game.plan

gameplan

first plan: thailand-malaysia-singapore by train
then: thailand-laos-cambodia-vietnam
then: malaysia-thailand-cambodia-vietnam
then: malaysia-thailand-cambodia-thailand
then: malaysia-thailand-laos-cambodia-thailand
choosin and shufflin all in last week

now: 2 days before the trip: malaysia-thailand…gave up on planning already…

 

***
original plan
the original plan was to spend two-years in Doha, thats according to my job contract. then things started to roll out differently. i am on my third month now.

it has been a very wild-rollercoaster ride.

a good mix of hi-highs and lowlights.
i used to feel theres more blights, lowlights.
and then, i thought its a good mix of both.
now, in my clear mind, its all highs. and thats no longer an assumption. its an understanding.
i actually had a very good run(*have, im still here til tuesday, though it has been decided that its only until tuesday. well my exit visa says until wed. but i have a ticket already for tuesday. end of the story)

so i am leaving on tuesday. two more full days from now. and yes, i cant help but feel poignant. i guess thats the natural thing to sense/discern for a human being. glad that makes me a human.
***
 now back to the game
so now that i was able to let go of the emotional side of matters, good god those thought did sadden me for a good 30mins, let me continue with the gameplan. the exciting part that is.

i have always been fascinated with southeast asia. diverse. tropical. fun.

this trip is actually the reason why i headed here to work, just so i could come up with a decent travel budget for this trip. and this was supposed to happen not until after two years. after my job contract have lapsed.

but things went by swiflty, with its fateful twists and turns.

so the grand getaway came a little too soon. i failed to turn-up with an ideal budget and lack ideal time frame. but, heck, whatever deficit i now face… adrenalin and positivity makes-up for it.

i guess, just like in sports and life… and love… and poker
-sometimes its not what you have that matters, its what you do with it.

 

**malaysia is fixed and thailand. entry and exit for this trip. tickets on hand.
meeting jm in KL. will crash to her hotel. a free ride-a good start for the trip.
then to penang with sree, an indian friend(met through jm).my host in penang-another free ride.
from then on-its all on me…
perfect way to jumpstart this backpacking trip =)

 

 

 

Of bikes & beaches: El Nido


its one of those August days when the weather is just as erratic as president p-noys lovelife(o ngayon si Iza Calzado naman, asa haha).  past midnight and the raucous rain poured, for a close full hour. then there was complete silence before the break of dawn.

we decided to hit Matinloc and Tapiutan islands in Bacuit bay that day.

while were in the middle of our breakfast, dark clouds swiftly loomed in the horizon. and before we could even consume our tapsilogs in marina resort, the sky turned dark, so dark as dark as my batok(nape).

we had to forego the island hopping plan and opted to go with the biking adventure instead.  come rainshowers and thunderstorms, we will still be able to have our day packed with our adventures. so we headed to pitstop to get our bike. paid 700 pesos for the Honda XRM- rent fee for the whole day. they gave us instructions on how we can go about circling the northern part of El Nido, some tips on nice spots, landmarks and mileage.  grabbed our helmets and off we hit the road.

the first ten kilometers of road northbound of El Nido is paved and cemented. and anywhere farther than that is rough as rough roads can get.

first stop was Nagkalit-kalit waterfalls. it should be less than 20kms away from El Nido town to the jump-off. a small house at the right side of the road with a signage at the gate. we parked our bike then asked some locals for information about trekking to the falls. since we were trying to cut down on expenses, we decided to not get a guide and just trust manang’s tawirin-ang-ilog-lakad-sa-tabi-ng-bukid-at-kaliwa-pagbaba-ng-burol advice. Or in other words, go with our instincts. which is a bad idea. were terrible as we are, much more our instincts.

and just after the first river-crossing(it was quite difficult traversing the waist-deep water because of strong currents since it rained the night before, its only the first river-crossing and there are TEN of them), we decided to backtrack.

