Marvelous Maldives

Maldives is called the sunny side of life and for me it’s a slice of heaven on earth. In fact, I have traveled a decent lot worldwide but am yet to find a naturally beautiful place as pretty as Maldives. One of the interesting fact : 99% of the country area is water and for the remaining 1% area, there are lots of islands dotted across 26 atolls.

We went to Sri Lanka 1st and from there went to Maldives and the airport we landed on was the only thing on that island.  The flight was going to London and due to turbulence few passengers were sitting in panic. But as soon as the plane started hovering over Maldives, the shades of blue took us in another world. We got our Visa on arrival, and looked for resort representative and from there our journey started on sea transports, like Speed boat.

It was drizzling when we started the journey to resort that was around 30 min away but as soon as we reached resort, it stopped and we were offered welcome drink followed by a quick tour of resort and then eventually escorted to our super deluxe beach resort. There is a saying, it’s not a beach destination but destination is beaches! It was amazing to see closest beach just few feet away from our bungalow and reef just below it. One could see hundreds of tropical fish, just from a few feet above water.

1st day we spent in walking around the resort. Sometime we sat on the wooden deck and watched the sun getting melted into sea of tropical colors and another time strolled around the resorts and watched different fishes in and out of turquoise reefs.  Did I mention that the dinner was awesome – we opted for half board so that we can eat at different restaurants in resort during the lunch time.

Next morning we were up and ready to go Male city tour. The island is the commercial hub of trades and hardly 2.5 square km in area. We visited some souvenir shops and bought huge shells and ceramic stuff and spent some time in a royal café. Once we were back to resort, we walked down to an Italian restaurant and had one of best pasta and wine. After some rest we headed for water sports. You have range of water sports to do from snorkeling to scuba diving to sailing to surfing, including not forgetting to bet at crab race at resort. It’s fun!

The best part about Maldives luxurious resort is that the chefs keep introducing different items every time you visit the restaurant for buffet. After a delicious breakfast, we headed for one of the interesting thing: a submarine drive. We 1st took Dhoni (the localized motor boat), which was fun as it kept going up and down with Indian Ocean waves. After 30-40 min ride we reached the jetty and from there we entered inside a capsule, which was submerged in sea. As soon it started going down, the underwater world started appearing in front of window. We saw eel, lionfish and many colorful fishes. I tried to make a video but it was futile.

Rest part of evening was spent watching sunset and when in morning sun was trying to emerge out we had a quick breakfast and started walking towards jetty with a thought to return back to this paradise once again.

For more photos please visit http://www.facebook.com/pureblissphotos or http://www.purebliss.in

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The quick trip to neighborhood country

To me, Sri Lanka was like a dot below India’s map and I am aware of this country’s presence ever since I know India. Quite obviously, the charm to visit this country was always there but the right moment didn’t happen.

My trip to Sri Lanka was short and sweet but gave enough reason to go back again. I visited the capital city of Colombo and their hill station Kandy. As soon I reached Bandaranaike International Airport, Vesak lanterns were seen everywhere. The city looked quite clean and noticed a lot of traffic police taking rounds. Got to know from the cab driver that it is illegal to throw garbage or even puke on road and one will get fined if caught.

Day 1- Colombo:

It was drizzling in early morning so when I left for city tour, I knew it’s going to look more beautiful. Crossing the Galle road and viewing the spectacular five star hotels we reached 1st to a Hindu temple in Colombo. Nothing much to surprise there were every God / Goddess but no Hanuman 🙂

I read there were many Hindu temples but I wanted to visit Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple. I saw one of the awesome and valuable collections of relics of the Buddha there, elephant tusks and rare artifacts acquired locally and from abroad and also saw an elephant with ground touching tusk.

How can I miss this grand colonial building which is named as Colombo museum. This was founded by Sir William Henry Gregory, the British Governor of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in 1877. There were lots of coins, weapons, brassware and sculptures telling ancient cultures of sri lanka.

Next was one of the best place – Sima Malaka Meditation Island on the Beira Lake, designed by Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa. You can spend some tranquil moment here while watching the fleet of birds around.

By this moment, it was lunchtime so had sri lankan buffet at Raja Boujan. It was so tasty and yummy that next day at Kandy also, I went to a restaurant to have Srilankan lunch buffet.

Day 2: Pinnawala and Kandy.

Day started early morning with a drive to Kandy via Pinnawala. (about 90 km from Colombo is the home to some 80 or more elephant orphans). Before the elephant orphanage, cab driver stopped and took us to an elephant foundation where I did elephant ride and learnt few facts about elephants (like, Elephant trunk has no bones while tail has lots of bones).

Next was Pinnawala which is famous for its impressive herd of pachyderms. The herd included one elephant that broke his leg in mines, some who were lost in forest and some who were left behind when they fell sick are part of this world’s biggest elephant orphanage.

Next was a quick visit to a herb garden and gem factory and then I visited Peradeniya Botanical Garden at Kandy. It was huge and had well manure grass, plants, and multiple varieties of tress – and I had taken the mantle of visiting this all in an hour! But it started raining, so quickly I visited the orchid house and left for the famous ‘Temple of tooth relic’.

This 17th century temple is one of the most sacred Buddhist pilgrimage site. Here, one of the Buddha’s teeth is kept.

Later in evening, I went to watch the Kandyan dance performance and after that finally reached hotel and was so exhausted that had dinner at the hotel empty restaurant only.

I had to rush to Colombo airport early morning to catch the flight so could not see sunrise from Kandy but enjoyed the ride and was looking forward to the next destination- Maldives!

Shopping:

Tour Guide cum cab driver Prem Sagar wanted to take me for shopping before even showing me the city attraction so I told a big NO. I guess I was wrong because later I learnt Colombo is famous for cloths manufacturing and export for international brands and they sell at very reasonable prices. I even didn’t visit ODEL shop L but when waiting for flight to Male at airport, bought a t-shirt.

But I knew what I wanted so I picked up a sri-lankan mask from a handicraft store and a dancing avatar from Laksala at airport and indulged in some ceylon tea shopping.

As a part of trip and guide’s commission to bring tourist to Gem store and Ayurvedic Garden, I visited those too but didn’t buy anything. I wasn’t sure if those were authentic and what price should I negotiate. I thought it better to avoid.

** Wrote this Srilanka blog long back because I travelled there in may 2011.