“The Beach” – Unspoiled Paradise
Following Beijing and Harbin, we needed somewhere to thaw out, and preferably a place where we could escape the migration madness (Chinese New Year).
We drew up a map on the lappy screen, and decided on
Guangdong, Hainan, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Philippines.
Getting out of China was the best decision. China during the Chinese New Year is known to be CRAZY. About a billion Chinese people take trains, planes and automobiles to travel back to their hometowns. You can’t even book train tickets until two weeks prior your trip during this peak season, and accommodation and restaurants are double the price, ouch!
We’ve narrowed down to the Philippines, now which island out of the 7,000? With a little help from our Filipino friends and a bit of research – Palawan Island here we come.
It’s hard to spell out every detail of how amazing this place is. Unlike other South East Asia destinations, this spot feels very untouched. But unfortunately this will probably change over the next several years as there is so much tourist potential in Palawan. The people are some of the friendliest and happiest we’ve met. The Spanish and American (and religious) influence gives the place its own unique culture. Everybody speaks English which definitely makes communicating a lot easier!
We started out in the capital, Puerto Princesa; a city in the jungle. When strolling in town one day, we stumbled across a diving advert for Port Barton (located between Puerto Princesa and north of the island – El Nido), and that’s how we decided where we were headed to next.
An intended few nights stay in Port Barton eventuated into twelve nights. We’d always tell other travellers “ohh yeah think we’ll stay another night” – we said this so often, it was becoming a running joke. There are only ninety rooms in Port Barton. ROOMS not places. So you can imagine how unpopulated this place is. Port Barton leads an authentic village life. You hear roosters going off and you see locals building boats in their front yard. You would be reading your book on the beach and a buffalo will casually walk pass you transporting goods. There’s loads to do if you take the time to really explore the place. Not to mention the most amazing sea life and landscapes; we were constantly gobsmacked underwater with what we were seeing. The cold showers, and limited power didn’t bother us at all, so long as the sunsets and beers kept on coming!
One thing to keep in mind is there’s no ATMs or banks in Port Barton, and we were running low on dosh, woops! Only way was to rent a motorbike to the nearest town 33kms away. Righto, no biggie.
We expected a dinged up old dirt bike. Instead, a brand new Honda motorcycle rocks up glistening in the sun. We’re thinking (jeezus, they’re letting a couple of random foreigners ride this?!) So with no deposit required, we’re handed the keys and a helmet (one helmet, and on request of course). Getting cash out turned out to be an adventure in disguise.
After twelve days of jam packed fun – snorkelling, fishing, swimming, beaches, island hopping, bush walking, diving, kayaking, and stunning sunsets, it was hard to leave it all behind but it was time to head up north to check out what El Nido had to offer.
This was our ride there – the rooftop of a jeepney.
In El Nido we stayed in a double bungalow with some other travellers we met. It was perched on a hill well away from the main tourist area. The bungalow was never advertised, it just had an old sign perched at the end of the path saying ‘rooms for rent’. Say hello to our friends who joined us….
A part of us didn’t want to share so much of this hidden gem, but it’s inevitable that this place will be completely different in the next few years. I’m just so glad we got to experience it the way it is now. As travellers it’s hard not to share wonderful places such as this one. I hope you get the opportunity to see it for yourself.