Philippines above and underwater

Philippines above and underwater

Ferry Coron — El Nido

Next morning we planned a ferry to El Nido. We bought the tickets in advance via El Nido Art-Cafe and payed via PayPal (1600 php per person, this price included simple lunch and a bottle of water). People getting to El Nido gathered on a wharf at a resort restaurant Sea Dive and went on a small boat to a ferry. There are a lot of stories about the horrible episodes of trips on this itinerary starting with a heavy pitching during eight hours of a trip and driving rains that wash down everything on deck and ending with wrecks and overturning of this ferry with tourists and their baggage. 😯 But we didn’t even care or think about it.

The weather was excellent. The ferry set off according to the schedule at 8:30, but actually the ferry set off after nice o’clock. We were lucky wit the weather for there was ship motions, no rain. A couple of bottles of beer and a bottle of rum made this trip into a pleasant amusement. We even had time to sleep and to look around. Throughout the itinerary the ferry goes along or between some islands. The landscapes are so diverse here you can find vulcanogenetic black rocks, stripes of beaches with coconut palms and local villages and also small unnamed uninhibited islands. Seven hour trip went too quickly and at 5 pm we saw mountainous calciferous cliffs of El Nido Bay.

El Nido


In St-Pete we booked a hotel (Marina Garden Beachfront Inn) in El Nido. As it turned out to be it was in vain. Because we could do everything on-site, but we decided not to give a rat’s tail about it and stay in a hotel for 3 nights like marshmaloow shoes. The hotel was quite respectable with a beachfront so to say you wake up to the sound of the sea lapping against the rocks. Everything is as it should be. 🙂 We paid 2600 php per night for the pleasure to live in a triple -room (breakfast included). It was huge money by philippino’s measurements! While we were looking for our hotel some people came to us and offered inexpensive accomodation about 1000 php per room. So it is safe to say that if you want to save some money on accomodation you shouldn’t fuss and book a hotel in advance. You can check out everything on-site and chose what suits the balance of the price/comfort level.

The weather

El Nido turned out to be the only place during our trip where we had ill luck with the weather. My attempt to wake up next morning at 6 am to take a picture of El Nido Bay in gold rays of the rising sun – was a complete washout. 🙁 The early morning was cloudy, gloomy and rainy. As a result we decided to spend the whole day in a town in idlness and were given to our bellies.

The whole town it’s just a couple of streets which go parallel to the shore teeming with cafes and local diners, tourist’s booths offering a standard set of everything (boat (ferry) tours along islands and lagoons, bus and boat tickets, diving, bike and minivan rent and lots of other stuff). The food is cheap. It will cost you about 200 php in a standard european -oriented cafe. And if you’re not fastidious to have a bite a local diner you can spend only 70 php.

Having explored everything all around we decidedd to book diving to tomorrow. In a diving center Sea Dog they told us that everything was busy for tomorrow and they sent us to their partner Plankton Divers. Prices for diving in El Nido are almost the same, but higher than in Coron — 3300 php for 3 dives. We suggested 3000 php. They agreed to give a discount easily. 🙂 The rent of the diving equipment (BCD, regulator, fins and diving suit) is included in the price everywhere. If you have your own equipment i suppose you can get a discount. :whistling:

Diving in El Nido

Next morning turned out to be gloomy again. It’s not that we were upset about it taking into account that we were not going to the beach, but underwater, but anyway even when it’s sunny the reef underwater looks more picturesque than in a dull weather. Our instructor proudly introduced him-self as Kaka. Well we didn’t want to dissapoint him saying that his name sounded not really euphoniously in Russian (kaka in Russian means caloy or something disgusting, shit, trash).

The first dive (site South Entalula) was not any remarkable – fusiliers, clownfish, a flock of small barracudas. Everything is beautiful but more or less smooth. Then we relaxed on the beach and went to the second dive (site South Minilock). That’s where we liked a lot – the site had a big deversity of fish. Enormous flocks of big-eyed snappers and mackerel. It was awesome! During the second dive the port of my camera lens began to sweat and for some time i was left without my camera, but anyway i took some pictures. On the third dive we met a flock of huge (one meter long size) humphead parrot fishes. Just like in Sipadan. We also saw a turtoise beetle. =^_^= We also met the representatives of a macro-world: nidibranch, shrimps and a black ribbon eel. Taking five-point-grading scale i will estimate diving as a solid “4”. I will give firm “5” to the overwater beauty!