along the way we bumped to a farmer and he asked “where we are going”, i answered “we’re quitting the trek as there are several trails and we have the slightest idea which is which”( completely skipped us-had-difficulty-crossing-the-river part, its only waist-deep and were both guys, sabihin niya pa sissy kami, we maybe quitters but we have big egos haha). he said its easy( he’s thin and a lot smaller than us). so i was forced to quickly reply with a “yes it is (ehem) easy, its just that there are several trails… but given a guide we will definitely push through”  and quickly he volunteered his son, patay. so we continued with the trek… it drizzled on most parts

it took us 45mins and 4bruises( joke lang) to reach the waterfalls. it was not that high but its cute enough for photographs. we let-go of the swimming-part since there was already a light rain, and an impending downpour  was definitely seeming on the horizon. the water current was strong to begin with, even a slight rain may worsen it. this is one of those moments where the journey is more fun than the destination.

trekked down to get our bike and gave manang 20 pesos as tip for eyeing on the bike, shes not charging any fees for parking( yeah, were cheap =)).

next stop was Nacpan: a close bidder for my most finest beach destination. imagine a deserted beach with 4kilometers of gradually sloped, powdery sands peppered with tall cocos and clear blue waters. It fronts 3 small islands. plus, currently, theres only one concrete bungalow built there, so its pretty much wide-open. this should be less than 10kms away from the falls. this is apparently the roughest of all the rough roads i had ever  passed on to. blog  about Nacpan will be on a separate post =)

it was past noon when we continued our stride to the northern most part of mainland palawan. we went clockwise passing by barutuan, bucana and teneguiban. by this time, were cruising on with half of our bodies covered in mud, slippers covered with inches of mud, and prints on our boardshorts are no longer visible due to mud.

after getting zillions of stares and smiles( more on like  laughs) from the friendliest of locals, we decided to clean-up a little in a beach in San Fernando. swam a little in the serene waters with brother and daracoton islands in the backdrop. both islands boasts white sand beaches. the coast here was calmer and sand a little beige. after cracking down inches of mud and we continued traversing to the west side and hunted down for the lone eatery in all of northern El Nido.

and oh boy, the guy giving instructions in the bike shop wasnt joking when he said theres only one place to eat at. the nondescript babes eatery.  its a little hard to locate it since its not along the road plus the signage is too small and worn down to be distinguished by bikers( moreover to hungry bikers ).

we spotted down babes minutes later, before 3pm. its in sibaltan, northwestern part of el nido. met French couple jacques and marie( just made up that one for easier story-telling as im really bad with names, i even forget my girl’s name sometimes, and she tends to forget to control her hands sometimes, lol) our bike buddies in el nido. both nature-lovers, biologist and nature researcher by profession, fancy camiguin much. both very athletic as they chose to paddle their  way around the islands in el nido.

babes is a unique eatery. its very japanesy( lol), omakase-style dining. as a paying customer you don’t get to choose what food will they serve you. it will all depend on what is available in their kitchen basket on your visit. and I cant complain with the lobster, surgeonfish(labahita), fresh eggs and organic mangoes we feasted on. those were the fresh catch that morning. nothing beats fresh seafoods as they are oh-so-tasty and oh-so-flavorful. we were more than happy( and hungry) to sip the juices of the  lobster head to dry, eat up to the last rice grain, and consumed the fish til no visible meat can be traced on the bones. we were charged 200(foreigners) and 120(pinoy) for the complete meal. this is a destination in itself =)

after the pig-out, the pigs(ako piglet) raced to the next stop which is a beach in villa paz. nothing remarkably different from the other beaches in this area. a glimpse of bubog island in sight. a cute little island with a small tree and an abandoned house. by this time we were passing over the west side of el nido.

the shoreline cruise ended in new ibajay. we then rolled to the inland rough roads of new ibajay, villa libertad and pasadena completing the circumnavigation of the northern el nido (that sounded too explorer-ly haha). passed by scenic ricefields, forests, riversides and limestone mountain rock  formations.

continued the race with the Frenchmen back to el nido town. arrived at 6pm, just in time before pitstop closes. we used up 4 liters of gas(and 1 liter of sweat… it was hot as the sun was out the whole time were out on the road) for the full bike tour.

