Maldives: paradise found!

20140614-132051.jpgWe are not ready to say goodbye to Maldives… but we said ‘until next time’ and hopped on the seaplane. Captain happened to be from Canada, fun chap!
20140614-130105.jpgBtw.. what is it with men in uniforms 😉
20140614-130414.jpgHard not to enjoy our drinks looking out on this beautiful sight. 20140614-132909.jpgSo happy we got to see these beautiful islands; Male, Gangehi, Kuredu, and Komandoo – before they disappear underwater. 20140614-130510.jpgAll photos on our blog are taken by us –using simple iPhone and iPad actually. Here are some scenes we captured, enjoy.
20140614-130953.jpgA friend we made there said people usually return within 6 mo or a year. Having been there we understand why and hope we can also return in the next 2yrs to visit other islands. How can we resist a paradise like this!20140614-131801.jpg
So… when are you going to Maldives?20140614-131930.jpg

Maldives: Kuredu afternoon rainstorm

20140610-171212.jpgHow amazing is mother nature!
We sat at our covered deck, sipped hot coffee and watched the rainstorm pass over us pouring blessings and happiness.

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During all this, it was not cold, so we just sat in our bikinis and watched everything unfold – wind blowing the water and trees around. Everyone was tucked into their villas – but we feel lucky to experience this weather variety.

Maldives: Kuredu .. partial report!

20140605-173409.jpgWe arrived at Kuredu island today and been exploring it all day. Why ‘partial report’ you might ask — well, it is a big island so it will take a bit before we can give you the ‘full report’.

We were greeted by the staff singing and drumming. We were assigned a host ‘Melanie’ – who will be our go to person whenever we have a question or need something. This was different than the other two islands, maybe because this one is so big and so many people.

It is the biggest island we visited here so far and our last island. Sad to think this is our last destination, until we return to Maldives again.

Kuredu has a different feel, more crowded and has more activities — so you don’t get the remote feeling from it. We like variety so this will be interesting after the quiet paradise islands we have been enjoying.

When they say activities they mean it – they have everything from power boats, parasailing, catamarans, kite surfing… and more. For now we are trying to figure out what time and where the daily yoga is 😉

Kuredu has 7 restaurants / bars – as we sample each we will let you know what’s good what’s not.

We are at a beach villa here – it is very similar to Komandoo. Without hesitation we can say the beach and water is better at Komandoo. We miss our private sharks 😦 circling in front of our doorstep.
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Yes we already made a friend at Kuredu – meet Freddy the crab!
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Maldives: Komandoo island resort – full report!

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Komandoo is located north of Male and takes about 35-40 min by seaplane to get there. It is surrounded by couple other islands, some where locals live.

The resort is operated in partnership by a Swedish and Maldivian firm. It also operates the Kuredu island which is very nearby. The general manager is Patrick who greets everyone at arrival and he is Belgian. We were greeted by songs, cold coconut juice and homemade coconut ice cream. They know how to start your holiday on a positive note.
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We found the hospitality and level of service to be much better here than Gangehi. Also the beach front villas are better and cleaner. But we would advise to pick one not facing the local islands, the view is better. Our villa is nearly at the end tip of this 500 meter long island. Also the villas have outdoor bathroom, shower and jet tubs. Rooms are cleaned twice a day, but as a environment conscious island they won’t change sheets everyday unless you leave the cute wooden turtle on the bed. We love that they are eco friendly.

At first we were ambivalent about the half board but we love it now – the food is quality and lot of fresh fruits.

There is a bit of nightlife as well — last night we had a great cover band with a great variety of songs and sang some requests too.

The staff is better trained in hospitality and services in general. There are also women working at this island which we did not see at Gangehi except for the spa and the souvenir shop.

Water is fantastic – private beach with deafening quiet except of the sounds of ocean. The black tip sharks and stingrays go up and down the beach. So exciting to swim next to them and be in their presence. They are harmless and very cute (we think).
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While this is the rainy season we have had great weather on both Gangehi and Komandoo. Occasional rains in the evening or overnight have been welcome after the heat of the day.

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Now we are off to snorkeling – catch you later!!

Maldives: Gangehi Island Resort – full report!

This is a small island in middle of the ocean, only 25 min by seaplane from Male. Likely you will stop at other islands before you get to it. What’s small? To give you an idea – we walk around the island in 5-10 min max.

The island has no locals, only the resort. The locals, Indians, Sri Lankans etc that you see are the staff. The resort is owned by Italians so you will be in luck if you speak Italian.

We recommend this island to people who seek complete quiet and peace, or families with children. There is no nightlife, or excessive crowds or activities. Perfect for relaxing and enjoying the pure nature. Also this happens to be one of the cheaper islands; but you get what you pay for. If you like to be attended hand and foot – don’t visit this island. Set expectations accordingly – for us the food got boring. Tonight they have a Maldivian dinner so we hope that will be exciting.

There are light activities like snorkeling, diving, kayaks, spa, and daily yoga. Highly recommend the yoga at 5:15 everyday, here is a look:
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What a peaceful setting to practice your daily yoga.

