29
Nov 11

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

Date: April 30th 2011

I woke up at 6am today. Not that it was when I set the alarm for, but that’s when electricity goes off everyday in El Nido (until 2pm). As the fan stopped turning and the humidity crept in, I had no choice but to get up.

El Nido karst hills sea morning Palawan Philippines

Went downstairs to have coffee... with a view

I had plenty of time as I only needed to be at Art Cafe by 8:45am, but instead of having breakfast at Spider Pension House, I decided to have it at Art Cafe itself.

Art Cafe porch dog morning El Nido Palawan

Everybody was taking it easy

I wanted to have a light breakfast as I was going to be getting into the water for snorkeling.

Pancake Art Cafe breakfast El Nido Palawan

I ordered pancake, assuming it would be fluffy and light (Cost ₱100)

Unfortunately, the pancake at Art Cafe was quite thick and heavy. I felt stuffed by the time I was done and had my orange juice. I mean, the pancake tasted great and all, but… my tummy was already bulging!

El Nido beach outrigger boats Palawan morning

It was time for my tour A to begin

I didn’t want a repeat of what happened on my first island hopping tour in Thailand, where I slipped and ended up plunking my camera bag in the water, so I stepped into the water carefully and boarded the boat. I didn’t rush to get a spot in the front of the boat.

El Nido sea dog facing accommodation Palawan Philippines

Talk about living on the edge

El Nido outrigger boat Filipino boys holding on Palawan

As the boat reversed, these kids hung on

El Nido outrigger boat local boys holding on Palawan

The water must be second nature to them

El Nido hills in sea Palawan Philippines

The weather today looked perfect

El Nido South China sea Palawan Philippines

The seas were still calm, which meant a less bumpy ride

El Nido limestone hill boat Palawan PhilippinesEl Nido boat tour South China sea Palawan PhilippinesEl Nido South China sea karst hill Palawan PhilippinesEl Nido South China Sea limestone hills Palawan Philippines

El Nido limestone hills South China sea Philippines

First stop on the tour was Miniloc island

El Nido South China sea limestone hill in distance Philippines El Nido island beach Palawan Philippines

El Nido limestone rocks sea Palawan Philippines

The boat slowed down

Miniloc island limestone rocks El Nido Palawan Limestone rock cloud El Nido sea Philippines

El Nido Miniloc island small beach kayaks Palawan Philippines

Our boat anchored itself outside the small lagoon

Those who paid for kayaking got into their kayaks and made their way towards the small lagoon. The rest, including myself, had to swim all the way there.

El Nido Mithun Divakaran boat snorkel Philippines

It was time to jump in (Disclaimer: No work out in over three weeks + heavy breakfast = thus tummy)

As I got in the water, I was supposed to follow the guide but got caught up floating in the water and staring at the corals underneath. It was a beautiful sight… which is all I can say, because I don’t have an underwater camera. (I really wish I did)

I couldn’t float around for too long as the guide had led the group through a small opening and into the small lagoon where there is a small cave.

So I swam fast and made it past the small opening, but just then, my limited swimming experience led to my right leg developing cramps. It hurt a bit as I stressed myself to catch up with the rest of the group. The guide came back for me and when I told him my right leg felt cramped, he told me not to stress it and asked me to sit on a stone inside the small lagoon. He had to lead the rest of the group inside the cave, so he told me to swim back after my leg felt better.

As I sat there massaging my right leg, a nice old Filipino woman who sat beside me on the rock suggested that I take her kayak back to my boat as she had another kayak in her group. I smilingly said “it’s fine,” but she smilingly insisted that I ride back instead of swimming back. I thanked her, and got in the kayak. Even though the kayak belonged to another tour agency and was even manned by one of their staff to paddle, I politely asked him if I could paddle instead. For someone who has always wanted to try kayaking, it was a lot easier than I thought it would be! I rode all the way back with relative ease and thanked the staff for letting me paddle his kayak.

