Donsol sunset – October 30, 2012.
Don’t forget to join our “Do Not Delay Love” Birthday Giveaway promo for a chance to win a Donsol Holiday Package and enjoy this kind of view next year. 🙂
- Photograph taken with a Canon 550d.
Donsol sunset – October 30, 2012.
Don’t forget to join our “Do Not Delay Love” Birthday Giveaway promo for a chance to win a Donsol Holiday Package and enjoy this kind of view next year. 🙂
WIN A DONSOL HOLIDAY PACKAGE FOR THREE PERSONS: 3 Days / 2 Nights stay (with free breakfast) at Amor Farm Beach Resort and swim with the whale sharks, an experience that Lonely Planet dubs as the “quintessential Philippine underwater adventure.” Then cap off your holiday with a firefly watching tour.
Read the rest of this post to know how to win this package 🙂 Do not delay love.
This month, I was on the receiving end of so much love it’s like I have a new lease in life. I feel like a new person embarking on a totally exciting new journey. This light was made possible by a lot of people.
I had my Jollibee Kiddie Party with my UP Baguio family. I have been with this family for seven years now and most of my enduring friendships I’ve developed through this family. I was told once that we should keep three kinds of friends: mentors, peers, and protege. My workplace allows me to have these types of friends.
When I went to El Nido, my lawyer-friend D surprised me with my first Juanderkid cake. It will be remembered forever. D is that kind of friend who really pampers me when I am in Palawan. Free dinners, free massage, free everything. I am one spoiled friend, really.
And then, there’s my dear friend D, who is now a dive master in El Nido. She does not know how proud and astonished I am of her accomplishments and the many ways by which she reinvents herself. She invited me to El Nido because she wanted me to try diving, her gift to me.
I had a panic attack during my second dive but knowing the kind of friend and Ate D is, I know she will not let anything bad happen to me. During my third dive, she took me at a depth of 14 meters so I can marvel at the huge school of Spanish mackerel which rhythmic performance was just mind-blowing. She was holding my hand during the entire dive.
The day after scuba diving, my lawyer-friend D (with her friend J) visited us in El Nido and we all went island-hopping. I just had my birthday cakes two days in a row and that was already enough for me. Imagine my surprise when, during lunch on Star Island, they appeared behind my back with this cake that said “Do not delay love.” I was speechless.
Before I left for Manila, lawyer-friend D and her friend J took me to Ka Lui for lunch. Ka Lui is my favorite Filipino restaurant outside Manila (next to Amor Farm Beach Resort’s Kawnkita Restaurant, of course) and my Palawan trip is not complete without dining here. One of the restaurant’s food attendants remembered me and upon learning that I was in Palawan for my birthday, came up with this one-of-a-kind present, which is Ka Lui’s surprise to guests celebrating their birthdays.
Once in Manila, I went straight to Delish in Maginhawa St., where a “surprise party” for me had been organized by my best friend A. It felt so good to be with friends I have not seen for a while, like my childhood friends and former students who dropped by Delish in spite of their busy schedule.
While all the birthday cakes that I’ve received were special to me, this cake was extra memorable because it was given to me by my former students who like to call themselves the Pepe Squad. I believe that a teacher’s greatest achievement and biggest compliment is to see his former students do well in life.
The other gifts that I’ve received came not in the form of friendship or cakes. I met highly interesting people during my travel around Vietnam and Cambodia, it is so hard not to think the Universe conspired to make this trip one of my most meaningful journeys abroad.
The presents started to trickle in the moment we stepped out of Hanoi airport – come to think of it, even before we got out of the Philippines! My best friend A didn’t have a copy of his plane tickets and since the Immigration requires proof of return flights, we had to find a way to produce his tickets ASAP. The Airphil Express counter was closed already (it was 10:15 pm and our boarding time was in 45 minutes) and there was no office at the airport which could print his return ticket.
I later learned he went to Baclaran just to find an Internet cafe for his ticket. I was left behind since he reasoned out it was my birthday trip anyway, I should go on with it even when he does not make it to our flight to Hanoi. I searched for ways to help him, until I got to the Information booth on the ground floor where a lady named Cherry (sorry, I forgot to get her full name because I was starting to get panicky already) patiently looked around for someone who could help me with my concern even when she was about to end her shift.
