Maldives Honeymoon

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  1. calvinoeh
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  2. calvinoeh
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    Introduction:

    Lydia and I got married in September 2010. We decided pretty early on that we did not want a typical shopping or sight-seeing holiday to cities like Tokyo, Hong Kong or any place in Europe for our honeymoon. We wanted somewhere to relax, chill and get away from it all after almost a year of wedding preparations. Maldives was pretty high on the list of places we wanted to go but we were worried about the cost.

    Sometime in late 2009, US Airways started selling miles on the cheap with their never ending miles promo. Their award chart for regions in Asia was also pretty good. Maldives was in the same reggion Malaysia where we would be starting our honeymoon making the miles redemption a VERY good deal. For 30k miles round trip, we would be able to fly from Penang to Male in Business Class. At this point, we were set on having a Maldives honeymoon. We have never flew in the front of the plane before and being able to do this first time for our honeymoon was pretty cool.

    With Singapore Airlines stopped flying to Penang in 2009 (giving the route to their non Star Alliance subsidiary SilkAir), Thai Airways was the Star Alliance carrier serving Penang. The only Star Alliance to serve Male (capital of Maldives) was Singapore Airlines. This made the flight routing to Male slightly circuitous and longer than usual. We had to fly Thai Airways to Bangkok first before flying off to Singapore and finally to Male. We weren't too upset with this as this gave us more time and opportunities trying out the various lounges and business class flights!

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    Next up was looking for the resort itself that we would be staying in. We spent a couple of months looking the various websites and forums online. One key factor was that we wanted an all-inclusive resort to keep costs down. Most (if not all) of the resorts in the Maldives are "self-contained" islands. They could charge exorbitant prices for food and drinks and you would have no choice but to buy it. The prices itself would also be naturally expensive as the food and drinks had to shipped in from the city. All-inclusive options in the Maldives are pretty limited with only a handful (less than 10 I think) offering this option. We ended up picking Dhiggiri Resort which ended up costing ~$300 USD for a beach bungalow on expedia for both of us all-inclusive. We also upgraded for $50 USD a night to a over water bungalow (which was not bookable via expedia) on arrival. We were partly worried and skeptical as this resort was slightly older and did not have the modern and new renovations and fittings some of the more expensive resorts that were out of our price range. However, we ended up loving the place! We'll share more on this in the future post.

    Some teaser pictures to start of the trip report:
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  3. Rlpro
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    Rlpro Silver Member

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    Congrats on your marriage! Looking forward to more of your trip report.
     
  4. calvinoeh
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    he trip to Male took a whole day due to need to fly via Bangkok and Singapore to get to Male and the limited flight options. Thai operates a daily Penang to Bangkok flight that leaves at ~8 am where as the Singapore flight to Male only leaves at ~8pm. This meant either a long layover in Bangkok or Singapore. Having never been to the recently opened Sands Casino in Singapore, we chose to have the longer layover in Singapore. The flight routing (all in business class):

    • Penang to Bangkok on TG426: 8:00 - 08:50
    • Bangkok to Singapore on TG413: 11:15 - 14:30
    • Singapore to Male on SQ452: 20:45 - 22:10
    We got to the Penang airport around 6.30am and there was no line in the business class line. We were promptly checked-in with luggage checked all the way through to Male. We headed next to the Malaysia Airlines lounge in Penang that Thai uses for their premium and elite passengers. The lounge was spacious and had pretty good food and drink options for a "regional lounge". It even has a shower! (Sorry! Didn't take any pictures of the lounge itself).

    The flight to Bangkok was operated by a 737-400. Thai used to operate a A300 on this route but downgraded after AirAsia started flying the route. The ~2 hour flight itself was uneventful with a simple warm meal that tasted so-so served in the business class cabin. Meal served on the flight:
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    On arrival in Bangkok, we headed to the Thai Spa lounge for the 30 minute shoulder or foot massage that Thai offers to it's Business class passengers. The massage worked out an appetite and we headed over to the SQ lounge where it has the better food options among the *A business class lounges in Bangkok. You gotta love the fresh coconut juice in the SQ lounge!. Pigging out in the SQ lounge:
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    We briefly checked out Thai lounge and after checking some last minute work email, we headed over to the departure gate for our flight to Singapore. The flight to Singapore was operated by a A330. There was no AVOD on this flight. We passed the flight with more eating, drinking and periodically taking short naps.