Once I got back on board my boat, another one of boat staff massaged my right leg and it eased my muscles up a bit. As I sat on the boat, I felt I should have gone for the kayak option for this tour. It was a lot of fun and as soon as I got back to the boat, I felt like asking for another kayak. Sadly I couldn’t, as the tour boats can only carry the number of kayaks based on the bookings.

El Nido miniloc island small lagoon Philippines

I know you can barely see it from here...

Entry to small lagoon Miniloc island El Nido Palawan

...but zoomed all the way in, that small opening in the center -- that's how you enter the small lagoon

Words are petty compared to actual photographs, so to see what the views are like under water and the cave, check out this guy’s photographs.

El Nido snorkeling Miniloc island Palawan Philippines

Floating in the water face down is all I wanted to do honestly

Pedro Fong swimming emerald waters El Nido Palawan Philippines

He was in our tour group (but will you just look at the colour of the water!)

El Nido limestone rocks Miniloc island lagoon Palawan

Once everyone was back on the boat, we left the small lagoon

El Nido boat tour South China sea Palawan

Entering big lagoon Miniloc island El Nido Palawan

Next up, the 'big lagoon' in Miniloc island

El Nido kayak to big lagoon Miniloc Palawan Philippines

Those who booked the kayaks set off from here itself (But I know what you are thinking -- BEAUTIFUL isn't it?)

El Nido big lagoon clear water Miniloc Palawan

This part is shallow

El Nido Miniloc water big lagoon Palawan Philippines

Sigh... again.... look at those colours! :)

We were supposed to anchor here and then be allowed to do whatever we opted to do, but the boat operators were informed they couldn’t anchor their boats for some reason.

El Nido big lagoon Miniloc island Survivor set Philippines

I don't know if it was because this setting was used for the filming of some reality show (the guide told us, it was the Swedish version of Survivor)

El Nido boat reversing big lagoon Palawan Philippines

We had no choice but to turn back... slowly

Leaving big lagoon Miniloc El Nido Palawan El Nido boat tour group Palawan PhilippinesJakob Fochlder El Nido Palawan PhilippinesEl Nido leaving big lagoon Miniloc island Palawan PhilippinesSnorkeling El Nido Miniloc island Palawan PhilippinesEl Nido Filipino boat Bangka Palawan Philippines

Filipino family El Nido boat tour Palawan Philippines

The nice lady and her family who lent me their kayak earlier

El Nido Art Cafe staff boat tour peace Philippines

The staff who helped me rid the cramps I had on my right leg

El Nido big lagoon Palawan Philippines panorama

Panorama comprised of 6 shots

El Nido Filipino men on boat Palawan

El Nido Filipino boats South China sea Palawan Panorama

Panorama comprised of 9 shots

El Nido Filipino tour boat beautiful sea Palawan PhilippinesEl Nido islands banco boats Palawan PhilippinesEl Nido sea limestone rock Philippines panorama

Twin islands El Nido Palawan Philippines

We moved on to our next spot

El Nido sunny day clouds Palawan Philippines

We were heading to Entalula island for our lunch break

Entalula island private beach Palawan Philippines

This is a private beach

Entalula island public beach Palawan Philippines

This is the public beach

Entalula island El Nido tour lunch stop Palawan

The off-colours make it look a bit cartoon-ish, doesn't it?

Entalula island rock shade El Nido Palawan Philippines

We could rest here for some time before lunch, but I got in the water instead

Nose edged rock Entalula beach Palawan Philippines

Got back on shore after a few minutes

Entalula island El Nido public beach panorama Philippines

Panorama comprised of 11 shots

And if you thought: “Man, that above panorama shot would make an awesome wallpaper!”, then here’s a 1920×1080 sized version! :)

Entalula island vertical panoramaAnchor boat Entalula beach El Nido Palawan PhilippinesEntalula island rock shadow wave Palawan PhilippinesEntalula island beach rock Palawan Philippines

Spade arrow shaped rock Entalula island Palawan Philippines

Cool huh?

