The consolidated trip report covers the recent trips of UCAR/JOSS staff to India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives in preparation for the INDOEX Project. Participants included Sawyer, Moore, Gamage, Williams, Martin and Gandrud. The report is broken into sections so that relevant details can be easily found. Most sections are relevant to our visit to the Maldives. There is an Action Items Section at the end of this report to summarize the next steps in INDOEX support activities.
The trip was successful in gathering a great deal of information concerning support that may be forthcoming from the nations visited. In addition, outstanding issues were better defined that will require our attention over the next several months as we move toward the field study phase in 1999. The information in this report is general on many topics. Specific information and instructions on logistics and other support will be contained in a series of information bulletins that will be sent to all participants in the months before the IOP.
One important statement made to the survey team by the Maldivian Government officials is that INDOEX has been officially approved for support by the government. It will possibly therefore receive special considerations and concessions regarding leases, customs, and possibly some other fees and services. In addition, the Maldives Ministry of Planning, Human Resources, and Environment (MPHRE), has been given responsibility for coordinating INDOEX activities in the country and assisting with project support.
There is one important conclusion that applies generally for all interactions with the various agencies in these countries. It is very important that inquiries and requests to these groups be handled in a coordinated fashion so that the agency personnel are not confused by multiple requests for INDOEX support from multiple sources. It should be possible for facilities and investigators to work together to develop requests that minimize duplication and confusion within the agencies of each country. One recommendation is that this February 1998 site survey trip and coordination with JOSS be mentioned in any correspondence with the nations involved.
The Primary point of contact for all INDOEX-related issues in the Maldives is the Maldives Ministry of Planning, Human Resources and Environment (MPHRE). The Minister of MPHRE is Abdul Rasheed Hussain. The Deputy Minister is Mr. Abdullahi Majeed and he will be our PRIMARY CONTACT PERSON for INDOEX matters in the Maldives. Majeed should be copied on all correspondence with ANY Maldivian government or private agency concerning INDOEX activities. The reasons for this are to keep him informed of INDOEX activities as well as to open up the possibility for help from MPHRE or cost concessions on INDOEX related requests. He has an assistant who was very helpful during our visit. His name is Mr. Mahmood Riyaz. The complete address at the MPHRE is:
Deputy Minister Abdullahi Majeed
Ministry of Planning, Human Resources and Environment
Ghaazee Building, Male, 20-25
Republic of Maldives
2.0 Maldives Visit
2.1 General Operations Space Issues
The discussion below presents four options that are being considered both for aircraft facilities and for operations center support. (The likely use of the space described in each option is noted.)
Option 1- The location is the National Security Service (NSS) building adjacent (<100 m) to the Air Maldives hangar on Hulule. This building offers approximately 3500 sq. ft. (maybe 1750 sq. ft. on 2 floors) of air- and non air-conditioned space.
Option 2- There is existing limited space (450 sq. ft.) at the Maldives Meteorological Dept. located on Hulule 500 m from the NSS Building. The MPHRE Minister is pushing hard for us to use this space along with additional building expansion.
There is approximately 450 sq. ft. of existing office/lab space (2 offices) that can be provided. There is another area (currently used for storage) that nets an additional 200 sq. ft. Any additional space would require an addition to the existing structure.
Option 3- Space in a new State Trading Organization (STO) office building on the wharf on Male Island was discussed. This is not a particularly desirable option but certainly possible.
Option 4- Two other possibilities were explored. We looked at the Teachers College in Male and found adequate classroom space to meet our needs. The space was empty and apparently unused at the time we visited but we did not confirm its availability during the entire experiment period. Mounting the satellite antennae seem possible on the roof of the college but line-of-site to the airport island is problematic.
It is our preference to have all INDOEX operations support facilities on Hulule'. Communications issues for all of these options are discussed in the communications section. Transportation to/from the center is discussed in the transportation section and is dependent on the final location (either Hulule or Male).
2.2 Summary of Operations Center Options
Potential space for the operations center has been discussed above. Even though we prefer to collocate aircraft support and operations, it is feasible to have the operations center on Male, if necessary. The NSS building on Hulule is the preferred location for operations. It will be straightforward to add LAN, phones, etc to the building, and all satellite receiving antennas can be located nearby. An operations center at the Met. Dept. is only possible if more space is added to the existing building. Again, LAN, phones, and satellite antennae can be located there without difficulty. Any site on Male adds complexity to the implementation. Communications issues that need to be discussed when considering two locations for major INDOEX activities are covered in the Communication section of this report. Approval to place satellite antennae on the roofs of buildings must be obtained once a decision is made about location.
