Philippines 2011: Day 13 – Puerto Princesa to El Nido by bus

Date: April 29th 2011

Woke up really early today morning — like, 5am early! I left Banwa Arthouse and managed to catch a passing tricycle taxi to take me to the Puerto Princesa bus stop. It was a bit of a drive away, but I managed to get there in time. Anyway, I had called up the bus company (called Eulen Joy) the previous day and secured a seat for myself.

Now, despite reserving a seat, the bus is nothing fancy. Anything but! In fact, to get my seat right in the front, I had to walk over luggage belong to the other passengers. When I was instructed to do so, I kept looking at the other passengers with a mental “Im sorry but I have no other choice” look — but all they did was smile back.

Puerto Princesa bus stop road early morning Palawan
The bus left the station at 6am
Puerto Princesa to El Nido highway Palawan
It was going to be a 6 hour long journey to El Nido

The one-way bus ride to El Nido cost ₱380 ($8/€6) and I opted to take the local bus instead of a private van (which cost more) not simply to save a few hundred pesos, but for the very same reason I chose to take tricycle taxi in Bohol — to take clear photos along the way.

Puerto Princesa early morning misty clouds Palawan
I'm glad I made that decision again

Palawan highway road bend PhilippinesPuerto Princesa early morning cow PalawanPuerto Princesa farm land early morning Palawan PhilippinesPuerto Princesa dawn mist Palawan PhilippinesPuerto Princesa bus to El Nido behind window

Honda bay early morning Palawan islands Philippines
Passed by Honda Bay

Morning mist forest Palawan Philippines

Sabang Roxas Taytay junction Palawan Philippines
This is the junction from where you break off the main highway if you wish to go to Sabang
Dog stretching morning Palawan Philippines
We stopped by this house for a passenger

Puerto Princesa village highway Palawan morningPuerto Princesa village highway Palawan morning
Puerto Princesa to El Nido highway Palawan morning
Farm by highway Palawan morningRiver Palawan backwaters PhilippinesFence Palawan morning Philippines

Palawan calm beach Philippines
The seas were calm

South China Sea calm beach morning Palawan Philippines Puerto Princesa to El Nido highway PalawanSmoke on road Palawan PhilippinesRiver stream Palawan Philippines

Palawan highway checking for plants Philippines
The bus stopped along the way for a check for plants and seeds, which apparently isn't allowed beyond this point. Guessing it's because of fears of alien viruses contaminating plants.

Palawan Highway to El Nido Philippines

Palawan island highway picking up passengers Philippines
Passengers were picked up all along the way, stuffing the bus inside and out -- quite literally

Nearly 2 hours into the journey, with the sun hitting my eyes, I felt sleepy again and dozed off after keeping my camera back in.

I was woken up an hour later by the bus driver, who using the universal hand gesture, asked me if I wanted anything to eat. I politely said “no thanks”. The bus had stopped and the passengers got out for a break. I wasn’t hungry but an ice cream vendor on a bicycle asked me if I would like some ice cream. Now, I wasn’t very keen on having ice cream from a bicycle vendor in a remote village for health risks, but he had cones and buns.

Ice cream bun street food Palawan Philippines
I just had to order one! Cost just ₱15 and it was yum!
Palawan highway to El Nido Philippines
From here on, I shot using my Nokia E72 phone camera

Palawan village house PhilippinesPalawan rice fields PhilippinesBy 11am, the smooth concreted roads eventually gave way to unpaved ones.

Dirt road to El Nido Palawan PhilippinesDirt road to El Nido Palawan Philippines

Sea Palawan Philippines
After nearly 5 hours on the road, I finally got a glimpse of the sea again
Concrete roads Palawan Philippines
Fortunately, the dust gave way and we were back on concrete roads

Palawan burned trees PhilippinesHighway to El Nido Palawan island Philippines

Remote village home near El Nido Palawan Philippines
The bus would stop at independent houses along the way to drop passengers who had gone to the city to stock up on goods. Moments like this made me wonder how far away from home I was!

Even though the bus journey is longer, and less comfortable, I still enjoyed the experience of what life is to these locals on this remote island.

