I never really thought I would fall in love with travelling. When I was a kid, I had a bad case of motion sickness, the kind that didn’t let me ride air-conditioned vehicles even at short distances. This was because the moment all the doors of an air-conditioned vehicle are shut, I start getting nauseous and within seconds, I start throwing up. That never failed. I had thrown up on my parents, my parents’ friends, my relatives, my relatives’ friends, and even on strangers. It was bad.
I can still remember the plane rides I had then. They’re one of the worst childhood memories I have. The discomfort bag provided for one passenger was not enough for me, as I would barf from take-off to landing, plus my mom would take the unused discomfort bags (those that belonged to our other companions) with her upon disembarkation, as my barfing would not stop until we reached our destination or a place where I would be stationary. School field trips were also hideous memories and so were family excursions — unless we rode open-air vehicles. And I guess I was the only one who liked to ride open-air vehicles, not by choice but by necessity.
I don’t know when I overcame my motion sickness, but as far as I know, I was already travelling joyously and worry-free when I was in my pre-teens. And by the time I graduated from college, travelling had already become one of the things I looked forward to. Now, I still occasionally experience motion sickness, so I just make sure I take Meclizine (anti-motion sickness drug) before going on long trips, although it’s mostly just served as a security blanket.
My recent overseas travel was in May of this year. My brother and I went on a six-day, three-country trip that included the Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Singapore. It was our first time visiting the two former countries and second time for the latter. Our Singapore visit was mainly a side trip, since we had already explored the country when we went there last year.
Our first and main stop was the presumptively beautiful Maldives. I had always wanted to visit this country but never thought it’d be sooner, since I was aware that it’s an expensive country to go to. Fortunately, I have a brother who’s so updated when it comes to seat sales, so when he found cheap flights to the picturesque group of islands, we didn’t think twice and booked right away. Before going there, I didn’t know where this country’s situated. It was only when we were aboard the plane going there did I know that it’s located in South Asia (near India and Sri Lanka).
Of course, going to the Maldives had to include staying on one of the island resorts, since that’s probably the only thing you know you would do in the Maldives. There, a resort owns the whole island, so when you book in one, it’s like having the whole island to yourself. We stayed at Kurumba Island Resort, which is geographically named Vihamanafushi Island and is the nearest island resort to the airport. It only takes a ten-minute speedboat ride to get there. Other resorts take hours to reach, and some even require riding a jet to get to fast.
Vihamanafushi is so small that it only took my brother and me less than thirty minutes to go around it, and that period of time already included us stopping at five-minute intervals to take pictures. And true to what I had seen in photos, the waters of Maldives are indeed so beautiful. I am a beach person, so when you say vacation, I automatically assume that we are going to the beach, and for a beach person like me, the Maldives is paradise.
We spent only approximately 36 hours in Vihamanafushi, which we spent mostly eating and taking photographs. My brother owns a travel blog, so I am used to him going astray, getting lost in photography (You can visit his blog by clicking here.). He was able to take breathtaking sunset and sunrise pictures, among the other photos he took on the island. We also did some snorkelling, though I’ll have to say that judging by our experience there alone, it was quite hard to snorkel in the island’s waters. We had seen underwater photos taken in the Maldives that showed abundant sea creatures prior to our trip, so this was quite disappointing for us, although we were also aware that there might have been several factors that made our snorkelling adventure a bit unsuccessful, so we didn’t really take that against the place itself but against several things we did and didn’t do as regards to that activity. Aside from these, we no longer had enough time to do the many other activities available to Kurumba’s guests because of our very short stay. The other things we could’ve done were to go dolphin watching, island hopping, jet skiing, and some other stuff only exclusive to Kurumba Island guests.
After Vihamanafushi Island, we set out on our next destination in the country, which was its capital, Malé City, although we didn’t book accommodations there to cut costs and also to be able to explore more islands in the country. We decided to take an afternoon to night-time touring of Malé City (Maldives’ capital) and stay in Hulhumalé for the night.
Now, Malé is a very small island city, having only an area of approximately 2 square miles, which they say can be toured in just a day. We noticed that in this city, the roads and streets are very narrow and also very crowded (with both locals and tourists). However, I can say that the means of transportation from one island to another (via ferry) is very efficient. The ferry stations are managed well, and discipline is very evident in Maldivian locals, which in turn is also applied by tourists. We also found Maldivians very kind and hospitable, which were displayed by several instances, wherein in one instance, during a really heavy rainfall (which, to me and my brother, seemed like a super storm) that put a stop to our city tour, one Maldivian local who also happened to be waiting for a bus/cab at a bus/taxi stop helped us get a cab to take us to our hostel. We were so desperate at finding a cab amidst the heavy downpour that we didn’t even think that accepting this kind of favour from a stranger was way too dangerous especially in a foreign country (reminds me of the movie “Taken”). We just realized this upon arriving home. Thankfully, the guy was just genuinely kind-hearted, so plus points to Maldivian citizens! 😀 Other things we discovered about Malé City (as told by one local we met there) are:
- There are no shopping malls;
- It is not common for locals to own cars; they have motorcycles instead, mainly because the roads there are so narrow and parking spaces are also very scarce.
We also learned from our half-day Maldivian friend that each island in the Maldives has its assigned industry. This means that if an island is dedicated only to fruit plantation, that is the only industry found there, and it will have no residential areas. Hulhulé Island, for one, is called the “Airport Island” because it is where the airport is situated. It has a number of government offices and very few buildings that mostly serve purposes related to travelling. This also holds true to the resorts owning the whole island, like what I mentioned above. These islands keep the tourism industry alive.
Meanwhile, Hulhumalé, the island where we stayed on our second night, was like a big residential village with wide roads that are almost vehicle-less. Several blocks had buildings that were uniform in appearance with the same number of floors, which one local said were residential buildings built by the government for Maldivians while other blocks were lined with hostels that that also seemed to have a maximum number of floors. And though that part of the island seemed to be where tourists stay (many tourists book accommodations there because it’s cheaper compared to hotels in Malé City), it’s not crowded at all and seemed more like a private residential area.
Now, the Maldives is a Muslim country, so there are several activities, like drinking alcoholic beverages, wearing certain types of clothing, and consuming pork products, that are prohibited in main cities. These, however, are allowed in island resorts and the airport island.
All in all, the Maldives is a beautiful country with an interesting culture. Although I must say that I am not going back there unless I get married and my husband wants to spend our honeymoon there (Anecdote: The resort staff thought my brother and I were a married couple. Lol.), though in that case I might insist on going to the Caribbean instead. 😉