Flight from Gan to Hulhule in Google Earth

I took the flight operated by Maldivian on the way back to Male' from a little holiday to Fuvahmulah and Addu atolls last month and logged the flight path using the GPS on my phone. I finally had a moment today to pass the track log to Google Earth and look at it inside the program's great 3D visualization of the globe. And it looks atleast as cool as I had hoped!

The journey was logged from boarding to landing, from the Gan International Airport in Addu Atoll to Hulhule International Airport in Male' Atoll. To log the flight path, I used the free and very capable OruxMaps application for Android on my Google Nexus One phone (which was put in flight mode throughout). The track log was exported from OruxMaps as a GPX format file which can be read easily by Google Earth. The free application TourMaker helped convert the GPX data to KML code for a nice Google Earth "tour" of the path, which then I tweaked by hand a little bit to fit my liking.

Anyway, check out the video of the tour I made below. I am putting up for download, the raw GPX data (which contains latitude/longitude, timestamp, altitude, bearing and speed information) and the Google Earth KMZ files I made (one showing the flight path with altitude and the other a tour).

- Gan to Hulhule flight: GPX GPS log (Zip, 54KB)
- Gan to Hulhule flight: Google Earth tour (Kmz, 40KB)
- Gan to Hulhule flight: Google Earth track (Kmz, 37KB)

Back from Makunudhoo

They say time flies when you are having fun but I reckon time flies even faster when you are bored shitless - like when I've been since arriving back from Makunudhoo two weeks ago...

I had a terrific time in HDh. Makunudhoo, exploring the island itself and the neighbouring three uninhabited islands, all of which lie within the same 17 mile long reef. Makunudhoo is amongst a natural geographical atoll called "Maa Makunudhoo Atoll" which sits situated all by itself in the North of the Maldives, displaced slightly to the West from the typical Maldivian North-South stretch of atolls (see map).

Makunudhoo is famous for being the home to President Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom when he was sentenced to banishment during President Nasir's rule. The owners of the house he stayed in then, infact, now proudly hang pictures of him on their walls! The island also played host to the infamous Bodufenvalhugey Seedhee who gained country wide fame for his supposed supernatural feats and healing powers - abilities which led to the "Seedhee" title. He is (still) well-respected by the elderly for feats as "walking on water" across the seas, instantaneous travel, healing the sick, "helping" the infertile conceive etc. His long abandoned house in Makunudhoo now lie in ruins.

The sea, the reef and the lagoon of the atoll were nothing short of being deliciously exquisite and as a Maldivian who'd been away from these beauties for a number of months, I was simply overwhelmed! I hadn't seen starfishes, jellyfishes, different kinds of rays, turtles, dolphins, eels, sea cucumbers and multicoloured fishes and numerous weird sea creatures for ages and it was a thrilling experience to see them again while snorkelling in the reef and/or while strolling along the beach. Most notable was the presence of turtles in and around the atoll. We even sighted turtles cruising in the shallow waters near the beach. I also got to travel to the west-most piece of land in the Maldives - which is one of the uninhabited islands in the Maa Makunudhoo atoll. Exploring along its beaches and lagoon made it clear that the island was slightly different from the typical rest I'd seen (but then again, I haven't seen much of Maldives!).

I was pretty sad to hear that the island people still do catch turtles, which are a protected specie in the Maldives for fear of extinction, for food and that too on a regular basis. I'm not a particularly big supporter of the animal protection schemes but these animals, if they do disappear, are something I would miss indeed. There were other sea animals that had depleted significantly as well - including sea cucumbers and "raakani" (English name?) - which were aplenty in the atoll when I visited the place 10 years so ago!

I've uploaded some of the photos from the trip to Flickr. Check 'em out!

UPDATE (18/08/2007): Azeem has uploaded a lot more beautiful pictures from the trip to his Flickr gallery as well.

West-most piece of land in the Maldives
The west-most piece of land in the Maldives!

Trip to HDh. Makunudhoo

I left for Makunudhoo earlier today to do some work and try have some fun at the same time (or vice versa!).

The jump upto Haa Dhaalu atoll (Hanimaadhoo), for the sake of cutting down travel time and cutting down on sea-sickness of my trip mates, was taken on a plane and another jump from there to Kanditheemu (via Kulhudhuffushi) done on a speed boat and the last leg upto Makunudhoo completed on a traditional "Masdhoani" admist rough sea.

There's no bloody publicly available Internet here except via GPRS on my Dhiraagu mobile, which turns out to be extremely slowwww. I've just given up after trying to post some pictures of the day.

Adios for now...

Visit to the Manchester Museum

Museums are among my favourite places. Never do they fail to instil a sense of wonder and belittlement in me... especially the sections on pre-historic life and cosmology. I spent the day at the Manchester Museum yesterday, ogling and gawking at all those things on display.

