In January I entered a text-in-to-win competition on Facebook with a chance of winning a weeks holiday to the Maldives. It was full board including flights and transfers. They rang me on April Fools Day…
I immediately thought ‘what a sham!’ I kept expecting them to offer me dates and then to keep changing them until they found a date I couldn’t manage and they’d say ‘oh that’s a shame’. But it never happened and after some back and forth emailing arranging dates and giving my details, I left for the Maldives with my boyfriend on June 1st. For free…!!!!
I was absolutely amazed and my boyfriend was eating his words because in the past few months I had been entering various competitions like it to be in with a chance. He kept saying ‘you’ll never win!’, but I did, and he got to reap all the rewards with me.
Apart from Disneyland Florida when I was 10, at the time, I hadn’t actually been outside of Europe or been somewhere anywhere near as idyllic or prestigious as the Maldives. Plus I LOVE plane meals. Call me weird but they are just so cute! All perfectly packaged to fit in this tiny little tray and then you have to unwrap each bit of food…I just love them. And on the 10hr flight, we got two :D
The Island we stayed on was called Embudu and was about a 45 minute boat ride from the airport, which has it’s own little island. I was a little disappointed we didn’t get to ride in a seaplane though :(
When we got there, we didn’t even have to carry our own bags to the room! We spent the entire week barefoot – reading, napping, snorkelling and eating. It was just as I had finished my exams for my study year abroad in Norway, and my boyfriend finished his degree so it was just what we needed – to completely relax and get off a computer.
One day, we decided to take an Island hopping tour organised by the Island. We went to another similar island where we mooched about and enjoyed a beer, before going snorkelling in the sea just off a reef. Unfortunately I didn’t see any sea turtles, but that dream was realised when I went to Mexico a few weeks later!
The final island we went to was called Mafuushi. That means big island in Maldivian although it’s actually the second biggest Island after Male. We were given our own personal tour guide, given that we were the only non-German people on the day trip, and he showed us around the island. The Maldives is Islamic, although they have so many tourists, it’s actually hard to notice unless you walk through the backstreets, which we were able to do. Most of the houses are very small and basic and the people who live there don’t really reap the rewards of the tourism, so they’re quite poor.
Our tour guide took us to a gift shop where they gave us a very welcomed cold bottle of water. Because of this, I felt compelled to actually buy something, which I didn’t mind as I wanted a souvenir anyway. The Maldives is famous for their Coral reefs, which are now protected, so noone is allowed to take any coral from the seabed. Consequently all the coral that the shops sell were picked decades ago, making it quite expensive. I didn’t realise this at the time so trotted up to the counter with 4 tiny bits of coral and a shell, historically used as currency, and was told $110!! No thank you. Our guide said how I can bargain for my own price but I wasn’t prepared to offer anywhere near that amount so decided to go with just 2 bits of mint-green and a red coral which I got for $35. Not one of my cheaper souviners but it’s pretty special. I had to get a signed business card from them which I was required to produce at the airport as a sort of customs certificate (they never checked anyway).
I have to say though, by the last few days I was feeling the boredom. I get bored pretty easily and I can’t read for long periods of time at once, so I found myself a little stuck for things to do. If you’re looking for a holiday to do absolutely nothing and unwind from work or whatever you do, then this IS the place for you!