Tag island


I just ended a week in Boracay PH.
From Xiamen, we flew to Manila and spent the night. The next morning, it was about 45 minutes flight to Caticlan Island. From there you jump on a little outrigger boat and 20 minutes later you are on Boracay Island.
First, I found all the Philippines we met were very friendly and helpful. Always smiling and saying hello as you pass by. Great service oriented and seemed quite honest in my opinion. I always felt welcomed by everyone we met.
We stayed at Dave’s Straw Hat Inn at station 3. The staff there is all very friendly and make you feel like an old friend right from the start. It sits just inside from the beachfront, which I prefer for a quiet setting. I would highly recommend it. I found most comments in the Trip advisor to be accurate if you want more feedback on Dave’s Straw Hat Inn.
Boracay certainly qualifies as a “paradise island”. It reminds me of Koh Samui Thailand 20 years ago. While today Boracay is still untouched by overdevelopment and commercialism, the signs of increased development are becoming a reality. Those of you who didn’t heed my advice about Koh Samui, be warned now about Boracay. Put off a trip here now, and don’t whine later about how you missed it when it was still untouched.

The island itself is shaped like a dog bone, with White Beach in the middle on one side, and Bacolod Beach on the other side. The ocean is to die for. Perfect temperature, spotless clean beach and clear water. The beach is amazing with its powder coral sand. It is also kept very clean, and they don’t allow smoking, so you won’t find butts lying about. Well not cigarette butts anyway. I think it can best be summed up as a hideaway location for an exotic tropical vacation.
There are numerous dive shops and boat tours available. They tell me the diving is some of the best in the world. I can believe it, but I didn’t do it myself. You also got all the basic beach activities available. A two block walk puts you on the other side of the island on Bacolod beach. Yes?I did say 2 blocks! It’s like a whole new scene there. This is the extreme kite surfing beach with high winds and white tops for launching yourself high in the air. Boracay’s total draw is the beach scene, not much else here that I could recommend.

What’s the bad? If I had one complaint, it would be the food. Philippine food is just plain terrible…period. Luckily there are many other restaurants, whatever suits you’re fancy. This food is ok at best. Fresh fruit shakes seem to be the specialty of Boracay and they are quite good. At least food and drink are very cheap here. Basically eat to get the job done, and get on with enjoying this beautiful island.

When I left, I had a 2 pm flight to Manila. After checking out, you take a moto taxi to the island’s dock. Then catch a short boat ride to Caticlan and finally a shuttle bus to the airport. It takes about 45 minute’s total. When I got to the airport, it was 1 pm where I discovered I left my passport at the resort. I called Dave’s and they not only found my passport, but then rushed it all the way to me in time for my 2 pm flight. They really saved my butt. That is what I call service, these guys rock!

Xiamen living

I have been really busy the past few months, but now I’m back at it. Lot of changes going on with me right now. We opened a new business in Xiamen, so now I’m bedding down in this beautiful city.

If you read my last post on Xiamen, I was really impressed with visiting here a few years back. I mentioned that I would also consider this a pace to live outside Kunming.

So now I have been here for 2 months. So far it just keeps getting better and better everyday! Xiamen Island is quite the pace to see no doubt. To sum it up, Xiamen is like a mini Shanghai. All the “western” amenities are available in this small coastal city.

The first look at this place and you see a squeaky clean city. People take great care to dispose of rubbish. There are trash cans everywhere. Funny how that works! Xiamen has a huge tourist business which they go to great ends to accommodate. There is much to do and see all over this area. You can google further to see these details.

I want to talk about the “western comfort” factor living here. Many people speak English, like Shanghai. I think besides the tourism reason, Xiamen has a noticeably higher educated population. Probably due to it’s famous university located here. Also there is a large amount of affluent people here. I mean big money seems the norm. It is not uncommon to see BMW’s, Benz, Bently, Lamborghini, Ferrari’s, and all manner of exotic new cars all around. Many driven by 20-25 year olds. People dress in the latest fashions and with all the high end name brand shops around, it’s no wonder. There are excellent western restaurants, bars, cafes everywhere. It is very nice to have delicious western food available to choose from. This is a big contrast to Kunming.

Obviously the cost of living here is more than most places. I would compare it to Shanghai in that regard. Housing in the city runs around 20,000 RMB per sq meter. Twice that of Kunming. I got lucky and found a condo on the famous “Coffee Street” facing the beautiful inner city lake. In fact I walk 50 ft from my front door to the shoreline. In a 2 block walk, I pass over 10 specialty coffee cafes and restaurants. I’m in heaven! A ten minute walk brings me to the ocean waterfront lined with incredible outdoor bars featuring live music and great western fare. The even have fresh draft beer in Xiamen! Nothing like sitting, looking out over the ocean with a cold beer. They even know how to make real thin crust pizza here without the silly fruit and vegetable toppings of typical Chinese places. Basically in Xiamen, I no longer need to make my monthly run to Bangkok to eat some decent food. Don’t get me wrong, Kunming has some great food, but I can’t eat Chinese everyday for Gods sake.

So I bought myself another electric moto to get mobile here. I’ve started exploring and will soon learn this city well. However, unlike Kunming, this place is not set up for 2 wheeled devices. In fact they are outlawed here. Most streets have no bike lanes and you are at the mercy of the typical bad Chinese driver. I have to pay a lot more attention driving around this place. Still this moto I got here is amazing. It has four speeds and does 90 kph! Thats smoking for an electric bike. Since Xiamen is a hilly city, it has the power to navigate everywhere with ease.

