(A melodic or harmonic configuration that creates a sense of repose or resolution.)

"But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God; I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever." - Psalms 52:8

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Our Maldivian Holiday

It's been a week since we've returned and MANY of you have asked about this trip so I'll share what I know - Maldives was REALLY difficult to plan for! Finding a suitable resort that won't bleed you dry, and picking the right island had us grasping at straws for a few days. We picked Reethi Beach Resort because:

1. It's on the Baa Atoll (group of islands) which is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve
2. I wanted a cheap water villa that had direct access from room to reef
3. Must have good reviews for the house reef

There were a few others we considered for snorkelling - Chaya Reef Ellaidhoo (best house reef in Maldives) and - Dusit Thani (even closer to Hanifaru Bay - guests have seen mantas right at their water villa's doorstep; AND they have a gorgeous private infinity pool per water villa. Book them through the Entertainer app for 50% off until August 2015), but budget wise, Reethi best suited us.

When choosing a resort, you really need to figure out what you want to do there (Chill? Live it up? Snorkel? Dive?) and then pick accordingly (Tripadvisor reviews really helped). We zoomed in on all the resorts with good snorkelling and by chance we were introduced by a friend to Reethi which is in Baa Atoll, great house reef (free snorkelling!), cheap water villas, and close to Hanifaru Bay (protected site for manta rays - their appearance however is seasonal from July to October).

We had to take a seaplane here which was USD452 per pax (35 min flight). There are 2 other alternatives:
1. fly to a nearby domestic airport at Dharavandhoo, then transfer to a dhoni boat to the resort (USD320 per pax, 20 min domestic flight, 10 min boat ride) 
2. speedboat direct from Malé to Reethi, roughly 2 hours travelling time, price not indicated

But it's Maldives right, take seaplane and try la. Really glad we did coz as we landed we saw mantas from our window which was one of the many surprises through the trip (see Alvin's video; you can hear everyone in the plane exclaiming in delight). This is not a sure thing though, and the plane ride was fun for the first 10 min which then gave way to boredom and sleepiness; plane's pretty stuffy. Still, MANTAS MAKE EVERYTHING WORTH IT. :D

Also, seaplanes don't fly at night so if you're landing after 4pm, you will have to stay in Malé for a night. This isn't an issue for domestic flights to Dharavandhoo. Note that there are NO CABS from the airport and the public bus only runs every hour. We opted for Pine Lodge because

1. They provide airport transfers (11USD per pax return)
2. Cheap (SGD65 per night/room)
3. Close to the airport (10min drive)

Pine Lodge also communicated with Reethi regarding our seaplane transfer so they knew what time we had to leave for the airport the next day. That was awesome.

The next morning we had to return to the main airport to confirm and retrieve our seaplane tickets before being transferred by shuttle (small passenger van) to the seaplane terminals (1, 2 & 3). Just show the driver your ticket and he'll confirm if you're in the right shuttle.

We didn't have to wait too long for our flight and our flight did not make stops at other islands first. I've heard horror stories where people get stuck at the seaplane terminal for a few hours and then have flights that have island stopovers. Again, manage your expectations - these seaplanes serve the whole of Maldives and they don't have set flight routines because it depends on the influx of tourists they get each day. Just let them plan, and move your butt when they tell you it's time to fly.


Once you've found the resort of your choice you will need to figure out your meal plan - B&B, half board, full board or all-inclusive.

In general:
B&B - breakfast only
HB - breakfast and either lunch/dinner, not including drinks
FB - breakfast, lunch and dinner, not including drinks
AI - breakfast, lunch and dinner, incl drinks (they will have a list of drinks that you are allowed to order... So in reality AI isn't REALLY all-inclusive. 

July is non-peak for Maldives so they had pretty good deals. Once again, it really depends on WHEN you plan to go, and the packages offered at that time. We compared prices between Agoda and Reethi's direct booking through the hotel. The package by Reethi was pretty good actually, but Agoda had a 30% off for last minute bookings (haha that's us when we booked 2 weeks before the trip):

Agoda's Prices (before taxes):

B&B SGD200
AI (only available through direct booking with the hotel at that time)

I did my calculations (based on the menu and prices of Reethi's restaurants/bars that can be found on their website) and realized that going HB/FB was just silly. A meal at Moodhu Bar (our restaurant of choice) was in general around USD50 per meal (2 mains and 2 drinks). Which means we could budget around USD100 per day for food. Also, water is USD3 per litre - not too bad.

