Ready to Leave the Beach Behind

March 7, 2015

Philippine Time

So, nine days on Boracay. I can walk the length of this island easily, but that’s not to say I’ve taken advantage of every tourist trap and restaurant. Cliff diving at Ariel’s Point is less appealing to me after hearing stories of burst blood vessels and broken limbs… probably the product of unlimited drinks and little supervision on the only tours going out there. Every day I’m accosted on the beach asking if I’d like to go on a diving trip or have a massage. Spending over a week on an island most spend a few days is a bit of a revelation, but you could say it’s a microcosm of my travels; I typically spend months or years abroad in places most only have the luxury of experiencing for a week or two.

To that end, I’m far more jaded by tourist sites and throwing away money on guided tours for what I know can be achieved with independent travel. When I was in Peru, I was amazed the only way to safely hike El Misti was paying upwards of two hundred dollars for chartered transportation, a guide, meals, and overnight camping on the mountain; any experienced hiker could reach the peak inside of a day if he got an early start.

Boracay has its own packages it uses to sell “More Fun in the Philippines”: diving tours, ATVs, cliff diving, windsurfing, kite boarding, etc. And while I can see how someone new to travel or even just the Philippines would find some of these tours appealing, I can’t help but dismiss them as cliché and overpriced – even in this country, where services are generally cheap.

Funny how the travel experience ropes you into trying new things and forgetting about money. On the one hand, it’s good to get outside of routine and not stress over finances while you’re on vacation. On the other hand, there’s really no reason to plunk down $20 on a hand painted t-shirt that’s sure to be ruined after a few washes. Souvenirs haven’t held any power over me for some years, and package tours were soon to follow. There’s a reason I waited so long to see Alcatraz when I was back in California; it was the only place in San Francisco inaccessible except by tour boat. If I were ever tempted by other similar packages – walking tour of NYC, Ride The Ducks in Austin, a temple stay in Korea, anything involving JAL Tours in Japan – before I lived abroad, I’m not now.

Barring that, I’m left with the beach, the sun, and food. Don’t get me wrong, this is just what I need: some time to wake up with the sun, go for a barefoot run on the sand, get a papaya and pineapple fruit smoothie, and spend the day writing and snacking. After a cold winter touring Europe, it’s a welcome relief.

However, even the most relaxing spot can becoming boring after enough days. I’m ready to rejoin the chaos and energy of the working world, to get a paycheck and stress about tax season. For while the beach offers respite, it doesn’t really provide inspiration.

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