November 29, 2010

Boracay Part 4: The Real Coffee Experience

8:00AM - The alarm goes off to start the day after an awesome night at the sanded bars of Boracay. Barely having 5 hours of sleep, the first thing I did was going to the bathroom and did my morning glory. Take a shower  and I was so slow as a stalking Chameleon, my eyes were still half closed.

Then I remembered, I remembered something! A sign that made me jump off the Tricycle the other day, I was looking for it for 2 days already since I arrived on the island but I could not find it. It was after the Paraw sailing when I saw the sign, so I followed the directions and I saw a small Kubo Hut with people eating but I wasn't sure if that was it so I didn't go inside.

This was not the sign I saw but this is another one I saw after passing through the Cafe.
I got ready and told my Brother and his girlfriend to come and eat breakfast with me, they said yes and so I waited for them at my room until they came after 20minutes.

We went there and I was excited because I knew that this would be a great experience, I researched in the internet about the popular places to go indulge the monsters in my stomach and REAL COFFEE was always in the "Breakfast" category, everyone kept saying on reviews that it was a perfect place to start the day, that the ingredients are fresh and satisfaction is guaranteed. After reading all the reviews I included the Cafe in my Itinerary and so far, it's the first one in the schedule that I actually went to.

You can see my excitement after seeing the big sign!
9:30AM - We went inside like dumbfounded tourists and I quickly recognized the "organized" kitchen the folks in the internet were talking about, you can actually see what they are doing to make your order a delicious one!

While your sitting down you are being entertained by the cooks until you are drooling
We sat down directly to the center facing the kitchen and looked around, my eyes were rotating 360 degrees without moving my head. For some reason, I've got a smile on my face that I can't remove. I was so happy that I was there where the buzz was going on.

Admiring all the details of the kitchen I noticed that the windows were full of pictures, the early customers from local to tourists and even celebrities such as Anne Curtis and Aga Mulach (Trivia: Real Coffee Cafe was used in the movie "WHEN LOVE BEGINS") and more celebrities were in it. I wanted to post my photo but it was full.

Real Coffee's original "Calamansi Muffin" definitely a must try, and yes I believed in Magic after eating one.
We placed our orders, I had the "American Pancake" and boy it was a meal for an appetite of an American. The Pancake was big and thick! My Brother had "Jack's Omelette with Pesto" which is definitely a must try also. While waiting for our orders to come  we tasted the Calamansi Muffin and oh mama was it really good. We also played with the "quotes" in front of us, there were a lot of funny-but-true quotes right there.

The quotes, I love the "Mama Lee says" series the most
The cook got a little shocked at what we were doing with the cards, we were laughing at one minute and in another minute discussing the quote and then another minute saying the word "True, true!" and "ohhh nice!". I can really be happy even in the shallowest of reasons, I'm an average guy on a budgeted trip and what better way to enjoy Boracay? Enjoy the free things there, the view, the beach, the people, the happenings and by just bumming around can really be relaxing.

The American Pancake with egg and coffee, looks small in the picture but no, it's big as my ass
Waiting for the orders could take a while but it's not a bad thing because you can see the kitchen and see that they are not rushing to cook the food and therefore they are not sacrificing quality for faster service. They have their own pace and I'm good with that because I'd rather wait for the perfect meal than a burned Pancake.

We munched on our orders once it gets in front of us and all they can hear from us this time was "om nom nom nom nom nom nom, gulp gulp gulp!" We were eating like Hamsters. I only ate 3/4 of the Pancake because I was so full, I've never eaten so much pancakes in my life.

As we were in the middle of our "pig-out" session, an American-Italian came in the kitchen and started playing  Italian classic songs and I knew that she was the owner of the place so I asked for her name through the cook and before I could start a conversation with her, she turned to me and said.

"You know what, I shouldn't have dressed in all white today. Look at me it's early in the morning and I've got mud on my pants, it was Dude's fault. That's my Dog, I call him Dude so when I was about to leave he jumped over me and I said "Dude? C'mon" ahhh!"

Her name is Nadine, the owner of Real Coffee Cafe. The store started way back in December 27, 1996. They were one of the first business settlers on the island. We were kinda surprised that she initiated the conversation and that made me happy because she tells things out of the Sun but it's entertaining, she also answered all our questions on how she does things and she's a hands on owner too. When she came in she actually asked one of her employees "What can I do?" and the cook answered "Cut the bread" and she said "oh, OK", that was amazing, mutual respect and I loved Nadine for that.

