El Nido: What Should I Bring?

El Nido: What Should I Bring?

Hearing things like “The wifi is bad in El Nido”…”Electricity goes on and off all the time”….”There’s an ATM but a lot of times it has no money in it”…. I wasn’t exactly sure what to prepare for El NIdo!

But thankfully we needn’t have worried!

Backpacks

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We were so so happy that we brought our 30L backpacks to the Philippines. All through our travels in China, we never had to check them in. We were thankful that for the Philippines we also didn’t have to, even when we were flying with AirSwift. (and their luggage restrictions was about 7Kg).

We bought these in Decathlon (Chengdu) and they are super useful, can hold quite a lot of things, has a waist belt for extra support, and we don’t have to worry that they will be too big as carry on luggage. I think if we bought the 40L ones, they would have been a tad too large, so these are perfect if you want to travel light.

Water Shoes

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This was the first time that I bought water shoes, as I’ve never really been to a place where I needed to use them, but for some of the Island Hopping Tours, I strongly recommend you buy or rent a pair. In some places there are lots of rocks and it’s incredibly hard to walk on them, especially if the water is a little rough!

Again, we bought these in Decathlon and they were perfect for the trip. They are comfortable and the soles are thick, so you have good grip on the rocks. When we were on the tours, I noticed the people who had no shoes on them were struggling to walk on the sharp rocks.

If you don’t want to buy a pair, you can easily rent them in the town.

Money: 

As we heard that the ATM there hardly ever works, we decided to bring more money than we actually needed…. about 25,000 pesos each. Our hotel was already paid for so we just needed money for food and the excursions. We definitely brought too much, but the scams that we heard about and if either of us happened to loose some money or anything, at least we wouldn’t have to worry about our funds.

Thankfully with the leftover money that we had, we were able to change it at the airport for both Dollars and Euro before we left.

Flight Details:

I usually never print out flight details, but this time we had a few layovers so we wanted to be prepared with everything. At Manila airport we needed to show our flight details. Then when we were at El Nido airport, at the entrance the security man wanted to see our details for that flight too. So in the end we were thankful that we had everything at hand! To be prepared, I suggest you print out all of these things.

GoPro/Underwater Camera:

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A few years ago, one of our friends also visited El Nido, so she lent us her camera to bring. It was great! Because you can use it underwater, we didn’t need to bring our cameras, so we didn’t need to worry about if they get wet!

In El Nido town we bought a stick that can be used underwater, making it easier to use the camera under the water as it’s lighter. The normal stick was just too heavy.

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Waterproof Bag

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Again, our friend lent us this waterproof bag to bring with us. But of course, in the town  you can easily buy one at every corner. They come in a range of different sizes and colours, and it was very reassuring to know that our phones and money and what not were safe in it.

So these are the items which we brought and were really useful for us, and these are the items that I recommend you bring along with you. If you forget some necessities you can just buy pretty much everything else in the town. You could easily just bring an empty bag and buy what you need when you arrive! T-shirts, shorts, dresses, sun glasses, bikinis, flip-flops, there is a hairdressers (my fiancé got his hair cut there) a pharmacy, an opticians (fiancé got his glasses there) massage parlours, oh and plenty of restaurants.

In a place called Art Cafe they have shampoo, conditioner, lady sanitary things, aloe vera gel, sun cream, deodorant, phone chargers…. you definitely won’t be stuck for anything!

So if you do happen to forget something… don’t worry… El Nido town has you pretty much covered!

再见

爱玲

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What We Did In El Nido Part 2

What We Did In El Nido Part 2

Still having 2 more tours to do, we next opted to do Tour A. This tour consists mainly of visiting lovely beaches and lagoons, and some of the lagoons were breathtaking! For me, I thought this was the best tour!

But I can tell you, we were both exhausted by the time we got home at 4pm… definitely in need of a nice shower to wash all that sand away… then a good nap!

Another day arrived, and taking a rest from the water, we headed to try out the zip line! I’ve never done this before, and It was great fun! Unfortunately I was too busy looking at the wire and making sure my head didn’t go near it,  that I missed catching a glimpse of  most of the scenery around me!

