This trip is all hay wired.
It is supposed to be Malapascua but friends wanted to go to Boracay and wanted me to bring them there.
So I purchased additional air tickets to change my destination to Boracay but they end up not going!
Then Cebu Pacific messed up by schedule by changing my flight from Cebu to Caticlan to afternoon where I should be sipping my mango juice on the white beach by 0900hrs!
So I called Cebu Pacific to get them to route my flight to Manila to Boracay and surprisingly they agreed.
In the end, alone with my backpack, I went to Boracay.
30th Oct 2014
Flight leaves and arrive on time for my SIN-MNL flight.
I noticed NAIA T3 has made some improvements.
Firstly there is a Passenger Holding Area where passengers in transit or early arrival can take a rest. The area is cordon off and only passenger with a valid air ticket can enter.
Since some foreign airlines have moved over to T3, the airport is building another money exchange stand at the other end of the terminal.
NAIA T3 looks dark and it needs to make it brighter. The check in area is dimly lit.
If I remembered correctly that during my flight, the flight attendant told me that now only foreigners no longer need to fill in the Custom Declaration form. When I pass by the Custom, the officer just wave me off.
NAIA now also require you to fill in the Health Declaration form due to the Ebola situation worldwide.
Philippines Immigration has also redesign the Arrival Form and now we need to fill in less info which is good.
I was quite startled by the amount as it used to be P50 just one year ago. So I decide to walk to the jetty instead. It is actually not a long walk and I ask my way around. It took me less than 10 mins to reach the jetty!
The ride took about 15 mins. Upon reaching Boracay, I happen to chance upon a trike driver waiting for passengers. He already has some passenger on board so he offered P20 to bring me to Station 3. If you charter a trike, it will be P100.
The ride took 10 mins and they will drop you off at the main road.
You will need to walk another 10 mins to the white beach.
Blue Mango is gone due to the passing of the owner and replaced by Rose Pike Boracay.
The resort is almost at the end of the alley. You will pass by other hotels along the way.
The resort is very lushly decorated with plants everywhere. The staff are friendly and quickly process my check in but there are no rooms available. I can only check-in at 1200hrs.
Almost lunch, I went back to the resort to check-in.
The room is spacious in my opinion. It is those traditional Filipino house. The room is clean and well maintained. Throughout my stay, I am lucky that I am not being sting by any mosquitoes.
After I settled down, I took a walk along the beach walk.
Things are getting expensive here in Boracay. For example last year, I can easily get a mango shake for P60 but many places are selling like P80 to P90 now. I still can find P60 mango shake but not easy.
Station 2 is relatively quiet. The China Chinese (Chinese) tourist are missing since the Chinese government ban is in force. Throughout my whole trip, I can count the number of Chinese is fewer than my fingers and toes combined.
More signs are in Korean now. I felt that I am in little Korea.
Ever since the ban on Chinese tourist, business has been pretty badly hit by it. I was told the Crown Regency lost 200+ rooms of booking. My friend’s ice business has fallen by 20%. Some restaurants in Station 2 even close at 2200hrs.
Everyone hope that things will pick up at the end of the first quarter of 2015 but that is about 5 months away!
I just walk aimlessly under the hot sun and decide to have McDonald’s for lunch. McDonald’s is partially undergoing renovation now and honestly speaking, the food sucks.
After my power nap, I went to the beach and just sit down. Nothing beats listening the sound of the waves and enjoying the sea breeze.
I then went to Red Pirates to enquire for a sunset paraw sailing. They wanted to charge me P1000 but I told them last year charge is P800. The staff quickly reduce the price to P800. This is really dishonest to me. I agree to book the boat and paid a 50% deposit.
I then went back to Patrick’s place to have dinner. I bought some Chili Crab paste for him to try out and tonight we are going to have a crab feast.
We continue to chat a while about the culture and society of the Philippines. We share some common thoughts and it is a great chat.
His friends arrived and the crab feast begins.
31st Oct 2014
Woke up early at 0600hrs and nothing to do.
Some establishment still have their structure up to block the wind due to the wet season.
It took me 90 mins to walk from Station 3 to Willy’s Rock and back.
The breakfast is quite decent; 3 half slice of bread, jam, butter, two eggs, bacon and a cup of orange juice (syrup).
Along the way, the preparation for Halloween is in full swing by the restaurants. I wonder why are we celebrating a festival that is not culturally associated with us in the first place.
I also saw some aboriginal people of Boracay sitting along the beach walk. It makes me sad that this island used to belongs to them but now it has been taken away from them. I was told that some aboriginal people even sold their land for just a packet of cigarettes!
Around 1700hrs, I walked to Red Pirates for my sunset sailing paraw.
The staff is friendly but the experience is mediocre compared to my previous visits. The boatmen sailed between boats and I wonder why is he doing it. The sunset is beautiful that day but too bad I missed it.
After dinner and since it is Halloween, we took a walk with his staff along the beach.
Station 3 is incredible quiet but Station 2 is crazy. The crowd is out in full force and part of the beach is blocked by spectators watching the dancing chef where most of them dance half hearted.