of course we outbiked the French breads. pandesal pride baby! haha
*Nacpan beach

*ricefields going to Nacpan

*scenery from the New Ibajay-Pasadena road

*approaching Teneguiban

*a kid in Babes eatery

*Jacques and Marie in Villa Paz

*Nagkalit-kalit waterfalls

*lobster & surgeonfish of Babes eatery

*bike route

Of El Nido and fhms…

if theres a picture of a beach in heaven, i am certain it would look something like this.

after the unwavering bouts of bickering with ken(Palawan Part 1) over to continue backpacking up north of Palawan or stop and head back to Manila, he finally did throw in the towel. us being hard-headed, coming to an agreement was never easy.

he’s return flight to manila was scheduled the next day so he can no longer tag along with us. so only me and the fat guy continued to head up north. our gracious host ken, still a little upset, drove us in his orange wrangler to the bus terminal.

it was a 6-hour bus ride to El Nido. 280pesos for students. i am no longer a student but i still have my student id =) and i was on a tight budget. so i just had to try the whole student-scheme. it worked out though with the bus driver.

so we held on firmly for our lives as we dangled with the metal bars on the roof of the bus as it traversed the stretch to El Nido. we were like gunghos swaying left and right as the bus zoomed even on street curves on the rough roads. eventually the bus engine overheated. we arrived at dusk. past 5pm. riding on buses can be a little daunting but apparently way more fun. it was like riding in a roller-coaster extended version sans the 360s.

we stayed in cliffside cottages which was cheap at 600pesos(300/pax/night). nice little nipa huts with two-single beds in our room. the only downside was, its a 3-minute-walk away from the beach. and 3-minute-walks can be far and difficult for drunken bastards.

what i love about El Nido town is, it is able to maintain its humble rural vibe despite its thriving tourism industry. moreover, El Nido has been on the tourism radar, not only to locals but even, to foreigners since the 90s. i remember marveling at its sceneries as it was once a staple on wall calendars. it was the Christine Reyes, heck it was Iwa Moto plus Christine Reyes of the calendar industry back then. it was so popular it regularly graced bank/grocery calendars alike year after year.

ofcourse that was before filipino’s realization that theres more to beauty, than what meets the eye. something that sticks to the mind… something that lingers even if hours had passed… even up to, most especially, the last moments of your day while on bed before you sleep(eyes closes, legs stiffens and big toe tweaks lol.you know what i mean =) ) , thus giving birth to the fhm hotties domination(and i am not complaining) on calendars.

our time in the island went past, fast like a breeze. the islands, lagoons and beaches were just divine. half of our days were spent frolicking under the sun, plunging into the cool south China sea,  and enjoying lovely vistas both under and above waters. and the other half relishing bottles of cold beer.

and since i started mentioning about the hotties. let me continue then…

El Nido has similarities to some FHM hotties. Like Angel Locsin– it has this angelic almost cherubic beaches. it has soft powdery sands and gentle blue waters. Like Marian– it is a natural, and unassuming. the naturally lush-green forests and the lovely and almost dramatic limestone karsts. Like Sam Pinto– it is bare, simple and still poses to be the numero uno. the town hosts no atm’s, no 24-hour electricity ration(automatically shuts offs at 6am), no fancy hotels, yet it is one of the strongest foreign-crowd pleasers in our local tourism.

and lastly, allow me to compare El Nido to Booba(o maraming booba ah)- it is sexy, fun and CAN be cheap if handled well =)


*meals start at 40
*accommodations start  at 400
*transportation at 280(from Puerto Princesa)

Dimsum & Tumblings

me and my friends have this unique take on food; which apparently can be applied on other things too, like sex perhaps; if its dirty its almost always good =)

ever since i had gotten myself scholarly educated about food some two years and 20 kilos ago(yes people there is such education, for a country to progress some kids are raised and educated to make modern skycrapers, some to formulate new vaccines to cure cancer and pimples, and some devote countless sleepless nights  in figuring that lechon skin can be crispier when pricked before roasting) my definition of travel and adventure has broaden.

