Paradise really exists

Trip Start Sep 15, 2012
Trip End Aug 20, 2013

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Flag of Philippines  , Palawan,
Monday, January 7, 2013

Away from the big city at Palawan island

After a short flight from Manila, I landed in Puerto Princessa the capital of Palawan provence on the island with the same name. Palawan is the most western island of the Philippines (if forgetting about the tiny and uninhabited islands further west) and about 450 km long and up to 40km wide. Puerto Princessa is located right in the middle of the island. Tourists (like me :-)) mostly explore the northern half of the island as this is the most interesting and most "developed" part, while the south has little to no tourist accomodation and sights. Foreigners can only get money from ATMs in Puerto Princessa, so I had to bring enough cash with me. Also electricity outside of the provence captial is usually only available in the early evening and blackouts occur often. Internet connection if availab for me to get away from the city and to relax :-).

An interesting bus ride to Port Barton

In Puerta Princessa itself there is not that much to see, so after one night I took the local bus to Port Barton a tiny town (ok which town is not tiny on this island?) and about five hours from Puerto Princessa. Arriving about one hour before the official departure time at the local bus stop, I was lucky to still a get spot in the bus. Pronounciation is on the word "in". I had to sit at the back of the bus on the ground between the passenger benches and on top of a big sack of rice. Rice is definitely not a good cushioning! Well this wasn't the worst spot, as all people who arrived at the bus stop after me, had to sit on top of the bus. Honestly there were about 12 people crowded on the roof of the bus and others were hanging on to the back of the bus with their feet on top of boxes that were attached to the bus. Well, the ride itself was actually quite okay, despite having to pass a half-destroyed bridge and driving through some muddy spots.

Rainy days at Port Barton

Port Barton definitely is a tiny town with basically one street along the beach. So finding a place to stay was not that difficult. Unfortunately the weather turned quite ugly the same day and remained rainy for three days. The reason for this was a typhoon (strength 1 of  5 I was told) passing through the area about 200km north of Port Barton. Despite the rain I got together with a few other travellers on day two and booked an Island hopping tour. This means renting a  bangka boat (and crew) for the day and going to a few islands, relaxing on-shore and snorkeling off-shore. The snorkeling was really great and we visited a beautiful island called: "German island" - haha. The name is based on the German owner. Unfortunately after lunch, the weather turned crappy again and after waiting for two hours under a bamboo roof to escape the continuous rain we headed back to Port Barton. Water from down below and from the top is not that great, not even in the Philippines.

Finally in Paradise at Coconut Garden Island Resort

After hanging around the little beach in Port Barton, which unfortunately did not allow for good swimming as the water was too shallow even during high tide, I decided to really get away from all the everyday hassle and booked a few nights at the Coconut Island Garden resort on a remote island named Cacnipa island about an hour of a boat ride away from Port Barton. Lucky as I was, the heavy rain stopped just in time when I was picked up by the resort boat and taken to the island in beautiful sunshine. Simply awesome!

When I got off the boat and put my feet on the beach I had finally arrived in paradise. There were several hammocks for reading and relaxing, a beach-volleyball net, an awesome beach with great swimming access and beautiful cottages in an insanely green garden with coconut trees and lots of comfortable benches and chairs.

To make a long story short: This was the perfect spot for me to regain some energy after three and a half months of travelling and to prepare myself for further adventures ahead. I quickly found the typical relaxation course that I followed every day, which looked a bit like this: Early morning swim, delicious breakfast, relaxing and reading in a hammock, swimming, lunch, relaxing and reading in a hammock, swimming and then dinner followed by cold beers and nice evenings with fellow travelers. Then at 9.30pm electricity was shut down again (which only had started at 6pm) and I went to the beach to watch some stars and went to bed early for a good night's sleep. I think you get the point why I soon extended my stay at the resort to five nights ;-).

Altogether there were only about 20 guests in the resort, so it was really quiet and relaxed. Soon I met two German guys and an Austrian couple and hung out with them a lot. We played beach volleyball and enjoyed the beer in the evenings. I also went for some kayaking to a nearby beach and went for a 45 minute walk to the middle of the island. But other than that I really used the time for extreme relaxation without any internet and phone access and finally managed to read a lot and something other than travelbooks :-).

Next stop: the town of El Nido in Northern Palawan

After an amazing time at Coconut Garden Island Resort, I felt ready to head on and explore some other spots on Palawan island. One of the key tourist attractions on Palawan is the carst mountain scenery along the Bacuit archipelago close to the town of El Nido. Unfortunately from 15 travelers that I had met and who had been already in El Nido, 14 strongly encouraged me to stay away from this apparently overcrowded and overrated place. Hearing such negative stories over and over again, I was a bit worried about what was to come. Well, nonetheless, the two German guys, the Austrian couple and I made the same plan to travel together for the next few days to El Nido with absolutely no expectation. So at least we can't be disappointed - haha. So let's see what El Nido is really like.
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