I adored the dinosaur on display - a Tyrannosaurus rex named Stan. It is a cast replica from the original and consists of 199 bones that have been discovered. Standing at about 20ft tall and 35ft long, the thing is just gigantic. I only come up to its knees! I was introduced to dinosaurs when I was very young via a book on dinosaurs. It came with special glasses for viewing the special 3D renditions of dinosaurs, including a T Rex. Yet, none of the books, pictures or even movies prepare one for the massively awe-inspiring sight of a real-life fossil reconstruction of the beast!

Anyway, here are some snaps from the museum visit.

Gautama Buddha

Egyptian mummies

Mummified remains of Asru, a chantress at the Temple of Amun in Karnak.

A fossilized ammonite - Ammonites are an extinct group of marine animals that lived 400 - 65 million years ago.

Fossil evidence of fern-like plant (from around 600 million years ago)

Australopithecus Afarensis (3.9 - 2.9 million years ago) - The hominid ancestor that gave rise to modern Homo species including humans!

Early homo sapiens (400,000 - 10,000 years ago)

Guess what this is? It has hands, no legs, a huge tail and a great big head.

Fossil remains of a dinosaur-like sea creature (205 - 146 million years ago)

Sea scorpians and jawless fish from the Silurian age (439 - 409 million years ago)

A reptile from the Triassic period (250 million years ago)

Stan, the Tyrannosaurus Rex (dated to 65 million years ago)

More of Stan...

A few of the beetles on display - With about 350,000 different species of beetles around, they are dubbed nature's favourite!


In Malaysia - first impressions...

Selamat Datang! I am in Malaysia at the moment after flying into Kuala Lumpur yesterday. I am here on a business trip and plan to stay put for a week.

This is one country I hadn't been to before and so was quite surprised by the sights. I quite like the looks of the things around here. The city is landscaped amazingly well and gives the impression of being well developed. The airport, the public transport system (LRT) and the buildings are very admirable.

The shops are vast in number and there seems to be quite a lot of range - in quality and variety - available here. Most noticeably of all, the price of things are very much affordable (especially compared to the UK!). :-P

View out from Immi's room

India bounce photos

Here are a few photos from my recent trip bouncing around in India.

Ooty: Spotted deer at the wild life preserve

Bangalore: Lal Bagh Botanical garden

Bangalore: At the tech museum

Sunflower fields lay here and there on the way to Mysore

Mysore: Bull temple

Mysore: Most astounding Tippu Palace

Mysore: Fountains

Masal dosa for brekkie.

FortKochi, Cochin: Dutch cemetry

FortKochi, Cochin: Chinese fish nets still in use.

"Urine Prohibited" ?!

Coonoor: Monkey enjoying a meal?

Coonoor: Tea field reaching out to horizon all around

Coonoor: Houses

Coonoor: Mountain view

Bouncing around in India

Ah! I just got back after two weeks of "backpacking" in India. With my girlfriend as my travel buddy, we hit parts of the state of Kerala and Tamilnadu - Trivandrum, Kochin, Ooty, Mysore, Coonoor to name a few interesting cities. We were able to pull off the entire trip on a looowww budget of 200$ or so for the entire trip - minus the Maldives-India air tickets ofcourse.

We stayed at low class lodges; some had walls that were peeling off, some had bed covers of questionable cleanliness and all had bathrooms with low toilet seats accompanied by broken/no flushing mechanism. Despite that, for some weird reason, most of them had a TV. I kept to trying out and eating mostly Indian sort of food at standard Indian food stalls. Masala dosa and South Indian Idli passed my taste bud tests ;-). The India chai (tea) became one of my favourite drinks. It tastes heavenly compared to the normal "packet" tea we drink usually. The dodgier food stalls seemed to make better chai than the (better) restaurants - really!

Traveling around was what took the most time out of our schedules. It was a very tiring activity too. However, traveling around was easy thanks to their extensive bus system. We avoided the more expensive auto rickshaws and chose to acquaint ourselves with the cheaper-yet-crummier buses which turned out to be a really fantastic mode of travel in India. We traveled mostly during night time and spent daytime exploring and sightseeing. The buses make stops every few hours for food to fill the hungry stomachs and also for toilet escapades to empty up the screaming full bladders.

Fending off from all the "businessmen" that kept on popping up every now and then annoyed me heaps - they don't bugger off when paid a 1 rupee coin unlike the myriad of beggars that pound at you for some money. Almost everyone seems to attempt to swindle you out of some money - so when it comes to ANY monetary transaction one has to be on total guard. I reckon this is especially true when they figure out we weren't locals. Sadly, we spoke zilch of Hindi and thus were easily marked as being "foreigners". That said, the younger generation was admittedly more helpful - they kindly gave us directions and (most in Kerala) seemed to speak good English.

It was definitely a fun and enjoyable trip. The temples, the palaces, the gardens, the museums, the galleries, the backwaters, the tea and coffee plantations, the mountain tops, the waterfalls, the journeys to-n-fro, the people and the animals made the sightseeing very exciting. However, what impressed me most of all, was the harmonious coexistence of all that diversity that populates the land. It was very impressive indeed!