After months of planning, the time had finally come. Today was the day I was going to board a flight to the Philippines. Up until this point I had been relatively calm, I was ready for the adventure, ready to experience South East Asia in all its glory. But with the flight just hours away I was hit with a wave of nervousness. Was I really going to leave behind my family & friends for 10 weeks? Going to travel in 4 different countries with zero understanding of their local languages. I had packed everything I could fit into my carry on backpack, including my laptop, camera, 4 pairs of shorts, 7 shirts, 10 pairs of underwear & some other miscellaneous items. I had received vaccinations to prevent myself from getting a variety of local illnesses including malaria.
My parents drove me to the airport & I said my final goodbyes, I was looking at about 36 hours of travel to get to my initial destination of Boracay, in the Philippines. My first experience outside of the airport was in Manila, I arrived around 11PM & had booked a room at a local hotel for the night as my next flight to Boracay wasn’t until 8AM the following day.
When I walked out of the airport I was immediately greeted by a dozen different taxi’s offering their service. After turning down a few offers for what seemed like absurd prices, I settled on a quick ride for 800 pesos (roughly $16USD) I knew this was probably more than I should be paying but I was tired & ready to get to my hotel so I could touch base with everyone back home.
I woke up early the following day ready for the journey to really begin. I grabbed another taxi back to the airport, this time for just 300 pesos. I know I really got ripped off the first time around! At the airport I was surrounded by uniformed men who told me I was going to miss my flight unless I paid them to skip the line. I initially refused but these guys were persistent & they dropped the prices to a point where I went for it. I got inside & was ready for some Filipino cuisine. I stopped by the first chain restaurant I saw, to this date I’m still not sure what I ate. I couldn’t read a single word on the menu except for combo #1 & combo #2. I decided to go with combo #2.
Upon arrival in Caticlan (local airport for traveling to Boracay), the local tourism board representatives told us we had to pay another 600 pesos to be transferred to our hotel. Since everyone else was paying, I paid as well. I hopped in a van, then onto a boat then onto a jeepney (local transport, think a truck with seats in the back). I was excited to finally see some familiar faces. My friend Dale & Melanie whom I had previous met in Cabo San Lucas for Spring Break months before were in Boracay for the new year. I connected to the beach wifi & wound up meeting up with Dale & several new friends who I’d spend the next few days with.
My first full day in the Philippines included a boat cruise to a private island where we went cliff jumping & had a seafood feast prepared for us. After a few hours on the island with my new friends we returned back to the beach just in time for sunset. I hopped onto a sailboat & sailed off into the sunset, now this is exactly what I dreamed of. As far as I was concerned, Boracay was paradise on earth, beautiful beaches, sunsets & some of the nicest people I’ve ever met (both locals & tourists). Following our sunset sail I headed back to my hostel to check out some of the footage & photos I had captured throughout the day. I had the intention of documenting my entire trip in a similar fashion to my Europe traveling series. Only this time I had some experience under my belt. With a new camera, I was ready to create as much as possible. After an hour of editing & a quick shower I headed towards the beach to meet up with Dale & Lucia. We had dinner on the beach, where I was able to get a super fancy meal including pizza sushi & a couple of Mai Tai’s for 700 Pesos. These prices were more like what I was expecting when I planned my trip. We wound up going on to meet up with Melanie & her family for a couple more drinks before I called it a night. Jet lag was hitting.
To be continued…
Make sure to check out the video on YouTube: Exploring the Philippines – Backpacking Asia