Boracay, Philippines

Getting from Hanoi to Manila

Day 49: May 30th
I flew through the night from Hanoi to Manila and made my way to Boracay with the locals. My flight leaving Vietnam was delayed and I forgot there was also a time change. I definitely didn’t account for this… or did I? I guess I did… because the plane ticket would’ve had the time of the place in which I landed. Either way my original plan to ride a bus from the airport to my ferry terminal was shot. I had only 120 minutes with a pinch of wiggle room to get to my ferry- it is exactly 112 minutes away with regular traffic. I tried to do a Grab but my phone was not cooperating.
Luckily, just then I saw a Grab concierge desk outside. At this point it was dark and the airport lanes were empty- the dawn hasn’t even began. Sadly, when I approached the Grab desk I was informed it was for local services only, they would not go beyond the Manila city district.

MNL to Batangas ferry terminal

My ferry was in Batangas. I kept looking to see if there were any taxi’s coming down the lane while I continued to try and get my phone to connect. Then I found a man who handles the white taxis. The white taxis do not meter, instead they set a price. A high price! I had known better. I had screenshots in my phone saying it should cost no more than 3000 pesos. There were other options, too. I was charged 6500 pesos plus all toll fees. What a joke! It was my only option, and I had no time to lose- literally. I bit the bullet and accepted the rate crossing my fingers that the traffic would be non-existent and I would make it to the terminal in time to board!
When I made it to the port I was a bit confused. My Google Maps showed my terminal at a different road. My driver assured me it was here. Oh, I forgot to mention my driver has 10 kids, all boys, no girls. The youngest is 5 months and the oldest is 35 years old. He has 2 ex-wives and a current wife. He said all the boys had the same name- James, named after him. We talked for the entire ride. So although I was scammed by his solicitor, the man in the office, I did find a liking toward my driver and trusted he was dropping me off appropriately.

After getting out and navigating my way through all the twists and turns and going through baggage security I was told I needed a printed ticket, even though the instruction on my ticket said just to present the E ticket as is. With obvious frustration written on my face they pointed to a desk. I went to that line, waited, and upon approaching the desk, the associate there pointed out the window to the starting point. I asked if I needed to go to the ticket stand, even though I already had a ticket. Apparently I did. It cost me money to have it printed… then I went back through the maze.
I was happy the baggage security recognized me and didn’t make me do the whole process again. I carry a 65L pack as well as a normal hiking backpack, together it weighs well over 50lb. Once I came back through I went to the ticket collector. He pointed at the lady again. I went to her and was charged another fee to get a little sticker thing. Seriously? I was really starting to feel scammed now.
I think I was charged about 100 pesos total in this process. Literally for nothing- they could’ve just scanned my e-ticket from my phone. I came to the terminal prepared and ready for fee’s I’d read about online- the terminal fee and environmental charge. I had no problem with the expected costs and tourist fees- I still am unsure if the 100 pesos for the ticket scenario is standard. I didn’t see any other tourists though- and in the end I was having an authentic experience, traveling like a local. Right before officially boarding the ferry I had one last bag check, a k-9 check.

