Last day in Boracay, time to get back to reality. But between paradise and “real life” is a long commute—a very long commute in land, sea, and air! Now that’s another adventure on its own!
First thing on our agenda for what’s left of our stay in Boracay is breakfast. I would’ve wanted food from a local restaurant but we ended up in Déco’s, a fast food that had arrived in Metro Manila but had its roots in the Visayas.
After our breakfast, we were back to Real Coffee and Tea Café to fetch my pre-ordered assorted muffins (a.k.a. “pasalubong”). What we didn’t realize was that it was on the other end of the island so it was another long walk. As we headed back towards the area of our hotel, something insisted on my mind: “I must run!”
And so after returning to our hotel, I ran even if was already mid-morning! It was just me, a small bottle of water, a small plastic container for my items, and shades, and I was off. I was aiming to cover the entire white beach but unfortunately I didn’t have enough time as we had to check out by noon. In the end I was only able to cover Station 2 towards the southern end of the beach, and back totaling approximately 2.8K. I probably should put this first on my agenda next time I return to be sure to cover the entirety of white beach! :D
Noon time was also check out time, and from our hotel it was just a quick tricycle ride to the port. Here you can get a boat ride to Caticlan Port or even one with a van service to Kalibo International Airport. I didn’t ask how much was the boat fare but one with van service to Kalibo costs ₱200.
As expected, the boat ride to Caticlan Port was pretty short, but the commute to Kalibo was just grueling! The road was much better now than it was two years ago but it’s quite long and winding, and even with the faster van without pit stops, it still take almost one and a half hours! I’ve travelled much longer than that with Metro Manila traffic, but I’ve never gotten as bored as with this commute.
Travel Tip: If you easily get bored you may want to bring out your music players or portable entertainment devices during the long commute to Kalibo as tour buses and vans don’t play anything to help pass time!
After reaching almost the end of my wits, we arrived in Kalibo, hungry. Fortunately, there are many restaurants around Kalibo International Airport so we had options (but they all seemed alike), but my stomach was pretty shaken up that it really wasn’t up to the task of eating.
Travel Tip: You can buy more souvenirs and “pasalubong” around the vicinity of Kalibo International Airport, not just those originating from the area but also items from nearby provinces and even abroad.
After filling our stomachs (more like half-filled :D) and buying some additional “pasalubong,” we’re back indoors with air conditioning at the waiting area of Kalibo International Airport. This airport isn’t as modern as Clark, but it’s definitely more organized. There are also a lot of stores inside catering food and other souvenirs. They also have Wi-Fi that works, but it’s not for free. :( Good thing I have unlimited data on my mobile which didn’t have any problems. What I really liked though with this airport is that you get to see from the waiting area the planes dashing through as they land. Pretty cool! :D
Gladly, we didn’t experience any problems with our return flight. We just weren’t that enthusiastic though as our return flight is bound for the Clark where we had not so fond memories.
Aside from some turbulence due to the weather, our return flight to Clark was uneventful. But then again when we arrived at Clark, the big question was, “how do we get out of here?” Seriously, it’s that difficult. We had to “interview” people just to be able to get some complicated answers. Fortunately there was this bus that was going out of the airport. Here’s an example how complicated things operate in Clark (this is just getting into a bus going out of the airport):
The bus would take you back to Dau Terminal (where buses to Manila await) for free as long as you pay ₱50 on the bus, which would serve as down payment if you ride Victory Liner on your return to Manila.
It’s free but you have to pay… they could’ve just simplified things by merely asking passengers to pay ₱50 and not that elaborate scheme to get us onto that Victory Liner bus.
There was also a dispatcher in the area saying that they have a jeepney transport also heading out of the airport, also for ₱50, but we can’t even locate where the queue was or where the jeepney was! That was how we ended up with the bus.
Then again, as expected, complicated things tend to create complications—when we were in a Victory Liner bound for Manila, surprise, surprise, the bus conductor doesn’t know what that ₱50 pre-payment was all about. It took quite some explanation before he was able to get it. What an interesting commute it really was!
You could just imagine how exhausted we were when we arrived in Manila. We left sunny Boracay and arrived in rainy Manila. Somehow the vacation really ended the moment we stepped out of the island. I’m still very thankful though that despite all the “adventures” we had on our trip, we all arrived home safely. It was one of those trips where the commute was a big part of the story. I’d really miss the island, but next time I’d stick with the good old Manila airports with all the traffics jams on the roads and runways you can add. And I’ll make sure to add more days with the island. Until we meet again, my beloved Boracay! Stay beautiful! ;-)
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Clark as a Viable Alternative?
Anyone who has travelled via Manila’s airport lately most likely experienced flight delays as the runway traffic is really heavy and the government is pushing for Clark as an alternative, but is it viable for Metro Manila residents? Being a resident of Metro Manila (Quezon City to be precise) my answer would be a resounding, NO. The facilities simply aren’t in place yet, and there are nothing being done currently to address these issues.
While Diosdado Macapagal International Airport has spacious runways, the terminal is very, very small. In cases of flight delays, I doubt it can handle that many people. And like most, if not all, airports in the country, there are no spaces to sleep in for those who’d like to wait for their flights. The terminal itself closes and the waiting area in front of the airport is worse than those of bus terminals in Cubao! It’s an airport that you’d want to spend as little time as possible, and as I quote a tourist we met in Boracay, “it’s the most boring airport” she has ever been to. Nothing to do, nothing to be, nothing to see, no working Wi-Fi, and poor mobile signal.
I’ve been to numerous airports in the country and I can easily say DMIA is simply the least accessible airport I’ve been to, ever! What kind of airport do you have wherein at certain times your only choice is to hire vehicles just to get in? What kind of airport do you have where you can’t even get out easily? I actually feel sorry for tourists passing through this airport as you really need to “interview” people just to be able to get out—that’s how complicated it is to get in and out of this complex. You could just imagine how difficult it would be if you don’t speak any English. And I was just talking about entering and leaving the airport to/from Clark! That doesn’t even include the long commute from Clark to Manila!
Travel Tip: For the love of yourself and your things, if the airport is still closed, use the waiting areas on the side of the terminal!
If DMIA would eventually be used as Manila’s international gateway then the ridiculous overhead may be tolerable, but as of now that is so far-fetched considering how small their facility is. They still have to put a “real” international terminal to handle people and cargo, and they have to improve accessibility to the airport.
I could imagine DMIA being perfect for such task if you put something similar to Manila’s Terminal 3 and a high-speed train linking it to Manila. But as far as I know there are no such plans, so if you’re from Manila and thinking of using Clark as a viable alternative, that’s a terrible idea!
Based on my experiences with this trip, it would be very, very difficult to convince me to return to Clark—even if you bribe me free round trip plane tickets! The overhead of distance, time, and costs far outweigh the convenience of Manila’s crowded airports even with runway traffic. Build that bullet train to DMIA and I may change my mind! :D