We got front seats in a non-airconditioned bus, and we had five-and-a-half hours more to go on the road. It was sweltering hot outside, and a throbbing pain in the head was threatening to ruin what remained of the afternoon and of our high spirits. Continue reading “Malapascua: A long way away”→
When Owen and I learned that MNL Boutique Hostel in Makati is branching out to—wait for it—Boracay Island, we couldn’t wait to visit. First of all, their growth was very impressive—Maica, Celina, and Gonz are opening hostel no. 2 less than a year after the first one. We know next to nothing about the hospitality business, but that is undoubtedly a big feat. We love their hostel concept too, and pulling it off in Boracay was something we wanted to see. We think it’s working really well, especially for young backpackers and, well, young backpacking couples.
Living area — and an awesome artwork by Gonz. And that’s Yolanda in the news.
During Happy Hour, beer in Boracay averages P70 for two, which makes it P35—or less than a dollar—a bottle. We don’t know about you, but that’s cheap, especially if you factor in the ambiance—beautiful sunset, fine sand on your toes, cushy chairs under coconut trees. Meanwhile, a tricycle ride is P10, a filling meal P50, a liter of water P5, a bed for the night P400—that is, if you’re not picky. And, not to forget, four kilometers of white sand—one of the best in the world—costs absolutely nothing.
We had one reason for visiting the town: to see the sardine run. At the end of two dives—one at Pescador Island and one at the reefs just off Panagsama Beach—we were left awestruck. It was, by far, one of the best dives we’ve ever had. It’s right up there with seeing such trophy creatures as the thresher shark in Malapascua, and lots and lots of sea turtles in Apo Island.
We would be spending three weeks in Cebu, yes, so we knew we would be visiting the town eventually. We just did not plan on doing it that soon.
We were inside a bus approaching Cebu City, having just come from a week-long stay in ATM-less thresher-shark-filled Malapascua Island. We only had P20 left in our pockets, which could carry us only as far as the nearest mall to replenish our funds. It was nearing dark, we had already been traveling for more than five hours, and we had psyched ourselves to collapse into sleep as soon as we arrived—which, until that moment, was supposed to be less than an hour away.
Apparently, that did not happen.
Somewhere along Mandaue before the bus could even reach the terminal, we decided that, yes, we would be going to Moalboal that same day. This meant another three hours on the road. But what the heck! We wanted to see the sardine run!
Bone-shaped Boracay was not well loved. We have always thought it was a hostile place for the average Pinoy with the hard-earned vacation leave and even more hard-earned vacation money. We’ve had more fun for less in other places.
But we found ourselves staying in this island for a month, partly for work and entirely by choice. The people we had met during this time—people with easy smiles who welcomed practical strangers like old friends—compelled us to look at the island the way they do. And in this respect, Boracay the pricey island was shoved, and in its place came an island that’s easygoing, laidback, and generous. It was generous in its natural beauty, and even more so in its people.
But then again we also had to live with things that lead many to call the island a sh*thole. I won’t be calling anybody’s home that, but this doesn’t make the bad drainage, choking traffic (both vehicular and pedestrian), and many other unpleasant images, mostly at the expense of the environment, any less real. They are.
White Beach itself isn’t as placid as I remember it from two years ago, and the changes in the tides have become drastic. There were days when we could barely walk along White Beach from Diniwid, as crashing waves lent some parts practically impassable with the slightest rains.
On the other side of White Beach in Boracay Island is Diniwid Beach, whose sand is just as fine and white but whose turquoise waters and jagged rock formations make for a unique beach experience altogether. With thinner crowds and less establishments, Diniwid Beach gives you peace and quiet—save of course for the crashing of wave against rock—a sound that lasts all day, every day.
Accounts online described the road to Casaroro Falls as “death-defying” and “very rough”. The road was clearly not something your average motorbike driver can negotiate, so driving there, when we’ve barely survived Busuanga, was out of the question.
It turned out the road wasn’t nearly as bad as Coron’s—the drive was a lot shorter (no more than 20 minutes), and thankfully, our driver let us walk the (short) path up the craggy slope while he practically walked the motorbike up.