
On our way back to Villingili terminal, a mere two hundred meters away.
Very basic waiting area with plastic chairs. There were passengers who had been waiting for a few hours in that same area; pampered Singaporeans would not be able to tahan i guess.
Our ferry schedule with only four stops; our destination would be Kaafu Maafushi. I had read that the journey would take about two hours and i was simply praying i would not get seasick, which often hit me!
Ranthari - the boat name which was much spacious than the ferry we took from airport to Male. Do keep in mind that the ferries were all non-air-conditioned; no point in installing air conditioning anyway when the sea was generally pretty calm and in my case, it didn't rain at all in the six days i was in Maldives!
Luggage holding area.
Oh my god, a puffer fish was chomping off a slice of watermelon skin! Surprise as the water was chocked full of commercialised boats; including one collecting garbage!
Saying our goodbye to Male. Frankly, i regretted not allocating a night in the capital as i didn't really explore much; not the fisherman's market, not the mosque! A group i met said Male had good connectivity to islands in Maldives and they stayed for nine days!
In close proximity to an exclusive resort which shall continue to elude me till someone / some company decides to sponsor me! For that amount i paid for a night, i could buy a return air ticket to Taiwan!
The faster mode to Maafushi, via the speed boat that can cut down your travelling time by more than half. I understand from travel forum that you could share the cost of about US$180 with other travellers who might be going there on the same day and time.
Embark and disembark from the front of the boat; i thought this was rather unique as the boat would have to berth head-in, somewhat similar to parking a car while most ferries (including those in Singapore) tend to berth sideways.
Arriving at the first stop of the ferry ride ninety minutes later; Gulhi, another local island.
It was all quiet and i initially thought there would not be any accommodation for overseas visitors like us; just checked Agoda and there were four hotels / budget inns that can be booked.
Two children attempting to fly a kite although there wasn't any wind!
Another exclusive resort island; as i mentioned before, i don't think i can stay put in one resort for more than a night. It would have bored me to death and there is a high chance you can hear me nitpick about anything.
Passengers in the ferry busty taking photos whenever an exclusive resort came into view. Due to the sunset, it wasn't easy to get a shot as pretty as the one we see on brochures.
Man enjoying the attention!! Anyway, you saw the lighter green section of the sea? That's usually because of the shallower water and when the tide is low, you could be blessed with a sandbank.
Finally, the Maafushi Island of Kaafu Atoll!
Two hours taken for the ferry reach Maafushi from Male - personally, i would opt for a speedboat the next time but the price difference was really quite drastic! By the way, no seasickness! *happy*
Friendly hotel staff bringing our luggage to Kaani Beach Hotel; one of the more recommended accommodations on Maafushi. For my review on Kaani, click here.
I pre-booked for a room with a "city view" and this was the sight that greeted me! Actually quite a nice place even though i seldom see anyone using the space and by the last day of my stay, all the tables / chairs were removed. Guess customers would prefer the natural location by the beach.
Like this one here.
Strolled to Bikini Beach - the only beach in Maafushi that allows you to expose more of your meat and cellulite. Chanced upon this Maldivian fruit that i wanted to try!! Was thinking of leaving the sampling to the last day but i fell sick. Sad.
While Alex was testing out his new EasyBreath snorkeling mask in the water, i surveyed the surrounding area in search of food for dinner!
Mini aquarium tank at a hotel serving an incredibly priced US$10 buffet dinner! Poor marine fishes must be extremely distressed to be caught and kept in such a tight space...
Time for dinner! p.s. this belonged to another restaurant nearer to the ferry point which boasted much better scenery, especially with the setting sun.
For the Maldives itinerary,