Deciding on El Nido has been somewhat of a last minute decision after our parents bailed on us for another trip that didn't include us. So as the reckless daughter addicted to adrenaline rush, I convinced my super girly girl sistah to forgo the underground river and island hopping in Puerto Princessa and just head on to El Nido instead. And convincing her includes climbing the Taraw cliffs.
Looking back though, I don't remember a lot of convincing happening. I think it was more of instructing her to bring a pair of rubber shoes for a climb. And I'm still debating whether or not I failed to mention that it's a cliff we're climbing on. But since I was already able to climb what I thought was the most dangerous climb of my life at Caramoan island, I expected less from this. So given my cocky underestimation of the warnings and difficulties of the blogs I've read about Taraw, I dragged my sister with me. Knowing that it's gonna be such a special event since it would be her first climb ever, that I know of.
Yep! that's how we climbed it. No harness, no helmets, just us and our cameras. It's tall and steep and sharp and 45 mins to the top. 45 mins for the locals, and add 30 mins to that for us.
I have to admit though that halfway there, when the rain started to drizzle and the rocks became slippery, I was having second thoughts of going all the way up. Not only did the climb get more dangerous to the point of me feeling like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible 2, hanging on a cliff, I was mainly concerned for my sister and the 63yr. old Dad who came along with us and his daughter. So while my head was playing the soundtrack of Mission Impossible, I kept thinking What Would Tom Cruise Do?... But our Kuya guide was effectively giving positive encouragements. Like a broken record saying "Kaya pa yan" and "Malapit na" to my sister's constant badgering of "Malapit na tayo Kuya?". An hour after, malapit na talaga kami.
Then finally a big sigh of relief upon reaching the top. HAAAAY!!!!!
What sucks though, is that when we got to the top all haggard and sweaty, the locals who got there before us were in full make up and get up like they were just strolling in the mall. Kaloka those kids! I cannot compete with their powers, but I will compete with their poses, sans the make up.
Isn't this just breathtaking?!
This overview of El Nido is just absolutely rewarding.
Take your time to let all this beauty sink in.
Most of all take time to take lotsa pics! hehe.
The going down however is another story. A literally difficult story to share, for I don't think there'll be sufficient words to describe the harrowing and scary journey down.
Let's just say that my sister was not happy at all. haha. It's really not funny at that moment but now it is. Thank God I get to live and laugh about it.
See my sister doesn't flip the bird as often as I speak it, but boy did she flip a lot birds that day. Birds directed at me! I guess she blames me for bringing her to that kind of adventure. Or must be pissed at the discovery of the dangerous adventures I go to. Warning me to never to do this kind of thing again. Threatening to spill my kind of activities to our Dad. Yada yada. But given the situation that the rocks were slippery, got a bit lost in the way, forest turning dark, her cellphone as our only source of light, and our companion calling for rescue, the birds and threats thrown at me were very much understood. It was such an emotional and spiritual (prayed so hard) experience, that I silently almost heeded her threats. However it was forgotten the moment we stepped on the sturdy flat land. I was just so happy to have us landed safely.
With dirty bums and sweaty backs, I am so proud of me sistah! Seriously, it was such a great feat for her and me too! Another one on the mark... conquered Taraw... check!
So here's the thing we learned upon talking to a local at the resort after our adventure. #1. No one was supposed to climb on the afternoons (we climb at 3pm) #2. Our guide wasn't really a registered guide but an ordinary tricycle driver chancing upon some cash. What can I say, I didn't know... oh well lessons learned.
But if there is one great lesson that the experience or climbing in general taught me, it's to not only bear and sharpen the presence of mind but to always look out for your companions. That alone just makes me realize that even in the most difficult of times, the world is not just all about you.
What was supposed to be the first ever family trip, turned out to be yet another travel bonding moment with my sisterette and our cousin Ruthie, who by the way is sooo full of sunshine (we wish!).
Thus on November something-ish, 2011, we journeyed to the land our mother dearest forever dreamed of - Palawan. Knowing how mother nature-y our mom is and how she hates overrated crowded places, I certainly can understand why she dreams of it. Now that I've experienced it firsthand, I can't wait to bring her there, my dad included (for the financial support haha).
But going to Palawan doesn't really need a lot of moolah. It's not that we have a lot of moolah to bring anyway, coz we certainly don't, but it's a pretty affordable place to vacation on. And trust me, in this land of abundant greens and blues, you wouldn't be interested in holing up at some cold dry concrete hotels, because honey, you'll be missing half the authentic Palawan experience.
