Boracay, June 10
Boracay is a small, beautiful tourist island located just off the northwestern tip of Panay Island. It is located in the west Visayas archipelago, off the Sibuyan Sea in Phillipines (see our google map for the geeneral location). The island is seven kilometers long and divided into three barangays, or communities. Yapak lies in the north, Balabag in the center and Manoc-Manoc in the south. Within these barangays are smaller villages such as Angol, Manggayad and Bolabog (We may be wrong but this is the info we were given).
We had originally planned to travel from Cairns, Australia to Bali, Indonesia, however our world tour flights would not allow it to happen (well it would, but it was complicated and we'd have to burn two or three flight segments to get there). So we decided on Manila and the Philippines as our next destination, having heard nothing but fantastic things about the tourist hotspot of Boracay. We were told that the island was comparable to a Thailand island about 15 years ago, before getting too tramped by tourism. We loved our time spent in Thailand so the Philippines seemed like a no-brainer!
We had a brief situation when our flight was cancelled the day before departure, but luckily Cebu Pacifc has several daily flights and we had no problem jumping on an earlier flight. We boarded an airport bus that transported us to our airplane, which turned out to be a small propeler plane! As someone who really isn't keen on flying you can imagine Nicole's face. We had visions of Indiana Jones and lost planes on deserted jungle islands.
The flight was definitely a little more jumpy than a typical plane but we arrived in one piece only a short hour after take-off. The small arrival airport in the town of Caticlan was one of the smallest airports we've landed in so far, similar to the San Christobal airport in the Galapagos Islands and the Peurto Maldonado airport in the Peruvian Amazon Bassin. But this small airport cranks out the flights, it seems one is coming or going every half hour.
We left Caticlan and boarded a boat that transferred us to Boracay, where we jumped on a trycicle that took us to White Beach. We are/have been staying at the Bonzai Resort, a small and simple family-run operation just off the beach. Our first couple nights were spent in a nipa hut with a hammock on the porch, but were transferred to another room in the main building that was slightly cheaper, had free wireless and cable television. We've always had mixed emotions about having a TV in our room though; it's nice to catch the news and have some down time but it also distracts us from exploring and experiencing the area. Both rooms have had only cold showers, which is very refreshing in this heat and humidity.
On our first night we were greeted by a monsoon that dumped relentless amounts of rain on us. The winds were so strong that the rain actually hit us on a virtually horizontal angle. Although we were completely drenched from head to toe we enjoyed the warm rain and tropical winds, it's not everyday you get that kind of weather so we figured we should embrace it!
White Beach, Boracay's main tourist hub, is the main strip and is basically a sandy pedestrain-only road lined with restaurants, hotels and tacky souvenier shops. The meandering footpath, conveniently called 'White Beach Path', stretches for about four kilometers on the western side of the island and is under the constant shade of endless palm and coconut trees...perfect for Cameron and his freckly, sun repelling skin. The beach has pristine, white powdery sand and the sea has crystal-clear, aqua blue water. The perfect setting for 10 lazy days of fun in the sun!
There are a few large, westernized resorts but the majority are small mom-and-pop budget locations that are very quaint and filled with character. The sandy path is littered with vendors trying to sell you cheap pearls, watches, knock-off Oakley sunglassses, cheap massages, and of course real tatoos... who wouldn't want to get a tatoo while on vacation?! When I asked one of the vendors if the glasses and watches were real he replied, "Yes. Of course they're real. Real imitations. come try it on. I give you best price!" Well at least he was honest that they were 'real' imitations. Surprisingly though, the pearls are of good quality as there are several pearl farms in the southern region and the supplies of pearls far exceed the demands, making the prices very inexpensive.
In the evenings all of the restaurants and bars entice the never-ending stream of hungry tourists with Happy Hour drink specials and the daily catch of fresh seafood. The specialties are Blue Marlin, Tanigue fish (local to the Philippines), Jumbo Prawns and Green Lobsters that can get up to 7 kg's in weight! The jumbo prawns were a delicacy that we were looking forward to; we were addicted to these prawns while in Thailand a few years before and couldn't wait to feast on them again. We had grilled jumbo prawns with garlic butter and rice for the first three nights in a row (hey, when they're that cheap you'd be a fool not to over-indulge!).
Our plan is to stay in Boracay for at least ten days and have a vacation from our constant go-go mentality. For once, we finally feel like we've arrived... there is no more journey, we're already in paradise!