El Nido

The four hour journey was more like five or six ... it was pretty rough. Upon arrival I was hungry, burnt, wet and salty. I hadn't reserved a room in El Nido as I wasn't sure I'd make the trip.

Three of us wandered up and down the main strip looking for accommodation ... pickings were slim and not cheap. I settled on a place that ran me 750 pesos ($18 CAD) a night. Still no hot water, even at that price.

El Nido's beach didn't compare to Port Barton's. After a shower and lunch, the four of us booked a boat tour out the following morning.

As we pulled out of the bay it was hard not to notice the jellyfish swarming the water. They had to be about 30cm, maybe more, in diameter ... no swimming in El Nido for me.

The small lagoon was beautiful ... one has to swim through a hole to enter. I spotted a moray eel. My friends caught a glimpse of a baby shark ... I wasn't so lucky.

The big lagoon was very impressive and huge! I followed the wall of the lagoon around, the middle being this extremely deep dark pit. It was a little scary at times especially with the jellyfish scattered about.

We stopped for a beach BBQ and more snorkeling. After lunch it was off to the secret lagoon. We had to wade out into the surf and climb through a hole in a rock. A pretty cool place but, perhaps, not so secret.

I was scheduled to go diving the following morning. I awoke to gray storm clouds and howling wind. As I was making my way to the shop I stopped to talk to this guy about buying a bus ticket. He kind of laughed at me when I told him I was going diving ... not a good sign.

Diving was canceled. Again, it didn't turn out to be so bad as myself and the other three travelers spent the day walking the streets, climbing hills, looking for things of interest. We found a trail that looped around for ages ... waves crashed into the walls making it quite obvious why the boats weren't going out. This trail reminded me in every way of the Vancouver Sea Wall ... a place I certainly miss.

Soon after, I wished my new friends well in their journeys and hopped a 6am "Charity" bus back to Puerto Princesa ... a nine hour journey ... so I was told ...

Photos from El Nido ...

Port Barton

I had, thankfully, reserved a place as accommodation was somewhat limited in Port Barton. I had chosen Summer Homes only because they had a website and an email address. I spent three days wandering up and down the beach and I'd say it was one of the nicest places on the strip. I was paying 450 pesos ($11 CAD) for a room with my own bathroom, definitely a step up from the night before.

One of the first things I did upon arrival was wander down to the far end of the beach in search of the dive shop. A bit unfortunate for me, visibility was very poor so they weren't going out. Although disappointed, I was grateful as most other places would've taken your money with not much to see.

During a late lunch, we met a couple looking to go on a boat tour the following day. A four passenger boat willing to take five made out for a cheap tour ... so, back on the same boat we went. Dang took us to a few different spots for some (not so great) snorkeling. I could quickly see why there wasn't any diving.

Albaguen Island was a cool place. We had lunch and hiked 15+ minutes up to a small lookout tower. It allowed one a spectacular view.

Both Tuesday and Wednesday morning I found myself up with the sun. I always have trouble sleeping late when I know there's a whole beach outside my door. The tide seemed to come back in by 9am ... the hours prior allows one much more freedom of exploring around the bends.

One of the highlights of Port Barton was the food. Summer homes pumped out one amazing dish after another. Shame to say it wasn't local food ... most of it was Thai which didn't hurt my feelings any. Fantastic! The pizza from El Dorado is also worth a mention.

I had made the decision early Wednesday that I'd be leaving the following morning. My thought being that if I do return to the Philippines, there is a good possibility I won't make it to Palawan as there are so many islands of interest. I wanted to see El Nido and was still looking to do some diving.

Murray and Jasmine wanted to stay and relax in this beautiful piece of paradise. I started inquiring about options for reaching my next destination and it wasn't an easy task. Land travel seemed like the cheapest option for a solo traveler.

The three we'd met back in Sabang were also planning to leave Thursday. The four of us agreed to share a boat on the 4 hour journey to El Nido.

My last swim in the bay ended abruptly by a little boy beside me screaming ... he was stung quite badly by a jellyfish. He screamed for a good hour or two ... poor kid. I was a little intimidated by the water after that.

