(Sorry for the lack of photos the internet here is not up to it, update when we can :()
So day 2 of our budget voyage, after a decent nights sleep in the “Real Inn” we decided to do some sightseeing before heading off to Maafushi Island. We got up bright and early and headed for the “Friday Mosque” a must see apparently, well I don’t know if we were in the right place but we got very stern looks turning up. We asked if we were allowed to go inside and the man pointed round the corner, we thought he was pointing to a row of taps where you wash your feet so we followed his finger and copied the washing action of a local. We then asked can we go inside, the reply:
“The toilet is there”,
“No we would like to go inside and have a look” at this point another man got involved.
“You want to use the toilet?”
For god’s sake, no! “We want to know if we can go inside”
“This is Alla’s house”, so no, we couldn’t go inside.
To be honest we thought screw that! Anyone can walk into a church, anyone can walk into a Buddhist or Hindu temple but apparently only a chosen few are allowed in Alla’s house. We sacked it off and headed onwards to the national museum, we entered and asked the price of tickets – 100 rufiyaa, they weren’t available to buy for another 40 minutes (things were going very well). We asked what was actually displayed at the museum and we were given a very small, very limited brochure that was in fact the opposite of inspiring, we noticed that for any local the price of entry was 5-10 rufiyaa, for foreigners 10 times this! We are not a fan of being singled out for being white, in Sri Lanka it is called “sudo tax” meaning white tax and apparently the Maldives is no different. We understand totally why they think all tourists have money as for the past 40 years, to come to the Maldives, you had to have money but times are changing!!
We both looked at each other and decided this is our holiday, we have no obligation to be educational and pardoned ourselves from the culture of Male, we were hungry and hot and now rather peed off. we heard there was a ferry to Maafushi at 10:30, by this time it was 9:45 so we resolved to rush back to the hotel grab our stuff and try and make the ferry as the next wasn’t until 3:00. When we got back to the hotel we asked the man on reception – who by the way was lovely, not at all helpful but this was from lack of knowledge not lack of trying. There was no ferry in the morning, I think this is due to the fact we are in off-season and so had a long 5 hour wait before the ferry, we could have returned to the museum or searched more thoroughly for the mosque but instead we went and had brunch.
We ate round the corner at a restaurant called “Newport” I recognised the name from my research on TripAdvisor, it was meant to be very good so we thought why not, we had a great view of the harbour and could watch the world pass by. We were approached by the waitress and handed 2 Ipads, yes, Ipads – these were the menus!!! We ordered a masala chicken sandwich and a tandoor chicken sandwich, both of which were 45 rufiyaa (about £2 ish), these were the cheapest things on the menu and are only served from 10-1. They were very tasty and I washed it down with a normal sized coffee again costing 45 rufiyaa, Sherard, however, being an absolute caffeine fiend ordered 2 large coffees which bumped the total bill right up, me being Miss Frugal with her water and sandwich was not best pleased. Still we killed a good few hours with Sherry using the wifi to its full potential and me reading a fantastic book named “The Suicide Club” a must read!
We headed off towards the ferry for Maafushi which we didn’t realise was 7km away on the other side of the island, we didn’t mind the walk and so set off in plenty of time, we stumbled upon a fruit and veg market, some of the items I had never seen and the locals did not know the English name but there was also the old familiars. Mangoes galore, everywhere you looked were mangoes, not large and green as we know them but small and yellow, we tried some of the flesh as the seller thrust it under our nose. I won’t deny it was the tastiest mango I have ever eaten in my life, sweet and warm and ever so juicy, the man offered us 32 mangoes for 100 rufiyaa, what the bloody hell are we going to do with 32 mangoes? We politley declined and explained we had no need for so many and that his asking price of 1 for 10 rufiyaa was too much, in the end we got 2 for 10 rufiyaa, probably a rip off but I did very much enjoy the taste on the ferry ride and still cheaper than Sri Lanka.
We got to the ferry port and asked for a ticket to Maafushi (please note Maafushi and Himaafushi are NOT the same place, Sherard very almost had us going to the wrong island). Prior to this, whilst in the restaurant, I had scoured AirBnB for a guesthouse in Maafushi, a few options came up all around the reasonable price of $30-$40 a night, not as cheap as the rest of Asia but far better than a resort! We liked the look of “Maafushi View” which also happened to be the cheapest option at $30, it included wifi, air con and breakfast with unlimited tea and coffee to Sherry’s delight. Back to the port, we bought 2 tickets for 44 rufiyaa so about a pound each and boarded, it was not busy, with only one other tourist couple aboard. It was a long ferry, almost 3 hours before we docked in to Maafushi (please get cash out in Male, there is not an ATM in Maafushi, though there is promise of one being put in tomorrow (20/05/2015), we did not so fingers crossed they do!), we were met off the boat by a little man holding up my name, he even had a rickshaw for our bags – this is more like it!!!! A quick 5 minute walk to the guesthouse and a fresh orange juice on arrival, just what we needed after a long journey, we settled into our room which, although not the one pictured on AirBnB is still very pleasant and clean, and got ready for the bikini beach.
As we mentioned in our previous post, women have to remain covered up on public beaches, there are, however, a few islands that have bikini beaches – sections of beach surrounded by a fence that is designated to tourists and means you can strip off to your bathing suit without worry. Finally, I was to feel the seas of the Maldives, the water was clear though a little laden with coral towards the beach, this levelled out into white sands as you moved further from land. Sherard put his feet down to have them pathetically attacked by a fish and then joined by his friend, he was transfixed and very amused at this commodity. We watched the sun go down over the turquoise ocean and headed home for a shower and change of clothes.
We enjoyed dinner on the beachfront in a restaurant called “Discovery”, I am not going to lie, we did not search out the cheapest meal as we hadn’t eaten since the morning and Sherard was worried he would collapse if he didn’t shove something, anything down his throat in the next 5 minutes. The menu was extensive, and prices seemed fair, again I stuck to chicken curry and water, Mr Starving threw caution to the wind with chicken noodles and a bolognaise pizza (I would say this 2 main courses thing is unusual but, alas, it happens very frequently, he is, mind you, still lovely and lean with not an ounce of fat on him and I want to kick him while I put on a stone with my lettuce leaf). The meal was nice, the noodles were a bit rubbish to be honest but the curry was tasty and the pizza, oozing with cheese, all in all it came to 320 rufiyaa – £15, so definitely not extortionate and could have been even cheaper!!
Tomorrow is a day of rest and relaxation on the bikini beach so we will catch up with you in a few days time when we have been diving – me for the first time in 10 years and Sherry for the first time ever!! Good night and sweet dreams 🙂