When I was young, I remember going to school with a well-maintained net bun. Under the bun was a perfectly braided ponytail I missed so much. While walking along the beachfront, you would notice a lot of locals offering services such as hairbraiding, henna tattoo and massage services. I decided to take up the braiding offer and do a colored cornrow on my hair for P300.00. I spent a good part of my morning talking to the people while waiting for the braiding and henna. It’s a good practice for your bargaining skills and to clarify and go into detail about what you want before agreeing to anything. I think that the friendliness and the easy going nature of the locals living there is largely due to the relaxing atmosphere and tourism status of the island. It’s very common to find vendors inviting you in your native language (sometimes English, Korean and even Chinese if you look like one) to engage in their services like sailing or water sports. Not before long, I was surrounded by other henna tattoo artists, boatmen, braiding and massage ladies and bystander locals even security guards wanting to take part in my bantering, storytelling and picture taking with my chosen braid lady and henna artist. Questions like what to do in the island, what they eat, what they do and who they meet came up. They told me I looked like a Korean over and over. I was endeared to them by the time my braids and my two hennas (P100.00 for a big one already plus I convinced the artist to give me a small one in the arm for free) were done. I had a really really nice experience talking and sharing some humor with them even for that short hour. I wondered if I stayed in Boracay a little longer and had exchanges like these, if their worry-free smiles will rub on me.
I also met this nice boatman who offered to take us in his paraw. The initial price he gave me of P600.00 per 2 people (plus 100 per additional person and still open to negotiation) was very enticing for a 45-minute ride. The usual rate is P2000.00 according to his activity price list. My first thought is that he was only giving it at that price because nobody was riding due to the big waves, i.e. it was a very bad time to ride a small boat. When I asked my henna artist and the other people that surrounded me in private, one by one told me that contrary to what I believed, this was the best time to ride a paraw if I asked them. They must know better (plus the boatman wouldn’t endanger themselves as well) and they seemed like genuine people so I pitched the idea to go and ride the paraw even if I didn’t know exactly know what it was and if it was going to be boring to ride a boat for that long.
I skipped lunch to head to the paraw and I was shocked to discover that it had no motor whatsoever but it was going to circle us around the whole island for two hours (in a lifevest thankfully) and take us to a snorkeling stopover. The paraw glides over the waters using only the wind, the waves and the skills of the boatmen with the help of a sail. I was also surprised too find out that we would not sit in the usual space of a normal boat. Instead, we would be resting on a nylon netted seating area along the sides of the boat (with our feet hanging above the water or doing an Indian-sit) and we will be holding on to a piece of rope to balance ourselves while the boat was “sailing” away.
Our group of five rode one of the biggest paraw and we were accompanied by three boatmen (P1300.00). Water would splash from under you suddenly but you would feel relaxed throughout the experience. You’d also be surprised at the skills of the boatmen to control the boat. To sail requires the wind and to “park” requires the waves pushing the boat to the shore. Whoever said that the best time to ride a paraw was when there were medium waves and strong winds was right.
I was craving for a snack after the paraw trip so we decided to head to Real Coffee for their unique calamansi muffins. Real Coffee is listed in My Favorite Guiltless Foodie Picks in Boracay post. The restaurant was tucked away in an alley near our hotel and it was easy to find because the foreign owners put up a sign on a tree the day before. The muffins were still warm and it was a nice concept to incorporate the flavor of this small native calamansi to this pastry. I especially loved the outer crusty corners of the muffin (P45.00). Too bad the Eguide coupon I printed only included ordering the meals for a free cookie.
For a laid-back late afternoon, we decided to walk along the beach again. We stopped only when it was dinnertime. The P280.00 buffet was worth a try, paticularly if you like unlimited charcoal-grilled oysters, clams and pork. This buffet comes with one free glass of powdered orange juice and eat-all-you-can Filipino-style dishes such as adobo, menudo, etc. One particular dish that was different was the Boracay version of Bicol Express.
It started to rain so hard on our way back to the hotel and ended up going into the Coco Bar next to the Red Coconut Hotel. The cocktails were Buy 1 Take 1 until 8 p.m. but I was busy with my locks (which were giving me a little headache) and grooving to the cool selection of music.
By the time I got back to the room, I was so excited to cut ff the yarn in the braids and free my hair. I could, of course, leave it on for a few days, if only it wasn’t so tight. Maybe next time I will do the other braids and loosen it up a bit. Taking off the braids was another must-try liberating experience. For those who want a temporary new look, you’ll also end up with some natural-looking curly hair.
*Note: Please be reminded not to smoke or litter in Boracay. I heard violators who are caught would have to pay P500 per occurrence.
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