Sunday, 2 September 2012

Puerto Princessa Frolics

We left early at around 6 AM going back to Puerto Princesa, I said to myself I would go back in El Nido. Again the ride took 5 hours, but it didn't matter as we were just sleeping all the way. And looking at the city, it is indeed one of the cleaner cities in the Philippines... and I just love the laid back setting of the country, with tricycles as the main mode of transportation. We didn't have so much itinerary for the day as our intent is to just watch and see the city, we were pretty much tired.

 We decided to check out Baker's Hill for our pasalubong stuff. We've heard there are a lot of food goodies over there. I thought it was just some bakery on top of a turned out like a mini-family park with restaurants,play grounds, and gardens.

The petals that were neatly arranged in a stoup. Pretty creative indeed!

 A wooden pathway leading to numerous gardens that have different themes.

The cactus as one of its garden themes.

After all the pasalubongs were bought, its time to check the nightlife. We decided to dine at Kinabuchs Grill and Bar. Food was great, not that expensive though.

We stayed at Manny's Guest House. The atmosphere is very homey as the owner of the house converted their 2nd-storey floor into an inn. It is truly a haven for back-packers as the room rates are very affordable. Since we were just looking for a place to stay,and its just an overnight stay for us in Puerto Princesa, a homey accommodation would just do.

Let me see the health of my finances for the day:

Day 5
Bus Ride
overa-all transpo

My budget as I went back to Cebu:

Day 6
Terminal Fee

For the over-all expense of my trip:

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6

Our target budget was at Php 7,000 yet I exceeded a couple of bucks. Well, that's fine, its still near the budget, and besides we're on vacation so I guess a handy extra would do.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

El Nido Shenanigan Day 3

Third day, last day! I'm glad that the weather cooperated on our last day. This time we decided for Tour B at Php 800 with lunch. We want to maximize and enjoy our last stay in El Nido. Tour B is sometimes labeled as the cave tour since we would be exploring a couple of caves for the day.

First stop: Pangulashian Island

This is a privately owned island and is off-limits to non-guests. Boats are just to dock a few meters from the shore as the island is also one of the snorkeling sites. According to our tour guide, accommodation in the island ranges from around $500/night..waaah..gulp, gulp, gulp...

Another fish feeding session, and again, fishes were bigger than the usual, and they're always "greedy". A lot more colorful fishes this time. 

Second Stop: Snake Island

The name was coined from a snake-like formation of the sand-bar from an aerial view. During low tide, the sand bar is visible connecting to the other island. The view was really awesome. Our tour guide was also busy preparing our lunch so we had time yet to stroll the perimeter.

The water is perfectly clean. During that time though, it was high tide and we really wanted to get across the other side, but nah, we prefer to just swim as our guide might call us for our lunch. We were starved then after hiking a few meters just to get an aerial shot for the snake-like sand bar.

On the other side was also the other islands that we were yet to explore. I can say that this is truly a paradise. The limestone formations were truly awesome. Seems like I visited other Asian countries. Well, its more fun in the Philippines..hihihi

Third Stop: Cudugnon Cave

Another one of those series wherein you have to crawl to get inside the cave.

It's just a sight to see inside, nothing that much. A few picture takings inside the cave and that's just it.


And a little bit of snorkeling again within the cave's vicinity. 


Fourth Stop: Cathedral Cave

The high cathedral-like ceiling best describes the site. Its just for sight-seeing though as the water is deep and the boat could not fit in its entrance.

Just for picture-taking though :)

Last Stop: Pinagbuyutan Island

Sadly, this would be the last stop for the whole El Nido trip. The whole stretch of white sand can be seen from afar. The sand sinks in your feet. One thing about the beach though is that its a little bit rocky when the tide goes low. But still, a great view, a great beach.

Footprints..yea, our first steps here..

Capping the night, we chilled at SeaSlug as it is near our resort...I wonder why we didn't notice the place during our first nights here.. just a doze of beer since we have to leave early the next morning.

For the last stay in El Nido, let me see how much came out from my pocket:

Day 3
Tour B

Saturday, 25 August 2012

El Nido Shenanigan Day 2

The weather wasn't on our side that day. But that didn't prevent us from continuing the scheduled itinerary. We decided to take tour C,the farthest among the other destination (which also explains why the rate is higher at Php 900 with free lunch.

