Thursday, May 23, 2013

Boracay 2012 - Birthday Dream

Nov 2012 - Finally, my dream of spending a birthday out of Manila is coming true. I will be spending it in Boracay with my boyfriend, M, and my friends, K, T & R. First though, I have to get through my half-day shift, night shift that is. 

Have you experienced this? You have an out of town trip in the morning but you have a graveyard shift of 10pm-7am the night before. And you just can't wait for it to be over? You've been looking at the clock constantly and counting the minutes. You want to yell out your excitement but you can't. You can't really focus as much as you want to. There's like a marquee, flashing and flashing across your brain, "Boracay! Birthday! Boracay! Birthday! Boracay!". Hard, right? I applaud all of us hard-workers, really.

It's not my first time there. My first time was in 2008 and I went with my friend K and her family. For a scaredy gal like me (those who've read my first post know what I mean), Boracay beach especially Station 1 waters are golden. It's clear, it doesn't contain creepy crawlies, only has small groups of fish running around and I mean, I can stay in the water without getting worried about being bitten or a small creature crawling inside my shorts. I am declaring it my comfort waters. Ah yes, a place does exist. Thank you Lord!

Birthday Pancit
So the time to log out came. I actually applied for a half-day shift because my flight is in the morning and I can't log out normally at 7am. I'll run out of time. I logged out of the office at 4am instead.

Birthday Cupcake
I went home and found a surprise birthday breakfast from M. It's pancit canton with pandesal and egg!

And as a cake, I got a chocolate cupcake, Choco-Tops, and he put on a watermelon-slice-shaped gummy candy and a curled strawberry-flavored gummy tape.

All thrown in there. Like a buffet plate. LOL. You can see from the photo that everything is from that little store outside our building. It was sweet. To me, it was a great birthday breakfast. Because its from him and I know he stayed up until I get home, getting the stuff and putting them altogether. I love him for it. Okay, I know my story is getting icky-sweet to you all so let's move on. Hihihihi.

Morning came and we rushed packing. We packed just one normal-sized maleta (suitcase) and an overnight bag. One of the perks of taking a trip with a boyfriend is that someone can carry the heavier bag. Hahaha. Yey! Our tickets ready, IDs, cash, sunblock, etc etc.
We bought the tickets from Airphil Express and they had a sale several months back. It was my first time to ride Airphil Express.

I was surprised that Airphil Express serves snacks. I didn't know that. They gave us Fita and Happy peanuts and they served water (I don't remember if they served other beverages, memory gap). I know it's not much but I was thankful for it. It was something extra for their "sale" passengers. Take that, Cebupac! 
First Time to Ride Airphil
We reached Kalibo and had lunch first at one of the restaurant huts within the Kalibo Airport compound. The lunch is just below 100 pesos. Ah, the beauty of the internet. Prior to the trip, I was looking around the internet on going to Boracay through Kalibo and I remember reading that if you want to get lunch before the 2hr van ride to Caticlan, you can go out of the airport building and within the compound, there would be restaurant huts serving combo lunches below 100 pesos. Thanks World Wide Web!

After lunch we walked back to the front area of the airport building where you will find vans from transport services going to Caticlan. It's a package. A van and a ferry. We availed the services of KIATA and paid 250pesos/person. You will be wearing the square sticker logo for the duration of the van ride and ferry ride until you get off the jetty, for identification and sorting (hehe) purposes. 

Caticlan port
At Caticlan Jettyport, we paid for the fees (environmental, terminal, etc). You need to do it before entering the jettyport. Once you get off the van, you will see the counter at the right side of the entrance to the jettyport. Sabi nga nung isang blog (as mentioned by another blog), pay these first before going in because they' ll just ask you to go out again if you missed paying for something.

Finally, after a short ferry ride from the Caticlan Jettyport, we are on the island! Yahoo! We shared a trike with some other folks and went on our way to Station 1.

Our home for the next 4 days is Boracay Breeze in Station 1. It's one of the cheapest I could find in Station 1. And it's not bad at all. We paid 1500/night for room, which is a cheap price considering it's in Station 1 and not those Station 1 places that are already very close to Station 2. 

