The last time I was in Boracay, I was still in college and traveling with my parents. Since then, I’d see all my friends come home after summer break, burnt to a crisp, grinning like maniacs and singing praises of Boracay – as if it held some magic that I’d never experienced, a kind of summer myth. It took me years to finally go back there, but I believe the stories now. It_is_ a wonderful place. And all it took to convince me were a group of 13 game development geeks and a lot of Red Horse Extra Strong Beer.
I was in Boracay for five glorious days. It wasn’t an “adventure” in the action-packed, activity-filled sense of the word. Really, most of it was spent just being lazy – lounging around, eating, and drinking. But I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
What follows is a short and fairly accurate account of the most hedonistic vacation I’ve ever had. Good times 😉
- Met Gabby and Caroline (Flipside Games), and Chris (Obsidian) at the Domestic Terminal (which was not as bad as everyone said it would be – they had good coffee!)
- Flew in through ZestAir, on a < 60-seater plane, and kept my crash paranoia to myself
- Checked into the Villa Lourdes Resort. It’s super cheap, with a decent bed and bathroom, and it’s also a short walk to the beach and D’Mall shopping area – very convenient. I wouldn’t mind staying there again.
- Joined by Mench and Mervin (Gabby’s family), who flew in earlier that morning
- Had a Mexican lunch at Mañaña’s, and immediately started drinking. I started the trail of inebriation with a frozen margarita – not bad.
- Hung out for Happy Hour at Two Seasons, and drank some more. I had a cilantro mojito (yes, the herb), which was only the beginning of some very weird and creative concoctions. (The cilantro mojito was… plant-y. But good)
- Swam. The water in Boracay was perfect. Cool water, shallow for a good distance, no rocks or algae or jellyfish at all!
- While swimming, got picked up by some band that was playing at some nearby hotel at 7. No, we didn’t go.
- Ate street food. Isaw! I haven’t had it in years!
- Had a barbecue dinner. Did not drink.
- … because we then went to a bar called Juice and drank. A lot. I made the mistake of ordering something called (sorry, Dad, close your eyes for a second) “Adios Motherfucker” (okay, Dad, open them now). The drink was named such because it had all the possible alcohol types you could think of, in one horrible-looking blue mix. And it tasted just as horrible. But it did the job. Adios.
- Went reef walking, where I walked on the ocean floor wearing a very heavy, very Master Chief-like helmet pumped with air
- While reef walking, fed fish with bread. Those fish are a hungry and greedy folk. Not gentle at all
- What happens when you get four geeky game developers moving in slow motion underwater? First, we blasted each other with guns a la Halo. Then we kung-fu-ed each other a la Street Fighter. We ended it by dancing the geek dance in a circle. Awesome
- Tried the coffee at Real Coffee. I had a Boracay Buzz – coffee with banana. Good!
- Had barbecue lunch at Hawaiian Barbecue
- Joined in the afternoon by Vincent and Sebastien (Gameloft), Ryan (IGDA) and Aissa, and Phil (Level-Up!) and Trisha
- Got a henna tattoo (butterflies on my left shoulder) while drinking a Jonah’s shake
- Shopped at D’Mall. I am aware that Boracay is not the cheapest place in the world, but I needed decent clothes. (More on that later)
- Had dinner at Paraiso Grill. The alcohol began, and ended, rather quickly, thanks to the poison that is Red Horse beer. I found my limit (around five of the large bottles) and stopped after that. And this is all I will say on the matter.
- Joined by Paul (eXist). That completes our geeky party!
- Went island-hopping! Rented a boat all to ourselves, for about four hours
- Snorkeled in the middle of nowhere Crocodile Island (thanks, Caroline, for telling me the name!). Fed the fish, who were just as greedy as yesterday’s fish.
- Had lunch at Puka Island – more grilled and barbecued food. Buried our friends in the sand
- Had quick dinner at Andok’s
- … because we rushed to our little “party” at our French friends’ hotel room. We watched Tropic Thunder while the rest played poker
- Drank rum coke, and shoved Tequila Rose into people’s hands, as I am wont to do at parties
- Taught the Frenchmen how to speak inappropriate Tagalog. Learned how to speak inappropriate French. Astig!
- Alas, even hedonists needed to get back to the real world, so at sunrise we packed our bags and checked out
- It turned out all flights were delayed – they’d closed the airport due to bad weather. While waiting for our flight, we hung out at the ZestAir passenger lounge (much better than the Caticlan airport – I highly recommend it) and listened to a very loud bird squawk its unhappiness at being caged
- Then, just a 55-minute airplane ride later, we were home.
- (And no plane crashes, yay)
What I learned from Boracay:
- Bring lots of cash – in small bills. You’ll need them for the trikes, boat rides, and all sorts of taxes going to and from the island.
- Bring more than just swimsuits and coverups. My well-planned wardrobe turned out to be useless when I realized I wouldn’t be wearing a swimsuit 24/7 – so I needed good, solid clothes. Shopping at D’Mall is great, but damn expensive!
- Travel with friends whose company you enjoy. It was the company, more than anything else, that made the trip a complete riot. (Yes, even more than the ridiculous amounts of alcohol.) Gabby did a great job of choosing the right people for the trip, and I can’t thank him enough for inviting me!
- Go in February. The weather was perfect, the crowd was small enough that we could walk on the beach unbothered, and it rained ONCE – that was all. I wouldn’t want to be there during the marketplace that is summer!
- Don’t bother with work. We all brought our laptops, but WiFi was actually scarce – and lugging our laptops along the beach to the nearest plugged cafe was not fun. We ended up not working a single day (except for one very industrious Frenchman), and that was probably the best way to enjoy Boracay – to be lazy and do nothing.
The full set of photos from my Boracay trip is here. It’s been two weeks and I’m already fully assimilated into the real world, but there are bits and pieces of memory that resurface every now and then, making me laugh out loud. I’m so glad I went on this trip, and I’m hoping I’ll somehow go on vacation again that is somewhere near the level of fun of Boracay. Because it’s seriously hard to beat.