El Nido, Palawan: 0-24 Hours

Our first day in Palawan can be described as a rough patch for many people in terms of traveling. Not in my case though, part of the joy of traveling are the happenings going from point A to B to C and so on. I eagerly anticipated the seven-hour bus trip from Puerto Princesa to El Nido. However, I never expected the stretch of dirt road on the last 50 kilometers of the trip. Being aboard an ordinary bus with open windows, we ended up being covered with dust. Looking back though, it was one of the best bus moments of my life. The awesome scenery, grinding bumps and the powdery dust made it all memorable and in a crazy way, a fun experience.

Levy Amosin

Upon arriving at Puerto Princesa Airport we took a tricycle going to Junction 1 (8 pesos per person) and from there we took a multicab to San Jose Terminal (12 pesos). We were supposed to take an air-conditioned RORO bus to El Nido. However, the next bus wont be departing until two-three hours later as the last one just left moments before we arrived. Since it's already pass ten o'clock in the morning we settled for an ordinary bus about to roll out of the terminal (380 pesos) in order for us to reach El Nido before sundown. The bus was filled with passengers and their belongings. My friend Pam and I sat at the furthest seat at the back with a couple of young local girls on our right and an elderly couple on our left.

Birdhouse El Nido Palawan

Going back to the old couple - I would steal glances at their direction, as the old man holds the hand of the old woman. Obviously they were locals and most probably have spent almost all their years in this paradise of a place. They still stare out at the window as if still fascinated by the scenery. I could imagine them recollecting memories from many years gone by and comparing it to the present day. I'm sure they'll enumerate a long list of changes that happened. There are more people and roads now, but the charming island vibe of Palawan remains despite being under constant threat from mining companies and other natural resources racketeers. The old couple still seems proud and content in spending their life together in Palawan. A thought occurred to me, about wanting to grow old and if blessed with an awesome wife, we'd love us to grow old together similar to the old couple. Living simply and spending our twilight years taking long bus and train rides together.

Birdhouse El Nido Palawan

On a stop-over in Roxas, Palawan at around 2:00 PM we briefly meet up with another travel writer friend of mine, Josiah. He would eventually form a part of our El Nido jaunt two days later. Speaking of Josiah, don't be deceived by the title of my travel blog "Nomadic Experiences" because I've yet to become a "nomad" as I only travel during off time from work. Josiah meanwhile, is a real nomad. He quit his job to travel around the Philippines spending weeks and months in a particular province to immerse with the locals and learn more about their tradition, culture and lifestyle. This time, Josiah has been living in Palawan for the last three months tending to a piece of land by learning to farm and documenting places around the province. I remember him telling me his biggest concern is how to mix traveling, blogging and farming. I wish I had that same kind of problem too.

Linda Kaiser

I was enjoying our bus trip so far and by the time we reached Taytay, almost half of the passengers are gone. I transferred to an empty three-seater by the window and just lavished my sight at the wonderful view outside. Then came the grinding dirt road which I thought passes through a short portion of an unfinished road. An hour later, I accepted the fact that it might stretch all the way to El Nido town. With dust and dirt everywhere, my hair soon turned into a broomstick and my face felt like it had three inches of additional skin layers. All the while, an LPG tank besides me keep bouncing on and off the bus floor, which worried me if it might explode any minute. 

I heaved a sigh of relief when I started to see signs of "Welcome to El Nido" and saw foreigners walking by the street on their way back to their hostels. Soon, the bus made a full stop and after a grueling (but fun) 7-hour bus ride we were finally stepping into El Nido town. Pam and I tried to feel the dust on our faces, body and backpacks. We just laughed it off and hurriedly walked into the town to look for an affordable place to stay. We saw a sign that says "home of budget tourist". We told the tricycle driver to drop us there to check if there were available rooms. We met Mister Jun - the proprietor of El Nido Plaza Inn. He is an unassuming man of around the age of 50. He walks without a shirt but carries an accommodating and friendly demeanor. From the time he showed me the room (good for two-three people at 500-600 pesos fan room) to the time he handed my the key, he was able to tell me about the time he spent in Manila managing student boarding houses in the University Belt area of Manila.

Levy Amosin with Celine Murillo, Kara Santos and Mujee Gonzales

The inn isn't located in a beachfront lot, but it is at the center of the town and very close to the beach. After settling down and taking a much needed shower, Pam and I set out to explore the town on foot. Before arriving, she was already in contact with a few couchsurfers and agreed to meet up with them for dinner that night. We saw them at "Sea Slugs" a bar fronting the beach where performers sing covers of cool songs from the 90's and 60's. (arguably two of the three best decades in music - along with the 70's). We met Janice - a Filipina solo traveler who has been to Asia and Europe. There's Reiza, an Iranian and Ana, a Portuguese, who are both temporarily living near UP Diliman as part of an NGO organization. There's also Liyi, a Chinese temporarily based in Laguna teaching English and Yoyo, another Chinese girl who traveled to El Nido from China by herself after four of her friends backed out at the last minute.

We shared a few bottles of beer while I listened attentively to their conversations, I haven't known them that well yet, so I reserved my "one-liner" jokes to myself. As I hear the sounds of the water crashing to the shore, a Pink Floyd cover song is being played in the background. I grabbed my beer when someone yelled "Cheers", while I try to remember the names behind the cheery new faces surrounding our table. I couldn't be more glad how our first night in El Nido started better than what we expected. The next day, we availed the "Tour A" island hopping tour with them.

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