A Travellerspoint blog

February 2014

LAST DAYS IN PHILIPPINES!

Still in Manila we enjoy sights and sounds of the capital and beyond.

TUESDAY 28TH JANUARY 2014 (DAY 150)

Yeah, finally there was bacon at breakfast!!!

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After such a good start to the day and as yesterdays excursion was such a brilliant success we decided to hit the road again and head out of the city.

Today destination: Pagsanjan Falls. Lyn & I had visited this place before on our previous trip to Philippines, we actually stayed here overnight. But today we were doing it in a day excursion out of Manila. The attraction of this place is the river boat tour where you are taken up stream in a narrow canoe to view the Pagsanjan Falls. Spectacular scenery and the novel way of traveling are the draw cards, and supposedly this is where some of the film Apocalypse Now was filmed.

From our previous visit I knew we had to catch a bus from Manila to Santa Cruz then a jeepney on to Pagsanjan - easy. With instructions from the hotel staff we walked a few blocks in search of a jeepney that would take us to the correct bus station where buses leave for the town of Santa Cruz. This seemed easy enough except perhaps the instructions were not as accurate as they should have been and the road where we were instructed to go to catch a jeepney was completely devoid of jeepneys. We walked back to a busier road that we had crossed and seemed to have an abundance of the vehicles in question.

Sure enough we were soon in a jeepney heading in the general direction of the bus station. Some very friendly female locals on this transport were happy enough to talk to us and advise exactly where we needed to get off and explained where we needed to walk to, to catch the bus. I think they were fascinated by female tourists of advanced ages who were venturing out on public transport for such a day trip. I guess most tourists would have opted for a all inclusive day trip, which was of course an option for us also, but at a more expensive price than going on public transport and much less exciting experience I'm sure. Isn't there a saying its not the destination but the journey getting there that makes it more exciting??

So we exited the jeepney when advised and proceeded to walk up the busy road in the direction being pointed out by our fellow jeepney passengers, also while waving goodbye and saying thanks to them. It was only about a 10 minute walk before we came across numerous buses parked along side the road and in a makeshift bus station. When the bus touts asked our destination and we replied Santa Cruz we were instructed to go to the buses parked around the corner. Low and behold there was the bus we wanted. We boarded, found seats and did not have to wait very long before we were on our way heading out of the city. I paid the conductor on the bus during the journey which took just over 2 hours to travel from Manila to Santa Cruz. From there we again needed to catch a jeepney which took us from Santa Cruz to Pagsanjan town, only about 20 minutes ride away. We were assisted by the bus conductor who rode along in the jeepney saying he lived in Pagsanjan and was returning home. It was not long before it became obvious that he was also a boat trip tout and when we aligned from the jeepney pointed us in the general direction of a certain boat dock.

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As we were not yet ready to go on the river we thanked him and walked away back over the bridge to the centre of town. Now the touts really came out and even when we entered the tourist office the guy there who looked like he was on staff tried to point us to a particular boat place. These guys are tiring, and we were stalked by one particular guy on a motor bike as we walked around the small town just having a look around. We wanted to find somewhere to eat and ended up back at the restaurant that was recommended by the original bus conductor / tout. We had an interesting meal of a whole chicken which had been deep fried while still whole. It tasted ok.

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So after lunch it was now time to head off and choose a boat tour. One good thing is that the price of these tours are regulated and are all a set price, so at least there was no haggling or chance of getting completely ripped off here. Each person was 1250 peso = $32. Passengers just had to decide on an amount, if any, to give to the boat men as tip at the end of the trip. These guys work pretty hard I guess, but they can also lay on the puffing and panting really thick. And in the last 10 minutes of the river trip they continually ask if you had a good time and if you did you should give big tip. They push pretty hard, but also are aware that there are signs up all over town warning tourists against harassment / overpricing and force-tipping from boatmen. We gave them 100 peso = $2.65 each, which was more than enough.

I won't go into detail about the boat ride and scenery but will just let the photos do the talking.

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Once at the top of the river at the actual falls we were transferred onto a bamboo raft that was dragged by rope directly under the falls. It was exhilarating (cold water) to say the least, and of course we all got absolutely sopping wet. The trip back downstream was a lot easier on our boatmen and of course went a lot quicker travelling with the river water flow.

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Our return to Manila was the same as the transport coming just in reverse order. By the time we were back on the bus with the air conditioning freezing us, due to our clothes still being wet (who thought to bring a change of dry clothes?? - not us as we forgot we stayed overnight last time and did not have to travel anywhere in wet things), we were again hungry. It was now close to dark and we had not eaten since before our strenuous adventure. Luckily for us food was brought onto the bus by vendors at every stop and we were delighted when we were able to purchase a warm banana cake from one such vendor. Next stop was even more a treat when I announced a girl wearing a KFC uniform had just boarded with a basket of goodies. A KFC burger has never tasted so good!

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What another great day we had, what another big day we had. Sleep came easy tonight.

Posted by Cindy Bruin 18:33 Archived in Philippines Comments (0)

A couple of days in Manila

We arrive in the capital city of the Philippines

SATURDAY 25TH JANUARY 2014 (DAY 147)

Breakfast was included in our hotel rate and was served in the Japanese restaurant attached to our hotel foyer. An egg, bacon or ham (but no bacon available and ham was the pre chewed variety) toast and tea or coffee.

After our delightful breakfast we headed out to the nearby Robinsons Shopping Mall to purchase some supplies. Our hotel rooms came with kitchenettes so we were able to cook basic meals if so desired. Craving for potatoes (I have vowed to eat no more rice!) would be satisfied here.

We had a walk around the streets surrounding our hotel, ogling the sights and sounds and smells (all of which were putrid) of Manila. A walk through nearby Rizal Park finished off a quiet day.

Tiny potatoes, pork chop and gravy cooked in our room kitchen was dinner. We had 24 hour power, hot showers and cable TV so staying inside our room was a luxury.

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SUNDAY 26TH JANUARY 2014 (DAY 148)

No bacon again at breakfast.

The weather is lovely and sunny without being too hot to walk out and about. We had a nice long walk today all along the waterfront boulevard. Again taking in the sights, sounds and unwanted smells of the streets of Manila. This is one of the poorest countries we have visited and like our last visit many years ago we noticed there are lots of people, not just single people, but whole families living on the streets under tarps or some even cardboard shelters. A real eye opener with such contrast between the haves and have nots.

Today is Dolly's birthday so what better way to celebrate than with a lunch at where else but Jollibee!!??

Later in the afternoon we when outside our hotel to the pedestrian overpass to get a birds-eye view of the religious holiday parade. One side of the road had been closed off for the procession which lasted well over 2 hours. Bands playing while locals danced in colourful costumes and others carried assorted dressed up statues of religious significance. It was all pretty happening, and we watched until the sun set and then the parade lit up and continued on.

