Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Best & Worst of Boracay

The 5 Best Things about Boracay (in no particular order)

1. Accommodation Upgrades. I think maybe a memo was sent out to Boracay to upgrade cute and friendly people at any and all possible opportunities. Out of the 4 different places we stayed, we had 3 amazing (and totally unnecessary) upgrades! It made the crappy weather totally bearable, and made us feel pretty damn satisfied.

2. The food. Okay, if I was coming from Canada this wouldn't have made the list. But there are so many things in the food and drink category that are either scarcely available in Korea, totally unavailable in Korea, or just done really poorly in Korea (ie Italian restaurants are pretty trendy here, but they're referred to as K'Italian, because it's Korea's take on Italian, and a pretty poor one, 9 times out of 10). In Boracay, a staple was white wine, cheese, salami and avocados. NONE of these things are readily available in Korea. Aside from relishing in those items, the restaurants had so much to offer. We dined on Mongolian, Indian, Japanese, Middle Eastern (only shawarmas from a street vendor but still- they were delicious) Italian (like homemade delicious pasta, and thin crust pizza from a wood burning oven kinda Italian), Thai, Greek, and one of our best meals was in a little French Bistro. The selection was amazing and although, hand to heart, I do really enjoy most korean food, it was a really nice break to have kimchi nowhere in sight for a whole 2 weeks!

3. Drink. White wine has always been a staple for me and in Korea, it is available in the big grocery stores but not restaurants or bars. Sometimes you get red, but mostly it is just the Korean plum wines or other sickly sweet ones. In Boracay, I had white wine with every single meal, every single night. On top of that I had a bottle in the fridge in our hotel on hand at all times. And on top of that, in the delicatessen, we found PROSECCO. I was in heaven. Then.... on TOP of that- Boracay local coconut rum, the equivalent of Cap't Morgan's Parrot Bay, a summer staple at home, was $2.00 a bottle. Unreal.

4. I bought a necklace that I adore for $1.00. It was way off the beaten path and I found it in a stall as soon as we arrived and was positive my price conversion was wrong. But no, it was $1.00. It's a big massive wooden beaded necklace and it would have cost me a boat load from home.

5. Cheap massages & lady boys. Ok cheap massages are pretty self explanatory, it's an integral part of an Asian getaway. Aside from the obvious enjoyment factor, it's also pretty great to pay so little for something that would cost an arm and a leg in any spa facilities back home. As for the lady boys, don't get me wrong, the only reason they're on the list is for entertainment value (not THAT kind of entertainment, geeez!) Korea is a totally homophobic society and going to the Philippines and seeing the bikini clad, over the top, decked out, made up, lady boys was really fun. It added color to the background.

The 5 Worst Things about Boracay (in no particular order)

1. First and foremost was the use of the word "Mamsir". Being one half of a heterosexual couple, it seems Garry and I (and all other male/female partners) lost our individual identities. Apparently we just morphed into one person, addressed in one way. Every restaurant, hotel,  bar and store had someone outside of it trying to lure you in and the word Mamsir was heard about every 2.8 seconds. It drove me mental.

2. The weather. I have traveled Asia in the wet season before and knew to expect some rains and bad conditions. Part of my reasoning though was that in 15 days there would be a nice balance of good and bad weather. This summer, all over Asia it has been exceptionally bad. Evil triumphed over good. We had typhoons, tropical storms, and cyclones. You name it, we experienced it. Luckily the sun poked it's heads out just often enough for us not to write off the vacation as a total bust.

3. The coffee. As much as the food was good, the coffee was bad. Almost every single cup I had sucked. It was usually instant, sometimes with powdered milk, but day after day, no matter where we had it, it sucked. For an island with such good breakfast meals, they need to seriously work on the coffee department.

4. All you can eat buffets. Buffets were everywhere, and they would lay out the food within smelling distance, almost touching distance of the general walkway. The first night we were there we went for one and it wasn't too impressive. In my opinion (though the chef disagreed) the chicken wasn't cooked. There was fish and chicken and pork to choose from off the grill, a pasta station, shell fish and some other random bits. Overall, nothing that looked out of this world. HOWEVER, we were quickly warned by an employee from the dive shop to be very weary of the all you can eat buffets. There is a lot of recycled food that sits out all night, then gets served again. That was enough to put us off them for the next 2 weeks.

5. Cheap massages and lady boys. I know, I know, this was on the Best List already. But somehow it crosses over to both. Walking up and down the strip on the beach was exhausting, not because of how long it went on for but because of how many offers you had to refuse for cheap massages, cheap sunglasses, henna tattoos, hair braiding and cheap drinks accompanied with a good time. More disconcerting was the amount of older single men leering about day and night making use of the lady boys services. I won't go into details but it was definitely creepy.

There you have some high and low points of a little piece of paradise, called Boracay.

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