Our recent request to MPHRE makes the requirement for space at the Met Dept (option 2 above) critical to our support. The ability to have all support on Hulule is desirable but a split configuration on both Hulule' and Male' can be accommodated as 30 minutes for the boat commute between the two islands is not a big problem.
2.3 Operations Test
We watched activities at the airport (especially during busy flight operations times), responses to requests for fuel, and availability of meteorological data required to assist with INDOEX operations. Initial impressions are that Male International Airport is not a busy terminal for scheduled commercial air service. Records from Male Airports Authority (MAA) show that there are typically under 20 "operations" (large commercial aircraft take-offs and landings) on a given day. The most ever at Male were 32 during a recent international conference. There are slightly more operations in the morning than at times of day. Monday, Thursday, and Saturday are busier, at least for the weeks' sample dataset we received and from personal observations.
One complicating issue is the larger number of small aircraft and helicopter operations that occur daily at the airport. There was no obvious "busy" time, but seems to be a constant flow of sea planes and helicopters in an out of the terminal area. This general aviation activity must be accounted for when considering the placement and use of special research instrumentation such as high-powered LIDARs and balloon-borne sounding systems.
The runway configuration requires that (aircraft arriving or departing) use the runway as the taxiway to/from terminal parking. Therefore, the actual time impact of each operation on the runway availability is greater than for airports with separate taxiways. INDOEX operations between 0630 and 0900 LST might encounter brief delays. This should be considered in flight planning, but the impact should be minor.
The Maldives' economic zone that stretches to 200 n. mi. from the island coasts. It will be necessary to obtain permission for any data collection in these areas. This will include all ship measurements, rawinsonde launches, and low-level aircraft intercomparisons with the Kaashidhoo Climate Observatory.
2.4 Aircraft Support
Meetings were held with staff from the Maldives Airports Authority (MAA) and Air Maldives. Primary contact with the MAA is Mr. Ali Hussain Didi, Deputy Director Air Maldives contact for INDOEX is the Engineering Manager, Mr. Mohamed Hameed. Aircraft support at Male Airport will be accomplished by contracts between Air Maldives and individual aircraft facilities. MAA and Air Maldives share responsibilities for support. For example, MAA handles fuel and food while Air Maldives handle the cleaning of airplanes. Our agreement is to prepare a support request letter to Air Maldives with a specific list of items from each facility. MAA/Air Maldives will coordinate support items.
Three aircraft can be supported at Male. Parking locations may not be optimal and office space for aircraft facility support staff remains to be determined (see section 2 above). MAA has no enclosed space for our project. Discussions with Air Maldives leave open several possibilities for space. It is possible that a very limited amount of air conditioned office space (<500 sq. ft.) might be made available in the Air Maldives hangar. There is some additional space on the hangar floor that can be used for equipment storage and or non-air conditioned office/lab space. Air Maldives said that bids are being received at this time for a ramp extension in front of their hangar and additional office space totaling maybe 1300 sq. ft. at the hangar. Hameed was optimistic that the work will be completed before INDOEX needs space and he would consider INDOEX use of the space prior to their own occupancy. Our belief is that while this solution is possible, INDOEX should continue to develop other options.
Existing ramp space in front of the hangar is very tight. Air Maldives parks several small inter-island aircraft there now. Two jets could probably park at this location without too much trouble. Locating the C-130 here is difficult, if not impossible, as things currently stand. In addition to a narrow taxiway, there are questions about whether the C-130 weight exceeds taxiway and ramp specifications (quoted as PCN-9) in this area. Air Maldives showed us drawings of a major ramp and taxiway modification now being considered near the hangar, which would double the width of the taxiway (to approximately 60 feet) and nearly double the available ramp space near the hangar. Even if all these improvements are completed by February 1999, it may still be difficult to get access to this new area because Air Maldives has recently purchased an Airbus A-320 and they intend to park it in this area for maintenance. It is clear that everything is negotiable if the expansion occurs. However, the probability that this expansion will be completed prior to the INDOEX field phase is low at this time.
Nevertheless, the C-130 and other two aircraft have been "assured" ramp space on the new extension (now nearing completion) near the main terminal building. There is, however, no office space immediately adjacent to this area. It is approximately 500m from the Air Maldives hangar and 250m from the Met. Dept. The aircraft facilities will have to be "mobile" as far as aircraft and instrument servicing are concerned. The availability of cars/trucks was not discussed. A request for rental vehicles will be included as part of a request letter to Air Maldives. We did not see an independent rental car agency during our visit. It is likely a lease could be arranged with Air Maldives.
It will be possible to obtain a blanket clearance for INDOEX aircraft operations out of Male. A letter will be sent to the Director, Civil Aviation Department, 6 weeks before flight operations will commence, that describes operational dates, participating aircraft, copies of insurance, air worthiness certificates and registration for each aircraft, and some evidence of 3rd party liability insurance coverage. This letter of request will be coordinated through the aircraft facilities and JOSS before forwarding to the Civil Aviation Department.