    In Singapore, we spent the rest of the layover time in the Sands Casino. It was relatively easy getting to using a combination of the MRT and public bus. I turned $50 SGD into 50 cents and Lydia turned $50 into $100 SGD the ~1 hour we were at the slot machines. Guess lady luck was on her side.
     
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  5. calvinoeh
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    We got back to the airport around 6pm and proceeded to the Silverkris lounge in Terminal 2. This was my first time in this lounge having "relegated" the the *A Gold lounges in Singapore despite being a *A Gold. We took a shower and had some snacks and cheeses while waiting for time to get on to our next flight.

    The flight to Male was originally scheduled to be operated by an older 772 when I booked my flight. I was pretty happy that a couple of months before we left, Singapore switched to the newer regional A330 on this route. On entering the aircraft, there was still that "new feeling" to the aircraft. It was definitely nicer than the Thai A330 we were just on. We had a couple of glasses of champange before we departed. A couple of the stewardess including the in-flight supervisor came over and congratulated us on the recent marriage which was a nice touch. I had pre-ordered a honeymoon cake that Singapore Airlines offers to it's passengers even in economy class. The food on this flight was good! We had pre-ordered the lamb chops and lobster thermidor. This was definitely the best flight we took today! Pictures of the flight:

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    We arrived at Male as scheduled and were done with immigration and customs within 15 minutes. We took the water ferry from the airport (the airport itself is on a separate island) to the Male city itself for our overnight layover. To get to most resorts in the Maldives, one needs to take a sea-plane taxi which only flies during the day. The sea plane taxi itself does not have fixed schedules and you don't know of the schedule until the day before to allow for flexibility to the taxi company. At this point, we still did not know what time we were scheduled to leave the next day. On checking in our layover hotel, the check-in staff helped us called the taxi company and we were shocked to find out that our sea-plane to Dhiggiri would be leaving at 6.30am and we had to be at the airport by 4.30am. It was now close to midnight, we were tired due to the whole day of travelling and the thought of waking up at 4am on the first night of our honeymoon SUCKED.
     
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  6. calvinoeh
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    We woke up at 4 am and hopped over to the ferry point which was a 5 minute walk from the hotel to catch the boat back to the airport. The ferry itself runs 24 hours with limited service during the night. It costs only 1 USD each way and they accept USD so there is no need to change into local currency. The ferry itself was some what packed even at this hour with several tourists like ourselves and locals who I think were going to work. The boat that took us to the airport:


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    When we got the airport at 5 am, the check-in counters for the sea-plane was not even opened up. There was not much to see or do while waiting for the counters to open. We did notice several tourists who decided to spend the night at the airport itself instead of getting a hotel room. If I had knew that our sea-plane transfer was this early, we might have considered doing the same since the hotels at Male aren't cheap. They costs $100 USD and up for a pretty basic room! Would rather spend that money on something else...


    After completing check-in and dumping our luggage, we hopped on a van transfer provided by the sea-plane company to the actual sea-plane terminal itself. There was still about 30 minutes before we departed which was good as we could take some pictures of the terminal and the sea-planes itself. I notice that several high-end resorts like the W have their own dedicated lounges. Too bad we couldn't use them :(


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    After the sun was up, it was time to get on the sea-plane! We were getting excited. The sea-plane is a Twin Otter aircraft "modified" to take off and land in water. It's a pretty small aircraft and seats only 18 people. An interesting thing about the sea-plane are the pilots are mostly expats and they fly the plane in shorts and barefoot! Imagine a SQ pilot flying a 777 like that :

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  7. calvinoeh
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    The sea-plane also flies lower than most jet aircraft so the views from the plane was amazing! We saw some other resorts on the way to Dhiggiri:

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    Our flight on the sea-plane took only 30 minutes. We were the first stop of this trip with the sea-plane continuing to drop the other passengers of at the resorts. When the plane headed down, we could see our home for the next 5 days from the chicken-pit window:
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    Here's the part that gets interesting. We landed about 300 meters from the island and the sea-plane comes to a stop. Hmm... why doesn't the plane head for the jetty at the island? One of the flight attendants opens the door of the plane and there's a 20x20meter platform next to the plane. The takes our bags and tells us that it's our time to get off.
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    We get off the plane and think to ourselves if we were going to swim to the island. This can't be true?!? A boat eventually comes from the island and later we were told by our host that the plane drops off passengers on the platform so that it does not destroy any of the corals and disturb the other tourist on the island due to the noise. It will only come into the jetty the sea gets too choppy. We were finally on our way to our Maldives honeymoon.
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  8. calvinoeh
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    More pictures will be on our blog: *Living the dream

    The 5 days and 4 nights we spent at Dhiggiri was a dream come true. It was such a good holiday. Our daily routine includes the following:
    • Waking up at 6ish to catch the sunrise on our our water bungalow deck.
    • Take an early morning snorkel right off our water bungalow.
    • Grab breakfast.
    • Chill by the beach.
    • Go on a snorkeling trip or snorkel right off of the island.
    • Lunch time.
    • Continue to chill out by beach.
    • More snorkeling
    • Catch the awesome sunsets.
    • Drinks, dinner and more drinks.
    • Rinse and repeat.
    Dhiggiri is on an island that was pretty small - only 230 x 80 meters. Walking around the island only takes 10 minutes. The island however did not feel cramped or packed as there were less than 100 people on it with a max capacity of 45 rooms only.
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    The rooms on Dhiggiri were pretty basic. This is no W or Conrad but the rooms were clean and adequate. There's also no internet and TV in the room but who needs this when you're in paradise :)

    Pictures of the room:
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    View from the deck:
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  9. calvinoeh
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    Dhiggiri is an all-inclusive resort so meals and most drinks are included in the rate. All meals are served buffet style in the only restaurant on the island. The breakfast was pretty basic with pastries, fruits and an egg station and we did get bored of it at the end of the trip. Lunch and dinner however was awesome with large choices including fresh fish, pasta, salads, soup, grill meats and local Maldivian curries. There was an option to pay for a "private" lobster dinner by the beach but we didn't try it. The all-inclusive rate also includes basic alcoholic beverages with San Miguel beer and "generic" liquor. Pictures of the restaurant:
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  10. calvinoeh
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    The best part of the resort is the sea-life and snorkeling right off the island. We've been to Phi Phi and Phuket and Dhiggiri sure beats the hell out of it. It was like being in an aquarium! The first time we stuck our head underwater, we were amazed by the large variety of sea life. We lost count of the types of fishes we saw! We also saw various rays, turtles, eels and star-fishes. The resort also organizes snorkeling trips to other reefs for a minimal charge. We went on a Manta Ray snorkeling trip and being in the water with this 15-20 feet long creatures was an experience to remember. The resort also has a highly rated dive center but we don't dive. Underwater pictures taken:
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    The staff on the island consisted of local Maldivians and expat staff. Both were extremely friendly and helpful. Our AC broke down one afternoon and they quickly replaced the outdoor unit in a couple of hours! There's also a daily beach soccer/football and volleyball games between guest and staff.

    We would recommend Dhiggiri for those who want to visit Maldives on a budget. Definitely looking forward to going back in the future...
     
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  11. Jslo
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    Cool report! I'd like to go there sometime. Looks like you and your wife had an amazing and memorable trip. Thanks for sharing.
     
  12. calvinoeh
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    After 5 days of bliss, it was time to head back to the real world :( Our SQ flight to Singapore does not leave till ~11pm at night so we had almost a full day on Dhiggiri during our last day. As usual, we don't get the sea-plane schedule until the day before. We were initially scheduled to be picked up at 3pm but on the day itself, the pick-up kept getting pushed back several times till 5pm. We weren't complaining as this allowed more time to enjoy Dhiggiri one last time with some cold beer.