El Nido sea karst hills Palawan Philippines
By 12:30pm, my first hint I was nearing my destination. I smiled with glee seeing this 🙂

I finally reached the El Nido bus station as it neared 1pm. I didn’t have a reservation anywhere but I did make a list of accommodation by the beach that suited my budget.

After stopping by one or two hotels I didn’t end up liking (and some that were full), I walked to Spider Pension House — a place I had called the day before and asked for a room to be kept available in case I were to stop by. Fortunately, one private fan room (but common toilet) was still available, so I checked in. I got the room for ₱700, for two nights.

Spider Pension house Pukka restobar El Nido beach Palawan
Most of the accommodation in El Nido is small and basic at best
El Nido beach view from Spider guesthouse Palawan
The view from the Spider Pension House wasn't bad either 😉
El Nido beach afternoon Palawan Philippines
Spider Pension House's location is in the middle of the beach

After dumping my bags, I didn’t waste any time and made my way to Art Cafe — the most popular and one of the earliest businesses to promote El Nido tourism.

Submariner diving center El Nido beach Palawan Philippines
A few diving centers are available in El Nido
Rovic's pension house El Nido beach Palawan Philippines
I decided to take photos of other beach front accommodation in case you (my reader) are looking for where to stay in El Nido

El Nido beach shore sand PalawanMarina Garden beach resorts El Nido Palawan PhilippinesEl Nido beach anchored boat Palawan Philippines

El Nido Buena vista hotel Palawan Philippines
Walked up through here

El Nido road to Art Cafe Palawan The Alternative massage El Nido Palawan PhilippinesLa Salanqane hotel El Nido Palawan Philippines

El Nido boutique Art Cafe Palawan Philippines
I planned to have lunch here, even though there are cheaper restaurants on El Nido beach

Besides lunch, I was also here to book a tour for tomorrow. Though there are primarily three tours on offer, I opted for Tour A as it would give me a good enough experience of what all El Nido has to offer. Paid some money as advance and sat down for lunch.

Art Cafe tourists El Nido Palawan Philippines
I sat by the balcony
View from Art Cafe balcony El Nido beach Palawan
The view was... alright
Seafood pizza El Nido Art Cafe Palawan Philippines
I ordered a seafood pizza and beer (cost ₱320 totally). Needless to say, I had a good lunch 🙂
El Nido Art Cafe restaurant interiors Palawan Philippines
The Art Cafe has a relaxing environment -- and free wi-fi
Shore Pass lodge El Nido Palawan Philippines
Shore Pass lodge, this was right across Art Cafe
Nidobay Inn lodging El Nido Palawan Philippines
Another one that's on the same lane as Art Cafe
Anang Balay Turista El Nido Palawan Philippines
Anang Balay Turista
El Nido beachfront lodging hotels Palawan Philippines
There are plenty of beachfront accommodation available, but a lot of them cost ₱500 and above
Monkey tied to tree El Nido Palawan Philippines
Hmm, is this legal?
El Nido hotels massage lane trike Palawan Philippines
I chose to walk around the village a bit

El Nido shops house lane Palawan Philippines El Nido Maligaya market shops Palawan island El Nido new look barbershop Palawan Philippines

El Nido general store Palawan Philippines
Don't expect to do much shopping here. Other than the basics, there is little else to buy.
Philippines Ports Authority El Nido Palawan
The port

El Nido village life locals Palawan islandEl Nido village homes Palawan PhilippinesMidtown bakery El Nido Palawan PhilippinesHay roof house El Nido Palawan Philippines

El Nido Eulen Joy buses Palawan Philippines
These were the type of buses I took from Puerto Princesa today morning
Blessed Inn El Nido Palawan Philippines
There are hotels a few lanes away from the beach as well
New building construction El Nido Palawan Philippines
Looks like more hotels are on the way as El Nido grows more and more popular

El Nido coconut tree blowing in wind Palawan island Philippines El Nido village welcome sign Palawan

Barangay Maligaya family day El Nido Palawan
I gatecrashed, out of curiosity
El Nido local gathering Palawan Philippines
Even though it said 'family,' it was mostly men drinking beer while the women served food
El Nido cock fight ring Palawan village Philippines
But it seems the 'main event' on Family Day was cock fighting
Cock fight El Nido village men Palawan Philippines
These cocks (no, the birds)
Cock fight dead chicken El Nido Palawan Philippines
The aftermath of a concluded match
Chicken El Nido Palawan Philippines
Enjoy your freedom while it lasts dude

