We island hopped from Tablas Island to Boracay Island, our last destination in Philippines. We now know what to expect - females to one side, males to the other, luggage on the ground, pat down, sniffer dogs - finally board the ferry. (Never did find out what they were searching for!) Even though this was just a short 3 hour journey, we were still assigned a bunk where we could leave our backpacks and a prayer was said to ensure a safe journey.
Boracay is an Asian tourist destination, only 7 km long and 500 metres wide at its "waist", with hundreds of hotels and eating places. Lots of groups come from Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China as well as Manila. The ferry lands at Caticlan, on a nearby bigger island, and after going through the line up, frisk, sniffer dog routine once more you board small shuttle outrigger boats to take you across the 500 metres to Boracay Island. The outriggers nose into the wharf and throw out a narrow gangplank. Just as I stepped onto the plank, the boat surged forward with a wave or a wake from another boat and my foot got squashed.
So I had a ride in a wheel chair, then in a tricycle to get it x-rayed and checked out. Nothing broken luckily, but sprained and swollen. Finally later that day I hopped up the stairs at our pre-booked guesthouse with Sven carrying two backpacks! We stayed there two days, then moved to La Casita, a B and B recently opened by an Italian lady married to a Filipino. She loved to cook so every evening made us some Italian speciality - crusty bread rolls with no rice for a whole week!
La Casita was close to the beach where I could hobble and watch kite surfers. For 6 months of the year, a constant wind blows from the east, perfect for kite and wind surfers. When the wind changes to be from the west, they just move the 500 metres across to the other side of the island. By the end of the week, we were "experts" on how the beginners should do it!
Boracay is at capacity with tourists with sewage overflowing in several places along the road and green sea lettuce apparent on the main white sand beach where there are dozens of banana boat rides, glass bottom coral viewing boats, snorkeling trip boats and parasailing boats.
From Boracay, we first had to transfer back to Caticlan, then take a 10 hour ferry ride followed by a 4 hour bus trip back to Manila. Because we didn't know what time we would arrive in Manila, we hadn't booked a hotel. The first one we tried to stay at didn't have any room, the next didn't have any rooms with windows, so we settled on a third one just around the corner.
We thought it a little strange that the check in area appeared to be in a courtyard driveway with garage doors around the courtyard. Because we were arriving so late at night (and we were flying out the next day) we got a 12 hour rate. Still didn't really click (we must have been tired!) until we got up to our room and found it a bright green colour, surrounded by mirrors and a strawberry flavoured condom waiting on the towels on the bed!!
There was no restaurant where you sat, but you ordered room service. There was a knock at the outer door, the door was opened and the tray left in a small alcove outside the bedroom. And so we enjoyed breakfast in bed!
We flew via HongKong to Vancouver where Steve, Krysta and Skyla met us at the airport. Next day we picked up our half cubic metre of possessions that had been shipped from New Zealand and drove to Kelowna.
We will be here for a month, enjoying family time, relaxing and planning the next part of the trip. We will spend 6 weeks in Korea, mostly WOOFing, then fly to Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia to join a 3 week Intrepid Travel trip and finally fly to Stockholm, Sweden to meet up with Chelsea and Raul.