Day ? March 3rd, 2013
I know its Sunday, but to think how many days I’ve been here is a challenge. Not that I couldn’t do it, I just don’t have any urge to. Currently we are in El Nido. Got here this afternoon after traveling 6 hrs by shuttle van. We had to transfer shuttles in a small town. We originally were told it would be direct for 900 pesos each. I’m guessing because no one else signed up they just added us to another group. Sidenote- Always be prepared for things to change. So they only charged us 800 pesos. We are staying at the El Nido Beach Hotel. I would not recommend this for future prospects. Its costing $110 a night. The bathroom is the kind that are conjoined with the shower and has no curtain, so once you take a shower, water gets over everything, sink, toilet, trashcan. We already had to change rooms because our toilet wasn’t working. We went from two full beds to one queen and then this dingy twin mattress they brought in the room from outside, and it smelled like mold. There’s a lot of places to stay in this town and I regret booking this hotel for 3 nights. But- live and learn. The only good thing about our room other than the a/c is the view. We are right on the beach and you can see all the islands in the distance. This town is surreal, like utopia. We are going island hoping tomorrow. Tour A. It was 700 pesos per person for the regular 10 person tour or 2800 for our own private boat with guide. We decided to spring and do private, my biggest incentive to do private was we got to leave an hour earlier. All the tour agencies offer tours A, B, C, and D. We decided on A and plan on doing C the next day because those were the most recommended. Our tour guide Clint also booked our boat from El Nido to the island of Coron. We wanted to take it on the 6th, but found out they don’t run on Wednesday, the Tuesday boat is broken, so we literally got 3 of the last 5 seats left on the Thursday boat. Once I’m in Coron the true test begins, will I keep my itinerary and fly back to LA on the 12th, or will Lauren and I stay and go to Hong Kong then down to Australia? Currently I’m torn, torn between becoming a gypsy soul and staying out here as long as possible; or appreciating the time I did have and sticking to my original return date. I’ve been thinking long and hard of how long I could actually financially survive on the road, and the way I travel it could be awhile. But do I want to drain my savings I worked my ass of last year to get, or is that what’s it there for? You only life once, but more importantly, you’re only young once.
Yesterday we did the under ground river. It was truly a unique experience. Traveling over one mile on an underground river beneath a large mountain is something else. The cave ceilings could be as low as 4ft above the water to 170ft at the highest point. There were thousands of bats. Our tour guide warned us not to look directly at the ceiling because you could get bat poop in your eyes. Looking anywhere other than where the one spot light we had at the front of the boat was pointless anyways because of how dark it was. I finally know the definition of “pitch black”. There were so many different formations that had been formed by the slow molding limestone karst over the thousands of years the caves have been there, the locals named all the formations that even slightly resembled something, or someone. My favorite one was “The Mask”, looked a lot like Jim Carry in the movie. We were the only ones to tip our tour guide at the end of the trip. A simple 100 pesos, he was unbelievably grateful. Sometimes it’s worth passing on a few bucks to make someone else’s day. After the river we ate dinner at this small restaurant called Dab Dab. Best meal I’ve had so far, tuna in a coconut milk curry over rice. I had been so worried about not liking the food here, turns out Filipinos can cook!
Day 6 -March 4th 2013
Its Monday, we left LA a week ago, seems like much longer. We have done so much in our 6 days here. Walking the bay of Puerto Princesa, island hoping in Honda Bay, going to Sabang Bay, doing the underground river, taking a 6hr bus ride to El Nido and walking all around El Nido. We went island hoping today, tour A. (It was so so so worth doing the private boat, only 800 pesos in total more.) We went all around the Miniloc island. Saw the small lagoon first, which you have to swim into. Lauren and I swam with our guide across the whole lagoon and he showed us a small hidden cave. (Thank god I’m a good swimmer because the whole lagoon is to deep to stand in.) It was magical being the first group in there. As we were leaving groups of people were just getting there. We had an amazing head start to our day. The next stop was the big lagoon. This was the place that had originally sparked my interest in visiting the Philippines. I had seen a photo of the big lagoon online while I was googling incredible beaches around the world. It was mesmerizing, previous photos I’d seen gave it no justice. We got to swim around the lagoon, the water was perfectly warm and the sun has never shined so bright. From there we went to this small beach where they set up our lunch. Fresh fish with rice, cucumber and tomato salad and as much mango as you could eat. As I sat on large piece of drift wood I remember thinking, heaven cant even be this good.
Day 7 March 5th, 2013
Lying in bed, had a full day today. Did tour C, wasn’t as good as tour A at all. It was just to far by boat and the ocean was so choppy. Best part of the day was lunch. Another amazing meal prepared right in front of us on our own beach. We skipped on the snorkel sections because we were to full and then skipped the “secret beach” stop because there were thousands of jellyfish where we had to drop our anchor. To get to the secret beach you have to swim through an arc under water, when you resurface you’re in this small pristine lagoon that shallows out onto a perfect beach. I’m going to go back one day to see it. I’m promising myself that.