When I lived in Cebu one of my favourite weekend escapes was Hong Kong. I love the city for it’s vibrancy and electric mix of cultures – the British colonial legacies gave me a reminder of home when I needed it, while the Chinese aromas and hectic 24-7 buzz was an exciting change of pace compared to the relaxed lifestyle of the Philippines.
The water in Hong Kong is like the blood in the veins of the city; essential to every part of everyday life. On my visits I preferred to stay in the Wan Chai area on Hong Kong Island – and while the MTR connects it directly to Kowloon, taking the Star Ferry is just as convenient, affordable and thoroughly more enjoyable. During the day you are treated to expansive city vistas, while at night the skyscrapers are covered in beautiful lights which reflect across the bay.
The following photos were taken on my first trip on the ferries in February 2012. Everywhere I looked was picturesque, and while I’d been interested in it before this is the point I started thinking about photographing my travels more seriously. The day was cold and overcast, yet the city managed to stay atmospheric and full of character.
This second set is from my third trip in September 2012 while coming back from Lantau Island. The timing of this journey was perfect as the ferry glided into the bay as the sun was setting, turning the buildings into columns of gold.
While I did use the ferries on my 2nd trip, it was unfortunately too miserable and rainy to have enough visibility to capture anything other than fat raindrops on my camera.
Hong Kong is a city I could see myself spending more time in, there is always something to see and do, and retains a bit of character and a more ‘European’ edge than other major SE Asian cities. And while a city of it’s size can seem overwhelming at times, being able to spend time on the water with such beautiful surroundings maintains and sense of clarity for me while I’m in Hong Kong.
Following on from my previous post about Isla Mujeres, I wanted to go into more detail about the afternoon I spent at Capitan Dulche. This is a unique beach club which mixes relaxation with culture, as it also has a sculpture garden and hosts the only museum on the island.
Like all other attractions from the island, Capitan Dulche can easily be reached by fixed rate taxi or by renting a golf cart for the day. If you order food and drink at the bar the entrance fee is waved and you are welcome to spend all day on the private beach which includes loungers and a volleyball net.
By far my favourite thing about Capitan Dulche is the extremely unique boat bar – you can see the ship’s mast rising up from the surrounding landscape. The style evokes imagery of pirates sailing the Caribbean and the barrels of rum they’d consume.
The beach has a small dock that expands out into the bay, providing a scenic walkway or place to sit and watch the local wildlife.
The grounds of Capitan Dulche also act as a sculpture garden, with maritime pieces and musical figurines dotted on the dock, grass and hillside.
The main building hosts a formal dining veranda that can be rented for events and weddings, while the downstairs is the island’s Maritime Museum. The museum collection includes model ships and items from throughout the local naval history, including details about Mexico’s most famous diver and oceanographer, Ramon Bravo, along with his even more famous contemporary, Jacques Cousteau.
I found Capitan Dulche to be a real treat while on Isla Mujeres as it managed to mix the two things I love most while travelling; beautiful beaches and cultural history.
The Charles H. McCaghy Collection includes a number of fascinating tobacco card scans featuring photographs of 19th century vaudeville and burlesque dancers. These images from Victorian England show popular, if risqué performers in their stage costumes, many of which are elaborate or ornate, with delicate beading, short hems, and cinched in waists – elements very familiar in today’s clothing. These victorian burlesque outfits would make the perfect sophisticated costume for an extravagant fancy dress party.
When Filipinos and visitors a like talk about Boracay there’s usually a caveat of “it’s a bit touristy” on whatever statement they have made. And sure, the island is small, there is a McDonalds, and it’s no where near as “undiscovered” as the rest of the country to foreigners, that’s all for a reason. When I lived in Cebu, Boracay was my favourite long weekend destination if I wanted to sunbathe, unwind and party. The island is beautiful and charming, and the powdery sand and crystal clear waters are one of the things I miss most about my time in the Philippines.
Boracay’s White Beach is currently Trip Advisor’s 19th Best Beach in the World, and while Pinoy pride can skew online international polls (like when Palawan’s Underground River was being pushed as one of the world’s natural wonders), it is the closest to beach perfection I’ve personally experienced.
For such a tiny island, the local government have done a great job of keeping the sands and roads trash free, a small miracle considering how much of a problem this can be elsewhere. Even if you get a seaweed filled tide, the seaweed is fine and softer than moss.
Station 2 and 3, where the majority of bars and restaurants are, can get crowded, especially during the day. However Station 3 and onwards past Willy Rock (a small group of rocky islands just offshore with a shrine enclosed) is usually quiet, and the beach gets broader here.
Even those who find Boracay too crowded (when in reality it’s much quieter than most of the Thai tourist stops) will find the golden sunsets hard to resist. White Beach faces directly east across a breadth of water, making evening the worst, rainiest evening beautiful.
Head further along White Beach, past Station 1, and you’ll find a cliffside walkway to the much quieter and more rugged Diniwid Beach.
Small boats and fishing nets rest in the coves leading there, and mostly Filipino families and honeymooners can be seen enjoying the beach.
I liked the colourful corks used within the fisherman’s nets, and the variety in the small boats, nestled on the rocks, and even sometimes in the trees.
Next time I’m in Boracay (hopefully this Easter), I’m considering staying at the Spider House – an open cliff-side hotel where all the rooms face into the ocean.
Exploring the Island
A great way to see more of the island is to have an a trip around it in a Banca boat (Jukung). Uusually 5 or 6 people can share the trip for the half day. In 2012 the going rate was around 1200 pesos (£16).
The boat will take you to some good snorkeling spots, and stop off at a few of the other beaches. I highly recommend spending time at Puka Beach on the Northern tip of the island. It’s not unheard of to have the entire beach to yourself, and is a great place to relax, catch up with reading, or go for a shell collecting walk.
Another great option is Bulabog Beach on the West side of the island, parallel to White Beach. This is one of the best places in the world for Kite and Wind Surfing.
My Top 6 Tips for Boracay
- Stay at Frendz Resort if you want to socialize and meet other travellers
- Check Cebu Pacific Air for cheap promo deals on flights – Kalibo is an extra hour away by minibus but is often a third of the price of flying into Caticlan
- You can pick up free copies of My Boracay Guide nearly anywhere on the island for maps and tourist information. The website has a PDF version if you want to look before you arrive.
- Eat at Smoke for tasty and authentic budget meals, they even have some great veggie options
- If you’re a fan of fresh seafood, head to Talipapa Market where you can buy the ingredients and have your dinner prepared for you.
- The beachfront at Station 2 is the best for evening entertainment, with many of the bars offering happy hours, fire dancers or live bands. For late nights, Club Paraw on Station 1 is always busy and avoids being too cheesy – the islands so tiny you can easily check out a mixture of bars until you find your favourite.
What are your tips for Boracay?
Loving this fitness inspired photo shoot of supermodel Joan Smalls from Industrie Magazine of Joan Smalls, photographed by Lachlan Bailey.
I’ve even gif’ed it to increase the perfection.