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Published: January 7th 2010
Welcome, Year 2010!!!! HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!
The past 2 years, we welcomed the new year in Hongkong. From the cold climate there to the humid, tropical climate of Boracay........
I was hoping to bump into some TravelBloggers in Boracay as there were quite a number of tourists in this lovely island at the same time my family and I stayed to meet the new year. The weather forecast was not very encouraging. A WET new year's weekend, it threatened! But the sun was out and furiously beating down on us when we all arrived in the morning of December 30th for our 5-day holiday here. Must be quite a pleasant change for those guys who flew in from the harsh winter in Europe and North America.
Arriving in Kalibo, Aklan and Taking the Boat to the Island
Many choose to fly straight into Caticlan airport to take the 15 minute boat trip to the island. We have been here many times before, and each time flew to Kalibo, Aklan, ride the bus for 2 hours to Caticlan, and take the same 15 minute boat ride to the island. The extra 2 hours wasted on the drive is our penalty for not being too brave to take the more direct flight on a smaller aircraft. Call us chicken!
Sunset on Day One in Boracay
On our very first day in Boracay, we buried our feet on the sand and patiently waited for the sunset. That was a good apperitif for our first dinner on the island.
were hopping and leaping as soon as we arrived in Kalibo. Never mind the sweltering heat and the long queue for the exit gate. We were able to arrange for a private van for P1,800 (US $30) for our family of 8 members. Then another P1,000 (less than US$22) for the boat ride. If one were to do this on his own, it would have cost him about P175 for the shuttle and another P125 for the boat ride, for a total of P300 (about US$6.50). Cheaper by P50 per person, but then.......we didn't mind paying extra for the "extra space" in the van which we had all to ourselves, and not having to wait for other passengers to join in.
Years before, we took the boat all the way to the beachfront. Boracay has 3 boat stations numbered from 1 to 3. The high-end, quiet side is in Boat Station No. 1. The boats then would take us all to Boat Station No. 2 and from there, we just walk to our hotel on either side: left to Station 1, right to Station 2. These days, all boats disembark in the jetty port on the other side of
Peace and Quiet?
One has to wake up real early........head for the beach while the party crowd sleeps in !
the island. From here, one either gets picked up by the hotel or guesthouse or pay a pedicab (motorbikes with cabs) to drive them along the road nearest their lodgings.
Villa Simprosa in Boat Station No. 2
Hardly anyone has heard of Villa Simprosa in the action-packed Boat Station No. 2 area. The owner of the guesthouse is a friend of my niece, and we were just too happy to get 2 rooms , each with 2 queen-size beds, for the next 4 nights for a package price of P20,000. Nothing fancy, really, but each of the 2 rooms good for 4 pax, air-conditioned, private toilet and bath with hot water, is all we need. (Other places we tried in the past were Pearl of the Pacific, and the pricier Waling-Waling. Both good, but for a price.
What we like most about Villa Simprosa is its location. The beachfront is shared with the likes of Red Coconut Hotel, Hey Jude Bar, Boracay Regency, and right off the corner, there's HAPLOS 24-hour SPA. Just a short walk along the beach and one finds himself at D MALL, an area littered with eating places with the
A Morning Well Spent
We rented a boat to go around the island plus some snorkeling the whole morning. The kids loved it! We even found a cove which was cozy for an hour until another boat arrived!
broadest range of prices. D Mall has spawned many restaurants which have since branched out in the Manila and Makati areas where the same beach afficionados cum urbanites patronized the place, perhaps reminiscing life on the beach there. There is definitely no shortage of eating places, either in D Mall or along the beach, in and around Villa Simprosa. Souvenir shops and tattoo shops littered the beachfront too. Or just take a beach towel and wait by the shore for someone to come up to you offering an hour's massage for less than US$7.
