It feels like the days have been rolling non-stop, especially since April. It has been the case of rolling in the deep (pun unintended) since Melbourne in March. April saw renovation works beginning after multiple delays and a bad start. Outings revolved around choosing tiles, sanitary/electrical fittings, furniture and appliances. It was a day at a time before the month concluded with the momentous India trip.

It was a battle of another sort when we landed in +91. There is a reason why people say, “India is a country you either love or hate. There is no in-between.” I felt just that on Day 2 itself in Chennai. I couldn’t wait to be back home. I wished it had been 4 day trip to India, not a 14 day one. I still cannot believe I survived. I don’t know which was worse. 14 days in India or 14 days in Napier Prison. But, India taught me a hard lesson – “let go”.

We tried to slow down life when for the remaining of May and not making decisions for a while. But, carpentry didn’t get fabricated as planned (while we were away) and further delays greeted us when we arrived back home. The subsequent few days or rather nights, ended in the wee of hours of the morning with our carpenter. We tried to hold the rope tight without falling off and thanks to a weekend of birthday celebrations we had some breather.

June came, finally bearing the wedding invites, after a 2-week delay. It was another race. 800 invites over 1.5 months. Alongside with finalising the details and all the vendors for the ROM, quick dates, even if it was for 30-minutes, was something worth looking forward to. It was also the final lap to complete the renovation project before July arrived. We sprinted to the finish line and made it, just in the nick of time.

July begun with some of the toughest days I had to pull through. You end up realising that perception is a very scary word and most times, you have no control of the lens you are viewed with. I kept reminding myself to pick the right battles as the days went by. 8th of July 2017 was a dream that came true after a really long while. It was perfect in my eyes and more than what I could have imagined. Despite and inspite of all, I still stand by the fact that I have the best people standing behind me to hold me up. Hen’s in Jakarta felt like a reward for surviving thus far and for me to regain my steam for part 2. The high was a SINE curve. Good days and bad days kept alternating. Some nights ended with such heavy conversations you are left wondering, “wasn’t July supposed to be the best month of your life?”

August has barely rolled. But, I feel defeated. I’m exhausted from trying to be stronger than I feel. I have no more steam to get the engine going. 16 days and 20 hours to go before 20th August 2017 greets me. Do I need luck/divine intervention/energy? Let’s just say all of the above for starters, shall we?

“I don’t need you to light up my world. Just sit with me in the dark.”

Nostalgia.

This year has been filled with tremendous nostalgia with the memories of the past 2 years especially.

2015 begun with me taking the biggest trip of my life. One way ticket in tow and a few grand. Didn’t know when I was going to return but I just knew my visa was valid for 6-months. That meant, 16 July 2015 was the last day I could be in New Zealand’s soil. I knew I wanted to travel, to learn, to explore, to converse, to challenge myself, to grow, to become a stronger person. I didn’t know how. But, the only language I knew, then and now, was travel. Soon after I took off, travel mixed with love. The stakes were higher to succeed both individually as well as together. We had to make it work after all the risks we both took to set foot on this. We laughed, we fought, we cried. We travelled to the far ends of the road. Travelled till we became broke. Found ourselves jobs. Worked like dogs in a pack house doing shitty night-shift hours. Ended our night, or rather day, since it was nearly 4am, watching suits, drinking gin, falling deeper in love with each other and our (present) lives and then falling asleep on each other. Couple of weeks into the routine, crossroads hit us. It was either (for me, at least) to continue working another month or so, head to South Island and continue for another 90 days or fly back home. We fought being on opposite sides of the table. I fought for my homesickness, family, comfort, my best friend’s birthday I couldn’t miss even if I thought I could. You fought for us, to have me by your side and to make me stronger with your love. You let me win and agreed to flying home after a week in Sydney. S, those 90 days with you will always remain the closest in my heart, come what may. Even now, I think back on possibly what would remain to be greatest adventure of our lives and count my blessings twice, because I have you. Thank you, S, for that one decision you made, that made my “Yes, of course!” so easy.

