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Manila, Philippines

"Cause in Manila, we all the same, everybody's waiting for things to change." ~ Amber Davis (Manila)

rain 20 °C
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Our last stop was Manila. During this time, some extreme floods were sweeping the city. Going from Boracay to Palawan, we had to fly via Manila. We also entered the country through Manila. The times that we were there just to catch another flight, it was raining so badly that there were fears that the plain would not take off. Flying in over Manila, the devestation of the floods could be witnessed.

1. Extreme Flooding Over Manila
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Manila is the capital of the Philippines. With a population of approximately 1,652,171 and only an area of about 40 squared km, it is the most densely populated city in the world. In 1571, Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, founded the city of Manila as it is known today. Before that, the area was used by the Sultan of Brunei and the Ming Dynasty of Chinas as part of the trade route.

While, in Manila, we didn't venture much farther than our hotel. We stayed in the Greenhills Elan Hotel Modern. It is located in Greenhills neighbourhood and right across from the massive Greenhills Shopping Centre. This shopping centre has everything your usual mall has like movie theatres and restaurants. But then it also has an underground bargaining area. Millions of shop owners try to sell you bags and clothes from famous brand names, for a quarter of the price. This means of course, this is a basement of knockoff. Although they do look very real. The chaos inside this place is quite crazy as people grab you and ladyboys scream in your face to try and sell their good to you.

Mostly, we just stayed in our hotel, ordered room service and watched television. It was raining constantly and after a week and a half of swimming, tanning, partying, not sleeping a lot, we were exhausted and welcomed the nice rooms and beds.

2. View of Manila by Day
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3. View of Manila by Night
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After two wonderful weeks on sunny islands of the Philippines, we are returning to our second home, South Korea. Flying in over the Incheon Bridge with the bright lights of Incheon ahead, we feel refreshed and ready for another semester of teaching ahead of us.

4. Bored at Manila airport, sharing a coffee with the little money we had left
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Check out this commemorative video, made by a friend, showing our time in the Philippines: Team Philippines '12.

Posted by Anja Fourie 18:18 Archived in Philippines Tagged rain water shopping philippines manila floods greenhills greenhills_elan Comments (0)

Boracay Island, The Philippines

"I'll take you to the Philippines, We can go there, Jump on a plane." ~ Apl.de.Ap (Take me to the Philippines)

sunny 28 °C
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Not much more than a 4 hour flight from South Korea, lies the Philippine Archipelago which comprises of about 7,107 different little islands. Of these only about 2,000 are inhabited. The first island that we visited is the popular tourist destination, Boracay Island. Voted, The Best Island in the World 2012, by Travel+Leisure, this island has sprawling beaches, clear waters and a strip of beach bars.

On the 4th of August, we got up very early for our 8 o'clock flight. As we walked to the bus stop close to our apartment block, the one wheel of my bag broke off. Not such a great start, but my excitement quickly made me not care less about a broken bag. The first bus of the day came around the corner as the sun started rising over Incheon. The bus takes about 45 minutes, depending on traffic, but soon we arrive at the airport and check in our bags. We are ready to embark on our journey to the Philippines!

About 4 hours later we arrive in Manila. It is typhoon season and everything is wet. It is raining incredibly hard and unfortunately for this airport you have to walk all the way around on the outside, to get to departures again. The plane ride down to Kalibo Airport is very bumpy, but we are suprised by beautiful weather when we land there.

1. Hello Philippines!
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Boracay is one of the smaller islands in the Philippines. It is situated 315km south of Manila and forms part of the Panay Islands. It is just 2km north of the bigger island here. This means that we had to fly from Incheon to Manila, transfer from Manila to Kalibo airport, take a 2 hour bus ride up north to the ferry station, and then make the 15min journey by ferry to Boracay Island. Then we got on a little bus to the main part of the island, where our hotel was. We stayed in Island Nook Boutique Hotel. This place is situated right on Boracay Highway, the biggest road on the island that goes from the one side to the other.

2. Island Nook Boutique Hotel
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The island is only about 7kms long, has a total area of 10.32 squared kms and the narrowest point is less than a kilometer. This narrow point is where most of the hotels, bars, beaches and action can be found in Boracay.The two main beaches, White Beach and Bulabog Beach are located at opposite ends of this thin stretch. White Beach faces West and Bulabog faces east. You can easily walk from the one side to the other with a direct road. The famous White Beach is where all the bars and restaurants are situated and also the main swimming area. If you walk to the other side, Bulabog Beach is where all the extreme sports are situated. Here you can also get a little boat to take you to one of the other, quieter beaches down the island or for some snorkeling.

As we arrived pretty late at our hotel, it was already dark when we headed out for the first time to go and explore Boracay. The first thing you notice here is the scooters. Always everywhere and always going. There are barely any big cars here, just small busses, motorcycles and the tricycles.

