From London to Boracay: Island Journeys

about-anna-parsec-wallis
by Anna Parsec
Updated: November 21, 2023
7 minute read
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The first destination of our adventures became the Philippines. It was not a random choice but a calculated selection. To start with, we were trying to find the best way to get to Australia for the wedding on 30th Sep. It had to be just after 14th September when I had my final presentation at the University because we didn’t want to waste time staying in London without any reasons when we could have started our exploration mission.
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Travel Requirements

Following my space missions projects (my masters dissertation was a space mission for Titan exploration and my group project was a couple of space missions for the asteroid 1950 DA exploration), James and I got accustomed to specifying our requirements before proceeding with identifying our options.
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Here are our requirements:

  • Attend the wedding in Brisbane on 30th Sep (but really – arrive to Brisbane 2 days before the wedding)
  • Leave London as early as possible and not too late (more specifically – leave London after the uni presentation 14 Sep but around 16 Sep when the room tenancy expires)
  • Have lots of fun within a reasonable budget
  • Have a relatively relaxing itinerary (e.g. least number of stops)
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As you can see, we had about a week before we needed to be in Australia which made us want to have a holiday break before we actually go into the travelling mode.
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We considered different combinations: fly via Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and even Hawaii. In the end, James had found a good option that answered our requirements: cheapest option, sensible, allowed us to get to Boracay island in the Philippines. It turned out to be £716 each with all possible travel to get to Brisbane (7 flights, 2 ferries, 1 bus ride and 1 train ride). Sounds pretty intense. It was! But we’ve seen and experienced so much that it was totally worth it.
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Now, to the second reason why the first country was the Philippines. It was a special place for us because that’s where we had our first honeymoon, how we call it. We were eager to go back and recreate our memories.
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The flight to get to Boracay was fairly tricky though and probably some people who followed the beginning of our adventure were impressed if not shocked with the multitude of our flights.
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Flights & Ferries

We took off at 7am on 15th September (12 hours after I completed my masters course) and headed first to Athens (3h 50’ flight) , then Abi Dhabi (4h 25’ flight), then Manila (9 hours), then Kalibo (45’ flight). However, that was not over yet. Then we were picked up by our friends (the story about meeting them definitely requires another post as it is one of my favourites) to get to the bus terminal followed by a 2 hour bus ride and 15 min ferry ride.
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Only 52 hours later we checked in into our first hotel which turned out to be a 5 star one to our greatest surprise. We were choosing it from a price/value perspective.
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Our Island

We were finally on Boracay. An island we had such fond memories of. We have been considering it as the best beach we’ve ever been to even though we’ve travelled around Southeast Asia fairly thoroughly before. It is still pretty perfect. See for yourself!
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We should mention that it is currently the monsoon season in the Philippines so the weather wasn’t as stable as we remembered it. Sometimes it was cloudy, at night it was raining. However, we were lucky because majority of the time the weather was really hot and sunny despite the forecast looking like that for our week:
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Station 2. Five-Star Experience

The first couple of days were fairly sunny. However, we were so tired after an intense year of masters, moving out of London and getting there that we either walked like we were drunk or were switching off on the beach without noticing what was going on around us.
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We were staying at Station 2 of the White Beach. It is a long beach of the Boracay island that consists of three stations: Station 1, Station 2 and Station 3.
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We realised that Station 2 is the busiest one but also extraordinarily common among Korean tourists. We almost started questioning whether we need to visit South Korea later during our travels considering how much Boracay seemed to be Little Korea with people and restaurants creating this vibe.
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For the first 2-3 days we felt like the only western people because we were constantly surrounded by Filipino, Korean or other Asian nationalities.
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I was definitely craving lots of fruit and authentic meals. To start with it was incredibly hard to find those though in the abundance I wanted. After a bit of research I found a couple of spots that I’ve tried and really enjoyed. I’ve listed them at the end.
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The water on Boracay is usually very still, clear, blue and pristine. It was a huge pleasure to be first sunbathing on the white sands and then getting into lukewarm waters.
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That’s what we were doing for the first half of the week, combining those times with floating around in the pool of our hotel which was really nice while having an occasional cocktail at the pool bar.
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A couple of things I’ve learnt about the rules of the Boracay beach. They have a very long list of rules and some of them are quite surprising. However, they don’t mention some of the rules that they act upon.
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For example, you cannot sunbathe or swim topless. The reason was that school kids are arriving for their afternoon classes to the beach (volleyball, football) and it was decided not to have topless ladies on the beach.
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I was actually at a very deserted end with pretty much nobody around for a good 500 metres. Lifeguard spotted me and James had to bring my top into the water.
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The other thing that we noticed was after the sunset when we heard the lifeguard whistling to a group of westerners (finally, we spotted some of them) to get out of the water. It was maybe 7 or 8pm and it didn’t look like there was anything ridiculous going on. We were puzzled as we didn’t see any rule of not swimming after sunset. However, after a chat to a lifeguard we were told that there were a couple of cases of people drowning after a night out. The waters were so calm and welcoming that it was really easy to lose alertness and fall asleep apparently.
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Station 1. Frendz Memories

