Tuesday, Feb 7 — Puerta Princesa
JAL flight 77 HND > MNL. There are a group of English chaps in the JAL Sakura Lounge, so I ask, “How was the skiing?”
“What mate?” They reply in confusion. “We’re a rock band.”
I inquire further, and learn the are Don Bronco, and they have a Wikipedia page. I grab a nice dinner in the lounge and board the flight wich departs, on time, at 1:31am. Next to me on the plane is a mon traveling to Mindinao, to meet his new friend, a 30-year old Minanaowan. I ask his aga. “I was born in 1959.“ I’m not too sure where Mindinao is, but I think it’s the island which had some terrorist problems a few years ago, in the far South.
Our plane lands aroud 5:29am at Terminal 1. I have to get to Terminal 3 to drop off my ski gear, but as I soon learn, getting between terminals at MNL is a chore. Even though there is one runway, the terminals are spread on all sides, meaning one must go through Manila-infested traffic to get between them. There is a complimentary airport bus that runs every 30 mintutes between the terminals, so I throw all my gear through an X-ray machine and hop into the queue. The bus arrives and the driver stows everyone’s luggage inside the bus with the passengers, making it impossible to move from the front to the back. After the driver loads up about a ton of bags, we drive through the traffic to Terminal 4. Then Terminal 2, again trhough city traffic. We finnally arrive at terminal 3 an hour later. I go through another set of X-rays, take the elevator up, go through another set of X-rays and finally to the Belmont Hotel. I store my ski bag, chill by the roof pool for a bit, and then head to Terminal 2 for the flight to Puerta Princesa.
We land in Puerta Princesa and I am met by my hotel driver and we head over to the Canvas Boutique Hotel.
Wedensday, Feb 8 — Puerta Princesa
Thursday, Feb 9 — El Nido
Check out at 11:00am and drive to El Nido. Check into Lagun Hotel El Nido. It is a nice hotel, but really in a bad location far from both beaches, and next to a busy road on one side, and loud, early-rising roosters on the other side.
I take a walk into town, and walk along the beach to Caalan Beach. I stop by several hotels, thinking I would like to chnage, but nothing really catches my fancy in terms of a nice view or decent price. At one point, I pass a banyan that is filled with bats. For some reason I clap my hands, which unsettles the bats, and suddenly it is a circus of bat sounds, which sounds quite erie and even scary, considering it is nearing dark; the thought of getting bit by a rabid bat is also on my mind. I walk back into town and find a Ukranian cafe called Odessa Mama Cafe ’ Boodmo Brewery. Or course I give it a try. I sit at table with some Filipino tourists and we chat politics, etiquite, food, etc. We also drink some of the beer made on site, and it is quite nice.
Friday, Feb 10 — El Nido
Check into H Hotel El Nido - Vegetarian Vegan Hotel
Saturday, Feb 11 — El Nido
Moto over to El Nido Coco Resort and check in to room the Garden Bungaloo room 4. Kayak trip to Papaya Beach, passing Lapus Lapus Beach and Honda Beach on the way. Tiring paddle back against the wind and current. Cassoulet for dinner at La Plage.
Sunday, Feb 12 — El Nido
Woke up an biked over to the shop to meet up for a Island Hopping Tour A. Our group boarded the catamaran named Kenley. It was an excellent tour that started on Seven Commandos Beach. We then try for Small Lagoon, but sadly it was too full (which is an omen in disguise.) We then visit the Secret Lagoon, on Miniloc Island, and then Shimizu Island. We finished the day in Small Lagoon, also on Miniloc Island, which I have to say is one of the most serene places I have ever been. Huge note self: Try and go later in the day when the crowds thin out and the light is just right.
Road moto over to Marimegmeg Beach and walked to Las Cabañas Beach for an epic sunset, with many other folks. Listened to Smokebelch II (beatless mix) by the Sabres of Paradise, several times at key moments.
Monday, Feb 13 — Manila
19,000 feet flight. 31 degree Celsius.
Tuesday, Feb 14 — Flight home