I tried desperately to avoid the Philippines especially given the current isis situation and while I tend to be the person to not let current affairs affect my travels (i.e. still traveling to Europe including London after the unfortunate terrorist activity or getting on a plane a week after the September 11 attacks as a child) feeling concerned about traveling to a country surprised me but also scared me enough that I wanted to avoid Philippines all together including reaching out to Air Asia about switching my flight destination, providing me a credit, changing dates or just taking the flights cost loss and booking a new ticket from Cambodia to Indonesia. After much back and forth, consulting with friends, other travelers who had gone or were going and reaching out to the hostel in Boracay regarding safety I decided the best choice for my peace of mind since Air Asia did not provide any support was to pay for the flight date change but still head to the Philippines.
Sadly, the only city I visited in the Philippines as a result of letting my fears get the best of me was Boracay which while beautiful was obviously not all of the Philippines I had originally wanted to explore. For “safety” reasons I picked Boracay as both international and domestic tourists flock here making for a perfect location for my short time in the Philippines. Will admit that while in Boracay hearing other back packers speaking about their previous travels or plans to visit El Nido and Cebu had me feeling like I was missing out. Regardless I still left the Philippines with some amazing stories, visited some amazing sites and hung out with some amazing people including Hannah and Vicky who I previously met in the Mad Monkey in Cambodia. All in all to say that Boracay still had all the makings for a memorable stop on my Girl Takes Mundo adventure.
I stayed at the Mad Monkey Boracay Hostel and after a grueling 26 hour journey from Cambodia (thanks Air Asia for delaying ALL my flights in the Philippines 😤) which included 3 flights, 2 van rides and 1 ferry I didn’t do much the first night except die in my bed and sleep for 13 hours which granted lend itself nicely for a bright and early morning on my second day there. Breakfast that comes with a shot pretty much sums up the Mad Monkey Boracay hostel but need not fear as the ability to sleep is totally doable here. (Case and point my 13 hour snooze.) The hostel is in a very central location, the food in their cafe is awesome and they run events every day including boat and pool parties during the week so meeting people is easy if you want to be social.
As I mentioned earlier, I met-up with Hannah and Vicky who I met at the Mad Monkey in Koh Rong Samloem and we discovered on the last day of my stay there that we all were going to be staying at Mad Monkey in Boracay during the same time. First impressions are important especially when traveling as you meet so many people and they come into your life as quickly as they leave so first impressions tend to last. When I met Hannah and Vicky in Cambodia I can only imagine their first impression of me as it was me running up to them with phone in hand showing them a picture of me from back home saying, “This is me back home, does it look like me?” (As I stood there looking like the biggest beach bum to roll out of a hammock in months.) Talk about first impressions! I thank them for not judging my initial vainness and still wanting to hang out in Boracay. Them and their friend Kat who joined them in Boracay made for great mates to experience this city.
Aside from the stunning beaches or attending hostel pool parties my next favorite activity during my time in Boracay was the boat party the hostel organized. If you make your way to Boracay find a boat party. Mad Monkey hostel isn’t the only one that organizes them and they are totally worth it. (Tip: If the place you are staying doesn’t organize a boat party a simple google will render many options as well.) I’ve done my share of boat parties and they tend to just be boozy cruises with music. While this boat party also has this including the expected unlimited drinks it also includes cliff diving, snorkeling and a stop in a private island during this 6 hour party. (I may have also died in my bed after this party but totally worth it.)
Of course the beaches here are stunning but I also did some other great things. Here is the list below.
Ili-Iligan Beach – While farther away from the main road and at least a 1/2 hour tuk tuk ride going up hill hoping the engine has enough power to get you to top and good breaks for those down hill paths it’s a secluded paradise with still some awesome sport activities like paddle boarding, kayak and if you fancy those tourist banana boats for you to do.
Lunch in Spider House – Delicious food, great views, trampoline in the water to use and next to the beach so you can still make a day out of it.
Diniwid Beach – The beach that Spider house is oen.
White Beach – Beachside river walk with tons of restaurants, bars and shops. Great place to grab a drink, listen to music, watch the typical fire show and grab dinner. D-mall is near which is an outdoor mall if you are looking to do some shopping. Just keep in mind this is a very touristy area.
Get A Tattoo – OK, maybe you don’t have to get a tattoo while you’re out here but Vicky and I did. I’ve had a tattoo design in mind way before going on this trip and I was finding the perfect time to do it (see Budapest post) and I’m not saying this was the perfect time but ideally I wanted this done abroad. The tattoo studio was inside of the Mad Monkey Hostel and I couldn’t be so happy as the studio was professional, sanitary and the artists really wanted to understand your vision and get to know you. (Always things you fear when getting body art even back home.)
Sooooo what did I get you’re wondering? My tattoo honors my love for travel with an infinity symbol having a globe on one side and on the other side clouds. The clouds were very intentional in the piece actually.
When I was five my parents and I made my first cross country road trip to Guatemala. Their traveler mistake was not bringing anything to keep a five-year-old entertained such as toys. While hard to believe now, I was a calm and timid child growing up that they didn’t pick up nor did I tell them that I was bored during this 5+ day road trip. So how did I survive? I looked at the clouds. I remember staring for hours on end as we drove through different parts of the United States, Mexico and Guatemala trying to figure out what shapes they made and creating stories based off the shapes. To this day if you see me wandering off starring at the clouds I’m doing exactly that and doing this now reminds me of little Chris the young traveler who would of never imagined how many clouds and in how many places she would see these.
Philippines, you made it really hard to leave because I didn’t think I did you right and because Air Asia continued to delay my flight making me really close to missing my connecting flight to Indonesia (a 40 minute connection to go through customs, check in my bag and get to the gate.) If you haven’t picked up from this post, I dislike Air Asia and will avoid using in any future travels. Regardless, I know that the Philippines are on my list of countries that I want to go back to and see their clouds.