Sunday, November 2, 2014

El Nido for a few days.

I don't post often enough, because it sometimes feels like a burden. And it's my own damned fault, since I seem compelled to write exhaustive and exhausting diaries about everything that happened. Well, now I'm so far behind that I feel OK about summarizing and trying to catch up a bit.

So I left the Jungle Beach Resort and, after waiting for an hour plus, got my bus. It would have been great for Jürg to let me know when the bus was to come, but he had taken off, as had all the other staff who spoke English, so I just had to guess at it. It was a five hour ride north to El Nido. Long and a bit painful, but not too bad.

When I got to El Nido I checked in to the Our Melting Pot hostel. I'd decided to save a few bucks, and stay somewhere where I could meet some people. I hadn't gone all the way though and gotten a dorm room. They had a single room for me. It sounded good, with AC and all. But it wasn't. It was the smallest room I've ever seem a bed fit into. Less than a foot of space on the side of the single bed, and the room was at the front of the building on the ground floor, right on the street. So very noisy. Plus, the power goes out, as it does in all of El Nido, at 6:00am until 2:00pm, so the AC goes off and the room just heats up.

I had dinner at the place recommended by the hostel, which wasn't very good, and signed up for one of the four tours on offer the next day. Tour A.

The next day one of the staff from my hotel walked me over to where the tour started. On the way he was telling me about his mother, who married a Canadian guy who lives in Vernon, and she had located there. She wasn't happy there though. It was too cold. He was planning to join her though in BC. I gave him some advice and my e-mail address for when the time comes.

Tour A was a tour of a selection of grottos and beaches around El Nido. About 16 of us climbed on board. About 11 Filipinos, a woman from Hong Kong, and older English guy, two German girls and myself. They hooked us up with snorkel, mask and towel, and we took off. Half an hour later we arrived at our first lagoon, which was a "secret" and could only be found by swimming through a hole in some rocks. It was actually pretty cool.  We next went to the "large" lagoon, where we didn't swim, but we got some nice photos. Next was a lagoon where there was some great snorkelling with the fish. And then we stopped for lunch at a beach on an island. While the crew / tour guides cooked we explored the reefs around there. And then we tried to get to our last lagoon, but apparently the currents and waves were picking up so we went snorkeling in one more reef area.

It was a great tour, showing off the beauty of the El Nido area, and giving us a great chance to visit the reefs and commune with the fishes. I had originally been considering just staying in El Nido for the one day, but I decided then to book another trip the next day and see some more things.

We headed back to the town and cleaned up. I went to a terrific pizza place for dinner then tried to join the group from the hostel at the reggae bar on the beach. It was a great place, but it was a bit much after a long day and I left and returned to the hostel to read a book. Very civilized.

The next day I got up to go on Tour C, which I'd been told was also pretty terrific. Unfortunately, while I was eating breakfast I was informed that the tour had been cancelled. The ocean currents were too strong and the waves were too big for the boats to head out. I offered to switch to another tour, but it seemed that they were being cancelled too.

With none of the standard trips happening that day many of the people at the hostel didn't have plans. The number 1 thing to do in El Nido was to visit Nacpan beach, about a 30 minute tricycle ride out of town. So about 7 of us got together and headed out. The folks at the hostel said it should be about a 1000 peso ride, but the group decided to negotiate and got it down to 750 or so, and we headed off.

It had been raining a lot recently and the ride to Nacpan was insane. It wasn't 30 minutes. It was more like an hour, with the driver having to battle massive mud ponds and deeply rutted roads. I was sure we were going to have to get out and push, but our driver knew what he was doing. Others weren't as lucky.

When we got to the beach, to be honest, it was just OK. Certainly not deserving of #1 billing. There were a couple of restaurants serving local food, but they did a very poor job of it. The beach was nice, but not spectacular. The only really great thing was the water was warm and the waves were big, so we had a good day playing.

After a few hours we all headed back to the town, another painful drive through the mud and pothole filled road. I grabbed a forgetable dinner, and read my book. I wanted to get in early, so that I could be ready for the next days long trip to San Juan, La Union on Luzon.  I was planning to go to learn to surf.

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