Take a deep breath, relax, and accept the Filipino way. Repeat as necessary.
I said that a lot on the way to Boracay.
The one hour Cebu Pacific flight from Manila to Caticaylan airport went without a hitch. Getting from that small airport to Boracay requires transport to the ferry depot, a short ferry ride to Boracay island, and then transport to your hotel. During the flight it was announced that Cebu Pacific was now offering a package that would take you from the airport direct to your hotel all for just 550 pesos ($11). Well, that seemed like a good deal just for the convenience factor so I ponied up the money.
So we land and deplane onto waiting buses. Not unusual for small airports with no jet ways. What I had never experienced before was having the bus exit the airport, drive through some small villages, and arriving at a small terminal 15 minutes later. Well, I call it a terminal, it just seemed to be a room for bag claim. Anyway, retrieved my luggage and walked outside where I was besieged by touts offering transportation. I said no, I’ve already bought a ride from Cebu Pacific. It took me awhile to figure out that Southwestern Tours was the contractor for this service. Someone eventually pointed to a waiting van across the street. The van driver told me I had to go this nearby window to get my ticket. The ticket I got on the plane was just a voucher for the real ticket. And so began the ordeal.
I was only second in line, but damn, you wouldn’t believe the paperwork. I had to fill out a form, then receipts were printed, taxes (a 75 peso “environment” tax) collected, and so on. I was then handed a stack of paper to carry with me and directed to board the van with about 20 other travelers. We drove through some fairly heavy traffic for such a small village, but arrived at the ferry in due course. Where we stood in line to go through security, including x-rays of the baggage. Then we stood in another line where some of the paper I had been issued was collected. We were then directed to the line for the ferry entrance, where more paper was taken from my stack. There were lots of ferries to choose from, but I eventually found the Southwestern Tours boat. I boarded and waited. And waited.
Once we were full-up we made the quick trip (maybe 10 minutes) across the water and finally arrived at Boracay island. Where we waited some more for a van to take us to our hotel. I guess we had ten people in our van, and of course my hotel was the last one on the list. Worse than that, it was just shy of total gridlock the entire way. Who knew there could be so much traffic on such a small island?
Two hours later (no shit, two hours from the airport to my hotel, a total distance that couldn’t be more than 15 kms or so) I arrived. Sort of. My hotel is at the far end of the beach and the road doesn’t go that far. Seriously, it was a two block walk through the sand to get to the hotel.
I repeated my mantra like a Catholic praying to Mary for most of the ride. Welcome to the Philippines!
So, that was the bad part. So far, Boracay has been pretty nice otherwise. Just some quick geography before we go to the pictures. Boracay is divided into three stations. The ferry arrives at Station 3, most of the tourist resorts are in Station 2, and my hotel is at the far end of Station 1. At first I was distressed at being so far from the “action” but after witnessing that action, I’m very pleased to be on the relatively quiet end of the island.
The ferry port, Station 3 Boracay island.
The view from my hotel..the Aritista. Not bad, eh?
The beach at Station 3 Boracay. My hotel is at the end of the beach…
The Station 3 water view…
The Spider House. Had dinner here the first night. Interesting set of stairs to get up there and really cool ambiance and views. Food was mediocre and the service was worse than terrible.
Sunset on the water…
And the harvest moon…
The water is crystal clear here. Puts Subic to shame in that regard.
Took a goodly long walk yesterday (22,000 steps all told). Most of it was on the beach, but this was part of the trail as well. Would not walk it at night or after drinking though…
Who says there are no virgins in the Philippines?
Lots of beachside bars like this…
Beautiful places, smiling faces…
I’ve only tried muff diving…
Station 2 beach scene. Now you can see why I’m glad to be in Station 1. I’d say 85% of the tourists here are Korean and Chinese.
Lots of Hanguel signage and Korean food. And to a lesser degree, Chinese as well. Clearly catering to their tourist base.
Lots of diving places back in Station 3.
This is the National Highway that runs the length of the island. The only highway apparently. Very narrow two lane. And as I mentioned, it often results in gridlock. I walked back to the hotel this way and it was not pleasant. I’ll stick to the beach from here on out.
This is also why I’m unlikely to ever return here. Lots of new hotels under construction but no work on the supporting infrastructure. What is bad now is only going to get worse.
Last night I helped my tour guide/caregiver Loraine celebrate her 50th birthday…
A restaurant I will NOT be trying. What next, a building named Trump?
And that pretty much captures the highlights of Day 2.