Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Sun Kissed Fun at Boracay Island Philippines

The year 2010 is really a blessed year for our family. It brought much fanfare and travel opportunities for us, here and elsewhere in the world. We started our travel adventure last January for a trip to Boracay, and so it seemed timely that we ended our travel fun, sun, sand & tan at Boracay once again.
Boracay Station 2
Boracay Sandcastles  line the beach at night time created by the locals 
This time via the online booking, we decided Microtel Inn & Suites Boracay to be our home for our 3 Days 2 Nights (December 4-6) adventure. Please read on my Microtel Boracay review on separate post.
Diniwid Beach 

We arrived at Iloilo at my in laws' place, where we will be staying most of our 1 week vacation. Please check out my AirPhilippines First Flight Experience for my take on it.

Ceres Bus Ride to Caticlan

From Iloilo, we had to take the Ceres Bus, that departs hourly or on regular schedule to Caticlan. The bus trip from Iloilo to Caticlan (vice versa) would take around 5 hours and supposedly with 2 main stops (Altavas Rest Area and Kalibo Bus Station). But for that time we only stopped at Kalibo. But the trip was no way express, meaning that it only stops at those designated loading/unloading area, because both for our trip going and returning, the bus loads and unloads as it pleases. Also, it stops in regular intervals to let the bus/company authorized auditor/checker to do regular head counts of the passengers, and do routine checks on the bus tickets. 

The bus versus the one I took years before is relatively new. It's clean and the air conditioner is relatively working more than fine. It was freezing cold! I had my scarf, my jacket and even my beach sarong to cover us. It's probably because of the early morning (4am) timing. The fare for adult was at Php 300+ and for the child at Php 200+. It's definitely a no frills bus, with no arm rest, no passenger grab handle, and the seats are still plastic covered so expect to experience some sliding left and right as the trip takes you to the long and winding mountainside and seaside way. 
Montenegro Fast Craft Ride to Boracay. Aboard the Fast Craft. Ceres Bus Ride Iloilo to Caticlan
Once in Caticlan Jetty Port, we paid Php 50 ($1+)  for the Terminal Fee, Php 50 ($1+) for the Environmental Fee and Php 30 ($ .75) for the Fast Craft (Montenegro) instead of the traditional pump boat ride (banca) which cost Php 20 ($.5). Personally, after being a regular visitor of the island, I preferred the Fast Craft because it's A/C, more convenient (you will not get wet from wave splashes), more roomy and faster.  But for our ride back, we left earlier (8am) and the Fast Craft first trip will only be at 9am, so we took the traditional banca ride. Also, at least my mom, who's a first time visitor to Boracay, got to experience a signature boat ride going to the island.

Boracay Signature Spots: Mama Mary Shrine (Groto). Great Swim and Sunbathing. Jonah's Shake                                       all located at Boracay Station 1
And then, finally, the Boracay Jetty Port!!! We were just another land trip away until we got to our hotel and then see the picturesque Boracay. I love staying in Boracay's Station 2. Our earlier visit this year we stayed at The Sandcastles Apartments.  The Station 2 is center for sun bathing, swimming, shopping and dining area. We just then take a leisure walk to Station 1 for Jonah's fruit shake, the classic groto (shrine) and then have a more intimate swim besides the shrine, which I like better because of it's pristine water and white sand. But for this time around, we tried staying at Microtel. It's past Station 1 called Diniwid Beach. It's between Nami Resort and The Beach House. From the Jetty Port, we paid Php 150 ($3+) for the tricycle ride that will bring us to our hotel. It was a really truly long trip. It's additional 20-minute ride after the usual pick up/drop off point at the Budget Mart at D'Mall located at the Station 2. It's literally a long and winding road going back and forth to Station 2 to Diniwid (Microtel) by hotel shuttle or public tricycle. The trail that connects Diniwid Beach to Station 1 is also similarly long and winding path. We took the footpath once, but since we're with my son, who easily tires with walking under the sun, we just took the hotel shuttle going to station 1 and station 2 and the back to the hotel.

More of Boracay Sights ...
D'Mall Plaza at Station 2 for dining, shopping etc. Miniature Eiffel Tower. Boracay's very own Tableau Vivant or Living Statues. Red Coconut.

Scrapbook photo opportunities are the classic Boracay sandcastles, wherein you can even have your name on it, and the newest addition to it, the Tableau Vivant or Living Statues located at the center of D'Mall Plaza. Both sandcastles artists and the mime actors would require a sort of a donation fee if you would want to take pictures of them or even be taken with them! :-) For us, Php 50 ($1) or more seems reasonable!