The rest of 2015, saw days alternating between euphoria and nothingness. Hiding the details of my travel as S had to still remain as the shadow in my life. It felt impossible when all I wanted to do was yell and proclaim my love for him. Dabbled a bit in events and soon after, during a family holiday, S’s presence in my life got revealed. It felt as though someone had barged into my room and opened my closet without asking me. I wanted to be able to reveal my relationship on my own terms. But, I suppose, the cards never always get dealt in your favour, does it?

Within a matter of days, 2016 came knocking on our doors. Year begun rather rocky on many fronts. Switched back to engineering for an easier pocket. Took each day as it came. There were happy days, the ones that involved ignoring the huge white elephant in the room. There were silent, painful ones. The highlight of the first half of the year was managing to squeeze 2 travels with S, despite and in spite of everything. It took till June for things to settle on the home front. It felt like we had just begun to breathe when your last day at work got fixed. Blessing in disguise or not, we took it in our stride and planned for Melbourne in July. Attended the not-so-little sister’s 25th birthday bash and came back engaged! That bloody cold afternoon in Brighton Beach still feels so surreal and every moment is so vivid in my memory as if 25 July 2016 was just yesterday.

The months soon after, saw wedding preparations, house views and the whole works sprawled in front of us. Fast forward to today, 24 February 2017. Nearly 7 months since you proposed and 6 months to go, before we are traditionally married and are able to live under the same roof. It all feels like one huge whirlwind. But, there’s no one I’d rather be in with, than you. It’s finally coming together S. Like you always said.

30 minus 2.

Today I turn 28. Last year, my post was titled 26+1. But, this year, it felt like the reference to the BIG 30 although highly inevitable, seemed pretty accurate. The past year seems to have been the year where I fully transitioned into being an adult. As scary as decision-making was, I would say that I have done fairly well.

The culmination of our 7 years has been seen entirely in the past year alone – from the struggle of last December, to February, to June, to the proposal in Melbourne’s winter to our next phase, come the new year. I have to attest that the full credit of our relationship and my happiness goes to your patience, without which, we wouldn’t be anywhere close to where we stand today.

The past year also saw my brother moving out and transitioning to a new phase of life. All the wedding preparations and house setup makes me feel like November 2015 wasn’t too long ago – except a year has passed since. The home has grown so much more quiet that I can no longer recall the days in which there was one more person in the house to share the space and fight with. And in another 8 months or so, our family of 5 would be down to just 2, under one roof.

The past especially 5-6 months have been very hectic. My social life has taken a huge plunge. The people I used to meet every other day have been reduced to monthly meet-ups. My time is being stretched in so so many ways, but I know, beneath all of it, these are the ones I’ll count on anytime, any day. So thank you for bearing with me.

The past year saw me travelling to Boracay, Bangkok, Penang, Bali, Melbourne and Spain! I cannot believe we have actually ticked Tomatina off our bucket list!!! The next year would possibly see me travelling a lot less, so I’m glad we did Spain!

Thank you for the year that brought about a whole lot of changes. Some days, I wish time slowed down a bit, for me to relish and enjoy the moments just a little longer, before I had to jump to the next agenda on my plate. But, I suppose, you are never going to be fully ready for now. All I pray for, is that the coming year would be yet another wonderful one and for strength to get though with all that the year has to offer. The year ahead is going to be BIG. But, I know I have the best people surrounding me to make even the hardest moments seem surmountable. May the odds always be in our favour!

3 nights in Barcelona.

Nearly 8 months prior to my travel, I booked myself a seat on Qatar Airways for SGD 863 for a 2-way Singapore to Barcelona flight (layover in Doha) with my girlfriends! It was my first real trip to Europe (turkey doesn’t count ;)) and we were gonna be going for TOMATINA!! Couldn’t be more psyched that this was finally happening! After our countless talk of being part of the tomato madness and striking it off our bucket list, the moment was finally here! Tickets were booked!

We flew to Barcelona, figured out the metro system, struggled with street names, and directions while figuring out our apartment location, took a long while to locate a Vodafone that is actually open and possibly found the best (and very affordable) paella in town in a very fancy restaurant. Verdict: 3 nights ain’t enough!