Caticlan ferry

Upon boarding, I was taken to my vessel. There was a family of 3 occupying the other beds. I introduced myself to the mother and her two young kids- I felt safe in here. We had our own private bathroom, too. The ferry associate who showed me my room also informed me that I’d prepaid for lunch and dinner and told me the times and where to go. Perfect! I felt relieved of my previous scams. I talked to the family a bit before I closed my curtain to finally sleep. At this point I’d been traveling and awake for over 24 hours. I still hadn’t slept since waking up at 6am the previous day for Halong Bay. Well besides a short nap on the plane… with my seat back straight and no armrest.
I set an alarm for lunch and began watching a movie until I’d fall asleep. It helped to drown out the noise of the family and TV in our room. My alarm eventually sounded. At this time I didn’t care to eat now, I’d rather sleep. So I shut it off and went back to my slumber. I’d sleep now until dinner. I finally awoke right before the sun was officially set. I grabbed my things and went upstairs to the dining hall. From here I could see the sky was turning all sorts of colors and the sun was about to set. I walked out to get some pictures.
As I pulled my camera out of my bag I could hear what sounded like little mechanical pieces shaking. My camera sounded like a baby’s rattle. I shook it again, listening up close. Was it mechanical? How would this have happened? Did I drop my bag at some point? I realized it was sound coming from the lens. Oh no! This lens cost more than the body. The sound was glass. I slowly tilted the camera so the lens was facing upward. Then I slowly took off the cap. I confirmed the sound was glass and was upset. The only other lens I brought on this trip was a 50mm f/1.8 prime.

The sun sets on the route to Caticlan Island in the Philippines. The picture is taken on the ferry with an emergency rescue boat hanging in the left frame on a boat crane.

Right then I remembered I had a UV filter on the lens. It was just the filter, whew! Our room was so cold on the boat that the glass froze and then shattered as it quickly expanded in the heat (speculation). I was relieved and asked the dining room staff for a napkin and a trash can. I carefully unscrewed the filter and dumped the glass getting all the shards out.
I proceeded to shoot the sunset. I might’ve accidently trespassed into crew only territory. I was wondering why no one else was here watching with me, the views were amazing. Then a little head poked up out of a floor port hole and told me I wasn’t allowed to be there.
I actually was confused because I asked a crew member if I could go up, Perhaps he didn’t understand me. After dinner, which was gross, I went back to my room and cleaned my lens properly. I first used the hand blower to make sure I wouldn’t scratch it. I was very lucky to have no knicks or scratches. The glass was pristine. I was so grateful in this moment.

Sunset view form the same deck on the Caticlan Ferry, spot light in the left side of the frame.

I’d re-watch the movie from earlier. The parts I missed while I was sleeping. Then I went back to sleep. I would’ve liked to continue talking to the family but it was night and they were asleep. I felt incredibly rude shutting my curtain on them earlier. They seemed excited to meet me. I was just too tired. I explained to the mom and daughter that I had been traveling all day and hadn’t slept since the previous morning. I think they understood- they at least nodded as if they did. I realize a lot of the locals in places I was traveling didn’t meet many tourists- at least not the American kind. I assume this is because I am taking local transportation.
The family de-boarded before me. The ferry must’ve stopped 3 more times after that. I was worried I’d miss my stop, I hadn’t realized there would be multiple islands on the route. I decided to get up and charge my devices and sit on a lower bed while waiting. I noticed with every stop the speakers would sound with a prayer; a prayer thanking God for the safe journey and asking for protection on the next leg.
I went out to the main deck. We finally arrived to port MPH. I opened my Google Maps to see how close my hostel was. Uh oh… it was on a different island. I was so confused!?! I read in my research to take the ferry here. This isn’t Boracay. Just then as I was looking back and forth a Filipino lady with perfect English told me to follow her. She said not to worry, that I did everything correct. From here I’d catch a pump boat. They leave every 5 minutes and it’s the only way to Boracay. So I listened and followed her lead. Alas, I made it.

