Boracay Island

Sunday 03/12

We leave the hotel at 8am. The drive to Cebu airport takes 3h. Nice road. Jules is a bit sick. We don’t have much time to stop; it’s a pity since there are many photo opportunities on the road, including several markets.

We arrive at the airport at 11am. We eat there, each of us choosing a different restaurant in the food court of the airport: pizza, fried chicken, pitta or dim sums. We buy dry fruit (mangoes, bananas, pineapples, coconuts).

The flight is short (1h).

Then bus, van, banca and again van to our apart-hotel, in Boracay. It’s really on the beach, the famous White Beach; we can’t be closer to the action… It’s very touristy.

The girls go to the beach, Jules stay in the apartment and we go to the other side of the island (to Bulabog Beach) to enquire about kite surf lessons. There is an ‘taster’ course, which seems to be suitable for the whole family. We will try tomorrow.

We go back to the apartment. We go to a supermarket to buy cereals and yogurts for tomorrow breakfast. We also find a nice deli shop with Italian products. We buy sauce for the pasta that we’re carrying since Tokyo (!) and nice parmesan cheese. We stay “home tonight”; as usual the kids are happy. We start with an ‘aperitif’ and then I cook pasta.

Kids (and Isabelle) go to bed early (8:30pm) while I continue to catch up with the blog (I “only” have a 15-day delay).


Monday 04/12

We wake up a bit after 7am.

Quick (cereals) breakfast and we go to the kite surf centre, to start our 3-day course. We fill in the papers and decide on the “groups”: Isabelle and I together, the girls together (they are happy) and Jules alone (according to the weight in fact). But there is not enough wind… They are professional and want us to enjoy our experience so they prefer to tell us to wait for the wind to blow stronger. They say that they will call us later on (around 10am), to update us.

We go back home to do 2 (1h30) sessions of homeschooling. Trading kite surfing for homeschooling… kids are so disappointed! But they work well today. I continue posting on the blog.

Around noon, I go to the Italian deli shop to buy some bread, some charcuterie (salami, cooked and raw ham) and a piece of brie. I even find a piece of mozzarella di buffala. I go to the market nearby to buy tomatoes.

We enjoy this lunch. Kids are happy to be in an apartment; they like the feeling to be in a space “for ourselves”.

We chill a bit and then go to the beach around 3pm. Kids want to do a banana boat ride. We go and enquire. We find out that the ‘fly fish’ is much more exciting but the minimum age is 18… We saw the U.F.O Couch that looks nice (banana boat looks definitely boring). The 3 kids are excited. Isabelle and I go with them on the boat but Isabelle prefers to stay on the pontoon on the sea while I stay on the boat during the kids’ ride, to take pictures (and also to enjoy their large smiles while doing it).

We walk a bit on the beach, to the North of the island. The sand is so white and the water so clear. It’s beautiful. Unfortunately, the tourists (a lot of Koreans and Chinese but also many Russians) are ugly. The majority wears singlet (sleeveless) shirts and has tattoes. We stop for a juice and we swim in this rather warm sea. Kids stay there while we continue our walk.

We come back home around 6pm. Relax time (with aperitif) in the apartment until 7pm, when we go and eat. We first look a bit at the shops before finding a nice restaurant (‘Epic’) on the beach, where we eat a nice sesame tuna salad. Very nice atmosphere. We eat an (Italian) ice cream for dessert.

We put the kids to bed as soon as we come back home (9pm). I continue the posts (I’m really catching up: only 10 days of delay) while Isabelle reads. I go to bed at midnight.


Tuesday 05/12

It’s nice to wake up without alarm clock.

We eventually got a message (last night) from the kite surf centre telling us to come between 8:30 & 9am. But this morning only Isabelle is ready to go. Since we couldn’t do the first lesson yesterday there’s now only a remote chance that we could be able to go out of the water with our board in 2 days. Moreover the weather forecast is bad (rain) for tomorrow. So basically we will only be learning how to manipulate the kite today. So, after a breakfast with cereals and fruit (delicious mangoes – and I now know how to cut them…), Isabelle goes alone to take her kite surf lesson.