Getting around

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A single trip from to airport to the city (or vice versa) costs EUR 4.50 via the metro line shown above. As you can see, the metro network is relatively easy to figure out. There a various day passes that can be purchased for your travels within Barcelona. As we were there for 3 nights, we got ourselves a 3 day pass for EUR 20.50. There is also another option of T10 (10 train rides) for EUR 9.90 (airport ride not included). On our return back to the airport, to pick up our rental car before we drove to Valencia, we tried to outsmart the system buying by a T10 pass to share it between myself and my 3 other friends. Sorry guys, didn’t work.

SIM Matters

Vodafone seemed to be the most reliable telecomm provider and since their price was affordable I decided to stick with a familiar name. It costed me EUR 15 for 1.5gb and lucky for me, there was a free upgrade to 3GB for the same price. The SIM was valid for a month, which was more than enough for my 16 day travel within Spain.

Attractions

  1. Sagrada Familia!

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THE place to visit when in Barcelona! Lucky me, could even get a glimpse of the Roman Catholic wonder from the balcony of my apartment! That was how near our apartment was to Sagrada! Despite walking by the Sagrada each time we took the Metro, I couldn’t help but marvel at Antoni Gaudi’s masterpiece that is still under construction even after over 100 years. We pre-booked our tickets online way earlier and ended up scoring discounted tickets at EUR 7.30 for a Sunday entry into the church (without audio guide)

Other ticketing information can be found at: http://www.sagradafamilia.org/en/tickets/

2. Casa Batllo

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Following Sagrada Familia, Antoni Gaudi’s next architectural marvel would be Casa Batllo. Located along Passeig de Gracia, Casa Batllo is a stone’s throw away from Guadi’s another beauty – Casa Mila. As entry to each costed quite a bit, we opted to visit just Casa Batllo. Known for it’s irregular oval windows, flowing sculpted stone work, very few straight lines, broken ceramic tiles making up a colourful mosaic, Casa Batllo was a beauty to be standing within.

Entry to Casa Batllo costed us EUR 22 each, which came with an audio guide. Highly recommended, despite being slightly costly!

3. Park Guell

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I nicknamed this, Gaudi’s little playground! Minus, the (insane) crowd, there is nothing not to love about Park Guell! It’s no surprise that there is a limit of 400 tickets every half hour to the Monumental Zone of the park which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Booking your tickets online guarantees you a spot in the park and also allows you to save 1 Euro from the ticket price of 8 Euros at the door.

4. Camp Nou

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Camp Nou stadium experience is really ONCE in a lifetime! Highly recommend going for it! Tickets costs EUR 23 + EUR 5 (for an audio guide – which is helpful if you are not really game for reading all the information displayed in the gallery).

Food, Glorious food

In my entire trip around Spain, Les Quinze Nits was my favourite for their paella! It looks very fancy from the outside that we actually walked past it, till my friend actually pointed it out. Thank god for locals! The paella tasted very authentic and it was affordable, so what’s not to love about it.

A thing to note: paella actually tastes different all throughout Spain, so enjoy eating your way through 🙂

For churros, I enjoyed those I tried at Petritxol cafe. Thick, warm chocolate to dip sugar coated churros in. Aaaahhhh…. And there after, head down to Barceloneta Beach to laze the afternoon away. As good as life gets!

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Next up, was Valencia! And that meant, TOMATINA!!!!

All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.

It’s happening all at once.

Over 3 months since my last post.

So much to share and so much to write.

I got engaged on my sister’s birthday while freezing my ass off!! Did a Great Ocean Road self-drive with the fiancé. My favourite costal drive in Australia!

Begun house hunting, ROM preparations, all while getting ready for my 16 day adventure in Spain! Spain was a blast minus the part I fell sick and struggled with my existence.

Took a while to get back to reality. But, I guess time has a funny way of kicking you back to where you need to be.

In another 3 months the year is will be drawing to an end. By then, I should have bought a house (!!!), gotten traditionally engaged, spent Christmas with the sister in Krabi sipping cocktails.

Can time slow down, yet spin so fast that August arrives soon. Cannot wait for the future to start (with you).

Sunday.

After nearly 2.5 months I spent the entire day home today.

