November 26, 2017 - Male Day!

Food is so expensive at the Male airport!

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Novina Hotel

We started today late because the WiFi was so slow! Running speedtest, I got somwhere between 3 Mbps to dial-up speeds at a tenth of that. We wanted to book some accommodations in Munnar and/or Kochi before we left, so we tried to do the research and booking, but gave up when every page load took a minute.

We went to the 1st floor of the hotel where breakfast was served and saw the Malaysian couple from the previous night again. The buffet at first felt like it was a bit lacking, many of the items were in short supply. Fortunately, you could also order a number of items on the menu in addition to the breakfast buffet so it’s actually an order-style all-you-can-eat and this format also prevents food waste while making items to order. There were a number of omelettes as well as french toast and pancakes on the menu. Also of note, the meat and cheese tray had…. cheddar cheese slices (e.g. the kind you get from the grocery store, plastic wraps included).

While we were there, a couple of Mandarin-speaking girls came in and asked the staff to help them make a bowl of instant noodles.

We packed our bags and checked out of the hotel, leaving our luggage with the staff and headed just East where there was a Dhiraagu.

Dhiraagu - SIM Card

We requested a prepaid SIM card (30 MVR ~ $2.5 CAD) and loaded 99 MVR onto it (~$8.25 CAD) which gave S 500 MB on her SIM card. For myself, I reqested just the SIM card. We paid with credit card (VISA) with no issues. At the store, I had requested a Prepaid Red kit, but they said they didn’t have any(?) - I’m not actually entirely sure what was said.

When we had left, we activated Prepaid Red by sending an SMS PKG RED (only one space between PKG and RED) to 444. Prepaid Red is a “prepaid package” that gives free access to Facebook, Messenger and Twitter. The only cost is the 1 MVR needed to send the SMS, which was deducted from the 20 MVR balance we started with from the 30 MVR kit.

I had issues getting the SIM card to work with my phone and we were having communication issues, so we would find a different Dhiraagu location to help us. Meanwhile, we took a circuitous route counter-clockwise around the island of Male, exploring various air-conditioned shops, bakeries and minimarts.

Rest of Male

The price of a large bonaqua brand water bottle (1.5L) was 5 MVR (~$0.42 CAD). It had no price tag, so I walked up to the register expecting any amount and was pleasantly surprised. Minimum purchase in order to use a credit card was 10 MVR too at this business, so we happily grabbed a second one.

We also stopped at a City Bakery (City appears to be a chain of different establishments) for a lunch snack. I got a tandoori chicken sandwich and S got a beef pie. This was all we ate for lunch.

Dhiraagu - Part 2

We got to the Dhiraagu head office and I showed the customer service person the message I received when trying to activate Prepaid Red. I also gave her my SIM card number and phone number and she checked the system and said that Prepaid Red was already activated on my account. I would find out the next day that it wasn’t true at all.

Tsunami Monument

A monument dedicated to those who lost their lives in a tsunami in 2004. It is on the southwest corner of the island and at the time we went, it was hidden behind a lot of buidling supplies for the hospital they were building nearby. It is very close to the Dhiraagu head office, and there is also a jetty nearby with ferries that depart for Rasdhoo and Villingili.

We were cutting short on time, so we hoofed it back to the hotel so that we wouldn’t miss the boat transfer to the liveaboard. We got into the hotel at 3:05, had a car called for us at around 3:15 (Loyal Taxi), a staff member went separately by bike to the airport ferry terminal in advance and met us there, helping us to unload our bags and get us on the right ferry including managing the tickets. When we arrived at the airport, there was also a staff member who helped us load our bags into a cart and pushed it for us - I imagine it would’ve normally been to Departures, but since we were going onto the liveaboard next, we headed to the Arrivals area and looked for the Emperor Diver’s sign which we did find.

We sat and waited for quite a while, while people from another flight were to travel with us. We met George and Bonnie from Phoenix who were also going to be aboard our liveaboard. Before long, we were led outside where a ship was waiting for us. It started to rain. As we were standing on the docks, the instructions were confusing - leave your bags here - oh the ship’s over here! - bring our bags over there? We boarded the boat and they brought the bags down the length onto the boat and off we went.

While the boat (we’d later find out it’s called the dhoni - the dive boat companion of the larger resort boat) led us back to the Emperor Orion, we set up our equipment in order to make sure that we had everything in place. When we boarded the boat, they told us not to worry about our bags and we met in the restaurant area for an introduction, a lot of paperwork and some information about the boat and schedule. They were very stringent on ensuring everyone had proper dive insurance and certification. Fortunately, the emergency medical travel insurance inclued with my work health plan benefits was broad and covered scuba diving - it was a bit difficult trying to get a phone agent to escalate the issue and have the team issue a letter for me though.

After a long period of time in which S almost starved (again), dinner was served!

When we went to sleep because we were quite exhausted.