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Layang Layag: El Nido, Palawan
June 11-15, 2013

At the tip of mainland Palawan, Philippines is a town that is oftentimes mentioned in travel reviews. A town rich in terms of quaint, simplistic beauty, El Nido, is a favorite spot for travelers both foreign and domestic. Getting there requires heaps of patience because it is rougly seven hours away from Manila — one hour by plane, and six hours by bus or charter vans (it depends on the timeliness of the flight, really. In my experience, the travel took more or less ten hours because of a chain of events caused mainly by flight delays).

So. The day before we left for El Nido was also the day that PAGASA announced that it’s the start of the rainy season. But since the weather is still on that boundary, we were still lucky to catch enough sunburns and get a tan. The thing with the weather in El Nido, it seems, is that tour packages continue despite light rains and thick  clouds because being surrounded by small islands, the waves still tend to be kinder even at this time of the year.

Below is a gallery of photos that my friend (who took my photos at the lagoons) and I took during the trip. My fascination with lagoons, which started during my trip to Coron, Palawan (which in my opinion has better ones), has grown after El Nido. And a few more days after the trip, and I’m slowly beginning to believe that Palawan indeed is Philippines’ last frontier. If only El Nido is just a bus away.


Itinerary:

June 11

  • Catch the last MNL-PPS flight. I bought my round trip plane tickets months earlier before the trip. I am a sucker for seat sales.
  • Arrival in PPS. The Cebu Pacific and PAL Express flights were both delayed that instead of arriving in Puerto Princesa at 8 in the evening, the PAL Express flight landed at around 11PM.
  • Take the van to El Nido, travel overnight. Our plan on taking the Roro bus to El Nido was scrapped, because the last bus leaves at 10PM. But thankfully, there was one van that offered us a lift from Puerto Princesa to El Nido along with other two passengers. The catch: price was doubled.

June 12

  • Early morning arrival in El Nido. I remember the overnight ride being rough. The driver had to take a nap every now and then. Better safe than sorry, I suppose.
  • Check-in at Tay Miloy’s Inn. My friends and I arrived in El Nido at around 6AM, checked in at one of the cheapest (but nice homey) stays in town. Tay Miloy’s Inn is best for backpackers! At the price of PhP300 (7USD), you get a fan-room for two, WiFi connection, and a power generator running the whole house in the morning (electricity in El Nido runs from 2PM to 6AM only). Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take any photos of the place. They don’t have an official website either. But meh, there are plenty of them on other blogs, all talking good stuff about the place.
  • Quick breakfast, take Tour C (one whole day island hopping). Island hopping tours start at 9AM so we had enough time to hunt for a local carinderia for breakfast. We met the boatmen along with other tourists whom we shared the banca; there were a young French couple, and a solo backpacker guy.

June 13

  • Cancelled Tour A&B combo because it was raining. It was pouring hard when I woke up at 6AM and that continued until past 7AM. So we sort of decided to cancel the tour and stay home instead. But at past 9AM, after everyone has left for their tours (yes, others still decided to go to the isands and have fun), the sky cleared a bit, so we had to think quick. We had to go out and have some El Nido fun.
  • Nacpan beach before lunchtime. Bossing Rodrigo (of Tay Miloy’s Inn) suggested that we go to Nacpan-Caintang Twin Beach. It was 40 minutes north from the town, and the beach had no tourists but us. I decided not to bring my camera because it might rain hard, so I decided to just rely on my Nokia Phone. Photo here.

June 14

  • Fully-packed and cheap breakfast. We decided to go for cheap breakfast and bought some pan de sal, eggs, instant noodles, and coffee from nearby stores. And then we asked Bossing Rodrigo if they can prep it up for us. They are that accommodating!
  • Combo A&B tours. When I travel, I usually consult with the PAGASA weather forecasts, and they announced that rain will continue. Good thing their predictions are not always reliable. The sun was up in El Nido and we took a combination of Tours A&B along with another group of nine Cebuanos. I was able to take fantastic panorama photos of beaches (below) that I cannot name because there are so many of them!

June 15

  • Travel back to PPS before lunchtime. It was sunny the next day but my friends and I decided to just chill on our last half-day in El Nido. We walked to the nearest (which was not really very near) water refilling station to have our bottles prepped for the 6 hour trip back to Puerto Princesa (which we forgot at Tay Miloy’s Inn), and our last full and cheap breakfast just like the day before. We left at 11AM, Bossing Rodrigo escorted out tricycle to the shuttle van terminal and bid farewell. A couple of pit stops for lunch and bathroom break after, and we found ourselves at the Puerto Princesa airport.
  • Pasalubong shopping in PPS. We had extra couple of hours before the flight, so we decided to shop for pasalubong at a nearby tiangge and grab a quick dinner at a local fast food. Usual pasalubongs from Puerto Princesa are cashew nuts, trinkets, fresh water pearl accessories, and baked goodies from Baker’s Hill.
  • Take the last PPS-MNL flight. As expected, our Cebu Pacific and PAL Express flights were delayed  by an hour.

Other tips:

  • Contact Bossing Rodrigo of Tay Miloy’s Inn at +63.929.795.5756 for room reservations or tour bookings
  • Tour packages are usually for one day, with free lunch (but bring your own drinking water and extra snack just in case). The price ranges from PhP700 to PhP900 (16USD to 20.5USD) with PhP200 (4.5USD) environmental fee. If you are a nice guest, Bossing Rodrigo might give you a few discount on the environmental fee (wink). Life vests are included in the trips, but they rent snorkeling gears, so if you have one, just bring it with you to save bucks.
  • For more of El Nido, and other tips and stuff, this was one of my planning guides.

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