Other detailed findings relevant to NCAR/RAF and other aircraft support in general:
Again we emphasize the importance of coordinating with JOSS the request for aircraft support services for all INDOEX facilities operating out of Male International Airport. None of these facilities can be dedicated to INDOEX aircraft facilities. They must be shared among project participants and other Male Airport users.
2.5 Maldive Meteorology Department/Meteorological Data Support
The Maldive Meteorology Department compound (view 1, and view 2) located at the center of the airport (Hulule) and consists of a series of buildings (approx. 5000 sq. ft) that house a forecast/map room, computer room, office (potential use for INDOEX), technician's work area, classroom (potential use for INDOEX), employee lounge/sleep area, balloon inflation shed, and two storage areas (non-air conditioned but potential use for INDOEX). The department is headed by Abdullahi Majeed and is well staffed (approx. 12 employees including two duty forecasters). The staff appears eager to help provide meteorological support for INDOEX operations. Current routine data ingest/capabilities on-site include:
1) A Chinese analyzing Forecasting Data processing Operational System (AFDOS) system (Version 5.0) which has the capability to ingest model output/products, satellite imagery, and GTS data. Currently, the system ingests only model products and limited GTS data. The system ingest could be upgraded for INDOEX needs. Currently no routine archiving takes place.
2) A European Satellite Distribution System (SADIS) system which ingests GTS, Terminal Area Forecasts TAFs, surface/upper air analysis and model products only (no imagery). Currently no routine archiving takes place.
3) An AVHRR satellite system which receives Global Area Coverage (GAC) at 4 km resolution. The system maintains current ephemeris information and automatically locks-on and tracks the NOAA satellites. The data are not routinely archived, but capability exists for raw data on 9- track spool tape or processed images on diskette (four 512 x 512 images per diskette).
4) An INSAT image receiver which obtains processed re-transmitted (hourly delay) INSAT imagery (visible, infrared). Currently the imagery is printed using an Alden FAX at approx. 16 km resolution and poor contrast. This display might be upgraded for INDOEX using an Indian developed PC system interface.
5) A WF33 windfinding system which is currently not working (same at Gan). Once per day Pilot balloons (PIBALS) are released at 0600 UTC (11 AM LT) and manually tracked to approx. 1-2 km AGL. No other sounding capability exists.
6) A complete meteorological surface measurement instrumentation system which records 24-hour, hourly observations. Similar capabilities exist at 5 other surface sites throughout the Maldives which record hourly and transmit 3-hourly GTS messages during daylight hours only. All surface data are archived at Hulule and could be made available for INDOEX.
There is good 360 degree exposure and room to install the INDOEX SeaSpace Terascan satellite receiving system on-site with adequate staff to maintain the system prior to the INDOEX Intensive Field Phase. One potential polar orbiter satellite POES antenna site is on a tower which currently contains the non-working WF33 windfinding antenna. There is adequate lawn space east of the meteorology department for the geostationary antenna. Application for access to this area for locating the antenna will be made during the summer of 1998. The antenna and mounting should be well below any height restrictions in the vicinity of the runway and all power and data cables can be laid out of harm's way.
There is currently limited office space within the Department to potentially house INDOEX operations. Three possibilities exist: (1) the use of a training classroom (approx. 300 sq. ft); (2) The use of storage space (approx. 200 sq. ft) which would have to be cleaned out and air conditioned; and (3) an office (approx. 100 sq. ft).. The office could be used to house a data server and archiving system (close proximity to the computer room) and the TeraScan system. Potential exists to expand facilities by approximately 2000 sq. ft. if needed (by INDOEX) (see General Operations Space Issues). One of these locations can be dedicated to INDOEX aircraft facilities.
Telephone and Telegraph Facilities
International Direct Dialing (IDD) telephone and telegraphic services are available 24 hours at Dhiraagu's office (the local phone/communications company) in Male. All resorts have IDD facilities, even though only a few have telephones in the room. The phone system uses standard US-style RJ-11 phone jacks and wiring. U.S. Phones and faxes can be used without special permission and are compatible with the local system.
Communications within the airport island is provided for free, but does not enable outside calls. Public phones and hotel phones can be used for national/international calls, public phones require one of two types of phone cards (chip or magnetic strip, the former being the new standard) and can be purchased everywhere (e.g. upon arrival at the airport in the souvenir shop).
