Boracay Beach in the Rain

1 Jun
Experiencing Philipino Planes...

Experiencing Philipino Planes...

Getting there was half of the challenge because the airports and airlines in the Philippines seem to function quite differently from the European ones. Arriving at Caticlan airport was only a first step, it did involve getting a few tricycles and boats through stormy weather to get to Boracay island proper.

View from my room... on an exceptional sunny day

View from my room... on an exceptional sunny day

Luckily I was met by a friend (an angel ;-) on the other side of a rocky and splashy sea-ride who had found me a lovely guesthouse, with beach view and balcony, and whose staff adopted me as one of the family, for better and for worse… (read below)

The beaches were very worthy of the title Paradise (many pics below), but the weather didn’t really cooperate. Rainy season seemed to have kicked in early this year, so I gave up hope of sun and simply went swimming in the rain. A loooovely & liberating experience.


Taking Pilipino Plights (no F sound in Tagalog ;-)

Zest Air - in the rainy season...

Zest Air - in the rainy season...

After having traveled quite a bit in my life, I thought I would know the ins and outs of airports, airlines and airplanes. Wrong! The Philippine airports threw me back into humbleness about my travel skills. First of all there are about 4 airports in Manila, so you better check which one you should get to. Next you need to find a cab-driver that knows your airport AND who is willing to put his taxi-meter on (that turned out quite a challenge).

So I succeeded to get to the right terminal of the right airport, but here they only let you into the airport if you show the PRINTOUT of you electronic ticket… Hm… Although I am not as ‘green’ as I used to be, still, this occasion woke up the eco-warrior in me. What’s the point of going electronic and ticketless, if you still have to print out your ELECTRONIC ticket on killed trees???

Protest was of no avail – they told me to go and ask the airline office to print out my ticket. However, when waiting in line, I got a luminous idea, and just switched on my mini-laptop on which I had saved the pdf-file. With a big smile I shoved my ‘real electronic’ ticket under the guard’s nose and walked passed. Same thing at check-in, which aroused the curiosity and smiles of many bystanders. The electronic ticket had become electronic again, hehe.

I was early and Zest Air put me on an earlier flight without blinking an eye. Except that the earlier flight had so much delay (as seems to be customary, either for Zest Air, or in this rainy season) that it left later than my initially scheduled flight. Great…

Finding a place to rest my head

Rocky boat trip - life jackets obliged... hm

Rocky boat trip - life jackets obliged... hm

Arriving at Caticlan airport was only a first step to get to Boracay. It did involve getting a few tricycles (who all charge too much for the 5 minute walk – so I walked – in the rain – hm – sometimes being stubborn doesn’t pay off…) and a boat to get to Boracay island proper. I was lucky because the port authorities halted all sea-traffic due to weather conditions – except for one last boat which I could catch. Hm, maybe not so nice to know that actually boats shouldn’t be sailing anymore in the upcoming storm, except for ours…

Blue Mango Inn - nice omen

Blue Mango Inn - nice omen

A friend met me at the jetty and took me under his wings. He had asked around for some prices at guesthouses, and suggested the Blue Mango Inn (at Station 3, the quieter area of White Beach). Sweet memories of Blue Chili in Phnom Penh told me that name Blue Mango in itself was a good omen. Indeed, they had a beach view room for me, with terrace, cable TV, wifi, hot shower, beach towels à volonté and even complimentary breakfast. All of that for a negotiated 1300 Pesos (21€/night).

Blue Mango felt very homey, with all the positive and negative sides of it. The staff would call me by my first name, they knew after a few days what I wanted for breakfast without asking, they were just as appalled as me when SEAir cancelled my flight (read more here), they smiled knowingly when my special friend was visiting, and when I complained my room had not been made (and the boss found out about it with a big fuzz as result), they were just as angry as a brother that gets caught or scolded for something you did wrong instead of them…

No, it is not a postcard, it’s real

The white beach all to me

The white beach all to me

The beach was real, with a km long stretch of fine white sand, lined by wavy turquoise blue water, dotted by bamboo deck-chairs and shaded by rows of coconut trees waving in the wind. And I was there virtually alone walking through this postcard (especially near Station 3).

Bliss, during the few moments of sun

Bliss, during the few moments of sun

Unfortunately the rainy season had started the day before arriving on Boracay. This meant a saving of a few hundred pesos on lodging, but also lots of rain showers. The difference with Belgium though was that the rain was warm. My days in Boracay were pretty much determined by the rhythm of the rain. I’d go outside if the sun was out, and when it rained I shopped, or went for coffee or internet or both.

Loooovely Borocay sunset

Loooovely Borocay sunset

Until one day of playing hide and seek with the rain, I spotted some locals (or maybe it were the despised Korean tourists, because too loud and obnoxious) who were swimming despite the rain. I looked at myself in my raincoat and had a moment of illumination: indeed, if it’s impossible to stay dry, why not go completely wet. Another way not to get myself wet would be just to take off everything that I did not want to get wet = so I just put on my swimming trunks and jumped into the sea… Wow – the sea was actually warmer than the raindrops. Gorgeous.

Puka shell beach

Puka beach all for myself...

Puka beach all for myself...

I have not seen many Puka shells, but this stretch of beach on the East side of the island (15 minutes by tricycle on the main road, where the ‘real Philippinos live’), is just as beautiful and paradisiaco as the main White Beach, but without the highway of souvenir vendors, massage women, dive shops and sales-people that are all calling out “buy something SIR, massage SIR, boat trip SIR,…” as soon as they spot you. As if they have an electronic eye, like in the shops, that automatically activates a chime when something passes in front of it. I have grown very allergic to the word ‘sir’ while in the Philippines (so you be warned !!).

Until these guys came to be 'over' social

Until these guys came to be 'over' social

Just the day that I went to pristine and abandoned Puka beach it was sunny! Huray I thought, a quiet day at the beach, till a bunch of teenagers joined me with their blaring mobile phone music and a bottle of brandy (before noon??) and started asking me if I had a girlfriend or if I liked Philippinas – they could arrange me some… So far for a quiet day reading. I also hoped for a sunny day of tanning at the beach, except that there are no umbrellas or shades on Puka beach. So in the one day of sun I had in Boracay, I got decent sunburn. Just my luck…

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