Magnificent Maldives

Maldives is an Islamic country, located in the southern part of Asia. This country consists of many atoll (islands), which explains why it has so many beautiful islands along with the underwater creatures and beaches. There are many cheap flights from Jakarta to Male International Airports with overlay in Kuala Lumpur or Singapore. Return ticket price can be from 3.000.000 to 4.500.00 IDR per person. This type of flight does not include baggage. I, myself bought the ticket from London and I spent around 7.000.000 IDR for a return ticket.

Maldives is known for it's fancy and expensive resorts. As the tsunami stroke this country circa 2004, many hotels and guest houses are open to increase their income. When arriving in Male (Velana International Airport), you will not be asked for a visa, as this is a free-visa country. You will only need to show some proof like hotel booking, return ticket, and passport for entering Maldives. This airport has free wi-fi, but it only works well on the arrival and food court area. You can buy a sim card with data in the airport (going right when you leave the arrival), with many options such as 7 days or 14 days data with different prices for each quota. Some say that the best provider for sim card is Dhiraagu. There are also ATM and money changer when you're going left after arrival. If you're quite a backpacker, you will need a lot of Maldivian Rufeeya (MVR) but if you stay in the resort, you can use USD currency.

Maldivian Traditional Hammock
Since I have a limited budget, I will only explain the prominent things as a backpacker in Maldives. I brought my daughter to this trip, so I did not want to rush everything and planned to have longer rest than playing with the waves. So here is my itinerary:
Day 1
after arriving in Male airport at night, we then take a bus to Hulhumale. Instead of staying in Male, I prefer Hulhumale as Male is super crowded and not a friendly place for children. The bus cost to Hulhumale is 20 MVR per person from the airport. We stayed at UI hotel for one night.
Playground in Maafushi
Day 2
We had a breakfast in the hotel, then continued our journey. We took the same bus to airport as we needed to catch a ferry to Male, then Maafushi. Actually there is also a ferry from Hulhumale straight to Male, but the bus to the ferry terminal does not allow baggage to be carried. The ferry from Airport to Male is available every 30 mins and it takes about 3 USD for 3 persons. From Male, we need to take a cab to the ferry terminal that will bring us to Maafushi (Villingili Terminal). The cab price is a fixed price, 35 MVR with luggage and 30 MVR with no luggage. The ferry schedule from and to Maafushi is only available 1 - 2 times a day.
Ferry Schedule

You should be aware that any activities including transportation is not operating on Friday in Maldives. You need to manage your itinerary well if you don't wanna waste your time there. We arrived in Maafushi on at 16.30, welcomed by the hotel staff. They will bring some kind of cart to carry your luggage to the hotel. We took a rest that day, and had a dinner in Harbour Cafe, near the port. Compared to any other restaurants, this place offers more affordable price. Most restaurants take both USD and MVR but in Maafushi, they mostly take MVR. If you wanna have some excursion the next day, you can book at iCom tour. They provide many excursion from Sand Bank tour, snorkeling, Resort tour, and many more. That night we booked a sand bank tour for 3 people. All tours will be a lot cheaper if you have more people joining.

Sand Bank

Day 3
We departed from the port at 8 am and took a speedboat to the sand bank location for 10 mins. Sand bank is a bunch of sands where if the tide is high, the sands will also drown. Sand bank is a must visit excursion if you plan to visit Maldives. iCom also offers many snorkeling tour but I chose not to because I bring a child and to be honest, I already get bored with the activity :P
We got back to Maafushi and had lunch in the hotel. Each hotel in Maafushi normally provides food, where the price range is not too far, except the fancy ones. We stayed at Royal Pearl Inn, a very recommended place if you're on a budget. We booked a resort tour that night at iCom to Kandooma Resort. That was the most expensive resort tour, but we thought that we have come this far to Maldives and stayed as backpackers in Maafushi so we would like to get the best of experience here.

Harbour Cafe Menu
Day 4
We departed from Maafushi at 8.30 and finished the tour at 17.00 in Kandooma Resort. When we arrived there, we were so much welcomed by the staff there. The place has so many good facilities from infinite pool for adult and kids, waterpark for kids, bungalow resort, and off course beautiful beach along the island. The lunch was nice, and it's already included on the package (150 USD per person).

