Thursday, July 17, 2014

Travel Maldives on budget! (Part 2)

Hi guys, sorry for the hiatus, work has been keeping me busy! I know its been a long break since i last blogged about my trip in Maldives. As you guys may have read previously, I recently travelled to Maldives on budget, and i know everyone has been very curious how did i manage to travel to such a prestige destination with only S$588!! If you did read Part 1 of my trip, now its time to continue with Part 2!

                                                                           Day 2                                                                         
We slept pretty early the night before, about 10pm ? but to us it was 2am cause of the time difference. As the saying goes, 早起的鸟儿有虫吃, we woke up bright and early at 7 am to start our day with a bang! By the time we were all done washing up and packing, breakfast has already started. Our hotel's breakfast timing is from 7-9am and the staff cooks the breakfast spread. It is based on a first come first serve basis, so be there early or you'll be disappointed as food runs out fast. When we got down, it was 8 ish and most of the food were devoured by the gluttons who were there previously. We merely had toast with jam, some cut fruits and a cup of orange juice. It was quite a miserable breakfast, but it was our mistake to think that breakfast was unlimited supply. Well, that's what you get for not paying top dollar for your hotel. But heck it, food is not important to us when we've got breathtaking views.

After breakfast, we went out to the beach right infront of our hotel for some photos and a dip!


And yes, please be aware that bikini wear is absolutely not allowed on the public beach. 
Because we stayed on a local resort, the beaches here are therefore public beaches, meaning any maldivian can come to the beach. Trust me, when we wore our rashguards and boardshorts, we felt so out of place. Everyone was dressed in tudongs, long pants and sleeved top, we were the only ones dressing like a typical tourist.  If you were to stay at a private villa/international brand name resort island, you're more than welcome to strip down to your swimwear and dip into the waters. 
Thats the difference between staying on a local island or a international one. 

And i'm sure you can tell who's the camwhores/selfie queens

Since Diana and juju were pretty much preoccupied with spamming photos, jess and i went ahead to take a dip in the crystal clear waters. There was a little area cornered off for "safe swimming" , if you can spot it in the photo below.. Actually, the water is filled with sharp corals, so that area that was cornered off had no corals beneath them, maybe thats a marker to show people where the safe swimming zones are. 


here here! staircase leading to inside the "pool"

Corals and stones everywhere


Luckily for us, i brought my GoPro along and we started doing all sorts of "yoga-inspired" poses. We can't do yoga for nuts sake...... 
.___.








Swam back to shore only to find out the other two girls are stillll snapping away, so we joined in the fun too.




The below two photos are inspired by a Insta photo showed to us by Diana; someone had posted a photo with her friend doing a mid air heart on the beach, and we had to try it. We're always referring to other people's photos and trying it out ourselves. Becareful, your photo might be on our radar! 


It wasn't THAT bad of a try right? We managed to nail it on the first few tries. hahhaa! 






No idea whats going on there......



We shall say bye to this beautiful sight temporarily and head back to our hotel to get ready for our divesssss!


Got back, took our bags, got ready and shortly after, the dive shop came to pick us up!
This day, we had 3 dives; 2 in the morning and 1 in the afternoon. There were more divers/snorkelers than yesterday. 
Our first dive of the day (3rd dive in this trip) was to Maagiri Thila!


It is also on this dive that Jess and Juju opted for a discovery dive! Fancy their very first time diving, they did it in Maldives! Many people are going to be so jealous of them. I remember my first dive was at Sydney, coogee beach..




It was pretty crowded when we boarded the boat on the 2nd day. There were much more people going diving/snorkelling as compared to day 1. It was no surprise when we found out that 5 new pax on that day were cabin crew from various airlines! Where else could you possibly get pretty asian/fair skinned customers on a dive boat. hurhurhur. 


Please do not ask why we were feeling so patriotic that day.....
It was diana's idea actually! She brought the banner with her and showed us at the airport saying we could hold it up underwater. Unfortunately,junru & jess couldn't go down with us as they were tagged along another dive master and not with ours. So we took the photo on land... hahaha
*Team Singapore Divers* 


This dive, diana held on to my gopro to take photos around. Diana and i both have gopros, but junru and jess dont. Since i have a red filter for my gopro (which allows me to take nice colourful photos in deep depths), diana lent them her gopro for most of their snorkelling/diving session.


This is what happens when diana takes control over my gopro..
.....................





After cruising around for some time, we saw Manta Mobula Rays!!! According to our instructor, these rays are quite rare in the area. Although we were quite a distance away, we couldn't surface fast enough to catch them up close, so i took a video instead. Quite a pity that they got scared by the air bubbles from our tanks, if not we could have had more time to admire their beauty.  

