We woke to dull grey skies today so had a leisurely breakfast cooked by my own in-house omelette chef in our AirBnB.
We’ve been meaning to firm up our route and itinerary for the Philippines for a few days now. Given that the country is widely spread across 7000 islands, we’ve been informed that travelling is slow and reliant on a mix of expensive internal flights, uncomfortable bus/mini-vans and unreliable boat schedules. Apparently many travel plans can fall through at the drop of a hat if the Philippine’s unpredictable weather turns.
Knowing that we can’t possibly see it all and we certainly don’t want to spend the majority of our time flip flopping across the country, we do some research and plump for two main destinations; Palawan and Cebu. Both of these seem to be great bases for beautiful island hopping, gorgeous beaches and impressive snorkelling. However they are in opposite directions from our current point in Boracay which doesn’t make for most efficient of routes. They have central transport hubs though and with approx 10 day’s set aside for each destination we should be ok.
Having spent a good couple of hours researching with travel blogs and the trusty lonely planet guide we are ready to book transport. Unfortunately this is when the heavens open and our internet dies on its arse. Booking will have to wait. Thankfully we have amazing cable tv in this AirBnB so we abandon travel planning and watch films whilst we wait for the rain to abate. During this time a spontaneous karaoke performance breaks out from the neighbouring house. We’d been warned from Oliver, our host, that Filipinos love to celebrate and play their music loud at any given time in the day, especially during this Christmas holiday period. Oliver also mentioned that they’d think you were totally insane if you even attempted to ask them to lower the volume. This particular karaoke competition was so loud that even with every window shut and the pouring rain in the background, it felt as though there was a full blown party in our room. We were treated to multiple Whitney Houston power ballards from two tone-deaf 11 year old girls for well over 2 hours. I actually had to record some of these renditions because we couldn’t quite belief what our bleeding ears were hearing. Just as we thought it had got surreal enough, they then broke out the 90’s grunge and got all emo on us with Zombie from the Cranberries.
With no sign of the rain easing up we felt a little deflated that our New Years Eve was likely to be a wash out but we got dressed up and headed into town to see what mischief we could find. It turns out that our fears were wholly unnecessary, and that Boracay was more than prepared for the biggest party of the year.
We flagged a tricycle down to avoid getting soaked and our driver had put a scraggy piece of tarpaulin across us to use as a wind and rain shield with the smallest of openings for visibility. Resourceful and dangerously makeshift. Having indulged in a couple of rums back at the pad whilst getting ready, Gary embraced the friendly nature of Filipinos, high-fiving all the kids as we drove past. To kick the night off, we tucked into some delicious Thai curry at station two, right amongst the carnival atmosphere.
We then went for a walk along the beach to scope out the best spot to bring in the new year. The 4km beach is lined with vibrant bars, restaurants and clubs and they were all competing for our custom with unbelievably cheap drinks and pumping music. These bars rub shoulders with fancy 5 star resorts who put on exclusive and elaborate themed nights and soirées.
We plumped for Paraw which had good music and a nice vibe. We were just just positioning ourselves for the countdown when a huge crowd of 50+ party hounds busted in on the last stop of a bar crawl! This made for a very raucous midnight. The atmosphere was amazing.
As we entered into 2018, the whole beach lit up with the most amazing fireworks going off across the whole bay that lasted for 20mins. It really was an incredible spectacle. The rain was lashing down but it almost added to the experience and none of the revellers cared as they danced on the sand.
As we headed back amongst the masses we reflected on what a lovely atmosphere it was on the beach. No trouble, no fights just great vibes and lovely people wishing each other a happy new year.
We made about 4 attempts to leave but we kept getting tempted into different clubs on the way.
We eventually tumbled home at 3, having already smashed our 10,000 step target for the first day of the year.