Day 11 here in paradise and so much to catch up on. The beauty of this country continues to amaze me. Bohol was fun and now it was time to hit a full week in Palawan where I’d find my wingman for the week. A 20 year old friend and trusted travel companion, we met up in Puerto Princessa which is the capital of this island at the very west of the Philippine islands. Yes Gunar is shorter than me so I made him stand below me.
The must see attraction in this area is the Underground River tour which is a breathtaking 8km deep river tunnel with cathedral lake ceilings of rock carved out over millions of years and about a million bats throughout that apparently take great joy in pooping on tourists. It’s called guapa and if it happens to you you’ve been “guapaed”. Literally I had seen nothing like this in my life. Continuing to embrace an environmentally focused mindset the tour forbids any talking while on the river tour as it effects bats navigation who rely entirely on sonar pitches to fly around the pitch black caves. Instead they give you a recording device and ear buds and you follow along a narration. At one point in the tour the guide turns out his light and you can’t see the hand in front of your face. Amazing. After the river cruise we also participated in the package zip line ride and mangrove tour. Good but nothing compared to the underground river.
Puerto Princessa in the rear view mirror we next headed for El Nido which was 250km/5 hour drive away. Gunar and I went into full fragile old guy mode and rented our own private car rather than cram into a van with 10 others with no leg room. Our driver was Jeffrey who was awesome and alarmingly sane consider he does this round trip drive EVERY DAY! That’s 5 hours there and 5 hours back plus any breaks in between. Next time you think you have a tough gig at work just think of Jeffrey who grinds out each day, with a smile.
El Nido welcomed us with our own personal greeting and some world class sunsets. Our most important decision to make immediately upon arrival at happy was which 2 for 1 drink to order and find a great spot to take in paradise level sunsets.
If I have any one bone to pick with this wonderful country its an inability to make a good cocktail. I ordered a mai tai but got an orange creamsicle.
Gunar and I went to dinner one night and I was in the mood for a Martini which was a bold move. Strategically like Trump avoiding the draft with bone spurs I deferred but instead had Gunar order one first. Good thing as his drink arrived and it looked like water taken directly from a pond in Chernobyl. We sent it back and said no vermouth and the next one came back even darker and more vermouthy. Knowing they were still cooking my dinner and could sweet revenge for being that problem table that kept sending drinks back I offered to drink it but could not get through the first sip. Time to take matters into my own hands and show my Philippian friends how to crank out a world class martini. My gift to the people who have given so much to me.
Scooter bikes rented yesterday to find a world class beach which was achieved at Lio Beach about 15 min outside of El Nido. Free lounge chairs and a beach nearly to ourselves with multiple bars and restaurants steps away. It’s crazy how easy it is to find your own little peace of paradise.
Today was a travel day from El Nido to Coron for the last phase of our trip before heading home – another full day of kayaking. The ferry ride over was a scheduled Donut Monday authoring time but 15 foot swells put that plan on hold. Good to see Gunar there in my time of need.
Clearly I was still woozy from the trip later that night