Wednesday, January 24, 2018

First Week: Philippines



justin jade twin lagoon coron philippines palawan
Jade and I in the Twin Lagoon, Coron, Philippines


              I started my new travels in the Philippines and have been at it for a little over a week and this is my story.  It’s a simple story of the confusion of arrival in a new country, excursions on tropical islands and beaches, and that one time we slept outside in the bottle storage area on the porch of a ticket office (yea that happened).  

flight texas philippines
Flight from Texas to the Philippines


              Leaving Texas at 7 am on a Monday morning, our journey took us on a three-leg flight before reaching the Philippines two days later at 6 am Wednesday.  The flights weren’t bad, but our seven-hour layover in Shanghai was.  The airport in Shanghai was freezing so we curled up on a bench with our blankets and pillows taken from the previous flight and tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to get some much needed sleep.

horse ride up taal volcano philippines
Me riding a horse up to the top of Taal Volcano

              Arriving in the Philippines we charged all of our things the arrival terminal and then went out to start our adventure.  We knew the town we wanted to get to and kinda how to get there, but had no clue how to fit the pieces together.  So, we hopped in a taxi and headed for the bus station, which turned out not to be exactly where we were dropped off.  So, after asking around we finally made it to a bus to Tagaytay where our first stop was to be.  Arriving in Tagayay we found a toktok driver to take us down to the lake to see the volcano there.  He helped set up our excursion which included a boat over and back, as well as horses up and down the volcano.  Turns out we payed more than we probably should and the horses were a waist since the hike up would have been a fairly easy one.  

places visit philippines
All of the places we planned to visit in the Philippines

              It was just after mid-day when we finished so we felt like we should move on instead of staying in Tagaytay as we had planned.  Starting the trip, we had 25 things to see and a total of 5 days of travel time that we knew of so we were feeling very pressed for time and didn’t want to waist a minute.  Our toktok driver convinced us we should ride with him instead of the bus (again this cost us way more than the bus would have) since he knew a short cut and could get us to the port in time for the last ferry.  Though it may have been a short cut it was to the wrong port, but still filling rushed we bought tickets for the ferry knowing that it would at least get us to the island we had planned for. 

sleeping outside mindoro philippines
Our bed outside the ticket office

              Upon arriving on the other side at 6 pm we hopped in a van to take us to the port we needed to be in 7.5 hours away.  This is where the story went a little weird.  Arriving so late in the night and knowing that we had to be at the port by 5 am to buy tickets we decided to forgo a hotel and tricycle (a motorcycle with a side car) to the port.  This turned out not to be where you buy tickets, so our tri took us to the ticket office instead, which was closed, and left us there.  So, seeing a section of the porch walled off for storing soda bottles, we stacked our bags and ourselves in the area left and waited for the morning.  It was a long night of Jade being sound asleep and me keeping vigil as I watched out for stray dogs and people.  The dogs looked to be more confused to why we were there than anything else and the owner of the building, when he arrived, seemed unmoved by the fact that we had slept on his porch the night before. 
 
beds ferry coron philippines palawan
Our beds on the ferry from Mondoro to Coron

              Turns out we had found shelter at the wrong ticket office and the early morning boat wasn’t running anyways.  But we got tickets for a boat and made our way to Coron, our next stop.  The ferry was nice and each passenger got a bed in a dorm type setting as we crossed over.  The ride was nice and the beds seemed much nicer than they were, but afforded us some much needed rest. 
 
maquinit hot spring coron philippines palawan
Maquinit Hot Spring

              After sleeping in the following morning, we made a hike out to Bali Beach, which we thought wouldn’t be that hard.  Turns out it was a bit harder and hotter than we expected.  The road was far hillier than we thought it would be and there was no shade from the mid-day sun.  Still, we arrived at Bali beach, which turned out to be nice but not as nice as we expected.  We took a stroll in the shallow water for a bit, but after only about two minutes in the water Jade got stung by a jellyfish, so we were back out and spent the rest of the time lounging under the trees.  We followed the beach with a visit to the hot springs which were only a ten minute walk from us.  This turned out to be a fantastic getaway.  The water was warm, the scenery was great, and there were very few people for most of time we were there.  

banul beach coron philippines palawan
Banul Beach

              The following day, upon hearing that our ferry had been canceled to leave to El Nido, we decided to create our own tour of Coron island.  We had planned to go over to the island before the trip but had forgotten about it so the ferry cancellation turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  So, we headed to the port, hired a boat, and crossed over to Twin Lagoons and Banul Beach.  These were our first real taste of what the Philippines has to offer.  Crystal clear water and white sandy beaches is what everyone thinks of when dreaming of a tropical getaway. 
 
flying drone twin lagoon coron philippines palawan
Landing my drone on the bow of the boat


This excursion also gave me some much needed practice with my drone.  My first flight was a little precarious.  The drone didn’t have a good signal till I got it high above the rocks and then to return it I had to land it on the bow of the boat which was scary for me to say the least.  The flights at Banul beach were a breeze and I was able to gain some practice in an open area and get some really good footage.  


No comments:

Post a Comment