I used to prefer the quiet and peace found in the lodgings nearer Boat Station No. 1. But my nieces are right, it is more fun to stay where the action is, in and around Boat Station No. 2, especially if you are greeting the New Year right here. After all, part of Boracay's charm is its being a party island. And so, with music blaring from some of the pubs and open air bars, we happily strolled many nights along the beachfront and enjoyed our time here. Peace and quiet? You can still get it......if you wake up early enough. While most others who
Anna Patricia won't let go of the rope........
partied the night before spend all morning sleeping in, one can quietly sip his espresso by the beach and wait till the newspapers from Manila arrive in the island.
New Year's Eve
We woke up early the next morning. All's quiet as we ate our breakfast and perked ourselves up with double cups of steaming brewed coffee from the nearby Starbucks. Just to give you an idea, my cup of brewed coffee costs more than my breakfast meal! Ha ha ha. How about that? Here in Boracay, we found a breakfast place near Villa Simprosa serving Filipino breakfast meals which consists of garlic fried rice, egg, and a choice of our local sausage or pork/beef slices. The breakfast meal includes coffee too, except that I can be quite picky with my coffee. 😊
After this hefty breakfast, we were ready to roll. We rented a boat to take us snorkeling and around the island the entire morning. The kids have not tried this before, so we were really doing this for them. Plus, it was also good to check new developments around the island....though this is one form of development that I don't particularly
Dinner at Zuzuni Greek Tavern
New Year's Eve dinner was at Zuzuni, right by the beach. Just as we downed a bottle of wine, the fireworks began.
welcome. Even my nieces lament the fact that we have "lost the old Boracay" where there were just a handful of hotels beyond 2 storeys, no malls, and no touts! We looked back to those days when we would linger around the grotto area near the place where Waling Waling Hotel now stands, and wait for the fishermen come home with their catch. I absolutely enjoyed buying their fresh catch and asking some of the local folks to cook them for us. There was one particular time we bought about 4 kilos of lapu-lapu (a local fish, called garoupa in some other Asian countries like China
) and had it cooked four-ways: grilled, fried, sweet-sour, and with soup. That, with tons of steaming white rice, made out for one of the best meals we ever had !
Our boat rode past the Boracay Shangrila, and a private resthouse allegedly owned by boxing champ Manny Pacquiao. The latter's architecture is rather odd, but it is obviously one development that involved lots of money to spend. Well, local champ Manny Pacman Pacquiao certainly had wads of money to spend especially after bagging the recent 7th world title in Vegas. For sure, these
new structures are all in that quiet neighborhood....very private, that we hardly saw anyone around its shoreline.
Right on New Year's Eve, we had a very late dinner at Zuzuni's, a Greek tavern. The resto bagged the 2009 restaurant of the year in the island and we thought we should sample it. Its sister-restaurant called Mati, another Greek tavern, in Makati's Rockwell has a good clientele. We enjoyed our tzaziki, Greek salata, lamb chops, shrimp linguini and moussaka. All that with a good bottle of wine and capped by the very decadent chocolate sin of a cake. By the time we got to the dessert ( which i eagerly waited for
), the kids have grown restless. We started dinner at 10pm and it was almost midnight by the time the Chocolate Sin was served. We watched the fireworks from this Greek restaurant and raised our wine glasses to a bright new year! All that revelry lasted way past midnight.
First Day of the Year
Nothing much has changed. We are still here. The kids frolic in the beach. The girls enjoy getting their tan. And I find myself heading for the spa. Oh what
Need I Say More?
Martin really having a good time. By the time we got back in Manila, his dark tan told the entire story.
a way to spend a good hour and a half. I love this, really really love this. For only P300 or under US$7, you get an hour's massage. It was so good I could not get myself up after an hour, and opted for a half hour more of rubbing. Now, this is the way to really pamper yourself. It is definitely more comfortable than lying on the beach to get rubbed. Here inside the "open air" spa, one still gets the breeze from the sea, but without the sand. You also get spared from all those beach touts who are always peddling boat rides, pearls or some other necklaces, ice cream bars, and seashells.
