Runs on food and music, will sing for chips and pasta.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Of dust showers, sun burns and Pesos - part three

Report no. 4, June 26, 8:08am

Boracay Island - Manila - Angeles City - LCCT (KUL)

sunnin' on Boracay Island

We got two full days on the island. Day one of arrival could only be considered as half day, we got there late afternoon.

It got bright as day by 6am, sizzling hot by 10am. We got up early to make our minutes count...

Day two on the island, our first full day there.

Walked past a Henna parlour, JW asked if I was up to it. Am not a fan of body art but I said yes, holiday mood I think.

JW getting her pretty flower drawn on
Mine was a big ass gecko, I went all the way with my holiday mood `tourist-tattoo' shopping.
Satisfied customers
Romar is a great tattoo artist
I present to you, Boracay Island, day and night, the malls and its people
Goodbye for now Blue Mango Inn...after two and a half days on the island, it was time to leave the peaceful heaven and dive back into our journey back home. Next stop, Manila.
Hunting in Angeles City

We decided not to stay in Manila for the night as our flight back to Malaysia was from Clark airport, that's about three hours away from Manila. So we took a bus from Manial bust terminal to the nearby city, Angeles for our last night at Philippines. Early next morning we would be out of there and straight to airport and home.

We arrived on yet another tiny tricycle to our hotel for the night, in Angeles - Swiss Chalet Hotel & Restaurant
The neighbourhood

After checking in, w enjoyed our spacious hotel room and its comfy bathroom and bed till we finally dragged ourselves out of there, hunting for dinner.

Dinner at Red Sea restaurant, Arabic food, it was one of the cheapest and best fancy food we've tasted since we got to Philippines.

The night scene, major `hunting routine' for the people there. I quote Wikipedia - "Since the early days of Clark Air Base, Angeles City has become known as a center for prostitution. This industry increased greatly after the end of World War II."

Heading morning, June 21

On the way to get a fair rate taxi/jeep-nee to Clark Airport...
In the jeep-nee later, I said JW looked like a happy Japanese tourist in a jail truck...
We were over-efficient, we got there about three two and half hours before check-in time, like many other passengers...guess what, the airport was closed. Closed, airport personnels have yet to arrive, so we waited outside.

I went there looking midly like a Philipina, came back looking exactly like one. Talk about taking in the culture...the day after I went to a gas station and the guy worked asked if I were from Philippines, he was right! I was!

Hours later, back in LCCT (KUL), our silly little bag of check-in liquids over 100ml .
It was a good budget trip, though we kind of did splurged in the food department. Met deadly interesting people, experienced things that taught me lessons (priceless), learned to let things go (in many ways)....

I wouldn't have want it any other Henna tatto is almost all gone now and my tan looks a bit out of place back in the city but I've got what I got, the memories of Malapascua, Cebu bus drivers, Boracay sea, Manila kids, the white shell eggs, the dogs on the beach, clear sky in Boracay...

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Of dust showers, sun burns and Pesos - part two

Report no. 3, June 24, 5pm

Malapascua - Maya (Cebu) - Kalibo - Boracay Island

We got up on the quiet island of Malapascua early, 630am. Roamed the neighbourhood, I was armed with my camera and a pair of goggles...but not with my extra camera battery. Half way the battery died...I found out that it was the battery later and not something else, so I missed out the spectacular sights of the village and its people.

The shots taken before the battery died

After that the camera stopped was the battery.

We left the resort compound and roamed into a village area where we met gaze of the villagers while they went about their morning routine. I couldn't quite tell whether they were indifferent or just shy.

We came to a basketball court where some kids were shooting balls. We stood there and watched and then a man came and talked to us. He claimed to be the manager of the island/village and his job is to take care of the island's development and he was happy to showed us around the island.

He did. His name is Boy. From about 7am we walked around with him right up to 1pm, when he walked us back to the resort and sent us off to the boat (we had to leave for Maya for the night's stay).

JW and Boy (taken after I changed the battery)

It's a small village, Boy seemed to know most anyone there. He showed us the schools, the primary and secondary school; told us the stories of the island, the people residing there, his family stories; showed us the light house, brought us to some posh resort that was still being completed and took us swimming on private beach...introduced us to the housewives who sold home cook dishes outside their cottages and organised brunch (he picked up one dried salted fish at his relative's house, with his help we bought two sweet and sour gravy fishes and some rice).

There was no vegetables being sold near where we had our brunch so I made do with the little vegetables in the sweet and sour fish gravy and the white rice. Boy borrowed utensils from his sister's house and took us to the yet-to-be-open restaurant by the sea (owned by the famous Philipina actress and model, Pilla Pilla Pill). He got a young boy to fry the salted fish for us, and that was served with cut onions soaked in vinegar.

So we ate standing around a table in that new and empty restaurant overlooking the blue sea. I was given most of the vegetables in the gravy and much rice, it tasted great. JW and Boy savoured the fishes with gravy and the vinegered onions. It was a busy affair, we had to fend our lunch from the buzzling flies.