Before, i was all consumed with beaches and beers on my travels, now i give equally importance to balut… and sisig… and lechon.

so on my recent travel to hongkong, the highlight of the trip was food and ok; Disneyland. the food was outstanding unfortunately the latter was a letdown.

Hongkong is an eclectic mix of old and new, complex and simple, luxurious and basic. extreme contrasts of some sorts.  from the simple island village in taipa to the millionaires lofts in Repulse Bay; from bargain shops in Stanley market to signature boutiques like Gucci and Prada. from dai pai dongs to famed Michelin starred restaurants in Fours Seasons and Shangri-la. i don’t mean to belittle 5star hotel restos, but definitely those $10 pig innards stew is way flavorful and aromatic than roast beef and roast duck combined. no kidding, you can unmistakably make out the smell of the stew one block away from their stall. its that aromatic =)

the highlight of the whole trip was the famed Michelin-starred restaurant Tim Ho Wan. it is a hole-in-the-wall tucked in a nondescript part of kowloon. if you cant read chinese, like me, just walk along kwong wa street and you wont miss the crowd lining up outside. wait time is 1-2hrs and sometimes it could stretch to 3( yes people, your flight from the philippines to hongkong surprisingly takes a shorter time than lining up to go inside Tim Ho Wan.) it was my first ever michelin experience and it did not disappoint. price is reasonable at $10-$20/dish. i love the atmosphere inside(para ka lang nasa karinderya) its jampacked, its small, its noisy. among the crowd-favorite are Sticky rice in lotus leaf and Baked Barbecued Pork Bun Pastry. additional orders of siu mai, spare ribs, prawn dumplings  plus tea costed us $78 or $87 for the two of us. thats a small amount to pay to fill a stomach of a person,(with person i meant patay gutom) with such fine quality of food.

another restaurant worth lining up for is Australian Dairy and, good god, we did line up. line was long that it reached the corner of another street. they make scrambled egg a gourmet dish here =)

with the hours spent on lining up for these restaurants, we could have visited china already… mainland china. but of course i will trade the great wall for food, history? food? id pick fried pig intestines in a heartbeat anytime. hehe. paborito ko talaga.

hongkong is a haven for streetfood enthusiasts. food are so aromatic it could shock your senses. straightforward and bold. and food presentation is definitely not on their menu.

the best thing about hongkong is definitely their dimsum. tatambling ka sa dami. wide-array of yummy to weird-looking dishes neatly stocked in bamboo containers. from your typical har gau and siu mai to chicken feet to fish head.  and here the way to go is point-and-shoot. you point to the dish and you eat it. no need for memorizing all those chinese names (those train station names is too much already.)  which they wouldnt understand just the same if you pronounce it with your filipino or fake english accent. cmon, sanay naman tayong pinoy sa turo-turo style, kunyari pa… haha…

hanging out in the howling winds

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i decided to travel to catanduanes only because i rarely heard of it and second, know next to nothing about it. my formula for adventure.

so i went to the bus terminal, only to find out that trips headed there are fully booked for the next two weeks. but the ticket seller said she still has tickets to albay and that i could take that and just hop into a ferry from tabaco, albay to virac. 800pesos. sounds like a plan so i took it.

it was a long trip to puraran, where the majestics is, my beach destination for the weekend. the bus left cubao at 4pm and arrived in tabaco a few minutes after 4am. it was a long uneventful ride. except for the pits stop in quezon where they served overpriced overly salty dishes. i could have eaten the saucer of pork binagoongan with a pot of rice just to balance out the taste but decided not to. since it was night time, there were no scenic views from the window, only from the seat across where a hot momma was seated. i just listened to some music, fell into short naps, some occasional glancing, during the whole 12-hour ride.

it was cold and drizzling in tabaco that morning. the ferry leaves at 6am. so i killed time playing with my camera. it was a four-hour sail. 200 pesos for economy but sneaked into tourist class quickly after the usual crew inspection, and dozed off most of the time. stepped out into catanduanes island at 10am. the land of the howling winds, second to batanes as  the top destination of typhoons.