Caticlan to Boracay, pump boat

A yellow pump boat off Caticlan island, Philippines

From here I grabbed a motorbike taxi. It was dark again, night time. I hopped on the back and my driver, JR proceeded to take me passed the 2 right turns my Maps suggested as directions. Once he passed the final 3rd option I stopped him. I had already told him the last 2 turns but he said “I can’t go that way because the street has no lights”… or something similar. On the last turn he acted like my map was wrong. I didn’t have an uneasy feeling but I knew something was off. I made him stop-  I showed him my phone and he zoomed in on the final location. Oh!! He acted like he had an epiphany. He repeated the name we had been saying all night. Chill Out Hostel! It turns out he had no idea where this hostel was and was taking me to one called Chillax.
The story matched up, he kept asking why I’d booked a hotel so far from the beaches. I was confused because I knew the one I booked was smack dab in the middle of both the main beaches with a short walk to either but not technically on either coast. It all made sense now. He turned around and took me to the road I’d asked him to turn on previously. There was construction in our path. He was forced to stop and could no longer proceed to the route. I was close enough to walk. He offered to come with me and carried my bag. He kept asking locals where the hostel was and I kept informing him I had it on my phone and we were about 2 minutes away. Maybe he didn’t trust me. When I saw the sign I pointed it out to him. He seemed relieved and I paid him.
Then I was greeted by a security guard. He checked me into my room and then introduced me to Ricky, a manager. Ricky is from the UK and he took me from there, showing me to my room and telling me where things were. I was the only one in the dorm so he said I could pick my bed and lock the door if I felt the need. I chose a bottom bunk and began to unpack my things into the locker and lock up my valuables. He told me the dorm would be full the next day. I knew I wanted to go to the beach and was unsure of when I would be back or when they would be arriving. I was settled in and ready for bed. I turned on the AC and took a long shower before finally dozing off again. I think I even watched another movie.

Exploring Boracay

Day 50: May 31st
I fell asleep pretty late considering the sleeping pattern from the last couple days. However, I woke up really early due to construction. Not from the road, rather from the other side of my wall. They must’ve begun at 7AM. They’re building another bedroom and a bathroom. The wall next to me would be the new bathroom. They were hammering away with no remorse. It would be absolutely impossible to fall back asleep. I figured I would just have to nap on the beach. That was the new plan.
I got my things together for the day, lathered myself in sunscreen, and walked to the back beach; the official name is Bulabog beach. I’d read that I could watch windsurfers here. This was the sport beach; it was also where the sun would rise and was the easiest beach for me to access. With only a minutes’ walk I’d arrived… to more construction. The entire beach was a construction site.
I walked up and down; there was a portion that was open without construction but nothing really to see. The sports must’ve seized as the construction began. There was also a ton of black stuff covering the sands. I decided to continue on to the other beach on the West side of the island.

sailing banca boat with a hand painted colorful sail with faded letters spelling BORACAY Philippines.

I arrived to the front beach, or white sand beach, about 20 minutes later. It shouldn’t have taken more than 10 minutes but I was confused on where to get a beach access road. Most roads were marked private or belonged to a resort. I eventually found a small lane. I looked down and could see the beach so I turned and followed the path. I was at station 2. I set up my things and tried to nap. It seemed as if I was the only one in the sand. There were loads of people at the edge under the coconut trees. I felt like they were watching me. I was on the beach near the sailboats. I started to wonder if this was just a boating area and maybe I should plot myself somewhere between the stations, not AT the station.
I stayed another hour or so as more tourist started to appear. I went in the water, too. Then I felt a little perturbed by people climbing on boats just to take pictures so I decided I’d vacate. I didn’t want to be among these people disrespecting another person’s property. I’m sure the shots were great, and I love a good photo… but not with disrespect. They could’ve damaged something.

Saying “no” to taking someone’s picture.

As I was packing my things to move on… one of those very people asked me to take their pictures. I declined. She got mad and started talking shit to her friends. What did I owe her? This is one of the seldom times I’ve said no to taking someone’s pictures and had no remorse. Not to mention she was with a few friends who already took pictures of her without her returning the favor. I dont mind taking pictures of friends I make along the way, I’ve even done full photoshoots- see my Hoi An post. If it’s just a random stranger though, I’ll decide in the moment- go off the timing, approach and my own plans.
I’ve literally had people ask me to stop what I’m doing to take their pictures… as I am setting up a tripod and taking slow shutter shots. This should go without saying, but it’s a no from me. Don’t target solo travelers as if it’s more convenient, IT’S NOT. I used to be bad at saying no to people, not anymore. People shouldn’t ever be shocked by this, if you are asking someone to do you a favor, please do not ask with an assumptive yes. You’ll only let yourself down.