We walked out a little further for dinner tonight to find most places completely full due to the large crowds still hanging around from the parade and festivities. We managed to find an empty table at Philippines famous Shakeys Pizza Parlour and enjoyed another fine meal to celebrate Dolly's birthday.

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MONDAY 27TH JANUARY 2014 (DAY 149)

OK enough of this total idleness, today we head out of Manila for a excursion to Taal Volcano.

With the help of directions from the guy at the hotel we managed very well on public transport.

Walking across the arial walkway down onto the correct side of Roxas Boulevard we flagged down a white van (20 peso = 52c each) that took us to the correct bus station. A bus departing for Tagetah was just about to depart, so we boarded and paid 74 peso = $1.95 each for an almost 2 hour ride in air conditioned comfort.

The touts were out to meet us at the other end as they know tourists only come here to visit the lake and the volcano. Having no real idea what the going rate was or where we were supposed to go to, we ended agreeing to pay 20 peso each for 2 trikes to transport us down to the lake. The price had started at 100 peso each, but this seemed a lot so my bluff worked until the price went down. Little did we know that this was a 30 minute drive down a winding mountain road that led to the lake. These were different to any another trikes we had seen before, with a very small side car (really only room for one) that was very low to the ground. Dolly and Robyn took the inside seats as Lyn and I sat on the back of the motor bikes behind the driver. What a ride down the hill it was! The adventure had begun. At the bottom we exclaimed what a great ride this was for the price, not realising that the trike drivers get good commission from the boat companies that transport people to the island in the lake.

Now it was time to bargain with the boat operator, but this time I did have a bit of an idea price wise as I had done a little investigating on the internet last night. Made the deal at a price of 4500 peso = $118.20 for the 4 of us which included boat ride to island and return, and horse ride up to the crater and back. Seemed like a fair enough price to us for just less than $30 each - a price we were happy to pay anyway.

We had a quick drink and then boarded the bangka boat to start the trip across Lake Taal to the Taal volcano island. As soon as we cleared the dock our captain pointed to large sheets of plastic that were folded up on the back of our seats. Via sign language he instructed us to use them to protect ourselves from the water splashing up caused by waves breaking on the front of the boat. Within minutes we may have looked hilarious but were mighty grateful for these sheets of plastic as we would have been well and truly drenched by the experience by now. The water not very rough and any little bit of water that did wet us was soon taken by the heat of the sun. It was an exhilarating experience.

We were met on the beach by the horse operator and as this was included in our package were let straight away to our waiting steeds. Mounting said steeds with the aid of a cement wall to bring us up to the correct height as to make the task easier. Having not so comforting memories of my last experience on an equine creature in Mongolia I was not really looking forward to this part off the volcano experience. However after getting into the saddle and starting off the apprehension gave way to adventure and already I was enjoying the experience. It was a dusty track that the ponies followed up the hill and at the start of the track ladies were trying to sell face masks to combat the inhalation of dust. I managed to fashion my sarong into a face mask, noticing Dolly and Robyn had gone the (tena lady) face mask option. Lyn also opted for the very fashionable face mask.

Each pony had its own guide who led the pony or jumped on the back to avoid the climb up hill themselves. It sure was dusty, with the hooves kicking up dust from the well worn pathway. I didn't time it but I guess the ride up was close to an hour maybe more. Views on the way up were great, and it was possible to see just how big the lake now below us really was. And it was much bigger cause we could not see all of it even from this vantage point. About halfway up there were a couple of vent holes with steam coming out that my guide informed me was the volcano. On first sight I just thought it was clouds of dust from the trail, but getting closer yes I guess it did look like steam and there was a faint odour of rotten eggs associated with sulphur and volcanic gases.
Almost at the top and we dismounted, but still had some steps to climb before reaching the top which was the crater. Climbing the steps and looking down into the creator I think we all expected to see a sea of molten lava bubbling away inside (as you would think of seeing when staring into an active volcano). But almost disappointingly we were greeted by a huge crater lake, but not disappointing was the magnificent views that we now had almost 360 degrees around.

After a photo session it was again time to heave ourselves onto our waiting four legged vehicles for the ride back down the hill. The ride down was just as dusty as the one on the way up and face ware was again needed. At the end of the track dismounting was a little jelly legged (for me at least) but not too saddle sore, and my experience in nags had been a little restored as it had been an enjoyable experience.

After tips to our guides had been distributed we were pointed back to the general direction of our boat after advising the guy who greeted us that he would not be receiving a tip for showing us the way back to the beach.

The trip on the boat back to the shore was a little more exuberant than on the way over, causing us again to be very thankful for the use of the supplied plastic sheet. All in all it had been a fun experience even if the volcano part was not exactly what we or anyone would expect when visiting the smallest active volcano in the world.

Back on mainland the fun began again, and we soon found out why the trike drivers waiting around waiting for a commission from the boat operator after we paid just 20 peso each to get down. The price we were first quoted for the trip back up the mountain to the town was a crazy 100 peso each. We walked along the road beside the lake in search of an alternate transport but numerous people told us the curvy road was way to steep for jeepneys or any minivans to travel. More like the trikes had tied up the market and now were able to charge any price considering everyone had to get back up to the town and they were the only way to do it. After a few arguments / discussions with several trike drivers, we had no choice but to agree on a price of one trike to carry all of us for 300 peso = $7.50. Still pretty cheap, but a sight more expensive than the 80 peso = $2.10 it cost for 2 trikes to get down. Robyn & Dolly this time had to squash inside and share the seat for the thrilling ground level ride, while both Lyn & I sat on the back of the bike behind the driver. It was indeed a thrilling if not very comfortable half hour to the top, but just another experience to add to this eventful day.

We were dropped in town at the bus stop and had a quick bite to eat in Macca's before getting on the bus as it would be 2 hours in transit before we reached Manila.

It was dark when we arrived back at the bus station in Manila and as our hotel guy had not advised us we had to cross the road to get a white van going the other way, we were not able to get a minivan that would take us. Frustrated we decided it was a good idea to start walking up the street and try to wave down a taxi. Of course the street we chose did not have a taxi in sight so when walking past a restaurant I jumped into a taxi that dropped off at the restaurant. It was just a short way back to the hotel.

A quick, crappy dinner at Slice & Dice restaurant and bed was not far behind. It had been a full, action packed day and I'm sure we all went to sleep with contented smiles on our faces at the enjoyable day we'd had.

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Posted by Cindy Bruin 06:51 Archived in Philippines Comments (1)

Back to Puerto Princesa we go!

We say goodbye to El Nido for the last time and head to PP via TayTay, then on to Manila.

WEDNESDAY 22ND JANUARY 2014 (DAY 144)

Couldn't possibly leave El Nido before a last last last breakfast at Squidos!! Have to say I am going to miss the place, and just as sour face was starting to become civil and almost cracked a smile - either that or she had wind.