El Nido entalula island waves glass like Palawan Philippines

El Nido Art Cafe staff cooking lunch Palawan

The staff were grilling meat

Fish pork barbecue El Nido island tour Palawan Philippines

Grilled fish and pork cubes

Mithun Divakaran El Nido lunch bbq Palawan Philippines

I like watching food being cooked... I guess it's one of those traits of being a foodie

View from cave Entalula island El Nido Palawan PhilippinesEntalula island beach water colour blue Palawan

Entalula beach El Nido beautiful Palawan Philippines

Postcard, isn't it?

El Nido island tour lunch bbq rice Palawan Philippines

Lunch was ready

The food – grilled fish, grilled pork and sticky rice – was, well, quite dry for my liking. So I just had to gulp it all down with some beer (which the staff were selling for ₱50 a can). Post lunch, we sat on the beach while the staff cleaned up and took all the trash back to the boat.

Leaving entalula island El Nido Palawan Philippines

We left the island at 1:45pm

Entalula island small beach El Nido Palawan Philippines

El Nido boat tour islands Palawan Philippines

We moved on to our next stop on the tour

El Nido Simizu island Palawan

I don't know if this was Simizu island

El Nido open sea Palawan Philippines

The plan was to swim out into the open sea (for something, I forgot). But because I didn't feel like swimming after lunch (& beer), so a few of us stayed on board

El Nido outrigger boat in blue sea Palawan

I stared out into the blue with my feet wading in the water

El Nido jellyfish in sea Palawan Philippines

My feet stayed in the water until I saw this

Jelly fish El Nido waters Palawan Philippines

Oh look, jellyfish!

One of the women on board kept screaming to her partner in the water warning him of the presence of the jellyfish, though some only swam to get closer to it for a better look.

El Nido Art Cafe staff sitting boat jellyfish Palawan

The staff said it doesn't sting. Well he wasn't sure, it was more like "I think it doesn't sting".

El Nido South China sea water Palawan Philippines

We waited for the rest of our group to return

When they did, some of them were panting for breath. The two Italian girls in our group said the currents were quite strong and they required help from our guide swimming back. Quite a scary experience according to them.

Emerald green water El Nido sea Palawan Philippines

It was time to leave these emerald waters and head to our next stop

El Nido islands limestone Palawan PhilippinesLimestone rocks island El Nido Palawan Philippines

Secret lagoon beach El Nido Palawan Philippines

We were going to check out a 'secret' lagoon, which is on this island (I believe this was Miniloc again)

Our boat didn’t anchor itself close to the shore, so we had to swim all the way there. I wasn’t going to stay on the boat again, but this time I really wanted to take my camera with me. So the guide told me he would carry it in a plastic bag and ensure it didn’t get wet. He’s obviously a much better swimmer, so he raised the bag in one hand and still swam to the island.

Once we all swam to the island, we had to walk barefoot on prickly shells to enter the lagoon through a small opening.

Secret lagoon El Nido tour Palawan Philippines

Panorama comprised of 3 shots

Secret lagoon Miniloc El Nido island Palawan Philippines

It was pool of water surrounded by rocks -- so not sure it counts as proper lagoon

Secret lagoon Miniloc island entrance El Nido Palawan

This is how one enters and exits the lagoon -- through an opening in the shape of Australia :)

Secret beach miniloc island El Nido Palawan Philippines

We spent a few minutes on the beach

German youth climbing up coconut tree El Nido island

It gave these Germans a good chance to do something they can't do back in their country

Toilet seat on island El Nido Palawan Philippines

The secret lagoon beach also has this toilet, which despite the views, people still wouldn't use

Secret beach trees rock El Nido Palawan Philippines

El Nido beach shack Palawan Philippines

The lone shack on this beach

Secret beach shadow miniloc island El Nido Palawan

Secret lagoon beach kayak El Nido Palawan
El Nido rocky hill swallow nest farming Palawan Philippines

As the boat reversed, we saw what looked a like a ladder in the middle of the rock

Bird's nest cave guarding El Nido Palawan Philippines

The guide told us the man up there was guarding a cave where they farm bird's nest. For those who don't know, bird's nest (specifically from the cave swifts) are a delicacy in China, and are among the most expensive food products in the world, a la caviar and truffles.

