and here is the longer story of exploring Maldives in 3 days…
It was the start of a scorching summer. The sea breeze hasn’t kicked in yet and it was an uncomfortable evening. A bunch of us were lazing at the house watching a rerun of Friends. My travel-crazed buddy called me out of the blue and said there are some amazing deals going on for Maldives air tickets. I made a few quick phone calls to few other friends and 5 of us got immediately onboard. And then there was this guy who was vacating from the US and arriving a day before our planned trip. We brainwashed him over Skype and booked him a ticket too. All set within a matter of few hours and we started waiting for the trip day to arrive.
Day 1 in Maldives
The flight was from Cochin to Maldives was half-empty. We all took one row each, capturing window seats and were gazing the endless turquoise waters. There were occasional streaks of white sand strips jutting out of the sea. What we weren’t expecting was that the flight would suddenly drop down near the sea on to a tiny sliver of the runway. It all happened in a matter of minutes and was fun. The immigration was real quick and we came out of the airport within 15 mins.
There was a gentle sea breeze when we exited the airport. The sun was glimmering in the sea before us. And then we realised that there is nothing else than water before us. The airport door leads you to a boat pier. Well, this gotta be fun :). A long-haired, pencil thin guy waved at us from afar. He had our name on a small white board. He led us to through some crazily balanced wooden passageways to a speedboat! Hell, Yeah! A speed boat to pick us up from the airport to the hotel! It’s expensive but worth it once a while, for the rest of the trip we had to use the public ferries. It’s almost like a Hollywood action movie setting. We immediately hopped onto a speed boat grinning all the way to take on the ocean before us…
The boat left us at a big public island called Maafushi. We had booked a decent B&B for the 3-day stay. After a quick refreshing and a nice cup of coffee, we took a walk towards the beach. The sand roads are a fun to walk. The road ended at the beach and the scene before us was breathtaking. The clear blue skies had transformed into an explosion of million colours.
Watching the sunset lounging on the shores is one thing. Watching the sun set while you are boating towards it, is in a different league altogether. That’s what Sunset cruises are for. We hopped onboard a fishing vehicle at the late evening and set sail towards the horizon. The guides taught us a little about fishing, how to bait, how long to wait, how the tug would feel when you catch a fish and so on. Only one of us got lucky and got a teeny little fish.
In a while, the night had descended and the stars had started popping out. I mounted the fishing pole on its stand and started climbing to the roof of the boat. The sight of stars on a clear black sky is truly out of the world. I laid down on the top of the boat. It was a little chilling, the breeze was gentle and the anchored boat was swaying in the waves a tiny bit. I took out my iPhone and headsets, put in my favourite playlist and laid there still. As Will Smith said in the Pursuit of happyness, “This part of my life… this part right here. This is called “happiness“.
The boat rode back to the shores with our meagre catch. They were immediately cleaned and barbequed in front of us. Well, that was quick. Overall a lovely day and it quickly dragged me to sleep! Zzzzz.
Day 2 in Maldives
Let’s learn a little geography while the gang is hogging on the breakfast. Maldives is a collection of about 1000 islands. There a few big islands where common people live in large numbers. And there are some private islands which are luxury resorts. For a budget traveller, it’s wise to stay at these big public islands. They are cheaper. The expensive private resorts offer a Day-Pass which would grant access to all of the facilities and food except for stay. So having a combination of these would prove us economical. We are now setting sail to one of those islands And to our first snorkelling experience.
First-time experiences are always special. A first-time snorkel is even more special. You get a quick training from the guide about tightening the mask! How to put in your life jackets! How to breathe through your mouth instead of your noses. You would screw up the breathing part and drink oodles of sea water in any case. But that’s all part of the journey.
The magnificent part comes is when you get comfortable in your gear and plunge your head into the water. The environment gets a lot bluer in those translucent oceans! Suddenly the world becomes silent. You could hear your own heartbeat. You realise you had never been in this much silence in a long long time. You get too excited and start beating your hand and swim zig-zag in the water. But you are driving the fishes away, they think you are some stupid creature wrecking their party. You realise that then you start to calm down, start being in one with the ocean and drift with the waves. The fishes forgive you and start circling around you and that’s the moment of Zen you had waited for years. You float there for hours and it feels like minutes. A swim in the ocean is a path to nirvana! Then you hear a whistle and you look up to see the guide waving at you to board the boat. It’s time for the lunch at a Virgin Island. Bye bye peace, it’s now time for some sandwiches and fries.
Day 3 in Maldives
The next we had taken the morning to explore the capital city ‘Male’. It took about 2 hours cover the entire island by foot and it’s like any normal city centre with the banks, markets and cafes lined up everywhere. Nothing worthwhile to spend time here. We had a leisurely lunch and took the evening public ferry back to Maafushi islands. It was the last day of us in Maldives and we suddenly had an urge to enter the ocean and take a bath. But the sun had already set and the darknes had set in…
The ocean is a mysterious being, it has a million moods and takes on an unlimited number of shapes. It’s still like a panel of glass in the early mornings, gentle and a little bit wavy like a cradle in the morning. The afternoons get a bit aggressive, the waves are faster and aim higher. In the evenings it’s bathed in a glorious orange and looks as a fiery carpet of lava. But the most mysterious avatar of it comes in the night. The sky and the sea meld together into a valley of darkness. The waters are at their calmest yet they scare you the most.
The moon shimmers lonely at the top. Its round shape stretched into a high winding white path leading all the way up to the horizon. The stars glimmer far from the galaxies reflected as a million eyes of the ocean. Despite our fears, it was thrilling to enter the abyss of darkness for a late night bath. The only other lights came from the candle light setups at a beachside restaurant. The couples at the tables gazed at this group of people wading into the sea late at night. The water was warm and pleasant.
Our time in Maldives was one of the best in our lives. This island is truly a paradise and please don’t miss an opportunity to visit this place. Though it’s one of the expensive places on earth, staying in a public island, having day passes at resorts and a bunch of old-school bargaining could help you make it affordable. Happy Travelling!!
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