Loving it in Luang Prabang, Laos

We land at Luang Prabang after a very surprising flight experience with Lao Airlines. The flight was only 45 mins but the service was brilliant, we got a drink and a snack on route and it was better than a normal british airways flight and the flight was almost empty too.

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We had arranged a guide for part of our stay in Laos and San was ready and waiting to collect us and take us to our 1st hotel over looking the night market.
Little did we know that “San” seems to be the name of all our tour guides in Laos?

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Our room is lovely albeit a bit noisy but we are only in the hotel for 2 nights and over look the night market, before heading to a quieter area just down the road.

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We unpack and go off to explore.
The market is full of a mix of stuff, some you see everywhere in Asia and others are things made by the locals and tribes people. Many restaurants seem to have a lot of french influence, there are alot of French patisseries and French wines, even gluten free options, if you are prepared to spend the money.

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Steve and Deb thought better of this and went off to find the little alleyways of street food. Crammed into a little tiny alley were loads of meat and fish all waiting to be bought, then reheated by barbecue and consumed at small benches next to huge stalls of salad bowls of assorted vegetables we didn’t recognise.

After a chat about do we risk it, Steve and Deb go for it. 2 big bottles of Laos beer, Deb goes for a whole chicken and we mean whole, head, feet and all. Yes she even tried chicken brain, whilst Steve went for a sensible chicken breast. Yes we survived but next day after seeing it in daylight we would most probably not have taken the risk…..

After a very noisy night of ladies who cook coconut pancakes near our hotel, singing badly whilst packing up in the early hours of the morning and the street cleaners coming along to get everything cleaned up before 06:00 am. We wake up and see where we are. Deb just loves arriving places when it’s dark so you get a nice surprise in the morning, good or bad. Today is a good morning, the area is lovely and 1st impressions of Luang Prabang are good.
After breakfast it’s a wander around the streets. We are close to the old town and people are busy doing what they do. The monks are nothing like Thailand, they appear to be very local and much more natural in the way they live. If you want to photograph monks going about their day to day business this is the place to come.

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BUT if there is one thing to say about this, it has to be PLEASE DON’T get up early to see the Monks Alms via a tour. Deb got up to go and have a peep at the daily ceremony when the monks get given food by the locals and get a blessing and was truly horrified by the lack of respect by tourists.

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All standing close up, in the way, grabing Monks to take selfies with them, flashing in the faces of everyone, big video cameras.. Awful, people be respectful, this is not a tourist show, it’s real life!! If you want to see this, walk away and view from other parts of the village. Alms goes on from many temples all around Luang Prabang, you can stand on the other side of the road and just quietly watch it take place and take photos without a flash.. Rant over! You only need to ask nicely and monks are happy to smile for a photo.

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Lunch is in a local resturant everyone raves about called Tamarind, personally Deb really wasn’t fussed apart from the Luang Prabang Sausage, traditional Laos food was not so tasty. Steve being a man, soon munched his way through everything.

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We soon find ourselves at the spot that becomes “our local” with a lovely view over a river that flows into the Mekong. Coffee is cheap and the Laos coffee is extremely good and the service nice and friendly. Laos is full of surprises, Luang Prabang is a super place. Not sure what we expected but it has no one hassling you to buy anything, people are lovely, it’s clean and tidy, chilled and even has a very french feel. Definitely recommend.

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We transfer to our new colonial style hotel in the old town, that sits just opposite a beautiful temple and go off to visit some temples with our guide who is from a local tribe called the hmong hill people. Temples here are just so much nicer, not so gold and just small donation boxes asking for donations to help with electricity for lighting. We visit Wat Xieng Thong which is one of the most important of Lao monasteries.

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At 16:00 the gong sounds for ten minutes to call the monks to prayer. This is a great photo opportunity as you can see the monks popping out from everywhere to go pray, our favourite spot was down by the river where, if your lucky you can see the monks crossing the river.

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Next day we travel into the jungle to The Kuang Si Falls, a bear sanctuary and a butterfly farm.