Kandooma Resort

Day 5
The last day in Maafushi we just would like to stay in this island all day. We visited the Bikini beach, whilst in any public beach it's not allowed to wear a short clothes as this is a strict moslem country. Bikini beach in Maafushi is so beautiful, just like any typical beach you'll see in Maldives. My daughter swam on the beach for the last three days until she got tanned very severely lol. You can also purchase souvenir near the bikini beach as it is cheaper compared to other places in Maldives (2-4 USD per fridge magnet).

Bikini Beach 
Day 6
We left Maafushi at noon, as per ferry schedule. The hotel staff helped us bringing again our luggage to the port. People in Maafushi are so nice and humble. It took us 2 hours to arrive in Male. After arriving in Male, we stayed there for a night to give our body a bit rest as this trip was arranged to be very relaxing to avoid any sickness. Male is a very crowded city as we intended to leave as soon as possible lol.

Even the water at the ferry terminal is so gorgeous

Day 7
The next day we were going back to Hulhumale from Male by ferry and bus. We stayed another day as the place is more comfort and closer to the airport. We stayed at the same hotel, but this time we got better room. Surprisingly, the beach behind our hotel is beautiful. We spent our last day in Maldives by the beach once again.

Beach in Hulhumale

Day 8
We checked out and leaving Hulhumale by bus. If you're not on budget, you will be directly picked up by helicopter or speedboat to the resort. As we had plenty of time here, it was not too exhausting taking this backpacking trip.

Velana International Airport
We had so much fun in Maldives. It took a bit effort as it was difficult to arrange the itinerary with minimum information. Here I share my itinerary to give insight if you plan to visit Maldives. Trust me, this is way more affordable than staying at the resort. If you have any questions, feel free to ask on the comment section. 

MUSE - "By Request" Intimate Show

When I knew I will be studying in the UK, one of my bucket-list is to watch MUSE live in concert. By the time I got here, I never heard they would start their UK tour. Yea they haven't released any new songs as well. But after several months, they finally released a new single called Dig Down (which I do not really like), and they announced that they will play in Leeds (25 August 2017) and Reading Festival (27 August 201). In terms of location, Reading is much closer, so I immediately bought the ticket. Weeks later, They suddenly announced that they will play a London Benefit show. That means that the benefit from this show (19 August 2017) will be given to raise funds for homeless people at The Passage. Interestingly, this gig will only play "by request" tracks from fans who have the tickets. I WAS SO THRILLED OMG!! I would let go my Reading Fest ticket if I got this Intimate Show ticket-pass!! FYI, the date of Reading Fest is very near from my Dissertation Project deadline so it would be great if I just watch this special show. At first, I lined up on the ticket webpage for pre-sale, but didn't get it at all. I missed it as they were sold out in less than 3 mins! I had to wait until they sell it in normal time, but still I need to hurry and be very lucky as the venue is intended for 2000 ticket holders only. My second chance had come. After struggling from the first minute,  I finally got the ticket YAY. However, you can't choose whether you'll get a seat or standing ticket (it's a chance by luck only). And the tickets were sold out too in less than 30 mins. When I know I already got the ticket, I sold my Reading Festival ticket through Viagogo.

Ticket holders can submit up to 10 tracks of their own setlist and muse will play (eventually) 18 most selected songs. They sent me the code to submit my request a few days later. In case you wanna know my request: Futurism, Nature_1, Microcuts, Eternally Missed, Fury, Citizen Erased, Reapers, Do We Need This, Butterfly and Hurricanes, and Stockholm Syndrome. I actually wanna vote for Hyper Music as well, but the system didn't let me if I already chose Do We Need This. And my number 1 fav track is actually In Your World, but it's not available on the list. Seriously, most bands don't often do stuff like this, they normally hold big concerts to promote their current album only. Off course hardcore fans wouldn't miss this chance to submit some rarities.