AI was not for us because we're not drinkers nor heavy eaters so, nope. But depending on your intake, you might want AI for peace of mind. Just remember AI isn't really ALL inclusive. Which was just so pointless to me.  

Also, HB, FB and AI meals are all limited to main restaurant buffets - the food is good, but if you want to eat something else like NACHOS at Moodhu Bar, it's a separate bill. For HB/FB/AI you get a 15% discount at the other restaurants.

OH. Make sure you bring a few credit cards, check your spending limit and approve your cards for overseas transactions. We had a few hiccups and for the first day, we were worried we would have to stay on the island to wash dishes for 6 months. This is because the island is CASHLESS. Everything you spend on will be simply signed off on a receipt and charged to your room account which you pay off the night before you check out. Just bring a few small change in USD to tip the staff if you'd like. 

Edit: On the last day we realized we could pay off the total bill in cash! So it's not that they don't accept cash (make sure the notes aren't torn or crumpled, they're sticklers about that), but through the vacation there will be no transactions until it's all consolidated on the last day. Also, Maldives has a 10% service charge and 12% GST - this comes up to a whopping additional of almost 25% extra in your bill. Take note.


Snorkel and dive expeditions are organised by the Dive Centre - and these are the main four programs for snorkelling (sorry, didn't dive so can't review - but you can always email them for more info, they're very responsive)

1. Hanifaru Bay (Manta Ray cleaning station, seasonal) - USD80 per pax
2. Turtle Reef - USD50 per pax
3. Coral Reef - USD50 per pax
4. Night Snorkel - USD50 per pax

For all above trips, budget some tips separately for the Dive Centre staff who bring you out.

When you swing by the Dive Centre there's a notice board where they state their next schedule for each expedition. Just write your room number, name and no. of pax and you're done. Hanifaru Bay is super popular so if that's important to you, quickly go do it once the list is available.

Bring your own snorkel, mask and fins to save some money especially if you want to snorkel everyday. They can also be rented at the Dive Centre at a price. The currents at Maldives in general are not weak and it's easy to get exhausted when the currents change. Always check with the Dive Centre if you're not sure about tides and currents, even if it's a short swim around the house reef.

Ok, Hanifaru Bay freaked me out SO BADLY I returned to the boat immediately after jumping in (coz my snorkel bounced off my head when I jumped and I just couldn't get it back on amidst the choppy waves) and simply watched from the boat's top deck (vomiting up my breakfast for extra joy). Definitely bring an underwater camera/GoPro and TEST THAT IT WORKS before going. 

Here's a video of all the mantas we missed, thanks to Abdul our snorkel guide who noticed we were on the boat and missing all the action. We're definitely going back. Also, special thanks to Chi Wern and Chin Ling for lending us their snorkelling/diving gear! Saved us quite a bit on gear rental, thanks guys!! 

Snorkelling in the house reef is free and very awesome (FISHIES GALORE)!

Which brings me to my next point:


We picked the water villas, and got room #222. There's a resident parrotfish right outside our balcony (we see it everyday) plus we are sort of angled towards the sunrise. I think it's a good spot coz we've gone out to the reefs at the other water villas and we definitely have the best no. of fish to swimming distance ratio. Any room after #222's reef access is straight into rocks (ugh) so don't pick those. They're also closer to the seaplane landing site so it can be noisy when you're afternoon napping.

There are also garden villas that you can choose from that are cheaper and may be nice if you want direct access to the beach. Each room has their own deck chair on the beach, so don't go lounging on another room's.

Free wifi at the reception, Moodhu bar, main restaurant and main bar. Going totally barefoot here is encouraged (yep, we dumped our slippers in the room once we checked in and didn't use them until we left).

After all that's said and shown, please remember none of our experiences are guaranteed, but I can tell you where we saw them -

Mantas - seaplane landing, Hanifaru Bay

Assorted marine life (parrotfish, creepy stalker fish, 'Dory' from Finding Nemo, black tip reef shark, cuttlefish, eel, rabbitfish, angelfish, fish schools etc) - water villa shores during low tide (mornings, under the plankway), water villa reefs, house reef, under Moodhu Bar.

Sharks, sting rays, black tip reef sharks - fish feeding at the dive centre jetty, 6pm daily.

Dolphins - sunset bar.

Sunset - sunset bar.

Sunrise - from room.

