Just like on many travelers who have set foot on Philippine shores, the locals made a very good impression on Slovak travel blogger Alexandra Kovacova of Crazy Sexy Fun Traveler. As part of her three-month trip across Southeast Asia, she spent three weeks in the Philippines — basking in the sun on Puka Beach in Boracay, hiking at Batad Rice Terraces, beach bumming in El Nido, Palawan, and more.
We got to chat with her about her experience in the Philippines and she shared how she chose the destinations she visited, what her first impressions were, and how much she enjoyed the trip!
1. The Philippines is not part of the usual Southeast Asian backpacking trail. What made you visit the Philippines? Was the Philippines a part of your original route? Or did it just pop up along the way?
There were a few reasons for me to visit the Philippines. First, as back in the history the islands were under Spanish rule, I had to visit. I love all the countries that had something to do with Spanish language, it’s my favorite. Second, I was in touch with 2 Filipinos, Mica from Manila (from //www.senyorita.net/) and Jason from Cebu City (from //www.montanatheexplorer.com/) who both became good friends of mine online and as soon as they found out I was going to visit SE Asia, they both asked me to pay a visit to the Philippines too. By the way, they are both travel bloggers. And third, I always dreamed of the crystal clear beaches 🙂
2. You visited A LOT of place within the 3 weeks that you stayed here. How did you come to choose those destinations?
It was not me choosing but my 2 friends. Mica planned my trips around Luzon and Jason all the rest and most of it they even travelled with me until I got to Boracay for my last days of holidays.
3. What was your first day in the Philippines like? What did you do on your first day in PH?
I was really tired when I arrived so after we had lunch at Mica’s house, I took a short nap. Then we were invited as press to the Captain Morgan VIP party and it was difficult to say no mostly because some other online friends were supposed to be there and we could finally meet in person. It turned out to be the best party of the year with famous people such as Daniel Matsunaga or Hideo Muraoka. Yes, new friends! Not bad to update my Facebook profile with Hideo’s photo straight after the first day in the Philippines 😀
4. What was your impression of the Philippines before you visited? Did your trip here change it?
I didn’t have many impressions before I visited. I knew about uncountable beautiful beaches, friendly people, some history and thousands of islands of real paradise. None of these changed. I just got to know everything better and finally in person. My trip opened my eyes to realize the Philippines is a paradise in many ways but as everywhere else there are as well some disadvantages. The biggest thing that changed for me after my visit was that the Philippines made it to my second favorite country in the world right after Mexico. Each time I say it to someone, they all get surprised about both countries and makes them visit them to find out by themselves. And yes, a few people went to the Philippines already just because of my paradise songs about it 🙂
5. It’s been 2 years since your trip in PH. What is that one thing about the Philippines that stands out in your memory?
Hm this is a tough one. Hard to choose between two – for me the people and the beaches. Can I just say the friendliest Filipinos on a Filipino beach? 😀
6. Of all the places in PH that you visited, which is your absolute favorite?
I cried from happiness the first time I jumped into the sea at White Beach in Boracay. I had almost the whole Station 1 for me so no wonder the beach made it to my 24 favorite beaches I visited in 2011! I was also super happy when we finally hiked to Batad rice terraces.
7. What are the things about the Philippines that you were surprised to learn during your trip?
Hm some of the things that people abroad do not know. A lot of junk food. I had difficulties to find healthy food even in the better restaurants. No vegetarian meals, no oatmeal for breakfast, hardly any salads for lunch or dinner. The food was the biggest problem for me in the Philippines as I really eat healthy. I just could not get used to eat rice for breakfast. Thankfully, the fresh coconut water, fruit, fish soup and spaghetti saved me. Ah, and halo halo too! Another thing I learned was that the economic situation of the locals is not the best. The tourists do not know that. But the dream-come-true beaches and jaw-dropping sunsets make up for it, I guess. And every island being so different to the rest surprised me too. I love diversity.
8. We love learning first-hand from travelers. What are the areas that Philippine tourism need to improve on?
I’d say that definitely ground transportation. I was dying each time I had to go from one place to another on a bus. So small and overpacked. I’m 180 cm tall and travelling with a 30 kg backpack on my knees without being able to breathe for a few hours is far away from fun. Travelling is also about enjoying the trip itself from point A to B and should not be about suffering. I wish this changed asap so I could go back and stay for longer. Missing the paradise and the smiles of the Filipinos.
9. Describe the Philippines in one word.
Alexandra Kovacova is a crazy Slovak girl who made traveling the reason of her life. ”I live to travel, I travel to live” is her motto. She writes about her crazy travel, fun adventures and sexy photos from around the world on Crazy Sexy Fun Traveler. She also writes about travel on We Travel around the World and how to stay Fit when Traveling.