Day 1: Excitement … and Disappointment!
It was time for us to take a break from wedding festivities! Our honeymoon trip to Boracay Island, Phillippines, was definitely an adventure. Well, I guess it wasn’t really an exclusive honeymoon trip when we were still travelling with two of our Canadian friends. Still, it was a blast having their company. It will all be our first time in the land of the Philippines … Why did we choose Boracay? Well, we’ve heard good reviews about the place from a relative, who is Filipino himself, and travels there with his wife every year. Besides, my in-laws did not quite like the idea of us travelling to Thailand as they believed it was more dangerous there. Bali, Indonesia, on the other hand, was over our budget at the time. Therefore, Boracay ended up to be the ideal getaway spot for us, and also an opportunity for our Canadian counterparts to visit a different city of South East Asia at a reasonable expense.
We departed in the wee hours of the morning from Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, on Cebu Pacific Airways. The 3-hour plane ride brought us to Manila, and from there we scrambled … furiously to get on our next flight to Caticlan. If there’s one word I can describe Manila airport … it would be “messy”. It was insane at the departure hall. There were so many people, and I believe the ground staff were scrambling with their many administrative issues at the time. Little did we know, our 7:00 AM flight to Caticlan was cancelled. In our confusion of this messy environment, somehow we had failed to notice it on the screen. By the time we realized the bad news, the next valid flight to Caticlan was already close to departing. We tried to get the ground staff to help since we still had to clear immigration and were not sure what to do next. It was so difficult to even get help since there were so many people in line at each counter. We don’t even know the status of our checked-in baggage at this point. They did manage to put us on the next flight, but told us we had to hurry because it was leaving very soon!! And so, there we were running around in haste amongst the crowded airport, with long immigration and security lines, trying to catch the next flight, which was so close to departing without us. Besides, our baggage did not make it on the same flight as us to Caticlan. I guess my husband expected the delayed baggage would happen, but I didn’t so I was very unhappy about it. It definitely wasn’t a good start to our trip 😦
Although, all that stress and frustration dissipated once we arrived in Caticlan. It was a relief to see the beautiful sea view while waiting for our boat to Boracay Island. We took a tricycle ride from the Caticlan airport to the jetty port. It was an interesting ride, as I thought I was going to be flung out of the tricycle every time he took a sharp turn or go over a bump. Phew! One may not expect to pay additional fees apart from the boat ride itself; there is the terminal fee, environmental fee, and who knows what others … I was just glad to see the island!
When we arrived on the island, we had to take a tricycle ride to Amigos Beach Resort, which is located at Station 2, Manggayad. Boracay Island is famous for its long, white sand beaches. Known as the White Beach, it is divided into three main stations; Station 1 having the most pristine beaches and expensive resorts/restaurants, Station 2 being the average, and Station 3 being the most affordable but the beaches are less attractive. The hotel is situated further inland, and so it was nice and quiet, away from the hustle and bustle of the beach front activities. It was about USD 70 per night per room for two people. The hotel staff was very friendly, and the rooms were very clean. Good enough in my books! And so, we checked-in and waited for our baggage to be delivered to our hotel. Fortunately, all went well and our baggage arrived. Then, we headed out for some food and drinks. As we stepped onto the beach front, there’s a really good place for drinks and food to our right, called Nu Nu Noos Beach Resort and Sports Bar. Our friend couldn’t resist the temptation of this large blue margaritas drink, and literally enjoyed every sip down to the one last drop! After all that stress we went through earlier in the day, it was worth it!
After filling up our bellies to the brim, we proceeded to walk along the White Beach. We came upon D’Mall shopping area, which is located at the center of the island. We casually walked around until evening. There were many shops selling souvenirs and clothes, and there’s also good access to many restaurants here, although we were told there prices are cheaper at the shops in Station 3. Moreover, bargaining power is higher when shopping around Station 3. The boys loved the bargaining part, and so we made sure they are with us whenever we wanted to buy something. Although, my husband’s bargaining skills only improved with more alcohol in his system.
Choosing a restaurant to have dinner at was a tough one because there was so many to choose from. Somehow, we ended up walking back to Station 3 and settled at a seafood restaurant there since the prices were quite attractive and we were already tired of using our brains to think. More cocktails and beer were ordered as we delighted ourselves in the seafood. I didn’t drink much alcohol since I was taking medication at the time, but I did try a few sips of the local Red Horse beer and it was really, really good! I don’t know why, but the beers are served with caps already opened. I didn’t think much of it, but the events that unfold afterwards made me think how unsafe it was to be patronizing services like that.
