APEC happened to El Nido. Sadly we didn’t know while planning this trip that the APEC meeting was going to be taking place in Manila at the same time (the last time APEC was in Manila was 20 years ago). This was brought to our attention as we started getting emails a week before our trip saying, “some flights may be cancelled or delayed during the dates of November 16th-20th.” Up until arriving in the Philippines we did have some changes, but managed to still work out everything so we could make all our flights and be on time. Arriving to the ITI terminal at 10 am for a 2 pm flight we tried to get on the 11 am flight to El Nido. Sadly they would not let us and it wasn’t until 1 pm that they told us our flight had been cancelled due to a “no fly zone” out of the Manila airport. With all of Manila flights not being an option it was time to figure out what we were going to do with the next five days. Luckily Cole, Kevin and Jessica came up with as good of a plan as any. We would leave that evening to avoid traffic to go to Clark airport, which is about two hours away from Manila and will be flying to Panglao Island in Bohol the next day.
The resort of choice is the South Palms Resort. A beach-front bungalow resort with lounge chairs, full restaurant, infinity pool, bar, kayaks, paddle boards, and hammocks for days.
After a couple of days of pool and ocean time it was our last day on the island and our priority was to find a boat to rent to go out on the water. It truly is amazing what can happen when you ask any given person for a recommendation. I asked our driver who was taking us to Alona beach if he could recommend a good place for us to start looking for a boat and on our way out of the resort he asks the security guard the same question. The guard then says, “I have a friend with a boat! It will be $2,000 PHP for the whole day.” ($42 usd) Um, YES, please call him. He does and 30 minutes later we are picked up via boat at our resort and off we go! Island Hopping was our main attraction to El Nido so it was definitely nice to get some boat time in. Given our luck of the trip it only makes sense that it would start down pouring on our way to the first island, Virgin Island.
We pull up to the sand bar when locals swarm our boat with live lobster, sea urchin, and more fish options for us to purchase for them to grill for us. As we make our way to the second island, Balicasag, we notice that the island is surprisingly empty, but they have a lot of local mom and pop restaurants. We are talking folding tables, chairs, and roofs over tables made of tarp. The island’s population is 100 people and I can hardly resist being able to try the local food. Chicken adobo with garlic rice is the dish of choice and my lord, likely one of, if not the best homemade adobo I have ever had! Sometimes venturing out of your comfort zone to try things you wouldn’t normally try really does pay off!
The time has come to say goodbye to my friends and I am off to the next adventure. As I mentioned in my last post I was forced into booking a flight out of Manila and it is just three hours after arriving in Manila from Bohol. Not quite ready to leave the Philippines I decide to skip my flight back to Singapore and find a condo on Airbnb to do some writing, some R&R and some must needed laundry.
Next Stop – Makati, Manila, Philippines