First stop: Helicopter Island 

According to our tour guide, the island looks like a helicopter, that's why it was coined as looks like a janitor fish rather than a helicopter to me..hehehe. This island is also a snorkeling site, with rich marine life.

Just an FYI, the island was also featured in the Bourne Legacy movie.

The three of us, in full geared costume, photo-ops in the water.

Second Stop: Matinloc Shrine

The second site was for viewing purposes. The shrine was taken built in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Be warned, there are a lot of mosquitoes in the area, insect repellant is a must. According to our tour guide, the island is a heart-shaped, if viewed from the top.


And as we continually roam around the shrine and reaching the top, I just can't help but marvel on the the view. I was wishing that the weather had cooperated that day and could the sun had shown, it would be twice as much as the scenery, with blue waters as the background. Nonetheless, the view is still undegraded.

Third Stop: Talisay Island 

Lunch time! wohoo! The island was coined as such from the only tree that grows on the island. Another snorkeling site as well, while our guide is preparing our lunch. The lime stone formations were high, another magnificent view. It was a good thing that the sun came out during lunch, another session for sun worship.

I was again amazed by the talent of our guides as they personally do the garnishing and presentation stuff to make the more food enticing...aaah, fresh fruits, fresh fish..yum..again, bring your own bottled water as it is not part of the package.

Fourth Stop: Secret Beach

After lunch, we were informed by our guide that we won't push through to Secret Beach as the waves are treacherous during the moonsoon season (how I wish it was summer), aside from that, the site is also facing the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), so technically, we are now on the open sea. Despite the warning, our guide said that we'll just look into it anyway if the waves aren't that big.

Well, we should've listened to the warning. The waves were "unfriendly", and at this time, I'm strapping my life jacket with me (whatever, be better be safe than sorry). I thought that we would dock on a shallow area, but i was wrong! When our guide told us that we are already on the site, I was wondering where the beach. Our guide told us that we have to swim to the rocks, and there's a tiny opening which serves as the entrance to the beach. Yikes, and double yikes!!! Considering the unfriendly waters, strong current, and the not so pleasant velvety black water ( I hate the color of the water, it must be very deep), the decision was unanimous - no one wanted to swim, and I was also cringing to proceed to a different island. That was a good scare.

Fifth Stop: Colasa Beach

Our tour guide decided to go to another island to complete the tour since we weren't able to explore Secret Beach. This time, our next stop was at Colasa Beach, another snorkeling site. I would say that by far, this snorkeling site is better. The area is private, but tourists can go near the shore but have to dock somewhere farther.

We've prepared some food come fish feeding. We anticipated the moment, and again, it has far exceeded our expectations. 
The school of fishes were bigger than usual (a little bit scary), seems like they would attack you, in a frenzy I should say, a little bit "greedy".

And yes, not only did i found Nemo but I found his dad as well. Maybe, that's why I love this site better than any other.

Last Stop: Hidden Beach

My heart breaks every time we'd come to our final tour of the day. Seems like I needed more time to explore the island. Every scenery is breath-taking. I just observed that the places we went, if not secret, then its hidden. I'm wondering if there's any other island that yet needs to be explored. Hidden Beach is literally hidden, you have to swim all the way between the limestone formations to get to the site. No worries as the water is just shallow...hihihi

After a few meters of swimming...behold... the Hidden Beach. I find the place beach to be a little bit eerie. Maybe its just me or what not, but what if I would be left behind by our others...I would be stuck by then as I could not be seen by rescuers..LOL! 

Aside from that, beyond the white sand is a thick vegetation. I can hear crickets and all sorts of unidentified creatures in the area. 

Nonetheless, the site still amazes me. Every picture taken is worth all the memories. The limestone formations are epic. I thought that I could just see them in magazines or in the movies, and I just couldn't believe that the beauty of the place unfolds in my very own eyes.

Even though the sun didn't completely cooperated with us on this day, we still managed to complete the tour.

