borocay - Where's Byrne?


08.12.2011 – 13.12.2011 Sunny 32 °C

Our journey from White Beach started with a free trip to Puerto Galera town, courtesy of our hotel and then an hours drive to Capilan in a minivan containing nineteen people in thirteen seats for 100P each. An A-Team style van switch in Capilan, 200 pesos and four-hours being squashed by women with babies, fat teenagers singing along to their iPods and men dressed as woman, we arrived in Roxas where we needed to catch the ferry to Caticlan, the commercial port for ferries and the gateway to Borocay. The ferry was 400P and took four-hours or so and finally we faced another 200P in fees and a fifteen-minute boat ride. We’d been travelling all day but we’d arrived at Borocay’s port. A final 250P tuktuk ride would take us from the port to the beach. Ten hours travelling me and Ram sat in a bar for a well deserved San Mig while the girls went out hunting for a hotel. Whist away I went to enquire about a nice looking one next to the bar we were in. $250 a night was the answer, ‘sleeps two’ she said. ‘But we don’t have any of those – they’re booked out, we have a $350′. I smiled and left. $350? At that point I thought we’d had it. When they returned the news wasn’t great but not as bad as I feared after going to next-door. Everywhere was either booked up or ridiculously expensive. One place stood out, Borocay Beach Chalets, a chalet on the beach funnily enough but was pricey at 6600P (£100) a night, this was with a twenty-five percent discount but still more than me and B wanted to pay. Ram and moi went to check it out. It was a bit of luxury (compared to what we had become accustomed to) and at 3300P (£50) for each couple it was almost priced correctly for what we woke up to each day (the chalet did in fact sleep six, with three double beds split across two rooms, three couples paying 2200P (£33) would have been well worth it). The first night was a bit mental with me and Ram getting on it and the girls bailing out at midnight. The nightlife was banging with some real trendy bars about and the longer the night went on the more drunk I got. I spoke to an Aussie who offered me out when I asked him about his flight (he apparently thought I said ‘wanna fight?’) and I got chatting to a group of locals who I tought some Pangasinan as none of them had ever travelled that far north. There were fit prostitutes aplenty and I certainly would have taken advantage had I been a single man. Most of them aren’t nice in The Philippines, in my experience, but there’s a better class of brass in Borocay. We got in the same time as the sun came up.

I opened the double doors the following morning/afternoon to an unbelievable view. The bluest water and the whitest sand I’ve ever seen was a proverbial stones throw from our door. This is what we were paying the money for. The heat hit you too. Fantastic, with five days already booked there. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough at that time to keep me from returning to bed. I woke a few hours later starving as were the other three and someone suggested an all-you-can-eat… – ‘I’m there’ I interrupted; Mongolian Buffet. ‘What? Mongolian buffet? OK, I’m game’. What the hell do Mongolians eat? It turns out the same as the Chinese do as that’s basically what it was. I guess the Mongolian part comes into it because of the way it was setup. Vegetables, sauces and spices, noodles and rice, meat and fish, all raw, you pick what you want and chuck it in a bowl and give it to some guy behind a hot plate who then cooks it all up for you. It’s nice and fresh so that’s good but the problem is there are so many sauces and spices available you want to try which means you need to go up five times at least to get five different dishes, chucking everything in a bowl would be gross. First time was good, second was nice and I got a stare, third was ropey and the staring girl who may have been a manager, made a smarmy comment of ‘back again?’. ‘Yes’ I replied ‘and I’ll be back again in 10 minutes’. That shut her up. It’s an all you can eat buffet for a reason and 3 bowls isn’t really gluttonous is it? Fourth trip wasn’t great and I got greeted with ‘are you going for our record?’ the cheeky bitch. I just nodded and told her I’d be back again in five minutes. Unfortunately I was full though. 300P isn’t bad but the only meat on offer was pork, beef that was doubling up as chewing gum and blue marlin which was also tough. Good for a visit, wouldn’t go back though.

