I've been busy and lazy lately so I don't get to update my blog regularly. But I can't let a great vacation unposted, can I?
Well, it wasn't what you'd really call a great vacation, for one thing, I got an uncooperative weather. And I was warned that going to the beach on a rainy day is strongly not recommended. But being with my parents and seeing my sister and her husband was more than enough to enjoy a time away from the busy and smoggy city.
We left rainy Manila on a Wednesday morning. Right after my Tuesday shift. I met up with my parents in Makati and headed to the Airport. I was positive that our flight will be delayed, I don't know if it's a Filipino thing, because it did. Luckily, we were given the option to take the earlier flight, so thank God, we were spared from the trouble of waiting indefinitely (which I hate to the bones!). This was my second time flying (excluding my childhood experience), and the first time with my parents, so I was extremely excited. And because I'm the only kid on this trip, I have no competition for the window seat. Yay! We took off, 20 minutes earlier than our original flight.
What I love about flying is seeing the areal view of my country's beautiful and untouched islands. The coral reefs are just as breath taking, even seeing from up above. Sure I would love to set foot on these amazing places, but in my heart, I pray that these remote parts of the earth remain unmolested by commercial development. Leave them alone please!
We arrived in Caticlan airport just in time for lunch. We were instructed to go to the Tabon port via trike and take the boat to Boracay Island. The boat ride is less than 10 minutes, when we got to Boracay, Pipay and Mike met us and took us to their rented house, again via trike. While on the tricycle, I can't help but notice the overwhelming number of Koreans. I know there are many Koreans here in the Philippines to study English, but man, forgive me for my lack of term, but, they infested Boracay. There's a Korean church and a major convenience store boasted selling Korean products. I saw land for lease sign boards with Korean translation and a parade of bug cars (manned by Koreans of course). It's not a bad thing, It's good for tourism, I was just overwhelmed, I didn't see it coming hehehe.
We arrived at Mike and Pipay's place and ate lunch that Pipay cooked - Menudo. I was not surprised that she had learned how to cook, but I was amazed how well she did. My mom loved it and told her that she should be cooking for our town fiesta from now on. They are renting a studio type room that feels like a condo. Every furniture and appliance is provided by the landowner, and with PHP7K a month rate, all in (water and electricity), I thought to myself, I can escape the Metro and live here for a month! I can go on LOA! LOL!
After lunch, we settled for a while and head off to the island's famous beaches. My dad was hesitant at first, opting to stay and watch TV but my mom booed and, well, forced him to come with us. Our first destination is the Puka beach. Compared to the Long Beach, it has an off-white and less refined sand. However, it is less crowded too. There's not much establishment in place, other than the souvenir shops at the entrance and the walking ice cream vendor. If you're in for a much peaceful place, I'd say, this is where you should go.
having a great time despite the gloomy sky
behind me is the Carabao Island, another island worth checking
acting like a papparazzi to my parents
Next, we went to Long Beach a.k.a. White Beach (it's officially White Beach, but because the locals call it Long beach, I'll call it like that for the rest of this post). This beach alone defines everything I know of Boracay, white powder-like sand and party people. I think it's safe for me to say that much of the commercial development are concentrated here. Just a few walk from the sea is a (long) line of restaurants, bars, hotels and souvenir shops. It was such a pain for someone who values solitude I tell you, but in a way convenient. You practically can do anything to make your vacation worthwhile.
In the beach, there's a place for devout Catholics to seek refuge
checking the Grotto with my parents and sister
mom and dad, enjoying the white sand
While I didn't really look forward to swim, I truly enjoyed walking in bare feet on the sand. The powdery feel of the sand in my feet and the calm sound of the waves gives me a sense of peace that's hard to explain, despite the presence of the crowd. I would have wanted to experience the night life here, I didn't get to do it. We spent most of the time walking. After the beach, we headed off to D' Talipapa, the flea market to get souvenirs and pasalubong. My mom is a window shopping junkie. She checked every stall and and every item she find interesting. By the end of the day, I have no energy left to stay up. When we got home, I took a bath and went straight to sleep without eating dinner.
My sister and brother-in-law went to his employer's staff house to spend the night and left the place for us to stay. By morning, we woke up and fended for ourselves for breakfast. With my dad around, it was just like home, he prepared everything for breakfast. Pipay and Mike arrived to prepare for lunch and next activities. I witnessed my sister cook with her laptop on to check every now and then the recipe she downloaded from the net. So that's how she learned, I thought to myself. We spent the rest of the morning talking about our family and our lives. My mom and my sister always talk on the phone everyday, so there's really not much to catch up.