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Picnics don’t get much better than this! Best view for a lunch time stop, the waterfall is so so blue, nature can make some great things.

We take a hike to the top, Deb and Steve now look like they have been swimming fully clothed, it’s so so hot and humid. It’s dry season now but as soon as the rain starts most is pretty impassable and the leeches come out. Once you get to the top the view is amazing and the water source is a natural spring that just flows and tips over the edge like an infinity pool. If you fancy it you can walk into the water and look over the edge by standing on a bamboo platform and looking down… It’s a long long way down…

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On route back to the car park you walk through the bear sanctuary, the bears look so happy and healthy. Most have been rescued from the Chinese as they want them for their bile to make medicine and then it’s off to the butterfly farm.

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Deb has a natural fish foot spa in a free flowing river whilst the butterflies flutter around her head all for the handsome price of nothing.

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On our final day in Luang Prabang we take the boat up to another respected holy site, Pak Ou Caves, dating back thousands of years it’s a cave in the rocks packed with over 4,000 Buddha icons and a shrine to the river spirit.

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Whilst the cave is small and very busy the boat trip up the Mekong is beautiful and a relaxing ride. We stop at the local whisky making village and check out bottles of pickled snakes, bear paws, scorpions and insects all used by shamans to help cure ailments of everything from headaches to infertility.

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We decline some dodgy snake wine and instead sample some local black rice wine, then Deb is a sucker for a scarf hand weaved by a young girl in the village, well it was only a few dollars. We notice that wildlife along the bank is pretty sparse and after further investigation this turns out to be because the locals have pretty much eaten anything that moves, rats, birds, insects so the food pyramid has disappeared.

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Final stop is a climb up to the view point over the town before packing up to go visit, what we are told is one of the smallest capitals in the world, Vientiane.

Live Happy
Debs and Steve

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Chiang Mai and The White Temple of Chiang Rai.

Off to the markets we go to have a look around and find something to eat. Chiang Mai is an easy place to get around.

We find the night market and manage to tuck into some local street food for about £2.00 for two, then take a wander back passing through what we called ting tong alley or lady boy land. Presumably the red light area and full of contractors and a random selection of western people and all the burger and chips you can eat!

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Next day we are booked into a thai cooking class, they pick us up and off we go with 6 other people. Amazing, nearly everyone we met were lucky enough to have got extended leave from work of about 12 weeks to be able to travel and they thought it was great that we were brave enough to actually give up work to follow our dream and have enough courage to know we can find new jobs when we return back to the UK in March. Wonder where we will end up, seems a long time away but it will soon come around.

Steve has a great time showing off his cooking skills and giving Deb an excuse when they get home to say “it’s your turn to cook tonight.”

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Next morning we are up earlier to catch our ride to Chiang Rai to see the White Temple and Golden Triangle. We did contemplate an overnight stay but since our hostel was good and cheap we went for the 14 hr minibus trip. Just as well as Chiang Rai town looked ok but nothing special.

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On route we stop for a comfort break at a warm natural spring. So natural the geyser is powered by pump, yes crazy tourists, if you don’t believe us just take a look when you pass back at night as it’s been switched off!

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The White Temple is amazing, built by a guy who is still alive and he spends all his time still extending it. Should be finished in about 90 years. When we were there he was giving a talk that looked very light hearted as everyone was laughing but we didn’t have a clue what he was saying?

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It’s a modern interpretation of Buddhism and really worth going to see. The only gold here is the toilet block, yes this really is a toilet block and representing the greed of mankind.

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There aren’t loads of donation boxes and he self funded the build so he doesn’t have to comply to the wishes of those donating. He will accept money but only small amounts. As you walk over the bridge you look down and see hundreds of hands reaching up, these are hands of men and if you look carefully the hand of a woman with a red finger nail. Apparently this is because it is more men who want the power and to get to the top and most women are more caring and kind.