Public phones and hotel phones can be used for national/international calls, public phones require one of two types of phone cards (chip or magnetic strip, the former being the new standard) and can be purchased everywhere (e.g. upon arrival at the airport in the souvenir shop). All resorts have IDD facilities, even though only a few of the larger ones have telephones in the room. The Maldives phone system uses standard US-style RJ-11 phone jacks and wiring. U.S. phones and faxes can be used without special permissions and are compatible with the local system. All calls within the Maldives are subject to local toll charges for time.
Paging and cellular phone service is available with full coverage in Male and Hulule. The analog cellular service is fully compatible with the US analog system. The service provider (Dhiraagu) will program a phone number to a user owned US phone, if the phone has dual-numeric assignment module (NAM) capability (i.e., two phone numbers from different service providers, a common feature of most cellular phones). Cellular call charges are about 0.10US$ a minute. This may be a viable option for many of the individual phone line requirements at INDOEX operations center.
Networking, E-mail and Data Services
The local Internet Service Provider (ISP) is the telephone company. Excellent dial-up point-to-point (PPP) service is available for short time visitors for up to three months.
The ISP operates two links to the Internet (256Kb and 128 Kb). Dedicated internet access at 128Kb is available on Male with 64Kb service available in Hulule. If line-of-sight is available, a 2.4 GHz radio link could bridge a Male' operations center with a Hulule' facility. The ISP could also provide a 128Kbps link using existing lines between the two facilities.
All INDOEX networking needs can be provided in the Maldive Islands.
Meteorological Data sources
Due to the geographic location, all GTS data is available from WSI Inc, via Intelsat satellite. The Maldives meteorological department has the ground equipment needed to receive the broadcast with a very limited subscription. INDOEX will need to enhance the data set with additional subscription services. The extent of these enhancements has yet to be defined.
UCAR/JOSS will install a receiver capable of receiving METEOSAT and polar orbiter data in Hulule.
Radio License Requirements
The project is required to obtain a special permit from the Ministry of Post and telecommunications for frequency clearance for all radios (HF, 900 MHz data relay, if used, etc.) as well as satellite receivers, LIDARs and upper air systems. JOSS will pursue the details of this request over the next several months.
2.7 General Logistics
The Maldive Islands are located off the southwestern tip of India in the Arabian Sea. They are low-lying islands, barrier reefs protect them from the effects of wind, rain, and monsoons. The rainy season is from May to August, while there are dry, mild winds from December to March. The average annual temperature varies from 86° F (30° C) to 76° F (24° C), and rainfall averages about 84 inches (213 cm) a year.
How to Get There
There are no direct flights from the U.S. to Male. As of February 1998, the best connections into Male are via Dubai on Emirates Air and via Singapore on Singapore Air. Both airlines have local offices in Male.
Other possible connections include: from Dubai on Air Maldives; from Kuala Lumpur on Singapore Air; from Madras on Lanka Air; from Delhi on Lanka Air; from Delhi on Air Maldives; from Bangkok on Singapore Air; and from Hong Kong via Singapore Air.
If your travel funds are provided by one of the U.S. Federal agencies, regulations under the U.S. Fly American Act apply to air travel. Service by U.S. carriers is available from the U.S. to gateway cities (such as Dubai and Singapore).
A passport is required. Tourist visas are issued upon arrival at no charge. Visitors must have proof of onward/return transportation and sufficient funds for their stay.
Visitors get a 30-day visa on arrival. A landing card must be filled out. Photographs are not required.
Extension of Stay
Extension of stay (past the initial 30 days) will be granted on a case-by-case basis if required. Application needs to be made to the Immigration Department well before expiration of the fist visa. Many INDOEX participants will be required to stay longer than the 30 days granted with the visitor visa. JOSS is working with officials of the Ministry of Planning, Human Resources and the Environment (MPHRE) to establish a system to obtain extended-stay visas. Details will be provided soon in an information bulletin.
Customs - Arrival
Import of the following items is forbidden unless prior permission is obtained:
NOTE that all resorts in the Maldives have permits that allow the controlled import of alcohol and pork, so visitors who need either need not worry. However, because alcohol is not permitted in Male, a special permit may be obtained which will allow the purchase and consumption on the Kam hotel property of alcoholic beverages. JOSS will work on these details with the Ministry. Items exceeding a total value of USD200 needs to be declared, and import duties will have to be paid on items which are not taken back by the visitor.
Customs - Departure
The export of controlled items such as ambergris requires a special permit and payment of export duties.
Airport departure service charge: U.S. $10 per passenger (these taxes are subject to change).
Hulule International Airport
Hulule Airport is an island that looks more like an aircraft carrier from the air. Hulule Airport is a short boat ride from Male. Helicopter and seaplane services are available to transfer passengers to outlying resort islands and offer sightseeing flights. Internal flights to northern and southern atolls also operate from Hulule.
