Getting Away   |  In Metro Manila   |   Mactan Island   |   Boracay Island   |   Singapore Sojourn


Dreamy Mactan Island
We arrived at the Shangri-La Resort on Mactan Island and had to pinch ourselves.... twice! It's all so beautiful and luxurious. We kind of feel guilty but there's really no reason why we should. Before we left home we questioned the wisdom of splurging so many of our long saved frequent flyer points on one holiday. Now we are here and experiencing the whole thing we have no regrets. After working over 60 hours per week for about 50 years I've earned these 3 weeks of retirement luxury. Too bad it's not tax deductible


Our suite is on top floor and at the extreme right hand corner


One of several fantastic views from our suite's balcony


The bedroom in our Shangri-La suite


The living room in our Shangri-La suite

Our corner room has about 270 degrees of ocean views with a huge balcony and outdoor dining area. We have everything we could possibly need and the hotel Staff cater to every need. Our room gives us access to a private Club room were drinks and delectable tapas are served totally gratis between 5pm and 7pm. On several occasions we found that we just didn't need dinner after all those hors d'ouvres which is probably not what the hotel management had in mind!


Lynn readies for a plunge at the resort's private beach


We are welcomed into the Chi Spa and Massage complex

Ever since we discovered this hotel on the web and decided to book, Lynn has been going on about indulging ourselves with a full works spa treatment in the "Chi" complex here in the resort. There was even a 20% discount if we booked in as a couple. So the day after our arrival Lynn made the arrangements with much anticipation on her part and much apprehension on mine. On the day there was a whole lot of bullshit with scented towels, herbal teas, showers rinses and more showers. The the head therapist informed us that we were about to get the agneziac therapy. We questioned that three or four times before figuring out that we were actually going to be getting an aphrodisiac oil treatment. "Good heavens", says Lynn. "Make mine a double" says Brian.

We were then smothered in fragrant body oils before being pinched, patted, prodded and perfumed. After 1 hours we eventually emerged with a full set of aching muscles and a much lighter wallet. So far we haven't noticed any significant changes in the cuddling up department.


The walled private Chi rinsing pool and meditation area


We had a side-by-side His and Hers massage in this room


Seaweed boys clear beach each day - Check cardboard sun hat!


This towed parachute went by at our balcony height!

Every day about 10 young guys sift the sandy beach in front our hotel by hand.... finger sifting that is. They remove little bits of seaweed, a cigarette butt or whatever. One night there is a bit of a blow and a great heap of weed ended up on the beach. A night security guard apparently discovered the seaweed at 4.00am and the call went out. When we awoke next morning there were about 30 young men on the beach, They toiled all day picking up seaweed, putting in crates and then paddling it by kayak to the end of the beach where more young men emptied the crates into a big pile ready for more men to load on a truck.

The cost of labour must be negligible in this place. In Nambucca Heads a Council tractor would have dragged one of those heavy spiked rake thingies up and down the beach and had it cleaned up in a hour. I've seen it done on many occasions on various NSW beaches. Whoops! Did I just accidentally praise the productivity of our Council workers!


Cowrie Seafood restaurant - Food cooked to death, unfortunately


A fishing paraw glides by whilst we enjoy pre-dinner drinks

We enjoyed a wonderful sunset at the Cowrie Seafood Waterfront Restaurant and then ordered a Grilled Seafood Platter. What a disappointment and what a travesty. Most of the seafood was clearly imported frozen stuff and it had been grilled and grilled to within an inch of it's life. Tough, tasteless and a waste of money.


Lynn and Brian before the Cultural Night Outdoor Buffet


Treated to local dancing and drumming.... and DRUMMING!


Dances from different Philippine islands were performed


Brian is asked to join the performers for the finale

We went to a Filipino Cultural Buffet which included dancing and music from different parts of the Philippines. It's really hard to take a decent night photo using flash and lots of zoom when the subjects are also moving and under the circumstances I was quite lucky to end up with a few usable photos.


A daily morning dip before breakfast was always a perfect start


Literally hundreds of these "pump boats" pass the resort


Pump boats serve as marine taxis and inter island ferries


A lycra rash shirt and floppy hat is "de rigeur" in this climate


We've just received some very unwelcome news. I overheard a snippet of guest conversation here in the resort which seemed to indicate that there is a maximum baggage allowance of 10 kilos of checked luggage per person on all flights from Mactan Island to Boracay Island via Caticlan Airport (our next destination). This is only a little more than half the weight of our stuff!! And as we're due to fly tomorrow I'm in a bit of a panic.

"How much per kilo does the airline charge for excess baggage?", I ask the travel desk. After six phone calls and six different answers they finally inform me that no excess baggage is allowed because the plane is small (a 50 seat Dash 8) and the runway at Caticlan Airport is apparently very short. I don't know what to do because we're not coming back to Mactan Island again and can't leave our surplus here.

We have become friendly with fellow guests Doug and Julie, a Kiwi couple who live in Singapore. Doug is an oil industry engineer and it seems like he flies to three or or four different countries every month. Over dinner that evening I mentioned our dilemma. Doug says, "didn't you guys mention that you're coming by Singapore on your way home?"  "Yes", we confirm. "Well then, I've got a 100 kilo baggage allowance pretty much anywhere I fly so do you want me to take some of your stuff and you can pick it up when you get to Singapore?" After 20 seconds of protestations about how that would be too much trouble for Doug etc, we grabbed this very kind offer with a sense of relief. We race back to our room, quickly put half our possessions into one bag and deliver the other bag to Doug and Julie's room before they turn in for the night. We're hugely relieved to have solved this problem and won't have to worry about it all night.

It turns out that our subsequent flight from Caticlan (short runway) to Manila in one week's time will also have a 10 kilo limit so with his generous gesture Doug has solved both dramas and put our vacation back on the rails again. Hooray for the Kiwis.

See you all again soon on Boracay Island albeit in stripped down state after excising most of our possessions.