as per google, i have to walk out of the pier and look for the road warrior jeep which will drop me off in the highway going to barangay puraran. followed as ordered. the jeep was huge, more like a bus. it sits passengers parallel to the driver like a bus. we passed by bato church which is along the highway. nice and old. it was almost a two-hour ride. 45 pesos.

a short steep,downhill walk from the highway to the beach. the view of puraran from the hilltop is indeed majestic. though the name majestic was coined as a description of the waves,not the beach in particular,by some american during the 80’s(yata).

the beach was serene amidst the big, rolling waves. very few tourists were in the area. less than 10 all-in-all at ako lang yata ang pinoy. i arrived in puting baybay(resort) around lunchtime. definitely the best accommodation in all my travels to date. 300/night for the kubo. and i got a balcony fronting the pacific.
a serving of dorado(fish), pickled vegetables and rice consisted my lunch. i liked it so much that it was the same meal i had every single time during my whole stay. sarap kasi anlutong nun isda tas sasamahan ng atsara. haaay. nagkakaliskis na nga yata ako lol.

there were only four guests in the resort that time. shinjin, a japanese who temporarily escapes the havoc in japan, and kenji and his dad from hawaii. all surfers.

the beach somehow reminds of marinduque. sand is not that white. only difference is that there are rocks on the beach. inuman sa hapon with shinjin. after 6 hrs and a liter of emperador plus beer, basag na. good times. dont remember much though. i know i woke up the next morning with severe hangover. lakad sa dagat tas ligo. spend the rest of the morning walking around the area taking pictures of anything and everything. may nadaanan ako nag-iinuman, gin, tapos humirit sila ng picture. request nila was to take pictures of them kapalit ay libreng tagay. ayoko sana dahil umaga pa. pero yon napilit din.

para sa kin the best part of going to the beach is doing nothing at all. sarap tumambay ng walang inaalala, walang nang-aabala. inom ulit nun gabi, lasing.. si shinjin parang yon fukushima naglabas ng toxic waste.. sobra suka.

like typhoons, i should visit this place more often.

three fools, a seatsale and a princess

Puerto Prinsesa


after numerous fateful attempts, i blind booked a ticket to palawan to seal the deal. one night, my sister asked me to book tickets to boracay for my birthday, then gave me her credit card. being the obedient brother that i am, i booked her tickets, and without permission i booked palawan tickets as well. with no money at hand, and no signs of money coming(jobless), i was only holding onto one my lifes guiding principles that “Things  got a way of working out in the end”-no relation at all. just felt like sharing it. lol. plan was to tell my sister after boracay trip. ililibre niya ako sa lahat ng gastos sa boracay e, tas yon susunod na week mgppalawan naman pala ako. bka bawiin yon libre. haha. epic fail though. she did know it.

its two months before the trip and its my first time to save money. first move: never did i touch money given to me last christmas. no divisoria shirt or boardshort even. and even in my meals, i became a forced vegetarian. since its half the price cheaper than pork and chicken dishes in karinderyas. fastfood chain was a no no. no taxis on weekend gimiks kahit gumapang sa pagkalasing. at bawal ang extra ulam. ang extra rice gang isa lang din. lol

in the end, i did come up a little more than 5k. good enough to backpack palawan. =)

this is the first beach trip of the woodies. my crew(parang gangsta lang). we used to live in kingwood, thus woodies. ken is from puerto prinsesa and he was there since last holidays.

me and moy took first flights to palawan, me on zest and the fat one on airphils. funny story in the plane. my parents didn’t know i was headed to palawan. i said im just gonna hike in one of the mountains in rizal. cos if they knew, they’l cut less on my allowance since i can still afford such trip. were on a tight budget as of press time cos a big move of me is in the works and il be needing a good amount of money on that. so we need to save as much as we can. =)

in the airport, i noticed a family who is also from our province and a good friend of erpats. so i sitted in a corner far from them. come boarding time, i saw them lining up so i hurried and while they were taking pictures in the tarmac, i settled quickly onto my seat beside the aisle. then pull my cap down a little and pretended to be asleep. the plane probably sits around a hundred pax. guests continued to pour in and  head to their assigned seats. the two seats beside me were still vacant’ then a slight tap on my shoulders. since i was bowed down i first saw the shoes. i already knew it was them so even before they recognized me(habang kunyari gulat ako) i gave my hi’s and my warmest smile to them. then we chitchatted and then they asked the stewardess to take a picture of us pa. wapak na wapak. walang takas. but i was still hopefful. sabi ko papunta pa lang sila bka sakali dahil sa dami ng mapupuntahan nilang tourist spots at makikilalang tao baka makalimutan nilang nakita nila ako paguwi nila sa probinsya. lol. epic fail again.

