the last frontier was the last on my list of local destinations. and my first trip with the woodies( my crew, anlakas maka-astig lang.lol) did i save the best for last?
it was never intended to wind up all other destinations on my list first before doing this. truth is i had been itching to explore Palawan since 2009 but some sort of hindrance would always come my way like typhoon Basyang, or my supervisor( who happens to look a lot like Lola Basyang), who giddily disapproved my bi-monthly filing of sick leaves (i admit i WAS once a hard-to-the-core slacker at work; WAS ONCE).
well, this time, my will to come face to face with the final frontier was so strong it cannot be fazed by a typhoon, or supervisor, or the thought of missing an episode of ,ehem, face-to-face; kasawsawan!
finally, to seal the deal, i sneaked out from my sister and used her credit card for getting the plane tickets. i was lucky to get discounted fares; less than a thousand for my round-trip. i just had to do it, then think about the consequences afterwards. i know my trip will never push through not until i have those tickets at hand.
since i was travelling with the Ken and Moy, i know plans or itinerary was the last thing we would actually need. not because we are spontaneous, but simply because we are all too stupid for rules or guides.
i remember the last time we were drunk and jaded, with jerry, we mistook the words “keep away” to “play” fire extinguisher which ended up in inches of white powder all over unit 1901… which later on followed by messy dialogues with anal Kingswood condominium officers and the kapitan of barangay Tejeros, Makati.
with plane tickets at hand, and a meager budget around 5k(saved from feasting on okra, tuyo, and more okra for weeks, and from crawling going home instead of riding taxis on weekends i got wasted on cheap alcohol) we were ready to hit Palawan.
we were all, coincidentally, either kicked out or laid off from work. in other words, no commitment thus no one bossing us for a haste return.
armed with board shorts, shirts and malong, a sleeping bag and an oversupply of adrenaline and excitement; we braved Palawan- long awaited, much anticipated.
i boarded the first trip of Zest air at 8am, while the fat one on AirPhils at 8:30am. ken was already in Puerto Princesa, living in their provincial home since december. our flights were on time. ken waited for us giddily. he texted “san na u” every five mins.
ken was fat, kakagulat, he’s the size of Palawan.lol
we left our bags in Kens house and headed out. Honday Bay that noon, honestly, it is only Luli island that we enjoyed. and its not included in the tour. Honda Bay tour didnt live up to its hype, but, thats just me) owner of the island happens to be a family friend of ken’s. we spent five days in Puerto Princesa and it was a lot of fun. kinabuch, katabom, sabang, chao long. and its actually those moments lazing and fooling around, doing stupid/fun things that made it a blast.
honeslty, the thought that ken was a gracious host despite him being an ass in real person, was the kicker. my budget was scarcely spent. Puerto Princesa blog here.
after 5 days of probing Puerto, we continued to travel up north, El Nido.
we took the ordinary bus bound for El Nido, instead of airconditioned vans, to get that authentic feel since thats how locals do it, and we toploaded. it was a 6-thrilling-hour-ride for 280pesos.
it startles me, up to now, how this oh-so-splendid place manage to keep its simple, suburban vibe despite the heavy popularity with foreign tourist.
this place have been gracing calendars and magazine covers since the 90s but up now it is still under-develop, in a very very good way- electricity ration consequently gets interrupted by 6am, absence of ATMs etc.
theres an alluring remoteness feel to it.
it was the town fiesta when we arrived, talk about perfect timing. banderitas and merriment filled the streets. there was even a bikini open on our first night. El Nido, now thats what i call a
warm hot welcome.
our time in El Nido, together with new found adventurer friends, came to an end after 4 short days of swimming, running, exploring.
meeting and learning stories from these free-spirited romantics, i think, was what inspired me to take on that mini-southeast-asian backpacking trip later on.
we thoroughly enjoyed striking vistas overland and underwater. traversing islands and islets were just pure pleasure.
El Nido was everything i dreamt of and more… a lot more. complete El Nido experience here.
together with tada and maria, i( left moy who travelled back to Puerto to catch his flight back to Manila), continued to travel up north across the Calamianes group of islands, destination Coron.
the 7-hour cruise was a treat, moving past islands north of El Nido and islands south of Busuanga. fares at 2,100( but haggle cleverly and you might get it at a much cheaper price. got mine for 1,400)
we island hopped the next day-lagoons,lakes,reefs,beaches. all peachy and dandy. it was my last day on the island.
since my return flight to Manila departed at Puerto Princesa some 4 days prior, backpacking all the way to Coron was clearly not on the plan-i had to get a new ticket.
backpacking Palawan, in contrary with common knowledge being an expensive destination, is actually budget friendly. you know- if riding in an ordinary bus(we toploaded), or feasting on can goods, or getting drunk on cheap alcohol- is your thing. then its going to be easy as 1-2-3.
-probed Puerto via Ken’s orange wrangler,
-got stung by sea urchins then peed on it- as per boatman’s advice- which clearly didnt help, at all,
-rode on top of a BUS that sped up on hairpin turns at breakneck speed. yes, the bus overheated.
-met fellow romantics, enjoyed their stories of wanderlust. and lusted over them in return.lol
-a visit to some of the finest spots in the country for a little over 5 thousand
as clear as an expensive Evian water, i could say i did save the best for last.