Boracay this summer? So, who’s asking?
Many choose to fly straight into Caticlan airport to take the 15 minute boat trip to the island. My family has been here many times before, and each time flew to Kalibo, Aklan, rode the bus for 2 hours to Caticlan, and took 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!
I remember the kids hopping and leaping each time we arrived in Kalibo. Never mind the sweltering heat and the long queue for the exit gate. Years before, we took the boat all the way to the beachfront. Boracay had 3 boat stations then 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 walked 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 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 Stn 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 rooms good for 4 pax, air-conditioned, with a private toilet and bath with hot water at rates way cheaper than the other lodging places. No fancy stars for this lodging place, but it’s value for money for a beachfront inn right smack where the action is.
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 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.
Memories of “Old” Boracay
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. 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 every visit we made. Peace and quiet? You can still get it……if you wake up early enough. While most others who 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.
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. Plus I really do prefer a glass of “taho” more than anything else! Now that makes for a truly good morn.
Each time we visited, we would always check new developments around the island….though this is one form of development that I don’t particularly 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 look 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 in this island!
Much has changed. But we always head back. The kids frolic in the beach. The girls enjoy getting their tan. And I find myself always heading for the spa. Oh what 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 would invariably go 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.
After a good rub, it is pure luxury to simply sit still by the beach and just waste away the hours reading.
Here in the island, it is the norm to take mid-afternoon lunch. We observed that most others do too. Either they wake up noon time after all that partying the night before, or they wake up early enough and lingered over their breakfasts as we always do, too full to eat lunch at noon. One trip to Boracay, the kids were getting so confused that one had to ask repeatedly if he was having lunch or snacks. Such is life in Boracay. Eat. Swim. Sleep. Il Dolce Far Niente. The Sweetness of Doing Nothing.
Postscript: I checked out some old photos in boracay with the family. Had to smile, those kids have grown……as did our waistlines! 😦