Physically present, but mentally absent. Yes, that’s what I am right now. I’m back in Manila but I think I left my soul in El Nido. To say I’m overwhelmed is an understatement. I’m more than overwhelmed and I have no coherent words to describe how awesome that island is! I know I’ve made travel posts about it but there are some thoughts written better in another entry.
1. I love how El Nido isn’t very tourist-y yet. The whole laid-back vibe was simply a tug at my heartstrings. That was it, I fell in love on the island. I could see myself spending my entire life on that beautiful paradise – away from all the drama, the worries, the frustrations and just spend my mornings and afternoons on the beach, or on the waters floating like I don’t have a care in the world.
2. The island is like a little beach in Europe! Europeans everywhere. There were a number of Koreans, Chinese and Americans but the island was mostly visited by Europeans. The women are sexy and the guys are hot. Ever heard of that Tumblr site where they post ‘guys with beards reading in a train’? Well, in El Nido, you can make a Tumblr page similar to it but entitled ‘guys with beards in the beach’. Sizzling! I’m still wondering why Europeans like El Nido. Is it because of the whole laid-back lifestyle?
3. We stayed at Telesfora Beach Cottages and I’m still wondering why they named their resort as it is. Is it a word in a different language? We had a hard time remembering it. One time, we told the tricycle driver, “Telesafora, no, uhhh, Telesforira? Wait, I got it, Telesforte.” Say what? The tricycle driver butt in and told us, “It’s Telesfora.” Yay you!
4. No party clubs in the town, well not that I know of any. While walking along the beach front and at the strip at the back of it, we found no signs of clubs. Tourists like to sit around and listen to just good music while catching up or getting to know others. They like drinking beer with some acoustic music or some guy playing the piano (take Art Cafe as an example). So I guess this is the reason why those wild party-goers do not visit El Nido eh? Well I hope they don’t. I love El Nido just the way it is.
5. My friends told me that El Nido’s expensive. It is! Well, some parts of it. Our accommodation was reasonable given that it’s already the peak season and the location’s very good, so I didn’t mind spending money on it. The tours were standardized in prices so you can’t really haggle that one except for really private tours and trips to Nacpan Beach. We haggled it and got a really good price. The food though, goodness gracious! The food was expensive! Most of the restaurants in the town proper have a price of not less than 300php for a meal. Everything comes with a cup of rice and the servings are really huge, I guess it’s to cater the tourists’ appetites.
6. There are cellular networks over there! It’s not totally a dead place like what everyone says. They have Globe and Smart but no Sun. Though there are places that the mobile signal’s gone or weak, sometimes the wifi doesn’t work too. But hello? You went there not to play COC but to actually immerse yourself in the beauty of nature and make good memories.
7. Electricity is abundant, as far as I know. I saw a note in our room that electricity stops at 2PM and resumes at 7PM, I think something like that. Nevermind the time, but I was sure they had a schedule for the electricity. Our AC was running all night. And the resort’s television on the front desk was running all day as well. Not sure if it’s because they had generator or the electricity’s actually not stopping.
8. Climbing Taraw isn’t for everyone. I never knew it was that hard and dangerous. We were thinking, we are young, what can go wrong? There are a lot of things that can go wrong! Like not holding tightly enough on that small rock, or putting your foot on the wrong stone, or getting dizzy while climbing up because of tiredness or accidentally slipping on one of the rocks that you are walking on. We only realized how dangerous Taraw is when we had set our foot on plain land and looked back to that towering limestone. Yes, it’s the best seat in town to see El Nido from atop, but I hope you prepare yourself for the climb. Oh, wear comfy clothes like a shirt and leggings. Don’t ever wear shorts. Bring 2 liters of water and a lot of courage, energy and presence of mind.
9. I finally found a best friend I can be comfortable to be around with. I’m weird, the bad kind of weird. There are times when I just want to sit there and be quiet and take everything all in. I think and worry a lot. I have not made deep connections with other human beings. I like being alone and I like doing things alone. That way, there are no pressures and I don’t hear anything bad being told against me if I don’t agree with what they say or plan. My trip was actually a channel of letting go, conquering fears and living life. I’m glad I shared it with a person who knows me in and out since we were kids. It also helped that we had almost the same interests in things so we didn’t argue or fight due to differences in opinions and sorts. Have you ever had a secret that you just couldn’t live with? You think about it so much that you begin to think people can tell your secret just by looking at you. I’m glad I’ve finally let the cat out of the hat. Now there’s one more person who knows the real me and the real story and still accepts me with no judgments or arguments.
10. I realized I’m a beach girl rather than a mountain chick. I love soaking myself under the sun and under the water. My only frustration is that I don’t know how to swim sans life vests in the middle of the ocean. I hope I could try to get a lesson on it. I can handle the pool, but the ocean with all those waves, nahh. I panic and I’d find myself on the bottom. But I love how laid-back life can be on the beach. I like lying down on the sand and burying my nose on a book. The good life.
11. My take home would be the statement from the bus conductor while we were traveling from Puerto Princesa to El Nido. He asked us why we didn’t come in El Nido in groups or with our boyfriends since it would be a little dangerous for girls to travel by themselves. We told him that we wanted to try backpacking. Just an hour away from El Nido, he told the passengers that he could see we were the type of girls who could travel by ourselves because we trust in the Lord so much. We were awestruck and Alexa and I looked at each other and smiled. Indeed, we can travel because God allowed us to and because He allowed it, He’ll definitely keep us safe.
I look forward to another adventure with my best friend. Since she’ll be flying to Denmark soon, we’re praying for a Euro-backpacking trip maybe three-five years from now. I hope God will allow it as much as He allowed our El Nido experience.
Always remember, nothing is impossible with God. After all, He made the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1).
Other trip details:
Accommodation in Puerto Princesa – Liane’s Place, P900/night for two single beds (max 3 persons). No breakfast included but coffee/tea is available all day.
Bus from Puerto Princesa to El Nido and vice versa – Roro Bus (non AC), P295; Cherry Bus (AC) P450. Vans range from P450-P700.
Accommodation in El Nido – Telesfora Beach Cottages, P1500/night for two single beds (max 3 persons) in the garden view. P2500/night for the beach front. Breakfast included, kayaks and snorkeling gears for free.
Tricycle fee – P10/person whether in El Nido or Puerto Princesa; Jeepney fee – P8 to P13 depending on the location
El Nido Island Tours – Tour A, P1200 and Tour C, P1400; environmental fee is P200 valid for 14 days
Places to visit
Puerto Princesa – Baker’s Hill, Honda Bay, Crocodile Farm, Mitra’s Ranch, Firefly Watching, Baywalk
El Nido – Taraw, Nacpan Beach, Las Cabanas Zip Line, Puting Bato Falls, Bacuit Bay
Where to Eat
Puerto Princesa – Bona’s Chaolong, KaLui, Kirbausch
El Nido – Art Cafe, Mezzanine, Seaslug Resto, Skyline (cheaper)