3. Crazy streets
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4. "Get anything over the counter" Pharmacy - we were laughing at how really strong pills that you need definitely need a prescription for back home, can just be bought through a little window like a burger at McDonalds' drive-thru.
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Our first night there, we saw a fire show on the beach. Soon we realised that not all of these dancers are in fact the tiny girls that they appear to be. There is something a little "more" to them. Our first ladyboy sighting confirms the fact that we have arrived in South East Asia.

5. Fire Show on White Beach
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ILIG ILIGAN

The next day we head out to do some activities. Our hotel had discounts on a lot of the activities, so we organised a boat trip through them. On the other days we mostly just took the flyer from our place down to Bulabog and organised it ourselves. One of the trips you can do, is take a little boat and go snorkel. After this, they take you to Ilig Iligan Beach. This beach is basically deserted. Just a few locals roaming around, some people snorkeling, and some goats walking on the beach. There are two restaurants, huts really, where you can get some lunch. We went here three times during our week in Boracay, but for the second two times we opted not to do the snorkeling and rather just relaxed on the beach. There is a road to the beach, but it is not fully developed enough for the tricycle to complete the journey, so taking a boat there is the fastest and best way.

6. On our way to Ilig Iligan from Bulabog Beach
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7. Beautiful beaches of Ilig Iligan
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8. Ilig Iligan Restaurant ~ waves crashing in beneath your feet as the tide rises, ladies selling you beads while you wait for your food, and delicious Filipino food cooked on the beach, makes it all a very unique experience.
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9. Swimming and Diving for Star Fish
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PUKA SHELL BEACH

It is possible to take a tricycle to Puka Beach, which is situated to the North of the island. It is basically right next to Ilig Iligan, but you can travel straight to this beach via the main road. With the tricycle it takes approximately 15 minutes to get there. The name originated from the Puka shells found on this 800m, beautiful stretch of beach. The beach at Ilig Iligan is situated in a smaller bay, making it protected from the elements and thus there is now wind or waves to really speak of. The beach at Puka is more open and the small waves crash very close to the shore. Here we just swan, tanned and drank coconut milk/

10. View from the tricycle, on our way to Puka Beach
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11. At Puka Beach
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BULABOG BEACH SPORTS...

At Bulabog we also did some other fun activities. The banana boat is blow-up banana shape boat, which you sit on and then get pulled behind a speed boat. It doesn't go very fast, but is fun. After this, half of our group decided to also do the Flying Fish. This basically works on the same concept, except that the Flying Fish has "wings" on the side, causing it to lift out of the water at more than a 45 degree angle. Our one friend fell off and lost both his boxers and his pants. He managed to save his pants, but had to let his boxers be eaten by the fishes.

12. Banana Boat and the Flying Fish
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BORACAY NIGHTLIFE...

We spent the whole day on the beach, had afternoon naps and then went out for dinner. Dinner would usually be had at a restaurant in D*Mall or on the restaurant strip at White Beach.

13. Dinners in Boracay ~ Adobo, Rice, Fish, Buffets, Hobbit House (Lord of the Rings themed restaurant with little people)
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14. Going out in Boracay ~ On our break from Korea, we couldn't escape the Koreans as they love The Philippines. Ou favourite place to start was Tribal Bar, a makeshift bar on the beach. Here they even served Savanna, a South African favourite! At Tribal Bar they also did juggling tricks and we ordered big dispensers of alcohol with Wang-Wang inside. Wang-Wang is basically just a mixup of everything at the bar. Our nights would always end at Summer Place, where we would dance the night away.
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SAYING GOODBYE TO BORACAY...

After a week in Boracay, we finally had to say goodbye to Boracay and make our way to Palawan, our next destination. We had a 10am flight, which isn't that early, but factoring in the almost 3 hours it would take us to get to the airport,, we were up very early that morning. We fell asleep on the ferry, and fell into semi-comas in the bus during the 2 hour drive to the airport.

15. Very tired on the Ferry
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16. Tiny Kalibo airport
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Our next stop is Puerto Princesa on the Palawan Island. Here we will be seeing one of the 7 Wonders of Nature, the Underground River!

TOP TIPS...

1. Do pack light. For Boracay you barely need any clothes, but your swimming costume and a few nice dresses. I took a variety of shoes and never wore anything but Flip-Flops.
2. Do be prepared for the mosquitos. We were basically killed by mosquitos every night. It seemed like nothing we bought there worked for us, so do take something along that had proven to have worked for you in the past.
3. Do book your flight to Caticlan Airport. We didn't know this, but Caticlan is an airport 5mins away from the ferry port to Boracay, where Kalibo is 2 hours away. Spare yourself the hassle and book you flight into Caticlan rather than Kalibo.

Posted by Anja Fourie 01:36 Archived in Philippines Tagged beaches boats beach philippines filipino manila boracay mosquitos caticlan kalibo apl.d.ap philippine_air summer_place Comments (0)

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