After 3 nights in our first hotel we moved to the Frendz hostel which brought myriad of memories to us, mainly to James because that’s where he was staying back in 2015. One of the hosts said that he recognises James, James felt the same. And after a 10 minute search James dug out at least 5 pictures with Greg. After such a find cocktails were on the house.

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Later we became a part of a pasta night with a brilliant song performance by Armand TJ and guests.
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We stayed there for 2 nights and it was lovely to be based at Station 1 which was to our taste: distant, less touristy, deserted, authentic, cheap.
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Station 3. Date Night

By the weekend (if you still measure in those terms when travelling) it was time to relocate to our third and last hotel on the island which was at Station 3 – different from the other two stations. Something in between Stations 1 and 2 though. The hotel was 3 stars this time.
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The room was lovely but the breakfast was quite something. Only the fact that the lady kindly bought us local rice cakes because I was asking her about those made breakfast much more attractive. Compared to breakfasts of the first hotel, prices and free stuff at the hostel, the third hotel could have done a bit better.
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One night we spontaneously had a date. It was the most entertaining date I have ever had. First we head to drop off a big bag of laundry.
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On the way I was attracted to some street food place with BBQ and some local soup, and James encouraged me to try a couple of things that sparkled my eyes. I was super happy as it all tasted really extravagantly and authentically. Something I was craving so much.
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After a couple of visits to different laundry places to compare prices we’d found the best deal which we were happy about and made friends there.
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A couple of days earlier we’d spotted a barbershop and thought to pop in at some point. I love watching barbers cut James’ beard. I am over controlling though and learn what works best and tend to guide them. This guy did an alright job. James was happy, I was really entertained.
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Finally, we reached the final destination of our date – the Philippine-Italian place we spotted earlier as well. Pizza is James’ favourite food. Also, chips and bread. He is a true breadator.
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On our last full day on Boracay James had persuaded me to get on a boat tour arranged by the Frendz hostel. He had so many great memories about similar trips he did in the past. However, I don’t find such trips that entertaining and would rather stay on the beach.
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Yes, you see a few more places and do a couple of more activities that you wouldn’t have done otherwise (snorkelling, cliff jumping, boat ride) all for reasonable money but I would prefer a private tour where I decide when we are going and where and how (James would say here ‘Of course, Anna would’).
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To summarise, it was really important for us to see Boracay once again but it became a bit too touristy to our current taste. We have decided to find a beach of a similar quality but with more authenticity around the stay in general.
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Manila

What about the other places in the Philippines? We’ve spent a couple of hours in Manila. Remembering my 5 days from a previous stay, it is a very curious place worthy of a proper exploration.
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It’s pretty intense and very different from any other Southeast Asian capital. It is hard to describe how different and in what way. We’ll go there again in a couple of months and I’ll try to articulate that feeling.
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Taal Volcano

We had an opportunity to see the Taal volcano one morning (it’s a couple of hours drive down from Manila). That’s one of 16 volcanoes that are active.
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After-Thoughts

We really enjoy Philippine sunsets and waters and definitely will be back for more. However, while our intention for this week was to have some much-needed rest, we found ourselves immersed in work during our designated moments of relaxation. Our focus was on finalising articles for the Parsec-Wallis website and launching our re-branded business website to showcase both projects.
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Also, we couldn’t help but brainstorm ideas for future endeavours. That’s why rest became a rare thing, particularly when James fell ill with a fever at one point. Meanwhile, I was busy coordinating the delivery of a parcel from England to France, a gesture of gratitude to someone who had been assisting me with references for the past 12 years. We think though that we’ve succeeded in all of these projects in the end. But at what cost? When are we going to have that rest? Let’s see in the next chapter.
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Places I enjoyed:

Fruit shop with great prices for fruit and a lovely shop assistant

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