To get to the zip line from El Nido town, you should get a tricycle for  about 150pesos and they will drop you to the small mountain that you should walk up. It only takes about 7-8 minutes but it is a little steep. After you have finished the zip line, you need to take a rickety ladder made of bamboo down to the bottom, and then walk back. During low tide the sea will be out so you can walk across the beach.

After the zip line, we got lunch and relaxed on bean bags at Las Cabanas beach.  It had such a relaxed vibe there I could have stayed all day. There is also a bar where you can order drinks or food.

On our last day before we left El Nido, we went on Tour C. We were told the day before that it may not happen, as in and around the area of Tour C the sea was a little rough. We had to wait until the morning of the trip to confirm if it was happening, and it was!

This tour consists mostly of swimming, and I tell you… this was the most difficult tour of them all! Unfortunately the sea was quite choppy… and at one point, we had to swim to a small island with a beautiful beach. But the waves were that high and strong… swimming over to it was extremely scary! Because there were boats already there, our boat was behind them, meaning we had to swim around these to get to shore.

Our tour guide told us to swim as a group, and I tried my hardest to swim along and keep up… the current was so strong. Then we got near the shore… but the waves were huge! The problem was that there were loads of jagged rocks at the bottom… you could stand up ok… but then a big wave would come and sweep you off your feet. Because my shins were still quite tender, I was so afraid that I would hit them off the rocks.

Oh my god I was so scared. I started to panic that I wouldn’t be able to get to the shore, and I would get injured by the rocks. Thankfully I made it, but I was really shook up. I really didn’t want to have to get back into the water… and worse… swim AGAINST the current. Swimming with the current wasn’t exactly easy!

So during our 15 minutes at this pretty beach, all I was thinking about was how the hell am I going to get back onto the boat. I told my fiancee “I don’t think I’ll be able to swim to the boat… the water’s too strong”. He said he’ll help me and not to worry.

The time came to risk my life again. Thankfully I was wearing my life jacket which helped a lot! I started panicking. How am I going to do this??? The rocks are too sharp… I can either try and walk it to the deeper parts, but risk falling…. or try and swim and risk cutting my legs because of the rocks… 

In my group there was another lady  and she was holding on to the tour guide…. she was on her back floating and the man was swimming while holding onto her. So I reached her and I started floating backwards while holding her legs. Making sure I didn’t let go!

So there was our tour guide pulling two women behind him, while all the men were battling against the waves! Life and Death!

My fiancee was behind me trying to walk on the rocks and every few seconds he would should “Ok Aisling, there is a another wave coming!” and I would have to take a deep breathe and prepare myself for it! Because I was floating I couldn’t see any waves coming. I even had my snorkel goggles on me!

Before I knew it we were by the boat…. I was DEFINITELY done with the water by then! That was an experience I won’t forget in a long long time.

We picked a bad day to go on Tour C, and I’m pretty sure normally the water is much calmer than when we went.

Unfortunately the ocean became more and more choppy, so we couldn’t visit one beach. We would have had to go through a hole in the rock, and our tour guide said it was just too dangerous. He explained to us that one time he went through it and the water was that rough that he was hitting the rock wall. No thank you! I honestly didn’t mind at all… I had enough of the water for a while!

So our last trip was…. adventurous to say the least… so to calm us down we had a lovely meal and cocktails at a place called Mezzanine. The food is really good, and the cocktails are great too!

So our holiday had finally come to an end… leaving such paradise was hard…. and I was so depressed when we arrived back in China. . . . no more cheap cocktails, delicious meals or swimming in the sea.

But you can’t forget about the real world forever!

*TIP: If you want to try out the zip line, I suggest you go in the morning. If you go later in the day time they may not accept you as they may be too busy with people. This is what happened to us.

**TIP: For the Island Hopping Tours, I strongly advise you to bring water shoes. Tour B you don’t need them as much. But for A and C, there are a lot of rocks and it is much much easier to walk while in the shallow water. You can rent them in the town or you can bring your own. But I strongly recommend them!

