Trip to Safari & Adventure Park Cebu: I know instead of I should have known! (Part 3)
El Nido. Palawan, Philippines. What a Trip!
As a Filipino it is almost punishable by death to root against Manny Pacquiao.
However, this time I couldn't help but hope he lost, (but not too badly). The reason why is because my boyfriend put money on Floyd to continue his undefeated streak. And if Mayweather won the fight, we were going to take a trip to Palawan, Philippines. When he told me about this bet, at first I didn't know how to feel. I have always dreamed of visiting Palawan, especially El Nido- Which is probably one of, if not, the most picturesque place to visit out of the over 7,000 islands that make up my country.
To place the bet, we went to the Waterfront Hotel and Casino in Cebu City. Of course, I didn't dare to follow him in. The fear of being overheard placing a bet against Pacman may have gotten me run out of town! Since we placed the bet in the Philippines, the odds (which were still favoring Mayweather), were a lot better than the bookies in Vegas were offering. I don't remember the exact spread, but I think it was 6-to-1?
That night was the fight. My good friend @bonjovey was hosting a fight party, so we took a drive 2 hours south to her vacation house in Dalaguete, Cebu to watch the fight on the big screen. Honestly, the fight wasn't too exciting. By the time I understood most of the rules, and saw how Mayweather was dancing around earning points soley by weak jabs- The fight was clearly in Mayweather's favor, and I didn't have to watch much longer to know the outcome. I did anyways, and it was still a great time since we had a lot of good food, and my sister @gerel was in Cebu to celebrate this victory of my vacation with me :)
That evening, we drove back and immediately stopped over at the casino to collect our winnings before heading home. I was so eager to run inside, open my laptop and start planning the entire trip! Since we aren't gamblers, we didn't be a whole lot- So I still had to be slightly conservative with my trip planning. No private jets to El Nido and no hot air balloon rides over Nacpan on this trip haha!
Since most flights from Cebu don't go directly to El Nido, we flew into Puerto, Princesa airport to start our trip. We flew in on the earliest flight, because the resort we were planning on checking into had a check-in time of noon, and it was at least a 1-hour shuttle from the Sheridan office to their resort on Sabang beach. We didn't want to waste any time, especially since we only had 3.5 days at Sheridan before heading up to El Nido.
(I will blog another time about Sheridan, as this would totally take over this current blogs direction)
Leaving Sheridan resort, we took the shuttle to a junction where we linked up with our next transport to head to El Nido. This is because the Sheridan van heads back into Puerto Princesa, and the road to El Nido is a completely different way. Plus, it's a 5-hour journey- So I am sure Sheridan wouldn't want to take us there lol. Since we knew the trip was going to be quite long, we wanted to travel as comfortable as possible-Neither of us loves taking long van trips. Looking online, we found a company called 'Day Tripper', who offered Executive/Luxury coaches for this trip.
Looking online, we found a company called 'Day Tripper', who offered Executive/Luxury coaches for this trip. We took the Executive Coach from Puerto Princessa going to El Nido. The trip cost was only P950, and they gave us free water and some banana chips. The van was super comfortable, with high backed, soft leather captains chairs. Enough space for 11 people, but it was just us, and one other couple. It even had enough headroom to stand up and stretch! This was definitely the way to travel, and almost as comfortable as taking a flight (if the duration was a bit shorter). We asked them if we could prepurchase a return trip, but they said they weren't sure if they would be in El Nido returning when we were, but to give them a call.
View from our the balcony
At first, we couldn't find our hotel so we spent about 30 minutes driving back and forth in the trike, while he asked random other locals if they knew the location. Apparently, it's a personal residence, transformed into a hotel and the face-lift didn't look like the photos. We finally got ahold of the owner, and he gave the driver directions and we were finally able to unload our luggage and lay for an hour before venturing to get dinner.
Since we arrived at dusk, we didn't have a lot to plan for that day, but the next day my boyfriend promised to take me island hopping. That next morning, since we got up quite early, we had our coffee and decided to walk to Merimegmeg beach which we found was only about 15 minutes from our hotel. While we were there, fresh on our caffeine trip- An island hopping boat pulled up, and a lot of tourists bound for the shores with their coolers and beach chairs and bathing suits. Was this what an island hopping tour was?
And what an excellent choice it was. Truth be told, at first when he suggested to rent a kayak instead, I was slightly disappointed, but I also never had this experience before and loved the feeling of gliding over such beautifully, crystal clear water and coral reef. We enjoyed it so much, that the next day we packed a lunch, and set out even further than we did the day prior. This allowed me to get some amazing photos that I wouldn't have gotten on the island tour, since the beaches we landed on were quite small, surrounded by deep waters. This wouldn't have been an ideal setting for the tourists to disembark.
