As I wrote earlier, we (my wife and me) went to Maldives. This is brief summary, with some photos below.
First of all – the surprise worked. Ula didn't know about anything until check-in on airport! YAY for organization skills and blatant lying 🙂
Before I will go to describing our vacation, I have to describe the travel, which was so much “fun" that it will probably be remembered for a longer time than anything else.
The plan was simple:
- 1h 50m from WAW to FRA with LOT
- 1h 45m waiting on FRA
- 8h 55m from FRA to CMB with SriLankan
- 3h 5m waiting on CMB
- 1h 30m from CMB to MLE with SriLankan
- and then some 40 minutes on air-taxi to get to hotel
That was the idea. Realisation was much more interesting.
All started well, we were allowed on board, but then the departure from Warsaw got delayed. With us on board. Finally the plane started 1h 20m later than it was supposed to be. Which made for a nervous trip, because due to change of airline, we didn't have boarding passes for FRA–CMB nor CMB–MLE. Which meant, that when we arrived in Frankfurt, we had ~ 30 minutes to get to checkin, get boarding passes, run to gate and board the plane.
We didn't make it.
SriLankan representative told us, that we just just missed it – 5 more minutes, and it would be fine, and they would have kept the plane longer, but LOT didn't call them to day that there are passengers on board for their flight.
Well, though luck. The birthday gift didn't look as good, but we still had the chance.
- it's ok.
- we will be booked on Emirates flight via DXB ( GC map )
- the flight to DXB will depart in 7 hours.
- for all the trouble, we'll get vouchers for some lunch, €15 per person. Which should work everywhere on the airport
It's not perfect, but at the very least we'll get to fly Emirates, which I heard a lot of good about, and we'll see (from airplane) Dubai. Could be worse.
After around 3 hours, checkin for the Emirates flight was possible, and then we learned something absolutely amazing. In probably worst possible way.
Emirates guy told us, that he'll rebook our baggage, and then he asked if we want the baggage to be sent to MLE (which makes perfect sense, since this is were we're going) or CMB (which doesn't make any sense – it was just one of the transfer airports on original plan).
Apparently LOT checkin in Warsaw, decided for some reason, that the bag should be sent WAW–CMB, and not WAW–MLE. That is – one stop short of end of trip. If we had made the connection in FRA, we wouldn't have known about anything till we'd arrive to Maldives, and learn that our baggage is in Sri Lanka. How sweet.
Since the FRA–CMB–MLE (or later FRA–DXB–MLE) flights were booked in business class, we could use the Business Lounge. That was our first trip in business, so we weren't quite sure what to expect. Result: it's really, really nice. Much better than coach. Lounges are great (though, the lounge in DXB is simply too large, and one of benefits – peace and quietness – were gone, simply too many passengers). More space on board is even better.
After all of this we arrived in Male, at ~ 5pm (instead of 8:30am) to learn that there are no seats in the air-taxi to Kuredu. But they (hotel and TMA representatives) will try to arrange something. And they did. we finally arrived at ~ 7pm to hotel, after ~ 30 hours of travel. Not so cool.
To finish travel comments – flight back was also eventfull, thanks to SriLankan representative, which said on depart – “You didn't come here with SriLankan, so you're not here, and your reserved seats were sold to someone else". But luckily after ~ 15 minutes they found us place on another flight, and we were all set for flight back home.
What about the place? Well. To put it simply: it's the closest thing to paradise I have ever seen.
Beautiful beaches with white “sand" (crushed coral, sometimes with larger coral pieces, but these were easily avoidable). Great, warm, clear water. Lots of fishes to look at, crabs, birds, geckos and bats. We were amazed.
Pictures below will show you some of the stuff we've seen, but the general idea is that no picture, even the ones taken by professional photographers, will ever show you the real feel of the place.
Since it was our first stay there, we obviously had to take the Overwater Villa which is really nice, although in the late evenings there was not much water below it (~ 50cm). During the day the depth was usually ~ 1.2 – 1.5m, which was very comfortable and definitely good for swimming/snorkeling.
The only “problem" was that the nicest places to snorkel were on direct opposite of the island, but it's not a big deal when the island is 1.5km / 300m.
What we did wrong:
- rented snorkeling gear too late (3rd day) – should have get it as soon as possible – it really never gets old
- didn't get diving gear/lessons
- playing badminton, on concrete court in sunny day doesn't work well. Should have waited for after sunset.
- we went for the whole day for “Dream Island" – this is basically a patch of sand, above water, with noone (except you) on it. It was nice, but should have take just a half day, and the other on another such island “Robinson Crusoe trip"
Everything else was pure bliss.
On one of the evenings we went to “Sunset Cruise" – generally it's a ~ 20 people on ship, getting away from island to look at sunset, or to spot some doplhins. At this day we had clouds, so the sunset wasn't that great, but the dolphins did show up, and we could clearly see them swimming in front of the ship.
When talking with host he told us to rent snorkeling stuff, and to look for fishes and turtles, but he mentioned not to touch “Lion Fish" nor “Triggerfish". The first one is quite obvious – I wouldn't touch anything looking like this anyway.
The other one, I forgot about. We got the snorkeling gear, and went to see the reef.
After 2 days of snorkeling (I think) I rented underwater camera to make some fish pictures for kids. We went to the main reef, and swam.
Ula left me ~ 200 meters from the shore and I swam further (depth was still ~ 2m) in hope I'll see reef sharks or turtles, or manta rays. Since I couldn't find them, ~ 20 minutes later decided to swim back to the shore.
When I was relatively close to the beach (50 meters, maybe less), stopped, laying face-down on the water to look at particulary nice spot. And then I got bitten. Hard. Now, that I think about it, I know it was irrational, but the first things that went through my mind were sharks and “Jaws" movie.
It wasn't shark – it was very nice, color fish. But I was bleeding. In water. On a reef which has sharks.
Well – I swam for my life. Got to the beach, went to medic. All went fine. Then I did some research (read: web searches and talk with local divers).
Why it did so? Apparently they are very protective about their nests. And their nests are easy to miss if you don't know how it looks, because it's just a hole in the “ground". They (triggerfish) assume that everything from the nest up, up to the surface, is their teritory, and they will protect it. Apprently, when watching other fishes, I inadvertently swam over it, and had to be scared away.
As for the sharks and blood – one of the divers told me that the bleeding doesn't matter. If I did bleed with tuna blood – it would. But human blood is different, and reef sharks don't care about it.
In general, I was told, there is one visitor bitten every couple of months. So I was the lucky one :).
Outside of water, Kuredu is also great. We could see animals which are very uncommon in Poland like geckos, lizards and bats. Bats were simply amazing – extremely quiet. And beautiful. There were also several different kinds of birds, but I wouldn't be able to name them all.
All in all – it was great. I definitely wish we could have stay longer. I'd also like to come back there, but first, we have to visit some other tropical places, like Hawaii, or French Polynesia. It has to wait for some time, though 🙂
Photos – please note that I am not a photographer, so any comments on composition, or general lame-ness of me (who took the pictures) are irrelevant.
Some of the pictures (you will notice, no doubt) were taken in “sport-series", where the camera makes couple of pictures in quick burst. This is to show movement of things, with less fluidity, but better quality than video.