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Happiness is not a destination, it is a way of life.

In life you can choose many different paths. You can choose to live a real life or pretend to be someone else (for the rest of your life). You can choose to sit in one spot or explore the world with a big smile and camera in hand.

There are things and places I will never forget from our many family holidays – when your parents were as adventurous with a map and tent as mine was, you would probably have gone mad.

We were campers that could set up and break down a camp in less than 30 minutes. We were the family in the old light blue VW kombi and then the light blue Landrover that would always drive slower than the rest.

We have seen Victoria Falls from both Zimbabwe and Zambia. We slept in the Hwange National Park while hyenas pawed our tents and a lion chased a buck through the camp.

We have walked on the Makgadigadi salt pans in Botswana and marvelled at the flamingos in their thousands.

We drove to Cape Town and almost ran out of fuel in some mountain range. We “freed” down the hills and we got there. Unfortunately we were also that family that went to every museum in the Western Cape.

To my parents’ dismay I was the kid that made the menu difficult with my refusal to eat red meats (I come from a long line of carnivores). I was also the kid that refused to take of my shoes to go into (yet another) mosque.

Then I left home and moved to Jozi…

In 2008 I made my first trip to Europe and I was hooked on those beautiful passport stamps. I couldn’t get enough of the food, the culture and the people. It was like a big playground – and I could play around in it for 6 weeks only. It was a whirlwind tour to 8 countries and a week on my own in Ireland.

Ireland stole my heart and I’ve only been back once – and still trying to get back with every possible lame excuse.

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#Ireland #burren #travel

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Then the whole marriage thing happened and we dragged our guests off to Mozambique for 5 days and an 18 day Europe, Ireland and Egypt honeymoon.

…and then the Kgalagadi called us

Nothing I’ve ever seen could’ve prepared us for the beauty of the Kgalagadi. The sun beating down on the savannahs, the lions casually strolling over the road or the fresh baked bread from the locals.

For some reason all our friends started going to Thailand and raving about it… and we decided to go see what the fuss was about.

All of Thailand’s beauty and splendour could not save it from landing on our list of places never to go back to. It is a tourist trap – and we want true experiences.

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#phiphi #stones #beach

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The highlight of all highlights…

No holiday could ever compare to the one in the Maldives. This little island paradise stole my heart. My soul still yearns for the white beaches and turquoise waters.

Where would I still like to go to?

  1. I really want to see the country as it is now, before it becomes too westernized
  2. The Scandinavian countries
  3. Eastern Europe
  4. All the Greek & Italian islands
  5. Bora Bora
  6. Seychelles
  7. Comores
  8. Anyplace that isn’t yet on my passport

I probably will never stop collecting passport stamps and memories, but for now all I can do is plan, plan and plan.

Male is the tiny capital city of the Maldives. There are around 150,000 people on an island of almost 6 square kilometers. They are about 3 hours ahead of SA time and use both the Maldivian Rufiyaa and US Dollar as currency.

When I first said I wanted to stop over in Male to see the capital city of the Maldives, I got the dirtiest looks imaginable from my husband. Nothing about the city looks appealing on the internet and it doesn’t really have any major amazing buildings either. Not really a place for tourists – unless you are in it to get to know more about the people living in that country (that would be me).

The city is tiny with tiny streets that are lined with thousands of scooters – and the odd car between. It is a miracle that that there are any cars on the island, because our hotel was only about 1.5km from the harbour and it took more than an hour to drive with a mini microbus!

We took a nap on arrival and then went for a little walk in town. What was really noticeable was that people were just standing around on the street, sitting on scooters and we didn’t cross paths with another westerner. Shops and houses were squashed next to each other into little pigeonholes along narrow winding roads.

No matter where you walked from, you could reach the ocean within 30 minutes! The most surprising part, the dolosse that kept the coastline intact… a design from South Africa 🙂

During our 1 day, 1 night stay the city celebrated 50 years of independence. Male was decorated in white, green and red. That night fireworks lighted the sky. It was beautiful.

It has been a month since we arrived back from the amazing Maldives – and I have major withdrawal symptoms.

I am still flipping through the photos regularly and can remember every second of our time spent in paradise. One of my favourite outings was definitely to a “picnic island”. These islands are usually uninhabited but with some facilities for tourists. The cost of such and excursion can range to about R1500 for 2 people and it includes a water, food and transport.

When we arrived at the picnic island, I was off the boat like the Flash and ready to get into the water. We were in a group of about 12 people, so the island was really private. The word idyllic comes to mind when I talk about an island where there is very few people.