Boracay Breeze
 The hotel is near Balabag Church, a small plaza, and a small police (or was it barangay) station. When you cross the street from Boracay Breeze towards the beach, you will pass by the side of Willy's Hotel and then when you reach the beach, you will see Willy's Rock. It's also close to Cocomangas if you feel like going crazy and wasted. It has a couple of eateries nearby that offer karinderya-priced food so perfect for those in a budget. M and I had a breakfast and a lunch during the weekend at two of the eateries around the church. (A tip when you do this at an unfamiliar place is to pick food that do not require a lot of prep, such as fried ones or adobo-nized food. Why? Logically, these are the type of cooking that don't need a lot of "hands-on" prep work, if you get my drift. They don't also require a lot of ingredients that might not work so well with your tummy. These are just my theories.) Also, if you are lucky to be in the area on a Sunday, aside from the church bells I welcomed waking up on Sunday morning, there would also be a vendor of native "kakanins" (rice cakes) outside the church. We bought hot bibingka that Sunday morning before going off ATV-riding. There are also a lot of tricycles passing by as the hotel is near the main road so you can easily go anywhere.
Do you love BBQ?

We got to the hotel close to 6pm so we just walked around the beach for a couple of minutes. I also dropped by Residencia Boracay to meet up with an old friend from work who happens to be in the island that same weekend. I saw her FB post and texted her so we agreed to meet up even for just a few minutes and catch up.
Meeting up with the gang (K, T and R) for dinner, we agreed on I Love Backyard BBQ within D'Mall.

All things barbeque.
The internet said it's a must-try. It didn't disappoint. Though it took a few minutes before we were seated, the food was good. We ordered, errr, well, barbeque. Chicken and Pork BBQs.

We also ordered onion rings so big, they were not rings...they were bracelets for kids.

They stacked them up in a stick with a pineapple base, it looked like a giant...thing. After the meal, my friends surprised me with a cool-looking cake. Very island-dy (if that's a word).  I loved it! 

Boracay Cake
They also gave me gifts. T and her boyfriend (who wasn't able to come with us) gave me a book called Outliers which is an interesting read (I am yet to finish it among hundreds of things I need to finish). R & K gave me an erotic dice, which I appreciate and still don't know what to do with it hahaha. That evening was a nice surprise, with all the gifts and the cool cake which was also yummy. I really felt special. Thanks guys!

After dinner, we enjoyed the cool waters and the night air. To dry ourselves, we walked towards Obama Grill and had drinks, chatting some more till we decided to call it a night since we would need to wake up early the next day. 

The next day was island hopping day. We were to ride a boat, do some snorkeling (yaiks!) and head out to a place called Puka Beach to have lunch.  M and I woke up early and head to Residencia where the others are staying. The morning view of the beach that day is serene and calm. It's really better to go to Boracay outside the summer season. Less people, less chaos. More in nature, you might say.  After a few minutes, we were called to the boat. We walked from Residencia all the way to where the Station 1 shore ends, passing by Microtell Inn, walked on a cemented path and behind the, I don't know, small sea wall?, was our aquatic limo, our boat.

According to the internet this is where Station 1 ends and behind the small sea wall is Diniwind Beach. I hope my geographic rambling is making sense.

So we hopped on the boat and started to go around the island. We passed by more beaches (shores), probably private ones or really expensive resorts. It's the first time I've seen another side of the island. We passed Manny Pacquiao's house. To be honest, I didn't like it.

I felt that he could've spent the budget on a better, more tropical type of resthouse than this cold house that looked like a poor take on Casa Batllo, Gaudi's House of Bones in Barcelona, Spain. Yun talaga naalala ko (It's really what reminded my of). 

