In Coron we go diving for another two days; one in wrecks and one day at beautiful reefs with schools of young fish. We wanted to come to Coron to dive the wrecks but we were pleasantly surprised by the healthy reefs. Coron is also know for it’s gorgeous lagoons and that’s why we book a day tour to bounty islands, lagoons and a lake. Coron and it’s surroundings are so unbelievably beautiful. We are taken from one breathtaking lagoon to the next and at lunchtime the men on the boat barbecue fish and pork, make gorgeous salads, fresh fruit, and rice. We have left the backpacking feeling behind in Thailand and Myanmar, and now feel like we are on a luxury holiday with lots of sun, sea, wonderful food and gorgeous nature.
White beaches and an aqua blue sea
From Coron we take a boat to El Nido, a village in the north of Palawan. We read online that the boat trip is often no fun and you should only go if the sea is calm. Prepared with motion sickness pills we get up, but fortunately it’s a gorgeous day and the sea is calm. The six hour long boat ride is easy as pie. When we are nearing El Nido we see white beaches stretching kilometers along the coast, waving palmtrees and the bay of El Nido looks very inviting. We have arrived in paradise. We quickly take a tricycle to our bed & breakfast to drop our bags and go to the beach to have beer and let Noa play on the beach. We could really get used to this. The next day we discover a beach that is only a tricycle ride away from the village. It’s a gorgeous white beach with aqua-colored blue sea, a picture you could only dream off. At the beach there are a couple of bars and a restaurant that serves simple lunches so there is no reason to leave the beach and we spend many days there. At night we eat at the restaurants on the beach while the sun sets in a rainbow of purples, yellows and oranges and our feet are in the fine sand, gosh this is the life.
Taytay with Spanish influences
From El Nido we take a local bus to Taytay, the former capital of the island Palawan and now a small village on the coast. Our guesthouse is next to an old Spanish fort that is still in gorgeous condition. When we ask the lady at the guesthouse which beach to go to she points to a small road behind the guesthouse. It goes through a neighbourhood of houses made out of bamboo and on stilts in the water. It’s the beginning of the afternoon and everywhere around the houses children are playing and come out to say hi and call their friends, mothers and neighbors to come and take a look at us. We feel like a mini-circus moving through the neighborhood. Everybody that comes out to say hi wants to know Noa’s name, how old he is and where we are from. The small road along the water leads us to sweet water springs where women from the village are washing themselves and doing laundry. A little further we come across a deserted beach, behind the beach there is one simple bamboo house with a family, but apart for them there is nobody. The beach is surrounded by mangroves and kingfishers and other colorful birds that fly to and from the forest. On the beach we find numerous remains of cuttlefish and in the water hundreds of fish swim around us, we keep on being amazed at how beautiful the Philippines are. In the surrounding area of Taytay is the biggest sweet water lake of the island Palawan, and by taking a walk it should be possible to see all kinds of birds and other animals. We rent a motorbike to drive there and walk around the lake, because it’s the dry season the lake has disappeared in many area’s. We hear a lot of different birds, but (with a singing Noa on our backs) don’t see a lot of them. It was a nice walk but we had expected a little more wildlife.
Back to basic in Port Barton
From Taytay we want to take another bus to Port Barton, a tiny village of two streets in a bay with a white beach. Our bus is packed to the rim, has big speakers through which loud housemusic is played, and all the windows are open. When we start moving the strong sea wind comes flying through the window, our hair is blown straight up and the music is put even louder to be heard over the noise that the wind makes. The music changes from techno to emotional loves songs and back to Filipino songs. Filipino’s love music and we are used to loud music on local transport. The toughest looking guy on the bus starts singing along to any song, just as loud as children and women. Noa and Michiel fall asleep and I stay awake to watch our stop. We met a lady with her son on the bus that is also going to Port Barton, and warns me to get off at one of the outer neighborhoods of Roxas. From this turn it’s another twenty-three kilometer on an unpaved road to Port Barton. The tricycle driver ties our backpacks with rope to the roof of the tricycle and there we go – through gorgeous green jungle, past high drop off’s, through holes in the road, over pebbles and past rice fields with water buffalos. Because it’s the dry season there is no running water in the village, and we wash ourselves with small buckets of water. At night there is electricity only from 18:00 until midnight (when its dark) and because of this are only a couple of small stores with a fridge. Internet is so slow it’s only possible to use whatsapp so our family knows where we are. We love being away from the civilized world.
A very drunk and dangerous Filipino grandfather
We moved into guesthouse Princesca Michaella, a hundred meters from the beach and with a communal kitchen. We gather ingredients from the simples stores to make spaghetti, omelettes and pancakes. Cooking without running water or electricity is quit a challenge. The kitchen is dark and incredibly hot, the sweat runs down my face and back and the lizards walk past the pots and pans. If my hands are dirty, or I need to wash something, I need to fill a bucket of water at the spring and come back to take small amounts of water from the bucket. It’s very confronting that such a huge part of the world’s population still lives like this. On our third night a lot of Filipino’s come over to the guesthouse and the family that runs the place gives out bottles of hard liquor. They start drinking at five in the afternoon and when we turn in at 22:30 P.M. they are getting louder and louder. Michiel goes and asks the group at midnight and again at one o’clock if they can please be quiet, but they just laugh and get even louder after that. At 01:30 A.M. we are still awake and Michiel is really annoyed and goes to the group. The owner, an older men who was very kind to Noa during the day, feels it’s inappropriate for Michiel to ask to be quiet. The guy is very, very drunk and he begins shouting at Michiel and he comes after him. After that he spends fifteen minutes pounding our door, ranting and shouting to get out of there, trying to get in our room. We were scared shitless. Finally, a female member of the family manages to calm him down. We can’t sleep anymore and get up at six o’clock to pack our things, we leave money for the three nights that we stayed there and leave the family to sleep off their huge hangover. What a bad experience, and that in the Philippines, were there are so many soft natured people. The days after we keep looking over our shoulders, because we have no idea if the owner has any remorse for the way he acted. We find a really expensive room at the beach with a hammock, the only room left in Port Barton. We leave behind our bags because we have booked a snorkel tour a day earlier. Amazingly Noa slept through everything, but is still really tired, we have only slept about an hour and we don’t want to be reminded of what happened the night before or run into the guy. The snorkel tour is the perfect distraction, the tour turns out not to have any other passengers so we have a private tour past bounty islands, gorgeous reefs to snorkel at and a huge sandbank with seastars, what a wonderful day!