Palawan Adventure 2014: Island Hopping in El Nido (Part 1)

Mang Berf, our van driver from Puerto Princesa to El Nido, helped arrange our first island tour in El Nido. There are four packages to choose from. We chose Package Tour A which includes Seven Commandos, Big Lagoon, Small Lagoon, Secret Lagoon and X.


                              

          

Palawan Adventure 2014: Nacpan Beach, El Nido

Nacpan Beach is not part of our itinerary. Mang Berf, our van driver from Puerto Princesa to El Nido, told us to visit it since we have enough time that afternoon after we reach El Nido. I quickly did some research and all the blogs I checked raved about it. With a little bit of convincing my friend, Edward, agreed to go. One interesting fact about the place was that there are actually two beaches in the area and they share the same landmass. The area is also called Twin Beaches.

Getting There

There are three ways to get to Nacpan Beach:

1) By van which costs about Php 2,500. The van can accommodate 10-12 people. It’s economical for a group.
2) By tricycle. It costs around Php 150 per person. This is the least comfortable ride because of the road condition – muddy, uneven – and when it rains you will surely get wet.
3) By motor bike. There are a lot of rental shops for motorbikes in the town proper. The rent is about Php 700.

Edward and I decided to take the van option with Mang Berf as our driver. Instead of the usual fee, he only charged us Php 2,000 (Php goes to the middleman). We’re glad we took this option since I don’t think we will endure the very bumpy 45-minute ride by tricycle.

Before we got to the beach, we made a quick stop at an outpost where we were asked to register. I expected a short list of visitors since this is one of the less popular places. Surprisingly, there were two pages of visitors names for the day. Those who were listed before us were French, Canadians, Israelis, etc.

Kyla’s Cocina

We had our lunch at Kyla’s Cocina where you can get a good meal at Php 200.

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We sat facing the ocean to enjoy the view while eating.

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The View: Nacpan Beach

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

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The View: Calitang Beach

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Twin Beaches

We went up the hill for a view of the two beaches.

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I was accompanied up the hill by Rolando, who showed me an easier trail.

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Until next visit, Nacpan Beach.

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Palawan Adventure 2014: Getting to El Nido

For his birthday week this year, my bestfriend and I decided to go to the beautiful islands of Palawan. Edward has not traveled much outside Manila even when he was still living here. He now lives in Singapore, so it would be good to take him to some well known beautiful islands.

Delayed Flight

His flight from Singapore was scheduled to arrive at 2:00 PM on Tuesday, October 7. It was already 2:45 PM and he still wasn’t out at the arrival area. I went to the check-in counter for our flight to Puerto Princesa which was scheduled to leave at 3:40 PM. I was worried we might miss our flight even if we already checked-in online. Gladly, he was able to join me at the check-in counter a few minutes later. One thing one must consider when traveling in October is the weather. Even if there is no typhoon, most of the flights can still be delayed because of the strong rains due to monsoon. Our flight was delayed for an hour. It was past 6:00 PM when we got to Puerto Princesa.

Quick Night Stay

We chose to stay the night in Puerto Princesa, and just travel early the next day to El Nido. El Nido is 5 to 7 hours away from Puerto Princesa – 5 if by van, 7 if by bus. I think there is also a ferry to El Nido, but I did not get to research it. There are no direct commercial flights from Manila to El Nido. You get a special direct flight if you are staying at El Nido Resorts, a quite expensive resort.

We stayed at Go Hotel, which is near the San Jose Terminal for buses and vans that go to El Nido and neighboring towns. The hotel is right beside Robinsons Mall where we bought last minute stuff – chips, toiletries, bottled water. For a quick night stay, Go Hotel is awesome. We got it for only Php 1,200 including airport transfer. Our room has twin beds, TV, A/C and warm shower. Since we were leaving before 6:00 AM the next day, the hotel had our breakfast packed so we can bring it with us.

We took a tricycle to the terminal and the driver helped get a van for us. We originally wanted to take the RoRo bus, but apparently its franchise was suspended in August.

The Ride to El Nido

It was not a comfortable ride since the van is small and we were seated beside the driver, the only seats available because we were among the last few passengers to ride. But, it was okay since we got to chat with the driver about El Nido.

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The road goes around mountains so expect a lot of turns (a lot of sharp turns). There were few vehicles on the road, most are buses and vans going to El Nido and neighboring towns and some tricycles.

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Some parts of the road were still under construction especially those near El Nido, so it could get bumpy especially when it rains.

There were at least two stops along the way. We got to eat our breakfast at the first stop.

Our nice driver dropped us off at our hotel, while the rest of the passengers alighted at the terminal.

