An Affair to Remember: Why I Had to Leave the Paradise and How Rough Guide Failed

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An Affair to Remember: Why I Had to Leave the Paradise and How Rough Guide Failed

Desperately seeking paradise in Guimaras Island

Our time at Guimaras island was supposed to be relaxing without any internet connection (meaning, no work). I was really looking forward to relaxing on the beautiful beach, reading books from my new kindle. I had all planned out.

We found a great place from Rough Guide: a pretty little hideaway with fan double cottages on stilts, overlooking the bay and just a few steps away from the ocean. The food, almost all of it grown or caught by the staff, is good; there’s not much of an a la carte menu, but there are ample buffet lunches and dinners for around P200. How can you not picture yourself on this hideaway cottage overlooking the ocean? Everything indicated what we have been wanted in the Philippines.

 

But the journey to getting to the paradise wasn’t smooth from the beginning. The logic was simple. Just take four-hour long bus ride from Kalibo to Iloilo city, take a short twenty-minute ferry Guimaras and get to the resort by Jeepney. Easy. The trip took twelve hours instead of six hours like we expected. Everything took longer than it was supposed to be (except the four-hour bus ride), and we ran into a rush hour. Nonetheless, it was way more complicated then it appeared in the guide book, and we didn’t even reach the intended destination.

We settled at Raymen’s Beach Resort, right on the west shore of Guimaras Island, after walking two kilometers in the complete darkness. And resting our shocked body for two days, we finally took a step to the last leg of the journey, four days at Baras Beach Resort.

 

Private beach at Baras Beach Resort

Private beach at Baras Beach Resort

 

It was a paradise. Our little house (wooden hut) was looking out the emerald color beach. This isolated resort had a private beach, electricity only came for four hours at night, there was a dog family with the cutest puppy, and the view was picture perfect. Inside of the hut was not the cleanest, but it was perfectly understandable considering. We unpacked a little and went out for swim at our little paradise.

Dinner was cooked by the owners (no buffet). While waiting for the meal for two full hours (half strike), we were starting to doubt whether we could stay here for that long with the speed of cooking. But it was fixable by ordering two hours earlier than the meal time. As usual, I was attacked by an army of mosquitos during dinner. After taking another cold shower, I finally saw what was really going on in the room. My high hopes were smashed into the ground.

 

Everything was started by one cockroach (two strikes). My affair with my paradise was brief. According to my knowledge from childhood (I’ve participated a few cockroach terminating job with my grandmother at our house), there is at least a hundred more if I see one. I saw one running way from the bathroom, and that immediately turned me down. I also found out the charming paint patterns of the wooden beam out in the porch had done by termites.

We were starting to thinking ‘we don’t have to stay for four days’. Because we had to go through so many hoops to get here, we didn’t want to give up so soon. We wanted a quite place for our holiday, and this place was the perfect place. And we are the kind of people who find good things about the destination, rather than bad ones. We wanted to give this place another chance. The decision will be made in the morning after a good night sleep.

 

Our little wooden cottage at Baras Resort

 

Using the four hours of electricity in the evening, we watched a movie in the bed to get things off our minds. Just before bed, we saw a cockroach crossing the bed (two and a half strikes). Things were getting worse. ‘Decisions in the morning, just one good night sleep’, I thought to myself. I constantly felt something fell on my skin during the movie: poppy seed looking something. The bed was covered by similar objects when we got there but we just brushed them off because that was just what people normally do. But there was a reason why the bed was constantly dirty; this object was obviously falling from the ceiling. One word ‘termite’ was crossing my mind but I stopped myself right there. I was pretty grossed out by a lot of aspects of this place, so I didn’t proceed my thoughts much further. I did my best not to move on the bed since I remembered the trace of a cockroach. I could feel the light touch of the small object all night, but I tried to sleep while covering my mouth with my handkerchief.

The next morning, I woke up very early in the morning, covered with sweat and seed looking objects. There was no good night sleep for me. First thing’s first, I jumped in the shower. We were pretty sure that seed looking object was created by termites in the ceiling, either their poop or wood pieces (ten strikes).