Locals on the beach

Anyhow, I moved down the beach at this moment. As I did I found an almost perfectly pointed, long, skinny, empty snail shell. I picked it up. I decided I’d give it to a kid. I saw some children earlier digging for snails, so I thought it was the perfect idea. I found 3 siblings further along playing on the beach- 2 girls and a boy. I wanted to give it to the boy first, he was the youngest and the girls were playing together while he paced. As the oldest saw me approach him, she ran over. She ended up taking the shell and handing it to him. We smiled at each other and I continued on my way. Just a couple minutes later someone was running up beside me tapping on my arm.
I looked down and the oldest girl held out a handful of perfect snail shells. I was happy to find them all empty. I took one from her and looked at it I told her it was very pretty and handed it back. Then she asked me to take her picture- she saw my camera and started to pose. I happily took photos of her and showed her. She said her name was Da’Nay. I asked her how to spell it but the language barrier was too much. Instead she kept telling me her full name. She was cute, I was happy to have this interaction.

a young Filipino girl poses for a picture on the beach- she holds a yeloow shovel.

I continued to walk south, passed the grotto with Mary, and found myself a new spot closer to station 1. All the boats were out on the water so it was more of a beach than a station, for now. I went in the water and sat for a while. Then I came back and took a short nap on the sand. I decided I’d stay until sunset. As it got later, the beach filled up. A court was made next to me and there was a group playing ultimate frisbee.
One guy nearly tackled me in an attempt to catch the frisbee as it passed the barrier lines outside the court. I’m not sure the rules but he jumped before crossing the line and dove for the frisbee, to keep it from landing. Instead, he landed right at my feet as I bent my knees to pull them back. He missed the frisbee. It was an epic attempt nonetheless. There was also a game of futbol at the waters edge.

A Filipino boy does soccer ball tricks on the beach as the sun sets.

I found myself drawn to this game. Partly because I know the rules but also because of the reflections in the pooled water on the beach and silhouettes of the players. I’d find many more children with soccer balls. One guy was doing tricks on the sideline. I asked to take his pictures. Then I went back to photographing the sun and the boats. I went back and forth between the game and the sun. I did this until the sun disappeared. Then I found cotton candy skies behind me.

cotton candy skies behind the grotto- a line of people climb the rock to take pictures with biblical Mary.

I slowly made my way back to my hostel. I found a much quicker path to the main road. I looked around trying to remember the places around me so I could use this route again. On my way back I stopped at 7 Eleven. There are few thing I crave in life but today I was craving sour gummies. They only had sour gummy lizards- like a single gummy. They were skinny and long- I bought 3. Then I found a drink called C2, apple green tea. With no boardwalk fries in sight I grabbed a hotdog, too. This seemed appropriate for a beach day. I ate my hot dog at a picnic table outside and snacked on a gummy lizard as I walked back to my room. After arriving back to my hostel and settling in Ricky knocked on my door. He told me he had made a mistake and the other guests arriving were all male. He requested that I change rooms.
They finished the room next to mine and it was a double bed private room, not a dorm. He wouldn’t charge any extra and I’d have my own key. It sounded great. I moved my belongings and settled in to my new room. It still had like 3 or 4 lockers so I used them as shelves. I loved having such a big bed. I think I was getting high from the fumes though. They must’ve used like 2 containers of stain for all the new furniture they built. I didn’t have much ventilation. There were holes cut for windows but they were boarded up waiting for the glass. Regardless, I was happy to not share a room with 3 men.
I changed into pajamas and Ricky came back again. He said “it’s Friday and we give out free rum shots, come downstairs”. I’m not a huge partier, or maybe I should say, I’ve retired from partying. Regardless I know the reputation of Boracay. I also know the role rum plays in a beach town. I obliged. I came down and had 3 rum and cokes. I used this opportunity to meet some other guests. I was happy that Ricky continued to check in on me. I was kind of in a funk since arriving to the Philippines, after all the scamming.
Still in my pajamas, I soon met: Mark, Luke (poo), Pauline, and Miguel. We all chatted awhile. Mark was a little harder to understand, he’s from Northern Ireland. Luke was from London and easy to understand until he would get into full-on British lingo with Ricky. Pauline is Luke’s girlfriend but she is from the Philippines and her accent sounds more American than UK. And Miguel is from Bolivia but currently living in Shanghai. He also speaks in American english. And just like that, I had a new tribe- my first friends in the Philippines.