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You cannot take photos inside due to the exquisite art work by Chalermchai Kositpipat as he does not want it copied. It was amazing and so detailed, very modern, it depicted all the bad things in the world. There was an American president sat on top of a rocket flying through the air, the twin towers on fire, batman and robocop standing by being fake super heros. He questions the world’s lack of real heros, as there are no super heros to save mankind from themselves. Pop stars, mobile phones and corporate brands all trying to make you desire possessions over being kind and thoughtful. It’s very modern and some people really didn’t like it.

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Next we travel to a hill side tribe called the Karen people. You will have seen these people in photos, ones with long necks and brass rings around them. No photos here as this is an awful tourist place that is a tat market of so called dressed up tribe people selling, so called handmade items that just happen to be the same as all other markets. If you want to see the long necked people its an extra cost. Did Deb and Steve want to see kids forced to wear brass rings to help make money.
No thank you!! We quickly left.

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On to the golden triangle where three country borders meet, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand. It used to be one of the largest opium areas in Asia but now it’s just tourist central. The views are good and if you like you can take the boat trip to Laos but we are going to the country later so no need to waste our money now.

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Final part of the trip is to the boarder control into Myanmar, just a quick stop to see the boarder crossing and see just how poor the country is compared to Thailand. These guys were fishing in the river, not sure what they thought they were going to catch in the filthy river?

Then it was time to zoom back and we mean ZOOM..Our driver was weaving and dodging and over taking on bends but we make it back safe and sound.

Then it’s Sunday. If you are planning to come to Chiang Mai try and plan a Sunday night here. There is a big local night market and it actually sells real hand made local crafts and real genuine pieces of art. Must be good as even the locals are seen shopping here.

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What no tales of the elephants we hear you say. That’s what Chiang Mai is famous for? Once you have seen elephants in the wild, you will understand why we did not entertain seeing these majestic creatures in captivity. Just think before you want to go ride one or want to treat it like a pet.

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No sooner than we arrive it is time to leave the crazy people of Chiang Mai and the very heavy pollution. If you’re a sufferer of chest problems make sure you bring your inhaler and wear a mask. Deb spent most of her time here annoying Steve with the super asian pollution cough, it was delightful! Now time for our flight to Luang Prabang in Laos and no this is not Steve, he hasn’t changed this much. 😂
Live Happy

Debs and Steve

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Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It’s Off to Thailand We Go.

We arrive in Bangkok and head to our hotel ready to see in The New Year.

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1st thing you notice about Thailand is the amount of black and white fabric draped everywhere and huge pictures of the king who had passed away in 2016 or as called in Thailand 2559. We knew Thailand was in a year of mourning but did not expect to see so much black everywhere. You cannot go anywhere without seeing the respect for the king. In an average kilometer you see maybe 7 or 8 large shrines to him. They are outside all the company’s buildings and inside the lobbys. It’s amazing the time and effort everyone has put in to it. Even the televisions have a broadcast on it every 20 mins or so.

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We get to our hotel after our delayed flight in the early hours of the morning and take a peek on the balcony to see we have a lovely temple view. Little do we know that the excitement of the 1st temple will soon drift off. We knew there were alot but Steve got templed out pretty quick with Deb following slowly behind. There are just so many temples everywhere that you have to pick just a couple to look at.

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Bangkok is just our mini stop for New Years Eve. During the day we spend our time evading the tourist scams and are disappointed that we don’t get to zoom around in a tuk tuk. Seriously, if you want to save money just take a taxi. The tuk tuks charge on average 4 times more than the cost of a taxi, it’s got A/C and you don’t have to breath in the pollution!

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Did we manage to dodge all the scams? Nearly, just over paid for 2 bottles of water, instead of 7 bhat each we paid 15 bhat as it was late and we were so thirsty. Watch yourselves out there, those friendly people trying to help you on the streets seem to always be in the same spot, it’s not a coincidence ????

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New Years Eve is spent in Khao San road with buckets of rum and cokes and watching the strangest of people. Steve doing the usual dodgy dancing and Deb doing some rather bad singing but this year no fireworks? Out of respect to the king, fireworks had been banned!

