Tao Expedition

Trip Start Jan 09, 2013
Trip End Jan 22, 2013

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Flag of Philippines  , Palawan,
Thursday, February 7, 2013

What a relief to be back in civilization! I can flush a toilet! I can take a shower with clean, running water!
Even though I signed up for this expedition with a very clear expectation that we will be living in nature, camping on beaches and living with BARE necessities, you could never be quite prepared for a life like that. I am glad it's over, but at the same it was an amazing experience and I would do it all over again!

My Tao group included 28 participants from Belgium, Sweden, Germany, Philippines, Austria and New York. We took a banka (a local boat made of bamboo and wood) with 8 staff on board and set out to the sea with no predetermined itinerary. All we knew was that we were crossing the sea connecting two islands, from Coron to El Nido in Palawan.

The scenery was beyond magnificent. We spent about 6 hours on the banka everyday, making stops for swimming, snorkeling, kayaking and eating lunch. The islands were pristine, some uninhabited, and stunning beyond words. The scenery just kept getting better everyday! Around 4-5pm, we would find a beach camp to set up dinner and sleeping arrangements.
The sleeping arrangements were interesting! We slept on a cushion about 1.5 inches thick, and the staff did an amazing job setting them up with sheets and mosquito nets. Some beaches had bamboo huts so we slept in it, with everyone under one roof. It was almost like we were in a summer camp! Well, with a bit of drinking involved ;). We had limited electricity, so we played a whole lot of drinking games after the sunset. I guess it was a combination of being back in college and a camp! Oh, the nights were fun (those that I can remember).

Since these islands have no plumbing, we all shared one toilet (if you can even call it that!) that you had to "flush" with a bucket of water. You can't flush paper so we'd place them in a basket beside the toilet. You can imagine this was NOT pleasant with 28 participants and 8 staff....

Our shower consisted of a bucket bath with water from a well. One night, we literally took turns standing by the well in our bathing suits, pulling up a bucket of water from below, then rinsing ourselves. It was hardly a bath, but at least we got to rinse off the sea salt. Most of the time the well water had bugs floating in it so I didn't even feel clean. Since privacy was a luxury we didn't have, by the 3rd day I was shaving my legs in front of others and I didn't even care at that point. You can say we all got quite close on this trip ;-)

What was amazing about this trip was that everybody was a great sport. We all laughed about it and took it all in with a sense of adventure. After all, THAT was the experience we all paid for. We didn't sign up for a five-star accommodation. The food was always fresh, mostly fish with rice and vegetables. On the last night, we roasted a whole pig and by then we were all ready to devour some meat. The skin was so crispy and crunchy, we all called it bacon chips. It was so good!!

The Tao experience was definitely one-of-a-kind. I returned with jellyfish stings, countless mosquito bites, scars and rash that I have no clue how they got there. But I also returned with
an appreciation for comforts that I've always taken for granted. I experienced first-hand how the locals live and I have a new found respect for human survival. I have a new perspective on the world of materialism and consumerism that I left behind. While it was uncomfortable at moments, this experience is the reason I'm here.
I'm humbled and grateful.

And now I am ready to go find some ice cream and chocolate!!
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Venus on


Jack on


Miss you. Trip looks amazing can't wait to read/see more!


Jake on

Dang 1 them beaches are amazing and very inviting.

Shana on

At least you had coffee!

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