Here's me and Nadine, owner of the Real Coffee Cafe. I just have to have a photo with her!
After eating we stayed for a while to observe again the kitchen, Nadine and other customers. The place brings a certain atmosphere of being at home because it's not designed to be a restaurant, well it is but the mugs aren't the same designs and it looks like a home kitchen so I got the certain feeling of being at home and the friendliness of the staff and a conversation with Nadine would be the main spectacle while eating there. 

Before we got out of the Cafe I asked for a photo with her, well we all did and I'm sure all the other customers do and it looked like she's mastered the photo op category. She also said that I was cuddly and I felt I was Barney for the moment.

The famous rock in Boracay
After having pictures taken and laughs shared in, we took a stroll to the shorelines and I'm quite frustrated with seeing too much man made trash in it. Bottles, plastic and paper are just not helping and it's the fault of everyone who's in the island, everyone should be responsible by their actions. Development really destroys the beauty of Nature.

All in all, the Real Coffee Cafe experience was the best I've had. It was awesome and delicious, I had a great day because of them and besides the Cafe offers Breakfast meals from 7AM-7PM so no matter how wasted you were last night, you get to eat Breakfast even at night. Rock solid!

November 22, 2010

Boracay Part 3: Lazy Sunday and The Night Life

9 o'clock in the morning, The alarm blasts in my ear and my minds awake but my body's not. After the almost vacation ending accident that happened the day before, my shoulder was swollen and hurting too much. I couldn't move my right shoulder and the ball socket is too loose and I can't even carry a water bottle with my right hand.

Around 11AM I got a call from my brother and said that I should get myself ready because we would go Paraw Sailing. Me, even with an injury, got ready although getting ready was such a tough one, putting my shirt on was the hardest thing to do!

Paraw Sailing.The explanation of this sail boat came from here

                      -"The word paraw also parao is related to proa and may be used to denote a boat. However, the term for boats (with or without outriggers) in the Philippine islands without sails or layag are typically called vanca or bangka.  Paraws are known to sail between 11 to 17 knots (20~31 km/h) or approximate the speed of the wind. The outriggers (ama) or katig, made of wood or more commonly, bamboo, may be straight or curve upward much like skis and provide stability."

So we went to the boat got on and 2 people navigated the boat while we just lay flat on our backs enjoying the wind, the waves and the searing heat of the Sun. The constant pull of the pulleys and directing the boat of the 2 male navigators amused me because it was like we were pirates and the waves were coming at us, splashing me wet. 

The view from riding the Paraw is amazing, being in a constant movement right in the middle of the sea, the sound of the sail every time the wind blasts on it, the waves banging against the boat and the best of all, the serenity of the sea. It gave me the feeling of being so away from the world, leaving all the problems and mighty stress. 

That's the Paraw.
After Paraw sailing we had lunch together and then went back to our own cottages to rest for awhile. My shoulder was still in pain and I couldn't go on and I needed to take medicine because it was swollen.

My little notepad which I carried everywhere I went during my stay in Boracay.
Ever since I stepped into the Terminal of the airport in Manila, I wrote every observation, detail and thoughts about my experiences for the trip. Since my shoulder was hurting I decided to just go to the bar where I was staying and order something to cool down my body. I had 2 fresh mango shakes while I was "People-watching" and just being a keen observer while sitting down alone.

2:00PM - Written on my notepad:

"The winds of serenity blow away my stress and problems, my feet dipped into the sands of this paradise which can be compared with the powdered milk from a tin can. What a lazy afternoon."

I was merely moving, it was just my eyes that were in a 180 degree lookout for interesting things. While just taking a sip and listening to Cat Stevens music, I saw a Pancit vendor and bought one. It's the cheapest Pancit I found there! PHP20 (less than $1) I missed Manila when I took the first bite, it's one of those foods I missed eating, the cheap ones, I really am not a big spender. I don't have a luxurious life nor signature clothes, I live simple and not living beyond needs. I stayed at the bar until the Sun dived and the moon jumped to start the evening.

A small ferris wheel for the children at D' MALL
Boracay offers almost all types of nightlife for the tourists. There are quiet bars, live bands, clubs and stage performance bars; It's a sin if you stay in your room during Boracay nights. For a guy like me, who likes to sit down holding an ice cold bottle of Red Horse Beer, some peanuts on the table and listen to live acoustic performances. In short, I want to chill when we're talking about nightlife. But of course, before the drinking sessions you should have dinner first. Usually, tourists eat dinner around 7-9PM, but I eat around 9PM and then drink beer around 10PM.

This was my dinner, Big Mouth's Korean Braised Beef. Yum!
After eating and walking around town I went to "Pat's Bar" where I was the night before. The bar was reggae themed and there are performers every night. Although it is a reggae themed bar, other genres are still played, as long as it's converted to acoustic rendition. 

