Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Maldives on a Budget - Six Days, Five Nights Summarised Travelogue!

Sorry for the lack of update! My physical body has been unwell for the past few days; high fever, frequent bouts of nausea peppered with short sessions of diarrhea. In short, a torturing period!

Whatever the case, i am slowly on the mend and thought i should break the limbo by publishing my Maldives itinerary first! As usual, please bookmark this page and check back periodically as i will update the hyperlinks for detailed information as i go along!

Day One (21 January 2015)
[7.00 am] Cleared Singapore's immigration and proceeded to check out terminal 2 of Changi International Airport; nothing much has changed and we spent the rest of our time in the mini-theatre watching the super hilarious "Hot Shots"!

[8.55 am] Boarded the plane and it took off roughly at about 9.25 am.

[Maldivian Time 10.28 am] You know Maldives is near when passengers start exclaiming at the spectacular view of islands and atolls! By the way, Maldives is three hours behind Singapore; hence, it may seem like only ninety minutes have passed but it was in fact 4.5 hours.

Male (pronounced as Mar-Lay) - the capital of Maldives; at 1.7 kilometers long and 1 kilometer wide, this capital island was insanely minuscule even though you can still find cabs traversing its streets.

[10.30 am] The airbus landed safely on the tarmac of Ibrahim Nasir International Airport, well ahead of the scheduled landing time of 11.20 am! For those residing in local islands (instead of resort islands where things are usually priced in US$), you may change your US$ or Singapore dollars to the local Maldivian currency at the airport. The rate was 1 US$ to 15 Maldivian rufiyaa (MVR).

With a growling stomach, Alex insisted on having Burger King which cost an exorbitant US$13.50 for a chicken sandwich meal! While he was enjoying the expensive meal, i walked around the airport to take more photos; the water was so impossibly green and clear!

[11.35 am] As we were not blessed with funds to pay for speedboat that would bring us directly to our hotel in Maafushi island, we had to make do with the cheaper alternative; take ferry from airport to Male and then take another ferry from Male to Maafushi.

[11.45 am] The 10-minute ride was similar in distance from mainland Singapore to Pulau Ubin and as we still have three hours to spend before our next ferry at 3 pm, we decided to WALK from the terminal to Villingili ferry terminal which was on the other side of the capital!

[12.30 pm] Well, didn't know it would take us so fast but no matter what, it was time for me to have my lunch! A chicken sub from a local restaurant shall be my first Maldivian meal for the day!

[3.00 pm] Left on time to Maafushi! Compared to a speedboat, the twice a day ferry (except for Fridays) cost only 22 MVR (about S$2) although the time taken to reach Maafushi would be about 2 hours.

Resort islands - unfortunately, many foreigners have the impression that this would be what Maldives has to offer and choose to hold back on travelling to this beautiful country until they build up their kitty. I shall share with you on my expenses later in this post and you would be shocked to find out it wasn't as bad as initially thought!

[4.41 pm] Maafushi Island and standing at the jetty were staff members from the various hotels on the island who were there for two purposes; to warmly welcome you and to help you with your luggage!

After checking in to Kanni Beach Hotel, we were briefed on the activities that we can join for a fee, the equipment that we can use, time of the buffet breakfast etc.

[6.00 pm] Caught the amazing sunset at the private beach at Maafushi where ladies were allowed to put on their bikinis and parade legally!

For dinner, we had a buffet priced at only US$10 a head! Contrast that to the Burger King meal Alex had earlier in the day!

Day Two (22 January 2015)
[6.30 am] All rise and shine for an activity filled day at Maldives! We signed up for a day trip with the hotel that included snorkelling at three places and a lunch thrown in at the sand bank! Before that happens, time to fill up our tummies first!

Still had some spare time before our day trip started and we hopped onto the complimentary bicycles provided by the hotel to check out the local island! It was halfway through the exploration that i realised something was missing; my iPhone! I could not quite remember if i left it in at the hotel restaurant or it could have slipped out of my pocket when i was cycling.

[9.35 am] Given that we were nearing the start of our day trip and i had re-traced the same route twice with no iPhone found, the only last thing pending would be the CCTV in the hotel. Since the IT personnel would not be available until late afternoon, we opted to continue with our day trip.

The snorkeling at Maldives was no doubt impressive and we covered turtle reef, banana reef and shark point! The only issue i faced was the choppy waves which, after a while, had a dizzying effect on me!

[2.00 pm] Totally tired out by the time the speedboat sent us back to Maafushi Island. There were more important work waiting for us; the investigation of the missing iPhone which drew an inconclusive blank. I had no other choice but to make a police report.

[6.00 pm] Spending quite a bit of time at the police station and once that's done, we chanced upon an excursion centre (basically a local tour agency) that had been reviewed favourably on Tripadvisor and bought an exclusive island package for next day!

Day Three (23 January 2015)
[9.00 am] Following another good breakfast at Kanni Beach Hotel (i am not sure why people were complaining so much about the food there), we set sail to the exclusive island housing the Adaaran Club Rannalhi resort!

[9.20 am] To gain entry into the postcard perfect resort, a nominal entrance fee must be paid and depending on resorts, some would cover lunch and in the case of Adaaran, unlimited drinks at the cocktail bar and lounge too.

Reefs were in abundance surrounding the island and i had a marvellous time checking out every nook and cranny! The waves were still as strong as the day before but at least i can still find my footing in the shallow water.

[5.30 pm] Arrived back at Maafushi and it was at that time that i felt that i was running a fever although i brushed it off as having spent too much time in the sun! Didn't even have appetite for dinner and stole a few morsels from Alex's dinner at Rehendhi restaurant and cafe.

