Travels

What to visit in Male

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They say that Marco Polo baptized the Maldives as the "flower of the Indies". They also say that Jacques Cousteau was amazed at what was the most beautiful group of diving islands he had contemplated. Maldives cup as many compliments as awards to certain distinctions. It is the smallest country in Asia, the smallest Muslim country, the country in the world where tourism is the highest percentage of its GDP and the country with fewer inhabitants. How can the capital of such a place be? Well, the island / capital with the highest number of inhabitants per square kilometer. Your name, Male

We open our eyes with the uncertainty that a new day will be in Kandholhu. The experiences begin to mix with the memories, and that we have not yet left the island. It is unavoidable. We have traveled a little world, and we are sure that we will never forget our passage through this corner of the planet. Those who read us choose one day to drop here, please, that don't forget to take care of our dear Juancho and Julian



... Ruperta and Tiburcio ...



.... Lucas, Blanes and Sebastian ... .



... and, of course, our wanted Tomasa


We went to bed last night with the idea that today we could not leave the island until 16'00 and we could not know Male. Hydroplanes have complex schedules and cannot control them on the islands. In any case, the "Mafias", the island manager so known in the Maldives friends forum that helped us prepare the "story" so much, he promised us to try everything to get out before. ! How strange we are! We are in paradise and we want to get out of here. It will be that virus we always talk about, the innocuous virus of the traveler, which led us to the desire not to leave without knowing its capital ... The "Mafias" has behaved great with us, especially helping us prepare all the surprises. It has been much better than perfect ...

… and !! YOU HAVE GOT IT !! He comes to look for us at breakfast and tells us that there are 2 seats for a plane that leaves at 10'00. We quickly take our bags, check out at reception and we say goodbye to the friends of the bar and restaurant, Connie, Adam Za, Mafias and Anna himself, the Serbian masseuse girl who has been so kind to us these days too ...




It's time, the speedboat that takes us to W Fesdu is ready. This little piece of paradise is already part of our life, much more than we can believe right now. !! Until forever Kandholhu !! Or not?



The boat gets full speed. It was all so fast that we couldn't even write in the guestbook (If any traveler reads us and ends up in Kandholhu, please! sign for us !!). The island, small in itself, begins to lose itself on the horizon.


How are the Maldives not tourism oriented? We find small islands / fishing village where to visit them you need a permit from the Ministry of Tourism and whose life is still in primitive state, with intense marine traffic between the islands. That is why visiting his capital, Male, will give us a partial but very concrete idea of ​​"the other Maldives." Our seaplane is ready.


From the air of the seaplane (!! what a heat !! that a fan would come in handy) that puts us on the pier next to the Male International Airport we see the atolls again. It is a beautiful picture.




In the Hulhulé Island, island in front of Male where the Maldives International Airport is located (well, much of the island is really busy with its runway), everything is very well organized. We leave the seaplane dock and leave our bags at the airport slogan. Everything is fast. Right in front of the terminal there is a ferry pier with 24-hour service where for just 10 MVR per person, they put you in 5 minutes in the capital (and the frequencies are 15 minutes). By the way, we changed at the airport to have new coins for the collection and for today, the RUFIYAA or RUPIA (MVR) of the Republic of Maldives (about 15 MRV per EUR).




Male has a population of 80,000 inhabitants, of the 300,000 that inhabit all the Maldives. Curiously it is full of young students. Perhaps that is why the Maldives are also the Muslim country with the highest literacy rate

INFLUENCES OF THE MALDIVES: As will happen in the trip to Mauritius 2008, we find a country that has suffered different influences over time due to its location at an important crossroads of the Indian Ocean. Influences of Indian cultures, Sri Lanka, Arabia, Persia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Africa make Maldives assimilate from all of them and create their own.

At the time of colonial expansion it was under British rule until it declared its independence in 1965.

The official religion of the Maldives is Islam and all cursed people today are Sunni Muslims, without allowing another religion (although other ancestral beliefs persist)

The first impression as soon as you set foot on the ground is of a certain confusion. We are in a huge dock where merchants, ferries, fishermen mingle making their lives. We will locate ourselves, and for this we take a taxi (20 MRV) that will take us to the Fish slice.


The fish market is a bustling place with numerous activity throughout the day. This is where fishermen come to try to sell their catch of the day, mainly tuna in abundance.



It really does not seem very hygienic, because although inside it is placed on a floor tiled in clean and disinfected theory, the impression worsens with small posts in any corner, with even the sale of "viscera" (is it said so?) Or remains usable of the fish itself that generates a little ... ahem ... rejection.




The fish market is right in front of the fishing pier where crowd of fishing Dhonis intermingle with other Dhonis (of those who already commented on the past DAY 6 of the trip) from all corners of the country that are responsible for unloading construction products, food, dried fish, fruits, vegetables, ...