friends in Boracay

We sat around drinking, and yes, smoking. I’d had a few cigarettes now, socially. Then Ricky said we needed to go next door. Let’s go dancing! I said I needed to change. Not wanting to wait, they acted as if my pajamas were fine. Even still, I grabbed my black dress and handmade sandals and quickly changed. Ready to go, we literally walked next door. This was the party hostel I’d purposely not booked. I’m still happy I didn’t as I’d hear the music every night from my own room set quite far away- I can’t imagine being on site. I had a few drinks. I started with a capriana but it tasted more like a mojito, so then I just ordered a mojito. The alcohol content on the island is less than I’m used to in the states; about 2 drinks would be equivalent to one drink back home. At this point I’d had only 2.5 drinks if we count it in rum standards sold in America. Then I spotted games.
I’d play beer pong the rest of the night. We used water cups and had our drinks from the bar. I beat 3 rounds and won a free drink before leaving the table. Then I’d go back to join my new friends. These friends weren’t like the ones I’d made in Siem Reap. We would only spend this night together and will probably not stay in touch.
We added each other on social media and called it a night I walked with Mark to a nearby convenience store so he could get more cigarettes. Then we tried to play Jumbo Jenga without being noticed. The security guard kept noticing and telling us to stop. We insisted we weren’t playing. Jokes on me. The security guard turned his back and Mark deliberately pushed the tower toward me. I tried to catch it but a few blocks hit the ground and we had to put it all away. After that we went to our rooms.

Boracay shut down, almost

Day 51: June 1st
The next morning I woke up to no power and no Wi-Fi. There was a storm the night before but the power had been restored. I went downstairs for breakfast and saw many signs I’d overlooked the day before. There was a scheduled power outage on the island. This was partly due to the construction on the beach and road. Last year the island was shut down for 6 months. No one was allowed to come on to the island and the president threatened to permanently close it from tourists indefinitely if the locals didn’t clean it up. Especially the waste water.
Hotels and restaurants had tapped their plumbing to dispose waste into the ocean. The ocean became contaminated and unsafe to swim in. From my understanding the current construction is related to the previous shut down. I think they’re also building a rainwater plant on the other beach and in doing so are tearing up roads to access the sewer drain system.

The sun sets best in the Philippines

A selfie of me in the clearest and clean turquoise blue waters of Boracays White Sand Beach.

I happily dealt with the circumstance because at least the island was open to visit, I’ve never seen the sun set the way it does in Boracay. The previous issue also took Boracay off the tourist radar for a little and I got to enjoy the newly cleaned water with a much smaller crowd. Today I would just disconnect.
I left my phone and all my electronics in my room. With nothing but sunscreen, a towel and my flip flops I went to the beach. I decided I’d stay in the water all day. And I did. I swam, I floated, and I just plain sat in the water. I was pruned to a whole new degree. I was in the water for at least 4 hours, maybe even more, before I decided to go back. I hadn’t brought money or anything with me. By the time I’d arrive back to my hotel it was 15:00. I showered and used the restroom.
The only reason I finally left the beach was because my stomach was upset. Sometimes the push and pull of the ocean does this to me. I decided to nap until 17:00 so I could return to see another sunset. I napped until 16:30 and waited until 17:00.
The power came back then and I could have Wi-Fi. I decided against the beach, I had soaked in way too much sun and thus was incredibly tired. I did more research instead. I needed to figure out what I’d do with my final day. There are many tours from the beach and so much to do. Miguel went island hopping today with 40 other people. Luke and Pauline were invited to a private beach at a new resort. I’m not really sure what Mark did. Miguel had invited us all on the island hopping boat but I was more interested in my invite from Pauline. Unfortunately, I never ran into them again- hence my day in the water. Now I really wanted to figure out if I should schedule something or play it by ear.