The island guides were really friendly and while we enjoyed some snorkeling they were fishing for lunch and unpacking the prepared dishes.

After about 3 hours of snorkeling, swimming and tanning lunch was served, fresh from the sea – and land. I have never had fish like the ones they served on this island, but it was soooooo delicious. They even gave us a little fish that was about 5cm long and it was really crunchy and salty – I didn’t eat the head).

The full meal was a nicely balanced meal – and I had seconds!

My view on going to faraway places is that if you go somewhere, you might as well spend a little more and explore a little more.

I am having serious withdrawal symptoms from being on the beach. I am <<this close>> to packing my bags and move to Ballito (since I can’t afford to move anywhere outside Africa with the weak Rand)!

When I originally planned the Maldives holiday I had to stay within a budget. This meant that I couldn’t just use a travel agent and book a packaged deal. I really had to work for this amazing holiday…and I loved every moment of planning.


During the research phase I looked for accommodation that wasn’t in a resort, affordable and amazing. The answer that kept on popping up was Maafusi Island. What makes this island so unique is that it is currently the only non-resort island that you as a westerner can stay on.

Accommodation on Maafusi Island range from backpacker cheap and no meals included to full-board 4 star (didn’t see any 5 star). Even with the horrible Rand/Dollar exchange rate the rates of 3 and 4 star full-board accommodation compared well with prices I would pay in South Africa.

The only thing you need to know is that you will look far and wide for alcoholic beverages on this island… and that you can only swim in a bikini at designated bikini beaches.


We stayed at the Kaani Beach Hotel for 5 nights in the end and loved every minute of our stay. The hotel had a sea view and was only a minute’s walk from the swimming beach. The food was great, the rooms clean and the staff super friendly. The 5 nights, with all meals worked out to under R12,000 (and that included a 10% tip and all taxes)!


If (or rather when) I go to the Maldives again I would most probably stay on Maafusi again. I would recommend this island above a resort stay, else you might as well just stay at home and lock the doors and not experience the cultures and people of countries you visit.

Future posts you can look forward to:

  • Picnic Island excursion
  • Exploring Male, Maldives

Remember the days where you longingly looked at pictures of the Maldives sighing at the hefty price tag that would go with a holiday like that? I did the same. Really. Then when I started doing research on where to stay I stumbled upon info that suggested that resort stay is not the only way you can explore this magical beach destination.

My interest was piqued. I was hooked.

I excitedly told my husband that we will be going to the Maldives and I’m not hallucinating and definitely not delusional. We can afford it. We just have to compromise a little (or so I thought).

I booked at the lovely Kaani Beach Hotel on Maafushi Island for 5 nights and even with the weak Rand, it still sort of worked out the same as our usual Ballito holiday accommodation. To top it off, it included 3 meals a day and soft drinks. Once you have covered your bed, food and drink – the only thing you have to worry about is flying there.

Yes, the hotel didn’t have bells and whistles, but it was clean, comfortable and perfectly located a minute from the beach. The best part about our stay here, the staff. The staff was so friendly and they took an interest in you, greeted you by name and didn’t all even wear shoes. It was so homely, but yet private.

The food was really amazing and sometimes even a little too much, but I ate it ALL!

The beach on Maafushi Island was nothing to sneeze at. The sand was a soft, powdery white and the water gorgeously blue.

I know you have seen me writing about BIKINI BEACHES and wondering what I’m on about. Maafushi Island is a mixed use island with local inhabitants and now (for the past 2 years) tourists. Since the Maldives is quite religious, tourists have to abide by some simple rules to experience this paradise. On a bikini beach you can swim in normal swimwear, any other beach you have to cover shoulders to knees.

Bikini beaches are usually behind fences and open beaches (non bikini) out in the open. Resort islands (1 hotel on the island) usually means all bikinis and no cover ups.

I definitely miss this amazing view from our room at Kaani Beach Hotel!

 

We have now been in the Maldives for 4.5 days… I think. I kind of lost track of time a few days ago.

I am so relaxed and tanned. The best part is we are here until the 9th!

I never thought I would come to the  #Maldives. Looking at the travel packages offered, I could not justify my love for travel with the price tag of a Maldives resort.

Then this year I got free tickets to fly to Singapore and next minute I knew I was eyeing the Maldives and started to do some research. I was surprised at the prices of the non resort hotels and right then I knew that was the place I would drag my husband to.

We were stuck in airports and planned for close to 19 hours, but it was worth it.  This was what people made me believe Thailand would be like…. They lied. Paradise is not in Thailand, it is in the  Maldives.

