They say: best leave on a high note. Every good thing is coming to an end at some point and so was our trip. Even though we were in the middle of experiencing all this craziness every day we were aware that it was unreal. Too nerve-jangling to go on forever, too overwhelming to still show appreciation to all the acquaintances, hidden gems and wonders of nature, after all these weeks. Nevertheless we saved the best for last. What a finale.
Arrived in Puerto Princessa we met a girl, we instantly started to call Moana, who would host us in her 10m^2 bed room for the night. Moana is one of those bighearted, charismatic, vibrant persons you immediately embosom. Moana was the epitome of an island girl. She took us to this commune like place by the beach with a bunch of filipino hippies and european free spirits. We had good fun sitting around the camp fire singing to the guitar and the drums all night. With us for the whole time, their little puppy Gaia, which means mother earth goddess. She was still so young that she kept falling asleep all the time – I have never seen anything cuter in my life. She joined me during the few hours I slept in a hammock until I couldn’t bear it anymore and moved to the beach. She later came and slipped under my blanket until it started to rain. The last couple of hours I slept in a tricycle hahaha. Actually one of the dudes lives in their haha.
MY NEW HAMMOCK
Anyway, my sleeping struggles soon were solved by a far-reaching encounter. The next morning a friend came to visit the commune to show his latest project. In fact he’s got a start up that sells hammocks with an included mosquito net (!) manufactured by local palawanese women. And the best thing, when you fold it, you’ve got a neck pillow! I was mind-blown… This hammock was the best investment in a long time and should change my remaining three months in the Philippines. (get yours here)
Earlier than we’d liked to, we had to say Moana goodbye and sat in a bus that would bring us to the northernmost tip of the island.
OFF TO EL NIDO
First stop: El Nido. This is what people come for. Turquoise, crystal clear lagoons, white sand beaches and loads of cheap alcohol. I hated it haha. Not the archipelago obviously, but the whole setting. Looking back it was probably not that bad, but from my Iloilo local point of view it was pretty disturbing. Firstly El Nido is decrepit and dirty, the restaurants super expensive and the atmosphere hectic. I remember myself only eating rice with soy sauce haha. We stayed in the shabbiest but most expensive hostel ever in an outside dorm. There was no electricity or water most of the time. The whole area just fails to adjust to the mass of people. It was little things like that, which made my stay kind of unpleasant. The island hopping was loads of fun surprisingly. Our boatsmen were pretty cool and they spoiled us with the best fish and ensaladas. Allegedly it was one of their birthday’s so we started the day with some Tanduay for everybody.
The lagoons were too beautiful to be real. I have never seen water like this. We snorkeled all day, visited secret lagoons, got our slippers stolen (?!),… But after seeing all that, partying at the beach – the whole gamut – it was time to move to another magical, lesser explored place. It took us the longest, most boring and expensive boat ride ever to get there but it was so worth it. I just realized that I’m simply not a beach kind of person; I mean of course I am but I can’t do it all day. Coron was the perfect alternative to catch up with some more interesting people and do some amazing diving.
DIVING IN CORON
In fact Coron is a complete diver’s destination. I didn’t really get why a lot of non-divers were with us on that tedious trip. Anyway it’s a lovely place far far off.
Right behind these rocks was our first dive site: Barracuda lake. It was my first time diving in a lake, but this lake is certainly not ordinary. It contains brackish water, which means it is combined of fresh and salty water. The thing is, the layers don’t mix, so at about 14m you feel a temperature difference of about 15 degrees. It was fascinating! My favorite part was when we were right at the boarder, half cold half hot. We weren’t lucky enough to see a Barracuda though…
That day was full of first times, as we were off for wreck diving – the island’s main attraction. One can find Japanese battleships from WW II at the coast of Coron. It was the most special thing to dive through the hallways passing by prison cells and a lot more. For some reason all the rare and poisonous fish seemed to live on these boats.
OFF THE BEATEN PATH
Our flight went from Puerto Princessa again so we decided to slowly make our way back south. Most people take a shuttle bus, but it’s ridiculous what they’re missing out on! The tiny town of Port Barton is an open secret, but San Vicente for example is home to Asia’s longest white beach and nobody’s there! It’s ironic, but alright with me haha. I remember our last couple of days as the happiest and laziest. Iloilo was calling for me. Time to get back to work… But wrench away, the best was yet to come!