Sunday, March 30, 2008

Boracay Virgin

Last Holy Week was a memorable one for the entire family (Mom, Pop, Kyle and I). It's the first time in the longest time that we went out-of-town for the Holy Week and it was our first time as well to visit the famous island of BORACAY (yep, first time for ALL of us...Ü).

I know...HOLY WEEK + BORACAY = NOT a good combination. But on the contrary, the island was NOT as crowded as I expected it to be. I was brazing myself for a crowd as big as that of Puerto Galera during summer weekends, even preparing myself for long queues in the restos there, but that was not the case at all. I guess everyone was expecting Bora to be crowded this summer so they opted for another vacation spot, which all ended up on a good note for us Bora-Holy-Week-Vacationers.Ü [According to the son of my dad's friend who's been to Bora on a Holy Week before, and was also in Bora the same time we were there, it was much crowded then than it was now so...YAY! for us! HAHAHA!Ü]

Seeing as we went there on a Holy Week (Wednesday to Saturday), the rates of all the hotels there were at their peak. And seeing as the place we were aiming to stay at was already fully-booked (we were trying to book at around January and they were already full), we had to stay at a much more expensive place, which was the Boracay Regency Beach Resort. We got a Superior Room (P8,993.60/night with complimentary buffet breakfast & welcome drinks for 2) at their Garden Wing, which is the newest wing in their lot and is actually located at the back of the resort for those aiming for "seclusion and privacy...without sacrificing the convenience of being within close proximity to the beach." Since there were four of us and the maximum capacity for the Superior Room is only 3 adults, we had to get an Extra Bed at P1,200 which includes a complimentary buffet breakfast and welcome drinks. [NOTE TO SELF: Room # 276, where we stayed, is a-OK coz it's facing the morning sun, hence presko in the afternoon when the sun is at its hottest].

Since PAL flies only to Kalibo (and not Caticlan), we had to take a bus ride, a boat ride, and a van ride to get to the island of Boracay. We availed of BR's (Boracay Regency) roundtrip land and sea transfer via Kalibo which is P850/pax (P600/pax if via Caticlan), and is still exclusive of the P50/head Environmental Fee (for some reason, they forgot to charge the four of us with the P50/head Environmental Fee...hehehe!) and P100/head Terminal Fee at Cagban Port (P50 upon arrival, P50 on departure).

We left Manila via PR321 leaving at 0925H and landed in Kalibo Airport after a very quick 45-minute plane ride. Had an hour and a half bus ride (the bus was fairly new and is operated by Southwest Tours Boracay) to the Fairways & Bluewater Resort's port (the other passengers of the bus who won't be staying at Boracay Regency were dropped off at a different port), then took a 10-minute boat ride to Cagban Port at Boracay Island. We then had a 15-minute van ride going to our ultimate destination which was Boracay Regency. We were starving when we got there since it was past lunchtime already, so after checking-in, we headed off to find a place to eat and ended up at Gasthof, which is famous for their ribs. True indeed, their ribs are a-OK but I can't say the same to their Tenderloin Steak which is NOT GOOD. It wasn't tender to begin with (what a contradiction!)!

Aside from Gasthof, the other places where we dined at Boracay are:
  • BR's Prince Hendrik Cafe - This is where we had our complimentary buffet breakfast for the 3 days that we were there Ü

  • BR's Cafe Christina - We ate here for Thursday dinner and needless to say, I probably wouldn't be coming back anytime soon (or, ever?). Had a traumatic experience where I threw up everything I ate for dinner at 2AM Friday and Dad even had to call the front desk to ask for 2 pcs. of for me and one for Kyle, who's tummy was acting up as well. Then whole day Friday I was sick with fever [I stayed in the whole day...what a bummer =( ] which is probably still an effect of the food poisoning incident from the night before (for some reason, I was the one who got struck the worse)

  • BR's Room Service - We ordered Calamares, Pansit Bihon, Pansit Sotanghon, and Mushroom Soup from their menu (on 2 different occasions) and the food is fairly good. Their pansit were full of sahog, but their mushroom soup is just the Knorr-type (hindi man lang Campbell's...I should know, i'm a mushroom soup expert! Hehehe...)

  • D'Talipapa - Boracay's version of Dampa. We at dinner here twice and here is where I saw the largest prawns I've ever seen in my life so far. They were huge! And they cooked it inihaw-style and it was really yummy!Ü

Of course, one goes to Boracay not really to eat but to bask under the sun and enjoy the sand and sea. And that was exactly what we did. My initial reaction when I got there was: "Oh my God! Ang ganda ng sand!!!" I cannot begin to explain how divine (huh?Ü) the sand is at was white and fine and for some strange reason, it doesn't get hot even if it's exposed for hours under the sun. And the beach...WOW...super clear. However, the water was cold so it would usually take me a few minutes to get used to the water's temperature before I can fully submerge myself in it. Also, there were seaweeds (is that the english for lumot???Ü hmmm...algae? well, anyway...) getting washed-off along the shore, which happens every year when the cold weather exits to give way to summer...that's according to our dive instructor friend who works at Boracay. Anyway, once you get past the lumot-full shore, you'll get to appreciate just how clear the water at Boracay is.