The singer and guitarist, Marv, was my favorite because of his husky voice, guitar skills and his awesome dreadlocks!

I was at Pat's Bar all 3 nights of my stay in the island, it is such a cool place to hang out because foreigners and locals get together and the low light and quiet ambiance is just amazing while watching the bands play. I requested "Buffalo Soldier" and Marv, the cool Rastafarian sang it really good. I always control my spending on drinking, keeping it to about 3-4 bottles per night because I don't want to crawl my way home or throw up and ruin somebody's night.

Fire Dancers.
On my way home, I saw a hotel offering a "Fire Dance" performance for PHP500 ($10). I got to watch by just peeking on one of the covers' holes. They dance around the fire, dance around with the guests and they can put the fire as close to your nose without hurting you. 

It was 3 o' clock in the morning when I went back to my cottage and BLAG! I slept and on my way to my 3rd day.

November 15, 2010

Boracay Part 2: Revenge of the Island

2:30PM - My brother and his buddies are drinking beer under the coconut shade while facing the milky sanded beach, it's a great way of resting after pigging out during the late lunch after I settled in. The sun shines and burns the skin of the vacationers around, some were walking, some jogging from end to end of the beach and others took a dip to the crystalline waters of the paradise.

Around that time while just bumming our asses under the shade we saw this boraboy(my term for a Local Boracay boy) playing with his skim board, which is relatively a new sport activity. So Mikki and JP, my brother's friend went to this kid and asked if they could borrow the board and try skim boarding. The kid told us we had to pay because that was his little business, PHP250 ($5) per hour. Us, being on a budget asked if we can have it for $4. He agreed after 20 minutes of negotiation.

We were at least 6 years younger than him, became our tutor and yep, sometimes kids know things that us "old timers" don't.

The kid started out by telling us how to pose, how to throw the board, the way to run after it, the jump and other things. They were enjoying the tutoring session while I was just taking pics with my brother and other stuffs like that, everybody wants to try out the cheaper way of surfing the beach!

The famous "Jump shot" that has got people crazy for years now.
After a good 20 minutes of trying the things the kid said, I couldn't wait any longer to get in the board so I went up to them and said "Let me try! It's my turn!" so I grabbed the board, the kid said he has to teach me but I was stubborn and just too excited. I said I was listening and I knew what to do, So there I was ready to go and jump on the board.

Epic photograph 
He threw the board after the wave and I ran as fast as I could, carrying 200 pounds of weight with a pair of old knees, I ran after it like a hamburger. I jumped! the next thing my eyes saw was the sky and I realized I was going to have a very bad fall, the only thing I said before my flabs hit the ground was "Oh shit!"


As you can see, I'm in quite pain
I fell, I heard a few laughs but inside my mind was "Tragedy". I felt it, again. It's the 7th time since 2008, I've dislocated my shoulder once again! I knew I was in fucking trouble because of my stupid act, I was in the island and the hospital is at least at the other island.

Good thing Mikki was there, who also dislocated his shoulder way back. he knew what to do and instruct me to do things, when that didn't work, he decided to use the most painful but the most effective and fastest way to bring my shoulder back to its place. I laid flat on the sand and he used the "Military" procedure, watch how it works here.


My shoulder was back again! It didn't hurt so much since it was the 7th time I dislocated my ailing shoulder. After that I just took a rest on the sand for at least 15 minutes just lying there thanking God that Mikki was there to save the trip for me.

A small crab he was playing with

The rest of the day continued as usual except for me, a lot has changed. I can't try any more extreme sports since I was injured, I spent the day just resting, looking at the beach and observing other people as what I always do.

This would be very memorable, Proposing while on vacation in another country. Just Sweet!

There were a lot of funny, sweet, awkward scenes on the beach that day, a proposal, a man jogging wearing only his brief, a very very large foreigner wearing bikinis and a man jogging while juggling some balls. It's amazing how people just seemed not to care about each other and just enjoy the beach.

As the Sun dived into the horizon, a chapter of Boracay life closes and opens another one. The Night Life.

November 5, 2010

Boracay Part 1: A day in the Sunlight

Kablag!!! brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!! shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhheeeeeewwwwwwwuuuuuuuuuuuuu....

Pilot: Passengers, the time is 10:30 in the morning we have landed safely at Caticlan airport. Thank you for choosing to fly with us enjoy your stay.

Finally I'm standing on land again and not have to think about crash landing just like what I do whenever I'm up in the air. I have better chances surviving in water rather than be just like a comet heading straight into the sea or mountain.

