TRAVEL: Marvelous MALDIVES (Part I)


The idea of Maldives came to me one morning in November last year while I was checking my personal email and got an alert from Tiger Air announcing its maiden voyage to Maldives from Singapore beginning January 2014. Not too long before that, I remember asking the Emperor if he had already plotted his 2014 travel schedules, in case I would be able to join him in one of (possibly) many trips this year. As you know, the Emperor and I have been to a few international and local travels together and knowing how he can be very flexible with his schedule (if he wants to!), I thought I’d mention Maldives when I saw him go online on FB. Et voila, in less than an hour, I had already booked Chris and I on a flight and Eric had done the same!

Knowing that Maldives requires no visa application (it’s VOA for a lot of countries, including Philippines!) made decision-making a no-brainer. Of course, the impossibly turquoise water surrounding the atolls and the promise of earthbound paradise go without saying. I mean, we would’ve gone still even if there was visa required. Maldives is just something you never say no to. What followed after that was a fun hotel hunting/booking. We had a reasonable budget to work with which, the three of us agreed, need not require us to smash our piggybanks open or you know, rob a bank.

After going through a long list of hotels and reading a lot of reviews on Trip Advisor, we opted to book our stay at Dream Inn Thulusdhoo for 3 nights and then spend our last night in Malé so we can explore the city and not be worried about missing our flight the following day (it takes an hour and a half from Thulusdhoo to Malé on the public ferry).

Finally, Maldives!

And so on the 12th of March, the three of us boarded Tiger Air bound for Malé, the urbanized capital city of Maldives. The flight was about 4 hours and 20 minutes long and by the way, Maldives is three hours behind Singapore. Soon as we exited the arrival hall, the first thing we saw was the exquisite turquoise waters dotted only by a few speed boats loading and unloading tourists. We had to physically restrain ourselves from jumping right into the water given the scorching heat outside. Gorgeous (easily three shades of) blue ocean water everywhere you look – and it’s unlike anything we’ve seen before! It took a while for our airport pick-up to reach us and we were starving so Eric and my husband decided to get us some takeout meals from Burger King. An idea which we all would come to regret IMMEDIATELY as one meal costs a minimum of US $10! (The chicken sandwich meal Chris got me was $15!) Definitely one of the most expensive junk food we have ever ingested and I wouldn’t recommend that you try it. Unless you’re even more famished than we were at that time, or just plain addicted to junk. Ewww.

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Welcome to Thulusdhoo

It takes an hour and a half to get to Thulusdhoo atoll from Malé. I will not give you the wikipedia description of this charming little atoll but instead, I will try to paint a picture of Thulusdhoo based on what we have seen, heard, and tasted of the island. First of all, Thulusdhoo is also known as the Coca Cola island because of the presence of a Coke plant which is supposedly the only one in the world that uses aerated water to manufacture the carbonated drink for Maldivian consumption (Please feel free to verify that as I am rather lazy to Google it up). It is no surprise then that there is a hostel called ‘Cokes Surf’ in the island that specifically caters to surfers and backpackers. And in case you’re wondering why, it’s because Thulusdhoo is said to have the best waves in all of Maldives during surf season. Tim, the-hot-Aussie-surfing-instructor-with-six-pack- abs-that-won’t-quit at Cokes Surf, confirmed that when we all had dinner on our last night on the island.

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The cozy little inn we called ‘home’ for three days, Dream Inn Thulusdhoo, is such a great find! At first, we were disappointed when Shaheem (awesome travel organiser!) told us two days before we were to depart SG for Maldives that he had to transfer the three of us to Askani Villa because they have about 20 youngsters from Denmark arriving the same day. But Askani proved to be just what we needed because it only had four very spacious rooms and we only had to share the whole place with a nice Russian couple. We had good wifi connection in our villa – at least for my iPhone but my Samsung phone totally crapped out on me during this trip so I was struggling a bit doing some work while traveling. 100 points for iPhone, negative 100 points for Samsung S4! – which made it quite convenient for the social media junkies in us to post occasional updates on FB and Instagram. The hotel staff were very amiable and always ready to help make arrangements for our island hopping adventures. And I love how their English is almost impeccable – and how beautifully they enunciate words!

