Seda: In order to get to El Nido in Palawan, we had a simple journey consisting of a jeepney ride, followed by a tricycle, a ferry, a taxi, a plane, a van and another tricycle ride. All in the spirit of fast approaching Christmas of course?! Here’s a photo of Andy in the payment queue of a local service station. The next photo is of us happily waiting for our already 20 mins late bus!
El Nido, we were told, was not to be missed. I still am not sure if it was worth the hassle but we have seen some amazing rock formations, many shades of blue and green and lots and lots of sea!
Andy: We spent six days in El Nido in total and during that time we went on two of the four famous boat tours available. These tours give you a chance to visit some of the nearby islands to do some swimming, snorkeling and even kayaking. We even tried our hand at underwater photography, with limited success!
Seda: Well I have to disagree with limited success of the underwater photography statement. I got some great shots of Andy’s feet, some rocks, half of my own face and the occasional fish.
Andy: After our kayak experiences in Thailand we were pleased when we were told we would be able to rekindle our paddling skills. On the first tour we got into our kayak and set off at light speed into an amazing lagoon. As we entered we realised that the water was so shallow the paddles were actually hitting the sea bed! We were only in about 6 inches of water, so rather than struggle any more, we got out and walked.
There was an awesome lunch prepared by the boats crew on both tours. The first tour we stopped at a beautiful beach and ate whilst sat on the sand. In fact, one of the beautiful BBQd fish we ate had been speared by the tour guide only the day before. The second tour was just as good, but this time we ate on the boat after some snorkelling.
Seda: It wasn’t all smiles for us during these two boat tours though. Unlike other tours we took part in, the people on these two boat tours weren’t the friendliest to spend the day with. One group liked playing loud music and singing along to it out loud…lucky us! They left their rubbish on the beautiful beach after lunch even though Andy reminded them to take the rubbish…they only said “someone else will pick it up”!
Andy: During the second tour we were taken to an amazing hidden beach where you had to climb through a small hole in the cliff face in order to get inside. It was well worth it though.
Seda: Our guide was telling everyone to be careful as they go through the hole. He was asking girls to watch their heads and boys to watch their eggs. I’m not quite sure if he realises who has the eggs though!
Andy: When we arrived at Big Lagoon the crew started unloading all the kayaks being stored on the side of the boat. Unfortunately our winning smiles and magnetic personalities weren’t enough to secure a free ride into the lagoon. We still had to hire the kayak for a small fee which we thought rather cheeky.
Time was short also, so we had to explore quickly. We managed to get around every corner of this jewel in El Nido’s crown, but we left thinking we hadn’t had enough time in this wonderful place.
Seda: As we reached the shallow waters, there were a lot of romance in the air by men pulling the kayak with their ladies in. On some occasions it was dads pulling their kids to entertain them. I’m not sure which category Andy was in but I enjoyed being pulled regardless.
During the first tour I unfortunately lost my wedding ring in one of the islands. Our guide asked us which island I thought I lost it, almost with a confidence that he’d go and get it next time when he is in the area!
Andy: Of course I would never say anything at the time, but I was secretly wondering to myself how on earth would she not feel her wedding ring come loose and fall off?! I just played the sympathetic husband telling her it wasn’t her fault and not to worry blah blah blah!
Well, it’s a good job I kept those thoughts to myself because during the second boat tour the exact same thing happened to me! I never felt a thing and only realised when we got back onto the boat. Gutted!! What a pair of idiots, but at least we match again now.
Seda: My mum had a good laugh when we told her about our rings. She said hers has never come off in 43 years and we could only manage to hold on to ours for 7 months before donating them to Filipino waters.
It felt as if the water had a grip on our possessions. Everything was falling off, our rings, our money through kayaking and even my sandals. During the first tour my loyal traveller sandals finally gave in as they had been threatening to do for a while. Whenever we had to walk/swim to the beach from where the boat stopped, we were asked to have footwear on to avoid the sharp rocks. In and out of the water, my poor sandals just didn’t make it through the day. Since we are now thrifty backpackers, buying a new pair didn’t even cross(!) our minds. Instead we thought we’d test out the quality of Filipino superglue matched with a night spent under the (considerable) weight of our bed. A repair I’m happy to report is still holding even after the second boat tour. Well, we repaired Andy’s sandals with a couple of my hairbands and that still seems to be ok!
Andy: The sunsets at El Nido were not that spectacular as it sets behind a huge hill/cliff very early on, so one night we went to a different beach which had no such obstacles. Las Cabanas beach was only 10 minutes down the road by tricycle and we got there just in time to get ourselves a good spot. It was really worth going too, as the sunset was spectacular.
Seda: While Andy was sipping his overpriced water on the perfectly located cafe/bar, I was fighting a hundred or so fellow tourists trying to capture a good sunset shot. We simply ruined one another’s photos as no one got a shot without anyone in!
We are saying goodbye to The Philippines and the lost rings of Palawan somewhere in Filipino waters. We never did find out why one starts with a Ph, and the other an F! The uncomfortable rooms we shared with creepy crawlies, white knuckle rides on jeepneys and tricycles, rubbish WiFi everywhere, weak water pressure, and 9 out of 10 items on menus being unavailable will not be missed. However, the wonderful people, beautiful turquoise waters where we experienced snorkelling at its best seeing amazing sea life will be missed deeply.