Philippines

Discovering heaven on earth in Palawan

_20170205_162553Catching a short flight from Cebu, we arrived late evening into Puerto Princesa, the coastal town in Palawan. We had booked to stay one night in a hostel close to the centre before heading north to El Nido.

Travelling via a shuttle bus which takes between 6 to 7 hours we passed lush scenary along the way which distracts you from the bumpy roads which has made people motion sick.

El Nido is coastal settlement, with pristine water, coral reefs and limstone cliffs, it truely is a photographers dream.

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Arriving late afternoon, we actually managed to book ourselves one night in a guest house situated along Corong beach. The place was actually a disapointment, as the pictures didnt match the real place. With limited electricity, space and a bathroom with a broken door and a rattling ceiling fan it made our stay quite unbearlable.

We decided the following morning to wander around the town of El Nido and try our chances by going door to door. To our luck we discovered a lovely, quiet and clean guest house very quickly. We decided to stay there for 5 nights. With our own ensuite, teas, coffees, aircon and laundry service I couldnt of felt happier.

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El Nido is definately a gem of this world, with endless things to do and explore. We hired a kayak for one day and decided to spend it on a beautiful island, which for quite some time we had to ourselves.

The island hopping is one of the most popular things to do in El Nido. The tours are  A, B, C and D and offer you a choice of places to visit.

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We opted to do tour A, where we enjoyed exploring the small lagoon, big lagoon, secret beach, Shimizu beach where we ate our lunch buffet consisting of fresh grilled fish, rice meat salad and a beautiful carved fruit platter.  The last stop was  7 Commando beach, named after the Japanese commandos who were hiding there where we did some great snorkling in crystal clear water.

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It was a full day tour, which was actually a great way to see parts of what I would describe as heaven on earth.

We also found hiring a motorbike was a great way to explore more of palawan. A short drive away we visited Nacpan beach, with a small entrance fee you enjoy the beautiful sandy beach and also have a dip in the ocean if they waves allow it as they can get quite big and take you to the ocean.

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We decided to explore down a sandy track passing huts and  farm animals which led us to another beautiful beach, that we had to ourselves.

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After a lovely week spent in El nido, we headed south to Puerto Princesa, where we decided to spend our last few days in the philipines.

Wandering around the costal town, I could see the strong spanish influence it has. One lovely place which stood out was the “Our Lady of Immaculate Conception”. A very magnificant church that is decorated in blue and white.

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We also found hiring a motorbike, was a great way to escape the town and explore the surrounding area, such as Honda bay, which consists of many islets of beautiful beaches. The croc farm, baker hill and some lovely beaches were also great places to spend a morning or afteroon at.

Philippines

Moalboal and Malapasqua Island

Continuing our journey along the coast, we reached the town of Moalboal within a few hours using the local buses. Transport in the Philippines is very cheap, its also a great way to meet locals and to see the country.

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Moalboal is a small town on the south west side, of Cebu island, the hotspot being Panagsama beach, where most resorts, resturants, bars and diving schools are.

We had attempted to book accommdation online prior, however our budget range was fully booked, so taking the gamble we decided to find something once we were there. Hopping into a tricyle, the local mode of transport. We decided to try our luck in Panagsama Beach, its a great spot for exploring the surrounding area.

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We managed to find a guest house for the night close to the ocean, but later managed to book a shared house via AirBnb for 5 nights which is situated away from all the noise. A lovely big house, with a good sized kitchen, garden and animals. Including a very cute 4 month old puppy. Franks place is in good proximity to local resturants, beaches and supermarkets.

Renting a scooter is the best way to explore. From Moalboal we decided to do a day to the Kawasan Falls, stopping along the way on a quiet and lovely beach which didnt incur an entrance fee. We virtually had the beach to ourselves. Pure paradise.

We continued our day trip to the Kawasan Falls which is around a 30 to 40 minute scenic drive, with little traffic. Kawasan is made up of three stepped falls, located in the rain forest. With many activites including canyoning, swimming or just simply relaxing in the water. The falls can be crowded and they also charge for the use of tables and chairs.

