El Nido Diaries: Day 4; Heading back to Puerto Princesa and more misadventures

The Misadventure Log

Inasmuch as I wanted to spend the last day in El Nido town proper, the six-hour travel back to Puerto Princesa for my flight back to Manila was a big, big, big deal breaker. This wasn’t in my plans, actually. But I tried to be smart and before the weather got any worse, I hopped on a van back to the city. A bumpy, cramped, and sleepless van ride ensued. I was starting to feel the fatigue as well (and boredom because the only entertainment that I brought with me was busted.)

Then we arrived in Puerto at around midnight. I cannot think of any other adjective but cramped and sleepless again, I hopped on a tricycle and asked him to lead me to the cheapest pension house, which are all booked btw. So I settled for a slightly pricier one (considering that I have a lot of things to get repaired. Ugh.)

The next day, I ran out of smokes and it took me an hour to find one. And Mcdo ran out of coffee. Took me another hour to find decent coffee. And I guess I was really having a really bad case of a bad day. On my last day in Palawan.

Told ya misadventures all throughout the trip.

But I did leave happy :3

So I guess before I ruin my mood for El Nido and Palawan in its entirety (hahaha) Here’s a few photos that I still have left unposted on my blog:

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DSC_0075Hmmmmm when to be back?

More El Nido? Here are Days 1, 2, and 3!

El Nido Diaries: Day 3; Roaming Around Town

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I have less than a day to stay in El Nido so I wanted to make the most out of my stay. It was still rainy (not seen in pictures because, if you can remember, I broke my camera and phone on Day 1) but still what I can say about the rain in El Nido — it does not lessen the beauty the little town has. People are still out and about. I’m even surprised Art Cafe was almost full!

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Yes, without the island hopping and other fun activities you can do in the islands, El Nido is pretty much boring. B U U U U U U T , I’ve come to appreciate the quiet in the town. In the mornings you can just walk along the beach, grab breakfast, stare at the beautiful, beautiful limestone cliffs. If you have a book, you may just sit anywhere and read. This dog (below) accompanied me while I ate breakfast at a nearby beachfront resort which I heard is a good choice to stay at, too. The day passed by really really slow and I really appreciated the town even more.

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If maybe I stayed a bit longer in the town, I would’ve hanged out more in Spider, where I stayed at there. The people managing the place were nice, and I’ve really had good conversations with them. I’m known to be really picky with my coffee but instant coffee can’t do this town any bad. It makes everything right, even.

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Or yes maybe, get my second tattoo. I still haven’t decided yet what to get. One day… and I hope it’ll be while facing the majestic limestones of El Nido.

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It’s such a shame, that I only got to spend only a short amount of time (with little amount of photos, too!) I wish I’ll be back soon. Maybe alone again, even for the second time around. I’d really like to meet more people, and get to know more locals – and yes hang out with myself some more. After this, I haven’t been more comfortable being left alone with myself than I used to.

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If there’s something the cliffs, the clear waters, and the misadventures taught me – it’s the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I am thrilled to go on a trip alone, but I never thought I don’t necessarily need to be lonely.

***

The Stranger Log:

  1. As I said, the weather wasn’t any better. Luckily, I brought with me an umbrella to at least walk to Art Cafe – a massive institution in El Nido. They really had nice breakfast sets, and I also learned that they grow their own crops. How cool is that? They also sell postcards, so it was kind of a one-stop shop for me. After my quick postcard-shopping, I sat down and smoked when this equally bored Dutch woman named Milou and I started having a conversation. I think it started with – how I really looked like her Indonesian father when he was young. This isn’t the first time I was mistaken for an Indonesian and wow even in my own country, eh? Then, I think a couple of hours later we were talking about her hometown, her friends back there, and a lot of things, really. I didn’t even thought I’d still meet anyone here anymore. 
  2. I did quite a hike after mailing the postcards in the Post Office. I reached a place called Hilltop and it was literally a restaurant on top of a hill! Since it was raining though, there weren’t much people. Luckily, Laurice and Leobi was this couple who were on a pitstop before they head to the falls in the town’s outskirts. Leobi lives in Paris (!!!!!!!) and was on her yearly vacation here in the Philippines. Laurice on the other hand is this girl who hails from Batanes (another !!!!!!!!!). I really had fun listening to their stories!

***

God, why do I even need to leave this wonderful place...

More El Nido: Day 1, Day 2

El Nido Diaries: Day 2

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My solo adventure continues after a day of fun and misadventures in the little town of El Nido, Palawan.

