Every once in while you find a place a little off the tourist radar. Bantayan Island is one such place.
I have traveled around a lot in the Philippines and have been to some pretty neat places but when I decided to visit Bantayan Island I could not have known that I would chance upon a place of such serenity.
There isn’t much here. Not a lot of tourists, no malls, no people asking you to buy condos or discos blaring dance music. There are only a couple of towns worth any size on the island, one being Bantayan town and the other Sante Fe. Bantayan city has the only ATM where foreign transactions are allowed and they only take a Visa card. They have a nice market, a fabulous old church with lots of history, a few local restaurants and a couple of cock fighting arenas. I experienced my first cock fight in Bantayan and will post more on that later.
What you won’t find are McDonalds, Jollibee, Dunkin Donuts or any other fast food joint. However the people are some of the friendliest I have ever encountered. The Philippines in general is very hospitable but the people on Bantayan Island seem to be more friendly than most. And this a place where you can experience true island life.
Compared to Filipino standards I am a bug dude and stand tall at 6'1" and sometimes stand out and get a lot of looks when I am here. I get stares when I walk down the streets in Manila or anywhere else. On Bantayan island there are a lot of tricycle drivers, the non-motorized kind. So imagine their concern when I squeeze my big ass into a trike and tell them to peddle me to town. They sweat their ass off and I get lots of looks and giggles along the way. I also get people waving and saying hello and greeting me everywhere I go.
At least 4 times while walking around I have been asked to sit and have a drink. I walked past an older woman picking up coconuts in her yard the other day and when I waved she dropped everything, smiled and waved back. Little kids say hello and so far wit