Wednesday, November 6, 2013

On El Nido and new found friends

Being someone who is not used to travelling as a tourist or to travelling for any other reason, I feel giddy whenever I think of a travel experience. When my friend invited me to travel with her to El Nido, Palawan, along with her friends, I never thought that the said plan would materialize.

Come the semester break, my friend sent me a message that she will book me for the trip to El Nido once I confirm my availability. I agreed for the trip out of the desire to satisfy my friend's insisting. Once she started to send me some flight details, the reality of the trip started to sink in. I was excited and apprehensive at the same time. I was thinking that if the Palawan trip would push through, that would be my first time to ride a plane and travel with "strangers".

I just had to document a moment during my first airplane ride. ^_^

For the record, I have never ridden a plane in the 23 years and 9 months of my life. Likewise, I have never tried going out on a trip with people that I only get to meet on the same day of the start of the trip. To elaborate that latter statement further, I was going on a trip with a friend I've known for seven years, and with 4 people that I would meet for the first time, or my friend's friends. So you can sense how excited and nervous I was.

Going to El Nido, Palawan takes an hour of plane ride from Manila. Of course, one can always opt for sea travel but it will surely take more time, which could have been spent on touring the place. My plane seatmate was one of my friend's friend. Let's just call her "Sun". I was very lucky that Sun is a nice lady and is used to travelling, hence made me feel safe during the trip. Nevertheless, I was not able to keep my hands from being sweaty out of anxiety.

When we arrive at the Puerto Princesa airport, I met the other three 'friends' for the first time. It was good that they were just my age and nice enough to accommodate me easily. We then went to the office of Fortwally Travel and Tours for the van ride going to El Nido. We paid 1200 php each for the round-trip use of the van. The bumpy road ride from Puerto Princesa to El Nido approximately took 5 to 6 hours. The ride had one stop-over for us to eat lunch. Sad to say, but I don't know why the driver brought us to an eatery that was very disappointing. The lunch I had was composed of rice, fried fish and a banana, which cost me 90 php. So much for a price in a place where seafood is abundant. Upon arrival in El Nido, we were directed to our hotel, the Marina Beach Resort. For me, the word that best describes the hotel is that it is "cute". The walls of our room are colored with stripes of bright green and blue. The room was decent and seemed affordable. I can say that it is sufficient since one would not stay for a long time in the hotel because of the touring activities in El Nido. I do not know how much is the exact price of the per night stay in Marina since we booked our vacation through Ensogo.

For our dinner, we dined at the famed Art Cafe. The place was very quaint and the food was really sumptuous. The dinner was accompanied by music from this keyboardist who played very well. Frankly, I appreciated the music more than the food. If I had the money, it would be fine with me if we eat all our meals in Art Cafe.
El Nido Art Cafe

The second day of our trip was the most exciting and memorable part. It was the day of the island-hopping tour. We were fetched by the island tour guide from our hotel at around 9 am. The tour guides suggested for us to rent swimming shoes and goggles, which cost 200 php. We also paid 200 php for the environmental fee. The islands that we went to were part of the 'Tour A'. We went to four islands: Shimizu Island, Secret lagoon, Small lagoon and the last stop, which is the Seven Commandos beach. Unfortunately, we did not get to drop by in the Big lagoon since it was high tide.

My favorite spots were the Small lagoon and the Seven Commandos beach. The former reminded me of the Middle Earth setting in the Lord of the Rings movie. We went there by riding a kayak, and the place was just majestic. It took my breath away! Once surrounded by the magnificent rock formations, one cannot help but to utter nothing. I was speechless for some moments and just basked in the beauty of what I behold. I did not bring a camera since I know that it cannot capture the glory of the place. It was also a good thing that I did not tag the camera with me, or else it would have been destroyed by the water when I fell from the kayak that we were riding on. The Seven Commandos beach was a perfect place for a panoramic view of the sunset. It was also a nice place for taking photos. It was a pity that we stayed there only for a short time.

Caught the wave while in the boat

Sunset in Seven Commandos Beach

We had our dinner at Altrove and Sea Slugs. If the waitress at Altrove would not have been cruel, their pizza would have been perfect. Food at Sea Slugs was nice, although I expected more.

Overall, I can say that El Nido is a place that definitely deserves a visit. I just wish that every Filipino can witness its beauty and the calm vibe that it offers. If given the chance, I would surely go back. 

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