By the time I was done, I was ready to simply sit still by the beach and just waste away the hours reading. The girls were busy taking photos (some of the photos on this spread were taken by them
) and checking out the wares peddled by locals. Incidentally, we just noticed that all those peddling pearl jewelry wore a uniform declaring them as members of a local organization. They said they organized themselves to reassure buyers that they are getting the real stuff
First Day of the Year 2010
This is the grotto which has long served as Boracay's landmark. So much has changed since our first time on this island, but this grotto remains.
when they buy from them. We also noticed that the girls offering massage by the beach likewise sport uniforms and belong to a local org. I invited one in particular to massage me that night right in our bedroom so I can happily sleep and snore after the hour long therapy. There was an extra P50 (about US$1) charge which she said goes to the owner of the guesthouse. I'm happy about these new rules and new system. Others complain about them, but I think these rules are fair and reasonable.
Since we reached the island, we have been taking mid-afternoon lunch. We observed that most others do too. Either they woke up noon time after all that partying the night before, or they woke up early enough and lingered over their breakfasts as we did, too full to eat lunch at noon. The kids were getting confused by this time, that one had to ask repeatedly if he was having lunch or snacks. 😊 For this mid-afternoon lunch, we tried the Italian restaurant called Aria where we ordered 2 kinds of pasta and 2 family-sized pizzas. The food was good, but we thought the service in Zuzuni is
Another Dinner By the Beach
Mongolian eat all you can for only P250(US$5++)? Some leisurely dinner by the beach, on a pleasant, windy night. And it was easy on the pocket!
way better. Patricia swooned over her Pizza Margarita while Martin just wanted lunch to be over as he was raring to go back to the beach. No wine today. We had enough last night. Besides, it is hard to drink wine while sweating. The first day of 2010 here in boracay was one truly humid day.
Last Chance to Hit the Beach
Today is our last day to enjoy the beach . Tomorrow we leave soon after breakfast to take the boat to the Caticlan Jetty Port where the same van awaits us for the trip to the airport. (Btw, we managed to arrange the shuttle service at a lower price of P1,500 for our entire family for this return trip
From Boat Station No. 1 to Boat Station No. 3 is all of 4 kilometers of shoreline. We strolled with the kids from the church near Boat Station No.1 all the way back to our guesthouse in Boat Station No. 2. The same sugar-fine sand, but a quieter neighborhood in the areas where Seawind, Waling-Waling and Friday's Resorts can be found. Martin tried wakeboarding, as did his dad. Patricia had her hair braided, as
Christmas Star in Boracay
Filipinos call it "parol" or Christmas lanterns. They adorn houses, hung on trees, or hung just about anywhere during this Season. The colors most used are the Christmas colors of red, green, gold.
did her aunt. Tita Lili was busy checking out the beachfront restaurants to plan our last dinner in the island.
We found one........where they serve Mongolian barbecues and other dishes . All you can eat for less than $6! And we enjoyed eating by the beach on raft-like bamboo tables and chairs with huge pillows where one can lie down under the moonlight. Where we were seated, folk music flowed from a nearby stage. We must have stayed in this place for all of 3 hours........eating, drinking and listening to the music. The kids, who are not big fans of Mongolian cuisine, were allowed to buy and bring in their grilled hamburgers from another food outlet to eat with us. It was a lazy evening . As were all our days here in the island.
The Day We Left the Island
Wet new year's day , the weather forecast threatened. But luck was with us as we enjoyed the sun and the sand for all of the 5 days we were in the island.
As we settled on the private van we hired to drive us from the Caticlan jetty port to the
A Must-do in Boracay
Rent a boat......go snorkeling....go around the island.
airport, IT RAINED! They were not wrong. Just got the dates mixed up, I guess. 😊 Postscript: I checked out some old photos in boracay with the family. Had to smile, those kids have grown......as did those waistlines! 😊
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