Trip Start Aug 31, 2008
47Trip End Apr 30, 2009
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At first we wondered why the minivans would be so much cheaper than the coach bus but it did not take us long to figure out the answer to that question. They really packed us in this minivan; at least 4 in every row and two people in the front seat. This may have been reasonably comfortable for tiny Filipina women, but it did not make for a comfortable ride for Lisa or I. The drive lasted around 90 minutes and in the middle of the ride we drove through some twisty mountain roads that provided great scenery. Once we pulled in to the ferry terminal, everybody got out of the van as the driver went and got tickets for everybody. We soon found out that although the ferry ticket was indeed provided, there were additional charges of 50 pesos each for an environmental fee and a terminal fee.
After everybody had paid their fees we got on a small traditional banton style boat (with outriggers on either side) and everybody put on their life jackets. I don't know if they have lots of problems with this short ferry ride but apparently there is a law that requires everybody to wear one. The ferry ride lasted no more than 10 minutes and covered a distance that I could probably swim. We had made sure to ask to go to Boat Station #3, but apparently the ferries didn't actually go to the boat stations because we were let off on the other side of the island. From here we shared a ride in a taxi (for 25 pesos each) that took was supposed to take us to Terminal #3.
We got let off of the bike at the top of a hill where there was a sign saying that no motorized vehicles were allowed any further. Fortunately a woman on that came with us for the ride explained that it was not possible to go any further but that it was only a 10 minute walk to our hotel (Melinda's Garden). She walked with us and made sure we found our way and I don't think it even took 10 minutes. It was still very hot and humid out though so at this point I was glad that we decided to leave around half of our baggage at Friendly's Guesthouse in Manila (for 10 pesos a day).
Meals on Boracay can be expensive for Philippine standards if you eat on the beach. Lisa and I usually went to a restaurant that was a couple hundred meters from the beach along the main road of the area that was called Love Fastfood. Right aligned:
Another affordable place to eat was called Andok's and fortunately they are a chain that exists in many places around Boracay. They offer a wide selection of Filipino dishes, but also barbecued chicken for very good prices. It was not the best barbecued chicken that I have ever had but at 125 pesos for a half chicken, it was hard to complain and I ate around 3 entire chickens during my week on Boracay. The best food to be had was along the beach and although it was relatively expensive, it was easy to find plenty of excellent European or Asian specialties. Twice Lisa and I ordered a wonderful chicken schnitzel from a German/Philipino restaurant. It cost 255 pesos, but came accompanied with a god sized salad and side dish of french fries to satisfy nearly any appetite. More importantly it had seating right on the beach which is very convenient after having a half dozen beers through happy hour.
Another cheap place to eat, which is also a great place to shop for souvenirs, is called D'Mall near Boat Station #2 on Boracay. The mall is really just a collection of stores and not the air-conditioned enormous single buildings that we call malls in North America. A lot of the stores sell the same stuff at the same prices, but with a little bit of patience and some bargaining there are good deals that can be found. Nearly every store of the area sells cheap white t-shirts with Boracay and a picture on them at a rate of 2 for 150 pesos, but the better shirts start at around twice this price. Lisa and I ended up buying a couple cheap t-shirts and a nicer one (for 150 pesos), as well as a few nice beach bags (100, 180 and 220 pesos). We bought a few other souvenir trinkets as well, like fridge magnets and some kids' toys, but I ended up drinking the bottle of 12 year rum that we planned to bring home originally. Tanduay rum is very cheap in the Philippines, especially if you can appreciate bottles aged 1 to 5 years. A 750 ml bottle of 12 year (the second highest grade they make) was only 160 pesos, but the 8 year (85 pesos) and 5 year (60 pesos) are about as cheap as I have seen rum anywhere in the world.
Overall our week in Boracay was one of the most relaxing and beautiful stops of our eight month journey. The lack of air-conditioning made the heat a little unbearable at times and at dusk and dawn you had better be wearing air-conditioning, but aside from that it is hard to find anything not to like about the island. It was refreshing to see that most of the people visiting seemed to be Philippine, although there were also lots of Koreans, Chinese and Japanese as well. There were not nearly as many Europeans or North Americans as I expected, but then again it was exactly an easy place to get to. The weather could've been nicer for our last four days there, but the sun was always out for at least a couple hours each day. I have wanted to see a tornado my entire life, so I am sort of glad that we had some bad weather too. Now I got to see two of them within the span of 15 minutes.
Our flight from Kalibo was scheduled to leave at 13:15 and we did not want to take any chances of missing it. We got up early and checked out of our hotel by 8:00, not knowing how efficient the process of getting to the airport would be. After going to the local bakery and stocking up on snacks, which were widely varied and only 5 pesos each, we jumped in a tricycle and got a ride to the dock for 50 pesos within seconds. After paying another terminal fee of 50 pesos each and a ferry ticket for 25 pesos each, we were soon in a boat and on the island of Pasay by 8:45. From here we quickly found a ride in a minivan for 175 pesos each and we arrived at the airport really early. Fortunately this little airport is surrounded by restaurants that offer cheap meals and ample seating to accommodate the wait.
It was good that we ate before getting into the airport because once we were inside there was very little food or snacks to be had. There was a little coffee stand and a booth where you could get a massage, but very little else. The waiting room slowly filled up and eventually every seat was taken and there were lots of people standing. Our flight got delayed by 20 minutes and still no other flights left before us. Fortunately since Lisa and I got there quite early, we had our choice of seats and I found one where I could plug in my laptop and we watched a movie during our wait. There was several TVs for everybody else to watch but the programming was boring and not in English.
Where I stayed