Kayaking in El Nido
As the tide started rolling in, and the sun began to set- We decided to pack things up and start kayaking back to our hotel. As my boyfriend started to pull the kayak off the beach, into the water- He let out the loudest howling scream I have ever heard. This was then followed by him collapsing on the beach, revelling in anguishing pain. When I ran over to him, he was in shock and his whole body flush of color. He managed to tell me to stay out of the water and pointed to his leg which was lashed with red and purple tentacle shaped burns. Jellyfish. Not knowing what to do, he started scrubbing his foot and leg with sand, and then I poured the last of our drinking water on it.
Now, I am quite strong- But, I doubt strong enough to lift him on the kayak and to bring us home. Some of his strength regained after 15 minutes, and now we were racing against the clock to get to a hospital. Wherever that would be. We were worried the jellyfish was poisonous and deadly, and he may need some antidote. When we got into the town, him limping with obvious sting marks- The locals didn't seem to be so worried, so we didn't try to get to the hospital. One pharmacist told us the pain would subside, and that we were lucky it wasn't a deadly one. (Later, I looked it up online- And if I recall correctly, there are dozens of tourists that die each year from jellyfish stings in this same area. Apparantly, this is part of a migration zone for them, and the locals stay out of the seas during this time) Thanks for the warnings in advance! Well, at least the pain went away 4-5 hours later, but the burn marks stayed for over a month.
On the third day, my boyfriend woke me up early and told me he had a surprise for me, and to pack my small travel bag for a beach day. After our coffee, we walked back to Merimegmeg beach and captured some amazing photos of the sun rising over El Nido. For me, this was the highlight of our trip-Because we were the only ones on the beach at this time, the water was so calm, and the colors were gorgeous. I got teary eyed, and felt the love of mother nature. It was as if we a part of an oil painting, the colors and lights were perfect. And even though the sunrise was breathtaking, the sunset is well known to be the most beautiful on this beach, over any others in El Nido.
Sunset at Merimegmeg Beach
After capturing such beautiful photos, more people started to arrive, and he had another surprise for me. Since he knew I was slightly disappointed about skipping the island hopping tour, he rented a trike for the day and told the driver not to tell me where we were headed. We drove for over an hour, into the countryside. Down numerous dirt roads, and through a few fields before arriving at the beach I have been pining to visit.
I didn't have any idea where we were going because all of the travel photos I have seen didn't document the trip going there, only showed photos of the beach itself. This beach is a must-see, for anyone visiting El Nido, and we spent the whole day there swimming and drinking fresh coconut water from the seed. Now, I can forgive him :) On this day, it was his sisters 30th birthday, so we wrote her name in big letters on the sand and sent her a birthday greeting. Also, so he could brag about where he was in a nonchalant sort of way haha. His sister later actually lived with us for 2 months in Cebu, me and her became great friends.
Nacpan beach is super photogenic, with dual sands and ocean fronts, but the smaller stretch of sand is more of an area where there is a small beach village, where the locals thrive as fishermen. This beach is massive, and the absolute best beach to spend a day laying in the sun, or swimming. The sand is super soft, and there are a couple beach restaurants nearby to get drinks and meals.
However, it would be best if you planned to visit this beach for an entire day, and brought your own cooler, and snacks. The variety and prices in such a remote area, may disappoint you, if you just came from the town.
That evening, after dropping off our sandy clothes and washing our crevices with clean water back at our hotel, we went into the town proper for dinner and to do a bit of tourist shopping before heading back the next morning. Since we were traveling during rainy season, there were many restaurants that were closed- But there was a brick oven pizza shop named Altrove with fair reviews that was still open. Perfect for us, because that is what we were craving anyways. The pizza was great, and I was able to pick up a few gifts for myself and some close friends. Since the trike we rented waited for us to shower before taking us to eat, we didn't know exactly how far away from our hotel we were. The trike took a couple of shortcuts, which we wouldn't have remembered- So after dinner, and deciding to walk home, we assumed this was going to be a quick trip back. It turned into a 2 hour walk, but it was quite enjoyable. We just made sure the ocean was on our right side for the entire way back, so we wouldn't get lost. We slept great that night, and got up early the next day to try and get our luxury van, for the return trip.
Unfortunately, the private van we hired to get here from 'Daytripper tours', wasn't available for a return ride :( We got stuck in a small van filled to the brim with luggage and 4 people over capacity. The van was older, with bad shocks and brakes. The road going all the way back to the city was pothole-ridden, so I couldnt even lay with my head against the window as it would have bounced back, and broken the glass. The worst van trip ever-What an experience! Now we can laugh about it, which I guess made it all worthwhile back then, Even if we were yet to realize it :)
I hope you all enjoyed the photos, and if you ever go to El Nido- I recommend renting kayaks, and staying out of the water during jellyfish migration season :D