Friday, July 26, 2013

Dayhike Haywire: I Shouldn't Be Alive Experience

Reading back on my blog post about my first climb:
180 by Mount Maculot. I guess mountaineers will find the saying "Do not change the mountains, let the mountains change you." such a cliche but it is exactly what Mt. Maculot did to me. It challenged me, it dared my limits and most importantly, it humbled me. 

If Mt. Maculot gave me a 180, Pico de Loro gave me a roller coaster ride.  It took me to my highest highs and my lowest lows. This is an experience I would, and should, never forget.

As far as I could remember, it all started when I felt like someone is following us. I somehow saw a light of a cellphone at the corner of my eye and I thought that someone hidden in the woods is planning on capturing us and making us the main characters in an award winning suspense thriller movie. 
At that moment I asked my friend if someone back home knows where he is, he said no. This got me a little worried because no one knows I am at Pico de Loro either. We have one friend that we invited to go with us but we told her that this trip wouldn't push through because she is not able to join us. I ignored that feeling and we continued traversing the trail. After all, we already passed by the base station and we are an hour away from safety, or so we thought. We talked and talked and talked until the time we realized that we are not seeing trail marks anymore. We saw a couple of hints that we are on the wrong direction such as a water buffalo that is blocking the way and is staring at us, but we ignored it.

Dayhike Haywire: Mt. Palay-Palay/Pico de Loro The Descent

While on our way back to the summit and the campsite, the view of the coastline and Mt. Palaypalay are still very visible. We do not want to go down, I mean who would with these view in sight.

Dayhike Haywire: Mt. Palay-Palay/Pico de Loro The Ascent

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go."
-- T.S. Eliot

I intended to stay home until my foray to South Korea in September to conserve money and energy. But I just can't say no to an opportunity for a great adventure simply because I know how bad it feels to be filled with excitement and later on be turned down by your friends when all is set, so I halfheartedly agreed to do a day hike in Pico de Loro. Thank goodness I agreed because on the eve of the climb, life gave me a blunt dose of reality and left my pride and heart broken so I am in dire need of an adrenalin rush to revive shattered self.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Solo in El Nido: Romancing Nature in a Honeymooner's Paradise

Sometimes we get lost, sometimes we find love.

Read title again: Solo in El Nido: Romancing Nature in a Honeymooner's Paradise. I came up with this line a week before my flight to Palawan. It is because this is how I envision my trip will be like. Sitting alone in the beach staring at the horizon in the midst of couples holding hands while walking by the sea shore.

I arrived in Puerto Prinsesa morning of June 26 without any expectation. All I wanted was to meet a few interesting people and to have a new destination to write about. I never thought that in this trip, I will turn out to be not so alone.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Solo in El Nido: Things To Do

I am not adventurous when I am alone so this list is not out of the ordinary. Just a number of things I did/should have done in El Nido with my own opinion on how I can do them better next time.

1. Island Hopping

This is a no-brainer since it is what this place is famous for. 45 out of the 7,107 islands in the Philippines can be found in El Nido. People from all over the world travel thousands of miles just to swim in its waters.
Unlike the other island hopping destinations I've been to like Pangasinan, Sorsogon and Boracay, island hopping in El Nido will require you to choose from Tours A, B, C or D. Every corner of El Nido town has a travel company that offer these tours. 
If you are alone, you do not have to worry because they are going to be the one to create a group for the tours. If you are on a limited time and budget, there are combinations tours A-C and B-D. If you are on a group, you could also rent your own boat and choose your own island adventure. 
The most popular tour is Tour A-C and being the mediocre traveler that I am, it is what I choose. Although in my opinion, Tour A-C is too fast paced as you only get to stay at every beach for 30 minutes so you don't really get to enjoy each one. Combination tours is good if you are just after taking a lot of good pictures to show off but if you want to relax, swim and appreciate nature, doing tours A, B, C and D separately would be ideal. Or better yet, rent a kayak and explore.

7 Commandos Beach

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Solo in El Nido: 4 Day Itinerary and Expenses with Solo Survival Tips

In as much as I would like to be the outdoorsy adventurous person that I seem to be, I value the importance of clean toilets and so I am back to chasing white sand beaches and get-more-than-what-you-pay-for accommodations. 

I can't remember when and why I booked a flight to Puerto Prinsesa. What I recall is that El Nido is what I have in mind while completing the online booking. I do realize that El Nido is known for being one of the top destination for honeymooners and anniversary-celebrating couples, so I thought it will be interesting to go there alone, and because of that my second self induced solo trip was confirmed. (My first solo trip)

I wouldn't say that I enjoy traveling alone more than traveling with someone. I think that traveling with friends is more fun but being alone while in the road is something that I like to put myself into once in a while to put my wanderlust alter ego to test. Also, dragging and begging friends to come with you to your dream destination is frustrating and tiring.

So I found myself lost in a place where there is an influx of tourists with pointy noses, blonde hair and blue/green eyes. Being a Filipino traveler, at times I felt out of place. I actually never got to know a fellow Filipino that is having a vacation in El Nido. Most of the friends I met are locals and friendly folks from another country but even if I have to speak English 80% of the time, I did have a good time.