El Nido men gathered for cock fight Palawan Cock fight ring blood on ground El NidoRocks children of El Nido Palawan

El Nido children Palawan Philippines
The "Hey mister, take photo!" shot
Dog sitting wooden planks El Nido Palawan
I left the venue

El Nido coconut tree tricycle bike parked Palawan El Nido village water road PalawanEl Nido village houses Palawan PhilippinesElderly couple El Nido Palawan Philippines

El Nido village elderly couple Panorama
Panorama comprised of 6 shots

Concrete road El Nido barangay Palawan Philippines

First Consolidated bank atm El Nido branch Palawan Philippines
This is the only ATM machine I saw here -- and it was new!
El Nido field Palawan Panorama
Panorama comprised of 6 shots
El Nido road to bus station children playing Palawan Philippines
I got back on the road which leads to the bus station
El Nido bus station Palawan Philippines
This is where you catch the van or bus back to Puerto Princesa

Road in front of El Nido bus station panorama

El Nido airport road Palawan Philippines
The El Nido airport is 7kms from here. But here's the thing, the 'airport' is apparently not a big one and only few charter flights land there, making it very expensive to fly straight from Manila.
Inngo tourist inn lane El Nido Palawan
I had gone all around and come back to the beach near my guesthouse
Lally & Abet beach cottages El Nido Palawan Philippines
I walked back to the beach

El Nido beach Palawan afternoon sunlight

El Nido beach bike platform Philippines
You can ride a bike on this platform

Filipino boat water reflection El Nido Palawan El Nido outrigger boats Palawan PhilippinesEl Nido bike beach Palawan Philippines

El Nido corner hotel Palawan Philippines
El Nido Corner and Bacuit Grill Bar

Filipino tour boat El Nido Palawan Philippines El Nido beach afternoon path PalawanEl Nido beach boat afternoon Palawan PhilippinesEl Nido path along beach Palawan PhilippinesRocks El Nido beach Palawan

El Nido beach cabin Palawan
I kept walking down the path to see how far it would take me
El Nido rock beach bicycle Palawan Philippines
The beach extends to this side where there a few cottages here as well
Makulay Lodge El Nido beach Palawan Philippines
Makulay Lodge was one of the places I had shortlisted; now I know where it is
El Nido clear water shells Palawan Philippines
Believe me when I say this is under water! The water is that clear! 🙂

El Nido clear water pebble stones Palawan

El Nido water ripples sunlight Palawan Philippines
The time was 5pm

El Nido beach sea boats Palawan

El Nido beach sun flare Palawan Philippines
I decided to head back to Spider Pension House

El Nido rocky beach Palawan Philippines

El Nido elevated boat family Palawan waters
Kind of makes it look like the boat is where those locals live

Man coming out of water El Nido sunlight Palawan

Rosanna's beach cottages El Nido Palawan Philippines
Rosanna's Beach cottages
Tandikan beach cottages El Nido Palawan Philippines
Tandikan Beach Cottages
El Nido beach shadow light Palawan Philippines
The shadow really hit the beach like this

El Nido beach children Palawan Philippines El Nido hills in sea Palawan Philippines

El Nido Beach evening sun Palawan Philippines
Darkness was slowly taking over the entire beach

Once I got back to Spider Pension House, I sat on the porch and simply stared out into the sunset, listening to the ever relaxing sound of waves crashing. I ordered a coconut milkshake (or ‘boku juice’ as per the menu) and Joy, whose mother owns the place, sat beside me for a chat.

Joy Spider Pension house lady El Nido Palawan Philippines
She was curious as to where I was from as 'my kind' are not often seen in El Nido, let alone Palawan
El Nido beach sunset Palawan Philippines
Joy told me because of these hills, one can't see the sun set from here. For that, you need to go to Las Cabanas beach, which I planned to do tomorrow.

