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Posts tagged ‘mancation’

Become The Local

Day 7 here in paradise and we’ve moved on from the amazing beaches and torn up roads of Boracay to the island of Bohol and specifically Panglao. A day long trek that took a trike, jetty boat, plane, ferry boat and one more long trike. Beer me. Never did I appreciate my backpack more though it’s crazy how many folks I see with roller bags.

My new digs is a new set of villas set off from the main hotel that was just recently built. So new that the taxi trike driver could not find it and at some point pulled me into a locals home driveway that could only be properly described as “rustic. Like outhouse level rustic. Just before I could call the Expedia hot line we realized our mistake and I was all checked into paradise.

The hotel was about 3km (yeah they use the metric system here folks) from the main drag of Alona beach so some quick math determined I was going to put a trike kids though school. 400 pesos per day and the most basic signed waiver later and I’ve got my own ride, a late model yellow tourist scooter with a half tank of gas and unlimited gusto. I hopped on and cranked that baby to what I considered top speed for me, only to be immediately passed by a family on bike, with a toddler, and groceries.

Bohol is the island that always seems to be on the verge of a apocalyptic rainstorms that never come to fruition. A lightening bolt hit the water offshore and I hit the floor like someone yelled incoming but the locals never flinched. Even today when we went for an early morning snorkeling tour on what I could only describe as a boat made of bamboo powered by a lawnmover engine all I could see was a black cloud from the edge of the water to heavens. I checked the itinerary to see if this was a 3 hour tour. Indecisive if only because there is no itinerary. Just give someone 700 pesos and see what transpires. Today was great snorkeling with reefs that seem very healthy and seeing dozens of huge sea turtles.

7 days in and I’m getting the hang of this. Thank you has become “Salamat!”

“Would you like to take an island hopping tour?” Yes and I did that yesterday my friend

“Would you like to rent a scooter?” I just waive my scooter keys around my finger and a knowing smile.

“Sir you so white. Would you like some sunblock? I have special SPF120 for you!”

Some things you can’t escape

Be the local.

Tomorrow I rendezvous with my fellow Umbrellahead in Palawan and start week 2 of this Philippine adventure

Sweaty Island Hopping

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.