Picking up The Sunday Times every Sunday morning was a ritual that had become part of the past for quite a while now. So, today, I decided to pick it up. I read skimmed through almost every other article but read and re-read just this one article unable to digest what I had just read.

It was about this lady who within a split second lost the two people her life revolved around. Her husband who suffered from some health problems decided to jump along with their autistic son so that she doesn’t have to suffer raising him alone.

I still remain unable to digest, let alone accept this. The only thought that formulates within me, as I try to even remotely put myself in her shoes, are along the lines of how grateful I am for everyone that surrounds me.

I’m ending my day curling up with “When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi. A reflection on the challenge of facing death and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a brilliant writer who became both.

Probably not the best way to spend a Sunday but the dying are the ones who have the most to teach us about life.

Scaling your mountain.

I was part of a discussion today, on one’s attempt to scale K2. “A savage mountain that tries to kill you” according to an American climber. Ideas and questions got bounced off while we spoke on how we should fundraise.

And it got me thinking, what’s my mountain?

It isn’t on my bucket list actually, to climb a mountain. Not yet at least. I have always marvelled people putting their lives on the line and doing so, especially for a cause. But, that hasn’t inspired me yet to scale any, up till today.

And, today, he said “I want to show people anyone can do it if I can. After all, I got inspired by an ordinary man. He wasn’t a 5-star athlete, but just an ordinary man, like you and me.”

So, that moment got me setting my eyes on EBC. I’m not sure when I’m going to be embarking on it. But I will at some point. Possibly, in the next 3 years.

I might fail. I may come 100m shy of summit. I may not even embark at all. I may decide on something less challenging. Maybe Kinabalu, maybe Rinjani, maybe something else.

And, it just started raining. I reckon the Gods are already beginning to shower me with their blessings.

What is your mountain? It need not be a physical mountain. But, what are you looking to scale and conquer? What is your biggest fear?

My biggest fear is to live without feeling alive. Let’s start, shall we?

5/12.

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April saw me being inspired on multiple occasions.

Attempted a 13km trek on an early Saturday morning. By early, I mean 7.45am. Got myself out of bed another 2 Saturdays for trek since.

Did brunch across the border at The Replacement Lodge on a lazy Sunday morning.

Life has settled into a routine of some sort. It’s not really a bad routine. Just a seemingly stagnant one.

I got reminded again that when one door closes, another opens up. After all, you only can wake up a sleeping person. Not one who pretends that he is sleeping.

Counting down to my travels that seem a distance away.

T – 73 days to Melbourne and T – 108 days to Holla Spain!

Bali Daze.

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I decided to make use of the long weekend (thanks to Good Friday) to revisit Bali having been there last, in 2013. I’ve been always been wanting to explore Uluwatu and Ubud so decided that I’d do just that over this trip instead of visiting the usual tourist spots of Kuta and Seminyak.

I did 2 1-way flights each on Jetstar and Tiger which allowed me to score tickets for around SGD 200 for a Friday (early) morning flight out with a Monday night return. Seemed like a pretty sweet deal so I grabbed the tickets last August itself.

Accommodation

There are plenty of villa options that greet you when you are deciding on where to stay in Bali. I had initially planned to stay at Nusa Dua for 1 night, Uluwatu for 1 night and then spend the last night winding down in Ubud. However, 4 days before my flight out there were some changes that I had to make to my Airbnb booking due to a system glitch that booked me into a villa that had already been booked. Am glad I managed to sort it out with the Airbnb host and everything worked to my advantage to be honest! 🙂

Moral of story: If you book way in advance for your hotels, try to get those which allow for free cancellation. You never know when it comes in handy.

So, we ended up staying near Nusa Dua for 1 night and then at our Airbnb accommodation (near Uluwatu) for 2 nights.