I was this close
As the venue is at O2 Shepherd's Bush London, I went by bus from Coventry after lunch time. As I got there, I spent a bit time in a mall near there and I lined from 4 pm. When I was in queue, Dom Howard appeared to greet the fans. OMG I couldn't even take good quality photos of him (cries). After Dom left, Matthew Bellamy appeared. This time he was really close to me but there were many stronger and taller fans near me so I couldn't force them to move just to ask for a single selfie :((. I was devastated but yeah I was all alone there so I could only went back to my line, waiting for the gate to open. I thought the show would start at 7 pm, turned out that's the opening gate time. I need to buy another bus ticket as I already bought earlier bus ticket. After the gate opened, I bought an official t-shirt merchandise and went straight to the level 2 seating area (that's where I got my seat). I still need to wait for more than 1 hour until the band starts. This is where my heart started to pound. Tom Kirk (forever best friend and a road manager) always updated muse's instagram so I kept being updated with the information before the show. He said that there would be some rarities and old songs OMG. He also streamed the whole show via instagram live.

Before the show begins
Before the band starts, a guy from The Passage was giving speech saying thank you for muse to be involved in this charity matter. Approx 10-20 mins later, the band finally showed up. They came with the first song, Assassin (Extended version). As there were only hardcore fans in this building, they were all like singing the extended lyrics when muse play the outro. This track was first played again since 2007. The whole O2 Shepherd's Bush were ecstatic when they played Deadstar afterwards. This one's also every muser's favourite rarity. Everyone had bet that this must be played in this show haha. The next one is Muscle Museum. I was quite surprised this one's gonna be played. Not really my fav but this is one of muse's legacies. We got a heart attack once again. Easily. Yes that one had never been played before. The band also said that probably they won't play this again. This one is from Starlight's single. Not everyone's cuppa tea, but such a rare memory to witness this track is being played by them. To add the surprise effect, they were also playing Glorious. OMG this song is rarely brought, they sometimes played this in Japan but this time they specially brought to this intimate show. Last time they played it was in 2005, even before the track was released. It is a bonus track from Black Holes and Revelations (Japan version). Now I know why this stage was named an intimate show. You would definitely sing along although the rarest song was played during the show and wouldn't hear any beats like Starlight or Time is Running Out. The next one is Butterfly and Hurricanes. This is a unique one although they played it in Jakarta circa 2007. This song always has that magic, particularly when Matt played the piano part. The next one is my favorite song ever. Maybe you can guess if you know me from a long time haha. Yepp, Citizen Erased. This beautiful 7:19 min song, the only track with 7-string guitar, combining psychedelic and rock together in different parts, and is also included in the best ever album of muse, Origin of Symmetry. As I was born in 7:19 (July 19th), this song has always been on the list as my favorite (hahah). Nevertheless, I often feel (like most of the time) that I wanna be a citizen erased. I never like being a center of attention, and better get erased than being present but get abandoned. Yeah, just skip that part of my mumbling haha. After they tore our hearts with such mind-blowing tracks, they had a break by playing Munich Jam. It's so typical, but we never get bored to that tune though. They continued again with Showbiz. OH MY GOD. This is the best track ever, EVER in Showbiz, their very first album. I always get carried away with this song, not to mentioned in this show. They closed it with Ashamed outro, making this tune even more majestic. Additionally, this is the first time they played it again since 2006. They also played Fury after showbiz. Ughhhhh so many good quality, heart-melting, and such memorable yet touching songs they played for us. I don't think the audience will sing along like this if muse brought these kind of songs in their regular tour. Interlude was then heard slowly, we kinda knew that they might play Hysteria. This time I saved my energy by not really sing along. Turned out I recorded this one as a video that I only fully recorded from my cam-phone. They continued with the classic New Born. This one was played as well in Jakarta back in 2007. They still have that vibes thou with Agitated outro for a closure. The last one (before the band came out with encores) was Yes Please. This track is one of a kind from Hullabaloo (the album dedicated for fans who demand rarities). This one came with Reapers outro (a song which I voted but did not came out).

