Just Chillin in El Nido

Trip Start Aug 12, 2002
Trip End Jan 15, 2004

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Flag of Philippines  ,
Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Far away from the madness and mayhem of metro manila lie the private resorts of El Nido, part of the Palawan chain of islands. A secluded getaway from the urban overdose, and from the two hundred emails a day popping up in your inbox. There are 2 resorts - Miniloc, the older of the two but by no means a lesser experience, and Lagen, the newer resort with modern amenities and larger rooms.

My experience of El Nido began with a 75 min chartered flight from Manila, part of the package paid for your exclusive slice of paradise...but where were the toilets on the aircraft? 75 mins and a full bladder later, the aircraft took an almost vertical nosedive towards the airport and landed on a gravel runway that had me repeating ten hail marys and closing my eyes. Then as the door opened, we were greeted by the most rag-tag looking bunch of immigration and customs officers, dressed in floral print shirts and serenading us with Hawaii style tunes...and they didn't even bother to inspect our bags! After a short rest to ahem...get some comfort in the comfort room (that restroom for non-pinoys), we boarded a banca (motorised outrigger) for our transfer to the resort.

For our 4 day and 3 night package, we stayed 2 nights at Miniloc and 1 night at Lagen. The package is an all-inclusive one, meaning you pay for everything upfront, that is, until you read the fine print in size 4 times new roman font. What this means is you have to fast between meals if your name is Ebeneezer Scrooge, and lunch on the last day is not included. With the exception of the intro dive, all dives are also separately charged, and that pleasurable massage doesn't come cheap either. Nonetheless with return flights, almost all meals, canoeing, snorkeling, boat trips, an intro dive, hobbycat sailing, windsurfing lessons, fish feeding, and accommodation in the package, this was pretty much value for money.

As for the accommodation, I had more memories of my stay ironically at Miniloc. The resort may be more than twenty years old but has had a facelift and some new amenities put in. What was special for me was the area just in front of the resort was teeming with fish, not simply the small variety, but also whoppers almost a metre in length. When snorkeling, you only had to hold a small piece of bread in your hand to have your vision completely obstructed by fish of all shapes and sizes. What was also special was dinner locations were rotated in the 2 nights that we were there. The first night we had table laid out for us on the beach, and on the second night the tables were laid out in the gardens, candle lights and all. Further, we had a waterfront cottage with a nice ocean view at Miniloc, as opposed to a garden chalet at Lagen.

As for our programme, we were appointed with a personal representative, whose job was to make sure we got access at our chosen time (book early to avoid disappointment!!!) to private beaches for lunches (yes they even do that for you free!), and all the other activities that are part of the package. Being the typical kiasu (lookup a Singlish dictionary for the meaning) Singaporeans that we were, we made sure we took part in almost everything! And tried to pay for nothing else! ...and ended up needing another vacation from this vacation!

And so after four days away, I returned to the office, to about five hundred unanswered mails...and 2 weeks of overtime without pay. Whoopee!
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