Single Lady: Maldives

I’m a single 28 year old American chick. I’m independent and strong-willed. I have no problem traveling alone, but I’ve noticed there’s a serious lacking of information about women who travel alone in foreign countries. I’m not saying I always have the greatest trips, but I can share my experiences and try to give insight to the ladies in the world who choose to travel independently.

In October 2012, I went to the Maldives by myself. I didn’t know where to stay or what to do, but I had found a ticket from Thailand that was cheap, so I grabbed it. I flew from Bangkok to Colombo (Sri lanka – smelliest and most boring airport I have ever been in). When you fly into any tropical location, get yourself a window seat. IMG_0960  It is GORGEOUS.

You can’t just show up to a country that’s made up of sinking atolls without a place to stay – so, I used the fantastic site, http://www.couchsurfing.org, to crash on a couch for two nights in Male. Luke is a seaplane pilot there from Canada. While I crashed his couch, he helped me to find an atoll to stay on that wasn’t going to break the bank and wasn’t a complete couple resort.

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I took a ferry to get there and enjoyed the sun for a good few hours. The atoll was Ma’afushi. It was a local atoll that still had Muslim customs..so there was no alcohol and I couldn’t walk around in a bikini. There was a particular strip of beach that was “allowing” of women in bathing suits, but the weather wasn’t great for it.

The place I stayed was fantastic: Dhonveli View.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  From the outsideOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  The welcome deskOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  The small loungeOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA simple breakfast nook

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I got a large and clean room with a queen size bed (two singles pushed together) and a clean bathroom with hot water.

 

For around $50USD a night, meals were included and were fantastic. They served me dinner on the roof overlooking the ocean and the night sky.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA There was so much food that I could barely eat it all. The main source of food there is fish (obviously), so I had quite a variety of tuna and rice during my stay.

The family that owned it were very sweet and accommodating. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When I wanted to go diving, they recommended a guide for me to go with and I had an amazing dive buddy, a Dutch lady who was also visiting the island. The weather wasn’t great (as mentioned) so a couple of the dive spots were rough, but the dive master helped me with everything. We saw a shipwreck and did a drift dive after viewing 100+ black and white tipped reef sharks.

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The next day I asked to go to a resort island so that I may have a few drinks and enjoy the beach and water in a bikini on my holiday. I wish I could remember the name of the resort, so I could warn you. (For those who aren’t aware, a resort will typically be on it’s own atoll so that it can regulate the drinking laws and cater to the guests. Like many resorts, if you want to visit it for a day, there will be an entry fee.) This resort was beautiful. It had sand paths and so many trees.
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The sand was clean and the beaches had chairs and towels provided. I asked to go snorkeling and the concierge pointed me in the direction of the scuba/snorkel shack. The man in charge of the scuba/snorkel shack was the BIGGEST ASSHOLE! I was paying to use the masks and he would not allow me to rent one. He said it was because I was not a resort guest. I went back and asked the concierge about it, and they called him up and sent me back to him. He still did not permit to rent a snorkel mask, depriving me of one of the main reasons I had come to the island. Literally, he ruined the majority of my resort visit. So I went to the bar and luckily it started raining (this made it better because i didn’t feel as bad about missing the beach). I had the most expensive gin + tonic ever. Then I went and got a 90 minute massage…because why not? The massage wasn’t bad, but the spa was gorgeous. It was so what I expected when I walked in – beautiful flowers and wood and art. It was peaceful just to walk in. After the massage I went back to the beach and sun bathed until just before sunset. I met the boat that took me back to Maafushi. I don’t know why I was so upset, but I was really not in a good mood. I walked into my room and there was a beautiful bouquet of my favorite flowers: Plumeria. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The staff had left me this gorgeous gift in my nicely tidied room. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

They gave me a great dinner OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA and I sat in the main area with the girls who work there and we all chatted for a few hours. They were really sweet. I highly recommend it as a place to stay.

I took a ferry back to Male and went to a resort near the airport to wait for my flight back to Thailand. Of course, it was super sunny out. I met a great group of people who told me about how they had done a dive excursion. They stayed on a boat for a week and did 3 dives a day (and some at night). Those lucky bastards saw whale sharks – – – the only thing on my diving bucket list.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA There is no joke about the water being crystal clear. 50 shades of blue to be seen here. The ground is hard but the sand is soft and fine, like sugar.

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At the end of the beach that allows bathing suits is a gorgeous house that I believe was a school at one point. I can’t remember exactly but it had some kind of damage done (obviously) and it is now abandoned.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Colorful sand bags for when a storm comes and the waves get a bit rough.

