Summer vacations are a time when almost every family makes a plan to step out of their homes. It is not always necessary to head out to those long drawn vacations – even a simple weekend getaway, a visit to their hometown or a well-planned holiday to a new town or city does the trick. In fact, personally, I believe in taking shorter frequent trips if time and money permit.
Being a solo mompreneur and a stay at home single mum, I make it a point to take my daughter to at least one exclusive annual trip since the last few years. We started out with Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore, Pune and then when the confidence grew to travel solo with my kid, we decided to travel international starting with Dubai and now Maldives.
Since I am a single earning member and I work almost every day of the week, and hence I like to take my holidays and vacations very seriously. I try to invest and save up for my trips. I ensure that my trips are not too long or too short and there’s someone to meet or stay with – a friend, a relative so that it makes my trip that more memorable, meaningful and enjoyable. Happiness is best when shared and if there’s someone who’s living in that part of the globe, I make it a point to visit them or stay with them; and in return, I cook simple home cooked meals for them, which they love. This way we bond over good food, wine and friendship and the best part – my daughter bonds with kids her age, and makes new memories with me.
Just last month I embarked on an exciting journey to Maldives via Colombo. In spite of changing two flights and with a few hours halts, the journey was very comfortable and more so; I was truly impressed with the hospitality at the Colombo and Male airports. It is heartening to see when we travel internationally with children, people really are helpful and forthcoming.
Maldives is a picture postcard destination. Coming from a concrete jungle like Mumbai, the sight was a treat to sore eyes. The turquoise blue water with boats and yachts anchored on one side while biplanes tearing softly across the watercolour blue sky – it was a stunning portrait of an island country.
We visited Maldives in May this year, though not one of the best times of the year as it was quite hot and humid but the only saving grace was that we had friends from India working and staying at Hulhumalé. It was a beautiful reunion after years and we bonded over good old memories, created new ones while our kids became partners in crime.
- Beaches & Cafes
Our trip to Maldives included lazing around on the pristine beaches of Hulhumalé. The water is so clean that when you stand in the water, you can actually look through the crystal clear water. We took a stroll on the beach while the kids splashed in the water and build sand castles. Gradually we settled down at a beachside café and sipped on some freshly brewed coffee and eventually settled down for juicy chicken burgers, fries and cola that were apt in the summer humid winds of this island country. The icing on the cake was it was a full moon night and we relaxed over the summer breeze and the dancing reflection of the moonlight in the Indian Ocean.
- Submarine Dive
If you’re visiting Maldives and if you don’t go submarine diving, that would be an utter shame. Yes, you would debate that you can go for snorkelling and deep sea diving, but then the kids cannot accompany you. I wanted my daughter to be a part of my journey, I opted for a submarine dive. Moreso, since I had already gone for deep sea diving in Coral Island in Thailand, I thought the submarine dive would be a novel experience for my daughter and me. It is one of the few privately owned submarines in the world that promises you a lifetime of an experience of an under water experience. Owned by Tourist Submarines Maldives Pvt Ltd, we paid USD 75 for an Adult and USD 38 for a child (with the price inclusive of 6% GST) – as in May 2017.
It was one of the first times that my daughter and I along with my friends explored the beauty of the underwater world sitting comfortably in the state of the art German built Whale Submarine. It takes you to the depths as low as 100 feet and parks itself gently next to the coral reefs while you witness the spectacular beauties of the deep blue ocean.
This 45-minute submarine dive is worth every dime spent, of course for those who prefer deep sea diving or snorkelling may opine otherwise. The safety measures in the submarine are something to write home about. You’ll be impressed at the service and safety standard at the submarine dive if you plan on visiting Male next.
- Fish shopping
Like I always do, I extend my love for family and friends by cooking a meal for them if I visit them. so I have cooked in people’s homes in Delhi, Pune, Dubai, Thailand and now in Maldives. I think I’m slowly becoming a ‘take home chef’ across the globe. Cooking for someone is my way of expressing love, gratitude and warmth to them. When I visited my friends, they wanted me to cook up some Bengali speciality – so we decided on a menu of khichudi with maach bhaja and begun bhaja.
I went to the Male Fish Market and was overwhelmed with the sheer quantity and variety of fish available. I picked up fresh Dory for 30 Rufia and 7 Rufia additional for cleaning and cutting the fish. Since the locals speak Divehi, a language that as a tourist I am unfamiliar with, I asked around for a Bangladeshi fisherman with whom I spoke in Bangla and got my way around. I’ve become an expert in fish shopping and cutting in local markets where ever I have been. I firmly believe that for food, one has to know how to fend for themselves, it is, after all, a vital ingredient for survival.
- Eating out
A visit to Maldives would be incomplete without a good seafood meal. We dropped by at the Manhattan Fish Market an international chain of restaurant that has a branch in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, UAE and now in Maldives.
We were out for an evening stroll to take the kids out for ice cream when we made an impromptu decision to go for dinner at the Manhattan Fish Market. This is where I dug into a heavenly platter of the flaming prawns and grilled dory fillet on a bed of garlic herb rice, chips and potato veggies. Even the kiddie meal is quite awesome; we ordered for a Pirate’s Surf ‘n Turf – which came packed with chicken nuggets, dory fish fillets, fried country mushrooms and chips. Comes with a choice of Orange Juice, Coke, Sprite or Iced Lemon Tea – not bad for a kid who’s been playing on the beach all evening long!
- Water sports
While there are plenty of water sports activities to take part in if you’re staying at a resort. Since we were staying at the Hulhumalé residential areas, the beaches were close by, just a few minute leisurely stroll. Sarita and I dropped by one evening for an hour of kayaking and what fun we had. Initially, we took our kids all strapped in life jackets on a two-man kayak. Later on, we dropped them off at the beach to play, while we girls enjoyed moments of fun, laughter and life while overlooking four rainbows in the sky! We talked about life, friends, kids and more. Sarita is the Co-Founder of Bohotraveller and we discussed work, yes, work. But it was a perfect setting to bond with good old genuine friends. Could we ask for more?
- A walk at Central Park & the Jetty
If the weather is perfect, taking a stroll at the Central Park (yes, Hulhumalé has a beautiful public park with the same name) is very relaxing. This park livens up with the locals on weekends especially on Fridays and has fun flea markets that are set up for the locals to shop for. The park leads up to the jetty and you can stand there and watch for hours the boats and ferries leaving and arriving at the harbour. The Central Park is a fun place for kids to play around, for youngsters to meet up in the evenings for a stroll and selfie sessions and for health conscious people to go for a run or work out in the open gym.
I am glad I took this trip with my daughter and lived for a few days in Maldives just like the locals did. We tried the traditional Maldivian food, shopped at the local grocery store for canned tuna for my sandwiches, bought veggies to cook for my friends, eating at local cafes and spending long leisurely hours chit chatting and catching up on life.
While my rendezvous with Maldives ended in less than a week, both my daughter and I have come back home with wonderful memories of friendship, food, the sea and the island. Wondering where the mother-daughter duo will be headed out next? Stay tuned, you’ll soon find out!