Traveling to new places is on everybody’s wish list. The idea of exploring gives me goose bumps and to know a place because your friends have been living there for quite some time has a different effect altogether.The Philippines was a part of a big plan. We would go Thailand and then fly to Manila. We ended up staying for five months. Getting a taste of the city life in Manila, Island life in El-Nido and Mountain life in Sagada.
Friends of the best kinds has been living there almost seven years and exploring of any kind is their favorite thing to do. They planned El-Nido with zest and the flight tickets were booked in no time because promo fares have to be taken seriously.
The Philippines always has colors in its sky. The weather conditions here go from bad to worse in no time and in this entire process, the cloud play will make it even more dramatic.
On the day of our journey, the rain was unabashedly pouring. The flight landed in a clear sky, to the grace of God in Puerto-Pricessa and we rode for some time to reach a porky meal at Roxas. Further ahead, typhoon Queenie caught us by surprise but couldn’t keep us away for long from the crystal clear waters of Palawan.
Booking a Guest house online is a wise thing while you travel. Novie’s was very accommodating to our seven hour late check-in. Not very happy with the room I got, I threw a fit at my friend and took his and settled we were.
El-Nido Beach was buzzing and the narrow lanes were colourful with scuba dive shops and artisan café’s. Feeling like survivors, we chose one on the beach and dived into the food. Calamaris, San Mig Light, Prawns, Crabs, we had it all and the sunset; it takes the cake every time.
The freedom that one feels on a bike on a beach town is a feeling of the after world.
Hiring bikes and taking a spin around the entire island is the best way to see and feel at home whilst exploring a new place. Our tanks were full and the maps were ready. The first stop was Nacpan Beach.
An archipelago of 7,990 islands, The Philippines has mesmerizing corners in every manoeuvre of the boat or the road. The next day, we woke up to a cloudy sky and interacting with guests from the same guest house, we were given a gist of what can be explored. We bought a map, ate lots of breakfast and set off.
The road to Nacpan Beach was mucky and off tracking. When we reached there, the entire beach was ours and Mama Cita’s served us all that we wanted. The entire day, the waters kept changing colors and as we compulsively abused the Go Pro, heavy showers greeted us. Nothing changed as the beach became chilly and the sun took a break, a game of volleyball with the locals took care of the rest of the day. Lunch by the sea, you realize what a small world it is and you are a tinier speck in the universe.
Island Hopping was the POA for the next day. Woken by thunders, the morning started lazy but we did not budge from our original plan, so what it was three hours after the scheduled time. The process is simple, hire a boat, pay a minimal environment fee and you have access to all the islands in that vicinity for the entire day. Ours was called Stingray and it did pierce through all that we wanted to see. The big lagoon had way too spots to explore, the small lagoon was perfect for snorkeling, the secret lagoon looked mystical, Shimizu is where we had lunch which the guides made in fire on the boat as we kayaked and snorkelled and Seven Commando Beach where we played more volleyball and saw the sunset drinking more San Mig Lights.
The Philippines has more islands that can be explored and it is of course an unsaid truth that one lifetime is less. Its distinct culture in the provinces, its very off beat cuisine ( I ate crocodile meat here), it’s lifestyle and its malls, this country will make you feel home at once with their warm smiles and helpful nature. Filipinos are fluent in English and even though they have an accent, there is hardly any miscommunication happening. The country is yet to be hiked, trekked, rowed and flown over innumerable times before you can see it in its entirety and with all its colors.
The same year I was in El-Nido, it was awarded the “Best Beach in the World”.
Originally published here
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