Here I am full into day 2 of my Philippine adventure and already the trip is living up to high expectations. The Filipino people are amazing and have made me feel very welcome (and safe) every step of the way so far. Other than a short layover in Manila to catch some zzz’s after a long flight over I’m hitting 5 total destinations in 2 weeks. Boracay, Bohol, Puerto Princesa, El Nido and Coron. October is towards the end of rainy season but since I’ve arrived I have yet to see a drop of rain. I’d actually welcome a bit of rain if it would cut the heat a bit. Temperatures range from mildly sweating in the mornings before 8am, aggressive sweating from 8am to 1pm and downright dripping sweat until sundown. But I just embrace it and plan on a few laundry days.
This is the journey each morning from my hotel to the main drag in Boracay which is broken into 3 stations. It’s about a 30 min walk which is a large contributor to the sweat scenarios but the view is worth it.
This is the death climb I do twice a day. I work out 4-5 times a week and I’m drenched with sweat at the top. I just jump right into the pool.
If I don’t want to walk I can take a motor trike home which is essentially a motorcycle with a side car. 200 pesos which is the equivalent of $4. The journey encapsulates the haves and the have nots. 5 star hotels with every amenity imaginable beachfront with shanty style units across the street. The road to my hotel is outside the main drag and is crammed with all the locals who serve those who visit the islands. It’s a simple and perhaps hard life but I get the sense the people of Boracay wouldn’t trade living anywhere else and the sense of community and family is strong.
Any stroll down the beach front inevitably comes with tourist pitches to do any number of activities and I was happy to indulge in an island hopping tour. 5 hours to hit 2 snorkeling destinations, 2 beaches and lunch over 5 hours. 800 pesos which is $16. You can’t beat that deal. The entire country is incredibly reasonable cost wise by western standards and in some cases downright cheap. 500 pesos ($10) for a 1 hour massage (still on my list to do) $3 for full laundry service. $2 for pretty much any alcoholic drink. No tipping required but I do it anyway. I’ll remember Boracay from now on every time I have to pay $35 to park for a sporting event or $25 for a glass of wine.
I had some time to kill before my island hopping excursion started so I hit a Starbucks aka a sweat break zone with killer AC only to be outdone by the view. I defy you to find a more amazing view in any Starbucks in the world. And I had the place almost entirely to myself.
My boat was filled with a hodge podge of tourists from all over the world. There was the 3 Saudi men who only spoke Arabic and spent most of the trip making fun of each other, culminated with the part of the trip that had one of their friends getting hit by wave after wave splashing over the side of the boat. There were the 2 K-pop Korean women in their early 20s that were posing and posting selfies to Instagram ever 19 seconds. I’m not far off on this time estimate. I did my best impression of a small sampling of their favorite poses below
The rest of the boat were all Chinese, most at or near retirement age. Very friendly. Very aggressive on getting in whatever line for snorkel gear, lunch or whatever. I was always last which personified my island time mentality. They are masters of this trade craft. The snorkeling was just ok. Very small fish and the coral looked very bleached which is an indicator of a reel in stress. Global warming is everywhere. I was just happy to be floating and swimming in a sea that is the most beautiful turquoise you have ever seen. The Boracaians are very environmentally friendly. No trash anywhere. Banned straws. Limited fishing.
This is where we stopped for lunch. It’s essentially someone’s house in the backyard with extremely tasty local Philippine cuisine and hungry yet well behaved dogs that will welcome any scraps but don’t beg. This is my new friend who enjoyed the head rub almost as much as the pork I was sharing with him. (Editorial update – we interviewed the dog and he confirmed his attention was driven entirely by the pork)
5 hours later I’m back at the port and my tricycle was calling for a ride back to the hotel to rest my weary feet. The decision was culminated when my driver said he needs to go very fast to have enough power to make it up the hill road to your hotel. Is that OK? Hell yes that’s ok.
Evening time and I’m back at station 2. Traditional dinner of Filipino cuisine and 3 beers later $17 total) I’m strolling down the main drag. Every bar has live music and I settle at The Bom Bom bar (it’s not what you think you heathens) and drain one more beer listening to live reggae band with a lead singer that should probably be on American Idol he was that good.
My head hits the pillow 30 min later into a very welcome air conditioned bedroom and day 2 is officially put to bed.