Most of us probably have our favourite form of public transport, whether it’s a taxi, trains, rickshaws or whatever yours is. Well I have just found mine!
On a recent visit to the Maldives (what a beautiful place) we had to use taxis. We all have to use taxis from time to time, we’re all familiar with the Black Taxi in London or the Iconic yellow cabs in New York. Outside of Male which is the capital there are very few roads anywhere in the Maldives. Male itself is a small Island only two kilometres square with a population of 100,000 inhabitants. I guess you get to know your neighbours really well!
Anyway, to get anywhere you have two choices, to go by sea or air. We chose the later or Maldivian Air Taxis to be exact. They have a comfortable lounge located on the waters edge where you can sit with your chosen beverage watching the spectacle of the seaplanes coming and going, they look a bit like Gannets diving for fish. The one thing they do have of note is free public Wi-Fi, not a big deal, but a nice touch all the same.
When your flight is called, you are taken to a small covered outdoor area when you are given a short safety video, filmed on a beautiful sandy island and all very relaxing. Then you are taken to your aircraft and before you know it you’re taxiing out for take off. Apparently sitting in a De Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otter!
To some it can all seem a bit casual. Sitting on the plane I got a tap on my shoulder from my wife who was sitting behind me alerting me to the fact the neither the pilot, co-pilot or the guy sitting at the back with the luggage where wearing shoes! The reason soon would become clear after we landed. Wet feet! Climbing in and out of a seaplane all day with waves crashing around the pontoons would soon have shoes soaking wet.
After a short take off you climb to about 3000ft giving a great view of the capital Male and the various Atolls on your expedition. Yes you feel a bit like an explorer as it all feels a bit primitive, cramped and noisy, but none the worse for it.
After an all too brief flight you start your STEEP decent, at first I thought we where dive bombing the Island! All I could see was crystal clear ocean rushing up at us at 140 knots (I swear I heard the pilot say ‘tally-ho chaps bombs away’) then a quick flare, touchdown and it was all over. Now sitting looking though the pilot’s windscreen is something that not everyone will appreciate or indeed what to be subjected to. But it gives you a fascinating insight to what these guys call their office and the skill involved in getting you to your destination, in one piece!
You disembark, bags offloaded and they are on their way again within 5 minutes, very slick. Leaving you to endure 2 weeks on the white sandy beaches.