Immediately upon leaving the terminal building, you can find various representatives of resorts and travel agents. Travel representative also wait on the lookout for the very few who arrive without prior bookings.
There is an airport restaurant serving simple meals and refreshments. Money changing facilities are also provided. In general, currency exchange is not necessary in the Maldives. Most all businesses and restaurants take U.S. Currency and most credit cards.
There is no scheduled ferry service to the resorts, and each resort makes its own arrangements. A ferry service (dhonis) operates to and from Male, with frequencies dependent on demand. The fare varies, from a few Rufiyaa for sharing a dhoni to several dollars for a speed boat.
Airline counters are only open and staffed during flight times, and the airport can seem deserted just minutes after departure of the flight.
There are just a few basic methods of transportation (not counting the taxis on Male, which costs U.S. $1:
Dhonis, medium-large, wooden boats with diesel engines are the cheapest alternative to get from island to island. Dhonis are recommended only for distances up to 25 km, as anything further will take significant time to reach (25 km is about 1.25 hours). It takes approximately 15 minutes to go from Hulule to Male. Dhonis can be had for $80 all-day. The fee for the transfer between Male and Hulule varies between U.S. $1 (day rate) to U.S. $5 (night rate) and to U.S. $50, depending on the time of day, weather conditions, etc.
Speed boats are the much faster but also more expensive alternative. In good weather they can cost nearly $400 for mostly all day to $120 for 15 minute ride, again depending on negotiating (but there is a limit to this imposed by high fuel costs for these boats). Generally it costs U.S. $16 or more for one-way transport by speed boat between the resorts and Male.
Air taxis (sea planes) are becoming more popular and will hopefully become cheaper in the future. A round-trip to e.g. Helengeli is regularly $150 (15 minute each way, 1.5 hour by speed boat, 4-5 hours by dhoni). Lower fares can be negotiated for regular shuttle transfers. Irregular flights need to be booked well in advance.
In general, any transport between islands is awkward, lengthy and/or expensive. Negotiating should be done in any case and repeated use of the same vehicle gets cheaper rates and better service. INDOEX operations will most likely have its own, dedicated boats following a routine schedule during the intensive field phase; however, choices of pick-up/drop-of locations will be limited.
Many people on Male use motor cycles or push bikes to get around. Bikes might be an interesting alternative for quick trips around the islands. We noticed a couple of bicycle shops selling new bikes for around U.S. $225. We did not see any used-bike stores and were told that bike rental were no longer available on the island.
Recent medical and dental exams should ensure that the traveler is in good health. Carry appropriate health and accident insurance documents and copies of any important medical records. It is advisable to know your insurance policy's regulations regarding air evacuation. Bring an adequate supply of all prescription and other medications, including a spare pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses if necessary.
Although the water in the Maldives is derived from seawater desalination and rainwater accumulation, it is advisable to drink only bottled beverages (including water) or beverages made with boiled water, and do not use ice cubes. Bottled water is readily available at local stores and hotels. Also, do not eat raw seafood, rare meat or dairy products. Eat well-cooked foods while they are still hot and fruits that can be peeled without contamination.
Swim only in well-maintained, chlorinated pools or ocean water known to be free from pollution. Wear clothing that reduces exposed skin and apply repellents containing DEET to remaining areas. Sleep in well-screened accommodations. Carry anti-diarrhea medication. Reduce problems related to sun exposure by using sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats, sunscreen lotions and lip protection.
Medical facilities are limited, and some medicines may be unavailable. The ADK Hospital, Henveiru, Soasun Magu, Male, seemed to be more than adequate with regard to treating routine problems and capable to stabilize a patient until medical evacuation is possible. Although doctors and clinics often require immediate cash payment for health services, ADK has previously worked with the same insurance company as the UCAR-provided American International Assistance Services, Inc., and is willing to establish a billing system for INDOEX project participants. Details of this system will need to be developed and other INDOEX participants must make arrangements with their own health insurance providers or pay in cash and get reimbursed later. Foreign medical insurance is not always valid overseas. Supplemental coverage that specifically covers overseas treatment has proven useful. Information on health matters can be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at 1-(404) 332-4565, Internet: www.cdc.gov.
There are number of other details concerning local diseases and related preventative measures. JOSS will be preparing and distributing an INDOEX Medical Bulletin that will include all of this information. This bulletin will be available far enough in advance of the field season to allow immunizations or other measures to be accomplished.
Currency and Banks
The Maldivian Rufiyaa (abbreviated as Rf. or MRf.) is made up of 100 larees. The current exchange rate to the US Dollar is around MRf.11.72 per U.S. Dollar.
