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As I get on the plane from Manila to Boracay, the Philippines’ paradise tourist resort, the bad weather seems to haunt me. I’ve rented a room there already, if nothing else so at least a way of getting away from the hawkers at the airport. Not much of an airport, by the way: A short cement strip along the ocean, mountains on one side, sea on the other. The lads unload our luggage straight on the tarmac and bring them into a small terminal building, where chaos erupts immediately.
The airport is not on the actual Boracay island. Instead, you buy a set of tickets, including one the gives you the privilege of a bumpy ride in an MC sidecar to a jetty where a rusty trimaran is moored. The boat brings me and the bunch of other tourists across the strait to Boracay. There, one last endurance awaits, as I am are driven in yet another MC transport, along with what seems to be a whole Philippine family, to the actual resort.
Finding myself finally on White Beach, I start checking the place out. Boracay may look like almost any beach resort. But what makes this place somewhat appealing is the fact that local authorities have set a limit for the height of the buildings, allegedly stating that no construction is allowed rise above the palms. True or not, it works, as White Beach’ buildings have a sort of small town-look about them.
It so happens that I run into a woman who operates a bungalow complex at White Beach. Having no prior hostel reservation, I go for her place, which sets my back about 1,500 Philippine pesos a night (about US$36, €28). I would assume you could get away with less than that, but I decide to opt for some comfort for the sake of change.
The bungalow woman teaches me something about Philippine weather, too. Dark clouds cover the skies, which is apparently normal for the time of my visit (February). The hottest months are March through May, but now, she explains, the Siberian ice is melting and its cold water flows down into the South Chinese Sea, lowering water temperature and thus creating cooler weather. I have no idea if this is true or not, but as an explanation I feel it’s quite enough.
Not that Boracay is cold in March, but as I lay down on the beach with a good book, I wish the sun would break through the looming clouds.
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Dinner time at Boracay is great fun, as all the resorts on the beach set up tables, lanterns and chairs down by the waterline. You can browse around as the sun sets, eating a little something here and something else there. Beware, though, that tropic rains can hit any minute, ruining the cozy atmosphere. But if so, there are a great number of bars in which to take cover.
Browsing a few tour operators online, it is clear that Boracay has offers for both budget travelers and the rich. The selection of transportation from the airport to the island ranges from worn down wooden boats, to speedboats and helicopters. At White Beach, the main resort, the range of lodging alternatives is also wide.
However, after having spent five or six dazy days at White Beach, I get the feeling that it is time to move on. The Philippines is one of my favorite destinations, to be sure, but Boracay is not be one of them. This place is good for a few days’ rest, reading books under palm trees and taking long walks on the white sand. But after a while, you’ll probably decide it’s time to see something more of what the Philippines has to offer. And then it feels good not having spent all your budget among the palms, bars and low small-town buildings at this touristy resort, however beautiful it may be.