Greetings From El Nido, Palawan

Trip Start Apr 10, 2007
Trip End Apr 27, 2007

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Flag of Philippines  ,
Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Sorry for my delay in posting an update. I am presenty in the Island Province of Palawan, specifically at the World Class El Nido Resort, Lagen Island. I arrived here on April 21 and have been having a wonderful time! Overslept a bit in Manila and almost missed my flight. Fortunately it was a chartered flight servicing El Nido guests, only, so no standby list to occupy your space. Guess they will allow employees to occupy a vacant seat if someone doesn't show. Came here with almost no Philippine Pesos in my pocket as I could not get anyone to cash any Travelers Checks before my departure. Even the ultra-luxurious Pan Pacific Hotel had no cash to change $200 USD and the banks were closed. They have these Moneychangers all over the place, but they only accept currency. A word for all who are considering traveling to the Philippines, Travelers Checks are not always that easy to cash, so if you need to bring them, PLAN Ahead. Fortunately, most major credit cards are welcome and honored. Upon arrival to El Nido, they informed me that I didn't need cash and could put everything on my room bill and pay on check-out. This has worked out very well as meals are included with my accomodations and there is nowhere else to eat. So all I have needed to charge is drinks at the bar and miscellaneous items at the botique. The Resort has an exclusive arrangement with a charter air service that uses 19-passenger, Dornier turbo-prop aircraft. Similar to the ones used by the smokejumpers in the USA. After a quick 1.5 hour flight from Manila, we landed at a VERY Short dirt and blacktop runway, just outside the town of El Nido. After our luggage was loaded onto the boat, we were transported, yet again, in a Banca Boat to the resort. AUpon arrival, we greeted to local folk music sung by the staff..........Kinda felt like a lei greeting in Hawaii, but was very nice.

This place is WONDERFUL! I will say that again in case you didn't hear me........This place is WONDERFUL! I have found true paradise in the Philippines. If I was to die today, this is where I would want it to happen. Just kidding........I'm not ready to go just yet! The resort is Well-Maintained, Service is impecible and the staff treats you like family. They go out of their way to memorize your name and use it frequently when you are greeted while passing through the complex. There is only one downside from my perspective and it is NOT by any means a negative. The amount of and frequency of daily activities makes my head spin. Most daily activities are included with the price you paid for accomodations. Windsurfing, sea kayaking, island hopping, snorkeling, rock climbing, to name just a few. They even offer an intro SCUBA course for those who are not certified divers, free of charge. They do charge for SCUBA, but it is very reasonable. They have Guest Activities Coordinators that drop by your dinner table and work with you to schedule your next days events. No hard sell here and if you choose to do nothing, they will leave it at that. Everyday, I talk to people who come back Dog-Tired from a full day of activities and struggle to make it to dinner. Guess for some this would be an attraction, but I prefer not to overschedule my days so I can focus on relaxing.

I had planned to dive yesterday, but my ears were bothering me from my last dive on Boracay. So I opted to one of the small islands to hang around the beach and then had lunch. Following lunch, they took a boat-load of people to two famous areas of El Nido that they call Big and Small Lagoon. There we went sea-kayaking and then snorkled before returning to Lagen Island. This resort has probably 10 small islands in the general vicinity that you can visit, and most of them will serve you lunch so you don't have to return to the main resort. I am not talking sack lunches, either. Buffet-style settings with steamed crabs,local Filipino dishes, deserts, and fresh fruit. A GREAT spread that easily meets the dietary needs of the guests from all over the world. I have met many nice people while I have been here, both staff and guests. Seems like this is a big season for Korean tourists, specifically Honeymooners. But have met Filipinos, Aussies, and Tiwanese during my stay.

Today, I went out on two dives. My ears are still bothering me a bit, but I was not going to leave Palawan and regret that I did not dive while there. Had they been really bad, I wouldn't have gone. But I am sure glad I did. Fantastic reef diving with the most diverse marine life I have seen in all my time diving. Not sure why here, but suspect it is because it is a marine protection area. Wonderful color to the coral with turquoise water above and below. AWESOME! Today saw a sea turtle, swam among a school of Baracuda, and tried to coax some lobster out of their caves. After diving, I was taken to the Esthula Picnic area where lunch was to be served while sitting at Japanese-style tables with cushions sitting on bamboo mats......Nice touch. Now I am back at the resort, and doing this during the heat of the day so I can be prepared for yet andther AWESOME Sunset, tonight. This is my last night in El Nido, and I will be sad to leave. However, this place begs a repeat visit, as does the rest of the Philippines I have yet to discover. I can't wait to get started on my next adventure. I will try to post pictures, but the internet is so slow it may not allow. If so, I will post the diary update, then load pictures after I return to Manila, tomorrow night.

Anyways.....All is well in paradise. 2 weeks here is too short of a visit and I need to repeat sometime in the very near future. Next update from Manila.
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