Our accommodation at Nusa Dua was at Tjendana Villas 1 BR Private Pool Villa ($138/night). Facilities were slightly above average only but the environment of the villa within a beautiful private compound made up for a slightly small pool and poor breakfast spread. After a night there, I moved to Villa Seratus (Airbnb) which ended up being the bomb! Highly recommend staying there if you are looking for a place near Uluwatu. I managed to get a really good rate for 2 nights due to the system hiccup so no complains at all! The villa is slightly on the steep side (SGD 180 onwards) due to the spaciousness as well as private pool/jacuzzi area. On top of that, there is a 50m lap pool shared between the 5 villas in the compound. There is breakfast option for an add on of about SGD 10 as well as in-house massage option. My 2-night stay there was pure bliss!

Transport

The previous time I travelled to Bali I realised I spent quite a fair bit on transport. As such, I decided to rent a motorbike this time round. I rented a Honda F1 (150cc) via Bali Big Bike for USD 10/day. It worked out to USD 40 for my 4 day stay in Bali. I decided to add on a mobile phone holder to the bike for USD 2.50, which ended up being really helpful in navigating us through Bali.

There are plenty of transport companies you can rent from. Hence, this table comparison would be really helpful in helping you pick the better and more trustworthy rental companies.

Petrol, if you get it from the gas station, is around IDR 7k per litre. Anywhere else, it’s about IDR 10k per litre. We topped up about 5-6 litres throughout the 4 days. It’s really economical to rent a scooter and saves you a lot of money to indulge on good food.

Tip: Do wear helmets even if they are slightly uncomfortable. On our last day, while heading to the airport, we got stopped by the police for not wearing our helmets. We are told to pay IDR 500k but negotiated our way out with just IDR 150k.

Dine and Wine

      1. Sisterfields Cafe, Seminyak

IMG_4350.JPGft. Breakfast Burrito (IDR 100k) and Pash Me Smoothie (IDR 47k)

I have been looking stalking the brunch scene in Bali for quite a while and decided on my first meal (brunch/lunch) to be at Sisterfields Cafe in Seminyak (next to Seminyak Square) upon my arrival in Bali. It took us nearly an hour to reach Sisterfields from the airport navigating through the traffic with our backpacks in the sweltering heat. Plus, I forgot to pin the location on the maps so clearly finding our way was a real struggle. But, the food and the smoothie (freaking awesome!) made everything so worth it. We tried the Banoffee dessert (IDR 60k) which was extremely sweet and delectable.

      2. Rock Bar, AYANA Resort, Jimbaran 

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Visiting Rock Bar has been on my bucket list since FOREVER. So, what better way then to spend my Friday evening watching sunset and lazing over drinks. Don’t expect much food wise here. You are essentially just paying for view. There was a minimum spend of IDR 600k for 2 if you were to occupy the arm cushion. Hence, we got 2 appetisers and 2 drinks between us, which costed us IDR 550k in total. They didn’t actually need us to hit IDR 600k so that was good.

Tip: The good seats get filled up really quick so be sure to head about 5pm (or even earlier) to get yourself a good view of the sunset. 

      3. Made’s Warung, Seminyak

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For good old Indonesian food, Made’s Warung would be your best bet. Both the dishes we tried – Nasi Campur and Nasi Goreng Udang (Shrimps) were very authentic. Each dish is roughly around IDR 50k to 60k. During our meal, there was a local band playing Balinese music which completed our dining experience really well. One of our friends, recommended us their Cheese Cake and it was surprisingly good. There is another outlet in Kuta, so depending on where you are, be sure to swing by either of their outlets for at least a meal.

      4. Kat’s Kitchen, Uluwatu

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T0 be honest, I had low expectations for Kat’s Kitchen as it was recommended by Airbnb host. I reckoned since it was near the villa it was the most convenient place to suggest for average food. In the 48 hours I spent in the villa, I visited Kat’s Kitchen for 3 meals so enough said I’m guessing. I’m drooling just thinking about their Tom Yam Goong. Yes, who doesn’t love Thai food! I’d recommend their Thai Fish Cake, Laap Kai (Spicy minced chicken served with rice), Tom Yam Goong and Khao Phat Talay (Seafood Fried Rice). Average meal for 2 costs about IDR 200k.

