Wednesday, January 15, 2014

From boats to bikes

On our second day in El Nido we knew that we wanted a more relaxed morning and time to try one of the traditional breakfasts (well I did at least), so we made our way to the beach. Being the savy budget travelers we are, we did a lap up and down the beach comparing menu options and prices before settling on Sea Slugs, which seemed to give us the best value, as well as a great location. If I could wake up and be served breakfast on the beach everyday i'd be one happy lady.  By the time we were seated I was starving and the traditional Filipino breakfast, Tosilog, hit the spot - pork, fried egg, rice and fruit, yum. After breakfast we made our way back to the Fast and Furious shop with hopes of renting a motorbike for the day, allowing us to explore the peninsula on our own accord.  Things went pretty smoothly, we were handed the keys and stopped back at our place to pack our bags before venturing off, but then the bike wouldn't start. We pushed it back to the shop and explained the problem to which they asked us what we did? Ummm nothing your bike is a piece of $#!*.  They took some time running around trying to find us another bike but were unsuccessful.  Seeing as it was almost noon, I told Loudine we'd be better to cancel our plans, rent Kayaks for the afternoon and come back for a bike the next day. 

Good solution 
Our shop didn't do kayak rentals but we didn't have to go far before we found one that did.  We wound up renting a kayak from the Art Cafe along with snorkel masks and a waterproof bag; before long we were out on the water, enjoying yet another beautiful day. Kayaking, to me, is one of those 'fun in theory' things.  It looks and sounds like a good idea, but then once I get myself in that boat and am 15-30 minutes into it, i'm ready to be done. I think part of my problem is that my adventurous side wants to go fast but my muscles just don't cooperate.  Although the ride out was gorgeous, paddling along limestone cliffs and beautiful blue seas, I was more than ready to reach a beach.

More comfortable than it looks

Couldn't resist the beach Selca

We made pretty great travel partners 

Mom "You always have to climb up on those rocks"
Yes, yes I do

We had to have the kayak back by 5pm so we decided to leave around 4 giving ourselves plenty of time. As we left our private little beach the skies were looking a bit gloomy with big storm clouds to our west. I was optimistic in thinking that the winds were blowing that way and these clouds were leaving us, but I was wrong.  Within 20 minutes of leaving the rain started, not a big deal seeing as we were already wet from our beach fun, but not ideal for kayaking.  A fine mist would have been fine but the downpour that followed wasn't exactly what I had in mind.  We weren't the only ones returning from a day of fun, many of the island hopping tour boats were also entering the harbor and while doing so, thought it'd be a great idea to take a picture of the two poor girls stuck in a kayak. I think I should give up on the whole boating thing, I swear every time I get into one the rain gods are called, this has happened to me on numerous occasions; 7th grade outdoor ed on Lake Geneva, camp counselor on Lake Michigan, oh and of course my near death white water rafting experience on the Tully River. After our days adventures we decided that another bottle of rum would be a great idea for the evening, we poured ourselves a few cocktails, showered and headed back to town for dinner - where we enjoyed some awesome shrimp.

Reggae dinner decor 

Oh hey

After dinner we wandered the street of El Nido looking for some fun, after running into our friend Nico (from Puerto Princesa) we found ourselves at the Reggae bar, just meters from the beach.  There was a pretty legit live reggae band doing all kinds of cover songs but the bar was super crowded.  After hanging around the bar area for a while I followed a crowd out to the beach seating - plopping myself at a table with 7 french boys, "hope you don't mind my intruding". As we enjoyed the weather, and some more drinks the tide began creeping closer and closer, until we were eventually sitting in it. Loudine came by to tell me she was going back but I decided to stay and chat with my new friends. I should have known where the night was going but was still surprised when one of them thought i'd be a good idea to toss me into the water, clothes and all.  I felt bad being the only one to enjoy the fun so I quickly pulled them in with me, nothing like a good midnight swim with half a dozen french boys.

Only appropriate we went to the Reggae bar later

After returning to my room, showering again and washing the sand out of my clothes it was time for some shut eye, after all we had more adventures planned for the next day. As promised we returned to our tour office bright and early where they had a scooter waiting for us, and it even worked!  We stopped for breakfast and loaded our bags with a few snacks before venturing off on our own for the day. It's funny, in Korea I've scootered Loudine to Gumi station and around town countless times but this was actually the first time with me on the back of the bike.  After hearing countless tricycle drivers offering rides to Nacpan beach we figured it must be the place to be so we set that as our first destination.  