Walking parallel to the pier we reach the Local market, in the northern part of the port too, where, through small stands and in a much quieter environment, all kinds of local products are sold, from fruits and vegetables to handmade sweets, boxes of chocolates or bundled cigarettes.




Perhaps because 7 years have passed, there are no remnants of the terrible tsunami that in 2004 also touched these islands and the capital (flooding it in 1/3 part). Here there is everything, banks, ATMs, a more or less organized urban planning, hotel services, multitude of small businesses of first necessity (hardware stores, food), yes, all quite "bulk" and disorganized.

We enter the Bazaar Singapore, which is still an area of multitude of souvenir shops, something more modern than the previous ones. Highlights artisan objects, wood carvings, souvenirs of coins, objects made of coconut, shell necklaces, beach sarongs, ... Forget the prices. The first thing they tell you is that they have a 50% discount on the prices that they mark, with which, they have put the price that has come to them. Some gifts fall (1420 MRV)

It also seems quite obvious that on such a small island, and where space is so important, motorcycles have been imposed as a means of transport, even to carry heavy loads. Dozens or hundreds of motorcycles cross the streets (getting a true circulatory chaos in the purest Muslim style) or are parked in battery, crowded, minimizing so much space that seems incredible



The day accompanies, like all those who have been in this particular country of the world and the streets take us to the Sultan Park, a pleasant walk between manicured gardens, which is located more to the center of the island




But here we have almost arrived by chance, because our real goal is to reach Hukuru Miskiiy o Friday Mosque, built in the 17th century with coral stone, surrounded by centuries-old tombs, and the main symbol of the city, which is located right in front of the park.


Its golden dome has no loss, it can be seen from many points in the area. At first we understood that tourists were not allowed to enter it, but we found a particular character that without telling us almost nothing guided us inside (we gave him 20 MRV in case what he wanted was tip but showed missed).

It is really impressive both inside and out, with walls built with carved coral blocks, heavy wooden doors and panels with Arabic writings on all sides. And as a good mosque, we find faithful performing their prayers at any time of the day (in addition to the usual calls).




!! Comeeeeer time !! We are not going to leave Maldives without getting into some local "chiringo", although we did not find too much offer. In the port area there are several foreign businesses and restaurants designed for tourists. Entering the island we hardly find many options. We end up in a small place for drinks, ice cream and homemade meals where you can whet your appetite (115 MRV). Something in the style of British Fish & Chips.



Male does not give much more, really. It may not even be a place worth visiting, but it is the only way to get at least partial contact from a different country.

The afternoon gives us another series of contrasts. To the south of the island we are modern yachts and port boats, next to tall business buildings and large hotel establishments next to two great Thai restaurants, WOK THAI and SALA THAI. We take the opportunity to have a coffee and a coke (60 MRV), print the boarding passes in a kind of "cyber" (20 MRV), buy some last gift (100 MRV) and continue our walk ...



… Moving away to suburban areas further south, and WITH CERTAIN RESPECT, we enter the most miserable and poor neighborhoods that inevitably give us the bitter face of a country where beauty and idealism is served by taking tourism to isolated environments to avoid a negative impact of its main source of development, and where the scarcity of resources (especially fossils) is revealed.




The final feeling that we have left is that the "maldivo" He is a person of dark complexion, more properly similar to the Indian, and of a serious nature and not very close. Of course, he seems kind once he smiles, although sometimes it seems that he has to be shocked.

Paula, back to the airport? Do you carry the presents? Return to the pier, and with the twilight of the day, we headed towards the Ferrys terminal (10 MRV each) that we transfer back to the International Airport.




If in the morning we took our little sky, it was time to say goodbye to the Republic of Maldives. Who knows if we will put our feet here one day again



The rest does not have much history. The suitcases were waiting for us on watch (128 MRV both). We take the opportunity to change our clothes to adapt to a long way back, have a soda (MRV 55), check in without any problem or delay, have dinner at the airport itself (USD 31) and embark to Dubai. Traveling with Emirates again is a real joy and we fell asleep shortly after taking off ...




I don't know where we read it (if we find it we put the source) but we make it ours. Hopefully those predictions are wrong and a place like this does not have such a catastrophic destiny as we commented on DAY 2 of the trip, a destiny that condemns them to disappear. Meanwhile, the "Plot is sought in a mountain area more than 100 m above sea level for 300,000 inhabitants, at a reasonable cost. Eternal gratitude is offered. Maldiva's Islands"still hanging from this corner of the world ... Will we ever become aware of the serious problem we face this century?


Isaac and Paula, photo in Kandholhu but already towards Dubai

EXPENSES OF THE DAY: 448 MRV (approx. 29.87 EUROS) and 31 USD (approx. 25 EUROS) and GIFTS: 1pro MRV approx. 101.33 EUROS)

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