Foreign exchange facilities are available at all resorts and banks. Guests staying at resorts can settle their bills in foreign currency. It should be noted that the U.S. Dollar reigns supreme over all other currencies in Maldives, and it is likely that the exchange rate for other currencies is slightly worse. Every shop is allowed to change money or accept U.S. dollars for payment, although payments of Rf-priced items in dollars are usually rounded unless the exact exchange rate is requested. Hotels were able to cash travelers checks in U.S. dollars (subject to availability of cash).
Banking and Business Hours
Normal banking hours are: 0900 to 1300 on Sundays to Thursdays, and 0900 to 1100 on Saturdays. Friday is a holiday. Government offices are open from 0730 to 1330 daily except on Fridays, when they are closed. Shops and private businesses often stay open till very late (around 2130).
Major credit cards are accepted by most resorts, but payment for a booking deposit by telephone is not generally accepted. In some cases, shops in Male may try to add a surcharge to the purchase price if payment is made by card
Hotels in Male
There are only a few hotels in Male and most cost an average of U.S. $60 to $85 per night (which includes breakfast). These hotels provide clean, albeit spartan, air conditioned rooms (be sure to request AC when booking) with double beds and enough space to do some work. They all have a restaurant on the premises or nearby. Fax and phone (very expensive!) are available. Phone calls to the U.S. from hotels cost from U.S. $7 to $10 per minute.
Our experience in this part of the world is that a hotel "confirmation" does not mean what it does in most of the rest of the world. Although we did have confirmations, we found ourselves being moved to another, related hotel, or even pushed into rooms without AC, etc. There may not be alternatives, so be prepared.
A few of the hotels in Male are:
1. Hotel Alia - Haveeri Higun Magu, phone (960) 322080 (17 rooms)
2. KAM Hotel - Meheli Goalhi Magu, phone: 320611-2, fax: (960) 320614, e-mail: email@example.com (31 rooms)
3. Kai Lodge - H. Manduedurugr, Violot Magu, phone:(960) 328742, 329114, 329115, fax:(960) 328738 (18 rooms)
4. Nasandhura Palace Hotel - Boduthakurufaanu Magu, phone: (960) 313075, 320807 (32 rooms)
We met with Mr. Jude De Silva, Manager of the Kam Hotel and the Kai Lodge. He showed us the new addition to the Kam Hotel, which will contain approximately 56 units with attached sitting room, kitchen nook, and individual bathrooms. There are various configurations of these rooms: some with 4 Bedrooms connected to the sitting room/kitchen, some with 3 and a few with 2 bedrooms. Although this building is under construction, Mr. De Silva was very convincing that it would be completed in time for our use. Also, the top floor could be used for meeting space. Details will need to be worked out with regard to cost, what additional needs should be considered, etc.
Male also has a few "bed and breakfasts" or residence hotels. One such place is called the Buruneege Residence, Henveiru, No. 5, Hithaffiniva Magu, Male, 20-05, Republic of Maldives, phone: (960) 318289; fax: (960) 318278. An A/C Single is U.S. $29 per night, and a double is $38 per night. They also have non-A/C rooms for less. All rooms include a continental breakfast. The guesthouse is in a quiet neighborhood and offers comfortable rooms with attached bath.
Resorts in the Maldives
There are more than 74 islands resorts (ranging from 0 [I'm not exactly sure what that means - tents?] to more than 250 rooms) currently operating in the Maldives. They range in style from the Spartan-adventurous diving resort to almost plush resorts. The resorts are designed for European tourists to fly into the Maldives, take boat transportation to their resort, spend 10 days on the beach, fish, dive, and then return home. Transportation between the island resorts and between Male is expensive. Although most resorts have several restaurants, most have one main kitchen with auxiliary kitchens in each restaurant locations: therefore, most of the food comes out of the same kitchen. The rooms are a bit nicer than those found at hotels in Male, but the cost is about $260 or more per day (for full board).
It seems that the Government and one of the Resorts, Bandos, may have some sort of arrangement, as the Ministry kept pushing us to talk with the Bandos management. We could get the costs down by about 50% which included a variety of full board, half board, etc. However, availability of rooms is still a problem.
A few of the resorts are listed below and some published costs, for general information. A full listing can be obtained from the JOSS office. Most of the resorts are fully booked for the next two years or more. However, a small number of rooms may be picked up from time to time.