The Hotel: Ipil Suites

One of the recommended budget hotels in El Nido is Ipil Suites not only because it is relatively cheap but also because of its proximity to the port and to the town proper.

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The hotel also has a nice view from its lobby.

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Some Helpful Information About El Nido

– Bring enough cash for the duration of your stay.
– The only ATM available is FCB – First Consolidated Bank, a savings bank in Palawan.
– Only a few establishments accept credit card.
– Electricity is only available from 2:00 PM to 6:00 AM. This is for the entire town.
– Download google maps on your smartphone to help you get around. Sometimes your destination is only a block away but the tricycle driver won’t tell you.
– The environmental fee is good for 10 days. Get your ticket when you pay so you can reuse it everytime you book a tour especially if you book with different tour agencies.
– if you take the same van back to Puerto Princesa, they will offer to pick you up at the hotel so you don’t have to take a tricycle to the terminal. It’s free.

What To Bring

– Sunscreen
– Baseball cap
– Waterproof bag for your wallet and other personal belongings
– Sunglasses
– Snorkelling gear (or you can rent)
– Aqua shoes
– Waterproof camera
– Hand sanitiser (lunch is served in oen of the island where clean water is scarce)
– Mosquito repellant
– Headache tablets (I had migraine after our second island tour)
– Plastic bag (For wet clothes). A big plastic bag for your beach bag while on the boat would be ideal.

Philippines: The Top 12 Beaches

So many more beaches to visit in the Philippines! Panglao next!

winairtravel

I have always loved rankings of world beaches but when no Philippine beach appears on the lists, I would surely get disheartened. How could someone produce the list of the top 10 beaches in the world when in fact they have not seen all! They could have just came up with the title, “The best beaches we have seen so far!” Sometimes, you cannot fathom why a beach in filthy Kho Phangan in Thailand is ranked higher than the immaculate beach in Playa del Carmen in Mexico. CNN produced a list of the world’s 50 best beaches and it created overwhelming disapproval when beaches in the Greek Islands, in Bermuda and in the Philippines’ Palawan were missed out. Also, Yahoo Travel featured an article ranking the Philippines’ best beaches and I thought it was not so properly done, placing El Nido at the top without even singling out any of…

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Hundred Islands in Alaminos, Pangasinan (4/19/2014)

Our family decided to take the 3-hour drive from our place in Aringay, La Union to Lucap Wharf in Alaminos, Pangasinan to visit one of the must see sights in the Philippines, the Hundred Islands. There are actually 123 islands. Our tour took us to probably a fifth of the islands. Among the known islands were Romulo Island (where Claudine Barreto shot some of her scenes for her show, Marina), South Island, Children’s Island, Governor’s Island, and Quezon Island. Quezon Island was the most popular and, expectedly, it had most of the visitors. We chose to drop off the Quezon Island, too, since it’s the one with most ‘sights’ to see.

For details about Hundred Islands – how to get there, things to do, places to stay etc. – visit http://www.hundredislands.ph.

With the family on our way to Alaminos, Pangasinan. My sister took this groupie while driving.
With the family on our way to Alaminos, Pangasinan. My sister took this groupie while driving.
On our way to the islands
On our way to the islands

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People can pitch tents and stay overnight on the island.

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Overcrowded Quezon Island

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Other islands from a distance

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Mt. Pinatubo Adventure (3/2/2014)

This place came about after the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo 20+ years ago. It displaced a lot of people and affected their livelihood. Now, thousands of tourists visit it to revel in the beauty that was created.

For this trip, my sisters and I joined Vagabond Pinas who arranged everything. We met in Cubao and left at around 2:30 AM. We arrived in Capas, Tarlac at 5:30 AM, got registered and got assigned to our guide and 4×4 ride.

Vagabond Pinas

Mobile:+63 917 852 2845
Email: vagabondpinas@gmail.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/vagabondpinas

Bought 'walking sticks' from these kids who were hoping to earn some lunch money from their merch.
Bought ‘walking sticks’ from these kids who were hoping to earn some lunch money from their merch.

 

Rest stop before we continued our journey up the volcano. This 4x4 was our ride in the rugged terrain.
Rest stop before we continued our journey up the volcano. This 4×4 was our ride in the rugged terrain.
With our handy walking stick
With our handy walking stick
Already tired! We're not even half way yet!
Already tired! We’re not even half way yet!
We passed by this small Aeta community on our way up
We passed by this small Aeta community on our way up
Sulfur
Sulfur

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With our guide
With our guide
We're close to the crater!
We’re close to the crater!
Almost there!
Almost there!

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Jumpshot... fail. Lol
Totally did not expect this view! Water accumulated at the crater creating this majestic view.