    Last few views of Dhiggiri and of the sea-plane picking us up:
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    We had a couple of hours before our SQ flight. We dumped our luggage at the airport for a couple of dollars (can't remember exactly how much) and took the ferry across to the main island for some sight-seeing, souvenir shopping and dinner. I wouldn't spend more than a couple of hours in Male. There are a couple of parks, government buildings and mosque to visit. There's also a fish market that's supposedly interesting but it was dying down by the time we got there in the late afternoon. We got some last minute overpriced souvenirs and had a Maldivian curry for dinner before heading back to the airport. (Sorry! We forgot to take pictures of Male itself)

    As usual, nothing too interesting at check-in with bags tagged all the way back to Penang but they could only provide boarding passes only to Singapore. The contract lounge that SQ uses was pretty basic but spacious. We were annoyed that there was no shower in the lounge after getting sweaty and yucky during our walk in Male. Had to resort to cleaning ourselves with some paper and water :( There was some hot food in the lounge but we were still full from dinner. There's also no alcohol in the lounge since no alcohol is allowed on Male.

    There are no aerobridges in Male airport. This allowed for a photo op while walking to the plane:
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  13. calvinoeh
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    The crew that were serving us on this flight seem rather edgy, rushed and just going through the motions. We had a couple of glasses of champange pre-departure and before supper was served. There is no book-the-cook or pre-order option ex-Male. We settled for a noddle dish with some questionable sauce and a beef dish that turned out to be the better option:



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    After supper, we slept rest of the way back until about 30 minutes before landing. The plane back in Singapore:
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    On arrival in Singapore, we tried to get our connecting boarding passes but the Thai transfer counter was not open yet and the folks working the transfer counter could not print them out. We were hoping for a quick shower before heading into town for a couple of hours before our flight to Bangkok. Not much luck there and we had to head down still feeling some what yucky. We spent the next few hours shopping in Singapore and having lunch at a food court in one of the malls.

    When we go back to the airport, the Thai counters in Terminal one were not open for our flight. Thankfully, I spotted the SATS premium check-in counters which handles check-in for premium passengers for several airlines including Thai. They proceeded to issue our boarding passes all the way to Penang. We next headed to the SATS lounge in Terminal 2 for a much needed shower! We spent rest of the time in the airport in the Thai lounge in Terminal 1. Nothing too exciting about that lounge - just some food and drinks. If we were to do the trip again, we would definitely fly SQ out of Singapore instead of Thai.
     
  14. calvinoeh
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    The TG flight to Bangkok was the same as the flight to Singapore we took a couple of days ago. Dinner was served and we killed the time with some more drinking and a movie on the IFE.

    The plane taking us to Bangkok:
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    Food on the flight to Bangkok:
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    We had a 2 hour layover in Bangkok before our flight back to Penang. This was just enough time to head over to the Thai Spa for another 30 minute shoulder massage. The flight to Bangkok departed from a remote stand and we were bussed there. No special buses for premium passengers though. Same routine again with more champange, wine and food and before we knew it, we were back in Penang and heading back to work the next day :(
     
  15. calvinoeh
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    The End
    Going to keep this short. Nothing much else to say except that this was, will and should be one of the most memorable holidays for both of us. We broke the virginity on a couple of items on this trip:
    • First time in the premium cabin of any flight/airline. Singapore Airlines definitely earns it's reputation. The new SQ regional cabin on the A330 sure beats their TG competitors.
    • First time on a sea plane. Taking off and landing from the sea was some thing new. The views were amazing. Being dumped off to a platform in the middle of the sea was cool. Don't think we'll be in a rush to do it again just because of the high price tag for a 30-45 minute flight
    Maldives is now the place to beat in our opinion for the best snorkeling. We're going to try Manado, Red Sea and the Great Barrier Reef hopefully soon but we're pretty sure we'll be back in Maldives soon..
     

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