Bandos Island Resort (221 Rooms)
Baros Holiday Resort (U.S. $ 265 full board) (71 Rooms)
Biyadoo Island Resort (96 Rooms)
Club Med/Farukolhu Fushi (152 Rooms)
Embudhu Village (116 Rooms)
Full Moon Beach Resort (Furana Fushi) (U.S. $265 full board) (156 Rooms)
Fun Island Resort (Bodu Finolhu) (100 Rooms)
Holiday Island (Dhiffushi) (125 Rooms)
Kanifinolhu Resort (150 Rooms)
Kuramathi Tourist Resort (U.S. $190 full board) (202 Rooms)
Kuredhdhoo Island Resort (250 Rooms)
Kurumba Village (Vihamanaa Fushi) U.S. $265 full board) (187 Rooms) (note that a boat transfer from the airport to Kurumba is U.S. $85, one-way)
Laguna Beach Resort (Velassaru) (115 Rooms)
Lhohifushi Tourist Resort (130 Rooms)
Meeru Island Resort (214 Rooms)
Vilamendhu Resort (100 Rooms)
Ziyaaraiyfushi Tourist Resort (93 Rooms)
JOSS is in the process of negotiating financial arrangements with lodging vendors. Once we are better able to commit to our room requirements and when the vendors can assure completion dates for various construction projects, JOSS will issue an information bulletin providing more detailed information regarding sites available through JOSS at a reduced price, the process to obtain these rooms, and financial arrangements.
Restaurants are generally good, clean, and serve good food with quite some variety. There is Italian, Chinese, Thai, Continental and other restaurants, all of which try to provide a variety of foods (the most common one is Indian). Bottled water is standard almost everywhere. Restaurants on Male , Kaashidhoo and Hulule (in general, any native island) do not offer any alcohol in any form).
What to Wear
A relaxed pace of life and the temperature demands that the dress code be decidedly informal. Light cotton clothes and casual shoes or sandals are the most comfortable year-round attire. A wide brimmed beach hat and sunglasses are recommended. Most of the larger resorts would prefer guests to "dress appropriately" when visiting the bar or restaurants, especially at evening and night. This normally means smart casual dress instead of beachwear.
When visiting Male and other inhabited islands, visitors should bear in mind that, in this Islamic society, some modesty and decorum is expected.
Postal and Overnight Delivery Information
The General Post Office sells stamps and runs other postal facilities, including mail courier and other premium services. Delivery times for mail to and from the Maldives can vary from a week to a fortnight depending on the destination and the frequency of flights.
DHL Worldwide Express is located at the Cyprea Hotels & Travel Pte Ltd., Ground Floor, 25 Boduthakurufaanu Magu, Male, telephone: 326688; fax: 323523/314177.
There are two local dailies written in Divehi. Both papers carry one or two pages in English, with the emphasis very much on regional matters. Several local periodicals are also published, mainly in Divehi.
Some resorts provide international dailies such as the Herald Tribune and weeklies such as Time and Newsweek. These are also available in Male.
Radio and Television
There are no independent broadcasters. The Government radio and television stations broadcast regular news and entertainment programs, which do not normally run for 24 hours except on special occasions. Most resorts have now installed satellite television receivers for viewing CNN and regional broadcasts.
The local electrical power is 240v, 50Hz. Maldivian power plug, the central prong is ground, the right is phase, the left is neutral. The phase is internally fused.
Maldives is 5 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). When it is 1200 (noon) in the Maldives, it is:
2300 hrs. (previous day) in San Francisco
0000 hrs. in Denver
0200 hrs. in New York
Information on Crime
Although there is a low rate of crime in Maldives, petty crime does exist. Valuables left on beaches are subject to thievery. The loss or theft of a passport abroad should be reported immediately to local police and the cognizant consulate or. embassy--some of which are in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
An overnight visit was made to Gan (pronounced like "can") in the southernmost atoll at 1 degree south of the equator. The Gan airport runway (8700 ft) is concrete and in excellent condition. It will handle any aircraft planned to be used by INDOEX. The primary contact in Gan at the MAA was Mr. Mohammed Naseer located in the ATC building. I spoke with him and they can help, if needed. The contact with Air Maldives is Mr. Adam Shafeeg, Station Manager. All arrangements at the Gan Airport will be made through MAA in Male. The airport is not manned 24 hours/day but can accommodate day/night operations.
Facilities are available for refueling of the two research jets (French and Dutch) with no problem and a one day alert although there are no hangar facilities at this location. Gan could be used by the C-130 for refueling with notice to assure that appropriate fuel reserves were available. There is typically about 50,000 liters on hand in Gan. The single fuel truck is capable of delivering 4500 liters at a time.
If it is desirable to locate other instrumentation, such as the German LIDARs on Gan, there is plenty of power available to support temporary installations. There is a 3300 kVa main line that encircles the airport. There is good open space for visibility in most directions and aircraft activity is quite low (<5 per day in the afternoon) at this location. Lifting seatainers off of LTERs and transportation around the island seem possible with existing equipment but further specific investigation is warranted should this be needed.
