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Winter Vacation Part 3 – Puerto Princesa to El Nido

The 3rd post from our Winter Vacation is from one of our more memorable adventures. After Manila, we took a small plane for about an hour to another island called Palawan.  (Video Soon!)

January 11, 2010 04:36 PM

On the Plane…

January 11, 2010 05:09 PM

Over this… :)

Palawan is often called the “last frontier” of the Philippines.  It was only claimed by the Philippines in the 1960s after being tossed around between Japanese rule in WWII, American rule earlier in the century, Spanish rule before that, and Malay long ago.  So, as expected this island was much less developed than Manila or our later stops on Bohol and Cebu.  We flew into Puerto Princesa (the capital of the island) and had to stay the night before heading up to El Nido.  We arrived at Manny’s guest house by tricycle (there are no taxi’s on the island – WATCH THE VIDEO HERE!) just in time to catch this great view of the sunset!

January 11, 2010 06:12 PM

January 11, 2010 06:13 PM

January 11, 2010 06:13 PM

We took off into town to find some internet and came across this church.  They had 3 masses a day 2 in English and 1 in the local dialect.  Pretty cool!

January 11, 2010 06:53 PM

January 11, 2010 06:56 PM

I think we were hungry!

The next morning we left at 7am on a local bus for our next stop – El Nido.  We had the option to take a local bus for 300 pesos each (~$4) or a minivan with aircon for 600 pesos each.  We opted for the cheaper version hoping for more of an adventure …   The bus was a huge open air giant of a machine and looked like it had been in use since about WWII or so.  The bus slowly filled with all local Philippinos …. and us (the only foreigners in sight).

January 12, 2010 07:56 AM

This was our navigator :)

January 12, 2010 08:18 AM

This was our seat…

January 12, 2010 08:39 AM

She was our entertainment…

The bus ride took a solid 8 hours to get from Puerto Princesa to El Nido.  We spent most of the trip admiring the amazing scenery, clinging to the railings as we hurdled down rough pavement, gravel, and dirt roads, or we watched the children sitting in front of us.

January 12, 2010 10:18 AM

January 12, 2010 08:49 AM

On top of the bus, people packed on loads of goods to ship, bags, and at one point in the trip… a motorcycle!  When the bus was full, people sat on the roof.  No one fell off, but I’m sure there were some close calls with the rough roads and crazy driving.

January 12, 2010 09:12 AM

One of the many amazing views on the bus ride up to El Nido.

January 12, 2010 10:27 AM

Here’s another…

We made it safely to El Nido.  Luckily it only rained for about 20 minutes near the end of the ride.  We’ve heard horror stories of the bus getting stuck in the mud on rainy days and taking 12-15 hours to get to El Nido.  We also avoided flat tires (another common occurrence).  Video of our arrival into El Nido is below.

The bus ride was definitely an adventure.  We chose it because it we wanted to have a more realistic Philippines experience and we got it.  We saw a lot of beautiful sites, but also so the shanties and shacks of rural Philippino life.  We stopped a few times and encountered some begging children, hungry and dirty.  A sad sight and a strange reminder of Manila.  The restrooms along our trip were shacks with holes in the ground or a basic toilet with no seat or water.  Needless to say we limited our water and food so we could avoid them as much as possible.  Many of our companions on the bus didn’t speak, or didn’t want to speak English so it was hard to know what was happening when we stopped, or how long we had left on our journey.  But that was all part of the experience.  It was one of our more memorable experiences of the trip and I’m glad we did it.

Up Next – the town of El Nido and it’s paradise limestone islands!  Oh.. and some great underwater videos!

Please keep my (Chad) grandfather in your thoughts.  He’s having a rough recovery from knee surgery a few weeks ago.  He’s doing better the past few days but still has a long road to recovery ahead.  Nothing makes us feel farther away from home than when someone we love is sick.  We just thankful for the wonders of Skype that help us keep in touch.

All the best,