The little island with the big garbage problem
08.12.2008 - 18.12.2008 27 °C
Arriving in Caticlan via Seair from Manila, I was hopeful. Hopeful that Boracay was not going to be as over-developed as I had imagined it to be. I met up with Mike and his dad for a brief coffee and breakfast across the road from the airport, and then Jim had to take off for Manila, and back home to the UK. Mike and I proceeded to the dock area where we were to catch the boat to Boracay. After buying 3 tickets each, boat ticket, terminal ticket and environmental ticket (not sure where that money is being spent), we strolled along the short bit of beach to the waiting boats. After a 15 minute boat ride, we arrived on Boracay and were shoved into a teeny little tricycle-type thing. It’s a little motorcycle plus a sidecar with a roof, and my huge kite bag was strapped precariously on the top.
We drove through the interior of the island, through lots of bombed-out looking building sites, shanty-type lean to buildings/homes, and garbage everywhere you look. Simple is one thing, dirty is another. There is building going on everywhere – you can see jagged bits of concrete and rebar jutting into the blue and cloud-spotted sky. On these building sites are piles of ‘stuff’…bricks in a big heap, logs in another, rebar in another, and trash strewn about throughout. On first sight, I was a little disgusted with this island, which was obviously once beautiful.
In my experience so far, the island’s only redeeming quality is White Beach, and even that bears the heavy scars of over development. The beach is wide, white, sugar-soft sand with a few sparse palm trees between the beach and the hotels and shops. The water is the clearest I’ve ever seen. So many trees have been thinned to make room for all the buildings that the tree line looks a bit manufactured and unnatural. It’s sad to see that this place has been destroyed by improperly supervised development.
Bulabog Beach, on the opposite side of the island from White Beach, is completely different, aesthetically speaking. The thin strip of brown sand is strewn with coconut shells, debris from the ocean, and lots of bottles, broken glass, fishing gear, and food wrappers and packaging. The beach is about ¼ the size of Mui Ne beach in Vietnam where we just came from, and there are just as many kiters. This makes for an intimidating kiting experience for me, and I have yet to brave the fetid waters to try it out. Ok, I don’t know if the water is ‘fetid’ or not, but Mike got a cut on his toe, and within 24 hours, it was infected. The water is brown looking, especially when compared to the pristine water on the other side of the island, though the water seems quite clear further out from the beach.
The food is good here – we’ve found that the food in the “D’Mall” area is much better and cheaper than the food along the beach. Samba, on the beach, does a nice margarita, especially if you’re a light weight and only like your glass half full. Order the pitcher of frozen margaritas – more bang for your buck. Watch out for the brain freeze! Our lovely little room is located near Bulabog Beach – Blue Bayou is it’s name. Our weekly rate is about $36. We’re totally stoked to have a kitchen and have been cooking breakfast in, and usually one other meal as well. Smoke is a fantastic place to get a little bowl that packs a big punch. One bowl of chicken curry and rice costs about $1.50, and I can hardly finish it. Very filling for such a small pile of food – excellent value, excellent flavors!
Last night while cooking pasta for our cold tuna & pasta salad, Mike accidentally spilled boiling water on his foot – the one with the previously infected cut, and a more recent scrape that’s still healing. OUCH! We alternated running cold water over it and soaking it in the frying pan (it was full of cool water from the fridge). It still blistered, and looks pretty red and burned today. The foot is having a hell-of-a two weeks!
On the 23rd, we’re heading out to Palawan, an island southwest of Boracay. I hear it’s what Boracay used to be before the over development. We shall see! There is a subterranean river there that is thought to be the longest in the world (8km), though one in southern Laos was recently discovered, and may trump this one.