After dinner, believe it or not … we went for a pedicure. All of us, including the boys. Well, I don’t know if it was because we couldn’t resist the really cheap cost or it was just because we wanted to sit down somewhere and relax without having to pay for drinks or food. Anyhow, it was pretty good service for the price we paid. Also, we got to know the staff there a little bit by chatting with them. People are generally very friendly around here. Then, we tried out one of the massage stations on the beach. I think most of us passed out during the massage. For me, mostly it was exhaustion. I was tired from the trip and all that stress that had happened earlier in the day. The boys were just too drunk to do anything else. Although, our poor girlfriend … it was a little different for her. She didn’t drink much, but she was starting to forget stuff … as if her memory of the activities after dinner was very short-lived. After her massage session ended, she actually went to the restroom with her purse, and came back without her purse … didn’t even realize it until I pointed it out and asked about it. At first, she couldn’t even remember where she went! We had to calm her down and helped her remember which restroom she had went to. Fortunately, we managed to jog her memory and traced back those footsteps to the restroom. Her purse was still there! It would have been a disaster if it got lost … her passport and cash were all in there. She started freaking out and suspected that her drink was drugged. It was quite possible because the rest of us had beer while she had cocktails during dinner. The boys weren’t being that supportive as she started crying and freaking out because they were still drunk and high and still wanted to party some more. I disagreed with their needs after observing what had happened (since I was the most sober one), and managed to talk some sense into my husband that we should end the night here. If we had left the two boys on their own to party, who knows what could have happened! Therefore, I kind of forced everyone back to the hotel for a good night’s rest.
Day 2: Sober, and Time for the Beach
Today, we decided no alcohol for the whole day. The boys definitely were hung-over. I was surprised to hear even the boys agreed that last night’s events were odd. It was an interesting night … and it was a disaster for some of us. Anyhow, we had a good breakfast at the Nu Nu Noos Resort, and started scouting for good sport/activities packages. Naturally, there were many people advertising their prices and packages … trying really hard to sell you their services. After about half an hour of research, we picked one that was reasonable enough that included island hopping tour, helmet diving, and ATV ride. I can’t remember how much we paid for, but we really bargained for it since there were four of us. I think it finally came to about PHP 1600 per person, which was really cheap ($USD 32).
So we started out with the ATV ride, exploring a few places inland. We visited the Ocean Tower where we got a bird’s eye view of Boracay. Then, there was the Everland Aviary Farm. Nothing much to see really, except this one bat where you can literally go into his cage and hold up his wings and take a picture with it. I didn’t do it because I was too scared. But my husband did! Our next adventure was the best one of all – helmet diving. We headed back to the White Beach to take a boat out for this activity. It was so much fun … so cool! The weight of the helmet allowed us to walk on the sea floor while the fishes swim close around us. I believe the water level was about 15 feet deep. This was even better than snorkelling. Our tour guide was constantly taking photos and videos of us … I guess he had too since it was all included in the price. They even go to the extent of feeding the fish in the right spot so that they can snap a good photo of you with the fishes. Sometimes, they throw the fish food right in front of us and then all the fishes come swarming near us! What a marvellous experience! A DVD of the photos and videos was given to us after that. My girlfriend, who was not really a big fan of water activities, even said she had a great time with the helmet diving. Our last activity was island hopping, which also includes snorkelling at one of the locations. This was the most relaxing part of the day as we just enjoyed the beautiful scenery wherever the boat took us. However, we weren’t able to finish the whole island hopping tour as the waves were getting choppy due to the strong winds that developed later in the day. We headed back to the White Beach, got back to the hotel and took a rest, followed by a relaxing dinner and early night’s rest.
Day 3: Henna Tattoo Art
Henna Tattoos are very popular on this island. They are reasonably priced, and some of the artists are really skilled. We found a friendly booth to do our henna tattoo. I chose a butterfly/flower design that covers my shoulders and half way down my back. My husband got a tiger on his back … very predictable of him. The artists were probably young men, in their early twenties. For some reason, the local men on the island are really fit and in good shape. I guess most of the time they work out and do sea sports. They were very friendly to my girlfriend, naturally because she’s Caucasian and pretty. My girlfriend enjoyed the attention she was getting from her tattoo artist as it was quite flattering, haha. What else can I say? All of us were happy customers. We had to be really careful not to stain the tattoo on the bed sheets at the hotel. Most hotels charge an exorbitant fee as a penalty as they claim the ink cannot be washed off the sheets.
