Maldives is known for the white sand beach and the pristine vibrant blue water glistening at the surface, a place that frequently makes the list of ‘must-travel here’ or ‘see it before it’s too late’. A place often thought of as the paradise for newly-weds. A place also glistening of extreme luxurious traveling, where accommodations are private bungalows resting above the water.
But here’s the thing, I’m having a much different experience and it’s incredible. I can’t say it’s better because I don’t think I will ever be able to (or want to) experience the luxurious side of Maldives. It might sound crazy but that’s not for me, which is another point – everyone has a different style of traveling. People justify the way they spend their money and make their choices differently, but for me, the all-inclusive life will never align with the way I perceive travel.
My travel is affordable and low-key. It’s not fancy, but I’m sharing the same postcard image of breathtaking beaches. The Maldives is a stunning string of islands that are so stunning it actually brought me to tears. I felt my heart swell at the first sunset and I could only think of how fragile, yet so intricately beautiful and interconnected everything is life is.
Malé International Airport
We arrived at Malé (like Mah-lei, not male/female) International Airport. I take a lot of flights, so usually I fall asleep during take-off and landing since you can’t do much during those times anyways. But this time, as we were approaching Malé from Abu Dhabi (4 hour flight), I had my eyes glued to the window.
It was nothing like I had seen before! Immediately we could see the outlines of many tiny islands. We could see the water. The sun was peering through the small, rounded panes of plexiglass. We were so close I could just close my eyes for a second and imagine myself on the beach.
We stepped off the plane, down the stairs attached to the exit doors, and we could feel it. Hello heat, hello humidity, hello Asia! We knew we were physically far from Europe, but now we felt it.
Part of me thanks the long summer days when my family would spend a months in Japan and a month in Hong Kong. Summer months in Asia = often, excruciating humidity. It was like my body just knew how to accept and adjust the heat once we arrived.
I kicked off my running shoes right away. That’s what I missed the most about the warm weather – being in my sandals/bare feet. If you know me, you would know I hate wearing shoes. Even slippers inside the house feel so unnatural. When someone asked why I would walk bare feet outside, I simply replied, “I feel connected”.
The airport was small and once you leave the airport doors you have to take a local ferry ($1 USD) to get to Malé.
We moved from Male to the island of Villingili. We moved from a congested, busy, never-ending bustling of people to a quiet and small island. It’s everything Male is not. Male, fun fact, is actually the most congested island on earth.
Time moves at a different pace here. Large trees and coconut groves hang over providing shade for the locals who seem to let time pass by ever so slowly. Children run around and chase each other when the sun looses its strong heat. There are small barbecues going. We stick out as foreigners and travelers.
We leave Villingili the next morning. A short stay, but we are traveling onwards to Ukulhas – the island we will call “home” for the next week. It will be so nice to not have to pack and repack, and just enjoy some time staying still.
Stay tuned for more sunny, sandy, and sea adventures!