The boat was scheduled to leave at 6am. Electricity is only available from 530pm - midnight. Last minute packing with my headlamp made for an interesting way to end my time. At least I was leaving two friends behind had I missed something in all that darkness.

Transfer to Port Barton ...

My room in Sabang was only 300 pesos ($7CAD) a night. It was a very basic hut and was situated in the jungle. I awoke long before the sun came up as hundreds of critters were making sounds from every direction making it magically musical ... it was certainly hard to get any sleep. I spent a few hours sitting on my balcony listening ... pretty amazing stuff!

The boatman, Dang, was scheduled to pick us up from the Sabang pier at 10am. It was closer to 11am when Dang found me and introduced himself. He immediately apologized, telling me his boat had flipped over coming in and that we'd have to wait for another half hour or so until they could fix it. If that doesn't make one nervous, not sure what would. I didn't bring my waterproof pack so I immediately started putting important things into zip lock bags.

The boat in the above photo is known as a Bangka (outrigger boat) and they are commonly used throughout the Philippines. The one side of the boat had torn off. Fixing it involved old pieces of wood and fishing line ... oh no.

When we departed, they put our packs under tarps and tied them tightly to the boat. We were told the ride would be 2 - 3 hours. The sea was very rough so we weren't able to travel that fast.

Almost reaching hour number four, I found myself more than ready to get off the boat. With that thought in mind, we made a turn into this little bay that reeked of paradise ... emerald green water and palms that lined the white beach. I suddenly forgot about the desire of wanting to get off the boat and stared in amazement at the beauty of Port Barton.

Patiently awaiting ... 春天

It sometimes amazes me how time has this ability of changing things so drastically. The temperature in Taiwan reached highs of 21C today. That being said, I find myself wearing wool socks, long johns and pants, a turtle neck, a sweater and even a hat ... to keep the heat in, of course.

My favorite guy is back home in Kelowna at the moment, in below zero weather. When I told him today's temperature, he thought it sounded nice and warm. I do recall at some point that 21C was shorts and t-shirt kind of weather. What happened here? When did that change?

The hardest thing about being home in summer 2006 was trying to keep warm. I wonder how I'll ever be able to make that move back to cold country. I suppose it's not so much as to how ... but why? Brrrr!


I landed at the tiny airport in Puerto Princesa around 10:30am. Murray and Jasmine were waiting for me upon arrival. As time seemed to be more of an issue than money, we hired an air conditioned van to Sabang. The hour and a half drive on a somewhat paved two lane highway went quick. We followed the sign to Sabang and the road was, perhaps, the most bumpy I've been on in my life. No wonder the driver stopped to pick up a spare tire along the way.

We were making our way to the Bambua Nature Park Resort. Although it wasn't located on the beach, it seemed the beach didn't have much to offer. We were only there for one night to check out the Subterranean River.

It was hard to get any shots of the underground river but it was one of the most impressive things I've come across in some time. As we'd arrived to Sabang late afternoon, we were the last tour of the day. It worked out more than perfect as we had the place to ourselves.

We met a group of three looking to catch a boat back to the main beach. Funny enough, we ran into them at our next stop and a few days after I continued up with them to the city after that.

I'd highly recommend a stop in Sabang ... especially once the road's complete. It's definitely in the works but sure it's still a long time coming.


I spent Saturday night in Manila as I wasn't able to get a connecting flight to Palawan until the following morning. My co-worker made arrangements for her brother and his girlfriend to pick me up from the airport. Her family owns a house there and she said I should stay for the night. I took her up on her offer as being alone in a city is never that much fun.

My fabulous tour guides took me to Fort Santiago and to 'old' Manila. Both proved to be quite interesting. The streets were lined with old churches and religious signs seemed to be posted everywhere around the city.

After wandering the afternoon away, we picked up my other co-worker and his girlfriend. The three of us were taken to a popular restaurant to have our first try of Filipino food. It was 還好 and perhaps the only traditional food I tried.

We spent the evening watching American Gangster ... what a great movie! I went to bed around midnight as I knew 6:30am would come early. With a bright street light beaming in the window and crowds of people hanging around in the alley below partying it up, I found it difficult to sleep.

The morning presented the first of many cold showers to come. It is always a sure way to wake yourself up. My taxi arrived around 7am and like that, I was on my way to Palawan.