so as soon as i logged on to MSN; YM and facebook, my friends (and even my mom) have been asking me to post a blog about my recent trip to the philippines. so now, i am brainstorming of what i should write about it and frankly, my mind is but a big whirlwind of thoughts… thoughts that are too overwhelming for me to put into words. haha! to cut the long story short (and because i am running out of adjectives) i would describe the past 6 days as one of the very best i’ve ever had… * smiling from ear to ear *
random things that are going thru my mind right now:
1. the government of the Philippines should start working on how to beautify Pasay City, specially the way out of the airport. it was too embarassing for me to have my guest see the slums of Pasay as soon as we got out of the airport. i wanted to dance naked in front of my guest just to create distraction and so the slums won’t be noticed. :-p
2. sofitel philippine plaza at the CCP complex is overpriced. the furnitures inside the rooms were remarkably old (that’s probably the most remarkable thing they have) but sure the swimming pool looks incredible (though we were not able to use it). anyway, it wasn’t also accessible to local transportation, cabs were nowhere in sight and the hotel taxi will charge you PHP420 (USD10 roughly) to get you from the hotel to Greenbelt 3 (which for a normal, non-looting cabs will only cost PHP120 with a PHP40 tip to the driver). i will definitely not recommend this property to anyone, it’s ridiculously expensive and did not really meet my expectations of a luxury 5-star property.
Disclaimer: the staff were all very nice though. anyway, i’m not particularly sure if the hotel was really a big disappointment or we all had high standards of hotels nowadays having lived in Dubai for a long time where a 3-star property will have a 5-star standard. anyway, there will be no retraction on my part though, it’s still overpriced for my taste. :-p
3. bringing foreigners to Greenbelt area will leave their jaws dropped, wide open and drooling. more on the thought that they don’t expect something as fancy as Greenbelt 3 will exist in the Philippines. quoted from the boyfriend: “philippines has the poorest and fanciest places, we don’t even have this in Greece“. i would have to agree with him on that though.
4. the beggars out on the streets of the philippines are all very educated.
a scene while waiting for a cab to take us from Greenbelt to the Fort:
boy beggar: sir… can you give me some of your coins please to buy food… please siiiir… just some coins.
quoted verbatim from the beggar with a glum-looking face with puppy eyes. he didn’t even have the usual p and f deficiency as what filipinos would normally have. he’s so good with his sad-looking face he could have won an oscar. the boyfriend said the beggar speaks better english than him. :-p
5. the cab drivers are the big time robbers of the philippines. robbing you openly leaving you with no choice as the cabs are rare in makati area on a friday night. we got charged PHP150 and gave us a change of only PHP40 when we gave PHP 200 since he doesn’t have enough change. (the metered travel from greenbelt to the fort would have only cost us PHP80).
tip: always bring change and i mean 5’s and 10’s with you wherever you go specially when taking a cab.
6. makati has kept up with the overpriced clubs. we went to Encore which looked like a normal bar in Dubai but more pretentious. seriously, i thought the clubs here in Dubai are the most pretentious clubs on earth, well at least most of them here doesn’t charge an entrance fee. but to get inside Encore, you must be all dolled up and must pay PHP550 if you don’t want to line up on a queue. we were on a guestlist which means we have to line up, but because i’m being my normal stupid self, i forgot the name of the promoter to whom we were listed under, so we were waiting for some of my other friends to show up (who were not answering their phones) so we could go in together. after waiting for quite some time, i saw an ex colleague of mine from my first job who i was very close to. she introduced me to another fallen angel that night who happens to be one of the promoters of the club and let us in without paying for anything and skipping the queue at the door. having good friends is so great, you never know when they can help you in times of dire needs. hehe the club was blasting with house music as soon as we walked in and then i saw another ex-colleague who was so freaked out when she saw me. the boyfriend asked me if i was a celebrity or something because i knew a lot of people. i just said, i’m just friends with the right ones. :p
7. if you want a truly authentic filipino, greasy food that foreigners will love – bring them to pier one. order sizzling sisig, chicharong bulaklak, balut ala pobre and red horse beers. they will love it! (at least for greeks :p)
Note: had to put a ray ban shades on him since he doesn’t like it when i put his photos on the web. 🙂
8. foreigners doesn’t really get why filipinos love to go on videoke joints and sing our hearts out and actually enjoy it. they don’t get the point how these TV screens with pathetic actors as a background of the lyrics of a music blasting from the speakers as we sing along with it can actually bring us, filipinos pure joy. (that’s a long sentence!) of course with the right group of friends and overflowing alcohol – it will all do the trick. :p we are very easy to please… hehe.