There are even fireworks display in Station 1.
We bid farewell and I pack my bags for the final time and I turn in.
1st Nov 2014
Woke up at 0600hrs and ordered my breakfast; Farmer’s breakfast. It consists of some fried potato slice, egg and bacon. Quite nice actually.
The beach is beautiful but I am afraid of the development of the island. It is a dying island. They are killing the character of the island that attracts people.
I found a habal habal and I negotiated P50 to bring me to the jetty.
The boat fare is P25 and P100 for the terminal fee.
In Caticlan, I try to search for a transport to Kalibo. I ask around and was quoted between P200 and P250.
I then decide to take the Southwest Bus instead. It cost P200. They will issue you a card that tell you which bus to board and also the ticket.
The ride to Kalibo is smooth and there is no stop in between. We reach Kalibo in 90 mins.
The airport and AirAsia has build up their lounge outside the airport.
Since I am early, I just sit down in one of the restaurants to relax. I saw a pasalubong stall and bought a small packet of Spicy Fried Shrimps for P50. It is pretty expensive in my opinion for such a small pack but it is tasty. I ended up buying another pack.
The airport still looks like a zoo inside; crowded. The terminal fee is P150 and I think the airport did went through some renovations.
They have a level 2 which have restaurants, retail shops, VIP lounge, TVs etc.
(Update: I was told it is actually KWR55,000. That make sense actually but still too expensive (P455/Kg).)
We landed in T4 which is the smallest terminal. The airport looks decent and cosy. I have to walk further up (where the yellow taxi is in the picture) to flag a white taxi.
The bus ride to Dau Terminal took 90 mins and cost me P150. Thankfully there isn’t any major traffic jam.
From Boracay to Dau, it took me 10 hours in total.
After I reach Dau, I walk to PureGold to do some shopping and took a P60 trike to Devera Hotel in Angeles City.
Angeles City trike drivers are blood suckers. So need to be hard on them when negotiating with fares.
The staff is friendly and check-in in Devera Hotel is fast. At the same time, I arrange airport transfer to the airport at P400. In Angeles City, better organise the airport transfer through your hotel as you have limited choice there. All their lower tier rooms are all snapped up. I reserved a Standard room that cost P1200 per night without breakfast but they gave you a complimentary drink at their rooftop restaurant.
I then went about doing my shopping in SM Clark.
I had dinner at Pizza Hut and tried their very hot buffalo wings. Well, it is sweet actually and not hot. Even Jollibee spicy chicken is more spicy.
I just order a bottle of water in the bar and the staff is definitely trying to up sell me a beer. I always use the reason that I am allergic to alcohol to stop them.
I spoke to one of the girls on the dance floor. She is from Samar and my first thought is Yolanda.
She, 24 years old came from a village between Tacloban and Ormoc. I asked her what happen to her village when Yolanda came. She answered in two words; “Everything’s gone.” I can see her answering this question with her eyes staring blankly. Fortunately, all her 9 siblings, child and parents survived.
I asked her how did she manage to come to Angeles City to work when she does not have any money?
She answered “My sister” and her sister is only 20 years old.
“You mean your sister is working here in this bar too?” I asked.
“Yes.” She answered.
“Then how did she get the money to travel to Angeles City?”
“She borrowed money from people and after she saved enough after working here in the bar, she ask me whether am I interested.”
I asked how did she travel from her village to Angeles City?
“3 hours bus to Ormoc, ferry to Cebu, ferry to Manila and finally to Angeles City”. It took her 2 full days for this trip and the fare cost about P1400.
“I bet your parents do not know that you and your sister are working as a bar girl here”.
“No, they do know what we are working as.”
“And what did your mother say?”
“Please take care of yourself.”
I was terribly sad when I hear this. No parents would like their daughters working as a bar girl and sell their body for money.
However after going through the worst typhoon on earth with no money, no food and no shelter, parents do not have a choice but to accept the reality.
The sisters send money back home regularly if possible.
I asked them is business good? Her answer is money is not easy here but at the least they have a job.
I left the bar feeling how fortunate am I.
I ordered Jollibee through the front desk at 12 midnight but my order is insufficient. They require a minimum order of P200 so I ask the lone front desk staff to order for herself.
In the end I gave my rice, the Yum Burger that she ordered and the Ice Lemon tea to the front desk. The staff is very happy about it.
After munching two pieces of chicken with satisfaction, I turn in.
2nd Nov 2014
Walk around the area and visited their market.
Clark airport has gone through some extensive renovation that now it warrants a P600 terminal fee.
The road to the airport has been widen and improved.
The check-in area is bright and spacious.
The waiting area has vastly improved; spacious, bright and comfortable unlike the old Clark.
Though Clark is horribly expensive in terms of transport but I am quite confident that I can reach the airport in 15 mins. In Manila with all the construction going on, I am not even sure what time do I need to leave my hotel for the airport.
I do not know when is my next solo trip to Philippines as I intend to take a break.
Maybe I will be back after a year or two depending on my wife’s plan.
I will miss the Philippines.