17.01.2012 – 31.01.2012 Sunny/Rainy 30 °C
The traffic was mental. You’d expect Manila to be a bit crazy for traffic like most South-East Asian cities but I’m sure circumstances were conspiring against us so we’d miss our flight. Luckily, we’d picked a cab who drove like a bat out of hell from the bus station, and good job he did because we arrived at Terminal four of Ninoy Aquino International Airport five minutes after the check in desk had closed. I thought we were done for but the helpful girl on the desk checked us in any way and told us to get our arses round to the departure lounge a bit sharpish. Running around the corner, through immigration and security we expected to jump straight on the plane but we actually had another half an hour until we took off. The flight was good and only half full, good marks for Zest Airways. All for £20 for the both of us too. Landing at Kalibo, an airport and hour and a half away from Caticlan, the gateway to Borocay, we took a minivan for 200P (£3) each and that included our 25P boat fee. Upon reaching Caticlan, sure enough we were hit for the 50P terminal fee and 75P environmental fee each but expected it so was happy enough. A pumpboat ride and a fifteen-minute tricycle journey on the other side for 100p and we were back on Borocay beach.
Next was finding a place to lay our heads for the night. Eight places we went into and they were either full or ridiculously expensive, until we found Roys Rendezvous, down an alley, set with 5 or 6 other guesthouses. It was late now and I was sick of enquiring, with the last place pissing me off a little, laughing at me when I said no to ‘did you book?’ Fucking pessimists. I knew we’d find somewhere. 1800P a night was the quote for RR but good old Olive, the elderly Filipino bird who owned the place (don’t ask me where Roy comes into it, her husband name was Pedro) accepted 1400P a night if we stayed for three nights. We probably would have stayed longer but she was fully booked after the three nights so we had to go. This actually turned out a blessing as we found the next day, A-Rock Resort, round the corner who agreed 11 nights at 800P a night with a further 200P discount. The bamboo cabin was pleasant enough, if a little ant-tastic. TV, Wi-Fi in reception and a comfortable double bed, with a single chucked in the corner too. Only snag was a cold shower but by the end of the week we were pretty used to it. Don’t get me wrong, it was never nice, but it got a little better with every one. I learnt little tricks like having it in the afternoon because the sun had heated the water slightly and getting your head and back of your neck under first because it brings your body temperature down making in not so much of a shock… I’m not just a pretty face.
Borocay’s a lovely place, with pretty much everything you could ask for from a beach holiday, after spending 3 weeks there though things do start to grate. The worst probably being the speed at which the zombie tourists walk along the main drag next to the beach. I know they are on holiday and not in a rush but they walk so slowly, you can’t get past. Then the Koreans and Chinese particularly, just stop in front of you to look at something and they give you funny grimaces when you walk into them. Twats. Another thing is how Filipinos don’t seem to know what a queue is, trying to push in from any direction.
Mountain Biking. Laying on the beach and eating good food were the activities planned for the fortnight although we did go snorkelling and mountain biking. Dave and Audrey, a nice couple we met in Borneo turned up half way through our stay there and were keen to actually do something other than lay on the beach (action – adventurers!) so we mentioned the snorkelling and biking that was available and if they would like to team up. Sure enough they were up for both and we went mountain biking the next day. The bikes (500P) each available at the back of the D’Mall were ropey at best, with us all having some problem or another. My problem was I only had one gear but was determined to make the best of it, whether I was stuck in number 6 or not. We toured around the island, stopping at Puka Beach on the northern tip. Borocay is only 7kms long and 1 wide so it’s fairly easy to get round it all in a day but the hills do make it demanding at times. Whilst there we had a bit of action, a boat with 6 tourists aboard had overturned with the tourists all splitting up and swimming to the nearest beaches, Puka Beach being one. Unfortunately the boats captain wasn’t found, let this be a lesson, don’t go out boating in choppy weather. The waves were massive that day. Onwards we went to Talawin where the highest point of Borocay is (60P to view). Was a great view even though the weather was crap. The ride there too was tough, being continually uphill. The convoys of Koreans in ATVs up your arse didn’t help either. When our time was up we started our ride back and my left pedal starting to swing out as it went round. 500 meters or so away from the D’Mall, my pedal came off, arm and all, and I was riding down the busy high street with just one. I tried to whack it back on but the thread on the nut which held the arm was sheered. I took it back, pedal in hand, turned, and left, quickly. Verdict: All in all was worth it, I’d recommend.
Snorkelling. The following day we arranged to go snorkelling. We set it up with a guy by the shore (2200P for three hours) and the four of us set off. The first place we stopped at was a bit crap actually, There weren’t many different types of fish to see although the corals were OK. Boating to our next destination was great, the wind blowing our sail back and forth, with us accelerating and changing direction constantly. It was a real buzz and I could feel myself burning too so I knew I’d top up my tan. We stopped a kilometer or so out at sea from Manny Paquiaos Beach House, we could see it in the background and it was smart. Unfortunately, the fish here were worse than the other place and I got pissed off pretty quickly after gulping down 2 huge mouthfuls of sea water because my shitty snorkel tube was bent, the waves kept going over the top of it. The current was strong too so with very little interesting fish to see, I jumped back aboard the boat to tan. Verdict: In hindsight this probably wasn’t worth it although the sailing made up for the poor variety of fish. Snorkelling in Palawan a few years earlier knocked spots off Borocays offering.
A few more days were spent milling around, finding a fantastic buffet at the Paris Resort at Station Two. At 380P + 10% each it was pricey (by Filipino standards) but served excellent food. Also round the corner from A-Rock we found Station 3 Sports Bar, run by John, a Mackem expat. Football and English food were on the menu and we took advantage of the fish and chips on Friday which was really good. Cream Dory fish (never heard of it but tastes like Cod) freshly battered with real chips and a banana fritter. Excellent at 150P. The 2 weeks flew by and it was time to leave for Hong Kong. We’d had a great time but was ready for a new place to explore. For a beach holiday, it really has it all. If you’re in the Philippines do not miss Borocay.