Second day budget, let me see how far it goes:

Day 3
Tour A
bread for fish feeding
bottled water contribution

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

El Nido Shenanigan Day 1

We woke up early and whoa! what a view, never expected that this would be the view fronting our resort. Clearly, a refreshing start for the day. We haven't arranged our tour yet and so we manage to select the one nearest our resort. For the entire El Nido island tour, we have chosen Servant Tours as our "official" tour guide. I personally recommend them since their snorkeling equipments were part of the package... and that means we don't have to shell out extra bucks..hihihi...
Before starting the tour, an ECO-Tourism Development Fee of Php 200.00 is required, which is good for 10 days. The coast guard is a little bit strict since they won't allow boats to leave unless tourists can secure the fee. We don't have complains in paying though since it is the government's responsibility to protect the area. And by the way, we just gave our 200 bucks to Servant Tours and they personally took the development fee for us. :)

We took Tour A as our first itinerary  for our 3 day tour. Tour A includes Small Lagoon, Big Lagoon, Secret Lagoon, Shimizu Island and Seven Commando Beach. Tour A costs Php 700 w/lunch.

First Stop: Small Lagoon
A must have before doing the tour, UNDERWATER CAMERA, unless of course you want to soak in your DSLR's. Small Lagoon doesn't look small at all... I wonder how big the Big Lagoon is. Water is brackish inside the lagoon, you can distinguish the water transition from salty to fresh water if the temperature's beginning to get cold. I was just mesmerized by the limestone formations, they're like everywhere. Truly 

Second Stop: Big Lagoon

This is the entrance to the Big Lagoon. The waters, pristine! But actually, I was a little bit disappointed since our tour guide won't allow us to swim for a number of reasons. One, the current is strong and unsafe to swim. Two, there are a lot of sea urchins, and mind you, B-I-G sea urchins. Three, the platform where the boats used to dock was removed. And number four reason, which made me stay inside the boat , was the "shark" residing in the lagoon. Our tour guide informed us that there were 2 reef sharks inside the lagoon, but he said that we shouldn't worry as those creatures are harmless...Ahhhh, ok. As you go further in the lagoon, you will reach the deepest part which is at around 37 feet. The spot is a famous destination where some scenes from Bourne Legacy and Survivor series were taken.

Third Stop: Shimizu Island

This the spot for our lunch. Pure white sand, ideal for sun-worshipping. The island is a snorkeling site too. The island's name was coined after a Japanese who died in the island after a diving accident.

While waiting for our lunch to be served, we manage to encounter some marine life.Again, underwater camera is a must. Come fishy-fishy, come!

After a series of meet and greet with the marine life comes lunch. The lunch already comes with the package. If you have a preference, you can inform your tour guide prior to departing from El Nido Bay. Lunch includes salads, fish, seafoods, pork, and fruits. I was amazed since our tour made the garnishing themselves..whoa! Just the downside, bring with you your own bottled water or soda as drinks are not included in the package.

Fourth Stop: Secret Lagoon

Next stop after lunch was the Secret Lagoon. Its high tide when we got there and in order to get inside, you have to crawl into the tiny opening. It was a STRUGGLE! Timing is needed as we are also battling with the waves and the limestones that might hit our head. Our very accommodating tour guides helped us though, protecting our heads and at the same time pulling our limbs together along with the waves that would enter the tiny opening. 

The water inside the lagoon is brackish. And after swimming a few meters, I couldn't believe I managed to enter into that tiny opening.


Last Stop: Seven Commando Beach

This is the last stop for the day. This beach is a long stretch of white fine sand. The sand gives you that sinking feeling every time you step on to it. This is also a snorkeling site.

There's a single store in the beach where you can get your refreshments and chips. But be warned of the overpriced soda's and chips. But at that time, we didn't mind of course, as there are eye candies to fill our hungry eyes..whoa! And we'll sing, "where have you been all my la-a-ayf ".. LOL

First day was over, but we had so much fun. Each spot that we visited truly is a gift from nature and need to be preserved. During our tour, we were the only Filipino's in the group, most of them were from Europe. I guess its high time that we should also be local tourist in our country.
As dusk is settling, I can help but smile where my feet has brought me away from the crowded city. The sunset is truly amazing. This is definitely  a big check-mark on my bucket list.


At night, we headed to Balay Tubay for a light "refreshment" before capping the night.

In keeping up with my spending pattern, let me see how much I spent for the day.

Day 2
Room( 4 days)
Tour A
Eco Tourism Fee
softdrinks 7 commando beach

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