So stay @
the cool place where cool people stays.
Yes, I proclaim our coolness with all exclamation(!!!). haha. My sister was the one who discovered this on the net, and I have to give her credit coz she usually finds the coolest budget places to sleep on our travels. Moving on away from the compliments, Banwa Pension has been published in the Lonely Planet guide books as well as on several travel sites, so it has been quite known among the backpacking world. So it's not difficult to imagine that in the country of Filipinos we were the only Filipinos booking there. DUDE! In that place, we were so foreign! haha.
I cannot explain how cool the aesthetics of this place is nor how friendly their staff are, but I can tell you that if it is Filipino artistry you want, and only simply needs the basics of bath and bed, then this is the go to sleep.
Then eat @
Go barefoot in the delight of their sumptuous meals. The food is good but it's the place that's gonna make you keep on coming back. I am so in love with the shiny hardwood floors, the squatting , the paintings, the lighting, the art... GO EAT!!!!!! the experience.
See Louis Vuitton, Hermes and etc. at its fine breathing rawness. This was probably the only chance of me getting close to those brands. The breeding ground of the Crocs before they become someone else's handbags and step-ons. Pity those Crocs, if they only could choose their fates then I guess they'd be more than content at just opening their mouths for the flies to land on. Oh well, at least you guys don't come cheap.
Also, walk in the woods of the conservation center and get the chance to meet these birdies. I forgot their names but I'm pretty sure they're endangered. All the more reason for it to be a must walk. A tip for these walks though, put lotsa OFF lotion coz the mosquitos can be deadly. Other than that, the wild animals are tame. Or so I think.
That Palawan Binturong was heavy though.
Baker's Hill an interesting food park situated in the hilly spots of Puerto Princessa. An assortment of playthings, statues and food. Don't have much else to say but we were there for the hopia that my sister has been dying to try since. However it was their crinkles that was heavenly. Soft chewy choco crinkles.... yum!!!!
They have peacocks too. The peacock cock cock, the peacock! Or as Askal sang it in her vid. Such fine elegant birds.
Be Exotic @
What could possibly be more authentic than eating Palawan's local delicacy. Tamilok. You get your choice of breaded or raw Tamilok. Be bold and choose the raw, then you get that long raw gray slimy dish. It looks like worm because it is a worm. A woodworm. A mangrove worm. How it tastes like is an oyster. A long slimy choking oyster. Do we like it? uhmmm....
Once was probably enough... hahahaha.
Palawan's cleanliness can be compared to that of Singapore's as well as their strict implementation of laws. Seriously, I haven't seen a trash left on the roadside. Must be because any resident can arrest and fine you with littering, and that ordinance is well disseminated, as evidenced in the posters and stickers of their trikes and etc.
So how much did we spend in Puerto P?
Banwa Pension (3pax) - P 1,070.00
Tricycle City Tour (with a bit of charming/ haggling) - P 550.00
my lazy self apologizes to my friends and only followers...
i promise (slash that)! will try my best to blog when the mood strikes...
ergo, wish that it won't be the lazy Lé mood ;)
as I said too many happenings has happened lately, nothing that big of a deal really except for that one big realization that has finally slapped me big time in the face or shall i say tummy. YES! i have a big bloating tummy, and it's not looking pretty.. AT ALL!
i knew that i had a tummy problem, but like any addict i was in denial and i was hiding it behind my fashionably loose shirts and tops. unfortunately, i could deny no longer that when in bikini the abs in my head are actually flabs in reality, with pictures and videos as my gaddamn! reminder. so tomorrow i shall start my rehabilitation and hit the gym. for real this time.... haaaay hope....
so for the last meal before my hours of torture....
i owe the simplest pasta recipe to our favorite frenchie girl crush Anouck. Here's how...
1. Saute white onions in olive oil then add a dash of sugar.
2. On the other side of the pan fry the salmon. Then mix them together.
3. Add the cream and toss the penne in.
4. a sprinkle with salt and pepper.
5. then EAT!
Trust me it's really good. Reminder to self : thank Anouck big time!!!
As for the salad... naaah i just got that from the magazine and made some twists. I won't write the how to coz it's long and i'm turning lazy. hehe.
Sided it with my ever reliable garlic oregano bread. there goes my dish on the right.
down is the after scene and tomorrow I gotta need to...
30 mins tricyle ride from Sabang proper to the port.
2 hour banka ride to Caramoan.
1 hour super duper bumpy tricyle ride to La Playa Camp.