The Caticlan airport (Sadly I didn't have a photo because I was in a hurry to catch up with people I'm supposed to meet at Boracay) is a very small airport, I would even just call it an airstrip because 2-3 planes are only allowed to land there and once the 3rd plane landed on the strip the 1st plane should be boarded and ready to leave. There are no baggage machines, manual porters put the bags and luggage in a window and it's crazy looking for your bag.

Once you're out of the "airstrip" people will start asking you if you have been booked in a hotel in Boracay. Believe me, if it's off-season (when tourists and vacationers are few) it's better not to book ahead of time because there are tons of hotels, cottages and all sorts of accommodation that offer promos so low you'll have a hard time choosing. Me, who booked 2 days before the flight and had no idea where to stay on the island was ignoring them because it's irritating. They followed me until I got inside the tricycle.

After I registered at the tourism office there's a booth where you will pay everything from tricycle transport to the seaport, the environmental fee and transport fee via boat to Boracay which totaled PHP205 ($5). I think that's really convenient because I won't get cheated on transport fees.

11:00AM - I arrived at the seaport which I'll get into a small boat that can carry 20 passengers to the paradise.

That was the boat that took me to the paradise
The ride was smooth and windy, people started putting out their cameras as well as me. I watched my co-passengers as they took photos and chatted about what to do there and where to go, the 15 minute boat ride felt eternity to me because I was trying to catch up with my brother and his friends who went "Helmet Diving" and I just have to make it to maximize my stay there. Earlier he asked me if they should wait for me but I said that they should follow their Itinerary and I'll catch up because in the first place I don't want to be the cause of delay so we were updating ourselves through text messages.

11:30AM - I made it to Bulabog beach (where extreme sports like para-sailing happens) by riding another tricycle worth PHP100($2). I asked "Amihan Helmet Diving Services" about the whereabouts of 14 people who went out the sea. She had great knowledge that I was coming and quickly arranged a special transport via boat to where my brother was. So I paid PHP350 ($7) to experience Helmet Diving and I was transported to the float of Amihan.

I was finally relieved when I heard "John!" and they were waving at me and I said "whew! I made it on my own!" and when I stepped into the float they said "get dressed, you're next"...that was a fast greeting and I'm not even settled yet but quickly I got dressed into my beach attire and waited a few minutes for my brother who was under the sea making friends with fishes.

Hello earthlings, this is helmet diving.
 The helmet was really heavy and it's hard to move. We fed the fishes around the corals and we didn't have to worry about documentation because pictures and videos are free! We were able to enjoy swimming with the fishes. Here's a video of us under the sea.

12:30PM - We were hungry but I still didn't have a place to stay, my brother and his girl helped me find one since the hotels I listed were too steep for my budget. We stumbled upon "The Boracay Dream house resort",  We asked how much was the accommodation each night. Here's the conversation between me and the receptionist:

Me: How much is it per night?
R: Sir it is PHP3500 ($70) per night
Me: How about this promo you have? it says PHP1500 ($25)per night only.
R: Sir that's only a promo if it's the off-peak season. it's Peak season this October to December.
Me: If you give me the promo price I'll take it.
Brother: They can't do that because it's a fixed rate
Me: It's worth a try.
R: How long will you stay?
Me: 3 Nights
R: Maam! (referring to the manager) Should I give the promo? He'll stay for 3 nights.
Manager: Alright.
Me: I told you we could get it.
Me: Miss! (speaking to the receptionist) Can a get a towel?
R: Of course sir.
Me: For freeeeeeeeeeeee?
R: yes of course!
-End of Conversation-

This is the cottage I stayed in for the next 3 nights of my stay. The small house is made of bamboo and other wood materials.
So there! I got the place for a bargain! I was so happy that I'll stay in a traditional cottage in front of the beach  for $25 per night in Station 1( Station 1 is where the expensive hotels can be found) in a peak-season! I felt great that I was hitting my budget on target.

We went for a little walk on the beach to look for the others who were eating lunch and guess what, my place was meters away to where they were eating.

My brother's friends, sharing laughs after a big meal.

A little walk around the beach was what I did, looking around and taking tips from them about where to go and what places to visit, which restaurants to eat without depleting the budget.

"A sandy proposal" .
After a while we went to where they were staying, the "Residencia Boracay Hotel" iwas where they were at. The  concrete building is at least 1 kilometer away from where I was staying so we had to take the tricycle. The beach was less populated compared to my part of the beach, It's quiet and more relaxing.
The Boracay beach, the view from "Residencia"

It was only 2PM and the day has just started for me, I had great deals, big meals and it felt so real. I wouldn't mind trying a lot of crazy stuffs to conquer boredom, but for the meantime,  I just looked at the horizon thinking nothing, just staring and watching other people enjoy, they've become my entertainment.