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The good weather the day before¬†was nowhere in sight. Instead, I was woken up by a storm-ish wind and rain combo that literally drew all the waves (and everything with it) to the shore. I was convinced that my plans for the day will be canned so I just took it easy and drank my coffee. I brought out my reads because the rain was stopping to bother me and decided that it is indeed a day to chill when the tour guide went up my hostel and asked me if I’m joining the tour group.

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Of course, my first question was if it was safe. I mean, by golly, the weather is just starting to be fine and we always never know with our weather here in the country. The tour guy told me that yes it was safe, and they’re very capable of protecting us (WOW MAN VS. NATURE EP IF EVER). After 30 seconds (I really didn’t have that much time to think), I lowered my guards and YOLO-ed this thing. I mean, what will be the worst thing I can experience here, like being stuck in the middle of the ocean, pheeeeesh. HAHAHA. (You can read straight below if you really wanna know what happened :P)

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So the agenda for the day was to see the beautiful lagoons aka Tour A:

  • Small Lagoon
  • Big Lagoon
  • Secret Lagoon
  • Simizu Island
  • Entalula Island
  • 7 Commando

The highlight of any El Nido trip I think will be the lagoons. Beautiful natural waterworks enclosed in limestone cliffs in an ecology weathered by time and tempest. But I am deeply sorry as I have no photos to show you as my misadventure the day before rendered me camera-less for the days to come.

Nevertheless, I’ll try to describe them in the best I can. The real highlight was the lagoons – both small and big. Though a word of caution — the depths in the small lagoon are treacherous. I know how to swim but I was really surprised when it was all of a sudden deep, I almost drowned ūüôĀ But the sights were endlessly romantic. The small lagoon looked like a secret cove for lovers – you have to swim through a hole, formed between converging limestone formations. As always, the view is stunning and it sticks to your head. When I close my eyes I can still see those beauties. The big lagoon is a massive waterway with a funnel in the middle, which I heard is a habitat for vegetarian sharks (interesting!) but I didn’t bother to swim through. Scaaaaared!

We didn’t go through Secret Lagoon though, which is very sad since we didn’t do Secret Beach the day before (awwww no secrets at all for this trip!) as the weather was pretty not in our favor. But the beach in 7 Commando Beach¬†was a perfect ending as we just rode waves as it tossed us back to the shore. Imho, those are one of the biggest waves I’ve seen (Don’t judge, I really haven’t surfed or met any big waves in my life hahaha.)

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The Misadventure Log:

The misadventures didn’t really stop on Day 1, so here’s a log of my happy (though I can do away with, really) misadventures. I tell you, they were YOLO material.¬†

  1. So the day really started with a really, really bad weather and I wasn’t expecting to tour. But my YOLO self just wanted to make the most out of my time even though it just literally stormed. My logic was down and I joined the tour group even though it seems a bad plan. We were in the small lagoon when it started getting REALLY gloomy. Like it looked (and sounded) like the heavens were angry for anyone pushing through the tour. Midway swimming back to the boat it was zero visibility. In the middle of the ocean.
  2. I was really like, “Aww, the weather’s gonna get better,” but that was me trying to console myself for my¬†bad decision. We stayed for a while when the winds had gotten stronger and rain even blocking our views. The limestone mountains could no longer be seen and we were literally stuck in the ocean’s belly.
  3. We can’t be stuck anywhere, since to begin with we were on a tour. It was so cold and I was actually scared of dying. I needed to calm down so it was a grateful moment when I smelled cigarette smoke and somebody brought pack loads of ’em. Don’t worry as we disposed of the butts really carefully ūüėõ
  4. All the time we were in the boat it was really cold, and I have my towel only with me. There came a point that I want to regret everything but hey, those views really saved me the whole trip. There is a reason why I am in El Nido and YOLO-ing. 

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The Stranger Log:

  1. I met three girls who work at the same area in Manila that I do — Anjo, Roma, and Heidi — and like the day before they agreed on having dinner together! It was nice that I met and hanged out with some Filipinos as well (though I really didn’t expect anybody from my home country to be just spontaneous like that.) They even invited me over the place they’re renting… such nice people!
  2. Some of the people in the tour group the day before were still in this group… I just didn’t get to hang with them a lot, since y’know we’re really busy keeping warm.

El Nido Diaries: Day 1

When I arrived at El Nido, it was already dark. I just came from a six-hour bumpy road trip and I was damn tired. So I just kind of surveyed the area, had a couple of beers and went to sleep. I needed to wake up early anyway for the tour tomorrow.

