Trip Start Jun 06, 2006
78Trip End Aug 22, 2006
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We boarded the four-engine prop, Asian Spirit plane with about 30 other passengers mostly Japanese. The pilot revved the motors; we were pushed back, and almost immediately pulled back in again. A moment later the stewardess informed us that there was a mechanical problem and we would have to change planes. Then just as we were standing and gathering our affairs, the pilot informed us that the problem had been resolved and we were to sit back down again. I was a little dubious about the seriousness of the "repair," but not enough to cancel the trip. We took off without incident and some minutes later arrived over Boracay.
To get to Boracay, one actually lands on the neighboring island, in the town of Cataclan. The airstrip is rather short and landing on it requires a rather steep approach, bordering on a dive. It was quite exhilarating. Our luggage was handed off to several porters and we collected a tourist agent to help us navigate our way over to a hotel. We walked a few meters to the motorcycle stand where motorcycle-sidecar taxis waited for us. It cost 70 pesos (about $1.40) per cycle. Tatiana got in one sidecar with me and Fiona went with Marjolaine. The suitcases went in racks on the back of the sidecar. It took about 10 minutes to get over a small mountain and to the boat landing. We passed through villages of houses made of bamboo and matting with grass roofs. Arrived at the landing a sign informed me that it cost 50 pesos per adult and 40 per student to cross to Boracay. I paid, and then I was directed to the fellow at the next desk where I was asked to pay for the boat passage. I asked what I had just paid. It was the environmental tax, came the reply. So I paid again, a little less than a dollar each to board one of the outrigger boats making the short run across the little straight. The boat wasn't using a dock, and the gangway wasn't long enough to reach the beach. So, either we would take our shoes off and wade out, or we could pay one of the young men waiting for opportunity to carry passengers out to the boat on their backs .... We waded. Porters placed our luggage on the roof of the boat. I was concerned that my laptop bag might roll of into the water, so I stood on the gunwales briefly to look at how the luggage was stowed. There was a lip on the roof to prevent things rolling off. As long as the swell wasn't too violent, it would suffice.
The wind was high and the water was pretty rough in the middle of the passage, but that stretch didn't last long. We again waded through the water at the landing on a beautiful sandy beach, walked up to the village where we again caught motorcycle side-car taxis to "zone two" where, I had been told, there was a suitable hotel for us. This ride took a little longer, and cost 100 pesos per machine. We finally ended up on a little street where the taxis weren't allowed to go any farther. We pulled the suitcases down the sandy street to the beach area, and were quite near the Lacarmela de Boracay. It turned out they didn't have rooms that suited us. "No problem", said the tourist agent, "you can leave the luggage here and go find something you like."
Marjolaine and the girls stayed in the lobby while the helpful agent and I went to look for other digs. Soon we came to the Boracay Beach Chalets, which was perfect for us. We took two of the air conditioned bungalows one behind the other. From our front porch we have a view of the sea only 25 meters out in front. It is a lovely view through palm trees. This is the monsoon season and there is a steady strong wind blowing and the sky is mostly overcast. Still it is a beautiful setting and very restful. We'll appreciate a two day break here before continuing on to Australia.