Friday, July 25, 2014

Itinerary to El Nido

El Nido, Palawan, Philippines

The Prequel

Miniloc Island

This is the most famous tourist destination in the country. It gained popularity when foreigners started publicizing everything about it, especially when CNNGo featured it as one of the Best Beaches in the World. Well, for a simple Filipino like me, El Nido is really expensive. We all know that when a place becomes touristy, people will make a living out of it and expect everything will be overcharged. Anyway, I am not here to dismay you but yeah, El Nido is really expensive THOUGH I managed to minimize my expenditures there! I only spent 6,000++ ALL IN! It includes my Return Airplane Tickets with Baggage allowance, Food, Transpo from Puerto Princesa to El Nido (v.v), Tours and Accommodation! How is that even possible? Did I get it from Ensogo or MetroDeal or CashCashPinoy? Hell no!

Want to know my secret? Don't worry I will share it to you.

I have a group of friends from college, they are now my fellow social work buddies. Yea, we are all REGISTERED SOCIAL WORKER! I influenced them to have a budget travel with me. Being a Social Worker is very exhausting, physically, emotionally and mentally, since we are dealing with people. A short vacation is a must for us!

Last January, I saw a promo fare in Air Asia and immediately contacted them. We were a group of 10 and they did not hesitate at all, which why I love them. "WALANG ARTE" all of us were very eager to explore the place. Since, I was the one who initiated this, I had to organize everything. That was no biggie for me because organizing a Do - It - Yourself travel is very worth it.

Social Workers on the go! :)

I really believe in a Management Theory of "Cheaper by a Dozen". I had lots of discount, since we were a group of 10.

To cut the story short, after few days of researching the most feasible, tangible and cheapest ways of exploring El Nido, I came up with two options! I called them Plan A and Plan B.

Plan A.

Plan B.


My friends chose the Plan A, because it's cheaper and we were discouraged with the Underground River because of its availability.

If you were to choose? Which one will you prefer? Plan A or Plan B? Let me know your insights.

My next post is about how we managed to spend less in El Nido and my contact persons. So watch out for that.

Ano, Tara Gumala?


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Revisiting the Magical Coron

When I was in College, me and my friend Gela always wanting to go places and one of those is Coron or somewhere in Palawan. Also, I had this professor, Ms. Lani, who said that Coron is the most beautiful among the top three tourist destination in Palawan (El Nido, Puerto Princesa and Coron) because of its clear water, laid back ambience and rock formations plus a very budget friendly one. :) So when I got the chance to go there and found a cheap air fare, go win fight na to! :D

Arriving from the YKR Airport (Busuanga), we had a slight problem because the tripod of my companion was not in the carousel of check in baggage. Imagine the hassle that Cebu Pacific welcomed me and letting our van wait for us for almost half an hour. Good thing the tripod was not missing, it was not loaded in the aircraft. -___-

Moving on!

Since my companion grew up there looking for a cheap place to stay was not a problem. We stayed at MAJIKA 4. Ate Majie, the owner of the place welcomed us with open arms even though she was busy doing something, which was really sweet. The place is so nice, it is an old rustic house but she maintained it well.

Me with Ate Majie <3

After settling down, we went to Mt. Tapyas and DAMN those stairs! HAHA. My heart pounded like it never pounded before. When I reached the top, it was all worth it! The breeze was so refreshing and I had the 360 degrees view of Coron Town plus there was a rainbow! Amazing! Also, the perfect time to go there is sunset. Sunset in Coron is priceless. Just be careful on the way down because there are no lights to guide you and beware of those notorious mosquitoes!

If you are a solo traveler island hopping is expensive. That is why boatmen or travel agents arrange a trip of what they called "joiners." Joiners is made up of different travelers but has the same tour or destination that come together to save. Being a joiner is fun, you will meet different people and it is cheaper! Anywho, Ate Majie allowed us to join the group who is going to have a Coron Bay Tour which includes Cayangan Lake, Barracuda Lake and CYC Beach. 

I thought Cayangan Lake was the best but I was wrong, Barracuda Lake is way better!

Ahhhh! Paradise!

Sun, Tree Shade and Sand at CYC Beach.

We were dropped off at the Coron Port and walked to the Majika 4. Ate Majie invited us if we want to try scuba diving and we immediately said yes. Early that morning we went to Majika Island Resort because the Dive Down Under is based there. Majika Island Resort is situated in Bintuan near Sangat. When travelling by land it will take you 45 minutes - 1 hour then another 20 minute boat ride to get to Majika Island Resort. At far, you will not think that there is a resort there but as we come nearer, I can see the natural beauty that Majika has. It is a secluded place and Ate Majie owns the whole island. 

Bintuan Walk. Mangroves at its best.

Beachfront of Majika Island Resort

Who will not love this peaceful place?? Ahh! Majika Island Resort is really a place to rest and stay in Coron with the cheapest price. 

