Looking forward to the trip
|Sunset in Boracay|
Its June, it’s hot, we have been working hard and Queenie decided we needed a break. Great! What to do? Queenie thought about going to Bali with her Mom, but Mom decided “no” so Queenie decided to “drag” her husband along to Boracay. And he followed willingly. Before leaving of course we had a ton of stuff to take care of (not packing) but work wise. I ended up working till 1:00am the night before to clear my desk for the grand trip. Queenie also got wrapped up pretty much in her world. Work aside, we were both excited. Queenie had been to Boracay years before and I have never been. Queenie was looking forward to seeing how Boracay had changed over the years and I was looking forward to my first trip to the Philippines. But of course, Boracay is its own special tourist world and does not really reflect Filipino life. Despite knowing that we were still thrilled to be going and knew it would be a blast.
Getting to Boracay is not easy! Everyone tells me we the Philippines is only two hours from Taipei but it take eight hours to get to Boracay. We first flew from Taipei to Kalibo, an airport on another island, then we had a 90-minute to 2-hour bus from Kalibo airport to the Ferry terminal and then 10 minutes in the boat from the ferry terminal to Boracay. Once on Boracay island, we need to take additional transport for another 10 minutes to get to the hotel. Of course you have to add in all the waiting time and the time it takes from home to the local airport. So door-to-door is about eight hours in all. Still, as you will see, it was worth it.
Arriving in Kalibo
When we landed in Kalibo we had to sit on the plane and wait for our temperatures to be taken. In this day-and-age of H1N1 swine flu people are extra cautious about who they let into the country. Strangely, going back from the Philippines to Taipei, there were no on plane checks. I say strangely since a few of the H1N1 cases reported in Taiwan have come from the Philippines.
The airport in Kalibo is small. The immigration line for both entry and exit is in the same place. There are only portable air conditioners inside and a few strong fans. When we landed it was sunny and hot (we were not surprised by this) and were allowed to mingle on the tarmac outside the plane to take pictures. Once inside the immigration line went pretty fast and the bags arrived quickly. We had to do a mandatory customs check where everybody had to open their bags but the whole process was pretty quick. From the time we landed to the time we got through the airport and onto the bus was about 20-minutes. That is a pretty fast turn-around for any airport, and that would be the last time anything happened at speed!
We found the tour bus that would take us to the Boracay ferry terminal. Although there were four buses and we were the first bus to be loaded, we were also the last bus to leave. The tour guides kept counting how many people were on the bus and after the tenth count realized there were some people missing. It was pretty funny. Outside the airport itself, was not very interesting. A few tuc tuc (tricycle) drivers milled about. A few vendors selling refreshments and a couple of restaurants and minibuses were all we saw.
The Bus Trip
The Island Star bus that took us to the ferry was comfortable. Of course it was filled with Filipino-Chinese tour guides who had to describe everything we would see in Boracay in Chinese and the one guy waxed lyrical for about 35- 40 minutes. I was surprised that he could speak so much (says the one who writes ling blog posts) but it did give us some direction about what to expect and how much to spend on certain things.
The bus ride itself was pleasant enough. The town of Kalibo was messy and vibrant and filled with tuc tucs. But outside the town was absolutely stunning. The green rice paddies, the rivers, the mountains and the deep blue sky was compelling scenery. Some parts were very reminiscent of the South of Taiwan. Of course the nicest building we saw was the Mormon Church building in the middle of nowhere. It was a bit of an odd structure to be honest.
We also saw some particularly odd looking buses. We saw one bus with a guy standing on a small platform at the back (much like you see on garbage trucks). Turns out these buses are old garbage trucks from Manila that have been converted into buses.
Finally in Boracay
After 90-minutes we made it to the ferry, loaded our bags onto the ferry and 10-minutes later were in Boracay. Of course we had to stand around and wait for our transport to arrive but there seemed to be a delay on that so I harassed the tour guide and he arranged a tuc tuc for us. Our first tuc tuc ride was a lot of fun (and quite possibly a reason to return to the Philippines). The first views of Boracay itself was a small island populated with poor people, but once we arrived at the tourist part the beauty of Boracay presented itself to us. That actually was the paradox of this beautiful island: the hotels separated the beach from the town populated with locals that was very run down and poor. If a person just spent time on the beach (as we did) you would never see the way the local Filipinos live (we didn’t).
Anyway, eight hours after leaving home we arrived at the very comfortable Le Soleil hotel. Our double-story room came fully equipped with a kitchen, downstairs living room, massive bathroom and bedroom and a Jacuzzi on the balcony. What more could we want? Oh yes, the BEACH!
|White Sands Beach in Boracay|
We were all set to have fun and were really looking forward to the next few days of relaxation and fun in the sun.