Then it’s time to head off to Chiang Mai to see why everyone raves about it.

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First we stay just outside Chiang Mai for three days to chill out after The New Year and do a bit of reflecting and planning the next part of the adventure. We pick an Airbnb called Monkey House. We are met at the airport and whisked off to the country side. We open our door to an amazing room. The biggest bath we have ever had. How Deb has been missing a lovely bubbly bath and the bed so soft and comfortable we sleep really well.

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This was better than most of the 5 star places we had stayed in the past. The owner of The Monkey House was born in the year of the monkey hence the name and also had a business club for the locals called the Monkey Club. He also has an organic farm, surprisingly  this is called Monkey Farm! True local entrepreneur, although he knew nothing about opening a hotel and the marketing, he set to it as he had built a beautiful new home with a dream for his whole family to come live with him but they all had other plans.

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May 2016 they opened the doors to guests. Beautiful place and lovely kind staff.. This place came in over our room budget but we make up for it by staying in a hostel for the preceding nights in the centre of Chiang Mai and it was well worth every penny.

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Whilst here we took a Songthaew (local red bus) up to the famous temple on the hill, Wat Phra That Soi Suthep and got blinded by a huge amount of gold (and sadly, way too many donation boxes!)

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Now it’s sad face time as we have to leave Monkey House and find out what’s in store at the hostel we have booked in Chiang Mai.

Monkey House are such lovely people that they run us into town and drop us off to the hostel.

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The Sabia hostel is located in a quiet spot in town and the ensuite room is much bigger than expected for only £10.00 each. The tip to get the best rate in Asia is to look it up on the big hotel booking web sites and then go direct. We on average seemed to be able to save between 20% to 30% by doing this.
Time to do a super wash of clothes and turn our room into a chinese laundry. Last time we used a local laundry and they obviously thought that because we were British that we liked cheddar cheese as all the clothes came back smelling rather cheesy. Yuk.

Live Happy

Debs and Steve

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Beautiful Bohol

2 flights later and we are in Bohol just off Panglao Island.
We drop Nikki off to check into her hostel, Full Moon, then it’s off down a few dirt tracks to our hotel, Scent of Green Papaya. As the saying goes, never judge a book by it’s cover. We turn down a bumpy road covered in tatty signs.

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A few minutes later we end up in a beautiful place that is to be home for Christmas with Nikki joining for Christmas and Boxing day and are greeted by the smiliest and friendliest customer service team and a really reasonably priced room with all the modern comforts.

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We settle in and catch the free tricycle/bus ride provided by the hotel and pick Nikki up on route and in 5 minutes we are at Alona Beach. Beautiful relaxed resort with reasonably priced restaurants and fresh fish on display ready to choose from . You can pretty much walk the beach in 20 minutes. The atmosphere is relaxed and homely and massages on the beach are in abundance, so Nikki and Deb slip off to get a massage and Steve goes off for a wander.

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The beach has nice soft sand and the water is warm, there are designated areas for swimmers who don’t fancy having to dodge boats. We spend most of our time on Alona beach and in the pool, well it is Christmas. When things get too hot it’s time to slip into the Buzzz Cafe, with a choice of air conditioned room or covered terrace.

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The view is straight on to the beach and the lovely blue sky. Prices on this beach are good and it feels alot more local, apart from the hideous Hennan Resort Hotel that seem to have a monopoly over getting approval to knock down local buildings to build jumbo hotels at all the best beaches in the Philippines.

Christmas eve is spent touring with a private driver and car for £40 for 8 hours, he will take us wherever we want to go.

Off we set and pop in to say hi to our drivers family as he has to drop off a pig for their Christmas dinner. His kids were so cute 😍

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1st stop is the Corella Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary, these creatures are just so cute. An endangered species who’s bloodline apparently go back as far as 45 million years. They are nocturnal primates and have a brain that is not as big as one of their eye balls.