ken waited long for this trip, we did too, he pretty much planned out the whole 5 days. we just dropped of our bags then headed straight to the beach, honda bay. nothing spectacular. definitely less beautiful than how they showcased it be. good marketing. best part is Luli Island, the jump board. what made it memorable though is in one of my jumps, i landed directly on a sea urchin. at least 4 spikes pierced through my left foot. i peed on it as per mamang bangkero’s advise. it did nothing though aside from leaving my foot with spikes now added with stench. it did hurt im not gonna be pmacho on that hehe. i took it lightly though and just thought of it like a souvenir of my trip. so i was spiked for the rest of the trip.

what i liked most about Puerto prinsesa is the laid-back feel. people are relaxed. single motors and wranglers can be often seen on the tree-adored streets. you will never feel your in a city. on hot afternoons, i would take naps on the hammock under the mango tree in kens backyard  swayed to sleep by the provincial winds of Puerto. some nights we would hit reggae-themed bars and just chill or billiards. we pretty much covered everything there is to see  in Puerto courtesy of kens old orange wrangler with speakers blasted good ‘ol bob Marley songs. nothing beats fooling around with fools. good times. we met lots of interesting characters too. those two chics with babies. nico who gets high because he likes the “light” feeling so light he couldn’t dare lay hands and kill a cockroach. he talks slo-mo with a grin on his face every time. and their house is like the type of hide-outs of villains you see in pinoy action flicks; high fence, low-roof, few screened windows and a rundown bus parked on the backyard and boy he got decent epektos. kens dad is really cool  and chao long of Bona’s is the shiznit. badjao seafront is hands down the best resto in all of palawan. =) (i think i should get a freebie on that). baybay. mitras place. bakers hill. nichies.

one day we went to sabang. woke up early only to get stuck when our wrangler front left tire ran on a sharp stone thus a flat tire. our asses were well covered though since ken’s family has sort-of good “connections” in the city. we didnt need to secure permits for the underground river, and best part is we need not to line-up for the boat. despite the long line that day in the port somebody got us a boat all to oursleves =). sweet. highlight of the sabang trip is the boatman. that fukcin funny boatman jun jun. i was laughing the whole tour.

after  five days of fun, sun and good times, we bade adieu to puerto prinsesa despite numerous attempts of ken to block the el nido trip. after several arguments and cold treatment ken finally gave in and drove us to the bus terminal for el nido. he couldnt join the trip since he got plane ticket back to manila the next day.

puerto prinsesa is alluringly different from other cities. it has the city’s going-ons but with a rural’s fresh vibe. it has a busy thouroughfare; a number of nightspots; good beaches; and mountain rock formations.

it is beautiful. they would have not  named it princess for nothing =)

Siquijor Sojourn

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sabi ko nga ang Siquijor e parang pelikulang pinoy. kumpleto may drama, may horror, may fantasy, may action..kulang lang love scene.. lol

old churches

beaches

cliffs

mountain

and that mystical air of the place. its everything i hope it would be and more.

after psyching up Siquijor its time to explore the island

i woke up early around 6am, headed straight to the pier to catch the sunrise on the mindanao sea. unfortunately clouds loomed above and blocked the sun from peeping on to the island. it was a gloomy morning. i shoot photos of the pier, mangroves and the town streets instead. then i had a cheap breakfast at the public market for less than 100pesos for a fish, pork, veggies and 2 cups of rice.

tapos pumunta na sa paradahan ng mga tricycle para makipagbaratan sa rerentahang motor para maikot ang buong isla sa buong araw. 700pesos. ayos na rin dahil more than 90kms yon circumference ng isla. tas maraming pang sidetrips at may bundok pa.