Click here to check out part 1: What We Did In El Nido Part 1

What We Did In El Nido Part 1

What We Did In El Nido Part 1

Having over a week in El Nido, we weren’t pushed on time with regards to doing everything there was to offer there!

Most people come to experience the gorgeous surroundings; the islands, clear water, snorkelling and relaxing.

Our first full day we went kayaking. We decided to go just the two of us, and we kayaked to a big island where we visited around 3/4 beautiful beaches. We left at around 9am and returned at about 2:30pm. It was this day when I got extremely badly sunburned on my feet and legs. I put sun cream on, but of course my legs were wet so the cream didn’t stick very well. This led to the next few days being in pain, having swollen feet and hardly being able to move.

I loved the kayaking! However the return home was a bit more difficult! The wind was picking up and it was much harder moving against the wind. But we made it!

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MY FEET!!!!!!

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In just over a week I finished these two bottles!

With my new sunburnt and swollen feet, we decided to relax the day after, and we went to the beach.

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The weather was just perfect

The next day  I gingerly decided to try an Island Hopping Tour. The activities that everyone does when they arrive are these tours. The most popular are A,B and C.

With my feet still in pain and swollen, I took the courage to go on Tour B…. and it was a good choice to make! I think, out of all of them, Tour B was the less demanding one out of the others. Each tour consists of lunch, which are very tasty!

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Delicious!

Each tour goes to a different place, so there is no need to worry that you will visit the same place twice!

Another day, we decided to do an Inland Tour. On some occasions the water will be too rough to go on any tours, so many people will opt to go on this one instead. I suggest you go on the island tour when most people are on the island tours, as it’s not as busy.

This tour consists of going to a beach, then visiting a waterfall, then going to another beach. Unfortunately my feet weren’t up for walking up a hill to the waterfall, so we spent longer at the first beach called Nacpan Beach. . . and it was just incredible!

It is about a 45 minutes tricycle ride from El Nido and we went on a perfect day! And this was were my boyfriend proposed to me! It was just the perfect place to have been asked!

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I will have great memories of this idilic beach. It is definitely a must to visit when in Palawan!

After spending 2 lovely hours there, we went to another beach called Las Cabanas, and here I ordered a lovely iced coffee and sat next to the beach and chilled. It seems this is where the younger people come to lie on the beach, as we didn’t see as many older people.

To continue reading about our adventure, check out Part 2: What We Did In El Nido Part 2

The ‘Bullet Scam’ at Manila Airport

The ‘Bullet Scam’ at Manila Airport

Before heading to the Philippines, there was one thing which really concerned me. This was the Bullet Scam. As I mentioned in a previous post, this scam is where Manila airport security people plant a bullet in your luggage. The first security check is fine, it’s not until you have the second security check already in the airport that this is when it happens.

The security people secretly plant it when you aren’t looking, and then call you over and tell you there is something suspicious in your bag. Low and behold, they find a bullet! You are not allowed to carry ammunition into the airport, so obviously this is a big deal.

Apparently the only way to get out of this is to give them money. Or else be held in the airport.

After we read about this we became extremely worried!

So you know what we did, we went out and bought ourselves some cling film and cello tape. We could wrap this around our bags and tape the zips! We definitely didn’t want our holiday to be ruined before it even began!

So the day came to leave, and I had the cling film and tape in my bag, wondering to ourselves when we should wrap our bags.

From Chengdu, we arrived in Manila airport after about 3 hours…. and we were looking around… and NO ONE had their bags wrapped. Not one person. We were thinking “ok… why isn’t anyone wrapping their bags?? Do they not know about this scam???”

And then we end up at our gate… relaxing until our next flight to Puerto Princesa. That was easy!!

When we arrived in Puerto Princesa we then had to take a 6 hour van right to El Nido. We were with another 8/9 people and I decided to ask them if they heard of this scam.

Nope, none of them heard a thing! I thought that strange, all over the internet in 2015 you heard of this scam happening… but apparently now it must have stopped!

So all that worrying over nothing! Oh and bringing cling film and tape with us!