If these over sensitive creatures get stressed they commit suicide by banging their tiny head against trees until they fall off the tree and die on the ground. There are various places you can see them but check the place out 1st. Some cage them and place them on trees for visitors. They are territorial and always like to return to the same place to sleep during the day so our guide could spot them easier and mobiles can zoom in to take a picture as they sit fairly low, but remember no flashing, how would you like a flash in the eye if your eyeball was bigger than your brain!

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2nd stop was to take a look at the boat trip up Loboc river. Pretty much a 1 hour tourist load you on, give you a buffet lunch and return you back, so we declined as it was more than a fresh fish and prawn meal with drinks whilst sat on the beach watching the sun go down, having been to Costa Rica it was never going to match a boat ride in the jungle canals!

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3rd stop is to visit the Chocolate Hills, Nikki hires a quad bike and Deb and Steve opt for an ATV.
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The views are amazing, we did try for sunset but the clouds came along and then the rain appeared so time to return back to the hotel and our poor driver had a 2 hour bike ride in the rain to get home. We couldn’t help but give our driver a super christmas present of 2 days of his wages to help him give his family an even better christmas than they had already planned.  He was so so grateful and really didn’t want to except it until we persuade him.

PC270383.JPGThen it was Christmas day.

What do you do in the Philippines on Christmas day? Well you start with a lovely breakfast at the Green Scent of Papaya served by super smiley people, then off to the beach for a swim followed by a nap in the sand. Once we are all too hot and probably a bit pink, time to cool off in the pool and read a book.

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The evening comes and we go off to town for a traditional lechon (Suckling Pig) a tribal show and treat ourselves to a bottle of imported wine. All priced at about a quarter of the price of christmas day english roast with no entertainment or drinks.

We weren’t disappointed, we had a great time. Fireworks, all evening long show and a boogie with the locals to finish the evening.

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Next day Nikki disappeared off to stay at Loboc river at Fox & The Firefly Cottages then meet us back at the airport in a couple of days. She spends her days paddle boarding the river up to a waterfall and waiting until night fall to paddle off to see the fireflys and lay on her board bobbing in the river watching the bright stars in the unpolluted black skys.

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Meanwhile, Deb and Steve take the easy option and take a boat ride to another part of the island to go and find the fireflys… Beautiful, trees covered in sparkling, twinkling insects. Such a shame you can’t take photographs that are worth showing to anyone.

After an evening at the hotel where one of the staff does a parting gift of a great fire show, it’s time to get up and leave the lovely hotel and staff to continue onwards to our next stop over in Manila before Nikki flys back to Yangon to meet up with her boyfriend from the UK and we head off to Thailand.

Live Happy

Debs and Steve

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Bouncing Around the Bays of El Nido, Philippines

Following our minibus ride from Puerto Princesa we arrive at El Nido feeling rather over jiggled and arrive at our guest house, it has a great view and a nice chill out bar but the rooms leave a bit to be desired, very average and the double bed was tiny, even for us! Talking to people in resort it seems it’s hard to get anywhere very good to stay.

Although El Nido is marketed as one of the top destinations in the world, 1st impressions aren’t that good. The beach is full of rubbish and a lot of broken glass, you can’t walk barefoot. Tricycles and motorbikes seem to use the best bit of the beach as a short cut.

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Off we go to look for a place to eat. The food looks good and you really can eat right on the beach front. We started the night with happy hour before taking our spot in a seafood resturant. The fish and prawns were really fresh.

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This place is the 1st time we’ve encountered kids begging. Throughout the Philippines the kids have just been happy to see you and wave at you, here they have learnt tourists mean money which is a real shame.

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Next morning we are off on a boat trip, we didn’t book prior to arrival because if the weather is no good and you have already paid you don’t get a refund. We simply got up and grabbed one on the day. Lucky for us we ended up on a good boat with plenty of shade and a great crew, J and JR were our hosts. Get it wrong and you get an awfully small boat, no shade, no life jackets, rubbish food and have to tentivley skirt the rocks as it’s rather choppy and we noticed the small boats can’t cope with the swell.

