Maldivian Colors of Serenity

One of the perks of working here in the Maldives is that whenever you get stressed from your daily tasks or routine, you can just go out of your office and look at the stunning view and you’ll be so relaxed when you get back to the office.

And if the view is not enough, you can swim or snorkel or go for cruise or night fishing.

Yesterday, me and my colleagues went out for a fishing trip. The water was so still, the color combination of the sea and the sky and the sunset, oh, I just can’t put into words the magnificence of the view so I just took photos and you decide how you are going to describe these images.

ok, that’s my colleague Jihad and he kinda liked that part of the boat and he almost didn’t leave that place so I had to include him in this picture

Our catch for the night, I was able to catch 3 ha ha – image stolen from my colleague’s fb account

 

and this is me…

 

and this is me again

I Thought of Today

I gate crashed yet another fishing party today.

The boat left the island at 6:45 am. The moon was still up, the sky still dark. Our eyes half awake, our stomachs craving for warm coffee.

I waited for the sun to come out. It’s been a while since I last saw the sunrise.

I sat by the edge of the boat and marvelled at the rising sun, its light taking over this small paradise.

I thought about my past 8 months here and how I have slowly settled into the island life.

I thought about my plans before moving here.

Before signing my contract, I told myself that this will be my last overseas contract, that once this contract is over, I’ll retire and go back home for good. I thought about the island life and how I will miss it once I go back home.

I thought about the days when I stroll down the beach to watch the sunset after a day’s work or swim and mingle with the fish & turtles or gate crash a fishing party. I thought about the luxury of coming to work in flip-flops and of not cooking for myself, of just having to bring myself to the canteen and put the food on my plate.

I thought about the days when my skin smelled of sun and sea, and of days when I won’t be able to smell it anymore. I thought about the days when I would want to swim but would only be able to do so after a five hour drive to the nearest beach.

I thought about all of these and more.

I thought of today and how today will just become a yesterday, a month ago, a year ago or a decade ago.

I thought of all the memories that I will take with me once I leave this paradise for good and how it will stay as vivid as the Maldivian waters or how it will blur out as I age, when I can’t distinguish the difference between a memory and a dream anymore.

I sat by the edge of the boat and marvelled at the rising sun, its light taking over this small paradise, its light taking over me.

 

maldivian-sunrise
today’s sunrise

Cafés in Malé

Whenever I visit a new place, I would always look for a food chain familiar to me. I’m not very adventurous when it comes to food. I’m actually very picky so I’d rather look for food that my tummy knows, rather than experimenting on a new cuisine and later on regretting the money and food wasted.

In Malé, I felt weird to not see any international food chain. Though, I think, this is a good thing. That the locals will have a chance to open up their cafes / restaurants without the fear that business will be diluted by big chains, just like what’s happening in our town back home.

Since I am not very adventurous, once I’ve liked a restaurant, I will always come back to that restaurant and probably eat the same thing. I don’t usually go to Malé because my island is quite far South but whenever I get a chance, I’ll always have a meal at Seahouse, that’s before I discovered Shellbeans. So now, I have two to visit whenever I go to Malé.

seahouse

The first cafe that I discovered is the Seahouse. It’s not very attractive from the outside, you wouldn’t even notice it. It is on the 2nd floor and the signage isn’t really attractive.

I was hesitant at first, I thought they might be serving only local dishes but I was so surprised when I saw Bistek Tagalog and Pancit Bihon on their menu. I was like, SERIOUSLY??? And I was so happy, though the Pancit Bihon wasn’t as authentic and tasty as I was expecting but still, after months of not being able to eat any Filipino dish, I cannot complain!

But more than the Filipino food, I like the vibe of this restaurant. I like the verandah and I like the music that they play. It’s just like a great combination of everything. This is the kind of place where I could stay for hours and hours, just sitting, eating or drinking juice or coffee while looking at the nice view, listening to the waves and the music. And even though the place is always full and noisy, I still feel so relaxed, weird but, I can’t explain.

This place is the inspiration of my post City Lights

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View from the veranda of Seahouse

The second cafe that I discovered, well my boss mentioned about it, is the Shellbeans. My boss said that their pancakes are to die for. And he was right.

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View from Shellbeans

 

shellbeans-pancake
I think I don’t need to say anything more

 

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And while eating my pancakes, I saw plates of eggs benedict and other mouth-drooling dishes being served on other tables and I was like – I need to be back for those.