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And this view woke me up! It was intensely calming and exciting to see in the morning. The sound of the waves with the limestone cliffs and the happy clouds as its backdrop. Everything was perfect. Even if there’s no electricity in the town, everything just seemed to be running so slow, unlike in the fast, racy city that I am so used to.

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So I walked around again to find where I can eat breakfast. I also told the people in my hostel that I’ll be back quickly for the tour. People are nice everywhere here (at least that’s what I observed.) They even offered to text me when the boat’s near already. I was having a very slow and calm yet energizing morning.

IMG_5067This dog kept me company while I eat.

IMG_5068Spider Hostel is also a bar at night and a tattoo parlour. This is where I stayed mostly.

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Around 9am, Ate Daday (the motherly tour operator) called me out because the boat was¬†about to leave. She gave me my waterproof bag and snorkel set, and we’re off to see the islands and beaches. That day, we were about to take Tour C.

IMG_5070This is called Helicopter Island. Notice the shape?

IMG_5071Everywhere we go, the water was just so clear and pristine.

IMG_5072Plus the limestone cliffs were a tireless backdrop to the sea. They frame the islands so well!

IMG_5073I didn’t get her name, but she’s also traveling solo. And she had a bad tummy while sailing.

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So for Tour C, we would see the following islands/beaches:

Hidden Beach
Secret Beach*
Matinloc Island
Helicopter Island
Tapuitan Island
Cadlao Lagoon

We weren’t able to go to Secret Beach though because of the weather. It was post-Typhoon Glenda and Henry was just around so the coastal guards didn’t allow the trips. I heard though that Secret Beach really looks amazing. Well, they all look amazing!

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IMG_5077This looks like somewhere filmed in The Beach starring Leonardo di Caprio (dreamyyyyyy)

IMG_5078Cue: Pure Shores by  All Saints

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We set¬†base at Tapuitan Island to cook and eat lunch. The guys who were driving the boat cooked lunch for us — grilled meat and fish, pickled vegetables, and rice. All on a grill set in the beach. How awesome is that?

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The Misadventure Log:

My slew of misadventures started as early as Day 1 in the town. I swear, I wasn’t ready for any of what will follow for the next four days. I tell you: until I step out to get back to the airport something was always abound to happen. Kind of frightening, kind of bumming, but ultimately exciting! These are the stories I take with me.¬†

  1. So the day started really fine… no rain at all! But then a few minutes into the sea, the boat smelled of oil and to our horror the engine was ablaze in front of us. In the middle of the sea. I still haven’t worn my life vest yet. And we were in standstill in the middle of the ocean, dumbfounded… and laughing. We can’t stop laughing at everyone’s reaction — everybody’s face was white with fear and mouth agape the next split second.
  2. And we finally got to a new boat. We needed to transfer boats to continue the tour so I got my things¬†in waterproof bag and dragged them out in the sea to the other boat. It’s such a smart idea, I tell you. My camera was busted.¬†It was blacked out and I can see the water seeping from inside the screen. I have never had Chace the camera wet ever. JEEZ.
  3. Luckily, my phone survived the onslaught with seawater. For a few hours, that is. The power button was acting funny already, but the screen was still intact. Then it died. Just like that. It died on me. So I had no camera to take photos with, and no phone to contact family and friends if ever. 

That’s just Day 1.¬†There are more in the coming days!

IMG_5085Having beer and dinner with tourmates! Thanks to Karina for the photo. 

The Stranger Log:

What I lack in photos to share, new friends made up for! I met a lot of people in the tour and some of them were kind enough to have dinner with me. Really really nice people, I tell you! The log continues…¬†

  1. Katie and Monica are American and Canadian teachers from Hong Kong who was on a holiday here in the Philippines. They have really nice stories about Hong Kong and about their jobs as teachers in the megacity.
  2. I have such a bad memory but the boat had a mix of different nationalities. I think the accident earlier the trip (boat on fire) really bonded us even for a short time. We were just always talking and joking around, telling stories about home and other stuff! I love hearing their stories.
  3. Morten (pictured above) and Karina ¬†perhaps were the closest to me. The two Danish journalists went around Southeast Asia and were on their last leg of the trip. They’re very wide-eyed about the Filipino culture and were just so eager to learn more. After the tour, we agreed to get dinner together and we ended up hanging out for almost five hours! I learned a lot about Denmark and I hope they learned a lot about the Philippines from me. I really do hope I cross paths again with them nice people with really nice stories to tell.

See also: How to get to El Nido?

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