The help came from Aris (again, sorry I forgot his last name), a Cebu Pacific employee who allowed me to print A’s ticket even when it meant we had to access their competitor’s website, which was obviously a company no-no. Aris, if you’re reading this, thank you very much! 😀
A was apparently running late for our trip, I had to beg Cebu Pacific’s ground staff to wait for him. We were the last passengers to get on board and our take off was delayed for almost ten minutes because of us. I just have to commend and thank the staff of Cebu Pacific for extending their compassion to us! I hope they are reading this. 🙂
In Hanoi, and just when we were to take the $35-cab ride to the Old Quarter, Thuy, a Vietnamese lady who was on the same flight from Manila, asked us if we’d like to share a cab with her. We were on a budget and instantly said yes and saved $20. Thuy told us a lot about her country and even saw to it that we got accommodated at the very vibrant Backpacker’s Hostel before heading home. We asked her why she helped us. Her reply, “Because my parents taught me kindness is the best way around. I am hoping that when I get to another country, I will get the same kindness that I have shown you.”
The next day Thuy (beside me) met us over lunch at Pho 10, arguably the most unassuming restaurant in Old Quarter which serves the best pho!
I wasn’t really keen on seeing Halong Bay since I am in love with El Nido and I was thinking paying Halong Bay a visit would be cheating on El Nido, but since Thuy recommended that we see the limestone mountains of Halong, I joined A for a Halong Bay day tour.
I am really glad I made the trip because I met Lolo, a former US Navy man based in Subic in the ’70s. He instantly connected with us when he learned we are from the Philippines and eagerly took our pictures from his numerous cameras (he has a lot!). He was everywhere, engaging in friendly banters with us, and having his pictures taken against the most interesting backdrops.
When I turn 78, I want to be like Lolo. Young, energetic, and so full of life.
On the train from Hanoi to Hue, I met Bas, a Dutch traveling around Vietnam for 16 days, and together we toured Hue and Hoi An. I am glad I met Bas not because he willingly assumed the role of a cameraman during our travel but because I have known a person whose character I should aspire to become.
When we got to Da Nang International Airport (where I took the plane to Ho Chi Minh and he flew to Da Lat), we learned that the travel agency in Hoi An which he had paid to book his Da Lat flight didn’t purchase the ticket. In that one hour when the airline’s agent was trying to fix the problem, Bas was a picture of calmness. There was not a single time when he got irate, raised his voice, and became anxious, which I would probably be displaying if the same thing happened to me.
Also in Hue, I got a flower from a group of students who were selling flowers in time for their celebration of National Women’s Month. They tried to talk to me in Vietnamese while I was taking a photograph of an old church nearby. When they learned that I was traveling alone for my birthday, they instantly gave me a rose, which I eventually gave back to them when I learned that they’re raising money for a school project.
I just said that since they’re celebrating National Women’s Month, they should have the rose instead. Everybody had a good laugh.
Between prolonging my stay in Hoi An and meeting Ate A, a friend I had not seen since 1999 and is now based in Phnom Pehn, Cambodia with her family, I chose the latter. I can always go back to Hoi An. Seeing Ate A, who acted as my sister back in UP Baguio, however, cannot be delayed for some more years.
I met Ate A’s adorable family and finally interacted with Tow, her cute little boy who is the main star in Ate A’s Facebook updates. Needless to say, Ate A took care of my stay in Phnom Pehn. The conversation that we shared while we were on a tuktuk around the city was life-changing and for that, I will be forever grateful to Ate A.
When I got to Siem Reap on the night of my birthday, I was surprised to know that A extended his stay just so I can have someone to celebrate my birthday with. At this point, my budget was almost depleted, A was just heaven-sent!
He took me to Khmer Food House, where we had a sample of mouth-watering Khmer dishes and then tried the Fish Spa which is quiet popular in Siem Reap. We biked around town until the clock struck 12:00. By 2:00 am, A left for Bangkok.
On my birthday, I decided to have ice cream and was thrilled to find a Happy Birthday sundae in Swensen’s. I got one for myself and was even more thrilled when the staff of Swensen’s gathered around me and sang happy birthday, complete with this green balloon.
I asked them afterwards if they usually do that. They said no. My happiness was just so contagious they had to sing for me, volunteered Hat, one of the food attendants.
When I went on the Floating Forest tour the next day, I shared the boat with three other people. They were initially charging us $30 each for the tour until we managed to bring it down to $20 each. In our group were Marjo, a dentist in Holland who will be volunteering soon for an orphanage in Phnom Pehn and was traveling with Denny, her boyfriend and a store manager in Amsterdam, and Delph, a French lady touring Laos and Cambodia.
Volunteering is something that I also like doing in the Philippines and while Marjo’s advocacy was highly remarkable, Denny’s love for Marjo (they’re on their seventh year now and he’s sending off Marjo who will stay in Cambodia for one more month) was admirable. Delph’s passion for traveling (she’s the one with the camera), was infectious.
