Duden Waterfall, Antalya, Turkiye.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Antalya, Turkiye.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Paris, France on May 1st.

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Welcome to the Maldives... country #70 for us!

We were up early again Saturday morning in order to catch our 9:15am flight to the Maldives. We purposely had our accommodation so that it was walking distance to Bangkok's Don Muang Airport and in ten minutes or so we were in the terminal.

Through immigration quickly, as well as security and waiting at our gate with an hour and a half to spare.

Went for a walk around just to get some exercise...

Sunrise at DMK airport.

A lot of Air Asia flights depart from here.

I traded in our leftover Thai baht for some $USD at one of the airport foreign exchange counters and was surprised to find out I only lost about $0.30 in foreign exchange transaction. But I noticed that the foreign exchange booths here are actually run by the banks themselves rather than a private entity. Either way, I was impressed with the rate.

This R2D2 style robotic floor cleaner was funny!

Thought it was odd to see this here.

That's our plane, ready for boarding.

We flew Air Asia from Bangkok DMK to Male MLE, Maldives. The four hour flight cost 6,400 baht ($176 USD, $240 CAD) per person with one checked bag. I did not pay for the extra legroom seats because I thought they were asking too much money. 

Our flight routing over the next 11 days or so.

The flight itself was fine, except for my knees knocking up against the seat in front. Fortunately, the seat in front of me was empty so I didn't have to worry about bothering someone else. But four hours is about my limit for being uncomfortable on a budget airline flight. 

Arriving at the Maldives.

Officially called Republic of Maldives, it is a group of about 1,200 islands in the Indian Ocean. It is more popular to simply call the area "the Maldives". Pronounced "mawl-deevz".

200 of the islands are inhabited, many by private resorts.



The capital city Male, occupies one of the islands.

The main airport is on an island beside the capital city.
Looking back at our plane after landing.

The arrivals area was busy, but we got lucky getting through immigration when they opened a new line up and sent us through there. But it took a while for our luggage to come out. We only have carry on bags and small backpacks, but AirAsia has a maximum 7 kg limit for all cabin bags combined, so we have to pay to check the one bag each.

Then I had to get some local cash. I knew that the local public ferries only accept local cash. I tried two different bank machines. One said there was a card error, and the other said there was some kind of connection error. So I went to a foreign exchange counter and traded a $10 USD bill for 150 rufiyaas.

The Rufiyaa is pegged to the $USD at 15.4 to the dollar. But the local currency is still the one the locals use and is the currency of choice.

It was about 12:30pm by the time we got out of the terminal. Our ferry to Dhiffushi departed at 2:30pm, so I figured we had lots of time. 

But first, we had to take the ferry from the airport to the city of Male.
Notice there are very few tourists on the ferry.

We saw the hoards of tourists in the terminal and the vast majority of them were being picked up by resorts and shuffled over to the private resort ferries, or the speedboats. The speedboats will get you to your island of choice for about $50 USD per person. Or, you can spend even more (and many do) to take a float plane.

But we are doing Maldives on the cheap, the Kevin and Ruth way!

So the airport ferry took us to the city for 15 rufiyaas ($0.97 USD, $1.32 CAD) each.

Looking back at the airport ferry terminal.

Scenery along the way.

We are headed to the city.

Bridge between the island city and the island airport.

The new airport terminal will open in 2025.

Interesting mosque.

There are a lot of fancy boats here in the Maldives.

We got into the island ferry terminal and bought our tickets for the 2:30pm ferry to Dhiffushi. Total cost for the two and a half hour ride was 22 rufiyaas ($1.40 USD, $1.95 CAD) per person. The public ferries are slow, plus they are heavily subsidized for the locals. 

But they are great for budget travelers!

So we're sitting waiting for the ferry. We arrived there with lots of time to spare. We decided against buying a local SIM card. They're quite expensive, our guest house has WiFi, and we're only here for four nights. We'll make do. So anyhow, I was checking to see if there was any free WiFi in the ferry terminal, and there wasn't. But there was a really strong signal coming from a Burger King restaurant that had to be close by. But you needed a code to use it, and I correctly assumed that you had to go buy something to get the code. 

We were pretty hungry anyhow by this point, so I suggested I would go get us a large fries and we could share them. And get the WiFi code in the process. I finally found the place. It turned out it was upstairs. But I noticed a bunch of different signs saying that you couldn't take food outside the restaurant. I didn't really think anything of it at the time.

I ordered the fries, and the guy gave me a code. I asked him about the signs saying no food outside, and he replied "It's Ramadan season".

Holy crap! We had forgotten all about that!

So I had to stay in the restaurant and eat the fries by myself. They had a nice balcony overlooking the water, and he said I could go out there.

This is where I sat and ate the fries.

Of course by this point, Ruth is wondering what happened to me! But she understood when I explained it. She had totally forgotten as well. She said she wasn't that interested in the fries enough to go get her own.

Ussie on the public ferry.

Looking back at the ferry terminal.

Oh, just so you know, there is nothing worth seeing in Male city. It's the administrative hub of the islands, and a lot of the locals live and work there, but it is most certainly not the reason that tourists come here. Just a big city with a lot of high rises.

There were a few fellow cheap travelers on the public ferry.

Scenery along the way.

Lots of construction for the local community.
Over 500,000 people live on this group of islands, and there isn't much real estate available!

There are lots of Richie Rich boats around.

And a lot of float planes buzzing around taking the tourists to the private islands.

More apartments being built for the locals.

These are not tourist or expat condos. In fact, I think I read that it's very difficult to become an expat in the Maldives. First, you have to be Muslim. Maldives is a strict Islamic country, and they only bend the rules for tourists. 

More local apartments.

You don't have to go very far before you start to see the tourist accommodation.




I actually think we would get bored at one of these places.
Not much exploring to be done!


Somebody tried to grow a couple of palm trees on this tiny island!




This is a wedding pavilion used by some of the resorts.

Someone spent a lot of money on a dock for this apparently uninhabited island. 
It's probably owned by one of the resorts, and they ferry people over to it for day trips.










Some of the occupied islands have a lot of scrap lying around. 

Approaching Dhiffushi.
This is home for the next four days.

Our guesthouse is somewhere in there.

It was only a half km from the ferry port to the guesthouse, so of course we walked it. There had been no communication saying otherwise, but we found out later they had sent someone to get us! We got to the guesthouse, and they made us a nice refreshing drink (non alcoholic... there is strictly no alcohol on the public islands), then told us that dinner is on the house on the day of your arrival. Very nice!

This is our room for $40 USD ($50 CAD) per night, including breakfast!

Nice enough, and very comfy memory foam bed.

The facilities.

We'll show you the island tomorrow!

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And in Canada...

2 comments:

  1. Gorgeous place, yay for health >>>>> (non alcoholic... there is strictly no alcohol on the public islands) Good for you to get free dinner on the day of arrival.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It does look like a nice place, we will get to see the whole island today. It shouldn't take us lo long to explore it, it's only about 2km (1.2 mi) long. The water looks divine!

      Just because a drink is non-alcoholic does not mean that it is healthy!

      Delete

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