They turned back to backstage without any words and We all knew that this was sort of code for encore. After several minutes, they returned and greeted us again. They said that the next one is a song that they never thought would be much voted by us. Turned out they played Sing for Absolution. Yeah I never thought as well they would bring it up to the stage. They also played Plug In Baby, a masterpiece from Origin of Symmetry. The next one is unbelievable. A song that I loved so much when I was really really an alay hardcore fan (lol), Futurism! I once told Matt during a press conference in Jakarta (you can read my story here) that it was my fav song of all time. I am so lucky to have this gig in my life. Thank you scholarship, I wouldn't experience this if I didn't get you hahah. Then Chris started with his harmonica playing A Man With a Harmonica intro. Fans normally would have guessed which song that will be played after this melody. Yes, Knights of Cydonia. This must be the very last track they're gonna bring. We, fans, always have that goosebumps whenever this song is played during the concert. It is always a best closing, although when in Jakarta they put it as an opening. I never wanted this show to be over but it should have been. We all then scattered from the building, and waited outside near the fence, waiting for the band to greet us. After 30-40 mins waiting, they did not show up. I decided to go home as the latest bus will leave in a half hour. 

O2 Shepherd's Bush London
For me, this show has the best setlist EVER (call me lebay but I cried during Showbiz & Citizen Erased) compared to 2 muse concerts I've seen previously (Jakarta, 2007 and Singapore, 2015). However, I still have a project dissertation to be done, so I needed to go back to Coventry as soon as possible, and missed Leeds and Reading festival as the dates are not possible to attend. Moreover, I still wish to have more concerts of my #1 fav band in the future. This show is definitely scores 10 out of 10 (although with no confetti at all).

Bath and Bristol

Royal Crescent
In this final phase of study, I felt a bit stressed out due to my final design project (MSc Thesis). I need to have a break during this stressful yet tiring stage so I proposed a road-trip to Bath and Bristol. My friend and I preferred to rent a car instead of going by train/bus as it was a lot cheaper. We heard that Bath is beautiful and we had never been there previously so we intended to visit them. We hired a car from Europcar, a well-trusted rent-car company in the Europe. They accept Indonesian driving license as long as we do not stay longer than one year since we arrived to the UK.

The Circus
Beautiful buildings in Bath
The trip to Bath took a 2-hour journey with a slight congestion. When we arrived in Bath, we looked for parking lot that has long duration as we wanted to walk by foot there. We parked our car in The Podium Car Park as it has a large area for parking and longer duration compared to street parking area. Our first stop was The Circus and then Royal Crescent. It is truly suitable for those who love to do picnic especially on summer days. We also walk around the Bath city, as it has scenery similar to most cities in European countries. If you're currently in the UK and have no time to visit European countries, Bath represents this very well. You can also visit Roman Baths and try the Royal Bath Spa for a quite expensive experience. Don't forget to have a nice cuppa tea or coffee in one of the coffee/tea shops here for a more relaxing ambience.

As the time is running out (and the time for parking is limited to 4 hours only), we then moved to Bristol. We visited Clifton Suspension Bridge (yeah we're those civil engineering geeks). There is a petite castle as well near the bridge, as the great view of the bridge can only be seen from there. Unfortunately the weather was not really good so we need to go home in the evening. We went back to Coventry and stopped to ALDI for grocery shopping (in case you wanna know lol).  
Clifton Suspension Bridge

How to Fast during Traveling (Euro-trip in Particular)

One of my goals when I had the opportunity to study in Europe is take a euro-trip. Either it's by train, bus, or car, I want to feel and see the beauty of Europe by my own eyes. It is very hard to arrange the euro-trip from England, as I have to apply for Schengen visa, as well as looking for the right moment to do the trip. Apparently master degree in the UK has a very tight schedule as it is only 1 year calendar academic. Moreover, every course in each uni has different schedule so I can only have the chance to travelling with my course-mate (apparently my house-mate too lol). We then noticed that after term 2 exam, we will have like a 3-week holiday before starting our final project dissertation. That's the only possible dates so we applied for Schengen visa earlier, and chose Italian embassy for the application process as we will spend more days in Italy.

I have mentioned and shared my journey on each place during my euro-trip on previous posts, and maybe you also noticed that my trips were done during Ramadan. If you have questions in mind like, did I fast? The answer is, yes. So how did I fast during my journey while it was on summer and I should fast for 18-19 hours a day? Here I would like to share the tips if you're gonna have the same condition where you should travel for days while fasting, particularly during summer time.