I Gate Crash Fishing Parties

Fishing is my most favorite thing to do here in the Maldives and a lot of my colleagues have noticed my love for this activity. My friend even said, when Aysa hears about fishing, she forgets everything – even me.

Whenever there are fishing trips, I am usually present. Sometimes I get invited, sometimes I gate crash the fishing party.

If you have never tried to go on a fishing trip, you might be wondering why I like fishing.

First of all, I find joy whenever I get on the boat and set sail. I like to be out on the sea. I get to see picturesque sunsets or starry skies. I get to hear the waves and I get to feel the relaxing effect of this natural music.

The second reason why I love fishing is the excitement that I get whenever I feel the movement of my bait, when a fish is biting it. And most especially, I get excited whenever I catch a fish.

But more importantly, I like fishing because it has taught me, and is still teaching me valuable lessons in life.

When one goes out for fishing, one needs the knowledge and skills, good weather, luck and timing (this is according to me).

My colleagues who are really pro in fishing know when and when not to set sail. When it is too windy, the waves will be very strong. Then it is not the time to go out for a trip. But then, it’s not all about the weather nor proficiency.

There was one fishing trip when I was with pro fishers and the weather was really excellent for fishing. The sea was very calm but we caught almost nothing, maybe just 3 to 4 pieces of fish for almost 4hours. No luck.

Then there was one fishing trip when I was with beginners and the waves were a bit rough but we caught tons of fish within one hour. Whenever we put down the line, within seconds we had fish on our baits. But after that said hour, we didn’t get anything anymore. So I can say, it was just pure luck and good timing.

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This is what we call ‘line’ and this is what we use for fishing, not the fishing rod. It is nylon string that is on that circle thing.

Whenever I think about these trips, I think about life. I think about how people can never have everything at the same time. They can have knowledge and skills but never the luck or good timing. Some are so lucky but because they don’t have the knowledge, their luck gets wasted. This applies to job hunting, business management, writing, career advancement, etc., and even just to life in general. Though we can say some did really get lucky to have all these elements in life at once, hence they became successful.

Apart from the different elements of life that I learned and mentioned, fishing has taught me and is still teaching me a very important value in life and that is patience.

Whenever I drop the line into the water, I sit quietly. I listen to the waves while I wait for that movement from underneath the deep sea. I wait till I learn how to feel when the fish is biting my bait. I wait until my luck comes. I wait till the good times come.

I wait. And I wait patiently. In silence.

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That’s a happy Aysa with her catch – a red snapper!

 

Roaming Around Malé

Malé is the capital of the Maldives. It is small and densely populated.

Today, I got a chance to roam around the city and have taken some photos.

Streets

 

balete-trees

road

streets

streets1

 

Male has narrow streets, of course, what do we expect from a very small place. Hence, people use motor bikes and you’ll see tons of these bikes parked on the roadside. There are taxis though but sometimes, you’ll get stuck in traffic so bikes are more convenient I suppose.

motorbikes

 

Ferry Terminal

ferry-terminal

 

The only way (so far) to go to the airport from Malé is by ferry. The journey is just about 10mins and the fare is about 10 Rufiyaa.

baraabaru

The China-Maldives friendship bridge is in progress. This bridge will connect Malé and Hulhumale (the island where the airport is).

friendship-bridge

ladies

waves

 

Where to Eat

For people like me, who are not so adventurous when it comes to food, I would always look for well known food chains wherever I go  but no luck for me here in Malé. There are no fast food chains, no famous coffee chains or whatsoever. All local cafes. Though I have my two favorite cafes here, a separate post will be published later on. 

cafe

 

Other Random Photos

 

coast-guard

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park

playground

map-of-male

money

sea-ambulance

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And this, my friends is the Philippine flag. This is probably the building where our consulate is. 

phil-flag

Walking around Malé (even by yourself) is pretty safe. You won’t see police roaming around, which is a sign that there are no threats of pickpockets etc., You will only see some police by the entrance of the government buildings and that’s about it. The place is also really small, you won’t get lost and even if you do, the people are quite friendly so it’s ok to ask for directions.

Postcards from Maldives

I’ve read somewhere, that photography is not about taking photos of what everyone can see daily. It is about looking for angles that everyone fails to see, unless you point it out to them – by taking photos (these aren’t the exact words but, something along these lines).