      5. Bumbu Bali 1, Tanjung Benoa 

IMG_4757.JPGft. Nasi Goreng Seafood (IDR 140k) and Tahu Isi Ikan (stuffed crispy tofu) (IDR 92.5k)

Thanks to my effort in googling to find something to eat near Nusa Dua, I found Bumbu Bali. After our jetskiing in Nusa Dua Beach we headed to Bumbu Bali for a late lunch. I didn’t have high expectations for this place as it seemed to be slightly commercialised with their many awards and certifications that greeted me at the door as well as their in-house cooking classes. The presentation of the food already blew me away when it was served, in addition to the presentation style of the staff in explaining each dish to us. Definitely worth a visit if you are in South Bali. There is another outlet (Bumbu Bali 2) just stone’s throw away from this so if this gets filled up guests are sent over by the private cars.

      6. Finn’s Beach Club, Ungasan

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Finn’s Beach Club is literally heaven on earth! The entrance of IDR 300k is worth it, trust me! For the private beach you get the enjoy, the beanbags that lie on the sand you can sprawl on along with rental of kayaks, snorkel equipment and stand up paddle board (when tide is high) makes the experience worth it. In addition, you get a F&B credit of IDR 150k. There was a 50% off happy hour from 6-7pm which was perfect timing for us to have a dip before settling in the beanbags for some drinks and a bite.

To be honest, having visited both the Rock Bar and Finn’s Beach Club, I’d recommend the latter if you are looking to splurge on just one. The privacy of the beach access you get to enjoy is unparalleled.

Other Activities 

We were contemplating doing flyboarding at Nusa Dua but decided against it as it was roughly around USD 85 per person. Instead, we did jetski which costed us IDR 175 per jetski for 15 minutes (we rode solo). We had also planned on doing paragliding (for USD 85) but somehow got delayed so gave it a miss.

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Uluwatu, is another highlight to visit when heading to South Bali. Entrance fee for an adult is IDR 300k and child is IDR 200k. It’s quite a long stretch around the temple that you can walk along to watch the magnificent sunset. Every evening there is an hour long Balinese dance performed in Uluwatu (tickets cost IDR 100k).

Tip: The monkeys are real and aggressive! Be sure to safeguard your belongings and carry minimum items when visiting Uluwatu. I’m glad we didn’t watch the dance as it would have meant getting out of Uluwatu post sunset (in darkness).

All in all, this trip got me falling deeper in love with Bali. I got to explore South Bali pretty well given my 4D3N there and also checked off – pillioning on a scooter in Indonesia. My only pity was I didn’t not have time to make a day trip out to Ubud. I guess that just means another trip to Bali beckons. 😉

All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.

Boracay Times.

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I ended up heading to Boracay during the super peak travel season, just before Christmas, with my family last year. We spent 3 nights in Manila and then flew Sky Jet Airways for about SGD 120 (1-way) to Caticlan Airport as we had a 1-way ticket booked back to Singapore with Tiger from Kalibo Airport (approximately 1 hour from Caticlan).

Accommodation

Our accommodation in Boracay was a pretty basic 3-star resort located just along Station 2 – Boracay Haven Resort. For just SGD 130/night for a deluxe room with breakfast, the best thing about the resort is the location! It is about 50m away from a Macdonalds (for all your late night cravings) and within a matter of another 100m your feet sink into the pure white sand of the beach paradise. How perfect and heavenly!

Activities

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Being a beach haven, there is a plethora of activities to greet you once you set foot in Boracay. Plenty of tour companies are littered along the beachfront you will be spoilt for choices. We booked our activities with Jojo Fadrillan from Allan B Fun Tour for a rather reasonable rate. We got a private boat chartered for 4 hours (no lunch provided) for PHP 500 each. It totalled to PHP 2000 for the 4 of us for Magic Island (up to 10m cliff jumps), Crystal Cove, Coral Garden (snorkelling) as well as Crocodile Island.

There is an entrance fee of PHP 150 per person for Magic Island (payable on reaching destination) which grants you access for (unlimited) jumps. I did 8m and 10m jumps while the sister did the 8m and 9m ones. I reckon there are 5m and 7m jump options available too.

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Crystal Cove was a picturesque place that was definitely worth the visit. Lying between Boracay and Caticlan mainland is this beautiful islet of white beach with pristine crystal clear water. According to legend, this islet was once called “the island of desire”.