Mostly fasting in European countries during summer will have iftar (breakfasting time) at 9-10 pm. You may also find some restaurants or fast food corners that are closed during that time. My suggestion is, you can have fun all day in one city until 6 pm circa (or maybe earlier if you're tired). I suggest that time to finish your journey because it is hard to perform praying during the trip so you may pray for Zuhur and Ashar in the accommodation after travelling. If you have finished your wandering, you can look for a place to buy meals. For this case, you can always buy the food for iftar and don't forget to buy some for sahur as well, earlier before the shops are close. You may choose like take-away option, or buy frozen food that can be reheated later and eat in the hotel/apartment. You may take a power nap before iftar time, as you'll be more tired after wandering around and fasting at the same time. Once you have had your iftar, you may have your prayer afterwards. The time between Maghreb and Isha is very near so you can read Quran between the two prayers. Once you have finished all the prayers (you can also have Tarawih if you're not too tired), you can have your sahur then. Remember, don't take too much food during your iftar because you need to reload your stomach for sahur too before the morning prayer. If you're lucky enough, there are places near Mosque in some part of the European countries so you may join for iftar until Tarawih prayer. The morning prayer in Europe summer time is usually at 2 am, so after finishing your prayer and had sahur, you can wait for the morning prayer. If the morning prayer is due at 3 am, you may take a nap after Isha (and Tarawih if possible), then wake up again at 3 am to have sahur and then take the morning prayer. I'm sure you will not have any difficulties regarding Kiblat as it is easily accessed by many applications on any smartphones. You can have a full rest after all your prayers and sahur. Don't worry, summer days in Europe last for hours, so you can start your journey at a very late time like 10 or 11 am (or maybe 12) in the morning and finish the journey during iftar time if necessary.

Another thing is, you can always bring a little Quran during your journey, and have a read between prayers, or during your journey between cities in the train, bus, or plane. You can also rely on e-Quran on your smartphone but I prefer a physical one. I also did my prayers during journeys between cities. People will always notice but who cares? As long as we fulfilled our obligations during Ramadan it is fine. It's normal as well to have a drool during the days, I also wanted to have gelato during my trip in Italy, or croissants when in Paris. You can have gelato after iftar as gelateria are everywhere like every 100m available in Italy. If you crave for foods like croissants or pizza, you may have them for or after iftar. Don't forget to check your accommodation is it near many restaurants or not, so you don't have to go farther from your place if you want to buy foods for iftar or sahur. If you have a very long journey like 2-3 weeks, maybe you can break one or two fasting days but I don't suggest that as I'm not a mufti of such who has that ability to measure the allowable things in Islam or vice versa (plus, you travel for fun, not for a critical thing). Hope these tips can help, and you may ask me further questions regarding this topic if this thread is not thoroughly covering your search.

Paris, France

Arc de Triomphe
Paris was our last euro-trip destination before we get back to England. We took an air-plane there from Geneva, as it is cheaper compared to bus or train. Though still can't move on with Switzerland, I still need to continue my journey. We landed in Orly airport Paris, then took a metro to get to our bed and breakfast. Yes we used so many airbnb rooms during our trip as it is a lot cheaper, and has faster wi-fi lol. Also, they provide washing machine, tumble dryer, and kitchen too. We need to wash our clothes when it is a very long trip, right? I craved for a Belgian waffle that day so we went out after put our luggage to the bnb and had a delicious Belgian waffle and we also had crepes, lol! We took a rest on day one, and started the journey in the morning.

Oh so delicious desserts
Our first trip was going to Arc de Triomphe. It is one of the most famous monuments in Paris, in Champs-Élysées. We then moved to the famous Eiffel Tower. When we arrived, we need to walk like 10 minutes to figure out the location, and stroll around for hours to get the best spot in Eiffel. We then visited Pont Alexandre III, and went straight to Musée du Louvre. Please beware of scams near these areas, they may trick you with card games or offering humanity petitions. Paris is indeed a very romantic city, if you put aside the criminal thing. My partner got scammed near the Louvre, thus he then did not have any intention to continue the trip.