After lunch we headed to Bulabog beach, located at the opposite of Long Beach. I read that this is where sports activities like wind surfing and kite boarding are held but because of the gloomy weather, I didn't see those things. We decided that we'd try the helmet diving (reef walking). I find it a little risky but my parents were up to it. Because it's off peak season and we're Filipinos, we got a really cheap deal, for only PHP350 per person, where as foreign tourists are charged PHP1000 per person. I felt a little guilty, thought it was unfair, but then again, foreign employers pay OFWs less too compared to other nationals, so I guess that makes us even. We took a 10 minute speedboat ride to the reef then we were oriented what to expect and what to do under the water. The helmets that we're about to wear weigh 20 kg. I was excited and at the same time worried for my parents. I had reason too. They are not so young and a little mistake could prove dangerous, and in fact it did. While we were 8 feet under and the diver guide/photographer were asking us to pose for the cam, my dad went off balance and for a second, slipped off his helmet. Just seconds after that, my mom did the same thing. Good thing the diver who's assisting us was alert. He managed to have my parents get their acts together while I panicked. They made the right decision to go up, even though they just got down, who cares about getting their money's worth at a situation like that? In other words, I was left all alone with the diver, to enjoy the reef.
Being under the sea and seeing the wonders of nature is just amazing. I have no words to describe it. It must be fun to be a mermaid, there are just so many things down there that would continually take your breath away. It's fun to feed the fish, pretend to play with them and watch the live corals breath. My only regret was that I don't have the proper gears and suit for this. Maybe next time I'll get them. My parents went down for the second time and stayed for a short while for the video op. But because they looked more scared than excited, I'm keeping their videos to myself hehehe.
After the diving activity, we went back to Long Beach, I thought we could swim a little but the waves are huge and decided it's too dangerous to try so we went home instead and prepared for our next trip ~ to Shangri La hotel. Mike works as a facility engineer (or something like that) in Shangri La so we get to have access inside and have a peek what it was like in a luxurious hotel. It was amazing. Here is a secluded place, perfect for privacy-seeking celebrities with magnificent interior design and lagoon-like pools, everything that a huge earning executive VIP could ask.
This is not the first time I've been in a five-star hotel, but every time I get to experience it, I felt a surge of envy run through my veins. How can some people get to enjoy it when they want to and most (including me) don't. Life is unfair, that's the only answer I could think of. Maybe someday, I'll get to enjoy these too.
One of my favorite area in the resort is the Entertainment Center. They separated kids with adults. Having a kid within me gives me excuse to play around.
It was also fun to see the hotel holding its annual Boralympics for the employees. It was some sort of a relay competition. Looking at Mike and his colleagues, I got a sense that Shangri La Boracay employees seemed to be having a great time working there. I'm probably being shallow, but I want to keep my observation that way. It's heartwarming to see employees work towards a common goal. The past two employers that I've had are reeking of politics, no wonder I always long for a vacation.
After the tour at Shangri La, we went D' Talipapa. Mike and Pipay treat us in a Dampa-like eatery where you shop for your own sea food at the wet market then choose a restaurant who'd cook it for you. The restaurant where Pipay took us were fully booked, but she said it's the best one so we had to wait. Damn it was worth the wait. We had buttered shrimp with lemon and garlic, sauteed crab, stuffed squid and fried Tilapia. It was sumptuous!
After dinner, we went to a massage parlor. My mom enjoyed a mild massage (I don't know a massage name LOL!) while the rest of us wait. My dad and I had the option to have one too, but we're just not into it. I just don't get this whole massage thing, I find it painful to be slapped and have somebody's hand apply pressure on my muscle. Where's the pleasure in that? Waiting for my mom back there was probably the most boring part of the trip. Mike and Pipay were suppose to take me to the hang out places at night, but again, I was out of energy so I opted to stay and wait. When we got home, the first thing we did was pack our things. Our flight is the morning next day, we won't have the time to do it when we wake up. Then off to bed. Zzzzz...
Like any blog post I did for a trip, ending the post is always the most difficult. I hardly remember what the departure looked like. My thoughts back then are filled with longing for home and at the same time, sadness for parting with my sister and the thought of embracing the stress that going back to work has to offer. Going back to the loud city again.
One thing I know, this is not my last Boracay trip I promise. I want to try the night life next time And who knows, maybe I'll stay in Shangri La by then.