I have mentioned several times here already that I live in a small island and you can walk around it for 15mins. Sometimes I ask myself what other angle of the island have I not taken photo of. The trees and the flowers and the beach have been there for the last 6months and though I am not a photographer, sometimes my hands itch to click the camera.

However, a few days ago, I have kept my camera close to me and tried to catch moments that are out of the ordinary (or as I thought so) and here are some of the photos.

seaplane-landing
Seaplane landing while the sun is setting
couple
A couple taking photos of the sunset while on the boat
seaplane-on-air
Seaplane on air
sky
Look at the sun rays and the clouds, so majestic
windsrufing
I saw one of our colleagues wind surfing 
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Can’t think of a caption
windsurfing-3
Again, just look at the clouds
windsurfing-2
I am really jealous. I want to learn how to wind surf ha ha

Resort Visit – Sun Aqua Vilu Reef

It is not easy to island hop here, hence in my 6months here in the Maldives, I’ve never visited any other resort except ours (the company that I work for I mean) till last week.

Our department decided to visit a resort nearby, Sun Aqua Vilu Reef to hold our farewell dinner for one of our colleagues. Since that was my first time to visit a resort, I have requested for a site visit as I want to see the rooms and facilities and they willingly obliged.

We arrived at Sun Aqua Vilu Reef via speedboat (gone are my Uber days, we are talking about speedboat now) just after sunset and were warmly welcomed by the General Manager.

He led us to the bar where a long table awaited us and served us their welcome drink. Fresh coconut or Kurumba in local language.

kurumba

After drinking the Kurumba water, a resort host conducted the resort tour and led us to their restaurants first.  He showed us their fine dining restaurant with  a pool-like area where live lobsters chill near the rocks before they get caught and grilled.

What caught my attention is their wine cellar. It looks stunning (at least for me) with the blue lights and glass walls.

Sun Aqua Vilu Reef wine-cellar

cellar1

Sorry for the random photos, I easily get distracted with small things like this magic-ball center piece.

centerpiece

The resort has 2 bars and 2 restaurants but I only took photos of what caught my attention. Maybe because I am not a travel blogger, so I am not so into taking pictures just like the photo below of the spa treatment room.

I was amazed by the wooden tray with those powders, hence this is the only photo that I took.

Sun Aqua Viu Reef treatment-room

The resort host showed us their rooms and this is how they look like.

Sun Aqua Vilu Reef Room

They have a lot of pink touches every where as that is their brand color. Each of their rooms has direct access to the beach, and the bed is facing this glass door. The view could be stunning during daytime.

Sun Aqua Vilu Reef Room

And this, is my favorite part of their room. I can imagine myself, reading a book here.

Sun Aqua Vilu Reef Villa

Again, my dear friends, I was distracted by the wall behind the tub. Forgive my photos.

Sun Aqua Vilu Reef Villa

It is sad that we arrived after sunset, we could have seen the hotel in a different light if we came earlier while the sun was still up. I could have taken better photos as well of their water villas. But who knows, there could be a next time. (Hello Sun Aqua Vilu Reef, I can write for free meals! I am one email away! **insert shame here**)

After the resort visit, we headed to the buffet restaurant for dinner and guess what? I don’t have a single photo of the food, but as you can see below, I have a photo of the magic-ball centerpiece.

Sun Aqua Vilu Reef Restaurant

We wrapped up the evening with a few drinks at the bar while we waited for our speedboat to arrive.

centerpiece-2
Just another centerpiece

There was a live performance that night at the bar, Bodu Beru – Maldivian cultural music composed of drumbeats, voices and some sort of tribal dance.

Bodu Beru

And before I end this post, I’ll share our group picture, taken upon our arrival at the resort. In group photos, I can easily be spotted for I am always the wacky one.

group

PS: I think I need a training on travel photography so next time I’ll know how and what are the things I should be taking note and photos of, instead of walls and centerpieces.

Maldives in Different Colors

In this post, I won’t talk a lot. I will just show you the Maldives  through my eyes (and lenses).

5o Shades of Blue

The Maldives is composed of 99% water and 1% percent land. Hence, expect that the country will be so blue. But wait, there’s more to the place than just being blue.

