Maldives is lineb up to be my 150th UN country.
I booked it relatively last minute, learning the quirks of the American Airlines award chart ‘no 3rd region transit rule’. There are specific exceptions for such transits, though getting to Maldives in Middle East/Indian Subcontinent via the convenient Cathay Pacific route is not one of them. Going on Etihad or Qatar force long layovers in places I do not want to return, and did not have award availability. So I am unusually splurging on a business class award of Japan Airlines and Sri Lankan to get me to Colombo, and a cash ticket on to Maldives. Japan Airlines is one of the few business classes in the world I am curious enough to try to pay the award price.
(Side note: I had two different dates on American Airlines courtesy 5-day hold and on both the Sri Lankan segment disappeared somewhere along the way. Fortunately I could add it back. Beware leaving their flights on long hold.)
Much has been written in the miles and points world on the merits of Maldives resorts and their exorbitant transfers. My issue is I am going for 2 days and going alone. Even the near-to-airport Sheraton does not make sense once I read Lonely Planet mention “not suitable for snorkeling.”
My wife likes the theoretical idea of Maldives if she could visit on no more than a 3-hour flight without connections. Until such time, Florida is her spot.
The capital, Malé, does not have a great reputation, yet I will base myself there. This comes from a conflict of two of my travel principles:
- Visit what makes a place stand out. Not yet another cathedral or yet another beach. What is unique.
- Connect with local life.
In Maldives, what stands out is what disconnections from local life. Still, in places such as Las Vegas I am fascinated by the back of stage. The lives of the employees in fairyland. Malé will be a gritty perch to observe the Maldives.
Also, I was surprised to read that only recently has the Maldivian government opened to more direct interaction with locals through accommodation such as homestays. I haven’t picked where I will stay, and many homestays are on islands not easily reachable in a short time, so I may not get this experience. Maybe if I locate one on Hulhumale, which houses the airport and I understand a burgeoning backpacker scene, I may hop over there.