The decision was made: we are leaving.

 

Gorgeous view from the porch

Gorgeous view from the porch

 

At the same time, the view from the balcony couldn’t be better. Shining sun was enhancing the color of water to greener and bluer, palm trees were dancing with the light sea breeze, and the cute puppy was keep hanging out on our porch. Everything else except the room was perfect. If only I could camp in the sand, I would be a happy girl. We went swimming for the last time. As we were chanting the view of this wonderful place with so much potential, a big boat from Iloilo city with ten or so Filipino travelers pulled out. They brought a lot of booze and cranked up the radio as soon as they reached the shore.

 

‘More reasons for us to leave, great’ I thought.

This little-isolated resort wasn’t going to be a peaceful and quiet place after all. With the filthiest room and the other customers, we finally had a peace in our mind to leave this place.

I was wondering when did the Rough Guide writers visit this place. Clearly, there was no buffet and the place was quite badly run down. Nature was absolutely stunning but the whole property was not charming as they said. My friend who stayed here six years ago said it was a good place. Maybe that’s when the writers visited last time, I’m not sure. I am a big believer of guide books, and I’ve never been this much disappointed at a guide book. Hopefully, they put little bit more effort when they update the next edition.

 

So what happened to our holiday?

We left our paradise after only one day, but everything worked out great so far. Thanks to the group from Iloilo, we took an easy trip back to the city with their boat. We made our way to Bantayan Island (our next destination) very slowly and got to experience different parts of Negros Occidental, including much better food options, better transportation system, and beautiful beach (finally) for three days.

 

Bad things happen. Decisions can cause wrong results. But the important thing is how to move on. There’s no point to pout about the bad things. That’s what we did. We traveled to Bacolod, Silay, Sagay and about to leave to Bantayan Island for the next phase of the trip. We wouldn’t have an opportunity to find out the pleasant town of Bacolod, Silay, and Sagay if we the paradise was really a paradise. I was really sad to leave the paradise and worked so hard to find another oasis, but I guess the true joy was already here; a good time on the road with a good company. Now we are ready to get online after four days of internet de-tox. It was the longest four days, and we found a joy in every moment like we always do.

 
 

Juno Kim
Juno Kim
Juno Kim, a happiness-seeking storyteller. Photographer, writer, and trained mechanical engineer. Life-long nerd. I left the cubic farm to follow my true love: the world. A firm believer of serendipity, astronomy enthusiaster, and living by passion and love in life. Currently, on a quest to discover stories and find the place where I can call 'home'. Follow my journey through @RunawayJuno and Google+ .

24 Comments

  1. Andi says:

    Oh god I wanted to throw up when I saw the word cockroaches! I wouldn’t have made 1 night there. So glad you moved on!

  2. I’m with Andi on this one – I don’t think I could have stayed there for even one night! And stuff falling on you from the ceiling?! Ewwwww! But, I’m glad you found the positive and didn’t dwell on the negative too much. Definitely the right frame of mind for travelling!

    • Juno Kim says:

      We really didn’t have any choice :S It was a complete darkness at night (it is very isolated place), and couldn’t ride a boat to the shore at night. We we really hoped that place to be a paradise! But at the end, we got some great adventure out of it…. so. yeah. 🙂

  3. JR Riel says:

    I grew up in a state where cockroaches are the norm, so that wouldn’t have been so bad, (you’re right about there being hundreds more times the one you see.) But getting pooped on at night by termites is a little too much. I understand you guys did what you felt you had to do. Great to read how you made the most of the situation and found the good in it, as usual. And glad those Iloilo guys who initially came across as a rowdy bunch turned out to be pretty helpful to you guys in the end.

  4. meaghan says:

    Thanks for the fair warning! Place sounds disgusting!

