Well, the last week of my life has been absolutely ridiculous. If you follow me on Facebook and Instagram, you would’ve seen that I drove from Brisbane up to Agnes Water with two of my best friends, Ellie and Claire. We try to get away once a year for some girl time and this year we took off to the beach. While we were there I got an email from the guys at Air Asia inviting me to come on a famil to Boracay in the Philippines.
Reading the email, it said we’d be meeting up on 7th October… I looked at the date on my phone and saw the date was 2nd October… which meant I’d be in the Philippines in 5 days time. People often ask me what it’s like being a full-time travel blogger, well, this is what it’s like. You can be in one part of the world then get an email and suddenly realise in a few days time you’ll be somewhere you absolutely did not expect to be. It’s a bit crazy and really, really wonderful.
I called Matt and we quickly made plans to get everything organised in time, including asking our neighbours to feed our cat while we were away. Before we knew it, we were somehow packed, organised and ready to go… boarding a plane from the Gold Coast to meet up with Ashman from Air Asia and five other media peeps in Kuala Lumpur, before boarding our flight to Kalibo.
If you haven’t worked in this industry before, you may be wondering what a famil is. It’s the shortened name for a media familiarisation. Trips like these are organised by the company when they want to showcase something they think is really great. They gather people from the travel industry, like travel bloggers, instagrammers or youtubers, media from magazines, newspapers and online publications, then take you to the really great place and let you experience it for yourself.
For me, this kind of thing is what my life is all about. Being able to see new places and create these amazing travel memories is why I left my job and why Matt left his too. Not being bound by our office jobs means we are able to say yes to a trip overseas in a few days time, which is the freedom we’ve always craved. I don’t care how much stuff I own or how much money I have, all I want to do is see as much of the world as I can and Little Grey Box is helping me do that… it’s pretty amazing and I’m so grateful.
We met Ashman and our small group at the airport, including Ida, Athirah, Ernest and Kaihrul who are all from Malaysia. Everyone was really lovely and made both Matt and I feel so welcome, we all got along like old friends and everyone was easy to talk to and share with, which made the whole trip even more enjoyable. It felt like we were on the trip with friends.
I don’t want to spoil too much for you, because I’ll be writing a whole bunch of written content about Boracay and our trip in the coming weeks and Matt will be making a video too, but it was one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been.
I’ve seen some pretty spectacular beaches in my time, but Boracay really took the cake. At the end of this year I’m going to be choosing some of my favourites from this year and you can expect to see Boracay in the mix, it was seriously awesome. I hadn’t really heard of the place before and was a little nervous about visiting the Philippines as I’d heard a few horror stories about people being robbed or hurt, but we never had any experiences that were remotely scary.
The thing I took away from Boracay the most, aside from its beauty, was how wonderful the people are. Every single local we met was so kind, welcoming, genuine and caring. The service is unlike anything else. From the hotel to restaurants, shops and everywhere else, each person we met was attentive and genuine without being pushy or over the top.
If you’ve ever been to Bali you’ll know what it’s like to walk along the street and have people yell out to you and grab you and harass you to buy stuff. I was used to that, so had a bit of a guard up when we got to the touristy areas of Boracay. When the locals would ask us if we wanted to eat at their restaurant, take a tour or look at their shop, I would flat out ignore them. After a day I started responding, looking them in the eye, smiling and saying ‘no thanks’, and they were totally fine with it! No pushy-ness, no yelling or grabbing, they’d just smile back and say ‘ok’ and leave us alone.
The whole place had a really peaceful vibe to it, which made it really easy to relax and unwind. I loved that we weren’t followed or harassed by vendors. Just smile and say ‘No, thank you’ and you’re done. I mean, tourism is how they make their living so they have to be pro-active and ask you, which is understandable. It’s just lovely that they’re respectful enough to move on once you say no.
We saw some really beautiful places on our trip and got to experience some things that I just cannot wait to share with you in my guides. I really hope our trip and what we share inspires and informs some of you to put Boracay on your travel bucket list… we had the most wonderful time and easily could have stayed there for another week or two.
I just want to say a really big thank you to Ashman and Air Asia for taking us on the trip, as well as Huey and the team at Hennan Lagoon Resort where we stayed, we had an incredible time and really appreciate your generosity in reaching out to us to be part of this amazing week.
I also want to say thank you to the wonderful people we met on our trip. If you’d like to see their photos, just get on Instagram and check out the #vacaywithairasia hashtag. You can also see all of my photos on Instagram and Facebook.
I’ll be sharing LOADS more photos this week on Instagram and Facebook, as well as heaps of written guides, reviews and information AND a video, so you can plan your own trip to Boracay and discover this beautiful place for yourself. Stay tuned, LGB homies.
Phoebe Lee is a writer, award-winning blogger and travel lover sharing helpful travel tips, insight and reviews for regular people. Follow her adventures at home and around the world, right here on Little Grey Box and on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.