philippines - boracay and panglao island - backpacking around the world in 333 days
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around the world in 333 days

REPORT 9 - Nov. 2000

Boracay & Panglao Island

As we stepped off the boat and waded through crystal clear waters, our backpacks held high above our heads, a sign welcomed us to 'The worlds number one tropical beach' and on seeing the gleaming white sands, we knew we had arrived. Firmly established in any travellers' tour of the Philippines, the small island of Boracay attracts more attention than any of the other seven thousand or so islands that make up the archipelago.

Boracay was our first stop in the Philippines and we headed there straight from Manila having only stayed long enough to get our visas extended. Our journey was laborious and as our first taste of travelling around the islands, it showed us that it was going to be very hard work! Multiple coach and boat journeys made sure that when we arrived, we were in no hurry to leave and our intended three-day stay quickly grew into a week!

Our first days in Boracay were spent relaxing on its main attraction, the breathtaking White Beach. Although it is remarkably long (four kilometres to be precise), the shoreline is now very cluttered with boats, but there is still plenty of space for swimming in its shallow waters and some great opportunities for snorkelling. We hired mountain bikes to reach secluded bays and spent long afternoons with our masks on uncovering strange underwater worlds.

Boracay is one of the more developed resorts in the Philippines and in many ways has sold its soul for a profit. With more luxury hotels being built every year, its seclusion and natural beauty are fast being eroded. It was apparent that the Philippines do not have the infrastructure to cope with the demands of moderate, let alone mass tourism. Boracay is already experiencing frequent power and water shortages. With development far from finished, we wondered how much more strain on its meagre resources the island could cope with before it looses that special something that, remarkably, it still manages to cling to.

On our next long journey, we had time to reflect on our first impressions of the Philippines. The most noticeable thing was that it was not the dangerous and scary country we were half expecting. We have to admit we found Manila a little intimidating, but as soon as we left, we found friendly and welcoming people that proved to us that ignorance really does breed fear. Also plainly apparent was that American control has left its mark on the Philippines. In Manila, we found endless fast food restaurants and huge shopping malls. Even in the small coastal towns, the West seems to be idolised in a way inconceivable to us.

Our next stop was Panglao Island and by now our romantic notions of island hopping were fading fast as we came to realise we both hate boats! The thing that had caught our eye in the guidebook was that Panglao offers dolphin-watching trips off its coastline, something we had always wanted to do, so a trip was arranged as soon as we arrived. We were to set off at 5.30am the next morning in search of flipper and his friends and the night before we were like two giddy children on Christmas Eve.

The morning came and sleepy eyed we crawled down to the beach and met our guide who would take us out on the boat for around four hours. It was very exciting at first as we set off, waiting in great anticipation for a dolphin to appear, but after an hour or so of watching the sea, we had seen nothing and it started to become quite boring. A few more hours had passed and still nothing, all the enthusiasm we had at the start had been drained away. Then we started to feel seasick, it began to rain and so tired and disappointed we headed home.

Our guide offered to take us out again the next morning and I decided to take him up on his offer, while Jon declined, preferring his sleep. From being a nightmare the day before, it turned into an amazing adventure, as within ten minutes of leaving the shore I spotted a group of dolphins not far away, leaping gracefully in unison. My first glimpse of a dolphin was a sight worth waiting for. We followed a group of approximately ten dolphins for around an hour, but the time flashed by and I watched in total awe, as they swam near the boat; every time they appeared was as wonderful as the first. I rushed home eagerly to find Jon still asleep, but I knew that he could not have even dreamt such a magical experience as mine

Jon & liz
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dolphins at last!

more pictures below

The Beginning 14 - THAILAND Bangkok
01 - INDIA Delhi 15 - THAILAND Bridge Over the River Kwai
02 - INDIA Agra Taj Mahal 16 - THAILAND Chang Mai - The Long Necks
03 - INDIA Jaipur 17 - AUSTRALIA Kakadu National Park
04 - INDIA Camel Safari 18 - AUSTRALIA Ayers Rock
05 - INDIA Mount Abu 19 - AUSTRALIA Great barrier Reef
06 - INDIA Goa 20 - AUSTRALIA Fraser Island
07 - INDIA Mumbai (Bombay) 21 - AUSTRALIA Sydney
08 - HONG KONG 22 - NEW ZEALAND South Island
09 - PHILIPPINES Boracay & Panglao Island 23 - NEW ZEALAND North Island
10 - PHILIPPINES Bohol Chocolate Hills 24 - USA Hawaii Oahu Island
11 - PHILIPPINES Banaue Rice Terraces 25 - USA San Francisco
12 - MALAYSIA Kuala Lumpur 26 - USA Washington DC
13 - MALAYSIA Penang, Georgetown 27 - USA New York
  28 - UK - THE END
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Produced by John Bentham - Copyright 2000/01 Jonathan Enoch & Elizabeth Wigg / John Bentham

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