El Nido island limestone rocks Palawan PhilippinesThe ride got a bit bumpy on the way to our final stop on our tour, 7 Commandos beach. I shielded my camera bag from all the saltwater that was being splashed at us.

7 Commandos beach El Nido Palawan Philippines

Called 7 Commandos beach because seven soldiers were once stranded here

Seven commandos beach Palawan Philippines panorama

Panorama comprised of 12 shots

Seven commandos beach coconut vendor El Nido Palawan Philippines

The stop was to give this man some business and have a drink. I ordered coconut water...

Boy sitting on coconut drinking cola 7 Commandos island El Nido Philippines

... like everybody else. Except this kid, I'm sure he's sick of coconut water living here -- he drank Sprite.

7 commandos beach basketball hoop boys dogs El Nido Palawan

Sparsely populated island... but they still have a hoop :)

Seven commandos beach tourist local boys Palawan Man lying hammock 7 commandos beach El Nido Palawan

7 commandos island house El Nido Palawan Philippines

I saw two or three houses on this beach, that's it

7 commandos island lady cock El Nido Palawan Philippines 7 commandos beach shack El Nido Palawan Philippines7 commandos beach bench El Nido Palawan PhilippinesSeven commandos beach weed sand El Nido Palawan PhilippinesSeven commandos beach sand tree branch El NidoSeven commandos beach trees blowing El Nido Palawan PhilippinesTourist lying on bench 7 commandos beach El Nido Palawan Philippines

Seven commandos beach woman bikini El Nido Palawan Philippines

We left Seven commandos beach after spending 45 minutes here

With that, Tour A was over.

Fat man El Nido tour boat Palawan Philippines

El Nido sunset boat ride sea Palawan Philippines

It was past 4:30pm

El Nido sunset silhouette fisherman boat Palawan Philippines El Nido South China sea Palawan PhilippinesEl Nido outrigger boat Palawan Philippines

El Nido Palawan hills blocking sunset Philippines

My day wasn't done though, I needed to get to Las Cabanas beach quick

El Nido village from sea Palawan Philippines

El Nido tour boat arriving Art Cafe Palawan Philippines

The boat anchored itself a bit away from the shore, we then got in knee-deep water and walked back to Art Cafe

I went upstairs to pay the balance amount for the tour, which cost ₱700 ($16/€12) plus the ₱50 for the beer I had. I told them I used the kayak once, but they said that’s fine.

Even though I may not have made full use of the tour (due to my limited swimming capabilities), as you can see from the above photos, it was still pretty damn worth it! Sadly, today was my last in El Nido and I so wished I had another day to do another tour (like Tour C).

El Nido island Map tour A, tour B and tour C Palawan Philippines

This is the map of the tours on offer (from Art Cafe)

I left Art Cafe, said my goodbyes to the rest of my tour group and walked on. I now needed to go to Las Cabanas beach which is a five minute drive away.

Mobile store El Nido village Palawan PhilippinesI approached a tricycle taxi and asked how much it was to get to Las Cabanas beach. He said: “₱200″. I asked if that was to take me there and back, and he said “no”. I said ‘no freakin’ way’ and continued walking. As expected, he followed me and we ended up bargaining it down to ₱80.