Please view the videos in HD. idk why youtube makes my gopro videos so blur.. totally does my gopro no justice at all. :(



And the stone fish below is pretty coooool!!!!



Oh yes, did i mention that Diana is probably one the most "VOGUE" dive buddy i ever had?!! Even when we were underwater, she asked me to take photos for her while she did all her vogue poses....


Its funny how she's the same, even underwater. LOL. my cool friend............


well, mine's not tooooo bad! Hurhur!





After finishing our 1st dive of the day (3rd in total for the trip), we came back on board the boat to take a break. We befriended an Italian guy, whom we found out later was a pilot for Qatar Air. He wanted to dive so badly, but he couldn't as he had to fly back the next day, so he could only snorkel. We made friends and exchanged contacts. He's an avid skydiver and extended an invitation for us to visit him either at UAE or Italy and we could all go skydiving together! 


After taking selfies, the boat crew came up to the sun deck to join us since one of the instructor had to do an assessment for a couple who were doing an open water course with them.  Since we had some time to kill, Martin (our dive instructor) suggested something. Well he didn't suggest, he basically just jumped off he boat and expected us to follow suit. 
And this followed....
....
.......



It was cray cray for us mannnnn!!!! So exhilarating that we did it over and over again... Until the OW course people came back onto the boat. Whenever we front flip/back flip/ cannon ball/ face plant/ dive straight in the water, everyone from the bottom deck of the boat would get a shock and see us screaming and smiling all over our faces in the water. HAHA! It was soooooo fun! We even threw jojo (Mr Italian Pilot) off the boat!

Our 2nd dive of the day (4th dive of the entire trip) was at Banana Reef! In my opinion (and of the majority too), this is the best reef for photos.Their corals are so alive with blossoming colours that refract sunlight very well. For deeper depths, sunlight tend to be very diminished, therefore my red filter comes into handy. I was so glad that I managed to get my hands on the Switchblade RedMacro filter right before my trip. Many thanks to Mohan for introducing me to the sports shop at Alexandra

This is how the red baby looks like. It comes with a red filter and a macro lens which fits onto one flip screen that you attach it to your gopro lens. If im not wrong, the 3+ and 3 DO NOT share the same switchblade. So i couldn't lend diana my filter. This sets me back about 100 bucks, but i swear by it, its one of the MUST HAVES when you go diving!! Well, unless you plan to stay up to 3m underwater... The difference between photos/videos shot with and without this lens is.... beyond description. The colours are so vibrant and vivid with the filter, whereas without it, everything just looks green and blue. 

Okay, im not that great of a photographer when it comes to holding my breath and taking a nice clean shot underwater. But hey, check out the colours of the fishes and corals. This was taken about 15-20m underwater. 


With my gopro and my handy filter, i could take really amazing photos and videos. As i've mentioned above, Banana Reef is one of the best reefs to take photos. Martin took my gopro and got us to swim across this cave features so we could admire the beauty of the scenery around. But sadly, it doesn't look so good on youtube video, but do try and view it in HD! I cannot describe how awesome the colours look, even now when I think back about the moment swimming under and between fishes.. Such an amazing feeling :)





And that's me when we're about to surface... As you can see my red filter and macro lens still on, thus the reddish/orangey colours seen on my face. That was taken probably 1-2m below water. It just makes everything so much better. Haha! Okay im just praising myself and the product too much.They should pay me for free advertisement.


Anyway, back to the story...... After surfacing, our dive boat drove back to Male to drop off our cabin crew and to pick up new passengers for the afternoon session. Since the cabin crew were only here for snorkelling, its a half day session for them. On the boat back, I managed to snap a photo with Mr Italian for keepsake. Hopefully we'll meet again someday!


When the boat docked, we had some time to go on to the island to grab some lunch for ourselves. 


That's Male for you, its crazy packed with motorcycles everywhere and crazy traffic!! Martin brought us to a small snack bar where we got some western sandwiches to bring back onto the boat.


Everything was pretty pricey and it was in USD. I guess they pretty much target the tourist/divers who pop by here for a quick snack. 

After getting our essentials, we walked back to the boat and moved off to our final dive site, alongside with 4 new "divers". Why did i call them divers? All 4 of them paid for a discover scuba package, but ended up going only 2m below water.... But took tons of photos, in their scuba gear under 2m. Well, i guess they just wanna show that they "dived" at Maldives... One of them threw up all over the little makeshift toilet on the boat and didn't clean up. *clap clap* The most inconsiderate award of the year goes to you, mdm. 
Oh wells.... I guess they felt rich.

