Sunday, June 10, 2012

BORACAY: 02 - Alien vs Fish

Fish probably prefer Gardenia. That is what I thought as I waved my soaked piece of bread desperately to get their attention, but to no avail, at least for the first few minutes. I was prancing around feeling like an astronaut because of the weightlessness and the weird looking helmet on my head. The weirder thing though is how that 30 kg thing has no cover underneath. In fact, you just hold on to it so it would not float away, and you can even insert both hands inside from below if you want to blow your nose to get rid of the underwater pressure. Below the surface, its weight drops to less than a kilo, if I remember it correctly. The wonders of science! But first, how the hell did I get here?

Boracay is an island that is technically part of the province of Aklan but is co-managed by another government entity, which gives it some sort of special status. It is known primarily for its white sand beaches and the party scene that never dies down even until the wee hours of the morning. As they say, the party never ends in Boracay and the cool thing about that is you could easily have a piece of it because the place is just an hour away from Manila by plane. The airport is located at Caticlan, which is in the mainland (which is an island itself). From there, you walk around ten minutes to the jetty port or hire a tricycle to take you there. The boat ride from Caticlan to Cagban port does not go over ten minutes. Upon alighting, you can take a tricycle to wherever your accommodation is located. This is probably one of the few places in the country where you would see an abundant mix of foreigners everywhere, from East Asians to Caucasians.

Almost everything is just a 10-peso tricycle ride away. If you have time, just cross the street to White Beach and take a stroll along the shore, all four kilometers of it if your legs permit. Just mark wherever your exit is. That beats walking down the main road and risk getting hit by speeding tricycles abound. You will never get hungry in this island because food establishments are everywhere, mostly lining up the promenade by the shore. Suffice it to say that you might go bankrupt here for the glutton that you are. From fine dining (Mesa, Cyma) to fast food (Andoks), you have a lot of options to choose from. You will also never run out of things to do regardless whether you are dirt cheap (beach-bummer, people watcher, shore stroller), frugal (sea walker, massagee by the beach) or Richie rich (parasailer, kite surfer, cliff diver). All under the sun.

As for the sea walk, there are many operators, but you are probably better off with White Blue. The members of the staff are friendly and all-smiles all the time. And yes, they admit you even when you have no friends! HAHAHA. I wonder if they incur losses because of that, specifically during low season. Anyway, after paying the 500-peso fee, which includes a two-minute video and photos in a CD, you just wait for further instructions. I think they usually do it at White Beach but because of bad waves or whatever reason it was, I was brought to the other side of the island at Bulabog Beach, which is the kite surfing mecca of the island. I then waited for the boat that transported me to a platform where I joined other guests until it was my turn to go down that ladder.

They first give you a briefing on what to do once you get under water. They tell you what hand gestures to use to inform the scuba diver guide when the pressure is too strong, or when you need to pee, or when a shark is stalking you, or when piranhas are nibbling your feet. They show you what gestures the scuba diver guide would use to signal the start of the video coverage or the photo shoot. Rest assured that you will not go down there without information vital for your survival. And no, the shark and piranha thing was a joke. Or maybe not.

There was this cute little but elongated fish that kept on circling my arm before taking a bite of my wet bread. It reminds me of when a cat does the same thing with your legs before you throw it a piece of food. Cute. The black mini tilapias, however, were more thick-faced, grabbing a bite without hesitation. You could even feel their mouths hitting your fingers. Good thing, they do not have sharp teeth, or else I would not have hesitated on starting a nasty underwater cat fight. Alien versus Fish it is. Classic.

Aside from the sea-kittens, as PETA would like to call them, the corals also did not fail to amaze, along with all those other sea plants or weeds or whatever it is that they are called. As I stared at the giant rock behind me, I noticed how it was populated by quite colorful fauna that disappear when you threaten to touch them. Shy? Low self-esteem? Paranoid? Anyway, watching them slowly bloom when you back off is cute and all. I have always doubted Sebastian whenever he sings about how things are better under the water and stuff, but now I think I am beginning to believe that little red crab! Under the sea is fab, well, except for the underwater pressure, which was a real bitch. Your underwater adventure lasts for half an hour. Make sure you get those underwater jump shots! Good luck on that.

When people say Boracay they tell you how magnificent everything is. If you have never been here, that reputation will more likely precede the beauty of the beach itself. I have always thought that this island is way overrated, until I got here myself and found out that all the good things they say about it is true, although what I particularly like is the laid back environment itself and the convenience of everything you need just within reach. With the two promo-fare tickets worth less than PhP500 each to and from Manila and the accommodation that I discovered which was less than PhP400 a night, this island adventure could have been cheaper had I not splurged on food, but then again I do not do this often so what the heck. I simply love Boracay and I am definitely coming back. I am even thinking of relocating here! Woohoo!

BORACAY: 02 - Alien vs Fish

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