We are not travelling very far today, just the 75km back to TayTay, but it is along the dirty unsealed road. Still it should only take a couple of hours so we hung around our guesthouse until it was time to trike to the bus station to get a bus. We did this around 1 o'clock, and managed to get tickets for the next air conditioned bus leaving at 2pm.

There is a wet market at the bus station and having a look around this killed some of our waiting time.

We arrived at the TayTay bus station late afternoon and before heading to our booked accommodation we enquired about a minivan to Puerto Princesa tomorrow. We were advised to be back at 10am in the morning for a minivan. That sorted, we climbed into one trike and rode the short distance to Pems Bunglows. We had stayed here on the way up when on the bikes so knew is was ok and I had emailed a booking to them yesterday.

There is not much to see or do in Tay Tay, we are only staying the night to break up the long journey to Puerto Princesa into 2 days. However the one sight of the town was within walking distance, only about 100 metres down the street, almost right next door to our accommodation.

This lonely attraction was the old Spanish Sta Isobel fort built in 1667, and so worthy of a look see since we were in the neighbourhood. Minutes almost seconds after we had entered the fort the rain started to fall. It was only light rain and we managed to scurry around the sight for a little while before the heavens really opened up and after initially sheltering under some trees we decided to make a mad dash for some shelter with a solid roof and hope the rain would ease a little. After about half an hour is did ease but just a little and it was decided we may as well walk the short distance home as this could continue for hours.

Back at Pems and dried off it was time to finish off a couple of already opened Boracay Rum bottles we were carrying and a fresh one we cracked just because we had it anyway. The hotel did not have any mixer but the little shop over the street did quite well out of us as each time a drink was poured we would venture over for a couple of bottles of coke or sprite as needed. I knew this rum was going to be a hit.

We had a tasty dinner at Pems, remembering from our last visit that the food was quite acceptable.
We retired to our 2 bungalows to have our last cold showers knowing that tomorrow we would be back to luxury of hot water.

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THURSDAY 23RD JANUARY 2014 (DAY 145)

During our breakfast at Pems just before 9am we were advised that our pickup for minivan to Puerto Princesa had arrived. We had no idea there was going to be a pick up and this was a different company to the one we were going to go with. But hey if they turn up here and save us a trip to the bus station we are happy to pay them the fare. And this way we get to depart an hour earlier also.

Again we seemed to be lucky in the fact that we had the minivan to ourselves as they did not seem to want to wait around to see if there would be any other passengers going our way. For a little extra we negotiated to get dropped off at the airport instead of the bus station, this was a little further for the driver, but would save us time and the price of transport from bus station to airport and as we were the only passengers this was not a problem. Reason we needed to go to the airport was the fact that our flight for the next day from Puerto Princesa to Manila had been cancelled. Now I had not been advised of this, but Dolly who was booked on same flight had received an email a few days ago. When I had checked online it showed that our flight was completely cancelled and we had been given a credit, not re booked onto another flight. I had attempted to contact Tiger Air by phone, but after being on hold for over 10 minutes I gave up. The best way was for us to sort it out at the airport.

The only other worrying thing was when I checked our next Tiger flight from Manila to Bangkok for a few days time, this was also showing as cancelled. Trying not to stress out for the last few days we had no choice but to wait and get it sorted at the Puerto Princesa airport.

So minivan trip was pretty comfortable as there was heaps of room in the van, and this time we made the distance without any mechanical breakdowns.

Much to our relief after visiting the Tiger Air desk at the airport we were all sorted out and rebooked on a flight the same day just earlier in the day. We were originally booked to fly early evening arriving in Manila after dark but now the flight was for mid morning which meant we would arrive early afternoon - a much better time for us in the daylight. However they could do nothing to assist with the other flight Manila to Bangkok advising we enquire about it on arrival in Manila. That was fine, at least we knew we would be escaping from Palawan. I for one, felt like I had been on this island long enough.

It was now just a short trike ride to back to our Casa Mila Hotel where we were welcomed back with smiles. After checkin it was still early enough for us to head out to Robinsons shopping mall for some last minute purchases. While there we bought some supplies from the supermarket that we were able to have for dinner to avoid having to go out again. A cooked roast chicken and some raw baby potatoes (that we were cheeky enough to ask the hotel to cook for us and which they did at no extra cost) and a few rounds of lemon beer!

Tomorrow we head to Manila and say goodbye to limited power supply and cold showers - we are heading to the Philippines big smoke.

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FRIDAY 24TH JANUARY 2014 (DAY 146)

Early start this morning as we were booked on 12.30pm flight out of Puerto Princesa to Manila so had to be at airport by 10.30am. After we were served our last cold breakfast (don't think they will ever get it right) we packed our bags and were ready to go, so loaded them and us into the hotel van for our free transfer to the airport. It was only a 10 minute journey away so before long we were at the TigerAir check in gate passing over our luggage and passports to be given boarding passes and the disturbing news that our flight had been delayed until 3.30pm. Bugger! Not wanting to wait around hours at the airport we were advised it was ok to leave and come back later in the afternoon.

Our only alternative was to head back to the hotel where at least we could sit comfortable and use the internet to kill some time. The hotel staff were not exactly surprised to see us back within half and hour of departing and were happy enough for us to use their facilities as a waiting area.

A few hours there and then we caught a trike into the Main Street to have some lunch before getting on the flight. Last chance for Jollibee, finished off with an ice cream cone. We were back at the airport by about 2pm ready for our 3.30 departure which surprisingly was on time.

The uneventful, short flight to Manila had us landing when it was still daylight. However, due to the time it took for me to re-organise our ongoing flight, it was dark by the time we loaded our bags into a taxi that would take us to our pre-booked hotel. I don't always like to have accommodation pre-booked, but at times like this is it nice and stress free to have a place to go to and not now have the drama of finding accommodation.

Our original flight back to Bangkok was cancelled (reason unknown or at least untold to us) so we now were booked on the next available flight that gave us a few extra days in Manila. Luckily for us this was not a big problem as we were not really on any strict time schedule, or currently had any ongoing travel booked.

Sitting in the taxi we traveled the relatively short distance in almost bumper to bumper traffic the whole way to our hotel. Manila traffic is crazy busy at the best of times, but we were lucky enough to be driving in the evening peak time as well. Finally arriving at Boulevard Mansions we checked into our age worn but comfortable rooms and went out again shortly after to find food. Not wanting to venture too far we ate at the 'Slice and Dice' restaurant just around the corner.

Again another exhausting day of travel, again not that we had done much except wait and wait and sit in transport, but when it takes all day to get to one place it can be exhausting!

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Posted by Cindy Bruin 05:07 Archived in Philippines Comments (0)

Fun days in El Nido!

Weather is good, lemon beer and Boracay rum is available so we are happy!