Anywaysssss, our 3rd (5th dive of the trip) and final dive was at Kurumbaa H.R. Not such a good place for photos, visibility was quite bad, BUT WE FINALLY CAUGHT SIGHT OF A BLACK TIP SHARK.
LIKE.
F.I.N.A.L.L.Y!!!

butttttttttttt, just when i was taking a video of the shark, diana swam straight into my shot and covered my entire video.  Good thing it wasn't my first time encountering a shark or i would have killed her for blocking my view. hahaha. Anw, we managed to catch sight of quite a number of marine creatures, pretty exciting for the last dive. There were bat fishes, black tip shark, shrimps, dog tooth tuna etc etc.
:D :D :D

Another turtle! A healthier one at least...




My final shot with the bat fishes, but i got photobombed.....



Aren't they so gorgeous?!!! And they swim up close to you! Absolutely not afraid of humans! It is no wonder they're so easy to be caught. HAHA. :X


Finished our dive after 40min and came up feeling all awesome but tired at the same time. Returned back to the dive shop and helped pack up. We are such good customers, we even help move the 20+ tanks from the van to the shop. Got our logbooks signed, and took a group photo with everyone.


Good job everyone! It was a great 5 dives with you guys!
Martin (top right) suggested dinner with us but couldn't make it in the end as his Mum came to visit. So  Hussein (3rd from left) and his mate (not in photo) brought us for some local dinner.

As all of you know, food is extremely pricey in Maldives. A bowl of rice can cost you US$6. A normal chicken burger set meal at Burger King costs US$15. We were so shocked at the prices that we rolled our eyes. Even the staff at the counter called us over to ask if we had cheaper BK in our country. We were like DUHHH, it only cost like maybe S$6 for a meal?!?!!! He was, appalled.
LOL.
So, the solution is to... Have local food!
Maldivian taste is more of, Indian and malay type of food. Spicy, full of flavours and very local like. Its nothing fanciful, just like comparing local hawker food to pricey restaurants. Since we're there for the experience, we dined local style. And it saved us TONS of money!
Hussein brought us to this restaurant that he frequents, and surprisingly it was within walking distance from our hotel.
Disclaimer: please do not attempt to walk there by yourself, you might get lost as there's no/minimal street lamps around.


With one of our dive master (the darkest dude! LOL)

The entire meal only cost us US$50 in total for 7 of us and we had quite a good spread. It was so much worth it having local food as compared to typical western food fare that you can get back at home. 
P.S. western food doesn't come cheap at maldives, one meal can set you back US$50!




                                                                           Day 3                                                                         
Started our last day right by waking up bright and early, and this time we had a nice breakfast without having to scavenge whatever that's left. haha! Decided to head to the further end of the beach to explore, and also to hunt for a water sports shop so we can do stand up paddling.  

 This is how you ought to dress in maldives if you don't want weird stares. HAHA!

Kidding.
The sun was really scorching hot and i couldn't stand the heat.



That's Jess and I for you. Doing random stuff anywhere, anytime. Well, the photos look quite cool rightttttt? 

Oh, and we finally found the water sports shop! It was about 15min walk from our hotel and we happened to chance upon it after hearing from our dive instructors. 



They offer quite a variety of water sports, but I wouldn't recommend surfing over there. Mainly because the waves at the beach were crashing into corals and rocks. Soooo, surfing is definitely out of the question if you still wanna come back alive in one piece. 


Ohmygawwwwhhh! How can one ever forget this sight.
Jess and Diana went ahead to do stand up paddling, juju and i stayed behind on the beach to look after our belongings, and we started camwhoring. Then, we decided; since its our last day here, lets get some nice shots in our swimwear when there's no one around. (highly not recommended unless u're really #yolo)






Time to bid farewell to Maldives... 
Till we meet again!!!!!

I'm sure we willlllll. Your beauty is beyond imagination.



Oh yes, keep the boarding pass as a souvenir! It is so adorable! (obviously this is juju's, not mine but i was too lazy to snap a photo of it)


So let's summarize my expenditure for the entire trip. 

Air ticket: S$101
Accommodation: US$156/night for 4 pax, so that's about S$95 each for 2 nights
Activities: US$300 (5 dives), that's roughly S$375 in total
Dinner/snacks: S$17++ in total
Grand total: S$588!!!!

Now, go travel to Maldives on budget and don't forget to thank me afterwards. Hope this blog post will help all of you budget travelers out there!

xoxo,
Chye

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