I had heard about Palawan before. But El Nido—particularly, came to me in a dream. In the dream, I was spending some time there; at a beach house; with a guy I had a crush on (later on, I found out that the guy turned out to be a jerk). But, anyway, El Nido had captured me somehow. My boss—who had been there in the 80s, also encouraged me to go there. Thus, just like that, El Nido became one of the destination for my one-month traveling journey. A week before my departure, I found a cheap ticket from Philippine Airline via Skyscanner (oh, I love this site!) and booked my flight from Jakarta to Manila and from Manila to Palawan. Two days later, I checked the weather forecast for El Nido and Palawan during the dates of my stay. The results? Rain, storm, rain, rain, storm, rain… whatever! >__<
It took around 3.5 hours to fly from Jakarta to Manila, an hour flight from Manila to Palawan (Puerto Princessa) and 6-8 hours ride on a public van (around 500-600 Pesos) or the green-yellow RORO bus (300-400 Pesos) to reach El Nido from Puerto Princessa. Public van or buses are available near Puerto Princessa airport; even if you have not booked in advance, you won’t find any trouble in getting a transport to El Nido as long as it is still under 6 pm (oh, and it seems like everyone speaks English which makes it easier for you to ask for help or directions). I took the Eulen Joy public van to El Nido that day. “Marina Garden,” I told the driver when he asked where I stayed in El Nido. And so the bumpy ride began: downhill, uphill, downhill, uphill, mountain forests, villages, mountain forests, villages, it was very similar to riding a roller coaster (apart from the somersault)—but of course, being me, I just sat by the window, put on my sunglasses, hugged my backpack, and slept throughout the journey.
I had booked an accommodation at Marina Garden Beach Resort in El Nido beforehand; via SMS (turned out it was faster to arrange everything via SMS instead of emails).
Don’t expect anything fancy from this place though the name might suggest so. El Nido is a newly-developed tourism destination, so most accommodations in this area consist of home stays and small inns (though constructions for hotels and inns were everywhere when I was there. well, there is this fancy El Nido Resorts in Miniloc Island if you’d like to go posh). In Marina Garden, the rate is around 700-800 Pesos per night. The room is very basic: bed, desk, bathroom, fan, old air-con, no television set; but it’s clean and tidy. Like everywhere else in this island, the electricity runs only from 2 pm to 6 am. So it’s best to go out in the morning and enjoy the sun!
Marina Garden’s location is very convenient because it is right in the middle of everything, including the police station (safe!), tourism office, and the rows of cafes, restaurants, and bars (you can just walk for 1-5 minutes to reach those places), plus, the departure point for the island-hopping boats is right in front of their yard! But what’s best is that they have this amazing ocean view only 10 steps away from the room; a small hut where you can have breakfast or coffee; and the hammock—my hammock (!).
Thank God I got some sunny days while I was in El Nido (don’t trust the weather forecast?)—though it was usually raining or drizzling in the evening and very early in the morning (I got my umbrella with me!). However, the mist that rose up afterwards from the rocks and limestone cliffs surrounding the small town gave such an amazing view; I could not complain.
And that was exactly how I spent my first days in El Nido: woke up at around 7, took a shower, ate my breakfast, got a cup of coffee, then retreated to my hammock to read and write all day.
I want this view from my backyard. I can get used to this.