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Thulusdhoo residents take pride in their ‘Sunrise Beach’ and ‘Sunset Beach’ and by right, they should, because these two places certainly give you an awesome sunrise and sunset views. Look!

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Sunrise at 5:50am.

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Sunrise Beach at 6am.

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Sunset Beach at 6pm.

But if you ask me, the real treasure Thulusdhoo has is its charming people. Easily among the friendliest, accommodating, and well-mannered people you will ever meet, the residents of Thulusdhoo will make you feel welcome at any time of the day. Always smiling and often ready to greet you ‘good morning’ or ‘good afternoon’, some will even inquire about your day/health. On our first night at Dream Inn, we were lucky to have been treated to a lively cultural song and dance production by the young men of Thulusdhoo and we were impressed by the passion and energy they put into their craft. The Danish group, as well as the young lady from Kosovo, had a great time jumping around and gyrating to the infectious beat of the drums. Being an old boring fart, I just sat and watched the revelry. Kidding! We had to turn in early that night because we were off to ClubMed Kani the following morning and didn’t want to be sporting eyebags to go with our lovehandles. Not at all great for selfies, haha.

Oh, one more thing that we noticed in Thulusdhoo are the colorful doors and walls in every home which truly fascinated us. But apparently, this love for bold colors is typically Maldivian as we would see more and more of these colorful doors around Malé.

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One great thing about living literally next to the ocean is that you get to enjoy fresh catch for your daily meals. Being just a tiny dot of an island (with only a little above 1,000++ inhabitants), Thulusdhoo does not have restaurants (though we saw one or two bars near the jetty) so we were only eating mostly at our resort and on our last night, at Cokes Surf Villas. There’s not much of variety here but the grilled fish we were served a few times was truly divine! It’s so fresh and tasty you don’t even need condiments to enjoy it!

If you are looking for some sun, surf and sand adventure with a little splash of culture, you can’t go wrong with a trip to this charming North Malé atoll called Thulusdhoo. And oh, good news to the ladies who might be wondering if swimsuit is allowed in the beaches of Thulusdhoo at all – the answer is yes, my sweetpea, you can wear your swimsuit on the beach! But please don’t go around the village in those tiny stringy cloths as you are definitely bound to offend the residents’ sensibilities and conservative ideals. Keep in mind that Maldives is an Islamic nation and all tourists must respect that.

End of Part One

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And so it begins…


Filed under something new. The time has come for me to conquer one of my greatest fears. This comes only second to recycling an Ex and/or vice-versa. Totally kidding, you guys!

Have a lovely weekend ahead, dahlinks, even though the weather during the past three days have been anything but. When all else fails, there’s The Avengers to watch. Beefcakes never go out of style.

COCOTINI Beachwear Summer 2011 Collection


 

Sicily

A few months ago, I got a call from a dear friend slash fitness goddess slash fashion maven Abby Jocson telling me that a friend of hers, who’s running a swim wear line, is looking for a morena to model some her latest designs. For someone who never passes up the chance to go on a beach holiday – not to swim, mind you, but to get baked – this could very well be the call that could align the planets in her own self-proclaimed Milky Way. A few hours after, I was already on sms with Mia, finalising the photoshoot schedule.

And that’s how I became one of Cocotini’s brand ambassador, at least for the Summer of 2011.

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Bask in the sun in bright hues of blue, purple and pink. This year’s collection is all about optimism!

Get a preview of the latest Cocotini and Cocotini Luxe designs – with more designs coming soon!

And watch out for it’s newest line, Cocotini Active!

Models: Angelika Schmeing-Cruz and Vicky Ras
Photography by: Miguel Nacianceno
Make-up by: Chey Mayuga

Find COCOTINI on Facebook and place your orders here.

Fitness: Be On Top Of Your Game, Gear Up!


All across the sporting world, training sessions are at a fever pitch: NBA superstars are gearing up for the 2010 season, elite runners are preparing for the New York City marathon, UFC heavyweight champ Brock Lesnar is hitting the bags for a championship match, and our very own Manny Pacquiao is hard at work for his next big fight.

These super athletes have become today’s archetypes of total fitness, inspiring sports and fitness buffs to pursue training and exercise regimens to raise their own level of game. And the more demanding training goals are, the more important it is to have the right training equipment.