Lodging is available at the Ocean Reef Resort located about 1 km from the airport. It has 85 fully air conditioned rooms with full board food service (decent food) available. The hotel has a very large swimming pool and day trips can be arranged for diving, fishing, etc. The un-negotiated rate that I got for one night's stay with meals was $75 USD. This location should be considered if one wants peace and quiet without the full frills of the resorts closer to Male.
4.0 Sri Lanka Visit
Sri Lankan Meteorology Department
NOAA HRPT Data archive
Upgrades to the HRPT receiver system (vendor: UKWtechnik) consisting of addition of a 2 Gb hard disk subsystem and a 10Gb tape drive were completed successfully. The UKWtechnik software is designed to run on the MSDOS 6.1 operating system and has not been upgraded by the vendor since 1995. After minor problems associated with the addition of new hardware to older equipment were solved, the data gathering operation is proceeding smoothly. Since the native supported format for data archival on the HRPT system was a proprietary format, INDOEX related data archival is being done in a NOAA Level 1B format. Data archival began on February 1, 1998 and will proceed until the April 15, 1998 with a possibility of extension up to March 27, 1999. A first look at the archived data indicates that the 5 channel AVHRR data is of good quality. Re-navigation of the data using good satellite ephemeris data is required before the data is released for research use. The data will also be converted to the low resolution GAC format to support the CIDS data request for INDOEX.
The proposed plan for HRPT data processing and distribution is:
(1) re-navigate all the data for the period February 1 to April 15, 1998,
(2) produce a reduced resolution GAC data set
(3) convert the data to Terrascan TDF format, and
(4) release the data set via the CODIAC system (http://www.joss.ucar.edu/INDOEX) by July 1998. The data will be made available in NOAA LEVEL 1B LAC, NOAA LEVEL 1B GAC and Terrascan TDF format.
The Sri Lanka met service is acquiring a SADIS receiver scheduled for installation in April 1998. The SADIS data stream is designed to meet the operational weather forecasting needs to support aviation. This data is available from a satellite at longitude 60 E. Both Sri Lanka and the Maldives are in the footprint of the satellite. The UK met office and Sofrevia (Issy-les-Moulineaux, France) are collaborating with the Sri Lanka met office in this effort. Feasibility of obtaining this data for operational support at the Male' airport is being investigated.
Attempts at receiving the FY-2 high-resolution transmission using an existing GMS receiver, were unsuccessful. The Sri Lanka met office is attempting to acquire a dedicated receiver for FY-2 data from the Chinese Meteorological Administration (CMA) in 1998/1999. Updated information as of early May suggests that the FY-2 satellite has lost earth-lock and is non-operational. Its' use in the field season is yet to be determined.
Meteosat-5 is being moved by Eumetsat to 63 degrees E. JOSS is in the process of preparing a ground station to receive this signal. AN application has been made to Eumetsat for a decoder unit to be used in the field.
Vendors of air conditioners that might be needed in temporary space in the Maldives were contacted. We now have a lot of prices and specs for future use. The prices for standard air conditioning units in Sri Lanka were 30% of the prices we saw in Male' at $350 for a 9000BTU unit delivered in Male'. Also got some info on all kinds of other supplies like good quality paper, voltage stabilizers and converters to 110V and the like.
5.0 Diplomatic Coordination
Several visits were made to the US Embassy, New Delhi in order to brief the staff of the science office on the details of INDOEX (particularly collaborations with India) and to work out with them details of the rupee transfers to UCAR. The staff of the science office was interested in the program and hope to visit the Maldives during field operations. The current U.S. Ambassador to India, Richard Celestes, is particularly keen on scientific interactions between the U.S. and India.
The site survey team made a visit to the U.S. Embassy in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka is also accredited to the Maldive Islands, so it is important for the staff in Colombo to be fully briefed about INDOEX. Mr. Michael Owen, Counselor for Economic & Commercial Affairs is acting as the science officer. Mr. Owen is extremely interested in the project and provided valuable advice about planned operations there. He offered to assist UCAR with any contracts needed in the Maldives since the embassy has a lot of experience in this area. We additionally visited with Dr. Deepa Wimalasena, the mission physician, about potential health and safety hazards in the Maldives as well as the extent of medical support that is available in Colombo. Details of those discussions will be distributed to INDOEX participants in the information bulletins which will be send later this year. The good news is that the Maldives do not have a malaria problem.
Data Management Meetings with ISRO AND NPL
Meetings were held at ISRO (Bangalore), 4-5 February, with G.Vishwanathan., Nimal Gamage, and Steve Williams. The primary purpose of these meetings was to discuss satellite issues, namely the archival and dissemination of Indian Geostationary Satellite (INSAT) data for INDOEX. INSAT data is normally ingested by ISRO and transferred to IMD (Delhi).