Do yourself a favour and use booking.com and skyscanner.net to check for cheaper flights and accommodation in the Maldives.

Maldives

I am happy as can be on Maafushi Island in the Maldives. The sand is white, the water breathtakingly blue and the hotel amazing.

Maafushi Island

I chose to stay on Maafushi Island because I am not a fly 10000km and lock myself away from experiences kind of traveller.  I like to see how the locals live, observe their customs, talk to the people and just generally inquisitive.

So back to the island. It has only been 2 years since tourists could stay on an island inhabited by locals.  Maafushi was a test island and it seemed to take off in a big way as quite a few hotels have popped up. Previously you could visit for a day.

There is only 1 beach where you can swim in a bikini.  Anywhere else you have to cover up. In my opinion, a small price to pay for paradise.

Kaani Beach Hotel

I booked with Kaani because they offered a sea view room right next to the bikini beach and their rates really reasonable. We booked for full-board which means you get all meals at the hotel included in your rate.

I am loving the staff. They are all so friendly and ready to help with anything. James (Ahmed) welcomed us at the pier and makes time to chat to us everytime he sees us. Then there is Amix at reception that is so full of energy that I can’t believe he can sit still long enough to think. Panda with the “many girlfriends”  and all the other guys and ladies that makes this hotel really welcoming.

There is one thing that makes this hotel even more unique… Shoes are optional for everyone. It is an island hotel and this something that just makes it stand out.

I think I will be going home with a few extra kilograms thanks to the restaurant and kitchen staff. Every meal I have had was just delicious and it makes it hard to stop eating.

That is all for my first post all the way from the beautiful Maldives. Follow me on Instagram.com/susanndeysel for some awesome pics. Seriously…my Maldives pics are awesome!

It has been a trying week at work with campaigns and tight deadlines – but, I survived. Now there is only a few days left before we jet off to the other side of the world. It really makes it bearable to be at work knowing that I will soon have sunshine, warm beach sand and blue waters to calm my shattered nerves.

I'm having one of those weeks

This weekend we did a final pack for our Maldives holiday. We split clothes so that if a suitcase goes missing everyone still have clothes. When my husband came to my underwear he held it up and said “is this what you wearing to the beach, because if this is it – we are going shopping now”. He was holding up my very tiny Sloggy panties.

My husband’s face was preciously hilarious. Next time I will pack even smaller items.

Screen printing class by ZANA

There is the possibility of ZANA coming to Joburg in October to offer 2 screen printing classes (Saturday & Sunday). They only need 10 people per class – so if you are interested please visit their Facebook page and comment on this post. If you don’t know about ZANA, check out their website. 

I am so excited about this Maldives holiday that I can barely think anymore. I am imagining blue waters, white beaches and long cocktails in my hand.

Everything is now finalised:

  • Flights to & from Singapore/JHB (thank you Singapore Airlines!)
  • Flights to & from Male/Singapore
  • Hotel in Male, Maldives
  • Hotel on Maafushi at the lovely Kaani Beach Hotel
  • Some nights at the Adaaran Club Rannalhi water villas (yeah, I said it) – with their very expensive speedboat transfers!
  • Back in Male at the same hotel, Laze
  • Someone to stay with our 3 beloved kittens
  • Small suitcases as we are only taking overhead baggage
  • I have even sorted which bikinis will make the trip!
  • Packing lists are done
  • Travel Insurance done (with TIC because it is free with my credit card purchases)

Still need to do for the Maldives trip:

  • Health insurance closer to the time (also free with Discovery)
  • Get some forex (USD)

I really should have gotten some sun before going, but you really just can’t have everything.

So how much are we spending on this trip? Well, since my SA/Singapore flights are free the whole 12 day holiday is costing us under R30k including all ferries and extra spending money. It is still a bit extravagant, but we will probably travel less once baby arrives.

Back in 2008 I discovered Booking.com, the awesomest way to book accommodation. I booked Europe, Ireland and Thailand accommodation through this website and even after shopping around they always have the best prices.

This time around I have booked all our Maldives accommodation through Booking.com. We are staying 4 star and not breaking the bank completely.

We are spending a night at the beginning and end in Male – because you cannot go all that way and not explore the capital. Then we are off to Maafusi and staying at the Kaani Beach Resort on a Full-Board basis.

This part is going to have you green with jealousy…

We will also be spending 2 nights in water villas – all inclusive. At R5,000 per night for the 2 of us, it is our 1 spoil for the last 16 months of hell and heartbreak.

What am I most excited about other than getting an amazing passport stamp? It has to be the beach, almost 10 full days of it.