It’s time to leave Manila. And I’m stealing Kev and Ian for a while to travel with me to the tiny paradise Island of Boracay in the Visayas region of the Philippines.
The journey over is relatively painless; A flight from Manila to Kalibo, a 2 hour coach ride (ignoring all of the mini van-touts), a 15 minute ferry ride over to the island, and finally a tricycle bike taxi to the right ‘station’ (part of the island) where we were staying. The ferry terminal is probably the most confusing part of the journey, there are are 3 seperate payments which need to be made; The Ferry ticket, environmental fee, and terminal fee. The combination only comes to around £3-4, but all need to be purchased at separate windows and handed in at different points……very confusing!
We arrive at out accommodation, it’s a family run guesthouse based in the quieter part of the island, set a convenient 5 minute walk away from the beach front. It’s simple, but really homely. I drop my bags in the room and glance out the window – a young man is trying to keep the family pet dog from tormenting a goat in the back yard. I hear a noise behind me, ‘geeeeec—–ccchhhoooooo’, turn around and it’s a gecko………my little gecko-y roommate! Up until that point, I had no idea that they got their name because of the sound they made!
‘How’d it get in?’, I wonder, and then I look a bit closer and realise I can see through the walls in most parts of the room! :-)
After dropping the bags, we are just in time to get to the beach for the sunset, a chilled Buko (fresh coconut), and 1 or 2 San Miguel beers :-)
Boracay was voted the best beach in Asia 2013, and when you see the sunset, it’s easy to see why. There are a couple of minutes just after the sun goes down where the water becomes a neon blue and is slightly brighter than the orange-red sky………although my camera (or rather, camera skills) didn’t do it justice, you’ll just have to trust me that it’s stunning!
Majority of the week was spent doing a bit of wandering around the island during the day (the island is only a few kilometers long so it didn’t take much to see pretty much all of it), relaxing, and then partying at night. We took a trip to the lookout point towards the North of the island on one day, and another we made our way through some of the poorer areas and saw the makeshift casinos and the pens for a bunch of fighting cockrals. Another day, our biggest challenge (our quest!) was trying to find a hammock for a few hours……it’s a hard life!
During the week, I think I got addicted to Buko (Fresh Coconut)….it was so delicious! That and the mangos best I’ve ever tasted! One day strolling along the beach, we saw a bunch of local kids getting some for themselves at a discount…….by scaling the palm trees and shaking them down. Out of the 3, the smallest kid was doing the climbing and the other 2 were on lookout at the bottom……I say lookout, they did nothing but watch as Kev and I looked on in horror as falling coconuts were hitting the ground bare meters away from oblivious tourists walking underneath. Those things weigh a lot too, if one lands on your head from that height it could cause some serious damage!
We also encountered a bunch of kids who wanted to photobomb us in the most lord-like way possible, and a group of old guys who invited us to do shots with them at 1pm in the afternoon.
“Keep walking”, Kev tells me, and we politely wave a ‘no thank you’, “…..this is how it starts! One shot and we’ll be drinking with them for the rest of the day and we’ll not remember most of the night afterwards, these guys look like they can take a few!”
Throughout the week, it became easy to forget just how beautiful this place is. I remember the same feeling in New Zealand, after a while you can become saturated by how stunning things are. Whenever we heard someone (or one of us) moaning about something, our favourite phrase for the week became, “Yeah man! f%*k paradise!”. A little, friendly, check on perspective of where we actually where….and how lucky we were to be there :-)
Towards the end of the trip, we took a day chilling in ‘The Spider House‘, a bamboo-made bar towards the North West of the island, built out over the sea.
The final night in Boracay before I headed further South, and Kev and Ian back to Manila, we spent the same way we had spent many others…chilling on the beach. The air was warm, the beer cold and there was a lightning storm out to sea in the distance. There was some live music behind us by a local band, who were brilliant….after every song each musician switched seats and took a different roll. The singer became the bass player, the guitarist went to percussion, the percussion got the mic (and the guitar). Multitalented is an understatement…..
……well……there was one guy who didn’t switch positions. In fact he didn’t have much communication with the rest of the band at all. He played the ancient, traditional, Filippino nose whistle. I’m sure there is a particular style of music that this would really suit, but this modern/reggae band did not seem like the right fit at all! If I hadn’t seen him on the side of the stage with this band on a bunch of different nights, I would have been convinced it was a prank. I know this is all subjective though so I’ve put a short snippet below of one of the tunes for you to make up your own mind. The band, it seems, didn’t seem to mind at all and let him join in with their jam every night. Nice guys :-)
We finish up the night, and I return in the early hours to get some sleep and pack my bag. I brush my teeth and look up through the window at the sunrise….from my room, where I can see through the walls……with my gecko roomies (now 2) ……where else would you rather be? :-)