Moving back to the motherland: El Nido, The Philippines
El Nido, Palawan
Quickly I decided to fly to The Philippines via Philippine Airline on a one-way ticket in hopes to travel the beautiful South Pacific Island. Little to my expectations, arriving to Ninoy Aquino airport as I stand by the carousel to grab my luggage, a rush of anxiety and homesickness came over me. It was a very odd feeling considering I was always used to travelling alone to unfamiliar places. I was expecting to feel excitement and an adrenaline to conquer The Philippines which by the way I had not stepped foot in for over eight years.
Nonetheless, I was greeted by familiar faces and found myself suddenly dripping in sweat..as expected. Here is what I was mentally prepared for: heat and traffic. So i'm down to the basics, nothing can annoy me now. Though I was mentally prepared for the heat and heavy traffic, I wasn't expecting that being homesick and the thought of a one-way ticket, which God knows when I will be returning home, would fill my mind and body with distress.
I spent time in the capital, Metro Manila for a bit of time. Maybe too much of that bit of time as I got sick of the hustle and bustling city. I wanted to be in my natural habitat; by the ocean. The objective to be in Metro Manila was so that I can explore the city that I've never really experienced before. So I did just that. Until the time I woke up and booked a flight to anywhere. Just anywhere outside of the metropolitan.
Palawan was a definite yes and a bucket must check on my list. I was so eager that I quickly packed my bag and uv protected ready, I was set to jet. El Nido as my destination, a boutique airline called AirSwift was the only airline that flies in and out of the municipality. The moment I checked in, their service was easy breezy with a customer service smile. They saw my big bag and insisted on checking it in for me (no extra charge, as I know some airlines do around the Philippines). Passengers were called for the gate and a service crew was handing out sweets for the flight as we boarded a transport bus. I thought, well isn't this lovely. We arrived to board the small aircraft ATR 42 awaiting us with a red carpet. Some bougie airline this was with service crews handing out sweets and umbrellas for shade to board the aircrafts for its passengers.
Arriving to El Nido with no in depth planning was totally natural for me. I was glad I made the decision and it brought some excitement in my travel books. Tricycles are lined up just outside the tiny and fairly new El Nido airport. It was between Php250-200 from the airport to my accommodation (to anywhere from the airport). I booked my stay at a hostel called Outpost which was the only one by the beach and that gave me the deal breaker. To my surprise, Outpost Hostel delivered high expectations. The facilities definitely were not a 5 star rating but the atmosphere and location was perfect and just what I needed. One, I met new friends and spent our stay together and enjoyed each other's company. We rented a van together and shared expenses the one day the weather was not suitable for the beach so we visited a not so "nearby" waterfall called Kuyawyaw Waterfalls. The next day, we wanted to have a relaxing time by the beach, we decided to do the ziplining to the other side of a small island and walked back to the mainland through a rocky bar and enjoyed sun tanning at Marimegmeg Beach where I met a local girl who suddenly started picking up rubbish off the shore so I joined her. We picked up huge piles of garbage from the one beach. I asked if this was her job, and to her reply, she came to the beach to relax and suddenly decided to clean up because the Island was important to her and her family being it their only livelihood. I admired her actions. It's very important as any foreigner to be respectful of the places we all visit, whether it being a cultural behaviour or simply leaving little to no carbon footprints behind.
You've probably already heard how El Nido is a beautiful destination so it's no surprise to you when I say, it is breathtaking! Visiting these Islands in Palawan, you would need to go to any of the excursions they offer. There are 4 tours: Tour A, B, C, D and some offer an E. They include various excursions in all the tours such as snorkling and swimming as well as visiting the beaches and lagoons. With the tour, they include life vests, snorkling goggles and most importantly homemade filipino food for lunch that the tour guides make themselves on the boat. Some tips before venturing out into the pristine blue waters are, be open minded, be careful (do not step on the corals) and lather up on sunscreen because you will burn, and when you do, prepare some aloe vera ointments and cooling gels.
If you have any suggestions on beach destinations in the Philippines and why it may be worth a visit, let me know in the comments.