After a long night of partying in Boracay with my siblings and brother-in-law, I found myself craving for a heavy meal. Whoever suggested eating to wash away the alcohol in my system gave good advice; a big bowl of rice and meat or soup had always recharged me after rounds of liquor and whatnot.
The question, though, was what to eat. At two in the morning, restaurants are already out of the question. Merly’s (the chori burger stand on wheels) had already left, and I was too buzzed to roam around.
Behold, I found this shawarma stand just several blocks away from our hotel, recently mobbed (so it seemed) by tourists like me looking for a quick meal.
Shawarma, whenever it’s available, is always a good choice for an after-booze snack. It’s filling, flavorful (best when served hot and spicy-garlicky), and a good deal for your money. It’s another if they scrimp on your meat and feed you oily chunks and lots of pita bread.
Not Leylam Shawarma, though. Being what looks like a 24-hour stall, the place seems to satisfy its customers with thick, meat-packed shawarma sandwiches with lots of hot and garlic sauce. Okay, so it was an ordinary shawarma, but hey, it still worked wonders for me.
That was until I noticed that Leylam serves shawarma rice. Shawarma is great, but shawarma rice? Out of the rice cooker and into the griddle goes beefy rice with peas, carrots, corn, and shawarma bits, topped while hot by a sunny side up egg and sauce. Heck, shawarma rice may be just shawarma with rice, but when it comes to taste, this is one top-notch, National Discovery-level rice topping. Oh yeah, they even had shawarma toppings for noodles. Surreal.
In the end, I ordered a shawarma sandwich, a bowl of shawarma rice, and shawarma noodles. I ate a lot. It was such a solemn moment.
A vacation in Boracay can never be complete without enjoying the night life there. There are lots to do, be it sipping beer and cocktails by the beach, dancing or listening to music, watching the firedancers, dining, or just gazing at the dark, rolling waves. Your mileage may vary.
There’s a party at every corner of Boracay every night. The sound of everflowing booze, the sizzling of roasted fish, and the live bands and DJ mixes blast your ears and make your chest palpitate, beckoning you to get off your bed and celebrate life in the island.
Some bars in Boracay are known by name; others, by recommendation from other tourists. Station 1, they say, is the place to seek out a lively night, though there are places where you can drink and hang out in silence. Either way, once you’re there, you won’t be saying “Let’s go hang out at (insert name of establishment);” you’ll find yourself walking from Station 1 to 3 and back just to find a place that will match your mood.
Beer must be the drink of choice in Boracay. Most visitors could be seen cooling off with a bottle or two of San Miguel or Colt 45 even at daytime. To be fair, it’s so hot in the island at times that you’ll feel like you’ll sweat off all the alcohol in your system before nighttime. Small wonder why you rarely see really drunk people here, at daytime, at least. There’s no such thing as a schedule for drinking beer, anyway.
Some would even quaff a beer or two, along with some hard liquor, somewhere nearby their hotels before venturing to their bar of choice. I think they call that “loading up,” so as to avoid having to buy more liquor in their bar of choice. Economical, to say the least. Which is why poolside and in-house bars are a hit.
Cocktails are just as popular, though I remember seeing them in pitchers, which are more affordable for those who want a quick kick to the guts. Some bars serve them by sets, i.e. buy four, take one or buy four, get free pulutan or something… which leads us back to the type of cuisine served here – typical Filipino fare, plus seafood. Lots of them.
It’s unfortunate that I could not try out the numerous island-inspired cocktails that pop out of the bars every now and then; though if you serve me a bottle of beer or red wine and a big slab of roasted pork belly, I’d be very happy with just that. Where was I? It would be quite an adventure to find out what kinds of cocktails, or liquors for that matter, suit Boracay.
Fire dancing is one of the main attractions in Boracay. It’s actually fun to watch dancers swaying to upbeat music, twirling their fiery staves and pois, the flames taking shapes and forms made otherwise possible by your own imagination (plus alcohol).
Speaking of dancing, someone from this island told me that there’s something about a dancing human’s figure that’s so alluring. Yeah, so is the gyrating figure of a scantily clad hunk/babe on the disco dance floor. I’m not a disco person, and I’m no longer at the age wehn I’ll find myself drunk, wild, and making out with a hot girl on the dance floor to the tune of Usher’s “Love in This Club”. But I digress.
Like I said, there’s so much to do at night in Boracay, even for a non-partygoer like myself. But after the last beer bottle is guzzled, the last glass of rhum has been discarded, and the last shot of gin has been ingested bottoms up, the stomach starts protesting. There’s only one thing left to do. Hungry time.
Your friendly neighborhood all-you-can-eat buffets are great places to dine on while or after having your alcohol fix, assuming you’ve been drinking since the afternoon. Rice is out of the question, so what you would want is a helping of soup, crab, shrimp, steamed or grilled lobster. They close at around 10 or 11pm, though. Other restaurants close later, and some bars serve heavy meals, so the choices are endless.
Then there are food stalls that serve shawarma, siumai (that’s “siomai” for you, Barangay Ginebra), chori burgers, shakes and barbecues – food that are just enough to whet your appetite until you forget that you’re hungry, or you find something heavier.
Boracay was recently named as “the world’s best island” by “Travel + Leisure” magazine for 2012. It topped the list of the best island destinations in the world, beating Bali (Indonesia), Santorini (Greece), Maui (Hawaii), and other well known vacation spots.
Now what is it that makes Boracay so special? “Travel + Leisure” editor Nilou Motamed says one can find world-class hotels at affordable prices. Equally notable, many tourists add, is the island’s white sand beaches, the hospitality and the warm smiles of its people, and its cosmopolitan, party-all-you-can lifestyle.
I for one love the sea. Whenever I visit a place where there’s a beach or there’s a view of the sea, I make it a point to stop for a while and just look at the waves, savor the coolness of the wind and the scent of the water. The view of the beach is even better if you can see the sunrise or sunset.
Some say the romanticism of the sea, much less the beach, is what makes island destinations like Boracay a hit among visitors. The salty scent of the sea, the rolling waves, and the cool wind can relax, evoke deep thought, and awaken nostalgia, comfort, or some other pleasing yet sad feeling. It sort of brings out one’s inner poet or romantic, or so I heard. No wonder many people love looking at the sea as well.
Had I gotten the chance (plus enough funds) to go around Boracay, I’m sure there’s much I could discover more about its food culture. I wanted to see their wet markets and the food stalls away from the beachfront. I saw what looked like an intimidating wine bar along the road. I wanted to taste the stuff in Aklan that tourists don’t get to see often. So much to do, so little time.
I’m looking forward to going back to Boracay soon. Maybe I’d listen to the tips and dine where they say have the best steak, the best noodles, the best cakes, and so on. Maybe I’d go bar-hopping and dancing, and then I’d appreciate Boracay’s night life, for a change. Or maybe I’d discover something else altogether, and it will be really nice. Who knows?