Boracay, Philippines

 

O nascer do sol já perto de Manila

 

 

After two long flights, here I am, finally on my final destination. As much as I’m used to spend a lot of hours in airplanes and airports, it’s never a pleasant experience. To give you an idea of what I call a long trip, these were the different stages: two and a half hours from Viseu, my home town, to Lisbon. Then seven hours and 15 minutes from Lisbon to Dubai, followed by a night in Dubai and then another seven and a half hours from Dubai to Manila. After that, 3 hours waiting at Manila Airport and another hour flying from Manila to Caticlan, an island near Boracay, where the airport is located. Finally a short boat ride to Boracay and another short car ride to my hotel. Yeah…traveling is not all fun and joy :)

The arrival to Manila was “interesting”. Even in non developed countries, usually the main airports work reasonably right. This one on the capital of the Philippines needs urgent changes or I was just unlucky and got an unusual experience. Everything started with baggage claim. The time I waited for my bag was exactly 1 hour and 10 minutes. No kidding. Now just imagine if my next flight didn’t allow me to wait all that time. I would be screwed! The truth is that in this case the responsibility was not entirely on the airport. I didn’t know it was even possible to have so many bags getting out of a single airplane :). After all the wait, the transfer. People who are used to airports know that it’s quite common, specially on bigger airports, to find 2, 3 or even more terminals. For this reason, it’s also common to arrive at one terminal and have to move to another one to catch the next flight, and it’s even more common when you move from an international flight to a domestic one. The transport between those terminals can be on foot when they are nearby or it can be by some sort of transportation provided by the airport itself. So…onde I got through customs, I followed the signs to T1 to T3 transfer. My first surprise was when I saw that the waiting area was outside, with a temperature of 30 degrees celsius. Great. The best was yet to come, though! A small bus arrived, with some 20 years or so and with doors that should be automatic but the only way to open them was to kick them LOL. Alright, it can’t get any worse I guess. Wrong! So we got into the bus and there was one question. What about the bags? Where’s the space to take them? Ahhh I see…you know that thing called aisle, meant to be used by people to move inside a bus? In the Philippines it’s used to accommodate bags almost to the ceiling LOL I even tried to take a couple of pictures of the scene but I couldn’t move enough to take my phone out of my pocket. Seriously :). Then the route between the terminals. It started outside the perimeter of the airport and a few minutes later we were driving by the parked planes, inside the perimeter, right close to the runways…all that with a less than ideal security. To the point that at T4, where we stopped as well, the driver was gone for some 5 minutes, which would have been more than enough time for someone with some bad intentions, to leave the bus and to get access to the entire airport from there.

Oh well…I ended up having a laugh with the situation but if it’s the same in Malaysia, no wonder that people got to board the sadly famous Malaysia Airlines flight with fake passports.

The pictures you can see below are just snapshots I took on my way from Portugal to the Philippines, since I don’t have anything from Boracay yet. I’ll start exploring the island tomorrow.

 

Quando se passam horas intermináveis num avião, tudo se torna fotogénico
When you spend long hours on a place, everything looks interesting for a picture

 

O metro do Dubai, totalmente automatizado, sem motorista
The driverless Dubai Metro

 

É o maior shopping do mundo mas é igual a todos os outros
It’s the biggest shopping mall in the world but it’s just like any other

 

Olhar para isto durante horas a fio pode levar ao dsesespero :)
To look at this for hours can take you to desperation :)

 

Nas Filipinas não há misturas! Vêm as diferenças? Depois não digam que as mulheres não são mais atrapalhadas! :)
No mixing in the Philippines. See the difference? Now don’t say women are not slower! :)

 

Juro que lhes disse que era apenas uma pessoa!
I swear I told them I was just one person!

 


 

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One of the problems for people who travel a lot is that it becomes harder and harder to be impressed. The opposite occurs actually. Places that would wow most people become kind of normal. That can be said about my first impressions of Boracay.

When I decided to come here and booked my hotel, I noticed the huge number of hotels to such a small island. To give you an idea of the place, imagine an island in the shape of a bone, narrow in the middle and wider on both ends. It has some 6 or 7 km from north to south I guess, and you can walk from east to west in 10 or 15 minutes. So it’s a very small island. The result is too many people for too little land. It does have some very nice beaches, White Beach in particular, but this is exactly where most hotels are located and for this reason, it has a lot of people. And to make things worse, they’re still building more resorts.

The infrastructure is also poor, with a lot of dirt roads, that become mud roads after some rain. The smell in some places is also quite unpleasant. There’s still the noise, both due to the never ending construction and the driving habit to always have the hand on the horn :).

But not everything is bad. As I said before, it’s a nice destination for beach lovers. Warm weather, warm water, completely flat sea, like a lake. Ohhh…and you can walk almost to Indonesia before the water gets to your head LOL. It’s a very peaceful place, where you don’t need to worry about crime (as far as I could see). It’s also a cheap destination when it comes to lodging and food. A can of coke will cost you some 50 or 60 euro cents, something impossible in other destinations where income is almost fully provided by tourists.

And when it comes to photos, you better get up early and start doing it just before sunrise, when most of the island is still sleeping and you don’t have a million people between you and your landscape.

 

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A curtir o final da tarde

 

 

Here I was, trying to find a way to explain to people in Portugal, what kind of tourism exists in Boracay. How about “the Benidorm of the chinese”? (Benidorm is a hot spot for portuguese tourism in the coast of Spain). That’s right…if they weren’t so many I would say that they are all here! Chinese people are in fact a huge percentage of all tourists in the island. There are also some westerners but not many, at least at this time of the year. And from those westerners, some of them are accompanied buy local women a little bit younger…like 30 years younger LOL. Oh well…it’s common around this part of the planet. The same happens in Thailand.