 

In the end, I would recommend a trip to the Maldives at some point in your life. However, maybe go with friends or a significant other – and get yourselves a water bungalow!

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The Art of Couchsurfing.org

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I’m getting pretty excited. I’ve lived a few places that are not easily accessed by friends from home…if I’m lucky I get 1-2 visitors each year. This year, I’m pleased to announce that my friend, Art, is coming for a visit!! Next Thursday we are going to Japan for a few days. Then, of course I have to work and he will get to have all this fun, and then on the weekend, we can go explore somewhere else!!

Have I mentioned how I met Art? I met him through a wonderful networking website called Couchsurfing.org. Couchsurfing allows travelers to visit places and crash on someone’s couch! Sometimes you get a bed, sometimes you get the floor, more than likely you get some form a sofa or couch. Like-minded travelers open up their homes to you for a few nights so you can explore their city. Free of charge. Typically you do something in return, like buy them drinks or dinner. I normally give a massage or clean their house a bit. I also still buy dinner. I have been surfing couches since 2010…technically 2008 but the first person I was to stay with in Germany told my friend and I the day before that there’d be a 60$ charge for each of us per night… that’s not how it works. #asshole

Anyway, I have surfed couches in Austin, Maldives, Hong Kong, Chicago, and Colorado. If you’re not comfortable staying with someone, or they aren’t comfortable staying with you, you can still meet up and have a dandy time.
That’s how I met my friend Brett. I met another couchsurfer and we were headed to Barton Springs in Austin. As we sat on the grass enjoying the sun and sights, I heard this melodic voice accompanying a guitar. I looked back and saw this dark guy with long hair playing the guitar…”Hippies” i thought. But he sang so beautifully. I looked around for this Brett guy who I was supposed to meet up with. I checked my messages and didn’t see any responses. Suddenly the music stopped and the guy started walking over to us. He sat down next to us … it was him. Brett was that angelic sounding hippie. The other CSer left eventually, but Brett and I chatted for hours. We walked through a park along Barton Springs. We made up poems and songs together. It was incredible. This was back in 2010. I’m happy to say we’re still friends and I follow his music career online. Look up Brett Randell.. he’s amazing.
I also surfed the couch of a guy named Matt in Hong Kong. He was from Texas and also had an artistic ability. He was fashionable and appreciated art like no other. He had his own shoe line too. He showed me some great places in Hong Kong. Places I wouldn’t know to go to. I also got to crash a PR event on the roof of the Ritz overlooking the city. We went on a junkboat for a day and saw the skyline light up as the sun fell ((which is my favorite part of cities)). It was so great, that I went back and surfed again for New Years Eve 2013. He has been on a crazy travel adventure and I have followed his journeys via online.
This past summer was a friend’s wedding.. she was like my big sister. There was a chance i wouldn’t make it to her wedding… so I wasn’t going to miss her Bachelorette party for the world. Of course it was in Chicago. I had a great weekend there but wanted to stay an extra day. I had contacted Art via Couchsurfing and was guaranteed a place to crash. I spent the day at the Taste of Chicago, met with two childhood friends for a couple of beers, and Art appeared. He stayed for a beer also and drove me back to his apartment. We chatted and instantly bonded over travel stories. His love for Tokyo was like my love for Hong Kong. I told him there was a possibility I would be in Korea for the next year and he asked if he could come visit if he had the chance. “Of course!” He took me to an unknown breakfast place called Stax and we had the most incredible bacon-chocolate chip pancakes. Yes.. they exist..and yes..they are the greatest pancakes ever. Then he took me to see a view of the chicago skyline from a private residence that he had access to (sneaky!). We drove around Chicago and I got to see famous sites that would have taken me days to find otherwise. We went to a sweet neighborhood where there were strange thrift stores and boutiques. We walked around and joked all day with all the items we found in stores. He was by-far one of the most generous people I have met in my travels.
He messaged me a few months ago and said he had a few weeks off and wanted to come visit. Originally we were going to Taiwan but the tickets ended up costing way more than we expected, so we agreed to visit Japan. He loves Tokyo enough that he could go again without being phased. So, he will be here next week for about 2 weeks. We will go to Tokyo, maybe Seoul, and he will hopefully get to see a bunch of Korea that I couldn’t. I’m really excited to host him. … speaking of which.. I need to clean my apartment.
Have a great weekend, world!

 

PS – if you’re traveling on a budget, or just want to meet cool people, sign up with couchsurfing.org

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