Smoke Restarant at D'Mall and D'Talipapa 
You'll never go hungry in Boracay! There's a variety of restaurants that offers local and international cuisines! Try a by the beach Dinner buffet...or you can shop for your own food and have it cooked in D' Palengke. Fast foods are also present in Boracay such as Shakey's, Andok's, Mang Inasal etc. There's of course the ever reliable Starbucks. But we love going to SMOKE (no frills resto!), we make sure that one of our meal will be there or when we stayed at Station 2, we even had food delivered from it. :-) It's also one of the cheapest meal choices only at Php 100 ($2 +) per meal. I love Bagoong Rice or Kao Pad Thai Fried Rice served with eggs, sweetened pork and green mangoes. My son loves Burger Steak. Smoke is also well known for its Beef Salpicao. :-)


Boracay Fancy and Fun Slippers
There's a whole lot shopping that can happen in Boracay too! It actually offers quite a dose of retail therapy! Please, learn to bargain or haggle to the street peddlers just in case you decided to check out their items. An initial pearl earrings that cost Php 1500 ($30+) can be brought down to Php 600 ($13).

Boracay Sunset
Relax. Breathe in. Breathe out. Another favorite and must have Boracay activity is to give myself the signature by the beach massage by the local therapists and they use coconut oil! I usually ready myself with my own sarong or wrap skirt! If you don't own one, fret not, there are a lot of stores, several designs to choose from... Although, there are also quite a number of massage parlors and spa's. Resort also offer in house services...Expect to hear their chanting...♬♪Massage Sir/Ma'am! :-) ♬♩

On a final note...

Dear Department of Tourism of the Philippines...

Both our Ceres bus rides, we had foreigner tourists on the trip. As a Filipino, I can't help but feel kinda uncomfortable on what they have to go through. Yes, Boracay is truly a great destination! But must it be that adventurous driven trip, that it becomes almost a game of Survival?! Endure and Persist to go to Paradise?! Why not make it the ultimate dream getaway from start to finish!? (Of course, the option to take a flight direct to Caticlan is always available, but of course it's is kinda pricey and for us Iloilo is still our main destination, so we can't really choose that for our option! :-) The Kalibo Bus Stop was very uncomfortable. The rest rooms and the parking area, since it was drizzling that time, was very muddy. Although the rest room are bearable, but couldn't the bus company or the tourism department do something to improve it altogether. Okay, this is me ranting...but maybe it's really part of the trip, and what awaits in Boracay is really like partaking a piece of heaven! Oh well, I'm just saying... ;-P

And then, I'm ultimately praying that we avoid proliferation of Tourist traps in Boracay. Again, I experienced in Kalibo Bus Stop Terminal, there was a man, who was giving out envelopes inside the bus, asking for church donations. Being charitable is also a way of life, but there should be an appropriate place for it and who knows if that's actually a legal organization asking for it or just someone pretending to be from a ministry. Like when dining alfresco in the restaurants by the beach, and then suddenly peddlers and beggars approached us, the guard informed them that they don't allow it. Surely there should be an appropriate place for it. They can stay along the walk ways, where the tourists can actually stop to check out the items they're selling or give donations at their own discretion (on second thought shouldn't the DSWD (Dep't. of Social Welfare & Dev't.) and DOT (Dep't. of Tourism) do something about it?!). The residents of the island should make an honest living out of the tourism industry, which basically brings upon their major source of income and employment. And besides they are at the forefront of promoting the Philippines to the world. 

Love,
Concern Filipina Traveler


And so to you, and you and you my dear friends...

Please Enjoy the Sweetness of Boracay! I hope that you ♥ it as much as we do! Cheers! :-)





2 comments:

chyng said...

and to add to Dear DOT letter,
pls address to the president to PLEASE STOP (utang na loob) the policy of those security guards in the mall who inspect our bags. I read a lot of foreigners' blogs that this is THE MOST IDIOT-EST thing in the world.

Well, I agree.

Des said...

Hi Chyng, totally agree!!! pretty please, I hope that someone can finally see the absurdity of it all!!

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Wifey to JB and Mommy to Chasey :) It's said that one's eyes are windows to one's soul. True! My eyes twinkle when I'm happy, they light up with my smile. I’m no frills! I'm easy to read (except during Poker). I easily get teary eyed on practically both happy and sad things. I'm overly emotional! UP,Toy Story 3, and Glee made me cry with delight.My hubby is my source of strength. He balances that side of my personality. He made me a more self-reliant person.I love being a mom. But be it known that I tend to be OC, paranoid, and definitely see my self as a stage mom.I can't help but throw him parties every year.I love to read. If there is a lifetime membership to Book Lover's Club, I've probably signed in as early as Grade 1. I'm blessed to have a special relationship with God. He is my confidante. I practically talked to him anywhere and anytime about anything. I'm a Kapampangan and supposedly known for having culinary skills.This still needs to be found perfected, but for sure, I can say I'm a gourmand!I love to eat and it shows!Oh well!Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder and Happiness is only a state of mind. From today onwards, I intend to live in a Happy Mode!Cheers!