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.
The bus left the station at 6am
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.
I'm glad I made that decision again
Passed by Honda Bay
This is the junction from where you break off the main highway if you wish to go to Sabang
We stopped by this house for a passenger
The seas were calm
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.
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.
I just had to order one! Cost just ₱15 and it was yum!
From here on, I shot using my Nokia E72 phone camera
By 11am, the smooth concreted roads eventually gave way to unpaved ones.
After nearly 5 hours on the road, I finally got a glimpse of the sea again
Fortunately, the dust gave way and we were back on concrete roads
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.
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.
Most of the accommodation in El Nido is small and basic at best
The view from the Spider Pension House wasn't bad either
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.
A few diving centers are available in El Nido
I decided to take photos of other beach front accommodation in case you (my reader) are looking for where to stay in El Nido
Walked up through here
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.
I sat by the balcony
The view was... alright
I ordered a seafood pizza and beer (cost ₱320 totally). Needless to say, I had a good lunch
The Art Cafe has a relaxing environment -- and free wi-fi
Shore Pass lodge, this was right across Art Cafe
Another one that's on the same lane as Art Cafe
Anang Balay Turista
There are plenty of beachfront accommodation available, but a lot of them cost ₱500 and above
Hmm, is this legal?
I chose to walk around the village a bit
Don't expect to do much shopping here. Other than the basics, there is little else to buy.
These were the type of buses I took from Puerto Princesa today morning
There are hotels a few lanes away from the beach as well
Looks like more hotels are on the way as El Nido grows more and more popular
I gatecrashed, out of curiosity
Even though it said 'family,' it was mostly men drinking beer while the women served food
But it seems the 'main event' on Family Day was cock fighting
These cocks (no, the birds)
The aftermath of a concluded match
Enjoy your freedom while it lasts dude
The "Hey mister, take photo!" shot
I left the venue
Panorama comprised of 6 shots
This is the only ATM machine I saw here -- and it was new!
Panorama comprised of 6 shots
I got back on the road which leads to the bus station
This is where you catch the van or bus back to Puerto Princesa
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.
I had gone all around and come back to the beach near my guesthouse
I walked back to the beach
You can ride a bike on this platform
El Nido Corner and Bacuit Grill Bar
I kept walking down the path to see how far it would take me
The beach extends to this side where there a few cottages here as well
Makulay Lodge was one of the places I had shortlisted; now I know where it is
Believe me when I say this is under water! The water is that clear!
The time was 5pm
I decided to head back to Spider Pension House
Kind of makes it look like the boat is where those locals live
Rosanna's Beach cottages
Tandikan Beach Cottages
The shadow really hit the beach like this
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.
She was curious as to where I was from as 'my kind' are not often seen in El Nido, let alone Palawan
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.
As it got dark, they lit up these bottles
Time was 6:30pm
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.
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.
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)