The weather has been great during the day…but the big problem to me is that around sunrise and sunset it has been cloudy and that sucks to take pictures, since those are the best times of the day to do it. And a travel photographer that can’t take some decent sunrise and sunset pictures home, is a failed photographer :) The temperatures are not that high, around 30 degrees celsius, but humidity is impressive. When I get back to the hotel after an hour walk, it seems that I took a shower with my clothes on.

Today the pictures are different. I decided to show a little bit more of the island, both on the beaches and inland, instead of publishing some of my favourite ones, where I usually try to eliminate all human beings. Today the beach was even more crowded due to a Dragon Boat event. Dragon Boats are paddle boats with crews that can go from 10 people to over 50. It seems to be an important race because I could see participants of countries all over Asia and also from Australia and New Zealand. There’s also TV coverage with helicopter shots and everything.

 

Uma das equipas de Dragon Boat a treinar...às 6 da manhã!
One of the Dragon Boat teams working out…at 6 in the morning!

 

O que é que não pode faltar num local turístico, por muito pequeno que seja?
You can always find these, no matter how small the place is

 

Algum candidato a fotógrafo de casamentos em Boracay?
Who wants to be a wedding photographer in Boracay?

 

Instalações elétricas que são um regalo para a vista e, imagino, super seguras :D
How about these electric cables? Beautiful to the eyes and extremely safe, I would guess :D

 

A rua principal cá da ilha
The main road in the island

 

Parque de "taxis"
Taxis parking lot”

 

Uma das estações de salva vidas
One of the life guards stations

 

Dois dos barcos das corridas de Dragon Boats
Dragon Boats

 

Ao longo de toda a praia há lojas, restaurantes, pousadas, etc.
Along the beach you can find stores, restaurants, hotels, etc.

 

O parque de estacionamento local :)
The local parking lot :)

 


 

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Another crappy sunrise. There was a huge thunderstorm between 4 and 4:30 in the morning. I knew it then that I wouldn’t have any luck…what annoys me is that around 7:00 AM the weather was beautiful already. Lets wait for tomorrow. One of the advantages of staying several days on the same place is the ability to go back to the same spots as many times as needed to get those decent pictures.

Like I said on the comment of a picture I posted on Facebook this morning, it’s the first time I go outside at 5:00 in the morning to take pictures and there are a lot of people around already. And I’m not taking about those people who spent the night outside. No. There are those as well but I’m taking about people who wake up really early to enjoy the beach before it gets invaded buy the crowds. And for this reason, is quite hard to photograph here. Usually, waking up really early ensures me that I will be able to take those shots I want without other people around to bother. Not here though. I’m trying to be as patient as I can…to be able to take the picture on those 5 seconds without someone between myself and my shot. Not easy!

Photography aside, the atmosphere on the island is excellent. The beach, specially by the end of the afternoon and beginning of the evening, becomes a big party. People playing beach volleyball, children playing, people simply enjoying the sunset or swimming even when it’s completely dark. And to help, the sounds and smells coming from the restaurants and bars along the beach. And taking about the beach itself, it changes a lot from the morning to the afternoon. Due to the tides, in the morning there are twice more sand than in the afternoon…and that makes it look big early in the day and too small after lunch.

Enjoy a few more pictures of Boracay.

 

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Today I went to the other side of the island. There are two main beaches on the island. White Beach on the west side and Bulabog Beach on the east. They’re both separated by a narrow peace of land, maybe 1 km. The thing is…going to one beach and then visiting the other one, it seems that we are on completely different islands. White Beach is the one where I have been shooting extensively the last few days. It’s the most beautiful one when it comes to its scenery, from the water colours to the beautiful white sand. It’s also the one frequented by most tourists and that destroys a lot of its charm. On the other side we have Bulabog Beach. It doesn’t have the same beauty and being on the most windy side of the island and with a lot less hotels, it’s a much less crowded place and here you can find a lot more locals than tourists. This is the place to see how Boracay would be without the tourism.

All pictures below are from the east coast, the side without the crowds.

 

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The last complete day in the Philippines. And this was the day to get the best sunrise and also the best sunset. The weather has been fantastic every single day but it was taking long to get a clear sunrise due to thunderstorms happening early in the morning. This week was more than enough time to know the island very well, to look for the best spots to shoot and to go back there as many times as possible until finding the ideal conditions.

Today I spent some time shooting some small videos to be able to show you a little bit more about the atmosphere here in the island, not only with moving images but also through sounds. Very basic videos, just to give a better idea of the ambient. I was thinking about publishing them but the internet here in the hotel is just too slow to upload videos.

Tomorrow is the beginning of the long trip back home. I leave Boracay at the beginning of the afternoon and the next time I write something in here, I’ll be probably home or at least on my way home. I leave you with some more pictures, some from today and some from the other days I stayed here.

 

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Here I am again, after a few days back home. Today I’m just bringing you a small video I put together with a number of short clips I shot on my trip, both in Boracay and in Dubai. It’s something very basic. All I did was to group the different videos I got with both my cell phone and my photo camera with the intent of showing you the atmosphere of those places.

 

 


 

 

And to put an end to my Philippines trip, I decided to add some more pictures in a slideshow on the top of this page. As I said previously, this island in the Philippines is a very nice destination to people who love the beach, with its warm, flat and colourful waters. But for us here in Portugal and around, there are some as good or better beaches closer to home, like some of the caribbean islands. The distance is a problem and the crowds don’t help either. Too many hotels for such a small island. Differently from other beach destinations I was lucky enough to visit, in Boracay is not possible to find that desert beach or that piece of sand to enjoy without other people around, even at 5:30 in the morning.

Now I have to wait for another aventure, already being planned. See you in September :).

 

 

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