Sleepy Town El Nido

Curiosity finally satisfied on this other town in Palawan

– 08.29.15

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Five-hour trip from Puerto Princesa got me to this small town where I spent my first day just the usual walking around and immediately falling in love with realization that dogs were everywhere. Caught the sunset at MARIMEGMEG BEACH over beer and new camera ‘test-drive’. Full day the following day spent on Tour C which I chose for its promise of hop within hidden beaches called HELICOPTER ISLAND,  (well) HIDDEN BEACH, that beach with name I did not catch but has the loveliest water and most beloved seclusion and SECRET BEACH which inspired Alex Garland’s The Beach. Last half day was this sudden detour to swim NACPAN’s gentle waves and see from a hill its twin CALITANG. 

 My previous trips to Puerto Princesa have always got me curious with another destination town called El Nido as it kept on popping in signs and out of mouths of proud tour guides. I was even more curious when learned about how a friend kept on coming back there that she almost completed all the tours in the island.

Am glad that curiosity got me visiting the island around mid last year – something that I fought for, having to excuse myself from some work that long weekend. What I immediately loved about the town is its smallness which makes it favorable to someone like me who when out-of-town prefers exploring by foot.

As it was a beach town, it was immediately the beach that I checked out — which sadly was not swimmable I found out. Okay, the more that made sense to me then why most online research talks about tour packages to nearby beaches. It reminded me of Koh Phi Phi in Thailand except that it is much more laidback.

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Immediate view from my hostel

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20150829_134520The beach

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A bar I’ve read about online yet was closed at that time of day

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Parked

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Lazy afternoon for most

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So on day 1 when I arrived early afternoon, first thing I did was walk to the beach then upon realizing that I could not swim (boohoo!), I went walking around town in search of the famous Art Cafe which was easy to find. (I did print a map prior to trip but I did not have to check. Whoa. Some proud moment in there huh)

Got myself a seat on the second floor from which I could see the town which I realized then to be sleepy and dog-friendly. Shared the restaurant with a group of backpackers who from my eavesdropping session seemed to have met only on that trip.

I couldn’t remember now why but I got myself some unfamiliar dish. It was yummy but too filling that I feel I had to immediately burn it. Town’s sleepiness was getting into me but I pushed myself into getting my butt off that seat and explored town. As I wanted a view of the sea when I wake in the  morning, I walked on shore with agenda of finding a beachfront place to stay in. I was hoping for a cottage (for higher beach feels, that is 😀 ) but its price was more than what I was willing to pay for that I ended up getting a relatively inexpensive but decent room.

 

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One of the more knowns restaurant in the area

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… which apparently owned by a Fil-Swiss couple.

An El Nido love story fruit, it apparently was! 

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You lazy dog you

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Some fake planning happening for me at this point 😀

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From where I sit

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And that dog was testing the water

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… and another sniffin’ this man’s butt 😀

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One of the many restaurants that face the beach

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Still a quiet beach around mid-afternoon

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.. and oh it was gloomy afternoon too

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That lonesome carabao joins the club.

Aaaaaaw. Let’s join that lonesome carabao, shall we?

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… and have our dose of beers from the “happiest hour”

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An interesting accessories shop

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Banking on the film franchise huh

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This street parallel to the beachfront

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Uh oh some make-love happening 

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20150829_150511 These boats on seeming attack mode

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Tired from all the walking and badly in need of some water, I found myself inquiring at the Tourism Office how to go to a beach a friend told me about. Of course I was hoping it’s also walkable but officer told me it would take about 15 minutes of ride via tricycle and they seem to discourage going there by walking. I got myself a ride then and true enough, path was along a ‘too-far-for walking’ paved road with view of the ocean.

My friend described the beach as initially secluded so I was worried about how to go back. Beach was indeed relatively secluded, but grateful that transport was not a problem as there were tricycles lined up outside even after sunset.

GOPR0044_1441254714446_highChurch almost across the tourism office

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Best I could capture while inside moving trike

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Yep, just would not let me

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Down to finally some sea! 

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Hello there, beach where I could swim! 

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It was still a gloomy afternoon when I arrived at Marimegmeg so I was feeling so gloomy too. Luckily though, waves were soft. Water not as clear as I wanted it to be (I am sensing some alternating negatives and positives here, ha) but that did not stop me from ‘swimming’ and in quick doses, test my action camera – though less the action.

Found my spot at The Beach Shack where I had my afternoon beer bottles until I had the bum mode off to make me get up and walk to other parts of the sand strip, which in hindsight was perfect in timing as I unexpectedly witnessed sunset on a people-free but dog-crowded spot (which I thought was kind of fun). It was also that portion of sea most affected by the low tide that the seemingly sharp rocks seem scary. Personally to me quite a match with the intense sunset that gave an umph to an otherwise meh gloomy afternoon.

 

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Just the right amount of people and less sun (how I wish it was more sunny then!)  

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Off to searching for a spot

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Sea-watching

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… with my usual paraphernalia, of course

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Dotheads

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And okay, a selfie

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And just so I remember it in wide perspective

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Another dog being oddly friendly to me

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And then my affair with water begins

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Looking like a crab haha 

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… so this from a crab’s point of view?

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Was that a dog or a rock?

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Off to part of the rocky part of the beach

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Where got this shot of the less rocky one

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That log up close

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That which looks like blue

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And from here, it still does look like blue

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Cut into two

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As if there was fire

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Reminded me of our brown dogs at home

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Oh those rocks are scary 

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From this side too

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Someone’s having fun

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Sun’s peak

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A more relaxed sunset now

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Right after sunset went back to hostel to wash and dry myself then looked for a place to eat and drink with some music. For a change in latter, drank some cocktail (which I forgot now what) but that made me groggy quite early considering my bed time that I ended up sleeping through my first night

Went to the hostel thinking it would be a nap (while the rest of backpacker guests were happily noisily having some socials night in the common area). Next thing I knew, I was up that early morning and being at that same spot munching on my leftover beefsteak with only a few guests.

Then it was time for another day  – one meant for touristy stuff — trying out one tour for the day. And among four, I chose one with the hidden beaches, including one said to be inspiration behind Alex Garland’s The Beach. (Film adaptation of which one of my favorites. Location shoot I was in early this year)

My post on my second day visiting El Nido’s hidden beaches and shrines to follow.  🙂

 

PRACTICAL DETAILS : 

There are direct flights from Manila via budget airlines  Cebu Pacific and Airasia and Philippine Airlines to Puerto Princesa.

From Puerto Princesa airport, there are vans going to El Nido with trip lasting for 5-6 hours. Fare is at Php500-600. You will be dropped off at the terminal from which you can take a tricycle to your accommodation at the town proper.

There are many accommodation options either at the beach fronts or streets parallel to it. (I stayed at Our Melting Pot). Everything is within walking distance so I guess what sets the beachfront ones apart from the rest is immediate access to view of the sea when you wake up in the morning.

To get to Marimegmeg Beach : 
You may rent a tricycle at roughly Php100-150 per way.Ride takes about 15 minutes.

There is a trike line just right up the beach by the road so going back until early evening should not be a problem.

 

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