El Nido boats in water Palawan Philippines

El Nido bottle flame light Palawan
As it got dark, they lit up these bottles
Sunset at El Nido beach Maligaya Palawan Philippines
Time was 6:30pm
El Nido beach sunset evening Palawan Philippines
By 7pm, the sun had set

Even though the sun had set, I still sat there, feeling very relaxed and drinking my second coconut juice (didn’t feel like drinking beer at all). Unfortunately, when I ordered my third glass of boku juice, the electricity went.

I was joined by another guest staying at Spider Pension House (Aldo was his name I believe). A Spaniard based in London, a regular to El Nido and one who liked staying at Spider Pension House so much that he decided to help the owners by creating a Facebook page to help them with promotion.

Aldo young girl drinking coconut juice El Nido Spider Pension
Eventually, everybody had coconut milkshake -- including Joy's adorable daughter!

Since there was no electricity, it was pointless to go to my dark room upstairs, so I continued chatting away to the sound of waves crashing. When it came time to make plans for dinner, Aldo told me there was so much pork leftover from yesterday, that he asked Joy to make something for tonight as well. He had bought an entire pig from the market to be roasted a la lechon style – which they did (he showed me his photos). But needless to say, there was quite a lot of meat left over.

El Nido Spider Pension House dinner pork rice Palawan
Dinner was curried pork and white rice. And for the first time in nearly two weeks, I finally enjoyed Filipino food! The pork was simply delish!

Just as I took out my wallet and asked “How much?,” Aldo gestured “no” with his hand. It was on him, so “thanks” was all I could say.

I finally went up to my room after the electricity did come back, as I had to copy over today’s photos to my back-up hard drive and prepare for tomorrow’s island tour. I had to make the most of the electricity available, because if there’s one thing you need to know about El Nido, it’s this: electricity goes off everyday from 6am to 2pm.

Sigh, I guess I knew what time I was going to wake up tomorrow — that too with the humidity!

Previous posts in this series:

Philippines 2011: Day 12 – Puerto Princesa Underground River tour, Palawan

Philippines 2011: Day 11 – Arriving in Puerto Princesa, Palawan

Philippines 2011: Day 10 – Bohol tour: Chocolate Hills, Loboc river cruise, Tarsiers, churches

Philippines 2011: Day 9 – Cebu: Fort San Pedro, Basilica of Santo Niño, Taoist Temple

Philippines 2011: Day 8 – Manila tour: Rizal Park, Intramuros, Manila Cathedral, China Town

Philippines 2011: Day 7 – Leaving Angeles City for Manila, Mall of Asia

Philippines 2011: Day 6 – Good Friday in San Fernando, San Pedro Cutud Lenten Rites

Philippines 2011: Leaving Sagada for Baguio, and arriving in Angeles city (Days 4 & 5)

Philippines 2011: Day 3 – Sagada’s Lumiang burial cave, Sumaguing cave, Hanging Coffins of Echo valley

Philippines 2011: Day 3 – Banaue town; heading to Sagada via Bontoc

Philippines 2011: Day 2 – Banaue rice terraces; trekking to Batad village

Philippines 2011: Day 1 — Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Fort Bonifacio

Philippines 2011: Flying over South China Sea for the first time

Other posts in this series:

Philippines 2011: Day 14 – El Nido island hopping tour A and sunset at Las Cabanas beach, Palawan

Philippines 2011: Back to Manila, shopping, and my final thoughts about the country  (Last post)

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3 Comments

  • Tobias

    24/11/2011

    I really like your posts in this Philippine series. You seem to have had a really good time, and El Nido looks like really beautiful place.

    I smiled when i read your “far from home” comment, as i had the same experience when i was in the Philippines recently.

    [Reply]

    Mithun Divakaran Reply:

    I had a great time in Philippines. It just wasn’t as relaxing with all the early morning wake-ups. Hope to go back a second time.

    [Reply]

  • david b

    02/05/2013

    Well, guess what? I am here on your blog again, this time to read up and be better prepared for my trip to El Nido. Nice to see the frank photos you have posted without gushing too much over the beach (It looks pretty ordinary). I am feeling more confident after reading your blog post.

    In case you are curious about how my trip turned out, you can see my Philippines Travel Blog – http://expattraveller.blogspot.com/

    By the way, I have added your blog in my list of “Blogs you must read before visiting El Nido”

    [Reply]

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