Scooter adventures!

The ride was pretty uneventful for the first half hour or so but then the road disappeared, well not completely disappeared but rather turned into a rocky gravel/dirt path. Although I was on the back of the bike, and couldn't do much to control the driving, my eyes were still glued to the road.  I'm sure this all would have been a lot easier had we been on one of those 'off-roading' motor bikes, but we only had our trusty little scooter.  We did make one stop along the way to get some pictures and watch the farmers slaving away with their buffalos, well kind of.  When we stopped for our pictures the buffalo must have decided it was break time, not making the least attempt to move, so the farmer deemed this a good time for a smoke break. 

That looks like fuuuun

Enjoying life, out in the middle of nowhere

Even the murky waters were beautiful 

After our break it was another turn down an even less traveled, rockier road, more fun in the Philippines?, well there's always an adventure that's for sure. Before long we arrived at the entrance to Nacpan beach, signed our lives away in the register (it seems they like to keep track of where everyone comes from at what you do) and were welcomed into paradise - I must say it was definitely worth the drive.

We made it ~~ Nacpan beach 

Despite it being peak beach time there was hardly anyone there, perfect. The beach seemed to stretch on forever with nothing but beautiful blue skies, sparkling seas and limestone cliffs in the distance.  Despite the sunburn I was already acquiring I was prepared to stay all day.  I went for a brief swim but was sick of being knocked over by the waves so decided to stroll along the beach instead, before returning to lay in the sun and play a little ~~ While sunbathing we were greeted by some local children who thought it'd be a great idea to sing us some Christmas carols, I think we all knew what they were after.


That boy in the waves was doing headstands - I copied

Couldn't resist beach yoga

Although the beach was gorgeous and begging us to stay all day we had to move on; wanting to take full advantage of our scooter (and not relying on tricycles) we still had to make it to Corong Corong for the sunset.   Back through the gravel roads, over the rickety bridges and passing many friendly, smiling Filipinos we went. Corong Corong is just south of the main downtown area of El Nido but boasts nothing more than resorts and small shops.  We drove through looking for a good place to catch the sunset and finally found ourselves at the Sunset terrace restaurant and bar. As we climbed the stairs down into the restaurant I realized that it was basically an extra room thrown on to the side of a families house, actually it may have just been their kitchen/dinning room.  What I am guessing was their daughter, greeted us and served us drinks, while her brother sat nearby watching dramas.

Big truck, little bridge

Sunset dinner spot

Welcome to our home?

We wound up being a bit early for the sunset but had no where to be and were quiet enjoying the view here.  My stomach was rumbling so we decided to share a meal and ordered the Chicken Adobo platter.  A few minutes later the boy returned looking a bit concerned; I thought he was going to tell us that they were out of that, which was only partially true.  He explained that they were out of chicken, but if we could wait for a half an hour he could get some,  no problem! This is how you run a restaurant - not "Sorry we don't have that" but instead, "Sorry, we don't have that but i'll go get it for you". Eventually the chicken came, the dad cooked it up into a delicious meal and we enjoyed a gorgeous sunset, a pretty good evening for Loudines last night in paradise. 

Waiting for the sun to set 

I've heard a lot about the Philippines sunsets, did not disappoint 

I'll spare you and only post a few of these 

Good ending to my time with Loudine

Do beautiful sunsets ever get old? 

After the sunset we made our way back to El Nido, returned the bike and went back home so Loudine could pack up here things.  Unfortunately it was time for her to return to the cold of Korea and get back to work, thankfully I had one more week.  One of the tough things about traveling to El Nido is budgeting your money, there are no ATM's in town so you have to draw cash before you go, estimating how much you will spend.  Loudine thought she had drawn enough money but I guess our adventures dug deeper into her pocket than expected, along with a few clothing splurges, leaving her just enough money to get back to Puerto Princesa.

Bye bye Loudine~~

After all of our adventures I was ready for an early bedtime but as I was getting ready to go to sleep there was a soft knock on my door followed by a "It's me".  Apparently the Roro bus was having some issues so they canceled their final bus, the one Loudine was supposed to take back to Puerto, leaving her stranded.  Thankfully she had a really generous tricycle driver who helped her figure out how she would be getting there (by shuttle-van at 5am the next day) and offered to drive her back to El Nido as well as picking her up in the morning, for free. After all of my adventures in the Philippines I've found that no matter what kind of situation you find yourself in, believe me I had a few interesting ones, there's going to be some form of a guardian angel there to help you. 

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