After eating breakfast, we went to the Dive Shop to find a suit and fins that fits. After we  We went to a site and had a briefing on how to dive. Dive Master Kuya Marlon taught us all the basics in the simplest way. HAHA. I think I was inspired to have an intro to diving lessons and have my license. :) 

On our last day in Coron and this is my birthday. Ate Majie invited us if we want to join the group that will be going to Culion. It is another municipality in Palawan and part of the Calamian group of Islands together with Coron. It is well - known as it is the first leper colony in the country. Accordingly, it used to have its own coins because of the stigma about leprosy. The place is very historical as well as its architecture. On our way to Culion, we saw dolphins! PERFECT PRESENT, e? :)  The water in their port is so clear. You can even see corals and fishes from above! On our way to our next destination, we were lucky to see a Philippine Eagle soaring in the sky and dived for a fish! It was so awesome because it is very unusual to see that. 

We had lunch at Sand Bar, an island owned by Ate Majie. It has white sand and a tree in the middle of the sea. Amazing! It was so perfect, celebrating my birthday on an island! We had grilled parrot fish and Sargent fish, pork adobo with pineapple, and steamed crabs! Yummmmmy! After the sumptuous lunch, I played with the kids and it was fun. It's been a long while since I played with kids.

So what is the perfect way to end this magical adventure in Coron?? A perfect uphill trek before sunset new found friends and being in the hammock! Everything is so eerie. 

My whole trip in Coron is very enchanting special thanks to Ate Majie of MAJIKA Tours. :) I enjoyed everything and learned things that I will treasure for the rest of my life! I highly recommend MAJIKA Tours if you are going to Coron, I assure that you won't regret it! You can reach them with these numbers!

St. Augustine St. Barangay 4 Poblacion, 5316 Coron, Palawan 
(+63) 919-316-9030 
(+63) 908-731-6543 
(+63) 917-856-3187 

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Travel Tips in Apo Reef

Well, most of Filipinos are not aware where is the World's second-largest contiguous coral reef. They do not have any idea that it is right here in our country and few hours away from the Metropolitan AND you don't have to spend so much just to get there. 

I got the chance to visit the famous place for divers, beach lovers and travelers. Apo Reef is well known for its underwater life, and divers from all around the world are visiting this natural park to get a glimpse of exotic species, sharks, manta rays and for not divers they are looking for "NEMO". (We all know NEMO, right?)

Anyway, this post is intended to give you some helpful tips on what to expect in the Island if you are planning to visit it. 

1. Be prepared for a 3 hour boat ride from Sablayan Port to Apo Reef. 

Yea, this is a butt numbing boat ride, if you are not used to long boat rides, you'll definitely get bored. Luckily, my trip to Biri enhanced my patience skills to 200%. HAHA. Nothing will beat my experience there. Ooh, the waves are not that huge but the current is strong especially during daytime.

2.  Bring all the things you NEED for survival. There are no stores/establishments in the island.

Since it is a remote island, you should bring all important stuff before leaving the port. Making a list of things to bring will help because it is really hard to find resources in the middle of the ocean. Bringing drinking water is a must and you should bring at least 3 Liters per person for an overnight stay. 

The whole island of Apo Reef.  How does it feel to be surrounded with water?

3. Light is very essential next to water.

Apo Reef's solar panels were destroyed when the typhoon Yolanda hit the Philippines. It really gets dark at night but the caretakers in the island light torches in the abandoned building. Good thing PLan B, is fully equipped. They brought portable lamps and each one has flashlight. (Bonfire is not allowed)

4. There is no decent bathroom. 

Don't expect that the bathroom is well maintained. Their bathroom is one of the worst bathrooms I have ever seen. Sorry but I think, the people who maintains the place should do something with this. Bathroom is a basic necessity. I had to clean it up and put some tissue and wet wipes on the bowl before I use it. The doors are shattered, floor is so dirty, and the smell is horrible. Well at least they separated boys from girls. :)

I think they should maximize the use of building, it is still new but neglected.

5. No fresh water for bathing. 

Being a remote island, there is no source of fresh water. Even the deep well pump produces salt water. So better bring your lots of water if you are planning to cook or stay in the island. This made me realize how important FRESH water is. I bathe with Salt water and it is not refreshing at all but it will do. I felt like I was in Survivor. 

6. Never miss the underwater life! 

You should bring your own snorkel. It is basic and hygienic. Also, there is no snorkeling gear for rent in the island. Your Apo Reef experience is not complete if you did not explore the World's Second-largest contiguous coral reef!

Credits to Sir Macoy Mejia

7. Wake up extra early for snorkeling.

Not a morning person? Well, you definitely wake up earlier than your usual in this island. Never be late in snorkeling. Perfect time for doing it is between 5:30am - 7:00am, it is feeding time for fishes and the water is calm. 

 8.  It gets hot even during night time. 

If you have hypertension or easily get irritated with high temperature, better bring a portable fan because it is really hot all throughout the day even at night! My friend slept outside the tent but still had a hard time falling asleep because of the humidity.

9. No signal reception.

Don't expect that you will get a nice reception in the island, even if you go up to the lighthouse. It is 3 hour away from the main land and our country is not yet equipped with such facilities. 

10. Leave nothing and Take nothing.

This is a Golden Rule. As a responsible traveler, we should always conserve and preserve the places we visit. We should respect what Mother Nature gave us and take good care of it. Dispose your garbage properly and never take sands or corals as souvenir! 

I think that is all you need to know. Well, if you have something else to share feel free to do so and leave it in the comment section. Enjoy traveling and keep on exploring!