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.
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.
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.
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.
All pictures below are from the east coast, the side without the crowds.
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.
Now I have to wait for another aventure, already being planned. See you in September :).