Musee du Louvre

The next day we actually did not want to go anywhere, but we ended up getting bored and decided to look for a park nearby. We visited Buttes-Chaumont Park, had a stroll until we get so bored. Then during our way home, we decided to buy super delicious croissant near our place. Yes, our very intention to visit this country is to try their delish desserts. I still remember how good it was when I had the croissants, super yum!! I then also met my undergrad pal who works in Paris in the evening, and we would like to have an iftar that day, as I was fasting during the trip. We met and went to Sacré-Cœur previously, a cathedral that is located in the highest level in Paris. There, we can see the whole city of Paris, with beautiful landscape. My friend said that it was not as crowded as it is now. Then we moved to Notre Dame for a while, and went to Republique to look for a restaurant to dine in. Republique is the location where I stayed in. You will never regret visiting Paris if you look for a place to eat like crazy. 

Buttes-Chaumont Park
Sacre Coeur
Notre Dame with Bosil, my undergrad buddy
I then took a rest in the bnb since my flight was the next day at noon from Orly airport. We took Orly bus as it is the most affordable yet convenient transportation from Paris to Orly. We had a flight to Birmingham, since it is much closer to Coventry than arriving in London. Also, sometimes the flight from and to Birmingham is a lot cheaper than London airports. 
Musee du Louvre


Switzerland in a picture
I was really expecting my trip to Switzerland would be amazing, as it was my intention to visit Meiringen and Lucens, where there are two spots related to Sherlock Holmes to be visited. We took a train from Pisa to Lucern, then continue to Zurich airport. We booked a car to be picked up there, as it is cheaper to book a car from the airport. We then had an overnight as well in Zurich. At first we were shocked by the food price there. It is pretty expensive compared to other countries in the Europe. We stayed in airbnb, and had a stroll in the evening around Zurich city center. Zurich is a lovely place, more to a civilised area in Switzerland.

Reichenbach Fall
In the morning, we went to Meiringen to visit Reichenbach Fall. We were going through such beautiful mountains and lakes during our road-trip, and passed many road-tunnels. As we are currently studying tunnel engineering, we were so excited and nerding around about tunnels during our journey lol. When approaching the area, we went through many steep roads before arriving to the destination. When we arrived in the Reichenbach Fall, we needed to pass also steep walks, before finally seeing the Fall. When we arrived in Reichenbach Fall, there lies also beautiful Swiss alps, yet we were pleased by the scenery and fresh air there. Just for your information, Reichenbach Fall is a tale place where Sherlock Holmes defeated Moriarty and survived. 

Reichenbach Funicular
Serlock Holmes museum, Meiringen
We also took Reichenbach funicular from car park to the fall, and then visited Sherlock Holmes museum near the area. It will take approx 1-2km away from the fall to the museum. Don't worry, it is not that far as you can enjoy beautiful scenery of mountains and lakes during your walk lol. The area is also well-arranged for Sherlock Holmes tour as there are many hotels and restaurants with Sherlock-esque ambience. When arriving in the museum, there will be a huge statue of him in front of the place, and there are useful information along the walk from the statue to the museum. The museum is not quite big. It is located on the basement, equipped with electronic information through personal earphone, which is not available in London's museum. You can also buy some souvenirs there, and have a meal outside the museum as there is a restaurant named Conan Doyle Place. The museum itself is open at 1 pm. The museum ticket is already included if you buy the package on Reichenbach Funicular (and is very cheap).

Meiringen Area
Sherlock Holmes museum, Lucens
We then got to our car, continuing our journey to Lucens. We intended to visit the other Sherlock Holmes museum in Switzerland there, but unfortunately it was close when we arrived. We just took some photos of the museum, and then we decided to visit the nearest lake to had a rest. We finally visited lake Gruyere, about one hour from our next stay. We instantly sunbathing after seeing many people also swam and had picnic lol. We could not help the fresh lake water and also did swim there. After spending more than an hour in lake, we then finally finished our journey in Switzerland and had a stay in Romont area. Surprisingly, this is the best journey we ever had in our eurotrip, as we were satisfied by the beautiful scenery of lakes and mountains, no pollution, and experiencing one of the best road-tunnels in Europe. We would definitely visit again if we had the chance.
Lake Gruyere
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