Boracay Island and Frendz Budget Resort.
This is the text from an email full of pictures that I sent to all my closest friends as soon as I got nack from the best holiday of my life in Feb this year. Unfortunately youmust imagine the photos. I'll attach some at the bottom.
The island and beaches are extremely beautiful, clean, unhurried and also very safe 24 hrs a day.
This beach is a 2 mins flat stroll from Frendz Resort. Brilliant white sand that is
thoroughly cleaned of any litter every morning.
Doing interesting touristy things in the safe, cool, calm, crystal-clear water.
Couples on the beach at sunset. So romantic.
PHP 300 or so to hire a boat .
JingJing loved the local food. The little lime is called calamanci.
We are at a 24hr eatery nearby called N'Joy Goto Mix. Cheap and delicious
with big servings of hamburgers or local food. Most customers are locals. The
staff were both friendly and interesting.
Goto: a rice soup PHP55. for a big bowl at N'Joy Goto Mix eatery. Yummy!
JJ at left at N'Joy eatery open 24 hrs. 5 min safe walk from Frendz.
N'Joy's senior cook on the 8pm to 8am shift.
Her dancing assistant at N'Joy. The music was carrying from a nearby nightclub and she was swirling away as she worked.
Line up at the bar by the grill and goto cookers. (pronounced got oh.)
3 wheel bike ride from Caticlan airport to the ferries that take you across the narrow strait to Boracay Is. Frendz can provide a guide to meet you at the airport.
The cost of PHP 500 per person including ferry tickets, motortrikes, taxes, official fees etc is well worth it. We were enjoying our complimentary welcoming drink at Frendz 30 calm minutes after touchdown at Caticlan, the nearest airport.
It would have been a daunting maze of unfamiliar challenges without the guide from Frendz. In fact there is a scam run by some hotels where they have a guy dressed in a "Tourism Office" uniform ask people at the airport where they are staying; and then tell them (falsely) that their hotel is overbooked or closed suddenly for repairs etc and offer apologies and alternative (more expensive usually) accommodation.
Some Chinese ladies didn't go for the airport pick-up service. They arrived at Frendz, nearly in tears, a bewildering 3 hrs after touchdown.
Frendz resort - it's the best place to stay
genuine hospitality, great location, good price, clean, wonderfully helpful, happy staff.
A little bit basic; but that is part of its charm. Check Lonely Planet and HostelWorld for
reviews. Just won the "Best Budget Hotel in the Philippines" award and is rated No 7 of all the 300+ hotels in Boracay at any price. Lush tropical garden views, no sea view.
view from sign in pic above. Rooms to each side and reception/restaurant/bar ahead.
Starting to get a very good feeling about this place.
Front desk; no credit cards but very good (best - straight from internet) exchange rate for your money.
Steve. The Aussie owner. He just wants to make sure everybody has a good time. Money is definitely secondary. He will direct you away from trouble and towards great experiences. He suggested buying fresh produce and getting his staff to cook it.
Family staff. Steve has given them shares in the resort. It shows in the outstanding level of friendly service.
I am a polite but fussy guest. The only time they said "no" to one of my requests was when I tried to borrow a broom.
They insisted of sweeping up my spilled sugar for me right away.
More of the sisters who really run the place. They come from an area of the Philippines
that is famous for the hospitality and graciousness of its people.
The communal area at Frendz . People with notebooks are accessing the free broadband WiFi. Smiles all round all the time. Well nearly - (99.9%): I did hear one jerk complaining to smiling staff that the birds were too noisy.
A Frendz breakfast.
2 verandahs and 2 rooms. We were in the far one (N0 6). about PHP 2,300 per night
with aircon, fan and warm water. Cable TV, lots of channels but mediocre reception on some of them.
Our balcony with comfy sofa.
Cool dark rooms. Great after the glare of the beach. Lovely tropical bamboo design accents. The beds are fantastically comfortable. We had a similar mattress at a 5 star hotel in Manila. I want to find out the brand and buy one for home. The room rains fine sawdust from the bamboo. Part of the tropical experience. There are cloth catchers above the beds so none falls there.
Clean, marble-lined bathroom with western toilet at Frendz.
Warm and cool water. That's an electric heater built into the shower head.
I mostly shampooed & soaped up with warm and then had a long rinse off with cool.
Referring to the water as "Hot" or "Cold" is just not accurate.
The showers were very basic but definitely adequate, pretty and clean.
Almost no mosquitoes or other biteys.
I usually hate karaoke with a passion . Just loved this night. Sam, with the microphone, is a professional singer on the 5 star hotel circuit. Her boyfriend (in white T shirt) and I induced her to to sing by promising to be her dancing boy chorus line.
Singing staff. They joined in and matched the professional singer for talent and
outshone her with their enthusiasm and infectious sense of fun. A great party followed.
Staff dining and rest area with a typical Aussie BBQ at right. Guests can use the BBQ for
a tiny payment for gas. Better still, the staff will BBQ your food and serve it to you for a very modest fee. The staff get the balance of being friendly and engaging while giving you space just right.
They charged us PHP 50 (about $1) to cook these two fish in banana leaves on the barbie and serve them in the restaurant area. Coconuts opened for free with a smile.
Frendz staff at check-in desk. So genuinely friendly. Sister Del in red. Azis in the white T-shirt. Plenty of eye candy for the girls too.
A delightful visitor in our room. Stefanie is Belle's daughter.
Yumyum, another of Belle's daughters, who got more and more friendly as she got to know JJ and me. The resort is definitely "kid friendly" but I don't know of any special programs for them.
There is also a smallish, but good, library.
More family. Their big smiley "hello, good morning" is a great mood setter.
Fighting cocks. The acoustically dominant bird species. Note the leg tether.
Why the roosters are so loud. There are quite a few of these rooster farms dotted around Boracay, plus most families have a couple of cocks in training.
The cocks crow all night. It drives some people crazy. Most (me included) don't mind at all. If you object to the sound of roosters 24/7, don't come to Boracay; or stay in a concrete block hotel with all the windows closed and the air conditioner set on high.
Transport for less than PHP 1000 a day. No gears, no license required; just point and drive.
Sailing late arvo
sailing at sunset (40 mins later - same boat)
JJ is not a swimmer but soon got the hang of sailing. The boats are beautiful, seaworthy, light and fast.
Morning waiting for the sunrise.
On the water's edge with an icy cold beer just after sunset and a long day of activities.
Happy hour, two frosty San Miguel for less than RMB 10 ($1:50).
The beach. Boats are limited to a couple of set places to come ashore and all jet-skis are towed more than a kilometre offshore before they are allowed to start their motors. "Ah, the tranquillity!"
There are a million good things to do during the day. All reasonably priced.
Island boat cruises, glass bottom boats, scuba diving, snorkelling, underwater reef walking with a diving helmet, jet skis. para gliding, para-sailing, wind surfing, sailing, cave exploring plus shopping, shopping, shopping, shopping, shopping, and delicious eating, eating, eating.
So many different types of restaurants. Pilipino, Thai, American, Australian, German, Swiss, Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian, British, French etc even Mongolian! Plus lots of bars, quite a few with live music, and nightclubs.
Just watching the sun set into the sea is one of the highlights of the day. Sunrise is a less crowded choice.
Best holiday of my life.
John Haigh (Da Fu)