My Philippines Travel Diary- El Nido, Puerto Princesa & Manila

The Philippines was the first destination of our trip where I had never been to previously but where my boyfriend had and was very familiar with it, having travelled there many times before (hence I let him plan the itinerary and the boy did good).

After a night in the capital of Manila due to our late arrival time, we caught a flight out early the following morning to El Nido. Upon arrival, we embarked on a small boat which took us out to a speed boat just in time for the heavens to open up, and let’s just say that it made for an interesting journey (which could be definitely been planned better by the resort). After a 25 minute throttle against the somewhat turbulant waves, we reached our final destination (for the next five days anyway), Pangulasian Island, one of the many islands in El Nido, in the province of Palawan, and ours would be the only resort on the whole of the island.

Pangulasian Island, El Nido

The next five days were sheer bliss and you can probably tell because of the sheer volume of photos we took compared to the other places we visited. Although it did rain whilst we were there, it did so in true monsoon style, with heavy showers arriving in the mid afternoon, and gone almost as soon as they arrived. Nothing could dampen our spirits though because we were in total paradise.We stayed at the Pangulasian Island Resort in El Nido, Palawan. Everything from the room to the food, down to the hospitality and it’s location on the most pristine beach with the most clearest of waters, was bang on perfect. This is definitely a place where you get what you pay for and rightly so. All excursions were included in the room rates and we made sure we took full advantage of that.
On our first outing, we went out snorkelling, surprisingly very close to the shores of the island, in hope to see the black sharks that frequent there. Unfortunately, we didn’t spot any but my boyfriend spotted a huge turtle in the waters and was super chuffed. We spotted lots of different fishes as well as some of the best coral I’ve ever seen (but then again I haven’t seen too many in my lifetime). We also went on an island hopping tour where we went to Snake Island, which got it’s name from it’s S-shaped sand bank (not because it was home to wild snakes as we thought much to the relief of my boyfriend), and then got to explore some caves which was rather overwhelmingly beautiful, if not a little bit awkward to climb into. We also bypassed our lie-in one morning and tumbled out of bed at 5am to do a 30 minute trek to the top of the island. From the observation point above, just the two of us and our guide were able to watch the sun rise, which was such an amazingly beautiful and peaceful experience, and was definitely worth the sweat (and blood from those pesky mosquitos). I felt the days beginning to speed up, funny that when you’re having so much fun, and was sad to have to say goodbye to Pangulasian Island. Our next stop was to the islands of Puerto Princesa via Manila.

 

 

Sabang, Puerto Princesa

We arrived to an unexpected journey of 1.5 hours in a very bumpy van to the Sheridan Beach Resort and Spa on Sabang beach. It was very dark and gloomy and sure enough, the heavens opened up yet again but this time it did not close and it was pretty much like that for the next few days we were there. I knew that at some points during our journey we would be effected by heavy rain and now was that time. What made it an issue for us was our location. We were on a beach with not much else around so when it’s raining (and I’m not talking about a trickle, I’m talking by the constant bucket load), we didn’t have many options. Annoyingly, our trip to the famous underground river, which is considered to be one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, was cancelled due to the bad weather. Usually on days like these, we would sit it out and keep ourselves occupied with the internet but here’s the issue; there was none. My boyfriend had specifically asked when booking the hotel whether there was wifi at the resort and was told yes. We assumed ‘yes’ meant that there was wifi in the rooms but sadly that wasn’t the case. The wifi was supposedly limited to the reception area only but I don’t know who they were kidding. It was appalling. Needless to say, it didn’t take long for us to get frustrated enough to review and subsequently change our plans which was such a shame as we didn’t get to really explore Puerto Princesa.
Typically, in a case of Sod’s Law, on the day that we were leaving, there was no rain that morning so the boats went out for the underground river tour. If only one can predict the weather because had we had known, we would have woken up earlier to be able to make the trip but also have time to pack our bags to check out.  After breakfast and once we had finished packing, we decided to take a short stroll around the area and along the beach. Little did we know, there were actually a couple of hotels nearby. We even spotted a few signs for massages at reasonable rates and one or two places to eat and drink. It’s a shame we couldn’t venture out sooner. I do think that had the weather been different, we would have had a completely different experience but oh well, it wasn’t meant to be.

Manila

We decided to return to Manila because even though it wasn’t a destination we had planned on staying for long (just a night or two when we needed to fly in and out from the capital), being the capital city, we’d have options (shops, malls, cafes, cinemas etc) to resort to should the weather continue to  play up (and it sure did) instead of being couped up in our rooms with bad TV and no internet. We stayed at the Traders hotel in Makati. Beautiful hotel but in a not-so-great location.
I’d heard about Manila and it’s traffic situation so I was prepared for the worse. What I came faced with was so much more worse to the point where taxi drivers will refuse to pick up passengers for journeys exceeding 15-20 minutes which was absolutely bonkers. It was annoying as we both wanted to make the most of Manila since we’d decided to extend our stay. On one occasion we were forced to take a hotel car (which cost a small fortune), to drive to Eastwood as my boyfriend wanted to visit some friends who lived out there.
Eastwood is like a small gated community complex and home to many expats. It’s easy to see why as it was a far cry from where we were staying in Makati. There are a couple of malls and plenty of cafes and restaurants. We met my boyfriend’s friend in a newly opened brunch joint, of which the name escapes me (sorry!), which was a cross between The Breakfast Club in London and the the famous New York Hummingbird Bakery. I only tucked into a small fruit salad and iced tea as I wasn’t too hungry but my boyfriend throughly enjoyed his salmon and eggs dish.
Green Belt was another area that we ventured out too and a little closer than Eastwood. Here there are at least three malls and again, a multitude of restaurants and cafes. I’d definitely recommend the Museum Cafe (although from far it looks like the M Cafe) close to the Gucci Store entrance to the mall. Their coconut and lychee ice blended drink was so good, as was their steamed dumplings and chicken wings! We also ate at a make-your-own pizza place called Project Pie which is a must if you are a pizza fan in Manila and there’s a branch in both Green Belt and Eastwood. Mall of Asia is worth a look if you want to shop as this place is absolutely huge. There’s even an IMAX cinema in there which we went to one afternoon to watch Denzel Washington’s latest film, The Eliminator. We were lucky enough to have caught the sun just as it was setting over Manila Bay which is just across the street from the mall.

At that concludes my two week trip to the Philippines. Next stop? Hong Kong!

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