She wasted no time and explored the old ship and chatted with some of the passengers. The constant wavy motion of the ship felt so normal that when she landed her feet on land to meet her friend she stumbled. She spent 10 days of what she consider as a "freedom trip" - freedom from almost 16 years of formal school. She learned to hate trekking because of the Jungle trail on their way to the Underground River. She spent countless mornings savoring chao long and iced coffee from Rene Saigon's Chao Long. She ate tamilok. She ate fresh fish and red rice almost everyday. Experienced the rural life just like a Palaweno. That girl was the 20-year old me. And thank you Ira for letting me experience all of those things.
|less the crowd and the unimaginable fees|
Underground River tour - 50 pesos each (9 years ago)
There are many options to get to El Nido from Puerto Princesa City. You can get there via a shuttle van or bus. A week before our trip, I reserved two slots on the 8:00 a.m. schedule of the Lexus shuttle van company through text (0912.100.2651). They booked me and didn't require us to make an advance payment. We arrived at Puerto Princesa airport at around 9:00 a.m. and took a tricycle outside the airport to the San Jose Terminal for 70 pesos.
Of course we were late for our scheduled van and the sad part was that all of the seats were reserved for the 9:30 departure and the next available van will be at 1:00 p.m. We scouted for other vans but all of them were already for reserved passengers. And then someone told us that we should catch the Eulen Joy non-aircon bus to El Nido which will leave at 10:00 a.m. (we didn't know about the RORO aircon bus yet). We were just in time for the scheduled departure of the bus, we didn't even bother to ask how long will it take for us to get to El Nido. The fare was 300 pesos each person (250 pesos for students like me, woot!). The shuttle van would cost you around 500 to 700 pesos.
|San Jose Terminal - Puerto Princesa City|
|the epic 7-hour non-aircon bus to El Nido|
|sun - dust - drizzle - wind - sweat - |
|and they chose my window|
|define strength and balance|
It's the Northern Hope Inn (0939.902.2216), a month old lodging house which is very near the beach - a good 20 meters if I estimated it right. She showed us our room for four days. We occupied a fan room for 700 pesos per night. The room is very basic; a bed, fan, clothes rack and private toilet and bathroom. They also offer free coffee anytime of the day and you can also borrow a flashlight which is a must when going out at night as the power supply in the town can be erratic at times.
Ate Neriza also offers island hopping tours, tricycle rentals, van transfers, ferry boats from Coron to El Nido and vice versa, and almost everything you need in El Nido, she can provide it for you. What I particularly love about Ate Neriza was how she treated us. We never felt like a guest or a tourist, we were like a long lost relative of hers. That's Pinoy hospitality there. One more thing, she's a true-blooded native of El Nido.
|El Nido made easy by Ate Neriza +639399022216|
Inn, Tours, Transfers, everything
|1-month old Northern Hope Inn|
|Fan room for 2pax - 700 pesos|
|ensuite bathroom and toilet|
|Aircon room for 2 pax - 1,200 pesos|
Aircon room for 4 pax - 1,400 pesos
But what's cool about El Nido and its night life is that it is very quiet, calm, and placid. A juxtaposition from the live bands from the pubs where people party like it's the end of the world. People were actually dining and having a casual drink or two. I dunno. It just felt that way. Or maybe I was just comparing it to other beachfront pubs in the country. Or maybe it was just the vibe of the whole community - locals and tourists alike. It just felt really good to have a drink by the beach.
|some hotels have their own generator set - aahhhh|
|maggi savor, gina salt at katinko ang pulutan|
The weather was gloomy, drizzling at times. That was not a good sign for we booked an island hopping tour that day. I texted Ate Neriza and she confirmed that the tours will push through and that we should be ready by 9:00 a.m. At around 8:00 a.m. Ate texted that the coastguard cancelled all boat trips that day due to bad weather. Ok. So we went back to bed. Move on agad.
|paggising may bagyo... ok tulog na lang ulit...|
I somewhat expected a rough ride on the way to the beach. But I didn't realize that the heavy rains the night before would make it really hard for us to pass the flooded areas. We were asked by Eric to alight and walk a few times for him to pass through the muddy road. I realized that passing through that road on a regular sunny day would mean heavy amount of dust from the road all throughout the trip. Bring your masks with you. Well a hanky would do.
|island hopping cancellation equates to beach bumming|
|not a vendor - he's on his way to fix a boat|
|the twin beaches of Nacpan and Calitang|
|my mom: Carla 'di ko na alam 'yung totoong kulay mo|
We then waited for the sunset. We were quite early so we chatted with some kids who were playing on the shore. It was nice to see them having fun with their makeshift toys. And then the sunset. It was really nice to view it from that beach. After the rainy morning, it was so refreshing to finally see the horizon at its happy state. I silently wished for a nice weather the next day.
|reminds me of my childhood days...|
|and this one too...|
On our first and second day in El Nido we've experienced it all. The dust, wind, and drizzle from the 7-hour non-aircon bus trip. The gloomy, sunny and rainy weather. The bumpy and muddy tricycle ride. And having been to 4 different beaches in El Nido. But we couldn't ask for more. Really. And it's just the first two days! Island hopping tours next.