We went to Discovery Shores on our 2nd day at Bora to visit Mom's friend Corina who's a pastry chef there. And with her boss' permission, we were given a beach bed infront of the resort, a butler named Hector, and brownies & cookies made by Corina herself (yum yum! especially the cookies...crunchy on the outside but with a chewy center!). Hadn't the resort been fully-booked at that time they would've shown us the different rooms that they offer (lowest price for that Holy Week is a Junior Suite at $650++...not sure about the "++" part)...but they were full so I guess we'll have to try our luck next time.Ü

Personally, I don't think there's any difference between the beach in Station 1 (where Discovery Shores is) and Station 2 (Boracay Regency, etc.). They're practically the same so I guess the very big difference in price are: (1) the crowd - although the difference is not too obvious during our stay there; and (2) the facilities and services offered to the guests - you have your very own butler who immediatly comes at your beck and call...arranges your slippers or any you cool cucumber for your eyes...anything and everything that you can think of you can ask from them and they'll give it to you in a jiffy.

We were there for half a day and had to say goodbye around lunch time in order for Kyle and I to make our 1pm scuba diving appointment with Corina's husband, Chito, who works at Seraph Hotel which caters more to the Korean crowd. We joined in on 2 Koreans who were also on their introductory dive. We were first taught how to breathe underwater in the pool then we all rode a van to get to Station 1 where their speedboat is parked. The speedboat took us to the middle of the ocean where they have a boat stationed that contains all the equipment needed by the divers. I let out a sigh of relief when I learned about this coz it means I wouldn't have to carry the heavy oxygen tank on my back from one point to another. They actually put it on me when I was already in the water, sparing my entire body from carrying such a heavy load (Yay!Ü).

Good thing my brother and I had that scuba activity on our 2nd day in the island because as fate would have it, the parasailing activity that I promised not-so-little brother will be going down the drain because of me getting sick the next day =(. We actually scheduled it already and mom and I even had to haggle with Mang Ago (referred by a friend, contact # 0927 635 6961...i'm sure he wouldn't mind that I gave out his number.Ü) about the price, which he could only lower to P1,900/head (others were offering it at P2,500/head). We were supposed to parasail at 10:30am on Friday but I was too sick to get out of bed so we had to cancel it at the very last minute (I was still hoping against hope that I would get better, but didn't). So...that parasailing promise to not-so-little brother still remains...maybe on our next visit to Bora or to wherever place that we get shipped off that offers that activity.

On our last day at the island (Thank God I was feeling much much better!Ü), we tried to fit in as many things to do as we could so we ate breakfast at the hotel's cafe, went shopping for additional pasalubong at D'Talipapa (we already bought some keychains and magnets at 7 pcs for P100 the night before), swam at the beach, swam at the pool...all on top of fixing our things and getting ready for check-out which was 12noon. We also availed of our 3 complimentary "Welcome" Drinks on our last day (so it was more of a "Goodbye" drink...Ü) and what we ordered was their Green Submarine as suggested by Rainier, the one who accomodated us at the Front Desk (Mom said, "Ano nga yung ni-recommend nila? Green Barracuda?" Huh?!?...HAHAHA!Ü). By 1pm, we were already on the bus en route to Kalibo to catch our PR326 flight back to Manila. We had our late lunch at Latte Cafe at the Kalibo airport while we were waiting for our flight. The food was decent enough, especially if you're hungry, and the place had better air-conditioning than that of the departure/waiting area, which was small and got so full since there was also a Cebu Pacific flight departing at probably the same time as ours.

So...I guess that's all I have to say about this trip, which will forever be embedded in my memory (until the next best trip comes along, I guess...hehehe!). But before I end this, I just have a few more additional NOTES TO SELF:

(1) The tricylces traversing the main road (behind the beach) charge only P7/pax if you stop (make para ??? hahaha!) them in the middle of the road. But if you ride those tricycles that are lined-up on the side of the road (those waiting for passengers), they charge you as much as P50-100 (I guess they get to fool a lot of foreigners with this jacked-up price). Also, don't ask "How much?" (Magkano?) since that's a dead give-away that you're a tourist and they'll probably charge you much higher than usual.

(2) BR didn't provide any newspapers during our stay there (we got spoiled by Baguio Country Club where we even get to choose what newspaper we want Ü)...probably because it was the Holy Week and there aren't newspapers published during those days. But how come there was no newspaper for Wednesday and Saturday (i'm assuming newspaper companies have published on those days...It's usually just Thursday and Friday that they go on "vacation leave")? Oh well...just my thoughts...Ü

(3) Park N' Fly rates are as follows: P280/day; P11.66/hour...exclusive of 12% VAT. But if you'll be leaving your vehicle for more than 3 days (like us), they give discounts so we just had to pay a little less than P1000 for the 4 days that our loveable "school bus" was parked there. Also, their service is a-OK...we didn't have to wait a long time for a van to bring us to the airport, and we also just waited a few minutes for a van to pick us up at the airport when we arrived.

(4) D'Mall...for when I feel the urge to shop, I drop by here.Ü I didn't realize that this "mall" strip is actually quite long...from the beach all the way to the main road...and there are a lot of stores to see (they even have a Crocs store there!).Ü I so wanted to try this crepe store there...I think the name is Crazy Crepes...but I just completely forgot about it. So I guess i'll just try their crepes next time. Also, i'm a suki of the Budget Mart there. I keep on dropping by here to buy cup noodles and chips, while my dad gets his midnight snack essentials at the Julie's Bakeshop across Budget Mart.

(5) Have my hair braided the next time i'm there.Ü

Gosh...kasing-haba ng NOTE TO SELF ko ang aking blog! HAHAHA! 'Til next time guys! Ciao!Ü