There was another storm so the Wi-Fi was in and out as I tried to figure out a plan. I figured I’d wake up for sunrise. Check out the back beach for pictures but ultimately head to the front beach to paddle board. Then I’d look at doing an afternoon of island hopping. It would cost 4000 pesos for a private boat or 1000 for a boat of up to 45 people. I do not understand this logic. Regardless it was a rough plan and I’d book on the spot.
Tonight was free spaghetti night at the hostel. It was quite good but not as good as the restaurants I would find the next day. I’d researched some places to eat, in fact, more than I’d be able to visit. With the storm though and FREE offerings I opted to stay put. In hindsight, my last day turned out to be my favorite.

My last day in Boracay

Day 52: June 2nd,
I woke up late. Technically I woke up for sunrise and didn’t care to get out of bed. The huge storm last night kept me awake. Rain was coming in the wood panels on my soon to be windows. The thunder was shaking the room and I could see the lightning with my eyes shut. EVEN WITHOUT WINDOWS. It sounded like a tornado or a hurricane, it was so close. I knew the building wasn’t strong enough for either so I continuously prayed for my safety and life as I went to bed.

I finally made my way to the White sand beach around lunchtime. I stopped at Nonies. This is a slightly expensive but super fresh cafe. I wanted everything on the menu. I made this a large brunch. I began with a beet root smoothie and tuna rolls. The rolls were a lot! I knew from reviews that I’d have to try the flourless chocolate cake, too. So I ordered that with a turmeric ginger latte– Everything was divine. There was a wait at the restaurant before I left.
Next I wanted to buy a new bathing suit. I’d brought 4, sent 1 back home and really only sported 2. The one piece I bought for the trip just didn’t work- the lining isn’t sewed properly. I might be able to restitch it properly back home. Traveling through island countries for the next couple months, I would be wearing more bathing suits than not, so off I went searching and trying on bikinis. I found one that I loved. Well kind of. The color was perfect for my now tanned skin. I like the top because it fit well and had no ties or clasps. It went over my head like a sports bra and felt more secure. The bottoms were a bit cheeky though. It’s practically a thong. I’ll take it! It came as 1 entire suit, not separates, and was quite inexpensive. I figured the top could pair with my other bottoms. Although, my butt has shrunk on this trip and I was feeling more confident in the cheek department. Then I went to find sunscreen without the whitening, I’d used all mine yesterday. Still looking to seize the day, I proceeded to Station 3. I was looking for guides.

