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.
And that pretty much captures the highlights of Day 2.