Travelling tittle-tattle, tall tales and shameless name-dropping by Jon ‘Don’t Call Me’ Norman

About Me

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

The Spider House - A Review!

If you are the type of person who likes being woken in the middle of the night by an upper-middle class 30-something woman in the room next door chastising her partner then the Spider House resort in Boracay is the place for you.

"Oh for fucks sake Simon! Don't climb in that SIDE!!!!!"

If you are the kind of holidaymaker who enjoys listening to Russian couples complaining about their wet luggage after leaving it out in the rain then look no further than the Spider House resort in Boracay.

"This room. Not good. Tomorrow we leave."

But if you are the sort who cannot abide falling asleep to the sound of waves crashing over rocks beneath your room, detests views such as this and who hates sleeping in a treehouse then I would steer well clear.



For our wedding anniversary Fe and I spent four days on an island in the Phillipines called Boracay. Considering I hadn't actually known of its existence three days previously it meant at times I found it slightly surreal to peer out over such wondrous landscape. I'd been expecting to spend two weeks in a typical built up Asian city. Now I was lolling around sipping freshly made mango juice by the Philippine Sea watching clouds roll across the sky. It was at times too much to take in.

The first I had known about our trip came on my first morning in Macau. Following my 12 hour flight I had been woken in the morning by a distraught Fe who was pointing at strange weather symbols on her laptop.

Confused, I wiped the sleep from my eyes to be told a holiday had been secretly booked. However Fe had just seen the weather forecast where thunder, lightening and rain featured heavily. It was quite a lot to take in. Joy and surprise entwined with disappointment; all delivered seconds after waking up at what was 2am UK time.

I spent the next day studying the weather maps while Fe asked advice from Filipino work mates. They assured her that the weather was so changeable we should risk it. Also, that even when it rains it's still warm. This advice backed up my own findings. The day we were due to land forecast rain, cloud, wind, lightning and sun. Now that I had to see.


The other bit of research I undertook was into the airline we were flying with. I had to get my head around four new flights that I hadn't contended with. A quick scan of Cebu Pacific Air's Wikipedia page allayed my fears that we were flying with a tinpot outfit. A new fleet, decent safety record and the planes were a nice, bright yellow colour. I was starting to relax right up until the last section which told me that no Filipino airline was allowed anywhere near EU airspace due to serious safety deficiencies. Ulp.

I decided there was little point telling Fe about my findings. Nor the fact that four aeroplanes had either under or overshot the runway we were flying into over the past five years. Hell, nobody had died. And what were we going to do. Cancel our holiday? Nah, I figured. It was far better to keep this bit of stress to myself.

And in the end the journey, as it usually is, was without incident. The only annoyance a four hour wait at Manilla airport before a 5.30am flight to Caticlan. Thankfully we neither under or overshot the runway and despite drops of rain greeting us we boarded our next two modes of transport in good spirits.



It was 7am when we arrived at the Spider House and our hosts seemed surprised to see us. Not because we were early rather that we were late. They had expected us the day before. But after a worrying three-way exchange of glances the situation was quickly resolved. And with diazepam still coursing through my veins I chilled out in the communal area as our room was readied. We both sat down and tried to get our heads around the fact we were going to be living in a bamboo tree house for the next few days.


Before we had left Macau we agreed to accept whatever weather was thrown at us. And we proved to be good to our word. We had learned the lesson from our wedding. Indeed it seemed almost poetic that a year after two cyclones descended on our wedding day they should re-emerge for our anniversary. But as it was the worst of the rain was to hit that afternoon while we caught up on our sleep. Then through our last night when two Russians failed to heed the warnings of the Spider House owner about their luggage.

However I couldn't help but be excited when I awoke the next morning to beautiful sunshine and a breathtaking view across the bay to Diniwid Beach. Normally if given the chance I'll happily spend an entire morning in bed. But in these surroundings I woke early. I think in part it was the happiness of being on holiday and wanting to enjoy the day. But mainly it was due to the fact our room didn't have any bloody windows. The sound of Filipino boats zipping around is pleasant but noisy.


Somewhat embarrassingly we then proceeded to both get sunburnt. So relieved to get some sun and fooled by the sporadic cloud cover we failed to put on any suntan cream and were thankful for a cooler afternoon. Which was spent walking up and down the neighbouring White Beach. A beach far busier than the one we were staying near. It even has a Starbucks. The horror of which needs no comment from me. I'm more of a Costa man.

Considering we had both been working six days a week for the past two months we set ourselves the target of doing as little as possible and this was achieved fairly easily. Our only exertions were daily massages (£6 an hour), dips in the sea (free) and happy hour drinks (£3 for two). We were both more than happy to chill out on our balcony, catch up with some reading and pop downstairs every now and again for a drink.


And this is where the Spider House really came into its own. For there was no real reason to have to leave. If we wanted a swim then we used the ladder from the communal area straight down to the sea. It was actually easier to jump in the water than use the shower.

The food was cheap, tasty and prepared by friendly local staff. The owner was on hand to help with any tourist information. Families, couples and experienced travelers mixed happily. The sound system played a mixture of reggae, dance and 60's music to create a pleasant ambience. Then every now and again a flushed in the face tourist would just turn up unannounced, sit down and have a drink before disappearing off again.

Amusing exchanges would also crop up every now and again to keep me entertained. Like the middle-aged couple who turned up one morning with their awkward teenage daughter. The two women sat down, red in the face after an early morning walk. The overweight man approached the bar.

Man: You are serving?
Owner: Yes. What are you having?
Man: Two cokes and a beer.
Owner: A beer? It's nine thirty in the morning! (PAUSE) You must be Russian, right?
Man: (PROUDLY) Yes!

Concerns the Spider House was so called because it was overrun by huge and hairy arachnids also turned out to be inaccurate. While mosquitos were a problem at sunset the only creatures we encountered were bats snapping away at the insects at dusk. And the sound of the geckos scampering around the walls. It turned out that the only real drawback was the close proximity to guests with loud voices.

The only dangerous thing about our stay was the lift to the restaurant next door. It was ridiculous. Apart from the extreme juddering it wasn't so bad on the way up. But on the way down we soon found out why the lift operator warned us before we began our descent. We had feared the ride was going to be bad when during our meal we heard a woman let out a blood curdling scream. Thankfully by the time our turn came round we'd shared a bottle of wine to fortify our courage.. Okay, my courage.

Ultimately our Spider House experience was one worth writing about. After a hiatus of nearly a year it gave me the inspiration to get this 'blog up and running again. I'm not sure if this is anything to celebrate. But it does feel good to be writing. And with a few ideas in the pipeline for 2012 it could be a good time to start up again. Relaxed and rejuvenated thanks to a few days in a tree house. Who'd have thought that two weeks ago?