  5. George says:

    When I stayed for the summer in India, the air con was intermittent at best, frogs and lizards ran rampage over the room which wasn’t always topped up with water. My bed (which was a table with a bit of sponge) fell through one night leaving me to sleep on the floor with the frogs, but the upside was that I was no longer covered in maggots falling from the ceiling.

    I think it is all part of the experience.

  6. Alex says:

    I just got back from the Philippines as well and while I used a different guidebook and went to a different region, I had a similar experience. Never in my life have I had a guidebook turn out to be so useless! It was basically an expensive bag weight. Ugh.

  7. I feel you! We had a similar experience in a resort in Tulum Mexico last month. Long story short – Had to change rooms due to a NEST of cockroaches that was discovered (the nest wasn’t discovered but the 22 cockroaches kinda gave it away!).

    We changed rooms and it was fine but the whole time I was there (7 days) I was paranoid roaches were going to come our of the woodwork!

    I know shit happens and I know what n some places a cockroach or 2 cant be helped, but I have my limits! 🙂

  8. Not my first time to hear that a guide book about the Philippines failed to live up to the expectations of the book readers. We stayed at Raymen’s Beach Resort and just went to Baras to take sunset photos. Looking forward to reading your Cebu adventures 🙂

  9. Getting listed in a guidebook is the kiss of death for many properties — they just seem to go downhill after that. Having said that, I probably would have been a little more lenient and roughed it out a bit more (maybe asking to change rooms?) I mean, it’s not a five-star resort and it is the jungle right? Bugs are to be expected.

    • Juno Kim says:

      Well, by the time we decided we couldn’t stay in the same room, (the next morning) all the cottages were taken by the new group with loud pop music. Over all, glad we left. I mean, I’m not a hygiene freak, but I couldn’t eat termites poop all day long when it’s in a beach resort (it wasn’t a jungle). Oh well!! Travel, right? 🙂

  10. Abby says:

    Sounds like a few hotels I stayed in (one night only) while on a road trip through Borneo. I can handle everything but the bugs on the bed. Heavy medication was required for me to sleep even a few hours!

  11. Nienke says:

    Oh, Eeehhhw, good on you for leaving! Great that you found a way to get something positive out of this experience as well. I like your attitude! I featured your blog on my Travel Lifestyle Roundup this week too.

  12. Erica says:

    I would have FREAKED. OUT.

    FREAKED OUT.

    No thank you.

  13. […] water, warm temperature and palm trees. As I vividly described in last week’s article: Why I Had to Leave the Paradise and How Rough Guide Failed, my experience in Guimaras Island wasn’t so perfect. Never the less, the beach was beautiful. […]

  14. Too. Many. Bugs. I can’t imagine how awful it must have been spending that night in the room expecting bugs to crawl on you at any moment!

  15. I like your attitude Juno. Shitty things can happen, no matter where you are. Life is about moving forward. Well written post.

    • Juno Kim says:

      Thanks Pete! I try think positively in most of cases. That helps a lot on the road. Sometimes I get really angry with certain situations, that usually related to work. 🙂 Trying not to do that too!

  16. In my mind many guidebooks certainly fail to showcase a place !! That’s true – bad things do happen & decisions certainly go wrong but keeping a positive approach to life and move on – thats a perfect attitude !!

  17. You must have stayed in the same hut that we did in 2011……….. The resort has fallen into a state of bad repair because the British co-owner who funded everything there died and the Filipino co-owners dont have the funds to maintain it………… as for the slow meal preparations thats just part of the getting away from it all to relax and unwind……. why would you be in a hurry in Paradise ????

    My post on our stay is here http://silverbackpacker.com/baras-resort-guimaras

  18. I agree with you on this.

    I studied and worked in Iloilo City after uni and I was here once with Korean friends.
    That was back in 2005! And at that time, it didn’t appeal to me as a tidy resort.
    Baras is only good for a day trip in my opinion.

  19. […] weeks of my journey in the Philippines is finished. It was a complex mixture of good, extreme bad and something in between. The country was hard to figure out, but it gave me the biggest joy time […]

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