After my devastating injury during the descent of Mt. Bulusan, I had to rest for a few days and also go see an orthopaedic specialist twice. The transportation to that doctor took long and I spent almost a day going and coming back. I was getting annoyed and frustrated having to spend so much time in hot, overcrowded jeepneys and minivans. Despite knowing that some more rest probably would be best for me, I just wanted to get moving again. Our plan was to head for an rather unknown tropical getaway named Biri Island. Glenda, who had been our host for the last few days, decided to join us, adding a female component to our group for the first time. An interesting start for an eventful trip.
Banka ride to Biri Island
In the morning we boarded a tricycle to get to the pier where we would board a banka (local boat) which Glenda had arranged the night before. It would take us directly to Biri, saving us a massive amount of time and some more jeepney and minivan rides. Having a last look over to Mt. Bulusan, we loaded the banka and cheeringly took off with some fun and lazy days ahead of us. For Chris, Dolf and I it was the first banka ride ever. With the sun warming us, the sea not too rough and the wind blowing gently into our faces, we enjoyed every bit of it.
Villa Amor – a paradiscal place in paradise
After about 2,5 hours we arrived at our resort, The Villa Amor. The place looked great and as we found out later, it had just been built. It featured a few terraces and a nice palm garden with amazing views into the bay and over to Mt. Bulusan. Walking around the villa, it quickly became apparent that someone had invested a lot of attention to the detail. The place was great and even better was the fact, that we were the only guests that day. We basically owned this little gem in paradise. Soon after our arrival we met Peter from Australia, the owner or better investor of Villa Amor. He was very kind and gave us some good info on what to do on the island. At this point we didn’t know that we would spend quiet a bit of time with Peter.
The next day Chris went for a couple of dives with Ralph, a guy from Seattle who owns a house on the island and regularly spends a good amount of time there together with his daughter and Filipino wife. In the meantime Glenda, Dolf and I were adhering to the tropical lifestyle. The villa featured a rooftop terrace, covered with artificial lawn and a mushroom like sunshade on it. A cool breeze was blowing from the sea and the view from up there was spectacular. The spot became our new happy place. We spend the day reading, napping and chatting and time just flew by.
Later that day, Peter from Australia invited us into his bar to have a few beers with him and some other Westerners living on the island. It was interesting to get to know them and hear their stories about how they landed on the island. We ended the day with a beautiful sunset and the feeling, that we have discovered a very special place.
Exploring the Biri Island Rock Formations
An early motorbike trip the next morning took us to the extraordinary rock formations the island has to offer. A long wooden bridge led us through the mangroves to the Bel-At rock formation. The scenery was bizarre with rock formations looking like huge waves and others appearing to have been carved out by the ocean for centuries. I also would have liked to see the other formations the island offers, but those were supposedly to difficult to walk with my injured ankle.
The Cliffs and a Night to Remember
Until the afternoon we spent the day relaxing underneath our beloved mushroom catching up on some well needed sleep. Once again it was hard to believe that we had a beautiful place like that all for ourselves. In Europe a paradisical spot like that would have been way overcrowded.
Later that day Peter wanted to show us the tip of the island featuring some great views from atop a rock cliff. The walk took us along a beautiful beach lined with coconut trees. After a bend, we went up through the lush green forest and shortly after made it to the cliffs. The views from up there were stunning. Before taking some nice snapshots, we all sat down for a bit and just took in the serene atmosphere. It was a beautiful place on an already more than beautiful island.
Our last night we spent on the rooftop terrace, enjoying one of the best sunsets we had in a while. Peter brought up some cold sundowners and Ralph, who had kindly hosted us the night before, joined us as well. That evening we spent just gazing out to ocean, enjoying the bright and constantly changing colors of the sunset and exchanging stories from the recent and not so recent past. It was a night to remember with great people and I was already regretting having to leave this paradise the next day.
Last thoughts …
Despite the beautiful vistas, the amazing scenery and the most relaxed atmosphere this island had to offer, the impression that struck me most was once again about the people we have met. No locals this time but people like Peter and Ralph who had come to Biri in the 90s, finding a different lifestyle for themselves and making their dreams come true. It was inspiring to see what you can make of life if you just think outside of the box. These guys had it all and seemed to be very happy with what they have achieved. And all of that aloof the standard 9 to 5 scheme that everyone at home seems to be striving for. Meeting these guys was a definite inspiration and an eye opener. Thank you for that, guys!