Rainbow - dive centre jetty during fish feeding.

Full moon - reception jetty/dive centre jetty

Bioluminescence (neon blue plankton) - go only when it's the new moon, sunset bar side would have least light pollution

Main population here are Germans, Swedes, Danish and British. Few kids, mostly super fit retirees and young couples. Fewer Asians - Indians/Sri Lankans (x10), Chinese (x4), Japanese (x4), Vietnamese (x2), Singaporean (us). Everyone's very friendly, very few are racist, and when we walk on pathways and brush past each other we always smile and say hi to everyone. That's also the best way to find out more about the island - some of them are return visitors and one Brit lady gave us so many tips on astronomy. She's also the reason we went to the fish feeding to spot sharks coz she said she's seen the arrow headed one before. She was super delighted to see the video we shot, haha!

Here's the damage:

Pine Lodge - 65SGD 1 night

Pine Lodge Airport Transfer - 22USD

Seaplane Transfer- 904USD

Reethi - 1450SGD for 6 nights

F&B at Reethi - 700USD

Snorkelling - 275USD

TOTAL - 4075SGD not including flight to Malé (SQ miles FTW)

We definitely want to go back.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Nerd Gush

ok i need to gush so badly that i'm going to ignore how foreign blogging feels, and for that matter, WHY IS BLOGGER LOOKING SO WEIRD

*pushes everything aside*

i'm here because i'm reading Film Critic Hulk's review of The Avengers and man, that Hulk has completely voiced out about what I love about the film, what I didn't, why it STILL works, and detailed Joss Whedon's works PLUS compared it with The Dark Knight (which is my favorite comic adaptation yet, esp since it's my favorite movie OF ALL TIME. but i am so wrong - what works for TDK, the darkness, the emotion, can't be used here in The Avengers! I take whatever comparison between TDK & TA back.)

i had it all in my head, and the SAME SENTIMENTS bounced around my head for a week after watching The Avengers, but MAN! i could never have written all that down coherently...

WHICH MAKES THIS REVIEW AWESOME, knowing that someone else feels almost the same! i say 'almost' because Alvin is on the same level as FCH about why The Avengers works as a film.


here's the review.

p.s. also, after spending time watching good tv and movies - HIMYM's final episode for this season has got me spitting with anger. IT'S BEEN 7 SEASONS AND WE KEEP GOING BACK TO THE SAME FEW CHARACTERS. WHAT A COP OUT. and they're totally 'dicking us around'. sometimes i really hate network tv - they cancel shows like Firefly, threaten to cancel shows like Fringe (which seriously maims their story arcs, hastening the wrap up of the season and then, SURPRISE YOU'RE RENEWED. fuuu. also, the shuffling of Community's producers, stepping down Dan Harmon. i have nothing to look forward to but Modern Family now.


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

abandonment issues

last night, i went home to sleep at my old place. it was real nice, like a retreat into my old life which i relished like a vacation. i gave the cats extra food before i left, and then told them it won't be too long before i'm home again, meow-meows!

the next day i came home well-rested... to 2 cats who seemed to have gone a little nuts. it seems like they get stressed when we're not around, and upon return they become incredibly manja. Joey's been winding around my legs 50% of the day, while Jay runs away and then comes back meowing at the top of his voice.

he even sat on my lap for 15 minutes so i could rub him. whut.

now they're waiting for me to sleep so they can cuddle. wassup man, why so cute one! maybe deep down inside, after being abandoned once, they're really afraid of being abandoned a second time. poor things. :(


alvin thinks they're just spoilt. hahaha.

Jay knows to bring his ball to me if he wants to play, and Joey has also learned something new! she squeaks really cutely when she wants to go watch the rain in the master bedroom's glass panel. she squeaks so i can open the door for her. then she'll bound in, sit at the glass panel and play with the water droplets rolling down the pane... then she curls up and sleeps on the bed.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

memories (and getting fatter as we go along)

angel and i are having SUCH. A. GOOD. TIME going through our old photos.

good grief, i've known my 3 besties for 12 years now. it's mind-boggling. massive photoshare now!!!


check it out, this is us in JC.

xinwei, mel & i with our matching colored rulers (gift from xinwei), Pioneer JC, year 2000. not sure where angel was with her purple colored one.

here's where i met angel & xinwei - the first student's council of PJC where we played all day and partied all night.

