Ro-Ro Row Your Boat to Boracay!

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Philippines is an archipelago comprising of 7,107 islands. I’ve known this fact since I was twenty. While I was in university I read a travelers account of visiting one particular island there called Boracay. I read that article over and over again. Immersing myself in the author’s description of this island paradise. The pictures looked unreal. I’d never seen sand so white or water so blue in my twenty years.

Boracay looked too perfect to be true. I dreamt about it, googled and read everything I could find and could never forget it. If not for Boracay, I probably wouldn’t have made it to the Philippines!

So you can imagine my disappointment when I found out that the flight from Manila to Boracay was just too expensive.

I checked every airline flying in or over the Philippines. The cheapest ticket I could find was almost two hundred dollars for the dates I had planned. I was having a bit of a panic attack! So close, still so far! The Melting Pot’s owner Ronald was sitting behind me and casually asked if I’d checked out the Ro-Ro options.

What! Row to Boracay? I was desperate enough to do it!

The Ro-Ro or Roll on- Roll off system is actually Philippines’ Nautical Highway. This is how the locals travel. You buy a ticket for your destination and one single ticket gives you access to multiple rides on vans, busses and ferries till you reach your destination.

Before Ronald had finished explaining the whole process, I was all over it! Giddy with excitement at the prospect of really being able to make it to Boracay after all. In about twenty minutes, I speed-researched everything about the Ro-Ro system and the route to Boracay and booked myself on an overnight journey the next night. Tonight I shall sleep in peace!

The tour company did casually mentioned that the only service leaving the next night would drop me one island short of my destination. But by this time I wasn’t paying attention, I was dreaming of my first San Miguel on the beach after I arrived.

The next day dragged on forever. I was supposed to be picked up at 8 pm. But at five I received a call at the hostel that I should be packed and ready by 6. I told them I’d been packed and ready since noon! And so started my 24 hours journey to Boracay.

First a van, then a bus, then a ferry- for this leg of the journey I had the fine company of a spunky Filipina called Ruby. She’s 45 and didn’t look a day over 30! She’s been living in Canada for two decades and was home to take care of her ailing father. She told me stories from her childhood growing up on the beautiful island of Mindoro.

Living next to the sea, life was simple and satisfying. But as a teenager she got restless and discontented- she wanted more and her search took her to Canada. But now, she misses the uncomplicated and close-knit community she had here. Really, sometimes you have to leave home to really learn to love it!

We parted ways in Mindoro and I got back on the van to head to Roxas- the last stop of the Van. It dropped me off at a tiny little island where I had to wait for 4 hours for the next ferry. The 3 hour ferry ride lasted 6 because the port was packed and there was no space to dock.

While we were drifting just a mile from the shore, I got talking with a local boy and it turned out that he’s a Phillipines Drug Enforcement Officer. He was under cover and carrying a large Winny the Pooh toy with him. I think he thought I didn’t believe him so he pulled out his gun and his batch to prove his identity. Ummm… so much for being under-cover pal! He was quite a gentleman though and after we finally disembarked he insisted on getting me on a motorbike taxi, fixed a rate and said something rather passive aggressive to the driver, who looked mortified!

The Motorbike taxi dropped me to a small jetty from where I took a boat with 24 other passengers to get off at Boracay. Twenty minutes later I had arrived and brought a crazy thunderstorm with me.
It started pouring. The sneaky tricycle driver bumped me off at what he claimed was Station 3 on the White Beach. By now it was dark, raining and there was no one around to even ask directions from!

Almost half an hour of walking barefoot in the pouring rain and slush I found my guesthouse- Ocean View Villa. Very misleading name- no view of the ocean and certainly no villa! And no electricity.

But… more than 24 hours later… I’d reached Boracay!

What more could a girl ask for? Other than a hot cuppa Chai…

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