On bright sunny days, I cannot count how many shades of blue can I see. Royal blue, navy blue, cobalt blue, baby blue….name it, Maldives has it.

blue-1

blue

There are nights when I feel that a blue fairy might have sprinkled some blue dust everywhere. I don’t know how but sometimes, really, even the wooden jetty has a shade of blue on it. And mind you, the pictures in this post have not been filtered nor edited.

bluer-than-blue

Wildly White

This country is also known for its soft and white sand that sparkles like diamonds whenever the sun is up.

autumn

So far, I have seen very few species of flowers here in the island. Orchids, gumamela (hibiscus), bougainvillea and santan (ixora) – the tropical ones.

white

Freshly Green

The summer feeling won’t be complete without the coconut trees.

Rumors has it that in the Maldives, there are more cases of death by falling coconuts on the human head than shark attacks. Hence, in my workplace, we have a dedicated team of gardeners who does not only look after the beauty of our resort, but as well ensures that no one gets into trouble due to unidentified flying coconuts.

green

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Breathtakingly Orange

Everyday, the sun paints a different color to the sky before it finally goes down to a rest. Sometimes I feel like I am looking at a huge painting, it just feels so surreal.

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Cutely Pink

When the sky is not orange during sunset, sometimes it has this baby pink and baby blue color that makes me feel like I am looking at giant cotton candies in the sky.

pink

 

Lonely Gray

The official tag line of the country is ‘The sunny side of life” because it is just summer all year round. Though there’s also a monsoon season which is from June to August where we expect a lot of rain. However, rainy season here doesn’t feel really rainy after all. Sometimes it just rains for 10 minutes then the sun is up again. Sometimes it rains the whole day, then the next day you’ll wake up to a whole new world that looks like it never rained the day before. Though, there are tougher days when it really rains for about 3 days straight.

gray
This photo was taken while I was in the speedboat.

 

Red as in Red

Red for gumamela and apologies for the bad photography skills. LOL.

red

That’s all for now folks!

 

Expat Life in the Maldives

It’s been 6 months since I moved here in the Maldives. Time really flies and the next thing I’ll know is that my 2 year-contract has reached its end.

I have written a few things about my snorkeling adventures here as well as my work life issues but I have not written anything about how life is here in the Maldives, for the expats like me I mean.

Since I am an expat living in the Maldives, I’ll take the liberty to tell you about the country, how is it to live here and a lot more. Of course, I won’t be able to elaborate everything in just one post. There will be more to follow.

Male
This is Male, the capital of Maldives

Maldives is a very beautiful place to live in and if I’d be given a chance [and money] to buy a small island here where I could build a small house, I’ll do that. Even though the Maldives is slowly sinking and might be wiped out in 20 years’ time or so, I’d still want to live [peacefully] here  – if given a chance.

Just for your info, Maldives is the lowest country on Earth. The islands are not more than 1.8 meters above sea level.  No hills, no mountains. And also, just for your info, in case you are still clueless as to where Maldives is, this country is located in the Indian Ocean, near Sri Lanka and India.

The Maldives is made up of more than 1000 islands [not so surprising to me though as I came from a country made up of more than 7000 islands, LOL], with around 200 inhabited islands and some 100 islands developed into hotels and resorts.

Most of the time, there’s only one resort per island as the islands are pretty small. Like in this island where I live and work (or work and live), I can walk around the whole island in about 15 minutes. That’s if I walk at a slow pace.

Can you imagine working and living in an island as small as this? Would you be able to survive here?

 

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This is the island where I work and live. I took this photo while on board a seaplane.

People like me, who loves to swim, walk by the beach, sit down and read books or listen to the waves might survive here. But youngsters, shopaholics and party animals – this is not the place for you.

A lot of people have asked me the same question of shock especially upon learning that I lived in Dubai for 10 years prior to moving here, how can you survive this lifestyle?

From a busy, crowded, cosmopolitan life to a very quiet, relaxed and isolated life is a huge change.

It was a bit of a shock for me initially. I can’t go out and eat in fast food chains, I can’t even buy the brand of coffee that I want or the brand of shampoo or soap that I want. There’s a small shop here in our island, and it’s like what you see is what you get. I feel happy whenever I see chocolates and chips, regardless of the brand. Whenever the stock of Milo or coke is over, we have to wait till the stock comes before we can buy and drink some again. Completely shocking, right? But so far I have adjusted and I learned to be happy and contented with what I see, though whenever I get a chance to go out of the island, I hoard important personal stuff and ensure that my supply will last for at least 3 months.