Jules, Ludivine and I opt for another activity: wake boarding. Florence, meanwhile, prefers to stay on the beach, relaxing. Ludivine eventually chooses water ski and she manages quite well. Jules manages to stay quite long on his wakeboard, even outside the “wave” of the boat, which is not the easiest… I’m happy – and proud – to accompany them in their first “steps” in these sports. I stay in the water to help Jules going out of the water. I also do a bit of wake board, with a heavy fall at the last second of my time… My (right) ribs hurt again (as well as the lower back).

We go back, around 11:30am, to the apartment to do one homeschooling session. Isabelle comes back one hour later, also tired from her good first lesson (she managed to do body drag). Like yesterday, I go and buy some bread, mozzarella and vegetables for lunch.

Right after lunch, we go to Puka beach, a bit further north. It takes 20’ by tricycle. The beach is less crowded and wilder. The sea is also more agitated so the kids enjoy playing in the waves.

We come back around 5pm to White Beach, on time to see the sunset. The beach is full of people, most of them taking pictures on their phones (mainly selfies). It’s really impressive to have so many people packed on a beach. Many many Koreans and Chinese, as I said previously (the menus in the restaurants are even translated in their languages).

We relax in the apartment during one hour.

Around 7pm we go and have dinner on the beach. There is a beautiful fire dance in front of the restaurant where we eat; the best one of our stay in Philippines (we must have seen 5 or 6, I think). The girls eat a Caesar salad, Jules a lasagna and I go for the shrimps.

We then walk to the same ice cream shop as yesterday.

Kids are in bed around 9:30pm while we continue working on our laptops.



Wednesday 06/12

By Jules:

Aujourd’hui, on s’est réveillé à une heure où on aimait bien. Il n’y avait pas de timer. Et puis on a mangé un déjeuner que Papa avait gentiment fait. C’était des mangues coupées, avec des bananes et des pommes coupées aussi. Et puis, on était cool à l’appart. On a pu jouer sur les ipads et tout. (Jules a oublié qu’on a passé un bon moment sur la plage ce matin-là, profitant du soleil avant que la pluie n’arrive. Il a beaucoup joué dans l’eau, essayant d’attraper des petits poissons. Souvent avec succès !) Et puis, on a fait 1h30 de travail et puis on était encore un peu cool. Et puis, vers 13 ou 14h, on a été manger. C’était bon ce qu’on a mangé. Moi, j’ai eu un sandwich au tuna. Et c’est très bon. Il y avait des frites à côté, elles étaient bonnes aussi. Et puis tout le monde a pris des autres choses. C’était le jour de St Nicolas, alors on avait eu 1000 Pesos chacun, cela fait 17 euros chacun. C’était cool. Après manger, moi, j’ai décidé de rentrer faire 1h30 de travail, et les filles avaient décidé d’aller faire du shopping. Et puis alors, moi je suis rentré, j’ai fait ma session d’1h30 de travail avec Maman, et puis après, 1h, les filles et Papa sont revenus. Il drachait. Ils étaient tout mouillés. Et eux ont commencé à travailler. Il fallait faire 3h ce jour-là. Et puis, après qu’on ait eu fini de travailler, on était cool à l’appart. On a regardé la télé parce qu’il pleuvait. Ce jour-là, il pleuvait tout le temps. Et puis le soir, on a été manger sur la plage et moi j’avais acheté des boules avec un fil. Il y a beaucoup de gens qui le font à Boracay. Ils font des mouvements avec, même parfois avec du feu. On va vu cela beaucoup : c’est du ‘fire dancing’. Et alors, moi j’ai acheté cela. Je n’étais pas très bon. Ensuite, on a mangé. Ils ont apporté une pizza de 1m de long. C’était vraiment grand. En fait, on avait commandé 3 différents types de pizza. Alors, juste ils ont mis les 3 sur un plateau. C’était vraiment chouette. Ils ont mis un peu de tout. C’était Margherita, hawaïenne, et un avec du jambon. Et puis, on s’est baladé sur la plage. On a fait du shopping. Je n’ai rien acheté et puis on est rentré et on a été au lit.


