Written by Ryan with additions by Kay in Italics.
03.05.2015 - 09.05.2015 33 °C
So it’s currently day 4 in Boracay (9th May 2015) 5 days after leaving the UK. Lots of new experiences already, and several lessons learned.
The flight from Heathrow to Mumbai (with Jet Airways) was fairly normal, but apparently there are now gaming handsets on planes!!! Very exciting but unfortunately no pokemon. One thing we found out the hard way is that in some cultures passing wind is not considered as taboo as in the UK, which is not very pleasant in a pressurised cabin with recycled air. The plane itself was surprisingly comfortable, lots of leg room, regular meals and a large variety of in flight entertainment.
Mumbai airport was a nice surprise. Lots of shops, bars and restaurants (Kayleigh trying to get into beer for casual drinking). There was some entertainment in a central area with choreographed dancing and loud music. It was an interesting change from the boring British airports everyone is used to, but with only a 2 hour stop over we didn’t really have time to explore a lot more.
Mumbai to Bangkok at about 1am (Mumbai time) wasn’t a pleasant flight. We were both getting tired and Kay had a migraine, but luckily it went as soon as it arrived. I managed to get about an hours sleep on the plane, and Kay a bit less.
We had an 8 hour stop over in Bangkok Survanabhumi airport, which felt like an eternity. A croissant and coffee perked us up a bit. We found a seat near out check in gate and managed to watch a whole film while we waited. Thank god for showbox! The Voices with Ryan Reynolds is a bit bizarre but quite good.
The flight from Manila to Bangkok was tough, at this point we’d gone almost 48 hours with no sleep and it seemed as if the hotel in manila was a million miles away. We tried to pass the time by reading and doing puzzles but all we really wanted was a comfy bed and to not be on a plane!
We landed in manila about half 5 in the evening and after clearing customs and picking up our bags we headed into the inevitably expensive taxis with the craziest driver. We soon realised it wasn’t just him, but everyone. Looking out the window we soon forgot about it and got lost in the sights of the city. It was hectic, busy and still bustling. We saw jeepneys for the first time - elongated vans that people sat in the back of and worked like a bus service. One had a picture of Jesus and a fire breathing dragon, bizarre.
Arriving at the Bayleaf hotel 45 minutes later felt like heaven! The staff were very welcoming and we made use of what we knew would be our last bit of luxury for a while. We showered, ordered room service (still surprisingly cheap for such a posh hotel) and slept like the dead for a solid 12 hours.
Because we missed a nights sleep we had no jet lag at all! We got up and went for a really nice breakfast and checked out. The staff were pretty surprised when we asked for advice about getting the ferry to Boracay, seems like most people choose the 1 hour flight over the 20 hour bus/ferry journey.... fancy that. They were very helpful still though and phoned around a few companies for us. At this point we were a little scared of Manila.... it looked pretty scary from the taxi last night, and we surreptitiously stepped out into the heat to find the travel agents office that the hotel staff gave us directions to. Turns out it wasn’t scary at all and we found the office pretty easily. I (Kay) had to get used to being ignored.... which I don’t like. Its all ‘Have a nice day, Sir’ and ‘thank you, Sir’, to be honest I’m still trying to get used to that!
It cost 1350 peso each for the ferry and 167 peso for the bus to the ferry port, which is about £20, compared to the £100 flight, so it was a lot cheaper. I’m not gonna pretend it was easy... but it was a great immersion into the Filipino culture and the 4 hour bus to the ferry port was really scenic. We stoked our newby backpackers egos by travelling as the locals do and not like the tourists. After the 4 hour bus and then the 4 hour wait, came the 11 hour ferry ride. We have to point out that we were the only white people on the journey (until two American guys turned up) and the locals were very stare-y! I (kay) was wearing my most conservative outfit, a long legged baggy playsuit with spaghetti straps but after constant tutting and clicking from the men, which we quickly learned was the equivalent of a cat-call, I hid under a big scarf.
The ferry was quite big, not as big as a P&O ferry to Calais, but big enough to fit 2000 people. We found our bunks in the ‘upgraded’ accommodation, right next to a Filipino family with a very young child. After sitting for a bit to let everybody settle down, we locked our big backpacks to our bunks and took our smaller ones (with the valuables in) exploring round the ferry. We had our free meal, rice and the skankiest looking chicken I have ever seen. Kayleigh obviously didn’t touch hers, but even I couldn’t eat all of it. On the top deck there was a bar area with a guy singing some classic ballads and local favourites. We had a beer chilled for a bit. I looked around and had the revelation that this was absolutely crazy. “Why are we here!? What are we doing?” I asked kay. We were on a ferry with 2000 Filipino locals, in the middle of the sea, and this is just the first few days; and probably wont be the weirdest experience we’ll have. Retiring back to our bunks, we thought we might as well try and get some sleep as it looked like everyone else was. I checked my bag and realised the one unlocked pocket had been raided, someone had stolen a Natwest card reader (of no use to them) and a few old receipts (also of no use to them). That was a bit disappointing but not the end of the world. I think I managed an hour or two again, but kay got nothing. There was still two hours left of the journey when I woke up, so I got some breakfast and we just monged until we reached Caticlan port.
It looked absolutely beautiful, and even at 9am the heat hit us like a wall. It must have been 30 °C. It took about 45 minutes to queue up at the ticket booths, and buy a travel ticket, an environmental fee ticket and a terminal fee ticket, which came to about 200P. The boat journey to Borocay took about 5 minutes, and another 5 minutes in a trike taxi took us to the road of our hostel “Frendz”.
We were a little disconcerted at the dodgy looking alley way that we had to walk down to get to the hostel, it was narrow, rocky and just generally dangerous looking. Half way down the alley was our hostel and at the other end of it is the beach! The hostel itself is great, nowhere near as nice as the hotels we are used to but at £15 a night, it’s as good as can be expected, and it’s pretty cool, with a big central bar area full of other travellers at any time of day. Our room has a big double bed, an en suite and plenty of room. We went straight to bed for about 4 hours!
The place is absolutely amazing, really nice beach, very friendly atmosphere. Lots of people trying to sell you day experiences or random tat on the beach, but they in no way pester or annoy you.
On the second day we met an American couple called Sabrina and Reece on the beach who were just at the end of their year away. They were super friendly and we arranged to meet up with them a bit later for drinks at a bar called Coco bar, which was all done up like a jungle inside. To cut a long drunken story short, we had a very fun night and at the end of it we realised Kayleigh had lost her phone. At this point I was very drunk, and after being told by everyone to not trust people as they will all steal your things, I accused Reece and Sabrina of taking Kayleigh’s phone. Obviously they hadn’t, and we found it had been handed in at a bar. I felt like a dick, and probably put them off being friends with us again. Lesson learned: some people are just nice and not out to get you :p.
So now, after a very hungover day, we are sitting outside a cafe writing this up on the laptop with an ice chocolate and the cacophony of the intermingling music from various nearby bars and the people streaming past and feeling pretty happy we decided to quit everything and go travelling!!
Pictures to come soon