Thursday, May 1st
Today was a flying travel day: flying from Puerto Princesa to White Beach on the island of Boracay, The Philippines.
This was a day like trains, planes and automobiles. We left our cabin in Puerto Princesa by van, then flew to Manila where we had a layover. We tried to find a pay phone to call Fran’s mom – we found many places where there used to be a phone but only three actual phones, two did not work and the other did not accept the long distance number that should have worked, so no luck.
Then we took a plane to Caticlan, then walked 5 minutes to the port to catch the “pumpboat” to the island of Boracay where the world famous White Beach is located. After the pumpboat we caught a pedi-cab which took us close to our hotel, but as they are not allowed along the beach, so we walked. We stopped to enjoy the sunset, then checked in. We found a great spot for dinner right on the beach, delicious food, good service. Had a few drinks – total bill was $20.
White Beach is divided into three “stations” so named for boats docking there. Station One contains most of the high end hotels, Station Two has many shops and restaurants and Station Three is quieter. Our hotel was in the latter section. The Marzon Beach Resort is right on the beach and we were very happy not to be in the crowds and noise.
It should be noted that the majority of foreign tourists here are Asian, especially Japanese and Korean with many restaurants having outside menus in those languages and many diving shops having signs in these languages. Most of these tourists are young and appear to have money and are super fashion conscious (unlike us). It’s sad to see the numbers of young people self-absorbed with their devices and taking pictures of themselves.
Sadder though is the laziness and disregard for the environment by both tourists and locals alike. Although there are beach cleaning crews, Boracay will not retain its beauty long with all the trash people throw/leave on the beach and in the ocean.
Another interesting observation we made is that there are many Caucasian men with Filipino wives but the vice versa is rare.
Friday, May 2nd
Today we walked the entire length of the beach and back before breakfast. We were back before nine but the sun was still hot enough to burn Fran’s shoulders!
After breakfast we went exploring along the path/walkway/road along the beach in front of the hotels instead of on the beach trying to walk in the shade. We wandered past many hotels, checked out some shops, went into the tourist centre where we’d been told we could use a phone and although we could, it was super expensive per minute.
Later we went swimming, had a few beers on the beach and had dinner on the beach at a nice little quiet place near Marzon.
Saturday May 3rd
We had been led to believe there was snorkeling just past station one so instead of walking in the heat we donned our swimsuits, hats and shirts and walked/swam up the beach IN the water. Much more comfortable, none of the incessant hawkers and no crowds!What took 45 minutes to walk the day before took us 2 hours and 45 minutes in the water but the views of the beach were amazing and best of all, we stayed cool. We had purchased a dry sac so that we could have dry clothes to change into but it must have gotten immersed too far and too often so NOTHING stayed dry. Thank goodness there was nothing that could not get wet.
Unfortunately the snorkeling was awful due to algae, dead coral and few fish so we gave up and took a pedi cab to Puka Beach for a look and to cool off in the water again. This is on the north end of the island and there are actual waves there, unlike White Beach which is very calm. We went back to our hotel, via pedi cab which was interesting as we got to drive down the main road of the island of which we had seen little only a small portion of.
We had taken the length of our stay here as an opportunity to do laundry. We dropped it off Friday morning and were told it would be ready at four on Saturday. Since our remaining clothes had gone for a swim, we decided that when we picked up the dry ones, we’d drop off these last ones. What a hassle that proved to be!
As Fran still had her beach dress at the hotel and Doug had nothing, Fran walked to pick up our clothes at the designated time of 4:30. The girl took our clothes and said, of our other clothes, “not ready yet. Come back at five.” Fran wandered a little and went back just before five and she was gone! Now we had NO clothes! The laundry desk was inside a fried chicken restaurant so she asked what happened. She was told the lady said that if Fran came back to tell her to go to the main location. Okay where’s that? After asking several people she learned where it was; naturally not really close and she was told to “take a pedi cab for ten pesos; shouldn’t take more than ten minutes and it should be open until 5:30”.
Fran was able to flag a pedi cab quickly, showed the driver where she wanted to go and he said yes he went by there. After he dropped off the other five passengers, she asked “how much longer? “ and he said “ oh we passed it “. So she was upset he hadn’t let her out and he said he’d take her back, which he did. Fran went into the laundry and was told it was not done yet, ‘’come back tomorrow’’. When she explained her disappointment, they said they’d get it done by seven – it was then 5:15.
So she went back to the hotel figuring Doug would be getting anxious. He was, and be couldn’t go looking for her in his underwear! She, however, had to walk almost half the way as she couldn’t get a pedi cab. She got back to the room by about 5:45 and left again by 6:30, not very optimistic. She figured if it was still not done, she’d ask for the second batch back to do herself in the hotel.
Luckily it was actually ready and she set off to return with a big bag of clothes, so not wanting to walk. Again pedi cabs were crowded, but a young man on a motorcycle offered her a ride (there are many of these around) and she hopped on the back, side saddle in her beach dress and he put the laundry in front of him. It was quick and be took her closer than a pedi cab would have, for thirty pesos. It was about 7:45 when she got back with clean clothes. We enjoyed a nice, albeit late dinner on the beach at a different place.
Sunday, May 4th
Today was our “chill day” by the beach. We did a little shopping first thing and then sat on the beach outside our hotel from around ten till late afternoon doing nothing but taking it all in. The hotel barrestaurant sold drinks and lunch so we partook. Not very many steps embarked upon that day.
We enjoyed our prettiest sunset ever that evening – the sky kept changing, and at one point looked on fire. We then enjoyed another dinner by the water.
We think White Beach is the most beautiful beach we’ve ever been to; powder white sand, lots of palm trees, turquoise water and gentle almost nonexistent surf.
Monday May 5th
This was our final day in the Philippines and it’s off to Thailand and Cambodia in the afternoon, so another mostly travel day. After breakfast overlooking the beach we began the journey in reverse, back to Manila to catch the flight to Bangkok. There must be a problem on Philippines Airlines with people stealing seat cushions and flotation devices because in the landing announcements they remind you it is a federal offense to take them!
We enjoyed the Philippines and the people and are leaving with fond memories of beautiful places and fun experiences.