Afterwards we took the empty dishes and utensils to the beach to wash away the sauce and clean them.

Boy said his aunty's daughter lives and works in East Malaysia so he was going to take us to the aunty's house on the island, to ask for her daughter's contact number. We explained to him that East Malaysia is far away from where we are from, KL and Singapore. Still, we ended up walking to this lady's house, her house is one of the uncommon brick houses in that neighbourhood.

I sat on the chair in that spotless house, trying to stay awake (tired, hot sun, humid air, just after lunch, you get the picture) while JW, Boy and the lady chatted. They asked how much would flying to Malaysia cost and how long is the journey, etc. Boy then got the lady to scribbled the telephone number of her daughter working in Sabah.

We finally got back to our little cottage at 12.45pm to shower and pack for our boat ride out of Malapascua, at 2pm.

Bye bye Malapascua and our friendly guide, Mr Boy...
Boy graciously arranged us a fast ride over to Maya via his cousin who operates the boat. There were only two of us on board when we left the island, we were only told to pay 40 pesos each.

Our boatmen...

the cousin
Back at the Maya jetty, we now need to figure out how to get to Skip's Beach Resort to spend the night, so that early the next morning we could catch that crazy 4-hour bus ride back to Cebu city to take our next flight over to Kalibo, to get to our next destination - Boracay Island.

After walking under the sun for about fifteen minutes we took a jeep-nee and told them to let us down at the College of Fisheries where the resort is just nearby.

Imagine my delight when we arrived at the resort...
Skip Ellsworth is an American who escaped the States to live in this simple life of running the resort in the little place of Maya, Philippines. Middle-aged, calm, cool and spoke in a languid manner, after he settled us with our rooming options for the night, he disappeared into his living quarters of the upper floors of the resort.

We were left to the good hands of his wife, Belle and her helpers who gave us a nice spread of late lunch.
Belle and her little sister, a pretty and shy fellaBelle, her 2nd baby and folks hung out at the verandah, beautiful life they must have
I hung out on the hammock, but only up to the point when the mossies started eating me...

Next morning

Again, we got up very early and checked out of the resort. We waited opposite The College of Fisheries for the bus to arrive. The road being non-tar, is a dead sea of dust and dirt when there's is no traffic but all you need you is a vehicle as small as a bicycle to go pass and you will get a mini dust storm going at you. Imagine a bus coming at you on that road, major dust showers, no kidding.

I had my reliable pareo ready at hand to shield myself, at least from top down to my waist, from the dust. I spared JW my other pareo for the journey.

Later on the open bus we tried out different looks of the `Dust-storm Riders from Malaysia'.

JW's look
This is my no-frill option of staying out of dust
scene from the bus
scenes from the bus ride

After the flight from Cebu to Kalibo, we were ushered to a van going to Caticlan, Aklan for a boat ride to the heavenly Boracay Island. After two hours we arrived at the Caticlan ferry/boat terminal where `herds' of tourists were told to pay up terminal fees (50 pesos) and environmental & admission fee (50 pesos) before we board the boat.

Boracy Island....finally

We took a tricycle (an experience not to be missed by travellers) to Station 2 where the tourist centre is located. According to JW, Station One is the area where all the posh resorts are, the prices go down as you go towards Station Two and Station Three.

Naturally we walked towards Station Three after we finished our business at the tourist centre. All along the way we had to smile politely while saying no to sales people from resorts, boat operators, para sailing operators and etc.

While trying to escape from them, we walked into Blue Mango where we met Vaughan Pratt who coolly assured us that we wouldn't at all find another inn with package that rival his. We looked at the cabin room that he recommended to suit our budget for the three days stay on the island. We took the room for three days, passing over the initial plan of staying at posher room. The cabin room has a big bed, a cable TV, clean bathroom and our stay there comes with free Internet usage at the restaurant hall.

The man and the girls
We unpack with glee and took our time to freshen up and got ready for our dinner at the happening, buzzling stretch of Station Three leading up to Station One.

Sand castle...

The island is a different life for us, most things are commercialised, everything is convenient if you have money. If you don't feel like walking on sand from your restaurant back to your resort a few blocks down, you can hire a tricycle to take you there. There are taps along the stretches of retail outlets for you to wash your feet, fruit vendors all along the beach; hot? Step into a shop right there to buy a hat, or pamper yourself with a wide array of ice cream parlours, or how about air-conditioned and five stars hotel lobbies for a drink?

It poured within 10 minutes after we walked out of our cabin to hunt for dinner. We squeezed past crowds and eascaped into a quiet sports bar for Mongolian buffet dinner, 225 pesos per person. After dinner we walked over to Red Pirates bar (recommended in printed guide literature), hoping to find some lively night life there but it was QUITE empty.

I actually can't remember what I did after that except I did tell JW that I fear that I would gain back all that weight I lost in the past three days walking, riding on buses, plane on this island where leisure is the main agenda.

Stay tune for report no. 4 of the rest of our stay in Philippines.

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