By me:

It’s St Nicholas today. It’s the first time that we have no present for the kids, who understand. We told the kids that they could buy something in one of the shops.

Nice breakfast with fruit only: mangoes, mangosteens, pineapple, bananas and apples.

The weather forecast is bad for today; it was raining when we woke up. But there’s suddenly a sunny interval and we decide to enjoy it. Isabelle and I walk on the beach (it’s low tide) and the kids enjoy the sea, the sun and the sand. Around 11am, we are ready for the first homeschooling session.

We go and eat in a nice café / restaurant nearby (‘fuel bowls’ for Ludivine and me).

I do some shopping with the girls (Ludivine wanted to find a swimming suit) before going back to the apartment for the second homeschooling session.

I select the pictures of the whale sharks for the blog; it’s not an easy task to choose among all these pictures (with many ‘burst’ pictures, which means between 50 and 100 pictures “within” the same picture… I then go for a massage (6 Euro for a one-hour massage…).

We go and eat a pizza (a one-meter one, with 3 different ‘tastes’). Quite good. Then our now usual ice cream. Isabelle goes to collect our laundry (5 kg at less than 1 Euro the kilo) while we walk a bit to see the shops.

Kids are in bed at 9pm.

We work till 11pm. It’s our last evening in Boracay. It’s not our type of destination (much too touristy, hectic real estate development, dirty, old infrastructure) but we made the most of it and actually enjoyed. The kids liked it very much. Definitely one of the best stops for Ludivine and Jules. See also below the reflection of Isabelle on Boracay.


Isabelle’s reflection on Boracay:

Boracay devait être une île sublime. Le sable et la plage sont toujours très beaux. Mais l’île a été absolument défigurée par un tourisme de masse. Hôtel à côté d’hôtel, restaurant à côté de restaurant, en front de mer, d’un côté et de l’autre de l’île (la belle White Beach et du côté de la plage du kite surfing). Sur les hauteurs, on voit des appartements et d’autres hôtels. Dans les criques un peu reculées, ils ont construit des hôtels de luxe. Sur la montagne, il y a encore des appartements, et même des longues barres d’appartements qui font face, même pas à la mer, mais à l’intérieur de l’île. Tout est construit à tort et à travers. A l’intérieur de la ville, c’est sale, surpeuplé, bruyant. C’est un développement tout à fait anarchique. C’est vraiment triste de voir cela par rapport à la beauté des autres îles, et par rapport à la beauté que Boracay devait avoir il y a quelques dizaines d’années. Pour moi, c’est vraiment l’endroit où je n’ai pas du tout envie de revenir. C’est bruyant, cela sent mauvais, on est assaillis tout le temps (gentiment, mais inlassablement) par des rabatteurs qui essayent de vendre diverses activités.

Par contre, les enfants ont adoré. Jules m’a dit : « C’est sûr, je retournerai à Boracay ». Pour les filles, c’était un des meilleurs endroits du tour du monde. Ludivine « loves the vibe of Boracay ». Moi, cela me laisse vraiment perplexe. J’ai l’impression qu’on leur donnait d’autres références de ce qui est ‘un bel endroit’. On aime leur montrer des endroits où la nature est la plus intacte possible. Mais eux préfèrent des endroits où il y a de la musique, où on peut manger des glaces, où on peut faire plein d’activités. C’est vrai qu’on a fait du kite surf, de wake board, du UFO ride (une sorte de banana boat). Les enfants ont adoré cela. Mais, moi, je vois plutôt l’impact négatif sur l’environnement, et cela me chagrine.

D’un certain côté, ce n’est pas plus mal. Si tout le tourisme de masse se concentre à Boracay, il y a une chance que les autres îles ne soient pas abîmées. Mais quand même, je trouve cela triste pour cet endroit-là…


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