Xiamen has a beautiful island just across from downtown. A 5 minute ferry ride puts you to Gulangyu Island. Also know as piano island since every residence there has a piano in it. No cars are allowed on the island, and it is a key tour spot visiting Xiamen. The climate here is tropical. Gets boiling hot in the summer and only cool in the winter. Much the same as Thailand. People told me it does get cold here in the winter, but I don’t believe it. I will have to report back on that one. I can’t imagine it gets cold seeing all the tropical vegetation all over. Looks like a jungle environment to me.


I just returned from a visit to Xiamen. This coastal seaside city has got to be the cleanest city in China. Located on the Southeast coast of China in Fujian Province consisting of Xiamen Island, Gulangyu Island, the north bank area of the Jiulong River and Tong’an County. Rich in history and the first free trade zone in mainland China. Xiamen has been called the Egret Island because of the hundreds of thousands of egrets inhabiting there. This is due to the beautiful natural scenery, the fresh air and the clean environment of the city.

The old and new come together in the city beautifully. You can see the Spanish and Portugal influence in the old sections of the city. Water is everywhere. I huge lake sits in the center of the city with parks and fountains. Everything is clean and well cared for.The local food is delicious and is famous for the fresh fish dishes.

There is a lot to see in and around Xiamen.

A few hours drive outside brings you to the Hakka Earthen Castles which fascinate foreign and Chinese tourists, international architects, and even the Pentagon (Reagan and the CIA thought their spy satellites had revealed hundreds of missile silos). Many earthen houses are round. some are over 1,000 years old, and are so aesthetic they appear to have sprung from the very earth itself. Earthen homes are rammed into shape, layer by layer, using a mix of raw earth, sand, lime, glutinous rice, and brown sugar, and reinforced with ‘bones’ of bamboo and wood. Only upper floors have outer windows, and the massive wooden gates are sheathed in iron.

You can do a tour of this area in a day and should not be missed while visiting Xiamen.



I finally got a visit to Phuket after so many trips in Thailand. Me and my wife’s business partner Chris traveled there to connect with the people that operate the Absolute Resort properties. Absolute has 2 resort locations in Patong alone. We stayed at the Villa Resort location. This is a popular destination where she
sends many Chinese tourists. Frank, the GM there and Chris are friends that go way back in the resort vacation business.Patong Beach is the big tourist area on Phuket. Much like Waikiki, only Thai style. It is full of go-go bars and restaurants, with hundreds of little shops selling the typical tourist things.
Everyday was very hot and the ocean beautiful with clear green water. Patong is a nonstop entertainment venue and without a doubt, the most expensive place in Thailand. Day 2, our host Frank, takes us out on his Absolute Resort speed boat for a tour of the islands. We spent the day swimming and cruising around the beautiful islands. Some 15 or so girls from Absolute, me, Chris, and Frank, spent the day seeing the sights. All in all it was good fun. We were well taken care of and I finally got a good look around the Phuket area.

I could not see any signs of the terrible devastation from the tsunami just 2 years before. I included a pic of the Absolute’s lobby after the tsunami hit. The only evidence I could see now was the Tsunami warning sirens all over the island and emergency evacuation route signs on the streets.

Phuket is a place you should visit when touring Thailand. But as with any major tourist destination, be very careful of petty crime. There is plenty about this area. The best way to get around is to rent a motorcycle and explore the many features of Phuket. This can also be dangerous and you should always pay attention to everything around you while driving. Many people are hurt on bikes everyday. The roads can be sandy, and traffic is on the crazy side. Also don’t forget you drive on the left side of the road here. But if you are up for one, it will cost you about $4.50 a day rental. It is about the best bargin you will find here.

All in all, I found Koh Samui more to my liking as it is not quite so developed as Phuket. And hey, Absolute even has properties there as well! If you go, check out the Absolute property. You can even invest in your own private suite and really live well for a whole lot less. Then you have a good excuse to come to beautiful Thailand every year! Tell Frank Jack sent ya!

Christmas in Sanya


Merry Christmas everyone! I enjoyed my holiday in the South China sea island of Hainan. This town is called Sanya and is considered the Hawaii of the far east. The weather here is in the 70’s and sunny. I did have a few days of cloudy skies, but it is still warm. The sea is cool but you can swim. Beautiful beaches and good food abounds.
I stayed at two different resorts. The Catus Resort and the Sanya Shanhaitian Hotel are 5 start resorts. There is a lot to see around the island, although I opted for a relaxed venue and enjoyed going to the beach and eating. I guess things are expensive for Chinese standards, but still reasonable considering. They just had the Miss World competition here on Dec 10th. All in all I think the Hawaii refrence is over rated, but still this is a very nice place to visit. Many things come form this island. They grow coffee, pepper (table), cocoa, coconuts, rubber seem to be the main exports from here.
Walking down the beach, I was confronted by a Chinese military dude with a big dog. He seemed nervous and excited as he told me to turn around and go back. Apparently this part of the beach was “military” and I was not welcome there. I later found out this was where the US fighter plane was damaged and forced to land last year by the mid air collision with a Chinese fighter plane.
You can see some of my pictures from here to get an idea of Sanya. THe Chinese love their fireworks and I was surprised to be able to buy 8″ shells to launch form the beach! They cost about $4.50 each. I just watched as a barrage of these shells were launched all night Christmas eve. I can’t believe you can play with this stuff.
The Chinese go on the beach wearing suits and ties. SOme actually wear bathing suits and swim, but most try to stay out of the sun and just walk around. It is funny to see them in suits and barefoot walking around.