MONDAY 20TH JANUARY 2014 (DAY 142)

It was a very slow and lazy morning after yesterdays big effort. It was late late morning by the time we were up and organised enough to go and have some breakfast.

We decided on having brunch at Squidos on the hill. Same owners 2nd restaurant at the top of the hill just 2 minutes out of town. We opted to catch a trike to take us the short distance and it struggled fiercely with the weight of all 4 of us in one trike and the steep ascent of the hill. But the climb was not over yet, there were still about 100 steps to be negotiated before we were rewarded with a wonderful view of El Nido bay from high above. We seemed to be the only restaurant patrons and were surprised to see sour face lady from downtown Squidos greet us with a 'ah nice you could make it up here for a change.' I'm almost starting to warm to the old cow.

Anyway our food order was taken and thank goodness we were not in a hurry as it took ages before we were to eat it, which made us think perhaps they had to go downtown to get it. Not that we minded much really, we seemed content enough to sit and enjoy the view from our vantage point. At some stage while waiting for food to arrive we were even entertained by a couple of monkeys in the nearby trees.

It was a good couple of hours before we had eaten and left the hill top. Coming down the stairs somewhat easier than the climb up earlier. We even managed to walk the steep down hill roadway back into town.

That about sums up the excursion for today. We ended up as usual back at OG's for a few drinks and dinner on the beach with our feet in the sand.

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TUESDAY 21ST JANUARY 2014 (DAY 143)

After the wonderful time we had the day before yesterday on the island hopping tour we decided to do another day tour our before we depart El Nido. Not so lucky this time we had to share the tour with some unfriendly Russians and some others who stuck to themselves but didn't really dampen us having a good time.

Also the weather was not as kind today. The sky was dark and cloudy all day and we encountered rain on and off most of the day. It was so bad on the way home that we had to come into a bay just around the corner from El Nido as it was too rough to attempt to come in the normal place. The trip back had actually been a little scary with big waves crashing in onto the boat and everyone was soaked and freezing cold by the time we made shore.

However it was still a great day, lunch was again very enjoyable and plentiful - even with the full boat. Again pictures tell a better story than my words. Because the sea was a little rougher it was not as easy to swim at all stops but a good time was still had by all.

Back on dry land we enjoyed our last meal at OG's and said a farewell to El Nido as we will be leaving tomorrow starting to head south back to Puerto Princesa.

I had spent quite a bit of time here in El Nido in the last month - about 3 or 4 weeks all told. And although it's probably not a place I would super rush back to, I would also not distract people from visiting either. Perhaps the length of time I stayed is not needed, but if you happen to be in this part of the world at anytime, I would recommend you come and do a island hopping tour, eat mud crab at OG's (insist on getting 2 claws) and drop by for a great breakfast at Squidos and say hello to the lovely lady owner there (told you I was warming to her!).

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Posted by Cindy Bruin 21:07 Archived in Philippines Comments (1)

NORTHWARD TO EL NIDO!

Goodbye Sabang, Hello El Nido!

Hello Readers, as you can see I am finally starting to catch up on a few more blogs. Am still a month or so behind but at least they are coming. You will also notice they are bulked out by photos - 2 reasons for this 1. I can't remember back that far to write much and 2. the photos explain more than I could in words. Enjoy!

FRIDAY 17TH JANUARY 2014 (DAY 139)

Awoke to another beautiful day. I may not be mentioning the weather but this just means that it's sunny and hot, tend to only complain about the weather if it is not enjoyable. We had breakfast at the beachside restaurant today, bacon and egg of sorts.

Long travelling day today, starting off at 10am in a jeepney from Sabang to the junction of the highway where we pick up a van that will take us to El Nido. The traveling time a few days ago from the junction to Sabang in the minivan was approximately 35 minutes, today in the jeepney it took almost 2 hours, but we would not have missed the experience for the world. Crammed into the forward facing bench seats, which we had to climb over from the back entrance to get a seat, it was not the worlds most comfortable ride but an experience to say the least. There are no allocated bus stops in Philippines it's just a matter of showing interest for the bus to stop or lifting an arm and yelling out. People literately step out of their front door and step into the jeepney. Not to worry if your neighbour was also getting on the vehicle, the passenger did not have to go to the trouble of walking the 10 paces next door as the jeepney would just stop again 3 meters up from it's last stop. This is why the journey took so long. Travelling through a small village covering about 100 meters of road we must have stopped at about 6 different places for a pick up or drop off. This seemed to be the normal procedure so who were we to question it?

It was close to midday by the time we reached the junction and were advised by the minivan agent that our van was on it's way from Puerto Princesa but just running a little late. Not a problem for us we bought an ice cream and sat waiting.

Before too long our minivan arrived, already loaded with passengers from Puerto Princesa and we were somehow crammed into the vacant seats in the back of the minivan. I tell you the jeepney may have been slow and have no windows but getting into this cramped minivan where the air con did not reach the back was no picnic. But we grin and bear it - after all it was only supposed to be another 4 or 5 hours to our destination El Nido, hahahaha.

Approximately 3 hours along the road, after there had been a pit stop for lunch at Roxas the driver abruptly pulled the vehicle to the side of the road. We were requested to get out of the van and were shown to a local house where we were introduced to the drivers mother and family. They could not speak any English but made us very welcome by offering us coffee and big smiles. This was a very odd stop indeed, and within minutes it became obvious it was a much needed pit stop as we found out the brake pads in the van needed to be changed. Brings new meaning to roadside mechanics as this really was roadside mechanics as a couple of blokes from a nearby repair shop aided the driver in changing the front brake pads. Only in the Philippines would this happen, but at least we stopped somewhere pleasant and were entertained the hour we waited by the families farmyard animals. Chickens, roosters and piglets roamed around freely for our amusement.

Unfortunately this breakdown and repair did slow us down and it was dark by the time we arrived in El Nido after having travelled the last 70 km on the rough dirt road. It was again difficult to convince a taxi driver to take all 4 of us and luggage in the one trike but in the end they were game if we were.

We were taken into El Nido town and I requested we be dropped near OG's guesthouse, the place we had spent all the time at during xmas & new year. Of course this place was completely booked out but they were very helpful in assisting us to find another place, which although was in the back streets well away from the water, looked ok and very clean at 1000 peso = $25 twin room. So we opted to take 2 rooms it for at least tonight as it was too late to go looking elsewhere after such a draining day. I know we had actually not done anything today except sit around waiting for or travelling in transport, but even that can be very tiring.

We walked the short distance back to OG's to have dinner looking out over the night ocean view, after a short detour to the lemon beer shop. The staff at OG's were happy, welcoming and a little surprised to see Lyn and I back again. We had mud crab at 200 peso = $5, and a couple more lemon beers to celebrate survival of our long minivan trip. I had a bit of a run in with the waiter regarding my crab as it was short one claw - which as any crab eater knows is the tastiest part of the crab. They claim there was nothing they could do as the claw was not to be found so the crab must have come without it. Not to worry I deducted 50 peso = $1.25 from the bill for the missing limb.