3 of us made it to Uni, 1 didn't -
me. it was terrible to get left behind, but i thank God, for if it didn't happen i wouldn't have met alvin.


2002 - right before everyone started uni:


2003: we grew up... and celebrated our 20th birthdays (xw's always the last).

this was our first & last pajama party. coz xw couldn't stand her makeup-less face. that zha bor.

we reveled in our new found freedom and clubbed...

(the wu-bar? da wu bar? dunno la. xw and i were just laughing about that club while we were at Butter last week.)



... and clubbed...

coco latte - xinwei's 21st birthday.

First road trip!!!

... and clubbed all the way to KL.


2005: xinwei's 22nd, at sentosa. crap, i need to find that stupid photo of xinwei again!!!


it's just one of those photos you NEVER forget.


2006: 23 years old.

gallery hotel, so we could club at coco latte. this was also the year i met alvin - i can tell because i'm wearing my favorite Franz Ferdinand shirt that he bought me!! woohoo!!

angel's birthday at the Marmalade Pantry (back when it was at Palais)

xinwei's 23rd - at copthorne waterfront. where did we go after all those drinks? TO ZOUK OF COURSE.

i also had the most haircuts in 2006 after suffering a devastating breakup AND THEN finding love again. upheavaaaaaaaaal...


2007: 24. this might've been the year xinwei & angel learned how to straighten their hair. mel was flying at this time with SIA, so we saw very little of her. shot below taken after my pomelo haircut, at the corner at PS before Tea Cosy took over. also, GRADUATION FOR MEEEE


2008 was the advent of Facebook SO there're photos a-plenty!

council gathering at david's - we are utterly shocked at this point we've been friends for so long. 'good grief, i'm still hanging out with YOU?!'

we took a wristwatch shot here, didn't we? but well, Ben & Jerry's at Dempsey.

we even went to the zoo, where xinwei was horrified by a mousedeer. she screamed and ran away. -_-

at our first wedding together. :)



2nd wedding!

road trip to malacca! see the bibik faces? wait, it's only me COZ THE REST PANG SEH.




how on EARTH did we not do anything in 2010?? is it because i was too busy planning for the wedding? can't be what - everything was left to the last minute! oh well...



YOU GUYS ARE MY BRIDESMAIDS. i look at you also feel like crying lor. sorry for making you girls sob while i was at the altar. :D

mel got hitched shortly after. we have no photos together though. i am sad.

this is the most radiant i've ever seen mel. :O


2012: NYE & NYD! it's hilarious how we're standing in front of my canvas of Manhattan. ON NYE.

yeah, we'll be here for a very long time. it's scary how much we've been through - even at one point we all almost went our separate ways but we stuck together. all the smoking, drinking, break ups, pregnancy scares, breakups, miscommunication and mistrust... it's probably not over but there is so much respect here, and we know how to beat the shit out of each of us especially when one is behaving stupidly. you girls are my therapy group, really.

also, we grand old ladies will making more memories in the third road trip this weekend! YEAH BABY - BIKINIS ON!


edit: wait i found the wristwatch photo!

tsk, tsk, xinwei...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Just Dance vs Dance Central

there is no fight. Dance Central beats the shit out of Just Dance. Just compare the two songs below:

SO DIFFERENT. Just Dance has too many repetitive moves but, man, they have such good songs! and why is it their dancers always look so... unkempt. their hair's all over the place and they look like they're wearing clothes from This Fashion. geez.

also, for Just Dance's version there's more of a full song experience (though they cut out the bridge for Only Girl - why ah? too much choreo?) while Dance Central shortens the song - but it's so freaking fast paced that if you do everything correctly and throw yourself into it the cardio workout is pretty intense.

and then there's this:

i love this song, and the choreo is... OKAY. i like the parts where you can face your partner to dance, that's a plus point, but there's so little of it. also, the female dancer is a poorer in performance as compared to the guy. she stumbles a little when she slides back in position.


there're other JD/DC overlaps like, Lena's 'Satellite', Britney's 'Toxic' (both covers, but the JD one is pretty annoying), Justice's 'D.A.N.C.E.', Benny Benassi's 'Satisfaction', and Bananarama's 'Venus'.

One thing's for sure - i wouldn't subject a gatecrashing bridegroom to Just Dance 3*.

