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Right now I am listening to the sound of roosters crowing. ER-ER-ERRR-ER-ERRRRRR. Most days I awake between 4 and 5, and at first it was in part to these annoying creatures. And they don’t seem to stop, either! They continue crowing all through the morning and rest of the day! Don’t they have some sort of internal alarm??? As for other animals, most people have dogs, poorly kept, scraggly little mongrels, fur matted and ribs protruding, left outside to weather the mud and rain. There are not very many cats, I’ve seen half a dozen at most. When I first got here, Marilac and Jungi were questioning what I would and would not eat. They asked if I would try dog. I said “You eat dog?!?!” Apparently it’s good. Tastes like chicken. Ummm, no thanks, I think I’ll pass on Benji.

So, on Monday morning, we woke up bright and early (around 4:30-ish) and packed for our trip to Boracay Island. Four of us – Christianne, Tara, Marla, and I – piled into Jungi’s van as we trekked across the city in search of the bus terminal. I guess we missed the bus since we had gotten lost once or twice, so we had to follow it to its next stop before we could board. On the bus we met up with another of Christianne’s cousins, Wowie (a 24-year-old medical technician who speaks fluent English – someone else besides Christianne to talk to!) We then took a four hour bus ride followed by a short, 45-minute boat ride to get to the island.

After the boat docked, my first impression of the island was of the natives rushing at me, waving their arms in my face (as if to say ‘Pick me, Pick me’), yelling “Porter, porter?” For a minimal fee (we usually gave them 20 pesos = about $0.40), they’ll carry your bags off the boat, and safely to shore. I of course had overpacked (hey, I have these huge gallon sized shampoo and conditioner bottles I have to lug around!), so I was weighed down by these HEAVY bags. I was glad for the help, so I handed over my bags and made my way down the rickety wooden plank, into the waste-deep water, and sloshed my way to shore.

Then I looked around and saw the crystal clear green water and sparkling white sand. Beautiful! Just like a postcard! The water was the color of jade, and the sand was smooth and unblemished. Blue sails skimmed the ocean and red buoys bobbed in the waves, like oversized beach balls. Unfortunately, this time of year is rainy season here in PI, so the skies were overcast and grey for most of our stay, with the rain drizzling off and on. Only once did it really pour down in skin-drenching torrents, flooding the dirt paths and causing all the merchants to scamper for shelter beneath huge umbrellas. For a few hours each day, however, the clouds parted and the sun broke free, beating down on the sand and reflecting off the green sea, momentarily blinding us and providing picture perfect moments.

One of the first things we noticed was that the island was swarming with Koreans. I’d say roughly 90% of the tourists were Korean. And they came in packs. Wherever there was one Korean, there was surely 30 or more to follow. Reserving entire restaurants, lining the beach getting massages, shopping at all the side stalls, and scuba diving in droves. Apparently Boracay has become a popular Korean vacation destination since it’s only a short flight away (according to Christianne, Seoul is only a 2-hour plane ride from Manila). The rest of the tourists were either European or Filipino. I was no longer an anomaly – there were other white(ish) people on the island. That didn’t keep the natives from commenting, though. I have learned that white girl is synonymous with beautiful. There are two English words that everyone seems to know – “Beautiful” and “Ma’am”. Except they pronounce “ma’am” like “mom,” so it sort of confused me when I first heard the natives, waving their wares in my face, erupting in a chorus of “Mom, mom!”

The first night we were there, we decided to enjoy the night life. We ended up at a bar called “Hey Jude,” where we sat in plastic beach chairs with the waves lapping in the background. And while I usually love a good marg, I did NOT like their mango margarita. It was very artificial tasting and just plain BLEGH. Fortunately, I only wasted, what, a buck? The caiperinas (brazilian drink) with calamansi (Filipino lime juice) were quite tasty. Also tried absinthe for the first time. Very strong, menthol taste that went down surprisingly smooth. The waiter lit spoonfuls of sugar on fire before dropping it in the drink and telling us to drink through a straw in one gulp. Interesting presentation, to say the least. By this time, we were quite “happy,” so we didn’t have the Sambuca which the waiter recommended, as the only liquor stronger than absinthe. Thank goodness for Christianne’s sober, underage cousins, Marla and Tara, who escorted us to the hotel when we were done! At this point, Christianne was muttering something about chocolate bracelets. No clue what that was about.

We took a boat ride around the island, but the water was too choppy to go snorkeling where we had intended to go (where Christianne had gone on her previous visit). So we stopped at another area closer to our hotel, where there were only little Nemos. Poor Marla got sea sick. One interesting thing to note – the natives find every way possible to make a livelihood, even out on the sea. There was one older, shriveled fellow selling Nestle ice cream sandwiches from a little tiny boat. And a young kid selling fresh coconut juice (basically fresh coconuts with a straw sticking out of them) from another tiny little boat.

When we went swimming, we found that the water was incredibly salty, and as a result very buoyant. So buoyant, in fact, that it took no effort at all to float! And this coming from a girl who has NEVER floated on her back before! Yup, I usually sink, or have to flutter kick to stay afloat. So I spent a good amount of time enjoying this new feat, just floating motionless on the surface, my head and feet sticking out of the water – and I have pictures to prove it :) Christianne and I also tried to do some yoga moves in the sand. Our feet kept sinking, so it was quite difficult to balance. But we got a few good shots of us attempting.

All in all, our trip to Boracay was well worth the $10/night I spent on the hotel! My only wish is that we could have spent more than 3 days there!

4 Responses to “The Philippines Saga, Part Deux”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Heather- It did my heart good to hear that you skipped on Benji. Thanks. Love, Brooks

  2. admin says:

    Haha, I’m glad someone else shares my feelings on the Benji issue. Now, we’ll see if I muster enough courage to try duck fetus before I leave…

  3. Anonymous says:

    Hehe, reading all of these…it’s like we’re right there! Great job on your postings. So well written (of course, I wouldn’t expect anything less)!
    -Dave

  4. Anonymous says:

    Hi Beautiful! Sure glad you’ve experienced “floating” for the first time! Have you received any of my emails about our itinerary in San Fran? Hope so, Love You! Mom P.S., SURE GLAD YOU DIDN’T EAT BENGI!

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