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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 🤔?
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.
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!
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
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.
Debs and Steve