Birthday in Boracay
Trip Start Apr 30, 2006
7Trip End May 16, 2006
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I arrived in Boracay from Kalibo, 2 hours drive and boat away. The scenery en route was great, all pretty and green although I would have preferred to have been listening to some tunes on my discman, but I discovered that it, and my CDs, were in my backpack. I did a fair amount of ferretting in my bag to find them, but didn't want to go too OTT as there was a bunch of dirty underwear kind of sitting at the top rather than packed away neatly like I normally put it.
I came to the conclusion that I mustn't have locked my bag when it went on top of the jeepney from Sabang and that the riders on top must have helped themselves to it. Seething just a fraction at my idiocy, I let the green scenery calm my nerves.
The boat terminal at Caticlan is the jumping off point for everyone who wants to get to Boracay. There is a also a fee for every imaginable thing, a boat ticket, terminal fee, environmental fee, and there was probably a loo fee too.
First impressions of Boracay were pretty good. It looks a bit like a dog bone with the long white beach along the centre sections and hilly, rocky, tree covered sections at each end.
I was getting off at the last station (there are 3) so I got to witness our boat driver backing into 2 other boats as he left each station. My manouevering of the Mosquito isn't half as bad as this guy, and I'm assuming he gets lots of practice at boat crashing.
I didn't have any accommodation booked - where's the fun in that? - so I wandered along the narrow beach alley that seperates the buildings from the beach until I found a place I was considering. The price was inconsiderable, so I tried another and then another and finally came to grips with the fact that I was going to get charged 3 times as much as I had in Sabang for something less nice.
I then had to sort out a couple of things, money and food and then I would feel better about the whole situation. I wandered to D*Mall which is a big open shopping centre/strip that goes back from the beach and had lots of shops and restaurants where I thought I'd probably pass the time quite well.
After finally locating the ATM, I settled down to dinner at Rumba's. I can't say I've tried much Filipino food, and the options in Boracay are very international as you would expect of a major tourist destination - albeit mainly Asian tourists. I had finished my curry when a tall guy, who I mistook for an Israeli, came and spoke to the waitresses out front and was taking photos with them. He then came in and asked if he could join me. Thus was my introduction to Leonardo, the Brazilian.
I had a good chat with him, and we wandered down the beach for a fruitshake and then listened to some tunes at Jony's until I was ready for bed. He walked me back to my hotel, or at least I thought it was where I was staying but it was actually one of the ones I had tried earlier, and he arranged to meet me on the beach the next morning at 11am.
The next morning, there was no Leonardo on the beach. I even waited an hour, which is definitely pushing the limits of a new friendship as I don't wait for boys. After that I was hot, already getting a red tan and ready to eat something. If he did try to find me at my hotel, he would have gone to the wrong one, so unless I run into him on the beach (it is about 2km long) then that's the last of him, which is unfortunate as he could have been a good tanning buddy, Brazilians are good company on the beach.
I had a great birthday. Probably one of the best yet, despite being in a bit of a gloomy mood the day before due to not much going my way.
I got up early, 7am, to go kiteboarding. I had checked out some places the previous afternoon but none of them were open. When I was checking out one school, I went in and came out with a tiny brown labrador puppy at my ankles. I wasn't aware that he was following me until much later after having passed a construction site where the typical catcalls were replaced with woofing. They were all staring at me and I felt rather self conscious and thought that construction workers were the same worldwide. I was getting a little uncomfortable at the thought that I would have to turn around and walk past them again, and then I heard a yelp and discovered the puppy still at my ankles. He was the reason for all the attention and the strange woofing!!! That made me feel more than a bit silly! I walked the puppy back (he was so cute!) and someone told me to come back early the next day when the wind is best.
I started my first kiteboarding lesson at Hagabat and learned how to control the kite and then did some body dragging where you let the kite drag you along in the water, and then learned how to set up a kite.
My lesson finished at 12 so, with a big smile on my face at having achieved something, I wandered back and decided to get an hour long foot massage. It was blissful and she rubbed my calves which were still killing me from the walk to the Underground River on Tuesday - I already know from South America that walking up hills is not for me.
After that I had some Mexican for lunch and then a 2 hour siesta before heading out to do some shopping. I almost bought up an entire jewellery stand for $25 and the shop attendants were giggling profusely on the way out. I did manage to get a free keyring for being such a good customer.
I wandered along the beach at dusk, which is the busiest time, and had my photo taken inside a giant sandcastle which had the date on it. It's much harder to meet people here than I thought and I think I should have spent more time in Palawan than here, but oh well, I'll do a day or two more of kiteboarding and then if I want to leave, I can check out something on the island of Panay before I fly to Manila on Thursday.
I finished my birthday off with a lemon shake at Jonah's where I met Raymond, a Filipino engineer with a mobile phone company. He came and introduced himself after overhearing me talk to the waitresses about travelling alone. He was an interesting guy, very knowledgeable about all sorts of things and very humble. He even paid for my lemon shake which he said was a small price to pay for my company and making a new friend.
With that, I was off to bed for an early kiteboarding start the next day.
Things I Learned
* Birthdays by yourself are really rewarding, you are responsible for making your day great and there is no expectation of anyone (except an email from your parents!)
* People come to Boracay in couples or groups and there aren't as many Westerners as I would have expected.
* Not to assign blame without proper investigation. I found my discman and CDs in my backpack zipped away in a packing cube, right where I'd put them a few days before. Sorry Mr Conductor.