We found the spot where people do snorkelling so we all got off the boat and into the water. As usual, I'm scared and on edge. But I really wanted to try so I shut up and went with it. Holding on to the railing of the boat, K was at my right side. I turned to her and that's when I saw the black stripped sea snake. It's upper body was upright (you know, the snake you do with your arms when you're trying to imitate Jackie Chan's snake style? Ganun!) and it was facing K. I panicked. I said "K, may ahas! (K, there's a snake!) and K said, "oh my god" and backed away, as simple as that. The "oh my god" wasn't even a surprised shriek. Just an "oh my god" you say when you almost hit a cobweb and you ducked. That's it. Oh my God. While I, started screaming like I was being bitten by a shark. "Ilayo nyo kooooo!!! Layo nyo kooooo!!!! Kuyaaaaa!!!" ("Get me away from it!" "Get me awayyyy!"). I also started flapping my arms at the water, yep, like that helps, like that would propel me faster towards the bamboo stairs of the boat. It didn't, I moved a little maybe a few inches, but not enough. 

Whoever said that adrenaline makes people faster, has not heard of Me. Whoever you are, call me, let's set up a meeting and we will review your theories. The boatmen, panicked by my killer screams, dived in and started pulling me to the boat. M, started to swim towards the boat to get to me. K also started to go on the boat too. I think she also didn't want to be in the water where there's a snake but she didn't go berserk like me. That's what I want! Where do I buy that composure? Does it go on sale to only a secret group of people? 

Anyways, so I continued panting, out of breathe and trying to get hold of myself on the boat. The boatmen and M did see the sea snake swimming around the boat but they said it wasn't poisonous, that it doesn't bite. It didn't matter now. It's a snake and I got frightened. Either I'd die of being bitten and poisoned or drowning due to panic. It was embarrassing. I told you I was nuts.

They continued to snorkel while I wait on the boat. I took a picture of a man selling fresh buko juice while on a small boat. Reminds me of that floating market in Bangkok. I think it's a smart idea. People who snorkel get thirsty after so he has a market there, I think. 

After snorkeling, we head out to Puka Beach to have lunch.
There were a few tourists/visitors at the beach so it was great to shoot some pictures on the sand. We did that while waiting for our food.

The food was good. We ordered stuffed squid, grilled Tilapia and chopsuey. We were full by the time we finished eating and lounge around a bit more before going back to Station 1.

Next on the list, Zorb. After getting off the boat, we found a shaded spot in Station 1 where we waited for the ride going to the Zorb place. That was a convenient thing they thought of, those business-minded people in Boracay. If you choose to do an activity outside of beach bumming, like riding the Zorb, driving an ATV, helmet diving, parasailing etc, it comes with transportation going to the activity area. You don't need to find out where it is or how to get there. You would easily say yes when they offer it to you because they'll pick you up and drop you back. Hassle-free, easy-sell. It's a vacation, people! 

We get to the Zorb place and found that there's a weight requirement. Between the 5 of us, we decided that K & T (girls) would ride together, then M & R (boys).
I opted for camerawoman slash video recorder. The staff also suggested for K & T to lie down on the pathway of the Zorb while M & R rides in it. It was hilarious. Apologies for the blurred photo as it's just a screen grab from the video I took. All 4 of them emerged from the Zorb soaking wet but really enjoyed the ride.

After the Zorb ride, we were dropped off at our hotels. We just agreed to meet at D'Mall for dinner. M and I walked along the main road and sneaked in to Patio Pacific's beachfront and continued to walked by the beach. We watched the sun go down and took several pictures before it disappeared in the water.

M enjoyed making pseudo sandcastles while I just sat on the sand, people-watched and took more pictures. After the sun set, we went to Jonah's. What is a Boracay trip without going to Jonah's and getting a fruitshake? Not a Boracay trip, of course! It's a tradition, a cliche, a must, a photo you need to take when in Boracay, it's in a Tripadvisor list! 

We went back to our room to take a bath and change clothes. Rode a tricycle to D'Mall. I remember that M and I ate at an Inasal stall near Ice Monster. It wasn't great. Don't eat there, sayang pera (waste of money). We met the others outside of the Epic bar and I thought we were supposed to party there but somehow we didn't. I don't remember why. I think all of us are getting old and all we want is to chill sometimes. Not party rock, I guess. So we walked along the beachfront behind D'Mall where the bars are and settled at Cafe Del Mar, drinking mojitos, listening to music and looking out at the darkness above the beach.

