Tag beach


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.


1 hour flight out of Shenzhen brings you to Wuyishan City, Fujian Province. Famous for its natural conservation of a large number of ancient plant species, wild animals and reptiles, many of which are peculiar to China.The Bohea and the Oolong teas are grown in this region as well. Unforunatly for us southern China has been hit by continuous heavy rain so that some attractions and scenic areas are not available to tour or access.

Wuyishan Scenic Area, once trapped thousands of tourists, is now closed temporarily. So we head off about 1 hours drive to the village of He Ping. He Ping itself is one of the oldest communities in northern Fujian. While other towns its age or older have been partially restored, this town has remained basically untouched. The town dates from the Tang Dynasty (AD618-907) when it was a simple rice farming town. The name Heping is made up of two Chinese characters which mean ‘Rice Plain’. The village itself dates well beyond that. One of Chinas oldest Classical Learning Academy’s was first opened in Heping in AD926 during the Tang Dynasty by government official named Huang Qiao. Walking around here is like a trip back in time.Because of the weather, it was empty except for a few villagers. I enjoyed being the sole visiter here in this quiet village. You can almost imagine living in another time.

After a few days we returned to Shenzhen for a look see. We booked into the Shangri-La Hotel. Truly a world class operation. One of the pics show a TV shot. In the room I saw my old friend General Li on the national TV channel. How cool!
The weather being so wet, our time was spent doing a little shopping. And what is Shenzhen famous for? Clothes and electronics. In fact it is the largest electronics shopping center in Asia. Hong Kong gets all it’s products from here! This is home to the Apple iPhone. In fact, most everything is made here. There is a street downtown lined with mega malls that are nothing but computer, phones, and anything electronic. I bought a few things that you can preview in the pictures and also on my gadgets page. Prices for clothes and electronics are extremely low. I was in heaven.

Shenzhen is a new modern city 30 minutes from Hong Kong. What was a tiny fishing village on the border of Hong Kong in 1970 is now a buzzing metropolis of over eight million people! Already containing 20 buildings at over 200 meters tall, including the Shun Hing Square (the 8th tallest building in the world). A 2010 study conducted by Forbes magazine ranks Shenzhen’s population density as the 5th highest in the world. In 2006, the Dapeng Peninsula, the location of Shenzhen’s best beaches, was nominated by the China National Geographic Magazine as one of the most beautiful coastlines in China. We plan to return in the near future for a closer look at this city and make a jump into Maccau as well.

Finally we spent a few nights in Guanzhou. I didn’t care for this city. It is huge, noisy, and dirty. Besides great food and the tallest TV tower in the world, I can’t say much about this place. I reconize it does hold an historical value, but frankly I didn’t see much reason to spend any time here. Still, the Chinchilla for sale there was cute…..



Let’s break it down….. yes it’s green and long (very big anyway) and the mile part is the name of the town. Actually pronounced Mi-Ler. This little place is about 1.5 hrs drive from Kunming, in the area of the stone forest. The Honghe cigarette factory is located here, and certainly owns and operates this town’s very existence. In the middle of nowhere stands ultra modern buildings, a 495 acre man made ecological lake preserve filled with clean clear spring water. Their showcase piece is the Huquan Resort and Spa smack dab in the middle of this preserve. Lagoons, sandy beach fronts, natural hot springs, and water activities showcase this resort complex. The resort is “set” in water so from your room it is as if you are virtually living in the lake. This 5 star complex is about as lavish as it gets. The hotel is divided into 3 sections, each one boasting a little different architecture. We stayed in the B section which is the middle priced area and the one we liked even better than the A section. Our room with breakfast buffet was $40 a night. You couldn’t touch a place like this anywhere else for under $300. Check out the pictures for yourself. I was blown away when I awoke before sunrise and sat on my balcony looking towards the mountains. As the sun was rising, the moon was setting over the mountains. I felt I could reach out and touch it! Talk about the perfect getaway to get your mind and body realigned!  This is one of those “you got to be a local Kunming dude” to know this place even exists. In hindsight, I should probably keep this a secret.

update 3/14/09……..

I just returned from Mile (again) and this time stayed in the “A” building. Helen’s mom and dad invited us to enjoy time with them to show their appreciation to us for our help sending Helen to the USA. She will  travel to the USA next week to attend the university.  They would not allow us to pay for anything! I won’t forget the wonderful time we had, nor how gracious they were to us. I am finding so many dear friends living in this wonderful country.

We stayed in the “A” building which is the VIP section of this resort. Every detail of this resort is first class. There are very few places where you can say that nothing can be improved upon. This is definitely one of them. No doubt we will be making this one of our regular hangouts.

update 5/21/09

I just returned from Mile again. This time I discovered that the Yunnan Red Winery is located about 15km south of Mile. This is a must do while in Mile. Very interesting and you have the place almost all to yourself. I met the Marketing manager and his wife there. We spent several hours visiting with them and drinking lots of  delicious wines. Some which are not available except at the winery. I ended up buying 1000 RMB of wine and stumbled back to my beautiful room at the resort. As a sidenote, the room rates are going up, which is of no surprise. My room in the B section is now 340 RMB, up from 270 RMB. Still a bargin.