We went on tour A, small lagoon, big lagoon, secret lagoon and should have gone to a snorkeling area but the water was too rough. You need to be happy on the water as just getting to the boat has you wading up to chest height, with your bag over your head and the waves are pulling you back and forth. Once on the trip you stop at various locations. You then understand why everyone rates El Nido!

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7 Commandos Beach.
Pretty gorgeous beach. You get 45 mins to chill with a coconut drink or swim. #nofilter

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Small Lagoon.
The rock formations and lagoon are simply beautiful. The sea really is this clear and blue. If you are not afraid of jelly fish stings you can swim in the lagoon but we saw alot floating about, tiny and bigger. You do have to pay an extra 400 PHP for a kayak for 3 but it’s worth it.

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We also stopped here for a lovely lunch on the boat. Getting into the small lagoon is pretty congested as it only a small gap but it takes you into the tranquil lagoon, so mind your head!

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Secret Lagoon.
This was a bit scary, the sea was rough and the boat struggled to get very close to the bay due to the swell and rocks in the cove. If you are not very confident it’s not a good idea to get off as the secret lagoon is a bit boring. It’s just a small opening in the rocks that you climb through that takes you into a murky pool.

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It’s hard to get into and the waves push you into the rocks. Deb struggled to get through and couldn’t help but laugh and what a site the other passengers had to endure. Middle aged women, slightly chubby in a bikini trying to wedge herself through the hole in the rocks. No photos here!!  We had 5 minutes on the beach and then a super swim back to the boat.

Half way back on our swim to the boat, it gets tangled with another boat and we have to tread water and fight the waves whilst the crews move back and forth to try and release them. Ours has to pull back out towards the sea and we are left trying to swim against the tide.. Crew were brilliant and very conscientious. They helped pull the people in life jackets to the boat while the rest of us swam over.

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Large Lagoon
We pull up amongst loads of boats and it’s time to swim or kayak again. After the last stop people were a bit apprehensive. Some took kayaks but Deb, Steve and Nikki were heros and swam. In parts of the 2km swim you could stand in places until you got closer then it drops away to 20 meters deep. Snorkeling was good in the shallows but once inside it just became murky. Swimming in the lagoon was a challenge as smaller boats and kayakers were zooming all over the place so you really had to watch yourself.

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Shimizu
We had to miss this place during to rough sea but it’s supposed to be great for snorkeling.

Suddenly it was 16:00 and time to go back.

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On route back a guy told us about a great place for sunset. So we don’t miss it, still soaking wet we hop on a tricycle and go to Las Cabanas beach… WOW.. Amazing beach bar and view and cheaper drinks. We end up walking along the beach and staying for dinner at a nice restaurant looking like we have just been washed up on the shore from a ship wreak.. We know how to do style!

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By the end of the evening we go back to our room and Steve goes on to fight a spider the size of your hand while Nikki continues to party at the El Nido Police station christmas party complete with police cars providing disco lights until 03:00 am

Next day and it’s back to Puerto Princesa to catch our flights out to Bohol for Christmas.

If your going to El Nido and your budget can take it, look to stay out of town and just go in to visit or catch boat trips. There are beautiful beaches and resorts along the coast and on private islands. If you’re backpacking, our daughter stayed in Spin hostel and had a great time. Free cocktail evenings, good atmosphere and breakfast. If they had a private room with ensuite we would have stayed here too!!

We missed Nacpan Beach but if you can fit it in one morning, do the hike up on the hill at the end of the beach as we have been told the views are spectacular but there is a strong rip tide/current if you want to swim so be careful out there. Have lunch in town then take a tricycle to Las Cabanas for the rest of the day and walk down the beach for sunset.You will find cheap happy hour along this beach and a super beach side bar.

