I arrived in Manila directly from Taipei with the expectations to meet a friend of mine and the only thing I found was chaos, noise and taxi drivers offering me their services for a modest price, which of course it was not and it was necessary to haggle. Although I had read that it is not worth it to visit Manila because there is not much to see, I needed to check it with my own eyes. This trip was different because I would not be alone, Nuria and Menchu would travel with me during almost the full trip, that’s why we needed to meet in Manila first as each one was coming from a different place.
In the evening, after meeting Menchu at the hostel, we went out to explore the surroundings of the hostel. First impressions were not very good. Although modern buildings were visible from the hostel, its streets contained nothing but disorder and poverty. I was very surprised to see so many children begging in the street. We bought food for some of them, but we did not have for all of them.
The next day we went to visit the Fort of Santiago and Ultramuros, which is the old part of Manila, following the main park of the city. We continued walking through the city, until the afternoon when we returned to the hostel to meet Nuria, who arrived from Spain. Few beers in the hostel to catch up and decide where we were going the day after, as we had nothing planned. We booked a flight for the next morning to Puerto Princesa in order to go to El Nido after.
Puerto Princesa (Palawan)
We arrived at Puerto Princesa airport very early in the morning. A tricycle took us to the hostel. Our plan for the next day was to go to the «Underground River», as it is considered one of the biggest wonders of the world, but after talking to several people in the hostel we decided not to do it, because for their experiences it was not worth it for being a trip of 9 hours where you are only on the river for 45 minutes, the rest is journey time and waiting. So we booked the trip for the next morning to El Nido. It was raining so hard, so the best option was to wait. It’s true what they say, in the Philippines when it rains … it rains.
El Nido (Palawan)
After 6 hours by van, we arrived in El Nido, famous for its landscapes and one of the most recommended destinations in the Philippines. It had stopped raining, so we took the towel and went to the Playa de las Cabanas. Yeah! Beach! Finally! Since I started the trip I had not stepped on the beach, except in Busan (but I did not take a bath). White sand and crystal water at a perfect temperature. I was not able to get out from the water.
The following days were almost all rainy, as soon as it stopped, we went to the beach. Maybe we did not enjoy El Nido as much as expected because the weather did not help.
There are few organized tours that make routes to different islands in the area, including places to snorkel. There are four tours (A, B, C and D). Everyone recommend tour A or C. We did the A and we enjoyed a lot. The weather was on our side that day, that´s why enjoyed that much.
As the weather was not good, we decided to short our stay in El Nido and we moved to Panglao Island.
Alona Beach (Panglao)
After spending the night in Cebu city, we took a ferry to Tagbilaran to reach Panglao, and then go to Alona Beach.
After a week of rain and change from one place to another, we needed a week of beach, beach and beach, that’s why we went to Alona Beach. We booked a cheap hotel with pool in which the daily plan was breakfast, pool, beach, lunch, beach, pool, dinner and beers. Even one day we allowed ourselves to include some massage on the beach. The Philippines was beginning to seduce us!
It is possible to go to Bohol to see the Chocolate Hills, although we decided not to go because we wanted to enjoy the good weather on the beach.
What we did was to go to Oslob, located to the south of the island of Cebu and is one of the main tourist attractions of the Philippines to be able to have the opportunity to swim with whale sharks. Without doubt the best experience I have ever experienced in the Philippines. It is impressive to be able to swim with these animals of more than 12 meters.
We also rent some motorbikes to visit the whole island, discovering the hidden places as beaches, waterfalls or caves. It was my first experience driving a motorbike and I really enjoyed it.
The group trip was over, Nuria was returning to Spain and Menchu was following another path. I went to Boracay to spend the last week in the Philippines.
By airplane from Cebu and after spending a night in Kalibo, by minibus I arrived to the port of Caticlan, then take a ferry that in about 15 minutes took me to the island of Boracay. It is the most tourist destination in the Philippines. It is known for its parties, in fact, it is considered the Ibiza of the Philippines.
I stayed one week in Boracay and I loved it. It has several beaches, but certainly the best is the White Beach where all the locals and bars are located. The beach, with its white sand and crystal water, it is really amazing.
During this time I had the opportunity to take my open PADI water diving certification up to 18 meters.
The three weeks in The Philippines flied, so it was time to move. Next step, Singapore.