unang stop namin ni manong sa Das Traum siquijor para mkpagcheck-in. yon malaking kwarto lang ang available that day. di ko na sana kukunin dahil malaki, pero nun sinabing 400 lang, deal na agad. anluwang pwde kang magbasketbol sa loob ng kwarto at sa veranda pwede kang magTennis. haha. tas ikot na.

clockwise. from siquijor-larena-e.villanueva-maria-lazi-sanjuan-siq. Salagdoong beach is really nice. I am crazy about cliff jumpiing  as of lately. and they have it there in Salagdoong. Its fairly high at more than 15ft i guess.

as per jeriks recommendation the best way to travel the island is through a motorcycle and he was right. well-paved roads, fresh air and the scenery, both seascapes and landscapes, were just awesome. some places were eerie, weird but in a cute eccentric way. like the black maria holding a skull or the three crosses on top of the hill.

i love siquijor. i cant pin-point though one exact thing that made me feel that way. im mistified

expenses
cebu – larena siquijor ship = 300
Siquijor State U dorm(1night) = 250
motorcycle rent = 700
das traum inn=400
a meal can cost you around 50pesos(karinderya)
no entrance fees in the beaches, falls, churches…
siquijor-dumaguete ship= 100
dumaguete-cebu bus=280

Chasing Coron

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the whole wednesday afternoon was spent contemplating whether to head back to Puerto Prinsesa and take a plane back to Manila or to move further north to calamianes. where the island Coron is located, a place which i had been wanting to check-out  for the last 4 years and for some reasons, something would always come up between me and the island. lol. its the last imperative destination on my local list.

so after sitting on a rock in a cove 2km north of el nido town, i walked back to our cottage to inspect if theres enough moolah left to continue travelling up north. and i had barely enough to stretch for 3 more days including transportations, accomodations, tours etc. but being the stubbornly carefree that i am, i was certain to set out the next day and just take it from there. i know il figure something out anyway.

so we went to the pier that night to inquire on tickets. with some twist of fate, i got a bargain from the security guard, scoring 800pesos less than the regular rate of 2,200.  it was a good sign.

i was early at the pier next morning, instead of riding the banca “joe”, which was full to the brim, i was asked to ride the other banca “welia”.  we sailed around 10. tada, maria, canadian guy and me were the only tourist on board. there were more crews than passengers. i bumped into tada and maria in el nido, theyre from a town next to munich in germany but currently calls hongkong their home.

it was some sort of like an expensive, long island-hopping tour sans water activities.  we passed by different islets of el nido and after lunchtime we sashayed between islets of calamianes peninsula. it was a quiet sail under the clear blue sky over the azul sulu sea. it was nice that it sailed along waters near land so we got to see all those beautiful islands. it was a smooth 6hr ride.

we touchdown coron minutes after 4pm. our boat docked at seadive resort, instead of the pier. it was big let-down as we passed-by houses on stilts built under murky, littered waters. definitely not the picture of coron i had in mind. we scoured the town streets for affordable accommodation. i opted to stay at seabreeze for their 350peso-room while tada and maria went for a more expensive lodge.

we met up at coron galeri the following morning. its a lot cheaper to share a boat so thats what we did. it costed us 650pesos each for the island tour. we went with another swedish girl and a filipino couple on the tour. the limestone cliffs are beautiful and so are the lagoons. it resembles to those in el nido only i favor the ones in el nido more. the lunch was so good. rice wrapped in banana leaf, lechon kawali, salad, grilled fresh big fish plus watermelons and bananas. damn good.

we toured kayangan lake, twin lagoons, reefs, an island and a beach. the sun was out and scorching the whole time. snorkling at the coral gardens was definitely a treat.

that night, i bade goodbye to tada and maria as i was hitting home the next morning.

i left coron 10x darker and 10x happier. it is definitely one of those hassle-free, most relaxed trip i ever had.

i am happy to finally set foot on coron. its the last on my list. long awaited. i can say now that i am already contented with the places i visited in our country. i can now travel outside =)