Thawing out after a long Siberian winter with lots to celebrate

Living in Kazakhstan, and especially Astana, Travis and I are acutely aware of the remoteness of our location. Some argue that it’s one of the more isolated places in the world (particularly considering it’s a capital city) when you take into account proximity to major cities. The closest metropolitan cities (e.g., Moscow, Dubai, Beijing) are at least 3.5 hours away by plane.  We continue to travel often for work and pleasure throughout Europe, Asia and the US and our minimum flight time on our first leg of any trip is about five hours.

After a long and harsh winter and lots to celebrate – our one-year anniversary and a baby on the way – Travis and I sat down with a map to make special travel plans. Typical for us, we had less than a month to pull everything together when we were finally able to confirm a break in Travis’ work schedule. We had some “requirements” for this trip. We not only wanted very warm weather, but also warm water. We needed a break from minus 40-degree weather, layering and jackets. We also desired a new destination to explore and minimal flight time was important to me given all the travel we’ve already logged. Given that our trip was the end of April, finding a location with warm weather and water narrowed our focus to locations in the south. Easy. But then the travel times and in some cases health requirements (we didn’t have time to get required vaccinations for some destinations) made this exercise a bit more interesting.

After much consideration, we settled on the Maldives and boy, was that a good decision!  As I write this, it’s funny to me that the Maldives were the easiest location for us to access, but that’s what makes our experience in Kazakhstan so unique. The flight is doable (about eight hours in total) with a layover in Dubai where we stay for a night or two to spend time with family. Eight hours to paradise is a perk of living in Astana!

The Maldives is one of the most unique countries in the world consisting of approximately 1,200 small coral islands grouped in a double chain of 26 atolls (a ring-shaped coral reef that encircles a lagoon partially or completely) spread over 90,000 square kilometers. Is it true that I’m slowly adjusting to what some may argue is the more logical metric system? Each resort is located on its own private island, complete with a secluded coral reef just steps away. We stayed at two different resorts while we were there to get a change of scenery and a different experience.

The trip was unforgettable! We had the best time snorkeling, swimming, eating fresh seafood, relaxing, discovering the islands by foot and bike and Travis got to scuba dive. Pregnancy and scuba diving don’t go well together, but according to Travis and supported by pictures, the snorkeling was just as great as the diving. Each time we snorkeled we encountered various shark species (white-tip and black-tip reef sharks and nurse sharks), turtles, tons of fish and vibrant corals. We also did some night snorkels that were exciting and allowed us to see different sea life. All in all, the trip was fantastic and we’ll definitely go back! I often daydream about this trip in particular – in part because of it’s purpose, but also how beautiful it was. I think about the colorful reefs and crystal blue water for as far as the eye can see. It was everything a post-Siberian winter and celebratory trip should be and much more!

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