Well, I hope I didn’t bore you to death with this post. And if you will be given a chance to live here, do you think you’d be able to survive this lifestyle?

I Wanna Have Abs Like Dionne Monsanto so I Went Snorkeling

I saw the recent post of Dionne on instagram and I was like, WOW ABS! I heard she is a swimmer, so I came up with an idea.

 

I went snorkeling for 2 days in a row thinking, if I would snorkel everyday, my abs can come a little bit closer to that of Dionne.

So yesterday was the start of I-wanna-have-abs-like-Dionne work out.

D, my snorkeling partner and I, decided to swim till the platform. The platform is a floating deck in the middle of the water, about 100 meters away from the shore, on top of approximately 6 meters deep water, where we can take some rest before heading back to the water again.

So from the shore to the platform and vice versa will be about 200 meters. Not bad for a workout, right?

Yesterday’s swim was really ok even though the weather was a bit bad as it was cloudy. But today, the sun was smiling to us, giving my already tanned skin an even nicer tan.

Though yesterday, D complained that she got wounded on her palm. She said that two huge fish were swimming along with her and hit her palm, though I didn’t really believe her as her wound looked more like a paper cut to me.

Image result for unicorn fish
the fish looks like this as per D, and when we say huge, we really mean huge                                                      image:http://saltwater.tropicalfishandaquariums.com/tangs/UnicornfishPhoto.asp

Today, as we were already halfway to the platform, I felt a sting somewhere below my right knee but I didn’t pay attention to it. We continued and as we reached the platform, we climbed up to take some rest. Then I saw the wound. And the blood. I tried not to panic.

Blood + Ocean = Shark

But still, I tried not to panic for we were 100 meters away from the shore. And if I panic, D will panic 100 times more.

I tried to figure out how I got this wound and couldn’t come up with a conclusion. I know for sure I didn’t get this from the corals and until now, this is still a mystery to me.

After taking a few minutes of rest on the platform, we headed back to the water.

I felt a sting below my right knee as we headed back to the salt water.  I haven’t watched The Shallows and I guess I won’t watch it anytime while I’m here in the Maldives. Don’t get me wrong. Till date, no cases of shark attacks have been reported here in the Maldives as the common specie here is the Black Tip Reef Shark, a harmless type. It’s just me and not the Maldives.

Blood + Ocean = Shark

And honestly when we headed back to the water, I was shit scared.

D took the lead. I was swimming at a much slower pace because I was already tired. D was like an Energizer battery charged twice.

I was following D when I saw something on the ocean bed. A huge stingray. A huge f@^#*ng stingray.

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the stingray that I saw was just like this, lying on the ocean floor, as if waiting for its prey                                                                                 image:https://www.montereybayaquarium.org/animal-guide/fishes/southern-stingray

I was panicking and I was breathing very fast, my goggles started to fog.  I told myself, the stingray won’t think I’m a food right? But I was still freaking out. Then I saw D swimming like a car running on NLEX at 4 in the morning – 150kmph (as I assumed). D was about 10  f@^#*ng meters away from me, leaving me with this huge  f@^#*ng sting ray and not to forget the wound below my knee.

After swimming for my life and I was really hoping that the huge  f@^#*ng sting ray didn’t follow me, I was again shit scared when I swam across a school of tiny fish, don’t ask me what type of fish this is, I don’t have a clue.

They were peacefully swimming as a group when I suddenly swam across them creating chaos. These tiny creatures swam all over me (maybe thinking I’m hunting them?) and they actually hurt my skin. But what scared me the most is that it was feeding time already. Whenever I am at the beach in the afternoons, I would see these tiny creatures flying at the surface of the water (they almost looked like a smaller version of flying fish to me) as they were being chased by the huge ones.

With that in mind while I was swimming in the middle of these tiny ones, I almost had a heart attack.

And when D and I reached the shore, I was like, f@^#!

I like seeing these sea creatures from afar, not while I’m swimming especially when I don’t have a pro swimmer/diver with me.

Today’s experience was really freaking scary but I think, with a bit more exposure to these sea creatures, my fear will subside later on.

I will still snorkel, maybe after my mini trauma is gone. I still wanna have abs like Dionne though.