I spent 10 days on the island of Boracay (in the Philippines) and I loved it! It was the perfect first beach vacation. (Of course, because it was my first, I have nothing to compare it to :)
For some reason, I've had a really hard time writing about Boracay (I haven't even written in my journal about it yet). I guess I just have so much I want to share and feel like I won't be able to do it justice. I need to get over that. So, I'm just going to share some highlights here, share a couple others in their own posts and bam! Done! Boracay, blogged!
The first highlight is that I managed to pack everything I needed for 11 days (including travel) into a backpack! This is a big deal for me, as I'm known to pack a big suitcase for a long weekend. Of course, it helped that I didn't bring a blow dryer or straightener and that I spent most of my time in bathing suits and shorts.
A lot of the buildings we saw in Kalibo were run-down, but some were really colourful and I loved the bright signs everywhere.
I took a few tuk-tuks while I was in Boracay. Besides walking, it's the main way to get around the island.
The ferry we took from Caticlan to Boracay. It was raining, the plank was slippery, and I was worried I would fall in the water. (Spoiler: I didn't.)
Being new to traveling, the travel itself is still a highlight for me. I love flying, driving, and boating. I don't mind killing a few hours in an airport. I love people-watching and staring out windows at my surroundings. We flew from Beijing to Manila and then Manila to Kalibo. We hired a van to take us from Kalibo to Caticlan. And then we took a ferry from Caticlan to Boracay. Finally, we walked and took a tuk-tuk to get to our hotel. (And we did the whole thing in reverse to get back to Beijing :)
I have to walk how far to get to the palm trees and water? I don't know, man...
We stayed in a small hotel in Station 1, right on the beach. It was called "Sunshine Place," so of course I loved it. Plus, did I mention it was right on the beach? Aside from a minor ant problem and no wi-fi, it was a good place to stay. The staff was friendly and again, it was right on the beach.
Other than a small typhoon, the weather was perfect. Most of our days were sunny and it was hot! (I only checked the temperature one morning and it was 28°C at 9AM!) Even when it did rain, I didn't mind. (I love rain, especially when it's not the polluted rain we get here in Beijing.) I spent the one really rainy day reading at "The Crêpe Place" (below). And when it rained for a bit on New Year's Eve, I was at church (more about that later).
Swimming while it was raining was a wonderful experience. Fun and relaxing. Just like the whole trip.
Palm trees and sunsets. Enough said.
No, I don't mind seeing this while I eat breakfast.
Ti Braz was the restaurant we ate at most often. We called it "The Crêpe Place" because they had amazing crêpes (and they were 50% off on Tuesdays and Thursdays!). We ate breakfast there every day except once, and even ate lunch there a few times, too.
A whole page of their menu was devoted to crêpes; they had two lists, one of savoury options and another of sweet. My favourite was called "L'exotique." It was filled with fresh fruit and had a scoop of ice cream and chocolate sauce drizzled on top. I didn't get a picture of it (probably because I devoured it before thinking of photos), but the simple ham, cheese, and tomato crêpe I had (above) was mouth-watering-ly delicious, too.
"La fermière" was my favourite breakfast at Ti Braz, probably even more so than the crêpes. I ordered it every morning (except Tuesdays and Thursdays, of course). Eggs sunny side up, bacon, toast, a fried tomato, fresh fruit and yogurt, and tea or coffee. Yes, please! If I had a perfect breakfast, this would be it. (It was my first time having sunny side up eggs and I loved them!)
Being able to drink a fresh fruit shake every day was wonderful. I had mango, pineapple, watermelon, and chocolate-banana. I think the mango shakes were my favourite, but then again, I regret not having more of the chocolate-banana.
Corn on the cob on a stick. This guy was almost right beside our hotel. And I love corn on the cob. Obviously, I was in heaven. Just as I regret not drinking more chocolate-banana shakes, I regret not eating more corn on the cob on sticks. With butter and salt, please and thank you.
Apparently there's a place in Fredericton that has really delicious shawarma. I've never tried it, but you better believe it's on my list of Things to Eat When I'm Home. We'll see if it beats the oh-my-God-so-good shawarmas I ate from this cart. Not to mention the oh-my-God-so-good shawarma rice! And you know what makes shawarma even more delicious? Eating it on the beach. Yup.
Other food highlights not pictured: Pancit Canton, a traditional Filipino noodle dish; Graham, a sweet, creamy, fruit-filled dessert one of the guys who works at the hotel made; the spicy feta dip from a Greek restaurant right beside our hotel; and all of the seafood I ate. I love seafood!
Almost every night after dinner, we went to a bar called Bom Bom. We sat outside, drank San Miguels, and listened to live music. The musicians mostly played covers, but they played some original stuff, too. The only souvenir I bought for myself was Ferns Tosco's (above) CD. I really loved her song "Island Called Boracay." (It sounds even better live.)
My friends teased me because when we were in the Manila airport waiting to board our flight home, I sighed and said, "I only read two and a half books." To them, that's a lot, but I think I should have read more. It was so nice to lay on the beach and read. I have to admit, I was a little tired of the sun and sand by the end of our trip, so I spent the last day reading on the balcony of our room. The Art of Fielding, a breeze, looking up and seeing palm trees, and a toffee nut frappuccino made me a very happy girl.
On Christmas Eve, we returned from dinner to find ants -- a lot of red ants -- all over the floor. Eww. I was upset, until I heard the booms! that could only mean one thing: Fireworks! I ran to the beach (not far at all, remember?) and felt happier instantly. I love fireworks and so does my Nan. Watching those fireworks, I felt like we were together.
And on New Year's Eve, fireworks were set off all along the beach, for what seemed like forever. Magical. Grin-inducing. (I'm grinning right now.)
This girl. (Not the one with the greasy forehead, that's me; I'm one of the oiliest people I know, unfortunately.) Alanna and I were roommates on this trip and it worked out pretty well. From what I've heard, the people you travel with can make or break your vacation. We both had similar patterns (wake up early, beach, nap, shower, dinner and drinks, etc.), we liked hanging out together and doing our own thing, we did the whole "girl talk" thing, and we got along. I'm happy to report she's who I'll be traveling with next week!
When we got back to Beijing, a friend asked us, "If you had to pick one thing as your favourite from vacation, what would it be?" Of course, I couldn't pick just one, but I managed to narrow it down to three: snorkelling, parasailing, and attending mass on New Year's Eve. But I think they each deserve their own post.
P.S. I'm happy to report that it wasn't bad being away from home for Christmas. In fact, I didn't feel homesick at all. I think that's partly because I was with friends, partly because I was in paradise, and partly because I knew my family and friends were thinking of me (just like I was thinking of them).
P.P.S. I'm also happy to report that I seem to be over my extreme dislike of sand. It was kind of unavoidable; there was literally sand everywhere. And it helps that it was beautiful, white sand.