El Nido. Named by Huffington Post as “The last paradise on earth”. It’s safe to say that our expectations were high for Palawan. We left Bohol via Manila, for the third time in a month, and descended into Puerto Princessa just in time to see an incredible sunset in the clouds. Unfortunately there are no photos of this event since the Brit in me wouldn’t allow myself to wake the angry sleeping man next to me so I could get my camera…yes yes I know, I’m stupidly British. Here’s a blurry iphone pic to make up for it. Once we arrived in airport it was just a simple 7 hour bus (!) to El Nido. We knew there was a bus leaving in an hour from the bus station so tried to jump on a tricycle to get to the station. Unfortunately we were intercepted by a driver who told us he’d drive us to El Nido in 5 hours in his Shuttle bus. I realise that in hind sight it’s easy for me to read back that last sentence and feel a bit like I’m watching a pantomime and should start screaming at the screen ‘don’t do it!’ but unfortunately at the time we were tired fools and only saw the up sides. Those being: we could cut out the 2 hour wait time and another two hours of travel. So dumb and dumber here jumped at the chance, especially with the low cost of 600 pesos. Unfortunately things weren’t as great as they seemed. We were soon joined in the bus by a great guy who was also intercepted and was trying to get to El Nido. We all chatted for so long that didn’t realise we’d been sat waiting in the bus for over an hour. We asked the driver why this was the case and were told that 4 more people were arriving on the next flight if we would wait half hour. By now we had missed the last connecting bus so we had no choice. Two hours later we were all a little impatient and stuck. This is when we were moved to the bus station where we waited yet another 45 minutes for locals to fill every nook and cranny of the van. At 10:30, 3 and a half hours after we landed we were finally on our way. ‘On our way’ in this context also means stopping every hour in the middle of nowhere with a delightful lady boy selling garlic nuts (no pun intended) from a wooded hut. It should also be pointed out that ‘road’ isn’t exactly the same as the UK roads. They are move stones in dirt that you ride on. It was like riding a 7 hour roller coaster. If it hadn’t been 2am in the morning I’d have loved it. The driver also needed to stay awake so played loud trance music for the entire journey. It was an…umm…interesting experience.
We finally arrived and found that we were not on the reservation list at our hotel. We had booked a few months before but at 5am we were happy when they finally found a random room in a cheaper hotel next door for us. We finally rested our heads on the pillow just in time for the roosters and building work to start. It wasn’t what you would call a great start.
But like all stories this one has a happy ending. The next morning we were moved to our sea view room that was all I could have imagined and more. It’s safe to say that as hotel picker, Lee did good and at a great price. The hotel has been perfect ever since and we are luckily nowhere near the building work anymore. We have spent our first few days in El Nido and are in love with the place. Before we arrived we had started to read what a tourist trap it had become and we feared the worse but…and I am wondering whether to just keep this quiet, but it is empty and lovely. At least here on Corong – Corong beach. We have wondered the island and it’s all local with the nicest Filipino people we’ve met so far. We are being mega lazy. Reading, watching sunsets and lazing around. Catching up on the two year of stress we faced in Korea. Tomorrow we are heading on an island hopping tour (there are four to choose from named A,B,C and D but we’ve heard the C is a winner so we are heading on that one).