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Sisters
Sisters
Jump shot.... fail
Jump shot…. fail
Enjoying the view at the crater. According to our guide, some tourists set up camp here and stay over night. Permit has to be secured at DENR.
Enjoying the view at the crater. According to our guide, some tourists set up camp here and stay over night. Permit has to be secured at DENR.

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We left the crater around noon. It was scorching hot!
We left the crater around noon. It was scorching hot!
Aeta kids and their mothers
Aeta kids and their mothers
Tried talking to them but they don't understand me.
Tried talking to them but they don’t understand me.

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Rest stop on the way down
Rest stop on the way down
4x4's waiting of their passengers
4×4’s waiting of their passengers
Yep, we passed through this shallow river
Yep, we passed through this shallow river
These kids didn't mind the heat and the dust. According to our guide, they like watching tourists that visit their 'domain'.
These kids didn’t mind the heat and the dust. According to our guide, they like watching tourists that visit their ‘domain’.
Until next time, Mt. Pinatubo!
Until next time, Mt. Pinatubo!

Solo Travel: Baguio

I wanted to get away for a few days for some ME time before I go back to work on January 6. I checked for flights to Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and to local places like Bohol, Samar and Aklan, but decided to go somewhere near my home province so I could join my dad during the new year celeration.

Glad I picked Baguio because I get to enjoy the cool weather, the mountain views, and the fresh fruits and vegetables.

Forest House Bed and Breakfast

This place was my first pick because of the pretty rooms, its view of the mountains and the great food.

They only have four rooms and I picked the smallest one: Keanu.

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Breakfast is included and I had mine served in my room.

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You can hang out with friends in the common areas an get food and drinks served.

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Azotea Greens

Was originally planning on going to Oh My Gulay for dinner, but I wanted to try something new. Found Azotea Greens in the same building. They are a vegetarian restaurant. They have paintings that are hung around the area that I think are for sale in support of local artists.

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I decided to get Vegetable Medley which is a mix of boiled sayote, cabbage, zucchini, young corn, baguio beans, potato and mushroom.

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I almost finished my plate when something caught my eye.

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Major EWWW!!! I quietly told the waitress, she apologized and offered to serve me a new plate. I told her I was already full and it was okay. A few minutes later, the owner approached me and apologized and asked if he could get me some dessert and drinks. I just ordered their wheatgrass green tea with apple. They did not make me pay for the Vegetable Medley. On my way out, the wife of the owner approached me, apologized and told me that the kitchen staff has been reminded to clean the ingredients more diligently. The veggie worm was totally unexpected because of how she instructed the staff to clean them. They use an ozonizer and they lightly brush the vegetablea after they are ozonized. I understood what she was talking about becuase I also have an ozonizer at home. I told her it was okay and I would still go back to their restaurant. The owners are good, kind people and I’m pretty sure it won’t happen again 🙂

North Haven Spa

To be continued.

My Bestfriend’s Birthday Weekend

It’s been four years since he last came home. Even if I saw him last February and last July, it was still different having him back in the country. And I’m glad my bestfriend, Edward, decided to spend his birthday weekend in Manila with me. Yes, I made him fly on his birthday!

I almost did not recognize him when I went to pick him up at the airport – the longer than usual hair, the mustache, the goatee. But I forgot to take a picture!

Took Edward to F1 Hotel where we stayed overnight. Picked it because I wanted a place close to Bonifacio High Street where Edward has never been to before. I booked a deluxe room. When we checked in, was pleasantly surprised that they upgraded our room to a suite!

First thing we did was to find a barbershop for Edward’s haircut. Glad we bumped into one of my officemates, Paolo, who showed us where the nearest one was. (Yeah, don’t have any idea where to find one.

2nd’s

Took Edward to one of the best restaurants in the area, 2nd’s. Got one of their bestsellers, beef steak, and Edward’s choice, lamb shank caldereta.

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Because we were so full from our heavy meal, we walked around the area and went to Market Market to buy me some medicines for my colds. Bad decision because it was raining hard and we had a small umbrella. We got really wet. Worse, on our way back, I decided to buy cakes for to go so we can eat the cakes while watching tv back at the hotel. Well, while walking at the parking lot, the 2 boxes of cake fell, only one survived. Yay, we still got to eat one cake! Lol

Breakfast

Had buffet for breakfast

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And took pictures by the pool

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My sisters picked us up around 10am for a trip to Batangas.

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Acuaverde

We spent the weekend at Acuaverde in Laiya, San Juan, Batangas.

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We were joined later in the afternoon by my friend, Quennie, and her family.

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Morning fun

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Lunch in Tagaytay

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And a rainbow to cap the weekend

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