Relax mode to the max. I think we were also tired from all the things we did earlier and just waiting to get sleepy. 

Finally we got up and head to our respective rooms. Walking along, we passed by a bar playing some salsa music and to my surprise, M took my hand, spread his arms out and made me do a turn towards him, like a salsa dance. It was the sweetest thing because there were people around but he didn't care. I'm hearing awwwwws in the crowd. Hahaha. Will stop the cheesiness here.

The next day, Sunday, we again woke up early, this time it's because a van was picking us up for the ATV ride. M and I woke up early, texted the others and went out of the hotel to look for breakfast. We saw a small eatery near the plaza and ordered coffee, fried rice, fried fish and sunny-side up eggs. Yum yum! And then we saw a vendor outside the church selling native kakanin! Yey! They have bibingka (it was November so I guess it's already considered Christmas season enough to sell bibingka), hot with butter bibingka! We bought two to bring to the ATV ride. We texted the others if they want one but they said no. They regretted that, soon after. Hehehe.

We finally arrived at the ATV place. It was drizzling so we ran for the counter where we paid and ran back out into the rain where the ATVs are parked. T, M & I took individual ATVs, while R & K took a buggy since K didn't want to drive an ATV. Our path was from the ATV place to Mt Luho where we will go up a tower and see a view of the island. We could've also taken a longer ride going to Puka Beach but it was more expensive and we are not even sure how we'll fare at ATV driving.

Driving an ATV was scary. Scary good in a way. It had a rush especially when you're going down a hill or when there are no other vehicles around. Sometimes there would be jeeps, vans, tricycles coming your way so that part's scary. There was one point during the ride where my not-so-brilliant brain and hand coordination almost took me and the ATV off a cliff. I swear! I forgot that the right side of the handle bar, when pressed meant Go or Speed Up. I thought it meant Break or Stop. I accidentally pressed it when I wanted to stop and almost went over a cliff. It was fenced though so I'm not sure if that would've protected me if I didn't stop right away. Good thing, in a split-second, I remembered where the Break was. Haaaay.

At Mt. Luho, we saw different sides of the island. We were at a high tower so it took a while to go up but the view was worth it. There was a view of some sort of resort with a golf course in it, and another view of the shore. We even had a peek at a house nearby with a pretty blue pool and a bar. That must be so cool, living on the island, taking lazy afternoon dip, having a drink, the Boracay beach just a few minutes away. Man, must be some expensive real estate! 

After the ATV ride, the others went to D'Mall for lunch. M and I ate lunch near our hotel and then enjoyed the beach in front of Pearl of the Pacific Boracay. M created a sand couch, good for two, complete with armrests and we covered it with one of our beach towels. I took a nap there, and head out to the water if I wanted to. M was doing the same. People were walking past us and I could see they envied our couch. There was a time, we both took a nap. I even heard a voice tell someone who passed by us, "Kaya ko po yan! 500!" (I can do that too for 500 pesos). I guess a kid was offering a tourist to create a similar sand couch. It even drizzled while I was lying down and I didnt get up, Let it rain. What, I'd hide because I might get wet? I was just swimming at the beach! Hahaha. LOL!

From their lunch at D'Mall, the gang passed by us and hanged out a little. Then we moved to their beachfront for more dips in the water.

We also drank blue Tanduay Ice and finished off my leftover cake.

That night, M and I took the trap and had that free dinner at Astoria. It's a long and bad, non-sense story so I'll skip telling it. But I just had to take a shot of their indoor pool and show you. Nice!

In the morning, K, T & R had earlier flights than M & I so we still had a morning by the beach and did what we both wanted to do since we got here. Sit on the sand, look out to the waters and have a hot cup of coffee. Here's a photo of that morning: 

Wow, quite a long tale huh? I enjoyed that vacation a lot. I turned 35 that weekend but I felt very young and alive. I was with good people and a dear loved one. I had a beach that didn't scare me and the sun was rarely scorching. I will be back there for sure (need to save up, of course!). 