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SATURDAY 18TH JANUARY 2014 (DAY 140)

How happy was the crabby old crone at Squidos to see us back, and the fact that we had bought 2 extra friends with us almost put a smile on her face. There had been a total change of staff so my timid little girl was not there to take our order, replaced by a girl out of the kitchen who did not speak much English and made me nervous that our breakfast would be a shambles. However the food all seemed to be in order and we enjoyed a big breakfast.

We enjoyed a leisurely day in El Nido today and I am amazed that we managed to kill the whole day with a stroll around the few streets of town and the beach.

In the afternoon we enjoyed a sundowner on the beach with our feet in the sand - OG's still had stock of lemon beer and we purchased a bottle of Boracay rum that we enjoyed back at our hotel.

We have decided to stay in the rooms here at Ricgem Place. Although the owner would not bargain and give me a better price on the rooms he is going to discount the island hopping trip we want to do so that was good enough.

Dinner at OG's again, mud crab at these prices need to be enjoyed while we can. I was sure to tell the waiter to make sure that my crab had both claws or there would be hell to pay. Imagine my shock horror when the crustacean arrived with not only one but both claws missing. Feeling a little irritated, especially after I had advised them to make sure all body parts of my crab were present, I spat the dummy and said I would not pay unless replacement claws were produced. This seemed to cause a little upset in the kitchen, but low and behold before our meal was finished 4 smaller claws were presented to me on a little plate. I'm guessing that some poor sap who ordered crabs after us was presented the beasts without the nippers and did so without an outburst, but OG's staff was wise to appease me as I make a lot of noise when dissatisfied. Writing about it now the whole episode sounds very petty of me, but be buggered - the claw is the best bit!!

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SUNDAY 19TH JANUARY 2014 (DAY 141)

Another good breakfast at Squidos, we were up much earlier this morning as today we did a island hopping boat tour organised by our hotel owner. Actually the hotel has it's own boat that does the tours so that is why they have the power to give discounts on the assorted island hopping tours.

The same tours are offered all over town at an identical price, you just have to be lucky or canny enough to find someone who will give discount. Of course if you book directly with the operator or boat owner there is more chance of this.

It was a brilliant day, with just enough cloud cover to make it hot without being unbearable in the sun. The end of the day we had a little bit of rain but not enough to dampen our spirits.

Somehow we managed to wangle what seemed like a private tour as we were the only 4 passengers on our boat. We made several stops - I will let the photos do the talking. Swimming, snorkelling and discovering hidden places. Although not much to see underwater the clarity of the water was breathtakingly inviting.

Lunch which was prepared and cooked by our crew on a scenic beach was amazing and included bbq squid, bbq pork, salad, fruit and a huge bowl of local mussels which were absolutely mouth watering. We were all pleasantly surprised by the standard of lunch.

Last stop was a beach where we could purchase a very overpriced beer and reminisce about the great day out we had just enjoyed. And it was a great day, we'd had lots of laughs and an all round fun time.

Totally exhausted after showers Miss Robyn hit bed early, the rest of us had a quiet dinner at a local cafe where Dolly was able to convey her order of egg and chips for her dinner, we were all not far behind in laying our heads to rest. It had been a strenuous day, but a goodie.

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Dinner that night:
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Posted by Cindy Bruin 22:17 Archived in Philippines Comments (1)

Well Hello Dolly & Miss Robyn - Welcome to Philippines

Our two new travel companions join us today from England and Australia via Bangkok and Manila.

MONDAY 13TH JANUARY 2014 (DAY 135)

We had another electricity filled day at the hotel. Using internet, watching TV and sitting in the air conditioning. There was no need for us to go out today as we had purchased supplies yesterday while at the shopping centre to have for lunch.

This evening our travel companions arrived from Bangkok via Manila. Dolly (from London) and Robyn (from Brisbane) arrived at the hotel at 6.30pm and we were all given a welcome drink by the hotel. Lyn and I missed our welcome drink at checkin due to the late hour, but they were happy to give us a glass now - on tasting it I understood why.

The four of us are going to be travelling together for the next couple of months and we raised our glasses (some kind of fruit punch) in celebration of the experiences to come!

We decided to stay close and had dinner at the hotel. It was a nice introduction to the Philippines for our two new travel companions staying at this comfortable 24 hour electricity hotel. We advised them to enjoy the air con and hot water and daytime electricity while they could, as the standard of comfort would only go down once we left Puerto Princesa.

TUESDAY 14TH JANUARY 2014 (DAY 136)

After another serving of a cold breakfast (sure they cooked it an hour before serving even though we could elect the time we wanted it served) we decided to try and squeeze the 4 of us into a trike and head off to the Robinson shopping centre for a look around. Again easing the new ladies into the Philippines, this was a show of civilisation that would disappear as soon as we left the main town.

After a bit of negotiating with the trike driver, first to take all four of us at once and then for a price that was agreeable, we all managed to squeeze into said trike and take off.

It was a warm day and the air conditioning of the shopping mall was appreciated. And this was the prime opportunity to introduce our friends to the culinary delights of Jollibee. Although I think in reality I was the only real fan of Jollibee, but they were gracious enough to try it.

Back at the hotel in the afternoon we had cheese and crackers (complements of Miss Robyn who brought them from Australia - big thank you) and Lyn & I introduced the ladies to the local Boracay Rum that we had already grown to love. Of course this was a hit with Robyn and Dolly as well and would set the mood for the rest of our travels in the Philippines.

A bottle did not seem to last very long now with four of us drinking it. 2 drinks each and the bottle was empty. Good thing it was only 100 peso = $2.50 per bottle. The mixer was almost as expensive as the rum.

We also enjoyed an absolutely delicious fruit cake that Dolly had bought all the way from England. Unfortunately, everyone liked this cake as well so it did not last very long either.

Later on, we again all squeezed into a trike to go to dinner at Kinabuch restaurant. Sizzling crocodile and some other dishes were all washed down with a couple of lemon beers which were also soon to become a favourite when we could find cold ones.

Our last night to enjoy hot showers, TV and all day electricity for awhile as they will all be a longing memory of the past when we move on tomorrow.

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WEDNESDAY 15TH JANUARY 2014 (DAY137)

The hotel receptionist asked us last night what time we would like to have breakfast served. She did not seem to understand when I asked her what time was it going to be cooked and we would like it served at this time. There was a nervous giggle as we tried to explain we wanted it when it was just cooked and still hot. A time was agreed and we went to bed with fingers crossed we might be served a hot or even warmish breakfast.

Hahahaha - breakfast is obviously a meal served cold!! We were dreaming!

The hotel was happy enough to store some of our luggage since we had paid for another night which we would use on our return the night before we flew out to Manila.