YOU ARE SOOOO WORTH THE 14 HOUR RIDEsssss!
Just look at you!
I'd be lucky to be your local.
But seriously, searching the ends for you was very starving...
now look what happened to that fish! Poor crispy fried fish... why'd you ever be sooo tasty?!
Ahhh the tinuktukan on the left... a second order of your finely chopped coconut meat, oregano filled, spiciness wrapped in alugbati is not enough to satisfy my cravings, even up to now and I'm miles away....
Good thing your island resto's homecooked meals are sooo delish that it filled our ever hungry tummies to its roundness.
Full and recharged it's time to explore your islets and strike those poses....
Ready ... 1... 2... 3 ....
A beautiful scenery deserves only the best bods. We may not succeed on the bods, but at least we succeeded on the angles. wink!
But considering that we were the only ones roaming around the islets, I guess it's safe to say the we easily swept the best beach bods category. I love winning competition-less. hahaha.
Kidding not, us September babies had faced too much disappointing well planned plans, that we decided to just throw the plans out and embark on this spontaneous thoughtless journey. The result?... everybody was out in the city for the Piñafrancia in Naga, and we only learned that till we got to the resort where we were the only guests EVER. Understandably, we were also the only ones roaming around the peninsula, trying to be survivors like those French stuck in this island.
Like you would mind being stuck in an island as gorgeous as this.
Trust when I say that this is mother nature at its glorious best. And Chawi said it best that you can never capture the beauty of Caramoan on cam.
There are probably about 8 nearby islands in the area, by nearby I mean really near. That if it's on land I'd say, malakaw ra na, but since it's not, I'd say ma swim ra xa. I forgot the names of the islets, because my brain was just not functioning right. But this I could not forget...
The highlight of our island hopping adventure.
Rock climbing in Matukad Island...
in all fashion and smiles... no sweat oi!
We really were just fakers and posers, sweating and running out of breath. Hanging on to our dear lives while climbing barefoot and yelping to the sharpness of the lime stones. It's actually such a challenge, considering how dangerous, steep and sharp everything around us is. One wrong move could mean the death of you. Maybe not, but if you'll live, just expect gruesome cuts and bruises. Trust me I've been there --> there goes the smug proud me. haha.
Taking on the dangers was the only way to reach the top and to the mystical inner island lake.
As Kuya Arnie (our super duper good guide, who had unquestionable faith in our ability to climb the rocks, literally. He did not ask whether or not we would want to climb, instead just said follow me. He must have figured that with us, there's really no need to ask, good thinking!) shared, there used to be 2 big Bangus on the lake, unfortunately the other one was taken by some nosy local. Karma to him, he immediately died upon reaching home for some unexplainable reason, just like every other filipino folklore. So now there's the one and only lonely Bangus swimming in his little kingdom lake.
Blisters and pain are nothing compared what awaits the top.
Wake up oldie...
This was what I woke up to on my 25th year. So beautiful that it brought out the sentimental quarter life crisis in me. ha! kidding. I was actually just busy thinking about the things I've accomplished in the last 25 years. Unfortunately I was short listed, so I shifted my thoughts to the local kids playing in the waters nearby. Can't help but think how they have the best playground in the world. Imagine waking up to this. Of course this might not be new to them, but I just hope they realize how blessed they are to experience an everyday life with the natural beauty of mother nature. I hope that they become the generation who'd be less fazed by the destructive development of technology and devote their lives to saving their natural playground for the kids to come.
I'm lucky to be born in this beautiful country. Happy two five to me!
it's time to go...
Gotta drop by St. Michael Parish Church first.
Then again it's closed, for the priest is enjoying the fiesta at Piñafrancia.
I wish to be selfish and keep your beauty a secret.
Unfortunately, you're just tooo beautiful to be kept a secret, so I shall tell....
To Askal and whoever wishes to go, here's how...
Cubao Terminal to Naga City - bus P850
(overnight bus, starting from 8pm onwards..)
Naga City to Sabang - bus P60
Sabang to the Port going to Caramoan - tricycle P60
banka - P150 or P200 (not sure)
Caramoan Port to La Playa Camp - tricycle P150
Room (good for 4pax) - P 1,200
Island hopping (good for 2, i think) - P 1,200
Food (per meal) - P 100
Recommend to stay at La Playa Camp as this will be the jump off point to the island hopping. It's on the beachfront, cheap, and has perfect sunrise view of the islands. Most of the accommodations are at the town center and it takes sometime to get to the jump off points. Lastly, there's no cell signal, except for Smart.