Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Maldives to Istanbul to LAX on Turkish Airlines

Here are part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4.

This is the final post of my vacation to Sri Lanka and Maldives. After an amazing time at the Conrad Maldives, it was time to leave. We were given a complimentary extra late check out because our flight leaving Malé wasn't until 10:30p and they didn't have a Trans Maldivian plane leaving the island until 6:00p. So we checked out at 5:00p and left our luggage in the room. It was eventually brought out to the departure platform. We waited in the lobby with the other parties until about 5:45p. The flight back to Malé was 30 minutes and it was the most beautiful and quick 30 minutes ever. An interesting fact is that the resort is an hour ahead of the capital city. They do this so you get an extra hour of daylight at the resort.

leaving the Conrad Maldives

descending into Malé
The airport is located on Hulhumale island, different from the capital city, Malé. It looked mostly residential with lots of buildings that looked like apartments.

approaching Hulhumale

feels like we are going to land on land

but we end up landing in the lagoon

all planes parking for the night
I didn't want to leave the TMA terminal because it meant that everything was ending. Our flight was one of the last ones to arrive at the seaplane terminal and the seaplanes don't fly at night so the entire fleet was parked at the terminal. We were then taken to the Conrad Lounge again where we started our Conrad experience. We were able to eat dinner there and wait until we had to check in for our flight back home. There were about 5 other people waiting too. We were there for about 3 hours. They had showers there too, which we used since our flight was an overnight flight.

shuttle van to the Conrad lounge
The terminal was bustling with many flights coming and going in the late hours of the night. The business class lounge was about full with almost no seats left. It was a common use lounge and many of the airlines use it. Since we had to walk out to the plane again, we got one last opportunity to feel the Maldivian air.

walking out to our Turkish A330

late night flight to Dubai, one of many Emirates flights per day to/from Maldives

the best lemonade
amenity kit for this 8 hour flight
my view for the next 8 hours

late night appetizer

late night main dish

arrival breakfast

Our flight arrived in Istanbul around 5:00a and the terminal was jam packed. I think many of the redeye flights from Asia and around the world land super early. There were lots of languages being spoken at 5:00a. Our connecting flight to LAX didn't leave until about 1:00p. So with about an 8 hour layover I booked a room at the airport transit hotel. You don't have to leave the terminal or security and you can book rooms in blocks of hours. I booked 6 hours and actually slept for about 4 hours.

early arrival at Istanbul

parked at a remote stand and took a bus to the terminal

TAV airport hotel, airside

The electronics ban was in full effect on this and all flights going to the US from Istanbul. All of the flights to the US were located at the end of the terminal so that they could control for the extra security. They set up a drop off system by destination and everything is taken from you that is larger than a cell phone. They tag each item and give you a baggage claim ticket for each item. Then the items are put into bubblewrap and put in a trunk that this then put in the baggage hold.

our 777-300ER to LAX

view from seat 2A

view for the next 13 hours

seat 2A

I've never seen this airline before, Taban Airlines

leaving Istanbul behind and flying over the Black Sea, which is very blue

nice touch


main dish

dessert and coffee

meal before landing

coming into Southern California 
The flight was about 13 hours long and we arrived in LA in the late afternoon. We were one of the first people in line to collect our electronics in the baggage claim area and I'm glad we were because the line was gigantic. We didn't wait that long for the electronics and our bags and that was the end of vacation.

By the numbers:
Flew 9 flights - LAX-Taipei-Hong Kong-Bangkok-Colombo-Malé-Conrad-Malé-Istanbul-LAX
Flew 4 airlines - EVA, Thai, Trans Maldivian, Turkish
Flew over 21,000 miles
Flew 2 777-300ERs
Flew 5 A330-300s
Flew 2 DHC-6s
Stayed in 6 hotels - Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, Hilton Colombo, Amangalla, Hotel Jen, Conrad Maldives, TAV airport hotel Istanbul
Entered 3 countries - Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Maldives

Sunday, July 9, 2017

The Amazing Conrad Maldives Rangali Island (lots of pictures)

Here is part 1part 2, and part 3 of my trip.

This is part 4 devoted to the Conrad Maldives. Getting to the resort by seaplane was definitely a unique flying experience. The Conrad consists of two islands for guests and one for the staff. There is a really long bridge connecting the two islands and in the middle of it is the seaplane arrival and departure platform. Our host greeted us and sat us down in the shade on the platform. There is an indoor lounge for those who want to get out of the heat. The staff brought around cold towels and fruit sorbet that was really refreshing. Our host walked us over to the water villa island to our room. We were in villa 346 which is at the south end of the island. It's the third from the last villa.

Our villa was amazing with unobstructed views and a jacuzzi on the terrace. There are large windows all over and the water is so clear that you can see fish without even going outside. Besides the day we arrived our days consisted of breakfast at Vilu, which was on the same island as our villa. Then get ready for the sun and pack the bag to go to the reef on the other island for snorkeling for a few hours. Then walk back to the villa and clean up. At 4:00p there was afternoon tea at Mandhoo restaurant which was back over by the reef. Then take the ferry boat directly to Vilu for happy hour at 5:00p. Go back to the villa to figure out dinner. Walk to dinner after sunset, because the sunsets from our villa were incredible around 7:30p. Then back to the villa and go to bed. It was the most relaxing time I have ever spent at a resort anywhere. 

walkway to villa 346

steps from the terrace right into the ocean

the jacuzzi had lights that cycled through different colors

this is the last villa on the island

both islands consist of sand walkways through what looks like jungle

there's a ferry that will take you from one island to the other

this is the overwater spa

this was a common scene with very little people around at all

these little birds have the largest feet

this is the view from the villa's terrace

this is the snorkeling beach

on our beach bag

at one of the restaurants they feed the fish and sharks every afternoon

that's me snorkeling
All of the underwater pictures were taken with my GoPro Session. I took a ton of pictures and videos but these are some of the best. 

the islands had a lot of active fruit bats all over the place and they are huge

happy hour at Vilu restaurant

afternoon tea time at Mandhoo restaurant

the bridge connecting the islands

artistic wall at Mandhoo