Our plan for today was all 4 of us squeeze into a trike (this time with luggage) and go to the bus station to catch a jeepney bus from Puerto Princesa to Sabang. En route to the bus station I negotiated with the trike driver to stop at the office where we could purchase permits for Robyn and Dolly to visit the underground river. This went to plan with the trike driver, after stopping for fuel, happy to wait while we went inside the office.

First hiccup, due to bad weather the last few days trips to the underground river had been cancelled and they were still working on the backlog so we would not be able to get a time slot for tomorrow. We had to settle for Friday instead. Not being in any great hurry, but also knowing that there is bugger all in Sabang, we had little choice but to agree to booking for Friday. Good news was the ladies did not have to pay for the permits until arrival in Sabang just in case the weather was again bad and trips cancelled.

By now it was lunch time and we were dropped off at Robinsons to have some food before getting on the bus. My vote went for Jollibee and no one else seemed to have the energy to suggest elsewhere so that's where we had lunch. (think I am starting to turn them).

Lunch over another trike to the bus station, we arrived just as the rain started. It was not very heavy and seemed to cool it down a bit.

Second hiccup, of course there is only one jeepney a day to Sabang and it left early in the morning. Next option was to get a mini van but of course they were booked out and we would have to wait a couple of hours to get the next available free seats. Little choice but to hang around the bus station and wait our turn, glad in the fact we had stopped and had some lunch.

Finally we departed and were on our way to Sabang. I recalled the last time Lyn & I rode on this same road was on the little 50cc motorbike that I was sure would never make the distance. It was a much faster journey in the minivan, albeit not as exciting. 2 hours later we were there.

It was late afternoon when we arrived in the one street town and started looking for suitable accommodation. Funny we ended up in the same guesthouse as where we stayed last time with me convincing the young lad in charge that the boss (who was currently on a trip to Puerto Princesa for a drink or 14) would only charge us as much as we paid last time for the 2 rooms. He did finally relent and agreed to my price and we put our stuff in the rooms.

No power on here yet as it only comes on at 6pm. We went out looking for a cold drink and found some semi cool but the best the town had to offer. We remembered from last visit a cafe that sold lemon beer but it was closed for a few days holiday and we mentally cursed the owner as his was the only establishment in town that sold lemon beer.

Dinner we enjoyed at the lechon/chicken shack with a few beers and a few more laughs.

Cold showers all round here tonight - welcome to outback Philippines Ladies.

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THURSDAY 16TH JANUARY 2014 (DAY 138)

Power went off at 6am.

Breakfast today was a burger from the burger stand near the beach and a fruit shake. Pretty good and the burger was a lot warmer than the pre cooked food we have been having the last few mornings.

Even though Robyn and Dolly were booked for an underground river tour tomorrow - Friday - I suggested they go and try and get there today. It was just a matter of going to the port authority and paying the permit fee plus port tax and they were able to go today. This was good news as it meant we did not have to spend 3 nights here in Sabang, only 2. Not that it's a bad place, but just nothing to do or see except the underground river, that's about the only reason anyone comes here and most people do it in a day trip from Puerto Princesa.

Now was just a matter of sharing a boat with others to avoid paying the full price for entire boat and then wait your turn. Getting in with a tour group was easy but we did have to wait over an hour before their boat number was called. Still there was nothing else to do and it was a prime spot for people watching and putting shit on Russian tourists.

When the ladies were called to board the boat Lyn & I went off to try and find a way to get to our next destination. Waving the ladies off, we notice that within 2 minutes into their trip that their bangka boat had come to a complete stop in the middle of the water. It was soon realised that something was amiss and another boat is sent over to them where they had to transfer mid ocean from one boat to the other. Once everyone was transferred to the second boat they were again on their way.

So back to finding info for next destination. I was thinking of trying to get to Port Barton, a town north of here on the west coast where we had not yet visited. Like Sabang to get to this town you need to travel on a small road off the main highway which travels up the centre of the island. But the road to Port Barton is apparently in pretty bad shape and they do not have a regular minivan service there as the road is too rough for minivans. Apparently the only way to get there is by bangka boat from here in Sabang or by hiring a private 4 wheel drive to take us there. Both these options were very expensive and after viewing the boat they wanted to put us in for the 4 hour sea option my interest in Port Barton waned somewhat. Then considering the price requested for the 4 wheel drive my interest just about disappeared completely.

The decision was made that we would just bite the bullet and do the run all the way up to El Nido in one day. We managed it with 2 of us on a 50cc scooter a few weeks ago so it would be a much easier excursion in a minivan. Tickets were purchased at almost the same price for four of us as it would have cost for one of us to get to Port Barton.

A few hours later Dolly and Robyn returned after having enjoyed the excitement of their boat breakdown and seeing the underground river.

After dinner we had a small celebration in our room to a successful day, toasted by a few drinks enjoyed out of another bottle of Boracay Rum. Cold showers all round did not dampen our enthusiasm for the coming adventures.

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Posted by Cindy Bruin 23:58 Archived in Philippines Comments (3)

2014 JANUARY PHILIPPINES - Not all cruises are enjoyable!

As we wave goodbye to Coron and sail to Puerto Princesa we endure a rough sea voyage, only to recover with a few days of 24 hour electricity to return us to humans.

SATURDAY 11TH JANUARY 2014 (DAY 133)

Today we are on the big ship from Coron back to Puerto Princessa. Managed to purchase tickets online and just made it to the 2GO Travel office yesterday after our boat tour to get them printed out. It is compulsory to show up with 2 hard copies of tickets booked - not really sure why but it stated it boldly on the email. I literally ran from the boat dock to the Main Street of town to discover the closed sign on the door. I saw movement inside and they let me in as I approached the door.

Departure time was supposed to be something like 7.30am and we were told to be at the port by 6.30am for checkin etc. This meant getting up very early and negotiating the board walk from the hostel across the mud flats in the dark. Once on the street it was surprising we instantly found a trike to take us to the port, guess they are used to people being up this early to get the boat.

In true Philippino style the ship did not turn up until after 8am, never mind about the 7.30 departure. It was closer to 9.30 by the time we started to board and I guess closer to 10.30 by the time we were waving goodbye to Coron town.

Our ticket was for 2 berths in a share 4 berth cabin and 3 meals. Of course we were allocated to separate cabins but not long after take off we were advised I could move into Lyn's cabin if we wanted to be together, there was just one other person in her's and 2 in mine so I moved.

Before departure we climbed the stairs to the aft deck to have breakfast, which consisted of dry rice (of course), a hard boiled egg and something in the shape of mini sausages but not sure of the meat content of them - processed to within an inch of their existence. Of course everything was pre cooked, pre packed and served cold in true Philippino style!! No coffee or tea available, but we had brought our own and there was hot water available for free.