Today was more of a shopping day. We walked around scouting for souvenirs. The boys eased off the alcohol restriction from the first night’s experience, and started to relax with more drinks at hand. It was good to have them shopping with us as they enjoyed the bargaining process. Apparently, they bargain better when they are “high”. It was a win-win situation. As the sun was setting, we took a nice stroll on the beach back to the hotel to get showered and dressed for dinner. Somehow, along the way the boys got a little crazy with their ideas of playing with sand. My husband wanted to bury my girlfriend vertically in sand. He was very adamant about it, and so we all just watched in amusement at his waning energy as soon as he realized it was probably going to take a long, long time to complete …
Day 4: Into the Water!
Today was a lovely, sunny day, perfect for a nice swim in the calm waters. I love how I can still see my feet in the clear water even at waist-high level. I don’t usually like to swim in the ocean because I have a phobia of the water … especially when I can’t see what’s under me. So this was really lots of fun for me! I could see little fishes swim past my feet once in a while too (if I stare long enough at my feet from above the water). The whole afternoon was spent relaxing on the beach, with occasional dips back in the water. Our friend swam pretty far out, and he said it was absolutely amazing. I guess the water was so calm that it wasn’t dangerous at all.
In the evening, as the sun was setting, we paid to sit on the sailing boat. The sunset sails were romantic, and it was just so beautiful experiencing the sun setting in the horizon, with the winds against our faces as the sail boats cruise smoothly through the waters. Ahhhh … this was nice.
Day 5: Kite-Boarding
My hubby wanted to try kite-boarding before he left the island. Even though it proved to be not just a one-time lesson, I guess he just wanted to experience it for the sake of it. Only he and my girlfriend tried it. We waited for their lesson to finish at a relaxing cafe by the Bulabog beach, which was on the other side of the island. The Bulabog beach is quieter, and I liked it better than the hustle and bustle of the white beach. This here really felt like a beach getaway. There’s not much here except for kite boarding. The waters are not as nice to swim in because there are lots of seaweed. They paid 3200 PHP for a group introductory lesson. It looks interesting, and challenging at the same time. My hubby and girlfriend only managed to learn how to control the kite while standing in the water at waist level. They did not even get to the part of lifting off on the board with the kite. Well, I guess there’s always a next time now that we know what it’s all about!
Today was our last night in Boracay, and so we splurge a little more to have a nice dinner at a more expensive restaurant. The food was good, and it was Western cuisine. We did some last minute shopping and indulged in a few more drinks at the bar. The night ended early since hubby and my girlfriend was tired from the day’s kite-boarding lesson.
Day 6: Goodbye, Boracay!
Just when we thought we could peacefully leave the island, we ran into trouble again with our flights at the airport. I don’t know what’s up with Cebu Pacific Airways but they kept cancelling their flights on us!! Since our Canadian friends were headed a different route as they were heading straight back to Canada, they were not affected by the flight cancellation. My hubby and I on the other hand, had to be redirected to another airport. So we had to take a 1.5-hour ride in a van to Kalibo International Airport and board the next available flight back to Manila. I was furious with Cebu Pacific. When we arrived at Kalibo airport, they required us to pay the airport access fee of 40 PHP. Yes, I understand it is mandatory fee for any airport, and it is only 40 PHP. But my husband and I were just not satisfied with the situation. And so we made a huge fuss. If we had departed from Caticlan airport, we were only suppose to pay 20 PHP. So the fact that the flight cancellation was not our doing, and Cebu Pacific has subjected delays and stress to our travel plans, we argued that it was not justifiable for us to pay 40 PHP. At the end of the day, we managed to pay only 20 PHP and they let us through … but come to think of it 20 PHP was only like $USD 0.05 … haha … Honestly, we weren’t arguing for the sake of money. It was really more of the principality of the situation. We were just very sour after having gone through a flight cancellation issue and was still expected to “pay” for something. By the time, we arrived in Brunei it was midnight … and we were so exhausted from the events of the day that we were so glad to be home. Period.