So we left Sri Lanka, enjoyed our layover in Kuala Lumpur, and went on to… the Philipines. After the high paced Sri Lanka, we thought we’d go to some place relaxed. We still have Japan on our schedule as well and wanted to recharge.
Philipines turns out to be really nice, beautiful and relaxing. The people here are a lot of fun. Joking around all the time. Very relaxed attitude. Fond of karaoke. We really like the vibe here.
It’s also interesting how every country has a different way of organizing things. For example the transport; where Sri Lanka has Tuk Tuks, Philipines has Tricycles: basically motorbikes with a sidecar. And as public transport they have Jeepneys: originally US jeeps that were left when the Americans left and converted into brightly decorated busses.
Another thing the Americans seem to have left is a fondness for fastfood with loads of salt, sugar and fat. I think so far the food availaible in restaurants here has been the worst of the countries we’ve visited. Fastfood places everywhere. At some point we ordered a ‘cheese bread’ somewhere since it seemed to be the only sensible vegetarian food they had on the airport. It was incredibly sweet bread drowned in butter and some cheese sprinkled on top. We didn’t finish it. At the other hand they have all these weird food like Balut (egg with a developed embryo inside), some soup made of the saliva of some bird (they had that on the menu of some restaurant we ate, I forgot the name, and it did not sound appealing), and plenty of other stuff.
From busy Manilla we immediately flew to Palawan island, were we would spend most of our time. We started off in the biggest city of the island, Puerto Princesa. From there we continued to Sabang. This place is well known for their underground river, which they were very proud of. It was quite beautiful and they had a lot of rock formations and bats. And even an action photo, like in theme parks.
There was also a mangrove forest where you could have a tour in a small boat. It was quite cute: the guide even sang us a song about how important it is to protect the environment, including playing hand trumpet. The guides composed the song theirselves with their group. It was so cute! This concert for the enovironment seemed to be quite representative. Wherever you go, there is very little garbage, and people seemed to be quite careful with the environment compared with a lot of other countries we’ve been.
We also crossed the bay by zipline, enjoyed some great fruit juices, did some swimming on a very quiet beach. All in all we had a great time.
The town was also very nice for some street photography.
From there we went to Port Barton. On the way there Lidewij’s big backpack was lost. It was on the roof of the van when we left, and when we arrived around 4 hours later, it was no longer there. Since all Lidewij’s contact lenses were in there as well we were quite scared of having lost it for good and not being able to do any snorkelling. The company of the van would send out some people on motorbikes to check the road. The accomodation we booked for the following nights was on an island about 45 minutes by boat from the mainland. Since it was already getting dark we had to leave, we quickly bought some clothes and went on and hoped for the best.
That night we got an email from some guy. His uncle found our bag, but didn’t have any internet. So he asked hit nephew to send us an e-mail. In the bag was appearantly something containing Lidewij’s email address. We were so lucky! The guy dropped the bag at some hotel (apparently we lost the bag when were almost at our destination), and the next day someone from our accommodation pickedup our bag. Nothing was missing. We were really happy that somebody honest found our bag, and it was not lost for good.
The rest of the time on the island was really relaxed. The island was like paradise: white beaches, clear blue water: so beautiful. There was no telephone reception (except for one very specific place in the kitchen), and there was only half an hour of WiFi each day through their satellite link (it was expensive so they rationed it), so there were no distractions. Just some nice snorkelling, and good hammocks were we spend some time reading a book. They had some nice coral just of the beach, and we even saw a very big sea turtle. No photo’s of the turtle or fish though, because of lack of underwater camera.
And Lidewij enjoyed doing a photoshoot with Rob and the travel companions.
Then we went to El Nido by boat. We could have taken a van, but our experiences with the company running those was not that good (backpack incident), and the boat was about as fast, and much more relaxed, so we took a Banka, the boats all the fishing man use in the Philipines. Basically a big motorized canoe with outriggers for stability. The boat trip was very nice, and there were a lot of flying fish flying away in front of our boat.
El Nido itself was not that great. It was a tourism hub, every spare meter had some restaurant, shop or hotel on it. Upside was that there was decent food around (we haven’t had good Pizza and Falafel in a while). Plus, we needed to be here, because the next thing we would do was taking a boat to Coron on a 5 day trip. The company running those has 16 basecamps on a lot of different islands in between and we would make stops in a lot of beautiful places on the way. It was amazing, but we’ll save that for the next blog.