I think it’s really important to keep some sort of account of your travels, be it through making photo albums, writing a travel journal, making a scrap book, or writing a travel blog. It would seem a shame to have all the great experiences and then not be able to come back in years time and re-live them. When I went inter-railing around Europe at the end of first year of uni, the 4 of us each kept a journal but I do admit at times it became rather tedious having to fill them in. We actually found the train journeys the best time to do that. We also wrote in each others (little messages and pictures), kept all our tickets and pictures to stick in and had a quotes page. Despite the effort it took to do, I was so glad to have done it, and it’s something I’ll keep forever.
Soo I’ve tried to do the exact same thing with being in Singapore on exchange: I want to record actual living in Singapore AND all my travels to neighbouring countries.
Recess week fell at the beginning of march, but unfortunately it’s taken me until now to reflect on it. But a philosophy I frequently adopt is better late than never! This is the one week of each semester that everyone has classes off together at the same time, so it’s a great opportunity to all go away together. Semester 1 we all went to Thailand for the full moon party – which was just aaaamazing. I was too excited writing that blog… Anyway back to this semester, it seemed like everyone was going to the Philippines, so we hopped on that bandwagon too.
Philippines has so so so many islands, and is cheap to get to from Singapore (flights about 60 pounds return if you find a good deal!). However, that just gets you to the capital city, Manila, and from there you need to take internal flights to get to all the islands. This is where all your money ends up going because internal flights are expensive! So we decided just to go to Boracay Island which is probably one of the busiest/most touristy/best party island.
Wow wow wow. For such a touristy destination, I couldn’t believe just how immaculate the Filipinos (yes, why do they spell it with an F?) manage to keep the place. Not a single bit of litter, bottle or cigarette on the beach, despite all the bars and restaurants on the beach. The Philippines is a little off the normal path of south east asian backpackers, largely because its not on the mainland with Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. So we didn’t end up meeting quite as many other backpackers, but it was nice to just spend more time with the exchange students we had gone with. What was also really nice was to meet more locals and hang about with them, more so than we had in the other places which were filled with more western backpackers. The Philippines is also a key tourist destination for other Asian holidaymakers, so it was strange to not just see western faces everywhere like you do in Thailand.
Boracay was actually like paradise. When you see pictures of places and you think “yeah yeah looks lovely, but the pictures are obviously touched it. It never actually looks like that”. Well, apparently it can! Bright blue and crystal clear water, the cleanest and whitest sand, and bright blue skies. I felt like I was in paradise. I was sitting on the beach and had to take a long moment to just take in where I actually was; and how easy and simple (and cheap) it was to get here from Singapore. I could never imagine just hopping out to a place like this for a cheeky week holiday from Edinburgh. Having paradise at our doorstep is definitely something I’m going to miss next year. Life out here in Singapore feels so much more exotic than Edinburgh, with its beach breaks so readily available.
We did a fair amount of activities to keep us busy: sailing, quad biking, snorkelling and swimming in the sea. Also a lot of sunbathing, reading books, having massages on the beach. Boracay has famous sandcastle makers who make these wonderfully intricate sandcastles every day in time for sunset. The sunset at 6pm everyday was something that couldn’t be missed, and we noticed how everyone migrated to the beach in time for to watch it. The hostel we stayed at was called “Frendz” and it was run by a Filipino couple. I’ve never felt in a more homely and friendly hostel before, and didn’t want to leave! I felt the Filipino culture was really friendly, quite urbanised, and just really happy and fun. They have a very strong american influence and when they speak English its with american accents. They’re really polite and you couldn’t miss the way everyone is addressed by “yes maam/sir”. Yes, by both titles! The week went far too quickly, but I reckon the Philippines is somewhere I’d really like to venture back to in future with a bit more money because then I’d be able to explore more of the islands…
And I still don’t know why Filipinos is spelled with an F….