Rough road las cabanas El Nido Palawan Philippines

It's a pretty rough road to Las Cabanas

Las Cabanas resort sign Palawan Philippines Road to Las Cabanas beach El Nido Palawan PhilippinesPath to Las Cabanas beach Palawan PhilippinesWay to Las Cabanas beach Palawan Philippines

Cashew nut apple Las Cabanas El Nido Palawan Philippines

Found a cashew fruit on the ground

Way to beach Las Cabanas Palawan PhilippinesLas Cabanas coconut trees beach Palawan

Las Cabanas beach evening Palawan Philippines

It was 5:30pm

Las Cabanas beach evening sun El Nido panorama

Attempted a panorama photograph from here

Las Cabanas beach foot prints dog Palawan Philippines

Decided to walk barefoot for a while

Orange pearl resort Las Cabanas beach Palawan Philippines

Orange Pearl Resort

Las Cabanas beach Filipino boats Palawan sunset PhilippinesLas Cabanas sand mud shore Palawan PhilippinesLas Cabanas beach resort trees hill El Nido Palawan Philippines

Las Cabanas beach evening El Nido Palawan panorama

Panorama comprised of 10 shots

Las Cabanas beach wave ripples Palawan Philippines Las Cabanas wave ripple mud sand Palawan PhilippinesLas Cabanas beach tyre sand evening in PalawanLas Cabanas beach red leaf tree Palawan sunsetLas Cabanas beach sand crab hole PhilippinesLas Cabanas beach wave avoiding sand castle PalawanCoconut tree branch Las Cabanas beach shadow El NidoLas Cabanas beach corner sunset reflection in water Palawan

Las Cabanas beach El Nido Palawan Philippines

I ended my walk here

Las Cabanas beach sunset Palawan Philippines

I placed my bag down and found a spot from where to shoot my sunset timelapse

But it wasn’t a pleasant experience. There were mosquitoes and other bugs buzzing around me and I just couldn’t stand still, having to whack each one away. The tripod with the camera would often tip over in the sand as well.

Sunset at Las Cabanas beach El Nido Palawan Philippines

None the less, I began shooting my sequence of photos

Las Cabanas sunsetting El Nido Palawan PhilippinesLas Cabanas beach evening sunset Palawan PhilippinesLas Cabanas beach sunset El Nido Palawan Philippines(I’ll update the page with the video once it’s ready)

I took one last panorama shot and left Las Cabanas beach at 6pm.

Las Cabanas beach sunset Palawan Philippines panorama

Didn't come out perfectly after merging it though

Las Cabanas path to main road Palawan

I walked back to the road

Las Cabanas trees silhouette sunset Palawan Philippines

Frog squished flat road kill Las Cabanas Palawan Philippines

Bikes often pass through this path... as experienced by this unfortunate frog

Once I got back on to the main road, the tricycle taxi driver who dropped me here was still there and I approached him to take me back to the village. He said: “₱100″. Sigh. I told him I paid ₱80 to come here, why should I pay more to go back. He just shook his head to say ‘no’. So I started walking…. and again, he followed me and asked me to get in. Ugh!

As we rode back, I had to ask the driver to stop again when he showed me an observation deck they built for a nice view of the sea. The sky looked beautiful and I just had to capture it!

Las Cabanas sunset sky El Nido Palawan Philippines

Unfortunately there are trees obstructing the view, so this is all I took

Once I got back to the village, I went back to the ‘family day’ celebration which I visited yesterday to see if there was anything special going on today.

El Nido barangay family day kids dancing Philippines village

The men were drinking as usual, but yesterday's cock fighting ring had turned into a dancing ring for the village children

I leisurely walked back to Spider Pension House and told Joy that tonight I would like to try their seafood buffet for dinner.  Electricity was gone again, but Joy still managed to make me a ‘boku milkshake’. I was then joined by three French youths who had just arrived today, and we began chatting.

Lobster crab soup rice dinner Spider Pension El Nido Palawan

When dinner was served, it was crab soup, fried tuna, grilled lobsters, rice and salad. Cost? ₱250 ($5/€4)

After a satisfying dinner, I settled my bill and paid for everything as I was checking out early tomorrow. I asked Joy to book me a seat in a private van back to Puerto Princesa.

