Exploring MaldivesMuhammad Ahsan
I wanted to go on vacation for very long, but the trip to Maldives came out of nowhere. One fine day I got a message from my friend Faisal to discuss a project, the next two days we spent talking about it and one thing led to another. He invited me to visit Maldives and I without giving it much thought, booked the ticket on the same very weekend. So from the discussion to my flight this all took 4 days. The next thing I know I was boarding the flight from Karachi to Malé via Doha (because apparently there were no direct flights).
Travel Tip: If you are going to Maldives, just have US dollars with you as it’s better than if you carry your local currency. Also amazingly US dollar is almost natively accepted all over Maldives
Doha’s Hamad International Airport was breath of fresh air, it’s akin to living city in itself. My transit stay was 3 hours before I finally got on the flight to Velana International Airport. I got lucky as the next two seats were empty, so I was able to sleep like a baby 😉
Literally no travel is complete without filling your tummy and I think that’s why it deserves a dedicated topic by itself. During my stay I treated myself with local cuisines just enough that I knew what they were but I wasn’t a big fan of everything being super spicy, like I am from Pakistan (it’s pretty common here) but for me too it was another level of torture for my taste buds.
Interesting fact: Small snacks like buns, samosas etc are called shorties
Tuna is no wonder one of the most commonly found menu item in the Maldives, literally it was in every other dish. For me the taste was almost along the same lines as goat meat weirdly or at-least the way it was cooked it didn’t tasted any different or fishy (if I may say so) at all. Every single day I was there, I went to a different cafe/bistro or restaurant. The whole capital city is so small that you can literally walk from one end to the other end in an hour or two.
You may notice a lot of it is fast food, well that’s because after I tasted the local cuisines a few times I decided I didn’t wanted to take any risk upsetting my stomach due to spices. One of the meals I often had was chicken fried rice with fried egg as a topping, that was one meal which I can survive on for the whole day. The hotdog was the most uncommon one because it had no sausage instead it was minced meat within the bun 😉 not sure where else that happens but it was definitely a first for me.
One of the most missed things whilst my stay there was not having tea as I am used to, freshly brewed with full cream milk. In Maldives condensed milk is used instead of full cream one.
Qatar Airways Business Class Food
Everything aside, the food on the way back to Doha was some of the fanciest I’ve had yet 😅, I upgraded to business class because that’s something I haven’t tried for long. And boy was it a great decision for my taste buds 😍 I felt stupid not even knowing how the hell to eat the delicacies I was presented, but hey that’s normal isn’t it 🤣
The first thing they served was fresh cranberry juice along with warm pistachio/almonds on the side. Then came assorted buns with lemon chilli dressing, for the main meal I opted with Chicken breast filled with cheese. Oh boy did I tell you about the Belgian Chocolate Godiva and Saffron milk tea. I cannot wait to fly again just to taste these again 😂
The business lounge also had wonderful Tiramisu cake and grilled chicken sandwich of the many many items to choose from.
Places I Stayed At
I can easily say within just 17 days of my visit I’ve stayed at more places than I may have changed in the past 10 years combined 😂 that wasn’t the intention but due to circumstances I had to live like a nomad, staying at motels, hostels, hotels and guest houses nothing was left unturned 🤩
Travel Tip 2: If you are going to Maldives, plan ahead and save on your accommodation to enjoy more in the activities. It’s crazy expensive on the resorts if that’s what you fancy but not a great option if you are planning to have an extended stay.
If you don’t like ocean then don’t visit Maldives, it’s one of the GOD’s few gems on earth with pristine waters, where you can clearly see at least 10 to 20 ft under the water from the surface. Though I was there for work but who said you cannot have some me time in the midst of it all. I took half day tour from the island of Maafushi which is only 26 KMs from the main capital city of Malé. From snorkeling in turtle reef to dolphin sight seeing it was an experience of a lifetime. In mere 5 hour tour I had one of the most amazing time of my life.
Firstly I don’t know how to swim 😂 so naturally I was bit hesitant even with the life jacket and professional divers around me, I was thinking snorkeling is nearby shore, little did I know turtles like to dive deep and we were dropped 1KM away from the island and every other person was diving like it’s a piece of cake (which it is in the hindsight) but I had to literally wait around for smallest kid to jump and see for myself that they don’t drown to muster up courage to finally take the plunge.
Underwater view was just unbelievable and almost felt like a VR experience, if I am not wrong the reef I was snorkeling around had a huge deep crater where even the water felt super cold. So all in all, if you are into water sports then you’d be splashing in FUN all day long.
Well it goes without saying, as a person who is deeply interested in exploring business opportunities, Maldives imports almost nearly everything. Licensing is a tad bit difficult but if you secure a good partner locally you can capture an untapped market, specially because apart from the tourism industry Maldives on the main city is a real mix of old and new. There are still no shopping complexes or great cineplexes for that matter, so there’s a lot of first movers niches just waiting to be tapped into.
So you go on a great island and you don’t take a picture of yourself jumping like an complete idiot, well that’s not me. I did the ritual and here is my chubby self doing the deed 😂
Me: Maldive’s is a tightly knit society, wherein people are generally super laid back and kind. One of the most patient folks I’ve encountered and that’s something as I’ve interacted people from over 80 nationalities, but at the same side once you live long enough you start seeing the fractures in the system.
One thing which came across most shockingly was the rate of divorces and how common is it for Maldivian people to react to divorces/separation even though it is 99% Muslim country but when it comes to having bad relationships apparently they even beat the WEST.