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Day Four : 27th March 2012 – Doha To Male
Like many airports which have seen a surge in popularity in recent years, Doha is undergoing a makeover. And being in an Arab state, it’s of palatial proportions. Unfortunately, it’s not quite ready, so when we land at around midnight it’s the second fastest transfer I’ve ever done out of the second smallest airport.
The fastest is when we arrive around five ours later in Male. At last, the Maldives – and even at 7am it’s 24 celsius. That’ll do nicely. In the arrival hall, various representatives from holiday companies hold up calling cards for passengers, waiting to take them to their transfers. I have no meeter and greeter, but I do find a very helpful smiling man at the Maldivan Air Taxis desk, who has my name and resort on his list. Before I know it I’m on a minibus which drives around the entire airport perimeter to an aircraft hangar decorated in raffia. I kid you not. A second smiling man helpfully informs me that my seaplane won’t be leaving for another two hours.
But what’s not to like? The sun’s burning off the cloud, the makeshift air conditioning is working – and reminding me that you’re still allowed to smoke indoors here – and the water is a mere 4 US dollars a bottle. Ahem. Good job the resort is all inclusive.
One of the worst things you can do before visiting a resort is read the online reviews of the place. Actually, the worst thing you can do is believe them. By far the most common gripe of my resort, Meedhuppuru, was the presence of a sea wall. That’s a sea wall which is about one metre high.
“It just ruined the view for us – and they always put the Brits right next to it!” typifies the kind of comments you get. Yet this Brit is more than grateful for it. Without the sea wall my bunglaow would be in very real danger of flooding at around 5pm every afternoon. As I write this, the water is lapping the villa next door.
In any case, I’m not quite sure where all these moaning Brits come from. They’re certainly not here at the moment. Lots of Germans, a few French and even some Russians – but on the seaplane over there was just one British couple.
Which is good thing. Because say what you like about the Germans, but they at least show a modicum of restraint when it comes to all inclusive holiday packages. Actually, that’s a lie. Most of the men around the pool make me feel positively anorexic. Lunch isn’t so much a bun fight as an excuse to eat all of the buns, plus the soup and another four courses on top of that. Perhaps I’m being unkind. Doesn’t everyone like to get value for money?
Annoyingly, the all inclusive restaurant staff insist on allocating me a specific table. As a lone traveller I feel like I’m sitting on the naughty step. At least all inclusive more or less means that here, unless you want to drink after midnight, in which case you’ll be charged “full hotel prices” a though the brochure doesn’t say what these are. And watch out, because everything extra comes with an additional ten per cent sales tax and a further six per cent tourist tax. Bearing in mind everything in the Maldives has to be imported, the basic prices aren’t cheap either.
But hidden extras are the curse of every all inclusive holiday. Apart from that, this island is as close to paradise as it gets. The villas are in small groups, effectively meaning a private stretch of beach for you and a handful of neighbours. And at my end of the island they’re quiet too. I can immediately feel life’s stresses draining away.