El Nido private islands lights at night

Joy told me the glowing in the distance is from lights from resorts and other private islands

I couldn’t have asked for a better ending to my Philippines journey. Coming all the way to El Nido for these beautiful waters was worth it! If these 159 photos (out of the 861 photos I took) don’t tempt you to take a vacation to El Nido, well, then try this video — it’s all real!

(It’s available in 720p HD)

P.S: There is still one final post left in this series

Previous posts in this series:

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

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


23
Nov 11

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)


08
May 11

Two & half weeks in Philippines… a teaser

This past April, I embarked on another journey. Given the circumstances at office (which I’ll explain later), I decided to go somewhere ‘interesting’. This time, a country which upon researching last year, I realized offered so much more than I thought. I’ll go into the details as to why I took the plunge to go as far as Philippines when I begin this series 2 months from now, but until then, here a few of the 5000-plus photos I took from this 2 & 1/2 week long trip.

South China sea islands from plane

Flew over the South China sea for the first time -- very pretty (Taken on my cellphone)

 

Manila American Cemetery and Memorial sparrow on grave Philippines

First day of sight-seeing: The Manila American Cemetery and Memorial

Manila American Cemetery and Memorial graves

Where 17,202 soldiers, Filipino and American, are buried

Manila American Cemetery and Memorial rainbow sprinkler

A rainbow caused by the sprinkler and sunlight

Aimee Marie Autobus station Manila

Met my reader (& now friend) Aimee who helped me a LOT in Manila

Banaue view from People's Lodge Philippines

Arrive in Banaue the next day

Banaue hanging house Ifugao Philippines

Go on a tour by trike through a region quite prone to landslides

Batad steps down trekking Banaue Philippines

Embark on what became the toughest trek I ever did

Batad villagers pigs trek Banaue Philippines

Seeing these villagers carry livestock and kilos of grain for nearly a 1km through terrain that I found *incredibly* tiring even with hiking boots on, made me want to never complain about corporate life ever again. Listening to pigs squeal (& the resulting echo in the valley) for more than half-an-hour also made me not want to have pork... (that day)

Batad village rice terraces Banaue Philippines

After nearly 1 1/2 of trekking, the view I get in Batad. A village with no access via road and one that only got electricity recently.

Batad hide and seek village children Banaue Philippines

And since these children don't see new faces often (least of all an Indian), played with them for a bit as well

Batad trek landslide path Banaue Philippines

After a break, trek all the way back through tracks destroyed by landslides... but this time, with a local I hired to carry my bags. My body just couldn't take the load a second time.

Banaue rice terraces panorama Philippines

End the day with a view of the grand daddy of them all, the Banaue Rice Terraces

Banaue rice terrace farmers Philippines

The sheer size of the Banaue rice terraces are a bit hard to capture on photograph

North Luzon fugao village rice terraces Philippines

The next day, take two jeepneys to get to the small town of Sagada

Sagada rice terraces Luzon Philippines

A small, but beautiful town!

Sagada limestone cave water Philippines

Sagada is also famed for its limestone caves

Sagada limestone caves Luzon Philippines

Which was an amazing 'first' experience for me

Sagada Hanging coffins Echo Valley Philippines

Sagada is also famous for this, Echo Valley. People laid to rest for years on the side of a cliff.

Ifugao province farm Luzon Philippines

Leave the next day and drive through beautiful terrains to get to Baguio

San Fernando Pampanga Good Friday celebrations crosses

Then, on Good Friday, arrive in the town of San Fernando in Pampanga district for the main reason I chose to fly to Philippines at this time of the year.

San Fernando Pampanga praying

Warning: The next few photos are going to be graphic in nature.

San Fernando Pampanga Good Friday flagellation

I don't have to time explain what the rituals are about and why they celebrate it this way, but you can read about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Pedro_Cutud_Lenten_Rites

San Fernando Pampanga Easter Child

Mind you, it was scorching hot that day

Filipino Roman soldier San Pedro Cutud

"You want photo? One bottle!"