Sporting goods expert Chris Sports is well aware of these needs, as it delivers top-flight fitness tools for both beginners and seasoned athletes, from the most basic to the most cutting-edge sports and fitness gear. Whatever your sport, whatever your fitness thrills, Chris Sports has a wide array of top equipment at hand:

Hi-tech home fitness

Whether you’re a serious athlete or just looking to shed a few pounds, cardiovascular exercise is a must—it leads to better fitness and endurance, and is a great way to burn calories. Treadmills and ellipticals have long been the preferred cardio tool for many, as they allow users to exercise in the comfort of their homes. For those looking for the best home fitness equipment in the market today, Chris Sports offers the renowned NordicTrack treadmills and Pro-Form ellipticals.

Nordictrack X5i

The NordicTrack X5 Incline trainer features a heavy-duty (300 lbs. capacity) frame that houses modern training features such as 0-40% 1-Touch Incline and 0 to -3% 1-Touch Decline for varying workouts, a patented CardioGrip heart monitor, a Scrolling CrossTrainer Display, and even a special music port for your iPod. The X5’s excellent programmable workouts and its fully dynamic incline allow the user to burn five times more calories, even by walking. Previously priced at P129,000, the X5 now retails for only P105,995, with deferred payments for 12 months at 0% interest.

The Pro-Form ZE3 features a large LCD display, varying digital resistance training, four preset workouts and eight weight loss workouts, an EKG Grip Pulse, 250 lbs user capacity, and iPod compatible audio with built-in speakers. The ZE3 retails for P19,995, with 12 month payments at 0% interest.

“Through the NordicTrack X5 and the Pro-Form ZE3, Chris Sports provides the very best in modern home fitness for people ranging from serious enthusiasts to beginners,” remarked Gilbert Tang, Managing Director of Chris Sports. “Cardio training is an absolute must in any fitness regimen. And the user-friendly and customizable settings of these machines are perfect for people who want to lose weight, or have been advised by their doctors to have a healthier, more active lifestyle, as part of their fitness goals.”

Hard-hitting gear for boxing, taekwondo, MMA

If punches and kicks are your thing, Chris Sports offers high quality hand wraps, MMA and boxing gloves, mouthpieces and shin guards, and punching/kicking bags in various sizes and price points. Among the must-have gears are the Taekwondo brand Kix, and boxing and MMA brand BULLS, which is also the official equipment brand of the URCC (Universal Reality Combat Challenge).

Serving an ace with the best brands

Among Chris Sports’ most frequent patrons are tennis and badminton enthusiasts, as the store offers top rackets, balls, shuttlecocks and accessories from leading brands Babolat, Dunlop, Head, Prince, Slazenger, Wilson, and Yonex.  The store’s tennis and badminton offerings go beyond high quality products, as Chris Sports also offers Stringway and Babolat precision stringing services for players.

Exploring the outdoors with Deuter and Tribu

The very nature of outdoor sports such as hiking and biking requires only the best equipment to ensure maximum safety and performance. For adventure seekers, Chris Sports can enjoy superior outdoor gear from Deuter, including durable and lightweight backpacks for hiking, travelling and biking, heavy duty trekking accessories, and outdoor sleeping bags. For a comfy and enjoyable hike, Chris Sports recommends the high quality, non-slip outdoor sandals of Tribu, a popular brand among adventure lovers.

Going for a swim with Mares and Zoggs

Whether it’s for recreation or for competition, swimming and snorkeling enthusiasts will up their game with hi-level equipment from Zoggs and Mares. Zoggs offers innovative goggles, swimwear, swim caps, as well as various training aids such as fins, paddles and kickboards. Mares is the brand of choice for snorkeling buffs, with its exciting line of masks, snorkels, diving wear, and accessories.

Diverse range of sports

Chris Sports’ impressive line of sports gear spans a wide range of disciplines and recreational activities, ensuring that no athlete or sports buff would be left out in their equipment needs. Included in Chris Sports’ collection are quality products for darts, extreme sports, billiards, squash, fishing, table tennis, aerobics, weight training, sports nutrition, and the Team 8 performance apparel for running, cycling and triathlon.