We found out at lunch that because we had a cabin ticket we were entitled to go to the restaurant for our meals which were of a bit higher standard. Silly woman at the breakfast counter was not kind enough to tell us that at the time, or thought we might be wanting to slum it with the cheaper ticketed passengers. lol The cheaper ticketed passengers were also given a bunk but it was a dorm sort arrangement where the whole deck was row upon row of bunk beds in a dorm sort arrangement. Literally 100's of beds all in rows.

Again it was smooth sailing until we hit the open water where it was crazy rough. We tried to sleep it away again, but when we went to the 3rd deck for our lunch in the restaurant the waves were breaking up onto our window - so the seas were big. Tables and chairs in the restaurant slid across the floor as the giant boat crashed into yet another wave. This was even more scary than the death boat that took us from El Nido to Coron, mainly because it was on a much bigger scale. From our vantage point in the restaurant we noticed that we could view no land regardless of which direction we looked. Scary, not a comfortable experience as all. We gained very little reassurance from the waiter who advised us this was normal for this crossing - always big water here.

After lunch Lyn was quite ill - the throw up variety and spent the rest of the time her bunk. Only getting up for wall crashing trips to the en suited bathroom as she tried to make her way to it. Another advantage of having the private cabin. If she was having to share the public toilets with the two hundred or so other passengers it could well have been a more horrific experience.
As everyone had a bed there was not really any public seating areas, except on the back deck, where we'd had breakfast, but the waves were so high and movement of the ship so rough it would have been easy to end up overboard or at least very wet.

I tried to have an afternoon nap - mainly because there was no where else to go and sit. Laying in my bunk I could really feel the movement of the ship. Five seconds I would be light as air and then the sensation of dropping from a great height back down onto the bunk as the ship crashed into thundering wave after wave. This was not a good feeling and I was just grateful that I was able to stay prostrate as Lyn made several trips up and down to the bathroom.

At dinnertime I bravely ventured up to the restaurant for some forgettable meal (with rice) before returning again to the cabin. Passing by the dorm beds there were quite a few sad faces which had quite a green tinge to them, so we were not the only ones suffering. There were many roosters in cages stacked up outside on the deck and these birds were making a hell of a racket when we first noticed them this morning. But now the pathetic sounds and limp feathers coming out of the cages now made me feel sorry for these poor animals also. They were suffering the tossing around like the rest of us.

Due to our very late departure and delay caused by the big seas we encountered en route the ship was hours late arriving in Puerto Princesa. We were supposed to dock around 8.30pm however it was closer to 11.30pm by the time we came to a standstill dockside. Then the delay in evacuating hundreds of passengers must have taken at least another hour. I was saying a mental thank you to myself for having the hindsight in booking a hotel room for the night of our arrival. So it was just a matter of finding a trike and getting there. I didn't even have the energy to bargain against the ridiculous price he quoted us, just loaded our luggage and said take us there.

It must have been close to 1am by the time the security guard unlocked our room and let us in. Ah we are back to air conditioning, hot showers, tv and 24 hour power!! It had been awhile since we had been in such luxury! But the luxuries would have to wait until tomorrow to be fully enjoyed.

We had a hot shower and crashed into bed.

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SUNDAY 12TH JANUARY 2014 (DAY 134)

We slept late and ate our cold breakfast at the table outside our room. No surprise the breakfast is cold, used to food being cold now - don't enjoy it but we are used to it.

We didn't do much today. Enjoyed the air con, tv and all day electricity.

Lunch time forced us out and as the hotel is in the middle of nowhere we had to get a trike to take us to the shopping centre. We had a wander around the shops and enjoyed (or at least I did) lunch at Jolibee!!

Worth another mention, we enjoyed 24 hour electricity - amazing how such a little thing nearly all of us take for granted can be so missed and so welcomed back when it's returned to us.

Posted by Cindy Bruin 23:31 Archived in Philippines Comments (5)

ANOTHER DAY IN CORON ISLAND HOPPING.

Yes, another magic day island hopping

FRIDAY 10TH JANUARY 2014 (DAY 132)

Another fabulous island hopping boat tour today. Weather was again beautiful and water again clear as! Cost of tour 650 peso = $16 each.

Again pictures are better than my words could every be.

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Posted by Cindy Bruin 02:18 Archived in Philippines Comments (2)

A few days in Coron.

The weather remained beautiful and we took advantage by doing a few boat trips.

TUESDAY 7TH JANUARY 2014 (DAY 129)

The location may have changed but the habits did not. We did not do much today, were we recovering from the boat trip yesterday or just relaxing?? Either way, all we did was have a walk around Coron town and market area, this took at least 20 minutes - this reflects the size of the place.

Rest of the day we hung around the hostel and read our books. The hostel is an authentic native Philippino house built on stilts up over the mud flats. The usual one big room of the entire house has been divided up into several small rooms containing a bed and that's about it, but at 500 peso = $12.50 for the 2 of us per night it's a bargain. The walls are made of woven palm fronds, so as you can imagine there is no noise privacy of any description. We are surrounded by locals who have also built or are still building similar dwellings all around us. There are the sounds of kids, adults, animals including cats, dogs, chickens, roosters and pigs all of which could possible be just on the other side of the very thin walls. Hence it was no surprise when in the middle of the night when Lyn started to snore she woke the occupants of rooms of our 3 adjoining walls. I found it amusing that they then tried to make noises to wake her up and perhaps stop the snoring, these sounds included unnaturally loud clearing of the throat and one guy even started to whistle.

I lay there amused for a moment listening to the cacophony of different sounds all around me before rolling over and shutting them all out completely and going back to sleep. It was heaven to me to be able to try and sleep to so many different sounds rather than just the snoring I usually get to endure.

Lyn & I both had to laugh the next day when we heard a Japanese girl request a room in another part of the house because where she was is too noisy.

WEDNESDAY 8TH JANUARY 2014 (DAY 130)

Today we did a boat trip 1500 peso = $18 each. Weather was great - the water here is like crystal clear, hence Coron is a very popular diving destination, but ok for snorkelling too.

Hidden lakes & pristine beaches - great day. Pictures say it all.

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THURSDAY 9TH JANUARY 2014 (DAY 131)

After yesterdays full on day, we had a relaxing day today. The young girls at the hostel are very friendly and find it hilarious that we sit around and do nothing all day.

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Posted by Cindy Bruin 23:26 Archived in Philippines Comments (2)

2014 - HAPPY NEW YEAR - SAME SAME BUT SAME

THE FIRST COUPLE OF DAYS OF THE NEW YEAR WERE MUCH LIKE THE LAST COUPLE OF THE OLD YEAR!

Hi Folks, I must apologise to any of you that may be interested in the reason for the abrupt end to my blog. I'm afraid the new year came and I seemed to be too busy doing bugger all to warrant writing anything and then it just snow balled from there, as when we did do something of note I was too far behind to document it. And then I became busy with investigating future movements (travel movements that is - not bowel movements as you may have thought and not something I want to investigate in any way) or booking onward movements (again I mean travel movements, as we are unable to book future bowel movements as much as we would like to.) But I digress! and possibly you don't really need to read about our investigating and booking of travel or bowel movements!!