San Pedro Cutud re-enactment Good Friday

The famed annual re-enactment ceremony of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ

San Pedro Cutud Pampanga Christ crucifixion

People volunteer to be actually nailed to the cross

Good Friday Pampanga nailed hand

And in case you don't believe me...

San Pedro Cutud crucifixion nail leg

Taken on my cellphone because of number of people jostling to get a close up view

San Pedro Cutud Rites Pampanga Philippines

(Also taken on my cellphone)

San Fernando street children smiling Philippines

Street child: "Hey! One photo mister!" (grabs baby sister) (I start to click) Street child: (Oh, he's *actually* taking my photo?) ~shy~

San Fernando night mass parade Philippines

The night mass with beautiful floats of... erm, Christian characters from the bible(?)

Manila Chinatown purple fire engine

Arrive back in Manila for a guided tour by Aimee. The Manila Chinatown was nothing special, but their fire engines were!

Manila Cathedral panorama

Manila Cathedral in Intramuros

Manila mobile phone chicken

I get everything... except the 'chicken' part. As seen in Robinson's mall in Manila.

Cebu Cathedral ceiling

Arrived in Cebu to kick off the second leg of my journey. This was the ceiling at the oldest church in Cebu.

Chocolate Hills Bohol Philippines

Take a ferry to Bohol, hire a trike and drive one hour to see this: the Chocolate Hills

Chocolate Hills panorama Bohol Philippines

1,776 hills that make for a phenomenal geographical formation

Tarsier Bohol Philippines

See Bohol's Tarsiers. An animal I think, became the inspiration for Dobby's appearance (from the Harry Potter films)

Sambang underground river Palawan Mithun in Philippines

Arrive in Sambang in Palawan island to visit the Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park

Sambang Underground River boat going in

The underground river is a 8.2 kilometers long but tourists are only allowed 1.6kms in. The place is in contention for the 'New 7 Wonders of the World' contest.

Sambang Underground River caves

Another interesting and never-done-before experience for me! Also, quite a challenge holding the light *AND* clicking photos

Sambang underground river boat inside

Trust me, there's a LOT more photos from inside the cave but no time for me to work on all of them now.

Sambang beach coconut tree panorama

Once out, had lunch on Sambang beach.

Palawan dog stretching

Wake up early the next day, take the local bus to the Northern most town of El Nido

Sandwich bun ice cream Philippines

Have sandwich bun ice cream for breakfast (Rs. 15)

El Nido beach view Palawan Philippines

Arrive at my guesthouse in El Nido beach. Sit out, stare into what's right in front of me...and do little else. (Taken on my cellphone)

El Nido lagoon swimming Philippines

Go on an island-hopping tour the next day. Snorkel in a lagoon wearing a life jacket...

El Nido kayaking lagoon Philippines

..and attempt kayaking for the first time. It was a lot easier than I thought! (Unfortunately no photos of me doing all this because I was afraid to get my valuable camera equipment wet. I've had previous bad experiences with salt water screwing up my equipment)

Palawan island spade-shaped rock

Stop on an island for lunch

BBQ lunch E Nido Philippines

Which was barbecued fish and pork

Coconut kid drinking Palawan

Kids on this island must be sick of drinking coconut water

Las Cabanas beach sunset Philippines

Watch the sunset on Las Cabanas beach

El Nido lobster dinner Philippines

Have a 'home-cooked' dinner of lobster soup, grilled lobsters, fried tuna and rice, all for Rs.250

Leaving El Nido dog on trike

Leave El Nido the next morning

Sunset Palawan flight Philippines

... and leave the island of Palawan at sunset, thereby concluding my sightseeing around Philippines.

Needless to say, I have many more photos to share and plenty of experiences. This was without a doubt, the best trip I ever made in my life (so far)!

Read the entire series here:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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