When we were leaving El Nido, we decided to fly with Air Swift straight to Manila, instead of having to take the 6 hour van right. Once was enough!

El Nido airport is tiny! It’s not really an airport at all, it’s more like a big hut: the roof was covered with straw and it was all made out of wood. They even had free coffee, iced tea, juice and a little food. Don’t be expecting to go online though, there is no wifi there.

At the airport they don’t have an x-ray machine so they have men looking through your bags. He pulled out the cello tape and asked me “Why do you have this?? This is not allowed.”… I laughed and said “Oh it’s a long story”… he said again “You aren’t allowed this on the plane” to which I said “It’s ok… I can leave it here”.

The security men were really nice to us though!

So flying back to Manila we didn’t have our cello tape, but we didn’t mind. We realised that the scam must be over and we would be ok.

So if you are heading to Manila airport maybe check online and see if this scam is back up and running. You don’t want to be stuck in Manila airport I assure you!

再见

爱玲

Transferring At Manila Airport

Having heard some bad things about Manila Airport, we weren’t exactly too keen on having to transfer there. Our friends who have travelled through it didn’t particularly enjoy their experience, and there are plenty of negative reports about it on the internet.

Coming back from El Nido, we needed to wait at the airport for about 11 hours until our next flight, which was at 4:55am. We didn’t want to go into Manila itself: we still had another 2 flights to go and we just wanted to relax until it was time to depart. We knew we would be exhausted by the time we arrive back in China. Before arriving at the terminal, we both decided we would just stay at the airport and relax there.

Our plane landed at the airport at around 2:30pm… and we took the shuttle to our terminal. Oh my god the place was mad! There were people everywhere, because they check your documents even before you enter the terminal, there was a big queue outside waiting to get in!

When we got in, there were loads of people. And this was where we would be staying for the next 11 hours……

At this point we were starving, so we asked where we could get some food. Apparently in the terminal that we were in, the options available to us was the cafeteria or a place called Jollibee, the Filipino equivalent of McDonalds. So we opted to go to Jollibee.

The food wasn’t too bad, it’s just because everyone else had the same idea of eating there… there was a big queue and plenty of people eating!

So after our meal, we found the waiting area…. right next to the restaurant stuck in the corner of the airport. And it definitely wasn’t big enough for the amount of people there. The seats were metal and nearly every one of them was taken.

Looking at the waiting area… we really didn’t want to have to spend our time there…. it definitely wasn’t relaxing. So after a short discussion, we decided to rent a room in a hotel nearby. All we wanted to do was relax, and we weren’t going to be able to do here.

Now we had to find someone who could help us organise this. We went over to a security man and lady and we asked them where could we do this. They told us to wait nearby and they would call an airport hotel for us. Both of us were so surprised! They were busy doing their job but they decided to help us out and the man left and started talking on the phone. They were so nice and helpful.

The lady told us to sit at the waiting area and when the car arrived she would find us. And so we waited until she beckoned us to follow her. We were blown away by their helpfulness. They really didn’t need to help us, but they did. Throughout our whole holiday we were amazed at how friendly the people in the Philippines are. And this was one example of it!

So when we arrived at the hotel, we were so so happy we decided to book a room. We didn’t really want to be spending money for a hotel that we weren’t even spending a whole night in. But at Manila airport, it was just too crowded, busy, and certainly  not somewhere I wanted to spend all day at.

If you are transferring through Manila, my suggestion is to think about lay over times and whether it would be better booking a hotel or maybe go into the city and explore.

When we arrived back at the airport at 2am, thankfully it was much much quieter!

*TIP: When entering the airport, there is a security person who will check your documents (they don’t allow people who aren’t travelling into the airport). Make sure you print out your ticket details. Luckily for us we had ours to show. It just makes it easier for yourself if you have it in paper for them. I don’t know what will happen if you don’t have your flight details for them to show.

**TIP: If you decided to go to the fast food restaurant, you will need to put your bags through security all over again when entering the airport. The food court is technically inside the airport, but after eating, you need to exit the airport AGAIN and re-enter through security.  Pretty annoying!

