Philippines – Boracay – 30th Oct ~ 2nd Nov 2014

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.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 001 Within the Holding Area, there are even charging stations for your gadgets.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 002On the restaurant level, I noticed there are more restaurants now which is good. There seems to have new shops or they are renovated.

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.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 095Surprisingly my MNL-MPH flight took off on time.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 003After exiting Caticlan airport, I approach the trike stand and they wanted to charge me P75 for the ride to the jetty.

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!

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 008 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 009After paying the boat fare, terminal and environmental fare, I board the boat to Boracay.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 096The way to board the boat didn’t change; is that you walk on a makeshift plank to the boat and it gets a little shaky at times due to the waves.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 012 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 015The 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.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 016 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 020 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 021As I walk along the beach, I noticed many changes in Station 3.

Blue Mango is gone due to the passing of the owner and replaced by Rose Pike Boracay.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 032Villa Caemilla is fully operational now.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 139There is a new disco pub called Boracay Stars.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 024They are installing a ride which is called G-Max in Singapore.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 060After some walking up and down in Station 3, I finally found the entrance of the resort. It is just beside Arwana and it is not very prominent.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 035It is a 3 min walk and you will reach the resort; Orchid Resort.

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.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 026 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 027 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 028 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 030I then called my friend Patrick up and we meet up for a talk in his ice factory. Though we only briefly met once early this year but we do have a good chat.

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.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 042 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 043 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 044 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 045 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 046 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 048Toilet is clean but the water pressure of the shower is a little weak.

After I settled down, I took a walk along the beach walk.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 053 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 055 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 058 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 062Things do changed a lot in Boracay in just one year. Many buildings are being rebuilt or new hotels sprouting out.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 054 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 056 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 057Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 076They even have sun deck now for rental.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 072Operators offering tour setup up tents on the beach which I find it ugly.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 052New restaurants; I can’t remember that there is a Subway when I was here last year. I am a little overwhelmed by the development that I felt the charm that I first known about Boracay has gone.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 071Things 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.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 074 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 077 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 078The Koreans rule the scene now. Everywhere you go, you can hear vendors greeting “Anyohaseyo”.

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.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 083After lunch, I then walk back to the resort and doze off.

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.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 101 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 109 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 120 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 130

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.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 146 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 147 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 148 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 149 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 151It is really a lot of crabs and even with the 5 of us, we can’t finish it.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 153After dinner, we bid farewell and I went back to my room and call it a day.

31st Oct 2014 

Woke up early at 0600hrs and nothing to do.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 156 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 158I took a walk along the beach. This is the first time that I attempt to walk all the way to Station 1.

Some establishment still have their structure up to block the wind due to the wet season.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 162The beach is still attractive. Patrick told me that about 25 years ago, the shoreline actually glow during the night but now it no longer. Most probably due to the pollution.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 173 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 168 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 165 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 164The beach is still lovely. The breadth of the beach gets wider when walking down towards Station 1. It is more visible during low tide.

It took me 90 mins to walk from Station 3 to Willy’s Rock and back.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 167When I went back to the resort, I ordered my complimentary breakfast. There are four types of breakfasts to choose from. I chose American breakfast.

The breakfast is quite decent; 3 half slice of bread, jam, butter, two eggs, bacon  and a cup of orange juice (syrup).

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 193After breakfast is another visit to the beach and relax. I did nothing but just took another time lapse.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 201 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 209I again walk down towards Dmall in Station 2. I just wander around and it is still quiet. I come to a part of Dmall that leads to the main road.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 210 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 211I turn back and find a restaurant that does not cost me an arm or a leg for a meal. I wanted to order sizzling squid but it was sold out so I changed it to prawns.

It taste sweet but it sure beat eating in McDonald’s.Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 212After the meal, I bought a P60 mango shake and I told her not to put so much sugar syrup. Filipino sweet tooth is killing me!

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.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 251 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 249 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 248 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 061I 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!

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 253Another power nap in the resort.

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.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 280 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 322 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 331After the sailing, I walk to Patrick’s factory and have dinner with him. This time we have Andok’s Chicken! We have another round of good chat with him.

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.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 348Even before we reach Dmall, we decided to turn back. We are just too old for this crowd.

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.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 354I quickly finished it and walk to the beach to see it for the last time.

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.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 356 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 371 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 377 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 388After bidding farewell to the beach, I head towards the main road to get a transport to the jetty.

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.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 393You just need to board the bus and wait. The staff will collect the card from you before the bus depart.

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.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 394Since 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.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 397I then enter Kalibo airport.

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.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 398 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 399 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 400 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 401 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 408There is a stall targeting the Koreans selling Philippines mango for P55,000 for 5kg! I think those fruits should be called mangold instead.

(Update: I was told it is actually KWR55,000. That make sense actually but still too expensive (P455/Kg).)

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 412 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 413 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 414The Tiger Philippines flight is delayed for an hour due to airspace congestion in Manila but I think the pilot turn on the after burner and we reach Manila in 50 mins instead of 60 mins.

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.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 422 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 423 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 424 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 425Since it is All Saint’s Day, the driver suggested another route to 5 Star Terminal in Pasay and I reach there in 15 mins.

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.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 443 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 442 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 439 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 431The room is clean but small. The toilet is even smaller. They do still provide a safe and basic toiletries.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 426 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 427 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 428However I saw one small cockroach running around and this discount big points from my mind.

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.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 417 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 418After all the shopping, I went to a bar for some entertainment; not that kind you think of.

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.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 429The order came in 20mins right to my door and I am surprised. I thought they would wait for me at the front desk.

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.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 450 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 455 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 457The trike here seems to have adopted a standard design with black roof cover.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 446Eurotel construction has been completed and operational.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 444After my final packing, I leave for the airport at 1030hrs.

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.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 464 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 465There are more immigration counters available though not all are staffed.

The waiting area has vastly improved; spacious, bright and comfortable unlike the old Clark.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 466 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 468 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 469 Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 471 The second level VIP lounge is also operational now.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 472Though Manila has more flights to my country compared to Clark but there is one thing that I like about Clark; traffic.

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.

Philippines - Boracay - Oct 2014 - 481I wouldn’t say this trip is successful but at the least I did not encounter a typhoon. Meeting up with friends for a meal is worthwhile since it is on the way of my travel.

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.

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