It's not Boracay, the sosyal (high-end) beach to me. It's Boracay, my comfy beach. Ang aking malaking swimming pool. (My own big swimming pool.)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

I, The Frustrated Wanna-be Traveller Slash Adventurer

I'm no expert traveler. I have not traveled to a LOT of places. I don't get to use every single weekend to go on a trip. I rarely have money on hand whenever a plane ticket sale suddenly starts. When they do, I'd usually check for flights but stop clicking on Continue after I see how much it would cost me. Pampagulo lang ako sa mga nagta-try mag-book, sorry guys!

As I said, I'm no expert on going on trips. A friend of mine is. She's been to a lot of places. She knows how to pack efficiently, how to research and create a strict itinerary. She is a traveler, not a tourist, you might say. I admire her for it and I envy the places she's been to. I've always dreamed of going on a trip with just one overnight bag and a small purse. That would totally be a sign that I'm thinner. Because right now, I'd probably carry 2 overnight bags or 1 big suitcase. My tops and bottoms take up a lot of space. Either carry a lot or wash clothes every night while on vacation. Who the hell wants that, right?!

This friend of mine taught me about researching on the internet before going somewhere. Checking where to go and the best time to go. Are there entrance fees, extra charges, what NOT to wear. What transportation can be used, to always carry a ziplock bag (I honestly didn't know about the ziplock thing at airports), not to carry liquid, things like that. I'm lucky I get to learn it from her and not learn on the spot. Would be embarrassing, noh?

I get so envious whenever people would post pictures of them being in a cave, a forest, a secluded beach, a mountain, a volcano, etc. Or pictures showing them underwater, feeding the fishies, swimming with the whale shark, bungee-jumping, zip-lining, spelunking, trekking, holding a starfish, a hermit crab, a frog, a bug, etc.

I can imagine myself doing these things. Suuuurrreee. *wink* *wink*

The thing is, I'm a little afraid of crawly creatures or flying ones. Frogs, black starfishies, lizards, roaches, flying moths, giant mosquitoes, bats, geckos, things that breathe that I don't recognize as non-biting or non-poisonous. Okay, a LOT afraid. I'm also a little afraid of heights. My knees shake when I'm at a high spot looking down. I would try snorkeling but I'll easily surrender (wasting what I paid for) as soon as some suspicious, scary-looking thing comes at me. I definitely don't know about doing a bungee jump. I feel I'd have a heart attack even before I hit that upside-down position, or maybe pass out (missing out on the view and the experience and certainly nothing as close as a bungee jump bragging right).

My friends already know this about me. I would get jumpy and icky and really nervous. I once tried snorkeling and there was a small sea snake (which they said doesn't bite) near my friend, in the water with us. Once I saw it, I snapped. I screamed and screamed like I'm going to die. I kept yelling, "Ilayo nyo kooooooo! (Pull me away!!!)"  And the snake wasn't even facing me, it was facing her. I just thought it would turn around and see a better, more terrified target and I can't say it would be wrong. It was embarrassing, to the boatmen, my friends, my boyfriend, to the island of Boracay and to the small sea snake who probably was more afraid of me than I of it.

So this blog, is not really a meaty travel blog. I'd call it lakwatsa blog. I might not be able to give useful information to anyone looking for some. I could write some tips I learned from the trip which I hope would be of use to someone. This blog is just to share. Kwentuhan lang, ganun (Something like having a chat). I wanted to write about places I've been to, while I still remember details from it. Post some pictures and remember what I thought about it. A continuous essay, you might say. Some people might enjoy it, some might fall asleep. But this is more for me. To write about things and places I was able to see and experience. Big deal stuff for a scaredy cat like me, might not be as WOW to seasoned adventurers. I know there's a demographic for scaredy cats that want to try, well, I hope so. Umamin kayo (Admit it!). Hahaha.

So there. Let's look at it as story-telling. Would remove the pressure on me. LOL.