Philippines....part one!

Trip Start Jun 18, 2009
Trip End Aug 01, 2011

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Flag of Philippines  , Palawan,
Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Well I have just returned from a great vacation. Possible one of the best I have been on. I have fallen in love with the Philippines. It is a very laid back atmosphere with gorgeous landscapes and friendly people. I have the chance to go to the island of Palawan. This is a beautiful yet undiscovered island. It is now just becoming more of a tourist destination. It was nice to be off the beaten path and away from the craziness that surrounds areas with lots of tourists. We were able to escape to a place that still has limited electricity and very few paved roads. This trip allowed us to meet some great people and enjoy nature! It is a place that I hope that I am able to return to and explore even more! 

As always upon returning from a trip I have so much to write and so many stories to share. I am sure this entry will get pretty long but I will try to stick to the major highlights as much as I can

To start, I was traveling with 2 other teachers from school. All three of us are staying next year so it was a nice get away before we head into our second year.

Our trip started very early on Tuesday morning. We flew overnight to Manila and then into Puerto Princesa. We arrived on our island around 9:30 and started exploring right away. We were lucky to have transportation arranged already (the place we were staying was there to pick us up). We did a little bit of exploring in Puerto Princesa. We visited a small art gallery and enjoyed some fresh mango yummy... and then headed to a Viet Village. This was a place where many Vietnamese used to live but they have now pretty much left. We had lunch at the small restaurant there. I was able to enjoy some beef stew with noodles. After lunch we set out towards the resort we were staying at. This was about a 2 hour drive away. We were staying with a German man and his Philippino wife and there kids. They had a little resort set up just outside of the small town of Sabang. We had our own cottage with private bathroom. All of our meals were included in our package. These meals were homemade by the wife. It was always something delicious. I normally don't eat fish (unless my dad makes it) and she made some really good fish that didn't even taste fishy

After getting settled into our cottage we had the afternoon and evening to ourselves. We decided to take a little nap since we were exhausted from traveling all night and day and then we ventured to the beach. It was about a 10 min walk from where we stayed. It was a nice walk because we walked by many of the locals houses (bamboo huts). We were able to see how they lived. As I mentioned early many places on the island have limited electricity or none at all. Where we were staying they used mostly generator power. This meant that we had power from about 2:00PM-Midnight. This lack of power made it a challenge to find cold beverages. There was no cold beer on the beach for us that first day! There were only a few places that had 24hr. power. But anyways we finally made it to the beach and it was beautiful and very quiet. Besides some of the locals swimming we were the only ones on the beach. We were able to lay out in peace and quiet. While swimming we had a great view of mountains in the background and palm trees along the beach. It was amazing. On our first day we enjoyed our whole afternoon and evening relaxing on the beach before walking back to get some dinner and getting to bed early. 

The next day we woke early for our organized tours. The first place we visited was the Underground River. This is supposed to be the worlds longest underground river (8.2km long). We had to take a boat to get to the entrance. This was our first chance to get out on the water. I have never seen such clear, blue water! Once we got the the entrance of the river we got suited up (helmet and life jacket) and boarded our paddle boat. The boat was equipped with a battery powered light so they could navigate the river. On the tour of the river they pointed out ridiculous stalactites and stalagmites that they thought resembled things. Of course there was the Virgin Mary and Jesus on the cross along with various vegetables and animals. The cave was swarming with swallows flying overhead. During the day they are all over and at nighttime the bats come out. 

After the tour of the underground river we went on another tour of mangrove trees. I forgot to mention that our tour guide for the day was the son of the owner of our resort (Noah). He was only 18 and was on break from school so his dad made him take us on our tours. When we got dropped off from our boat for the mangrove tour Noah told the boat to drop us off at the wrong spot and we had to wade through waist deep water in our clothes. We had to sit with wet shorts for the rest or our tour. Good thing it was really hot and they dried pretty fast. Anyways, for our mangrove tour we were packed into another paddle boat with other tourists and given umbrellas to protect ourselves from the sun and we were paddled down the river to look at the mangrove trees. After all of our tours we went back to the resort for some lunch and then headed back down to the beach for another afternoon of relaxation. This time we knew where we could get some cold beer to enjoy! I spent the afternoon laying in the sun and when the sun began to go down I switched to laying in a hammock under the palm trees reading my book. It didn't get much better than that. 

The next morning we awoke early to head to El Nido. I am going to break up my entries so look for my next entry about the second part of my trip! 

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