Day Four (24 January 2015)
[9.00 am] Despite not feeling well, i am not going to waste the package we signed up the day before; another exclusive island that appeared breathtaking in the pictures shown to us; Rihiveli Beach Resort!

My verdict - the whole island was surrounded by a very shallow level of sea water and in order to see fishes and coral reefs, you have to venture much further and this could be tiring, especially for one who was sick!

After hearing that dolphins can be found nearer to the "outskirts of the island", we rented a canoe! Maldives has not been kind to me; the catch on my underwater camera came undone while i was canoeing and sea water seeped into the device!! How can an underwater camera be of such flimsy made?!?! :(

[6.00 pm] The speedboat assigned to pick us up was late for an hour! Not one to wallow in self pity (the missing iPhone, the spoilt underwater camera, the fever etc), i took pleasure in enjoying the sea breeze and the wonderful sunset!

[6.40 pm] Had dinner buffet (at US$10 each) at White Shell Beach Inn with two new friends from Singapore! The wok fired tuna spaghetti was seriously yummy!

[10.30 pm] Met up with the two ladies again as they had found a place where we might be able to see those luminous phytoplanktons! Pity luck wasn't on our side.

Day Five (25 January 2015)
[1.30 pm] I was incapacitated and managed to drag myself out of bed at around this time. I can feel the heat of my body and even though i had popped paracetamols in my mouth every few hours, the mind was in a daze and there was literally no urge to take in food.

[1.50 pm] From my exploration a few days ago, i was aware of the existence of a health centre. And it shall be the health centre i am destined to visit that day. 

[3.00 pm] Shortly after a late brunch at Beachwood Hotel where i had received positive reviews from a group of Taiwanese, i took the pills (including a suppository up my ass) and went to bed. 

[8.30 pm] Damn!! We were supposed to wake up at 6.30 pm to arrange for speedboat transport back to Male the next day! Sometimes, in life, things happen for a reason and it was due to this lateness that we got info of a US$20 a person speedboat deal from this shop known as Aachaa. This was in stark contrast to the US$50 per person we would have to fork out otherwise.

Day Six (26 January 2015)
[7.38 am] All set to leave Maafushi for Male! If i wasn't unwell, i believe it would be hard for you to drag me out of the local island! However, i really didn't have appetite for anything except for a bowl of plain porridge by Mom. 

[8.30 am] When asked if we would like to disembark on Male or directly at the airport, we opted for the latter; i figured that we could always pop by Male later if time permits, so long we can store that huge luggage we brought with us! 

[9.18 am] Turned out i was simply too weak and decided to check in to the airport instead. There was a Dome cafe inside the departure lounge that was really comfortable for a sick man like me. Sad i could not utilise the free wifi though as it required a mobile number. 

[11.40 am] Plane departed ten minutes ahead of time as i guess everyone had already boarded. Bye bye Maldives; you have not been good to me this time and i hope you would treat me better the next time i visit! 

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Total Expenses
Airfare - S$308.00
Hotel - S$772.55 (twin sharing)
Miscellaneous Expenses - US$500 should be sufficient

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Away From Singapore to the "Necklace of Pearls"

By the time you read this, i should be in the airport waiting to board the plane bringing me to the "necklace of pearls". For those who are wondering where this country is, look at the satellite map i took from google map. 

Image taken from here.
Still thinking? Check out the hint above. 

Image taken from here
Yes lah, it's Maldives! Let's set things straight; i am not going to stay in exclusive, luxurious resorts as the one shown above. Instead, it would be a road less trodden; that of a budget traveller! 

Look out for the itinerary after my trip! Oh, just to share, i have created a new label for "travel itineraries" for those interested to have a summarised caption of my travelogues. Check it out here.

*praying for a safe trip*

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Trophies Of My School Days Over 20 Years Ago!

Dad dumped this box on my bed and i thought for a brief moment he had managed to find a pair of Crocs shoes i misplaced a long time ago in our terribly messy storeroom.

The initial happiness was replaced by a puzzled expression on my face; trophies? And one with a horse? Nope, none in my family (including extended) is into equestrian sports.

Out of the lot - three belong to me and surprise surprise, despite my not-tall stature; i actually performed quite well in volleyball in my younger days okay! 

Of course, 1994 was the year i stopped volleyball and that's when i realised i stopped growing altogether. Correction, i can still grow; albeit horizontally. :( 

Damn, where the heck is my crosstalk trophy?! That would be more relevant to what i am still capable of doing nowadays; talking.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Roast Duck Rice in Happy Hawkers (喜多福) @ 739 Bedok Reservoir Road [Singapore]

I swore never to step back in to Happy Hawkers along Bedok Reservoir Road after a bad food experience with one of the stalls but life has always been unpredictable. This unpredictability also means i might have better luck in selecting a stall that could make me eat my words.

And i did with this plate of roast duck! Now, i have never been very adventurous when it comes to food and it was a stroke of craving that made me walk towards the roast delight stall and make my order.

To be honest, i wasn't expecting anything positive; on the visual aspect, the orangey colour of the duck skin would likely infer artificiality and obviously not the crisp type i am skewed towards.

How superficial i can be; served boneless, the meat was tender and moist without being overly fattening like many out there in the market. The dark gravy, often a major ingredient that either makes or breaks roast duck rice, was light and had that right amount of sweetness. Skin, although expectedly soft, was nice to chew while the roasted flavour slowly trickled my throat! 

Before i knew it, everything was cleaned off the plate! My only complaint was the use of plain white rice which was the case for most; if not all roast duck rice stalls! Haha. Find the rice too bland and you don't have enough gravy, go for the tiny sauce of chilli! 

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Location
Block 739, Bedok Reservoir Road,
#01-3139, Happy Hawkers (喜多福) 

Map
As above.

Price
Roast Duck Rice - S$3.00

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