Experiencing Boracay as a local

As I turned the corner 3 guys started asking me where I was going. I didn’t want to be harassed about tour packages so I just said the beach. Then one recognized me… well my bag. He said “oh! I know you! I drove you to your hotel”. It was JR. I was a little confused and asked him what he was doing on the beach. He said he works all day selling tour packages in the day and then after 18:00 he does motorbike taxi rides from the pump boat dock. This man hustles.
I sat with him, Elmer, and Guy under the coconut trees. I never told them I wanted to do an island hopping tour because I enjoyed their company. I’d much rather spend the day as a local than as a tourist. We made jokes, we people watched… well we watched the mermaid class… and listened to music. I dared JR to climb the coconut tree and he succeeded, even bringing me down the biggest coconut and having it chopped open.
I did tell them I wanted to stand up paddle board for sunset. As it got closer to sunset I told them I’d have to run but I’d be back. I think they thought I was pulling one over on them as they tried to get me started right away. I wanted to shower and wear my new bikini. I’d be back.
Guy recommended I stop at the Bamboo Market on my way back. I did, picking up a pair of bamboo shades; mine were girlie but very similar to his. The ones I’d bought in Hoi An were getting damaged from the salt water. These ones were made with bamboo frames and polarized lenses. I chose a light blue lens.
Then I was back on my way to the hostel. I showered and changed. And then rushed back trying to beat the sun. I was walking so fast I could’ve developed shin splints. I made it and found Guy and Elmer. JR had left to pick up tourists from the pump boats. Guy offered to stay with my belongings and take pictures for me- he said the waterproof bag is “made in China” and wouldn’t protect my camera if it fell in. This was only my second time EVER paddle boarding- and I’d be going in waves. After spending an entire day with them I trusted that he would be waiting with my things- the people on this island were different than the ones I met in Manila.

me kneeling atop a paddle board in the ocean
A Boracay sunset, golden skies over a calm ocean. boats and people are silhoutted in the foreground.

Another man set me up on the paddle board and Guy stood by the beach stand. I thought I’d be out only 30 minutes but an hour later they were calling me in so they could go home. I loved being on the board. I could’ve stayed out there all night. I’d continuously head far out from the people. I paddled into the sunset with only a fence like barrier made by sailboats. It was gorgeous. I’d sit on my board and just watch before standing and paddling more. I’d continue this routine until the sun was gone and they found me.
I don’t know the man’s name who whistled me in; I just know he was the one wanting to leave. Guy was excited to show me the pictures he captured. They were great! Good thing I had my Go Pro (lots of video footage), I wasn’t in many of the ones he took- he said I went too far and I also went too far right. From where he was standing in the sand it was way far from the sunset. For me I was directly lined up. Either way, I enjoyed the serenity. I felt connected with nature while the board floated over the waves. It reminded me of surfing in Hawaii.

The 3 guys added me on social networks and said their goodbyes. I’ll keep in touch as I hope to come back someday. Maybe then, they’ll own the tour company. They were all so genuine and happy to share their time with me. I noticed they remembered all the tourist they’d met that week. We would have conversations with a few couples that booked for later in the week. They had the customer service necessary for the field. I have no doubt in my mind that they can have their own company. I suggested posting some of their cellphone pictures to Instagram and tagging their tour group. They hadn’t thought of this yet and from my years in the field I knew it was a game changer.

Sunset over the ocean in Boracay- the sky is golden and sailboat silhouttes cross the horizon.

I finished my night stopping at Guy’s recommended massage spa. I went in looking for just a 30 minute foot/leg massage. Paddle boarding may seem to be mostly core and upper body but I find myself flexing my feet as well. I thought it was best to get ahead of any tension now. The massage was so good I ended up asking to add an additional hour full-body massage. This was at the place across from Bamboo Beach Resort. After my blissful 1.5 hour spa session I stopped at one of the restaurants I had researched the day before. Dos Mestizos.

I stayed here for hours. I hadn’t intended to stay so long. I had ordered Paella Negra- a squid ink house specialty! It was enough to feed two or three people. It was taking so long to make the restaurant gave me complimentary sangria and ceviche along with the two tapas I already ordered. The bread and dips included at every table were also delicious- everything was, I’d highly recommend stopping here. I practically rolled back to my hostel, I was so full and satisfied. I slept well… to say the least. I’d be leaving the next day. This was a short stay on my way to the intended island I came to see in the Philippines. A remote place I’d only heard of from my favorite travel blogger.

Update: Elmer, the oldest of the men, has been keeping in touch with me daily. He sends me pictures of sunsets and underswater scuba dives through Instagram and reacts to my story as well.
I hope I see them again in Boracay one day.

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