We spent the following day on the beach and it was lovely. When it’s as good as that it would be a crime not to make the most of it. That night we went for another buffet, again all you can eat at, the other end of the beach past station two. Not bad although the freshly cooked stuff, the BBQ chicken etc was hard to come by. Every time you went up for some it was ‘reserved’. At 300P again, not a bad deal though.

The third day, again, we laid on the beach, with me getting on it at 8am because of a drunken bet with Ram the night before. Mwahahaha… 200P he owes me (£2.80 – that’s just how I roll). It started to rain at about 10 so I came in for a brief respite but was back out again at midday. You won’t be surprised to know I did get a nice tan from these five days! For dinner it was Gerry’s Grill, which I now know is a chain although I’d never seen one before. Despite most of their menu being ‘unavailable’ we had a nice dinner there, would recommend.

On our last day, I had to keep off the beach because my skin was sore, instead I walked up to the town with B to Chooks To Go, and bought a chicken and some bread for lunch… exciting stuff this ah! I used the rest of the day drinking more San Mig and trying to forget we were leaving in the morning. At night, we had dinner on the beach, Ram wanting a lobster, two kilo worth for 2500P with sides was a good deal judging by British prices and I even got to try a leg! Tastes like a big prawn. We’d had a fantastic time and the chalet we stayed in was perfect, it’ll live long in the memory.

We had a bit of trouble the next day trying to get back to Manila, with Filipino transport connections usually good I expected to turn up and go. This wasn’t going to go down well though, the booth bird said we’d missed the ferry that goes directly to Batangas. It had left at half nine, we were there at 09:45. We had to either stay another night, take a bus back the way we came through Mindoro, taking fifteen-hours or go to the airlines to see if we could get a flight. We decided on the latter as it was only five-minutes away and got a shock. 2650P for a flight leaving in four hours. With the direct ferry and bus to Manila only adding up to around 1000P the extra 3300P we had to lay out for the two of us just didn’t make good value for us so me and B decided to spend another night in Borocay and let the Ram and Karen fly. It was one and a half hours to Kalibo airport too at a further cost of 500P for two people so we’d definitely made the right decision. Upon getting back to the port we went to book our tickets for tomorrow on the ferry when the ugly Filipino girl said ‘no ferries tomorrow’ ‘WHAT?’. For fucks sake. we were now facing the fifteen-hour bus journey via two ferries. As staying another two nights would have cost us at least 4000P we went to get the bus and negotiated with the guy 1000P down to 850P each so it was cheap but we weren’t looking forward to it. The first part was the ferry to Roxas on Mindoro. Not bad, there were loads of bunk beds so I slept for most of the five hours it took to cross. Next up was a four-hour coach ride to Capilan where we’d pick up the next ferry. This was probably the worst part of the journey. It was bumpy, seemed to take forever and we were sitting in arctic conditions. What the fuck is up with the bus air conditioning units. Do they only have ‘a little bit cold’ and ‘death’ settings? We reached Capilan, struggling to get off the bus as my knees were refusing to move because of the cold and jumped on the next ferry, three-hours to Batangas. We left at midnight and was due to arrive at 3am. I couldn’t give a fuck at this point as I was still thawing out and stretched out taking up a whole sofa and sleeping the entire way. Splendid. At 3am we were two-hours away from Manila. We checked into a So Good hotel, a chain that must have come from Japan judging by their logo, for three hours (you know it’s quality when you can pay by the hour, and it was complete with red lights and mirrored walls next to the bed) so we could shower and have a little sleep and made our way to MOA to meet the Ram and Karen. We arrived at 08:30, so early, all the shops were still closed! Another day spent circling the biggest mall in Asia was good but the time had come for Ram and Karen to go home. We’d had a blinding two weeks together and a holiday I won’t forget. Cheers…

13.12.2011 – 17.12.2011 Sunny 29 °C

Back to Dagupan for a few days…

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