9. i was very disappointed that the boyfriend loved balut. he just said “this is disgusting” when he finally got the balut out of the shell but went ahead and ate it and then loved it, asking for another one. i was expecting him to have a very hard time deciding whether or not he will eat it with us cheering him on and then he throws up finally – but none of those happened. ugh!!! after the balut episode, i figured that the grilled chicken instestine, pork intestine and chicken gizzard will all be a piece of cake for him – and i was right. my boyfriend is the coolest. he did a great job compared to all the americans and british who weren’t able to take even a bite after seeing the whole egg. :p
10. conversation with the boyfriend:
the bf: so is erickson your ex boyfriend?
me: what????? no!!!!! eeeewwww!!!!
the bf: why eeeewww? he’s your friend.
me: exactly! he’s like my brother. i’ve known him for a long time… what made you think that way?
the bf: i don’t know, because you seem to be very close
me: i am close to all of them
the bf: so who’s your bestfriend?
me: hmmmmm….. i don’t know, noone. they are all my bestfriends.
the bf: you can’t have all of them as your best friends.
me: yeah, but i don’t have favorites. i am close to all of them…
i love them all. picking a favorite or a bestfriend is like picking your favorite child as a parent. so they are all my bestfriends.
11. air philippines express is not so bad of a flight to take. in fact i was surprised that they have wide-legroom seats and the flight wasn’t as scary as i thought it would be. you should really buckle up though when landing at caticlan airport. with a very short runway, you will definitely feel a big THUD as soon as it lands.
12. you should get the airport – hotel – airport transfers from whichever hotel you’re staying at in boracay to avoid the congested ferry ports and have your own private boat just by yourself.
13. two seasons hotel at station 1 in boracay is promising. the staff are all very friendly, from the people from the airport to the ferry station and the people who picked us up from the port to the hotel – they were all amazing, friendly and just very nice. the property is a beachfront so you have a great view of the beach while eating breakfast. the rooms were a bit small though but very clean (the housekeeping staff will clean your rooms three times a day: one in the morning around 10am, one at around 2pm and last one at around 5pm). all the people around you will have a big smile on their faces wishing you to have a good day. you don’t even have to ask for anything you need, they are like mindreaders and will be able to give you what you want even before it occurs to you that you need something.
one morning after breakfast, i went to the beach to lounge on one of their beach chairs. i was just about to sit on it when i noticed that it was a bit damp from the rain shower the night before. i turned to my right to search for a tissue or anything i could use to wipe it off and then i saw a lady staff coming towards me ready with her rug and small broom to clean the chair for me. i would highly recommend this hotel, although it’s quite a long walk to the party scene of station 2.
14. i learned that whatever you do, do not ask for a price of anything the vendors are selling just for fun if you don’t want all the vendors within 100m radius to be swarming at you and shoving the things they’re selling right at your face. the boyfriend did that mistake and he had to buy 5 boracay keychains just to make them go away.
15. you need to have your haggling skills ready when you go to boracay. and i mean for real! the vendors may all be nice but they just charge too much on anything, including the balot.
16. there will be a lot of travel guides showing you the flyers they have for all the water sports they got on the island. don’t believe those prices. here’s the prices i got for the water sports that we did while there, i’m not so sure though if i should be proud of my haggling skills but i think i did great:
jet ski: PHP800 per person
island hopping with snorkelling near the crocodile island and a stop to have lunch at puka beach: PHP600 per person
ATV rental: PHP600 per person
Note: lunch is not included at puka beach (which is a must see since it’s not congested with tourist compared to the main strip of boracay). there will be a lot of small restaurants around the beach serving fresh seafoods. also, the goggles for snorkelling will cost an additional PHP100 per person. it’s also a must to do snorkelling since the life under the sea of boracay is just so AMAZING!
i got my feet scraped though while snorkeling, i had a bloody feet as soon as i got out of the water.
17. the nightlife in boracay is too cheap for the joy it brings us. haha! let’s just say that a whole night of binging on beers and lemon margaritas enough for two grown men to get drunk and crawl their way back to the hotel cost us the same amount of 2 drinks here in Dubai. haha! it’s heaven for all the drunkards. the famous Cocomangas was jejemonized though and flanked with prostitutes (i have been warned by Simon before i even set foot in boracay) but their lemon margarita is the best in the island. Club PAraw’s music is too loud. Sand Bar’s show of fire dancers is a must see, they have 3 shows each night. you have to see at least one of those but let me warn you, all the dancers are gays (upon seeing the dancers, the boyfriend got all confused… and kept pointing his fingers to each of the dancers asking if he’s a girl or not and i always get the surprised reaction when i say “not”). Guilly’s bar was our usual host for the evening, i think they have happy hour going on all night.
the bf: how much is the beer?
waiter: PHP40 sir, it’s happy hour!
the bf: it’s 2:30 in the morning!!!!!!
4 dirhams for a beer, AMAZING!!!!!
18. you can never get enough of grilled chicken intestines, pork intestines, chicken gizzards and barbecue in boracay. get it spicy with an ice-cold beer, the perfect nightout for me!
right, boracay is clearly the main event of my trip. and i hate it why i never went there before. a 4-day stay is not enough, i shall return for a week stay.