By: Maria Dubrovskaya, artist and kitesurfer
Before visiting the Philippines for the first time, I spent 5 and a half years traveling Asia. I left Russia in 2007, thinking that I’d spend all my money on my 6-month journey through India, Mongolia, China, Tibet, and Nepal, then return home.
But after a few months in India, I realized that I could keep working as a designer by freelancing online. It sustained me enough to continue traveling and living in Asia. Within the span of three years (2007-2010), my then-boyfriend and I lived across three countries (India, Thailand, and Indonesia) and visited a few more.
By this time we had our own stand-alone blog about our travels called traveliving.org. The blog allowed us to promote our special lifestyle to other travelers, to stay in a place of our choice for at least a month, renting a local room or house, and enjoying the simple local life while making new friends and earning a meager income from ads.
We spent up to 6 months in some places. That is the better way to dive into a different culture and widen your horizons rather than jumping quickly from one tourist attraction to another. Our blog was quite popular in Russia, so Russian backpackers began to recognize us even on streets in Asian cities.
In 2010 we decided to visit the Philippines, to see if we could find a new place for next 4 months and describe our new life in our blog. We spent our first month in Sagada, and 3 months after we found ourselves in El Nido. We liked the country a lot, moved to Dumaguete, and spent a year there with a new dog and our heads full of ideas for personal projects.I worked on my handmade art, which I sold online; but began looking for a new hobby that would keep me physically active. I found the perfect sport in Boracay – kitesurfing.
In 2012 right before Christmas, I moved to this beautiful island; by February 2013 I learned to kitesurf and since then spent every windy season from October to March in Boracay. During the rest of the year, I like to either spend my time in other countries chasing the wind (Sri Lanka, Turkey), or work hard on my art and crafts in Bali which I found inspiring for my creative side. I can tell a lot about Bali and it’s unique culture, there is no better place that lets me express myself through my art more than this island. But Boracay is my base and home away from home for at least 6 months of the year.
I don’t update my travel blog anymore and barely visit new places, but I believe that between these two tropical islands I’ve found a perfect balance for my life, my soul, and body. At least for a while.
Boracay for me has a unique concentration of interesting people from all over the world, and it is the best kite spot in Asia. I can’t imagine any other place like Boracay with such strong wind, beautiful turquoise water, and powdery white sand. Boracay also has a vibrant social scene and nightlife, and such a positive vibe.
A small, intimate, but very friendly Boracay community is the main thing I miss when I’m out of the island. Also, most of the kitesurfers and divers keep coming back every season. I’ve never visited Europe and Americas yet, but I already have many good friends from more than 20 countries. I dream that one day I could start a long road kitesurf trip and visit my friends in every country, knowing that in each place I have a warm corner to sleep, talk of old memories while making new ones.
The island has some “dark sides” though as there are unpredictable blackouts and the polluted water of Bulabog lagoon, but the local community is working hard to solve these problems. Me and my friends used to collect plastic waste whenever we go to the beach. I believe that if at least a half of us will do that, Boracay’s beaches will always stay clean.