If our first day in Palawan was spent on overdrive en route to El Nido from Puerto Princesa, that has us sapped and left with only enough energy to meet new people that night, while a cover band plays live Pink Floyd and Sublime songs at "Sea Slugs". The second day, energized by a six hour sleep, was spent in a more affable manner while sharing a boat with the same people we met the previous night. This time a couple of French and German students from Hong Kong and a Chinese couple joined our group making us a party of ten about to have a slice of paradise in the "Tour A" island hopping package which costs us only 700 pesos each. (fixed rate)
Before we boarded our boat, Liyi and Yoyo - the two Chinese girls we met the previous night ran across with three ladies from Taiwan. It turns out they were a part of another island hopping (Tour B) group the day before and they were ecstatic upon seeing each other again. It was a cheery scene realizing Liyi and Yoyo are from mainland China while the three were from Taiwan. Take politics out of the equation and I believe both nations would have no problem being friendly with each other, as the girls exhibited that day. The Taiwanese girls were set to leave El Nido that morning, so they exchanged contact numbers and promised to remain in touch with one another. Indeed, through traveling - it's very possible to achieve "One China" - without borders and political indifference.
As we took our respective seats aboard the boat and the engine starts to roar, a feeling of a different kind of excitement electrifies through my veins. I've done this many times, saw many islands around the Philippines, but there is something that appeals to me from looking at the limestone cliffs surrounding the town of El Nido, as it become smaller in my view while the boat sail over the crystal clear waters underneath. The whole vibe adds fuel to the discharge of the many semi-orgasmic neurons in my body. My mind was filled with delight so I patted myself at the back for making the best decision to spend the Holy Week in El Nido.
Soon, we were off to our first stop which was the "Big Lagoon" where some scenes from the upcoming "Bourne Legacy" movie was filmed. There was a platform made of bamboo located in the middle where the boats docks at both sides. We went aboard it and from there, the party of nine took turns jumping into the water. It could have been ten if I were just confident enough of my swimming skills. I took it slowly by putting on a lifevest, thereby sticking out like a sore thumb from our group - being the only non-expert swimmer. I just lied on my back using my life-vest to keep me afloat. I stared at the blue sky in transition with the blurry movements of the white clouds. Moving my eyes to the left and right, I could see bunch of trees dangling like baits at the sides of the gigantic limestone cliffs. Below me, I feel the coldness of the water, providing therapeutic-like wonders, by pricking through my skin pores.
Talk about spoiling one's every senses. Visual and sensation orgasms indeed. We stayed there for about an hour but it felt like sitting through a wonderful patch of time, weaving an inner mind peace and the tranquil, magnificent setting of the place together. All of a sudden, things which bothers me beforehand took a backseat and here comes a set of vibrant energy which evolved into a realization of the importance of finding one's definition of a "good time on Earth". This is how I will entertain myself and have a blast at this planet while I'm still at it - I told myself.
|Spot the non-swimmer|
I listened to mostly Ana's quips about life in Portugal and Wergel's narratives about Germany and so forth. Here, I wished I'm more talkative as I would like to participate more in their conversation, but listening provided me additional understanding of their life and culture as well. While there is vast difference, the similarities between nationalities of different nations produces a very stunning long list.
Other places included in the "Tour A" package includes the "secret cove" - where one needs to enter a small hole in a wall of a limestone islet in order to go inside the small cove. We had lunch at "Simizu Island" where our boatman prepared a dish consisting of fried fish, Squids, watermelons, pineapple and bananas. The island was filled with other tourists who came from other boats. Most of them were Europeans. Pam and I with the exceptions of the boatmen, are the only Filipinos at the island that time. Joana - the French girl as she comes from Reunion Island - a French Territory located just east of Madagascar, told us about her apprehension of leaving the Philippines and going back to their studies in Hong Kong. "I would love to stay here" as she says with a cute sad face. After El Nido she and Wergel will hit Banaue and Sagada before returning back to HK.
Hearing those words from a foreigner, will make you ditch any plans of leaving the Philippines. I mean C'mon, why leave in the first place? It made me proud that someone from another country, one who has been to most of Europe say something about wanting to stay here. Setting simple lifestyle aside, there are definitely much to see and do here. I'm just starting to experience it all and from the get-go to right now, I don't see anything could stop me from further pursuing exploring my country.
|7 Commando Beach|
After that, we went to "Small Lagoon" and the "7 Commando Beach", which was named after a group of commandos, which according to a local legend, went mysteriously missing upon docking at the island. It was here where some of our group joined a friendly game of beach volleyball. We drank juice from the big coconut being sold for only 50 pesos in the island, it was so big you will have a hard time drinking it to the last drop.
It was a great introduction to the islands around El Nido, not even the horror which unfortunately happened on our way back to our inn later in the day will ruin it for us. It was just the first day and "Tour B" and "Tour C" still awaits us in the coming days, plus a beautiful German backpacker and three crazy Dutch guys and an assortment of interesting characters awaits us on the same trajectory in El Nido.