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