Rooms are decent and kept clean. You get fresh beach towels and good spa quality toiletries. However, you won’t find free water! Yes you heard it right not even a glass of water. The water in the room as well as anywhere else will cost you at least 2 or 3 euros per 1.5ltr bottles. Keep hydrating 😉

There is one restaurant, one buffet, and a bar. Prices are all in Euros. We prefer half board to full board as we don’t eat all day long. Also we found that this is cheaper than the full board. Btw don’t expect great service, you maybe sitting for more than 5 minutes at the bar before you see a menu or someone you can hail down. We are not sure if this is unique to this island or not – we will let you know from our next island!

Best way you can enjoy this unreal Maldivian colors beauty is with lot of protection. Bring a lot of sunscreen – buying it here is not a good idea, since it is triple the cost. We sunbathed in the shade for the first two days and still got color.

There is a great sandbar that is exposed every morning and evening perfect for a nice walk and swim. We can’t get over the colors and clarity of water; the sharks, mantas, the little fish that basically swim with us right off the shore.

So before we leave Gangehi in 2 days – do you have any questions for us about this heavenly place??
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UPDATE: 06/01.
We got lucky to see the resident small black tip shark right on the beach swimming next to us.

For American Express folks – insist on asking them to use it. They state that they accept this card in their print materials but at front desk they will tell you another story.

We have one regret 😦 we don’t have underwater camera. You should seriously consider buying one before coming to Maldives!! Really ! Really!
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Seaplane to Gangehi – first stop!

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Today we hopped on a seaplane for the first time. We are certified travel junkies and love trying new things.

Yesterday we walked around Male – literally, yes it’s that small. We walked all the way down Majeedhee Magu (street) until we reached the artificial beach, about 15 min from our Hotel Octave. Male does not have natural beaches so they made one. Locals were swimming, it was great to see women enjoy a dip in cool waters. They were fully dressed, per their culture they could not wear skin revealing clothes let alone bikinis. Official religion is Islam here. Tourist are expected to be modes, but we have seen people in short and tank tops.

We also sat at the BreakWater cafe, it was filled with locals. Don’t be surprised at ratio of women to men. Generally it’s like 10 to 1; did not deter us but does make it uncomfortable at times when the whole place is filled with men.

Took a long walk by the shore; was fascinating to see the modern and old ships side by side. The seamen had returned from the sea and were pulling out the fish – this was a sight to see. Endlessly rewarding mentally and culturally when one sees others’ way of life.

We also dipped into the local food markets to see the fruits and veggies. We ate cocoa-chocolate sticks, and drank fresh coconut juice. We tasted this lovely fruit, but don’t know it’s name:
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Dinner was had at a seaside sweet restaurant called SeaPort. Again mostly filled with locals; we and one other tourist were the foreigners. Naturally we had seafood – we are yet to sample true Maldivian food. Male had contracted the global disease called ‘modern food’ – so you have higher chances of eating a pizza than stumbling on something really local.

Ok — we are off to book spa and catch a yoga session!

Next episode: tips, tricks, and what others won’t tell you.
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Holiday Gifting Edition

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We decided to share with you some of our favorite Holiday Gifting ideas. This is usually a wonderful time of the year but also possibly the most stressful – as many try to shop for gifts and worry about giving/not giving.

Giving starts with true care and knowing the people you are giving to. Some of the best things we received were not material gifts at all. Last year, one of the best gifts I received was a lavender eye pillow made by my good friend using lavender from her garden and stitching the pillow herself.

With a few ideas we hope to reduce your stress and make this a great year of giving:

1. Hosting a dinner or potluck
What can be more cozy and fun – we are social creatures. Giving from your time and opening your home to your friends is a great gift in itself.

2. Hand Made
Never gets old to make some of the gifts you are giving. In the process of it, you will even figure out who you care enough to handmade something for or not. We made ceramic owls this year for our nearest and dearest ones; some as desk ornaments an some hanging. See a few examples here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaBote

3. Care Baskets
This a new one for us. This year we are making care baskets filled with easy goodies to give for friends in need. Here are some of the items: gas card, crackers, cheese, fruits, home made cookies,… give practical things that will help them stretch their budget.

For more ideas, we have compiled some of our favorite sites:

For the Artist
Give a gift certificate to a local art studio.

art supplies:
http://www.dickblick.com/

prints and other:
http://fab.com

For the Foodie
Give a gift certificate for a local cooking class.

http://fab.com

http://chefscatalog.com

For the Humanitarian
First, if you can, give to legitimate charities in your city.

Second, do global good, give to legitimate charities that help humanity globally.

For the Fashion Lover

http://fab.com

http://shopbop.com/ci/4/lp/holiday-gift-guide.html

For the Person who has Everything
Surprise them and give them a hug!

Quality always wins over quantity, both for gifts and friends. Giving is not about giving a lot of stuff, it’s in giving meaningfully.
Happy giving!

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