El Nido — Puerto-Princesa

Coming back from diving we had a very-far simple task to plan our next day so as to leaving El Nido in the morning we could manage to visit the “Subterranean River National Park” in the afternoon and get to Puerto Princesa in the evening, where we had a flight to Dumaguete the next day. A task turned out to be extremely difficult of accomplishment and especially for us in this particular case unachievable. On “Vinskiy (Vinsky) forum” I read people’s reports, where they managed to do this trick, but all our endevours to arrange this trip ended up in people’s saying that it was impossible to do this in one day. The problem was that to visit the National Park we should get a permission in the Park’s office. They said that all the cards of admission were given for the next day and we could only make it in two days – to come to Sabang tomorrow to get a card of permission, overnight at a hotel and see the River the next day. 🙁

This plan didn’t suit us so we decided to forget about the River moreover initially we didn’t plan it as the foremost object (stalactites, stalagmites and subterranean rivers couldn’t astonish me after the huge Mulu caves I saw in Malaysia), we just wanted to try to see it on our itinerary. That’s why we decided to buy tickets for a late bus to Puerto Princesa (the latest bus turned out to be at 13:00) to see something else for the rest of the day. We bought bus-tickets in El Nido Art Cafe. The bus-ticket is — 600 php per person. The duration time is 5 hours.

To benefit from the remaining time we decided to rent bicycles and go to see something interesting in the neighborhood of El Nido. You can hire bicycles in El Nido Art Cafe (350 php for a half day) or you can hire a bicycle outdoors. The second varient is cheaper (250 php). So we chose to see the waterfall. The brochure said that it took 20 km to get there. This distance was quite reachable for a bicycle.

At the beginning it went more or less smoothly not taking into account thefact that we slightly over-estimated Sveta’s physical capacities — she had a hard time with uphill ascents and we constantly had to adjust to her velocity, stopping from time to time to wait for her, in between we observed the routine scenes of rural living of Philippinos. Five kilometers away from El Nido we passed a turn to «El Nido Airport». Funny. But airplanes really fly from this place: a small company ITI offers daily flights to Manila and back.

We moved faraway but when we asked local people how close was the waterfall they all gave different answers. In 10-15 kilometers the road turned into a dirt-track or rather filled with coarse chips and our trip became harder. And suddenly it rained. It not just rained but it was a real downfall which finally turned everything into a real swamp. Riding the dirt, puddles and rocks all covered in dirt soaking wet clock – watching from time to time and not estimating our abilities to get back in time we kept going.

Later grave doubts began to come in on us regarding the reality of our task. Finally after another question:«how long to waterfalls?», one man said that it was about along coarse chips and we can’t get without him as a guide. We understood that it was a total failure so we decided to turn around and go back otherwise we could miss our bus. Suddenly another surprise got me because of the constant rock jumping the chamber on a rear wheel of my bicycle blew out and i felt that my wheel rim rode coarse chips. Here we go i thought. That’s all i needed. 😯

The situation needed an urgent strategic decision for the prospect to miss the last bus (and as a consequence to miss tomorrow’s morning flight from Puerto Princesa) was getting more real. So i sent my companions forward to checkout from the hotel and pack the things not to miss any time and so i got off my bicycle and walked hoping to stop any transport to get to El Nido with my bicycle with. But by hard adventure there was no transport.

So i walked for about 2-3 kilometers but didn’t meet any transport except people on motobikes. Those people drove by, looked at me and indifferently drive ahead… And suddenly what a miracle! I saw an upcoming tricycle and started to gesticulate. A family (mother with 2 kids + a pig) kindly agreed to take me with them, probably startled with my desire to ride in the iron basket with a pig. 😕 To my question how much would it cost they said they didn’t know, how much would you give… So we settled and fitted my bicycle. We ride though slowly but it was good anyway. I felt relieved it seemed like I still had some time.

And suddenly was it the bicycle to touch the pig or was it a bad dream the pig had, but she began to jump on me and for a moment i even felt her teeth on my leg! We stopped, i jumped out of a tricycle and a woman said: «that’s ok. we gonna solve this problem!». And she started to cord up the pig closer to the corner of the basket and do some kind of a muzzle from the rope. :sceptic: the pig squealed – growled and bulked. Finally they made it and we got to the place of destination. Being happy that i got home i gave them 200 php thanked them for the their help. They were at a loss from my generosity and left very pleased. 😎

We got back the bycycles, complained that couldn’t see anything, complained the rain and bad road. I thought they would fine me for the broken chamber – but they didn’t. They even offered me to take another bicycle, and give another try i said no, thank you! 😀 We checked out from the hotel, had lunch, took two flusks of white and red rum with us and got into the bus. Tanduay made our way positive and relaxed. 0:-)

Author: Vladimir

Traveler, photographer, author of the reports.

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