Adventures in the Philippines

by Katharine of on February 16, 2012

Less than 24 hours in the Philippines and I had already been scammed. I guess it was my own fault; had I waited for my friend at the right terminal, I wouldn’t have had to pay a driver 500 pesos ($11 USD) to drive me 300 yards in a sketchy white van.

In November my friend and I met in the Philippines for a week-long holiday. Neither of us had ever been, so we thought it would be great to share the excitement of a new country together. We decided to make Boracay Island our first stop because friends had recommended it to us, but what we didn’t realize was how our lack of advanced planning catapulted us onto an epic journey to (and from) Boracay Island.

So, there are two ways to get to Boracay Island from Manila - the short way and the really, really long way. We had to take the really, really long way because we didn’t book a flight in advance and got stuck with a late-night flight to Kalibo airport. Once there, we rode a tricycle to our hotel room, spent the night, and then endured a 1.5-hour bus ride to Caticlan to catch a ferryboat over to Boracay.

By the time we had arrived to our final destination - the Red Coconut Hotel - we were exhausted (did I mention it was only 1:30 in the afternoon by this point?), but without any delay, we threw our luggage on the beds, changed into our swimsuits and headed right for the beach. As I dug my toes into the soft, white sand I could feel all of the stress from that morning just melt away.

On our third day, we stumbled across one little gem of a restaurant, located in D’Mall. Now, I’m not a big fan of science fiction. I’ve never read The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, I’ve never watched the movies in their entirety, and I’ve never seen a full episode of Star Trek. But when we stepped inside The Hobbit House and got served by the world’s tiniest waiters (read: midgets), I was blown away.

I know what you’re thinking: Midgets serving you at a restaurant?!

YES. It was both awesome and uncomfortable at the same time. If you visit Boracay, you must eat at The Hobbit House (the nachos were amazing!), if only to experience the awesomeness (and awkwardness) of midgets serving you.

The island is quite touristy, but has a lot to offer visitors like scuba diving, sailing, paddle surfing, massages, and breathtaking sunsets over the water. Boracay is a bit more expensive than other islands (mainly because of the tourism), but your money still goes a long way here. We stayed at a nice resort, splurged on fruity cocktails, went paddle surfing twice, and ate at various restaurants every night of the week and we spent less than $1,000 USD combined for the week (also includes flights to and from Boracay island).

Six days of white sand, crystal blue water and tons of relaxing and it was time to leave Paradise and head back to reality. We actually planned in advance this time and booked flights back to Manila via SeaAir, however my jaw literally dropped when I saw that we were about to board a tiny propeller plane at the airport. After a turbulent two-hour ride back to Manila, I stepped off the plane no longer feeling calm and relaxed.

Sometimes half the adventure of traveling is the journey you take to get there.

I’ve been traveling the world for eleven months now. I’ve been to some great countries and I’ve witnessed some incredible things. It was my first trip to Southeast Asia, and it’s been one of the best trips of my life. There’s something exhilarating about traveling without any plans and not knowing how your days will be spent, because even though certain things didn’t unfold the way we wanted them to, it still turned out to be an amazing holiday filled with awesome experiences and priceless memories.

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