***TIP: For us, when we arrived at our gate, there was a table where we had to allow security people to check our bags AGAIN. They opened our small bags and searched inside, while they just felt our big bags. This may not happen you but just be aware of it.

So we survived Manila airport, but I don’t fancy visiting it anytime soon!

再见

爱玲

What A PERFECT Holiday To El Nido, Philippines.

What A PERFECT Holiday To El Nido, Philippines.

We have just returned home from having a blast in El Nido, Philippines. Having never been to a place like it, to me it was like paradise. Crystal clear water, white sand, cocktails and relaxing… it was perfect. Plus my boyfriend proposed to me on a spectacular beach! What a surprise!

It was just a perfect trip. Well almost a perfect trip! Our second day there I got very very badly sunburned on my legs and feet while kayaking… to the point that I could hardly walk. I thought that would ruin the holiday, but I persevered through the pain and they are slowly getting better now.

With travelling included, we were there 10 days. And I definitely could have stayed longer!

The weather was great, it wasn’t too hot or cold, the prices weren’t  expensive ( cocktails cost around €3, a 6percent beer was about €1) and the Filipino people are just so friendly!!! We both couldn’t believe how friendly everyone is. They always said ‘Sir’ or ‘Ma’am’ when they addressed us. The people we met were really really friendly.

I would definitely recommend a trip. Although it is a little difficult to get there, it is definitely worth it!

We are so sad to be back in China; but we have great memories from our trip!

Where we stayed in El Nido;

Aqua Travel Lodge:

Liked: We really don’t have anything to complain about Aqua Travel Lodge: the staff were friendly, our room was perfect, it was actually quite cheap for it being the busy season. The location is perfect: right next to the beach and beside some lovely restaurants. Right in the middle of everything which is great.

There are quite a few bad reviews coming from people, but come on… if you are expecting a mini bar and a fridge in your room, annoyed at the instant coffee they give you for breakfast.. then you should be looking at more top range hotels. For us, we thought the hotel was perfect.

Anyway, you will be so busy going on tours to different islands and out enjoying El Nido town that you’ll only be at the hotel for sleeping!

Disliked: Breakfast was so so in my opinion, but the pancakes and the waffles were fine. But it was included in the price so we opted to keep having breakfast there.  Also it’s a bit noisy at night on the right side of the building, as there is a popular restaurant located close by, so I would suggest you ask your room to be on the opposite side.

But apart from that… no complaints! I would recommend staying here if you plan on going to El Nido!

再见

爱玲

Getting Away From The Pollution

With our lungs being savaged by Chengdu’s pollution, we’ve decided to run off and enjoy  El Nido, an area with thousands of little islands in the Philippines. This holiday is all about relaxing; lying on the beach, maybe having some cocktails, swimming and snorkelling… and no work in sight!

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Source;thelonelyplanet.com

We will be there for about 10 days, including traveling. We were deciding whether to travel more around the country, see the Chocolate Hills and what not, but in the end we decided just to say in El Nido; we really just want to relax and enjoy ourselves… and not have to worry about going here and going there. It’s a hassle just to get to El Nido!

First we have to get a plane from Chengdu to Manila… then we have to get another plane to Puerto Princessa… finally we have to get a 6 hour bus ride to El Nido. On the way we have to worry about this ‘Bullet Scam’ that has been happening in Manila airport. This is when the security officers in Manila airport plant a bullet in your luggage. This is usually when your bag is out of your sight. Then they call you over and mysteriously they find a bullet, which is illegal of course!

To sort this out, you usually have to go to the atm and give them cash. I’ve read online that everybody wraps their luggage with cling film in the airport.. and that’s exactly what we will be doing!

So it’s not quite relaxing getting to El Nido!

Then on the way back, we have to get a plane to Manila, wait all day until our flight to Shanghai, and then finally another to Chengdu.

haha I’ll need ANOTHER holiday after that journey!

We were actually planning on going to Thailand and volunteer looking after elephants, but unfortunately they were booked out, so El Nido it was!

See you in a day!

再见

爱玲