So, today Wed 12/2/14, I find myself with a few spare minutes maybe hours (when clearly days are needed) to try and catch up a bit.

As my memory is short lived, alcohol damaged or just trying it's best to forget as much crap as possible the following blogs will not be detailed or maybe not even very entertaining, however I will try to fatten them up with photos - all of which have been previously posted on FB (sorry for the repeat if you are a FB follower).

WEDNESDAY 1ST JANUARY 2014 (DAY 123)

Happy New Year!!

No breakfast at Squidos today!!

We slept late and then relaxed some more.

The first day of the new year was a beautiful one!

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THURSDAY 2ND JANUARY 2014 (DAY 124)

Back to Squidos for breakfast - sigh of relief for us both.

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Day passed same, same. It's getting to the point now where we only seem to move from OG's to venture out to get food. The furtherest we go is to the bakery during the day 200 meters away and the night market at night 100 metres away. Not that El Nido is that big for if we were to walk another 100 meters past the bakery we would be out of town.

We did get all adventurous and head down to the other end of the beach to a bar we had seen on our day of arrival that was advertising cocktails P60 = $1.60 and 2 for price of one. It seems like a mission to get to this far away destination that was maybe 200 meters up the beach - we really have gotten lazy. lol

Anyway after all our effort turns out I remembered the sign incorrectly and the cocktails were P60 each for local rum and mango, local rum and pineapple, and gin and tonic. The cocktails that were 2 for the price of one was the cocktail of the day that was picked from the normal list of cocktails priced at P160 = $4.20. So still being a steal 2 cocktails for $4.20 I asked the rather effeminate waiter what the cocktail of the day was. When he told me I almost fell over and repeated the words back to him to make sure I heard correctly. When he answered yes that's it, I asked for the menu as I wanted to know what was in this foul sounding cocktail. Much to my relief the waiter pointed to the cocktail named GIN FIZZ. The name I had understood and repeated back to him was GINS PISS!!! We had a bit of a laugh and we ordered a couple of beers, just to be on the safe side.

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We had intended on eating at this bar also but the prices were over the top compared to every other place in El Nido (European owned) so we ended up at the night market and had something - of course with rice.

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FRIDAY 3RD JANUARY 2014 (DAY 125)

Breakfast at Squidos - but not as usual. Breakfast today to put it mildly was shit. My shake tasted like I image yesterdays GINS PISS cocktails would have. I complained to the waitress and all she said was sorry and walked away in a panic. The food was ok, we have the same breakfast every morning but in the two weeks we have not been served the same thing. There is always the correct elements but the quantity varies greatly each day, but we can live with that as it is all there in some form. Today however, we were served 2 eggs instead of one and then charged extra. This was the error of the waitress and pissed me off as we have been coming here every day for what over 2 weeks?? And still they do not know what we order. Anyway I was not having it and asked to see the crabby looking mama-son who usually is sitting in the restaurant glaring at us. She was out back and did not want to come out but instead sent another lacky who apologised and refunded the overcharged amount. Still I was angry and my last words to the waitress was we have been coming every morning for so long, every day the same you know this. This was answered with a blank frightened look. I finished with saying we will not come again!

That was about the most exciting thing that happened today.

Rest of day was same same as usual.

Ah we did make a trip to the pharmacy today (not far from the bakery) to get some poo pills for Lyn. She still is all clogged up and hopeful these will help.

Dinner was bought from a different cafe tonight, Lyn didn't eat, but I had some pork dish, of course with rice.

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Monday 6th January 2014 (day 128)

Lyn set the alarm for very early this morning, so that we could boil the kettle before the power went off at 6am. We wanted to be able to have a hot drink before commencing the boat journey to Coron. At 7am we obediently chewed up the dramamine sea sickness pills, even though the sea from our bedroom window looked like a mirror. Huge relief seeing calm water but the pill was taken just in case. No idea what it would be like out in the open water.

Joe, the guy who sold us the ticket, advised us we should get to the port by about 7.30am for the 8.30am departure. It was only a short distance and since we did not have too much luggage, but mainly due to the fact that this was the first time in the history of us going out onto the road there was not a trike driver in sight, we decided to walk to the port. Usually the trike guys are tripping over themselves to offer us a ride just to get across the street, but today when we might have considered paying 50c to get to the port there was not one of the buggers in sight. So we walked the short distance and still managed to get there minutes before 7.30am.

We were ushered into the terminal building where we were forced to pay P20 = 53c each and told to sit and wait until we were called for boarding. So we waited and waited and waited, finally boarding commenced around 8.30 and after loading up with passengers and a motorbike at around 9am we set off. It looked like a beautiful day and smooth sailing as we departed from El Nido, not sorry to see it go, knowing we would be back again in a couple of weeks.

We managed to nab a couple of forward facing plastic seats that would turn out to be quite comfortable for the duration of the journey.

About an hour in' after we had cleared the bay with it's numerous islands' the sea became a little more active and the crew put a wooden board up over the front hatch to keep out the waves that were crashing over the bow of the bangka. By 11am we were served 'lunch' which surprisingly enough was a little better than what I expected. Of course rice, with a bit of stewed vegie and I think I spied a piece of meat that suspiciously had the texture of liver, so no doubt it was. A lovely banana and small bottle of water was included. Like I said more that what was expecting. It was a little rough trying to eat as now the boat had a nice rock and roll motion going on. Lunch finished I decided (or more like the sea sickness pill I had taken decided) it was time to have a little nap, and to tell the truth I slept for most of the rest of the way. Waking every now and then when the movement of our vessel was enough to almost knock me out of the chair. At one stage when I woke I realised that all the windows had now been boarded up to avoid us getting completely dowsed with seawater which made the inside of the boat warm and thick with stale air. I think this atmosphere aided in my slumber.

Doors and windows were again unveiled as we entered the sheltered bay in our approach to the port of Coron. It had been a rough trip taking over 10 hours and it was dark by the time we disembarked and went looking for a trike to take us into town. The trip had been ok as far as I was concerned as I had slept through most of it. Lyn had a small encounter with sea sickness forcing her to take another pill, but not so bad that she lost her lunch over the side.

I thought I had booked the hostel but on arrival they did not have a booking for us and also not a free room, however if we were happy to hang around for an hour we could have a room that had been booked but maybe the owners were a no show. We walked back up along the main road and found somewhere to have some dinner, returning later to be given a room on the outside of the hostel.

Although we had done nothing all day, except sleep most of the way, we still both seemed to be exhausted and managed to crash once our heads hit the pillow.

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Posted by Cindy Bruin 22:24 Archived in Philippines Comments (1)

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