After a week in Moalboal, we decided to head to the island of Malapascua . Taking another local bus back to Cebu, we caught a bus heading north. This journey can completely vary, the traffic within and around Cebu is just horrible. It took us around 6 hours to reach the ferry port, where we were lucky to catch the last boat to the island.

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Becoming our style we found a nice beach hut to stay the night close to the ocean. Malapascua island is a small idyllic island. Well known for its diving, it is home to some beautiful beaches. We had planned to stay on the island for several days. Being so small, it has no vehicles. You can easily spend a decent amount of time wandering around.

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With lots of diving schools, boat trips and warm clear water perfect for snorkling, you can easily fall in love with this place.

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Philippines

Cebu, chasing waterfalls and swimming with whale sharks

One of the longest travel hauls of our travelling adventure. We arrived into the Philippines capital Manila in the early hours of the morning. We decided to fly directly to another island the same day.

Not even an hours flight we arrived on the Island of Cebu, our first destination to explore. The views from above were absolutely stunning. Clear blue water and small islands dotted about. I was full of excitement that we were finally here. The philippines has always been a dream destination for me to visit, and felt so surreal that I was finally there.

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We had planned to explore the north and south of the island in two weeks , Cebu is packed with unique natural wonders I wasnt sure if this was enough time. With no real plan, we decided to be spontanous and book as we go.

Our first stop was Cebu city, described as the Queen city of the south. Cebu is the second largest air hub, its also a very busy city with a well developed infrastructure. The city had a strong spanish latin america reminiscent. Its also the oldest city in the country.

We had book 2 nights in a Air bnb apartment, close to the centre. Arriving late afternoon, we found ourselves falling asleep instantly, 32 hours of travelling with lack of sleep , our bodies needed to rest.

The next day we planned to visit Alaya mall, via a colourful Jeepney this is how the locals travel. Only costing 7 peso, 13 cent, these run 24 hours a day, and pretty much cover the whole city. Alaya mall is situated close to the centre. With over 200 shops, including resturants, supermarkets and a cinema. We found ourselves overwhelmed by it all. Coming from South East Asia where its less developed we truly were spoilt for choice.

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We decided to visit the supermarket, stocking up on items some of our favourite items. It was so good to finally have our own kitchen to cook in.

Cebu is by no means not a pretty city and there isn’t much to see.  The downtown area around Colon is very crowded , the city is a sprawling mix of mainly slums with some nice neighborhoods and glitzy shopping malls.

After a quick stop in Cebu City, we decided to catch a bus further south, to the town of Oslob.

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Oslob via the bus can completely vary in time, the traffic within cebu city is just extreme. Dont expect to arrive somewhere on time. A lot of people will do day trips to this town. But we had decided to booked two nights at a small guest house outside the main town.

The main attraction in this area is the Whale sharks. There is a lot of controversial since this started. Many people are unware of the negative impact, me being one of them.

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The following morning we hired a motorbike to visit this attraction. Completely overwhelmed by the amount of tourists there. We were a little unsure if this was the best thing to do. The owner of our guest house was there, he convinced us it was well worth it.

Given a mandatory orientation about the guidelines of whale shark interaction.  Shortly afterwards we were lining up in small groups to get onto the boats. We had around 30 minutes in the water, where we snorkled and were able to get close to these incredible creatures. It was a surreal experience, getting to see these beautiful and also the biggest fish in the world.

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The same day we decided to explore a little more on our motorbike,  the ride took us along the coast of Oslob witnessing a vast expanse of sea, before heading up a steep road to visit the Tumalog falls.

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Reaching the last part by foot down a steep road, you can see the magnifience falls from the distance. Feeling the mist of the falls as you approach it felt so refreshing. The waterfall is a real beauty, be prepared to get wet. The water being knee deep, its perfect for a quick refreshing dip.

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After spending more than an hour in the waterfall. We decided to hike up the steep road and venture back to our guesthouse.

It was a lovely surreal day.

From Oslob we decided to follow the coastline south via a bus to the west side to the town of Moalboal.

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