Live Happy

Debs and Steve

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Pondering Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines

We make it to Manila after having had our flight cancelled and the flight times changed twice. The Phillipines is a hard place to try and manage the logisitics from A to B. Half of our flights have been cancelled or moved to different times which causes knock on effects to connections, pick ups and hotels. Luckily for us Deb the super planner knew this could happen but not to the extent it has. Deb had tried to arrange flights with contingency to ensure that should this happen we should still be able to be put on a later flight and if early enough maybe squeeze on to the earlier ones.

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We make it and our daughter Nikki makes it from Malaysia to get the connections to Palawan. We stay near the airport at Puerto Princesa, sounds like it should be lovely but it’s not! We need to stay over as we have a 6 hour bus journey ahead of us in the morning. Since we started our travel we keep an eye on the latest goverment travel websites and on 23rd Dec, the day after we left, the south of the island became pretty much a no go area as westerners are at risk of being kidnapped.

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El Nido better be worth it!

We walk into town from our budget hotel, the Blue Lagoon. The hotel is just a cheap stop over and the town is not much to rave about, market stalls seem to mostly sell toy guns and BB guns that look pretty real, gun culture in kids seems to get promoted here and you’re not sure if the kids have real ones or fake.

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Good news is you can get a magnum ice cream for 60 Pesos (£1) when in the UK you are looking at about £2.30 and donuts are just about everywhere!

We walk on down to city baywalk park…. Not a good place, pretty average really but the local kids are all happy enjoying it, smiling and asking us our names. It starts to rain so we take shelter with them, this is not like the rest of Asia we have heard about, none of the kids want anything and are just happy to share the shelter and show us the big christmas tree.

We stop at a bar for a drink as it’s super hot and we walked further than planned. Toilets become “local” a pan and a pot of water to flush it, reasonably clean but full of mosquitoes just as well we are mosquitoe repellent covered as we are in malaria/dengue territory now!

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Not to be looking like over uncomfortable tourists we sit and have our drink next to the sign “deadly weapons not allowed” Gosh don’t we feel safe NOT! As we walk back you start to adjust and feel much better, then catch a tricycle back the rest of the way as it’s still raining.

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Whilst Nikki pops off to a local bar for a mango shake, we eye up a resturant for the evening. Result, our chosen resturant, Ka Inato turns out to be rather good and cheap, they also employ some local deaf people, Deb has sizzling beef ribs, Nikki grilled chicken and Steve has a crocodile sisig.. Tasted good but no idea what was in it but it must be better than the green hulk burger on offer in the hotel 🤔?

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06:00 am and up we get for our 6 hour journey.

 

After the most erratic 6 hour drive with a guy who couldn’t seem to drive for more than an hour without stopping to meet someone, we finally arrived. The drive is long and there is not much apart from jungle and paddy fields full of rice.

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We pass all the other minibuses who had stopped at a rather nice midway stop to end up in a small tatty village in a small cafe, albeit a nice view of the sea but a bit of a smell of sewage. Nice!

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We had booked our transfer via the hotel a while back as thought the hotel wouldn’t pick a rubbish transfer as they have a reputation to keep. We were sorely disappointed, anyone reading this who finds themselves going to El Nido, stay away from Lexus tours! Camarih are so much better. Of course, you also have the more local transport, Jeepneys. If you like the adventure, it takes longer and you have a good chance of being held up by bandits that pick on tourists 1st as they are easy rich pickings.

Mini bus costs return to Puerto Princesa -1000/1200 PHP

Local coach without A/C – 500, with A/C – 700 PHP

Jeepney- 200 PHP

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Our advice would be to get yourselves out of Puerto Princesa as soon as you can. The locals we spoke to told us that Honda Bay was not worth the boat trip if we were off to El Nido as it’s much better there. You will also be pushed into trying the trip to the caves in Subterranean River National Park, although trip advisor rates it, we met people whose trips were cancelled due to choppy sea and had heard tales that for being hailed one of the new 7 wonders of the world, you could do better but the choice is yours. We chose to spend the money else where!

Off to check out El Nido town and what it has to offer.

Live Happy

Debs and Steve

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