(Flights Gan – Male – Colombo – Chennai – Port Blair)
From the book "Straight to the South", part 2 "Shark archipelago", episode 16.
What a day! Together with the next night it was the hardest day on our trip. Rise in 3 o'clock in the morning, load suitcases on "doni", 10-15 minutes to the pier, transportation of luggage to the tiny airport Gan.. No a big problem, but we wanted to sleep brutally. And that also was disappointed that there is a direct flight of Sri Lankan airlines to Colombo from Gan, and we could save time and money if we would know about it.. But, to be honest, I did not even bother to study our route in advance, and I could not even imagine that we can fly directly to Colombo from such tiny Maldivian island. As a result, we boarded the Dash-8 200 twin-engine airplane at 5:45. We slept in flight, only sometimes for a moment opening our eyes and admiring the beauty of the heavens above the ocean..
At 7:20 the plane landed at the Male international airport. Bags go to the luggage storage (6 USD for 1 luggage), bought tickets for the ferry (1 USD per person), by the way we admired the boats scurry in the strait and the bridge being built from the city to the airport island, and 15 minutes later we finally moored.
A view of Male airport from the South
And this is a bridge under construction
And here we are in Male, in the hotel Skai Lodge, we took a room for a day for 52 USD to sleep. Here we had got breakfast for 6 USD per person – scrambled eggs with sausage, toast, jam, butter, coffee.. Quite well :)
Male has not changed from the last our visit here, it is still the same city-island-anthill. However, not so long ago there were political unrest, but on the day of our visit no tension was noticeable, only once a jeep with armed warriors passed us. The same narrow streets which are full of 'horsemen' on the motorcycles, frightening rare pedestrians like us, and subcompact taxi barely squeezes through, the same shops on every corner.. We found the hotel in which we stayed last time, this was the Boutique Hotel. Prices have increased significantly: if in 2013 we paid about 70-80 USD per night, now it takes 135-150. Well, obviously, because there is a lot who want to, there are not many decent hotels, and they have only 6 rooms, but so clean ones! Also breakfasts are fabulous here, this is one of the best restaurants in the city. The owner of the hotel is elderly European, married to a Thai woman, and she personally superwise the kitchen, so the quality is on top. Well, yes, the price is high, but.. We ate before leaving to the airport in an alternative Thai restaurant around the corner from this hotel – the prices are also high, but the food absolutely not tasty.. As everywhere, here in Male you need to have a good time to find good accommodation and food for the right price. By the way, the manager of the hotel told us where to spend a day for reasonable money, thank him.
Well. Around 18:00 we boarded the ferry again, took our luggage from the luggage storage at the airport, passed the border and pre-flight security check, where they taken away another my lighter, but this as usual :)
There is nothing to do inside of Male airport – duty free shop with expensive souvenirs, no restaurants and smoking rooms, sit in your chair if you're lucky to find a free one. We waited an hour – and went onboard of plane.
Sri Lankan Airbus-320 was not new, but still good, we took off on schedule at 20:45. We were well fed and even given a jar of beer, and after 75 minutes we landed at Colombo airport. There was bigger transit area, shops, restaurants, smoking room - all right. The luggage was sent directly to Indian Chennai, there was no need to go out. At 0:40 we flew Sri Lankan Airbus-320, brother to the previous one, and we landed in India later 2:00, almost on schedule. Time in Sri Lanka is the same as in all of India, +5:30 from Greenwich. But in the Maldives it was + 5:00, and it is important not to forget to transfer the clock in time to avoid, you know..
Chennai airport is large, we arrived to the international terminal 3. He was struck by its scale and elegant design of the walls – photos of Indian attractions, carved stone crafts.. But we had no time to consider them because a gap between the flights was only 3 hours. We quickly went through the customs, got the luggage and 5-7 minutes dragged it to the terminal 1, from where domestic flights depart. Naturally, on exit we've been rushed by taxi drivers and vary helpers: they suddenly decided to despoil uninformed foreigners and help them to overcome 400-500 meters for the wages of a lot :) But we, to their chagrin, asked at the information center, where we should go - the left and 5 minutes straight - and we walked a bit, and voila :) We checked at the head of the queue, in general, we managed all perfectly in time.
We took off by Air India's plane, also on Airbus-320, on schedule around 5:00, night flight over the Bay of Bengal took 2:20. On the way we were fed something spicy and vegetarian, and here at 7: 30 we, sleepy, waiting for luggage in the arrivals hall of the airport of Port Blair, but that the following story..