Thursday, July 15, 2010

Boracay after 5 years

Last time I was in Boracay was November of 2005. It was a family trip. Back then, the place was already a bit crowded but not as much as it is now. There were fewer hotels, the boats still dock at the 3 stations, and Jonah's is still by the beach.

The first time I went to Boracay was in the late 90's. I was totally smitten. It wasn't crowded and even the non-beachfront resort we stayed in was surrounded by white sand. After a couple of visits, it has lost its appeal. I'm not really a night person, so the thriving night life was never a strong selling point for me. I prefer to have aquiet commune with nature which Boracay, sadly, doesn't offer anymore. It was far from quiet, and the hotels sprouting everywhere is taking so much from its natural beauty.

Back in the day, the boats deposit guests in one of the three stations nearest the hotel you are booked in. Then it's just a short walk to the hotel, eliminating the need for motorized vehicles. The number of tourists then was only a fraction of where it is now, so the number of boats docking on shore was not really an issue. With the influx of tourists, more boats are coming to shore, crowding the white sand beach that should be for the enjoyment of island visitors. As a solution, there is now a central boat station, a pier, where all guests will first set their foot in. It's quite a distance from the hotels so the need for motorized transport sky rocketed. Boracay Regency alone must have at least 10 vans to accommodate the hundreds of guests that come daily.

So, did I have a good time? Of course I did! Taking an early morning walk when most of the vacationing guests are still in hybernation, perhaps recuperating from the previous night's party, almost brought me back to the old Boracay where the long stretch of white sand that is glimerring from the early morning sun is almost deserted. It afforded me a few minutes of peace and quiet, a bit of time to appreciate the beauty of God's creation, and a moment to take a breath of fresh air and take in my surroundings. Then the island will wake up and pour out the crowd into the beach in search of good coffee. That would be my cue to walk back to the hotel and have breakfast (in a crowded buffet).

Will I come back? Probably not at my own expense. I'd rather spend my travel money in a less developed island destination where I can have my quiet time in the midst of nature's beauty. Unless I'll be staying in Shangrila Hotel, in a luxury villa, away from the maddening crowd. Then maybe, just maybe, I'll go back to Boracay again.

Some photos from the trip...

I really don't mind having this view while enjoying a cup of coffee
Breakfast with a view

A strip of paradise
Palm Trees

Beachfront amenities
Lounge Chairs

More lounge chairs
More lounge chairs

Colors of summer
Complementary Colors

The beginning of monsoon season
Preparing for the monsoon season

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Zuzuni - A Big Disappointment

On our last day in Boracay, Aileen and I decided to eat out instead of joining the conference lunch. We've been eating Regency food for three days and we want to sample other offerings. Zuzuni is among the top in our list since it offers Mediterranean dishes which we both love. It's also just a few minutes walk from Regency and so we decided to give it a try.

The restaurant has a quaint interior. Framed mirrors line the wall and all tables provide a nice view of the beach. We arrived at noon after a few minutes of leisurely walking. We were the only guests and was readily attended to. The first thing that struck me was how expensive the food offerings are. I ordered the salad that has arugula, lettuce and walnuts in Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing (forgot the name) - similar to Cyma's Roka Salata. The salad costs more than P200. We asked the waitress to split the salad in two. Then I asked her how big the Gyro is since it is priced at P190. She said it was just small. We ordered one and asked to split it in two again. We thought it might be bigger than the waitress thinks given the price. I ordered frozen Mango Daiquiri. Aileen opted for Coke Light.

The Mango Daiquiri was pretty good. It was scorching hot so I could use the refreshment. Aileen was served with an expired can of Coke Light and had to replace it. Then the salad came. The serving was very small. There was not a single piece of arugula. The lettuce leaves were wilted. We could hardly see the chopped walnuts. The dressing was pretty good but we were already too disappointed to appreciate that bit. For the price, we expected at least fresh greens. And if they didn't have arugula, they could have mentioned that when we ordered. Then came the Chicken Gyro. It was tiny. It didn't taste particularly great either. I have no idea how they ended up in the 2009 Phil. Tatler Best Restaurants. We were so disappointed that we decided to get dessert somewhere else. We already spent way too much for something that didn't even tickle our palates. We should have gone to Cyma or even Cafe Med.

And so we flew home without a sample of Boracay's culinary delights.