One by One

Backpacks, nipa huts, and mosquito nets; Dusty bus rides, uninhabited islands, and sunken ships.

This might sound like the making of the next Survivor season, but it’s exactly how I enjoy my time here in the Philippines; surrounded by friends and drenched in sunlight and laughter. It’s the simple things, really.

We took a one hour flight, five hour bus ride, and thirty minute banca boat adventure to reach Sipalay’s Sugar Beach. Accessible only by boat or a perilous hike through thick vegetation, its white sand beaches are untouched by modern developers. And the locals wouldn’t have it any other way. Protected by Philippine law and those who fight to preserve its natural beauty, here, you’ll find no fashionable resort wear, sprawling golf courses, infinity pools, jet ski rentals or exclusive spas. There’s not even a general store or ATM machine. Everything that arrives on that island – from tourists to building materials to restaurant supplies – must do so by the sea, one by one.  And so, one by one, we hopped out of our banca and onto the shores of Sugar Beach.

We spent the weekend exploring the cove, snorkeling near a sunken WWII ship, and one by one, dozing off in hammocks. One by one we added to our group when a lone traveler from Washington and then a solo island hopper from France wandered our way. We swapped stories and relished in our hidden paradise, wishfully comparing our trip to The Beach. We even made friends with the manager of Big Bam Boo, our resort for people who don’t like resorts.

As all good getaways go, our weekend trip came to an end too soon and it was time to pack up, say our goodbyes, and load back into our banca.

One week later, as I sit in my air-conditioned office, hurried and hassled by the day’s demands, the trip is already a distant memory. Our new friends are long gone and we’ve settled back into our routines. One by one I scroll through my photos. I’ve left a part of myself back on Sugar Beach, where I’m still sipping on a mango shake, swaying in a hammock and laughing alongside my friends. That perfect moment will live on forever, as the rest of me moves on to collect new memories, one by one.

Mobile users, Youtube doesn’t allow viewing of this video on some mobile devices, due to copyright restrictions on the song. Don’t worry, you can catch some of the fun below…

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14 responses to “One by One

    • Thanks! Wasn’t it a great trip! I’m sure you’ve seen plenty more beautiful beaches since then. Did you ever find a beach with good wi-fi?

  1. I think I would have liked this place and maybe if the mosquitoes are not too bad, my wife would also. Her getting there on a small boat for 30 minutes would be the hardest part for her though. It looks a nice place to spend a weekend every once in awhile and leave the ‘modern’ world behind.

    • I’m sure you’d like it – it’s very quiet and very little mosquitoes. I didn’t even have to wear repellent, though some in my group did. The boat ride is a small banca. you just have to wade through knee deep water and climb up the stairs. The boat handlers take your luggage for you and help you up. And, each resort has their own boat. So when you arrive in Sipalay city, you just text your resort and they send out the boat for you. Lastly, you can rent a car and driver from Bacolod instead of take the 5 hour bus ride. We just took the bus for budget reasons and to be more backpacker style. There were plenty of couples in their 40’s/50’s/60’s on the island. Mostly foreigners, actually. I hope you make it out there one day!

  2. Amazing photos and video! What are the reddish-brown metal straps around the palm tree trunks for? Anti-monkey armor?

      • I am enjoying a lot your travels. You are doing a great service for the Philippines, and to us in the USA who dream to follow your footsteps.

      • Hi Terry – well just like any country, this place has its downfalls – but it’s not really my place to broadcast my opinions on those matters. I’m perfectly happy sharing all the great things about the Philippines – and there are many! :)

  3. It sounds like you are enjoying your stay in the Philippines. I enjoy your articles. Know this: Once the Asian culture bug bites you, it is an affliction that can last forever. It bit me 39 years ago and I am finally returning, this time permanently as it is my only known antidote!

    • I hear ya! I’ve lived here just one year and I’m already hooked. I visited my home in California over the holidays and it already doesn’t feel like home anymore. I am changed…..forever! Thankfully there’s so much to explore here in Asia to keep me busy for a long time. :)

  4. Pingback: Breaking Through the Expat Bubble | Mango Mornings·

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