If you are looking to get away from crowded beach, Puka beach at the far end of the island towards Station 1, is worth a visit.

For the other activities, if I remember right, I paid about PHP 400-500 for 1 hour of stand up paddle boarding (1 board) and PHP 1000 per person for parasailing.

Other activities to consider would be heading to the famous Aerial’s Point for cliff jumping. We gave it a miss as it is a whooping PHP 2500 per person due to the distance of the place from Boracay.

Food

I was recommended Cyma restaurant for greek food as well as Dos Mestizos for spanish tapas by my brother who visited Boracay some time back. And oh wait, of course, everyone hears about Jonah’s Fruit Shake and Snack Bar before even setting foot in Boracay. But, to be honest, it’s highly overrated in my opinion. Worth a try if you are in Station 1, otherwise I wouldn’t actually go in search of it.

At Cyma, we tried an eggplant appetiser, their famous and renowned flaming cheese, Solomos (tomato based salmon angel hair pasta) and lamb ribs (which were way too oily for any our liking). It’s a relatively small eatery within the area of D’mall which makes it appropriate if you are looking for a quick meal with an interesting culinary experience. Another very popular dish at Cyma is a crab pasta dish, yes, it’s a whole crab! So be prepared, for the dish to set you back by about SGD 30. Overall, I was slightly disappointed with my visit to Cyma. It might have been my poor food choices or it could have been the extremely busy restaurant which didn’t allow me enjoy my dinner in a laid back fashion.

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Having said that, Dos Mestizos, blew me away for the quality of food as well as quiet and chill ambience which made the whole dining experience with my family a good one. We ordered a few tapas as well as a seafood paella to share. Fresh fish cubes in garlic marinade, blue cheese and bechamel croquettes, shrimps sauteed in olive oil and garlic and squid stuffed with chopped egg, chilli, garlic and tomato just to name a few tapas we had. The squid tapas (pictured above) is definitely a must try!

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And saving the best for the last, D’ Talipapa wet market! Located in station 2, down a small alleyway near Victory Diver’s Resort, this is a very interesting dining concept especially for lunch as you get to buy your own fresh seafood from the market before proceeding to get your food cooked in your preferred stall.

A few things to note:

  1. Haggling is a MUST! It’s hard to know exactly how much you should be paying so be sure to walk around without being in a hurry to close the deal.
  2. Avoiding the lunch hour belt between 12-2pm would be good if you are looking to get the seafood at cheaper prices. It will be ideal if you are spending the morning doing half day tours and then you can head over for a late lunch.
  3. Apart from seafood, you can buy chicken, vegetable and fruits at the market.

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Having tried just 2 stalls within D’Talipapa to get our food prepared, I’d suggest Plato D’ Boracay for their above average cooking service. Natalia’s Kusina although cheaper was pretty average. But, having said that, it all depends on the preparation style you request for.

Our seafood haul:

800g Lobster PHP 1200

1kg Prawns PHP 500

500g Scallops PHP 150

Long beans PHP 80

Cooking service at Plato D’ Boracay PHP 885

Dollars and Cents

Upon arrival at Caticlan Airport, you will be flocked with people looking to transport you directly to your hotel in Boracay. Just for your info, your means of getting to Boracay from Caticlan would consist of a 5 minute tricycle ride followed by a 20 minute ferry ride and then a tricycle ride to your hotel in Boracay (station 1/2/3). Apart from the transport fees for this 3 rides, you will be paying terminal fee (PHP 100) as well as environmental and admission fee (PHP 75) at the ferry terminal. So, be sure you know exactly what you are paying for and how much you should be, to avoid getting ripped off before your adventure even starts proper.

When you depart from Kalibo Airport, effective 1 June 2015, all visitors have to pay a international terminal fee of PHP 700. I think the 1 hour journey by a charted van from Caticlan to Kalibo costed us about PHP 200 per person.

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Overall, my 4D3N in Boracay was a blast! If I could do it again, I’d definitely pick the low season to travel so that I can save more on transport and hotel costs and also have less crowded beaches to frolick in. Till then, let me continue dreaming about my next beach getaway!

All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.