We ended a full year of traveling with a fun holiday with friends in
the Philippines. We were already in Puerto Princesa where Riemke and
Mariska were able to fly to despite another typhoon landing in the
country disrupting some flights. It was great to see the girls and
continue where we left the year before catching up and drinking cold
beers then in South India now in the Philippines.
Together we travel with a shared van to Port Barton, an amazing, relaxed, beautiful, still not too busy nor touristy, beach town on Palawan island. Here we meet with Joyce, Maarten and their 1,5 year old son Duuk and with the whole bunch we spend a few days and nights touring islands, snorkeling, lazying on the beach, and partying the year away into 2020 at NYE in some local beach bars and nightclubs. The first day of the year we spent quite hungover in a bus to El Nido - Corong Corong where we spent two nights.
In a local van we cross the island to Sibaltan, a small and quiet beach village where we enjoy the local atmosphere, and when it’s too windy to dive Merijn goes kitesurfing which is a totally unexpected bonus. The next day we go diving and try to find the manta rays that are roaming around and visiting the cleaning stations. We are not lucky and don’t meet the mantas but the diving is fun.
We had thought it a good idea to organize our own DIY island-hopping trip from Palawan via some remote islands to Busuanga, but already the first leg we find out there is no public boat to where we want to go. Luckily there are some more (local) passengers who are also surprised by this news with whom we organize and share a private boat to Silipacan island, a good boat trip of about 5 hours. We end up in Dory’s Store and Lodging and Dory is just great! She provides us with great food and cheap rooms, a lot of information and she helps us organize a boat trip to some small islands and pristine beaches and she helps us organize our next boat ride to Busuanga which was all not very straightforward because there are virtually no tourists who stay on Silipican island.
Another private boat trip brings us via a beautiful route and many small islands and deserted waterways to Coron Town on Busuanga island. We spend only one night here and we try to make the best of it by joining both the locals and the many backpackers and island-hopping tourists in the local bars and clubs. The girls try their best with a spectacular karaoke performance but we still don’t know if the locals really appreciated the effort, do check the pics ;-)
We found another small village with a local resort and dive center somewhere west of Coron Town, where clearly the backpackers highway is not paved yet, although the road around the island is remarkably good. We extend this stay a few times because we really get into it, we go on another DIY boat trip, we rent a scooter for a day to find another deserted beach and we drink and dine in the small number of establishments around. We go wreck diving and this was absolutely spectacular, penetrating the old Japanse war ships, crisscrossing though the cargo holds and chambers and even swimming through an onboard prison.
After one last night in Coron Town we fly to Manila, and we are again lucky because we fly without any problem or delay on one of the first days after a volcano erupted which disrupted around 500 flights to and from Manila. We spend the day shopping and eating and the evening drinking and eating in a great upcoming neighborhood before we all together travel to the airport where we say goodbye to Mariska and Riemke, who we hope to see next year, wherever our adventures take us. We are on Maldives now but more about that soon
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