*my friend's husband was made to do 'Venus' on DC during his gatecrash
in a straw skirt. awesome.



the good ones that i can stomach are Tik Tok, American Boy & ... no more. sigh.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

The trials of a first time gamer

i have never gamed before in my entire 28 (nearing 29) years of life.

so this morning when i told alvin, yeah sure get me on SWTOR (Star Wars The Old Republic), i wasn't really sure what I was thinking. i might have turned to SWTOR as a rebound from a very sad and disappointing installation of The Sims 3 (gawd, that poor resolution!).

disc 1, disc 2, disc 3 - dude, will my non-ga
mer friendly laptop be able to take this much pretty? got lightsaber fights, u know?

roughly an hour later, alvin came out from his shell (the master bedroom MASTER COMPUTERRR), logged into his swtor account on my laptop, and gave me his alternate character to 'play-play, have a feel'.

i watched the intro again. the full thing. and not as a wife watching over her husband's shoulder,


i felt invincible. omg, i was gonna be like Satele Shan and be all fiesty etc, and smack. the. shit. out of all those Siths. double lightsaber - GET!

i created my character. i knew i wanted someone hot, but didn't know i had a penchant for blindfolds. but the way they described her... using the Force to feel her way around; i don't know - it called out to me. and being a noob, i'd also like a handicap i guess...

'why did you run into that tree for?!'
'dude, i'm BLIND.'

ok character customization - done. intro for Jedi Knight - done. loading... loading...


i got distracted staring at the glowing blue bar and turned around to talk to alvin. minutes later, i realized i've been staring at the same blue bar - at the bottom it said 'press spacebar to continue'.

mildly embarrassed, i went, 'OH SHIT I'M SUCH AN IDIOT IT'S BEEN READY FOR LIKE, 10 MINUTES HARHAR' and hit the spacebar.

this is it guys. i'm going in.

i land on some planet and speak to some dude. man, he sounds holier than thou. maybe i should've been Sith. *grumble*

then he sends me on a mission.

A MISSION!!! what?! the conversation is over?


alvin must have been watching me because he runs over from the sofa and presses WASD for directions, and shows me how to use the map. i panic a little less. panic level 7.

WHEE SO FUN WE FLY IN A SPEED RIDER THINGIE! to the battlefield. where we're getting attacked by Fleshraiders (WHAT ARE THEY?! WHERE ARE THE EWOKS??) panic level back to 10. possibly 11.

'what do i do dear?! how to hit - can i shoot from far far away plsplsplsplsplspls i scared he BITE ME OMG'

at this point, alvin is really biting back his mirth as he coos & tries to explain how to attack. he killed 7 out of 10 Fleshraiders for me to gain XP. left 3 behind for me to try my hand on.

i put my fingers on my EXTREMELY foreign feeling laptop and tried to run.

i ran straight into a wall. 'u mean i can't climb?? OI WHAT IS THIS.'

i went near to a Fleshraider and he it spots me. i whacked him one time on the head with my lightsaber AND THEN IT STARTS SHOOTING AT ME OMG WHERE IS MY HEALTH BAR WHERE AM I GOING WILL I DIE GO AWAY GO AWAY

i found myself running away from the attack screaming in real life (ARGH ARGH) while alvin finally lost composure and outright laughed at me.

totally reminds me of the time i got attacked by pigs in New Zealand, screaming for alvin to help me while he just doubled over in laughter.


ALVIN STOP LAUGHING YOU SHITHEAD WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO. i ran back into the fight and killed that freaking Fleshraider because it embarrassed me in front of the love of my life, and then i killed another 2 more using my second attack (alvin kept shouting 'press 2! press 2!' 'YAR I AM TRYING ARGH ARGH')

after some flurry, XP GAINED!

my Sith master (alvin's an in-game Sith) gave me a few more pointers (you can bind here. you can sell things here. you get new quests here. can buy medical supplies here. *point*point*)



i get on with my quest (whee! i have two!) and followed the first arrow leading me to main mission.

30 seconds later, i got killed. :(((((((((((((

i should probably avoid the hordes, yo. back to base. try again!

along the way:

'- MUSHrooms... eh how you know. then why are they glowing?'

i tried to interact with the mushrooms anyway. nothing. me has a sad.


'bebbie i'm lost. T_T i cannot find the people i am supposed to look forrrrr...'

i alvin found Satele Shan and i was rude to her. :D

then i went to nap for 2 hours (IRL) because i was tired out from the fear of Fleshraider hordes and what. a. steep. learning. curve! MAN!

i am getting my own account now. be sociable again in a few months, guys.