I felt like this blog’s mantra of Dream. Travel. Love. has been personified on that boat ride. I emerged out of the short boat trip with new acquaintances and perspectives in life.
Before I left Siem Reap, I had lunch at Sala Bai Hotel Restaurant and School which trains young Cambodians coming from underprivileged families for free. After trying to book a table for myself for three consecutive days, I finally managed to get one. My dessert came with a “Happy Birday Amer” design. I was blown away.
And then, there’s Sovan (+012227423 or +0979688373), my tuktuk driver, who was just so kind and honest, he was my angel during my stay in Siem Reap.
When I got to Siem Reap, I only had $5 with me. I initially approached another person at the terminal but because he had trouble understanding me, Sovan came to the rescue. I asked him if we can drop by the nearest Western Union booth but it was almost 7:00 pm already, Sovan knew none was open during that time. Without a thought, he offered to pay for my Angkor Day Pass.
On the second day of our tour, I got an upgrade. Instead of showing up in a tuktuk, he dropped by my hotel with a car. Sovan was polite and really took care of me during our tours. He would remind me not to buy anything from anyone inside the temples and helped me negotiate for my floating forest tour. The amount I paid him for driving me around was a bargain.
When I asked him why he was so trusting of me, he said, “Because you are a kind person, Amir.” I gave Sovan my hat and my sunglasses. I was happier than him, though it does not show in our picture.
Of course, my family back home is a great source of happiness and inspiration. We are not really that expressive when it comes to our feelings but I know that they support my endeavors. I went home to attend Baby Pancake’s baptism, the newest member of our family, and to celebrate my niece Z’s birthday.
Life has been really sweet for me and it is even more meaningful now. I am blessed in so many ways, I know everybody is. I’ve been showered with so much love and light when I turned 30 this month that it is so hard not to pay it forward.
On the night of my birthday, I bought a small piece of cake, not for me, but for Chomroung, the young food attendant at the restaurant where we had dinner the night before. She celebrated her 20th birthday this October and we learned that she never had a cake because her family couldn’t afford one. She was so happy with the surprise and thanked me endlessly.
I have to thank her, and the numerous people around me, for bringing wisdom to my life and for using me as an instrument of love.
Win the Donsol Holiday Package for other people. 🙂 Win it for your friends or for that hardworking officemate you only know by name, or for your younger sibling who is raring to go on vacation with his friends. Win it for an old pal who recently finished his second degree, or for that sari-sari store owner in your neighborhood who stays up late for that additional income, or for your parents who need time together.
Leave a comment on this post. Name the person/s you want to win it for and state why you want them to enjoy the Donsol Holiday Package. It is that simple. You have until November 16 to do this. The winner of this promo will be announced on November 23.
Package can be availed from January to April 2013, except during Holy Week and all weekends of April. Room is subject to availability upon request. Juanderkid shall be informed of your wish to avail of the package one month before your target date.
So, do not delay love, alright?
Love and light, everyone. Go, juanderlust! 🙂
I have always believed that one of the best things about traveling is coming home. It sounds cliche, but really, there is no other place like home. For Juanderkid, home is Donsol, a coastal town south of Manila where a good number of whale sharks converge from December until May.
I always come home whenever there is a chance. I am blessed that with the kind of work that I have, I get to be home every October, my birth month that I share with my four other pamangkins. But this October is not about us. It is about our Baby Pancake, the newest member of the family, who we welcomed to the Christian world last Saturday.
She is just so adorable, and huggable, and beautiful, right? And she looks exactly just like me! 🙂
I have never prayed so hard for someone like her. When her Mama, my younger sister T, almost had a miscarriage last Christmas, I made a bargain with the universe so we can keep her. That’s why I almost cried when I saw her picture for the first time, taken four days after she was born.
See how really cute she is? We love calling her Baby Pancake because she was so plump and her face was so round when she was born (she weighed 3.5 kilos!), just the way her Mama wanted her mango pancake every morning when she was pregnant. She was definitely the cutest plumpest little thing I’ve laid my eyes on! 🙂
And she is a happy baby, too! All giddy and smiley when she was two months old.
And even when she cries, she is still charming and lovable!
That is why her parents beam with happiness when she came around. Here she is with her Mama. I don’t have a picture of her with her Papa because, the truth is, I didn’t tell her father that I will be blogging about Baby Pancake.
Her Papa is kinda strict when it comes to Pancake, a little stiff actually, which I understand because Pancake is their first child. I just hope he doesn’t get angry when he sees this. I just can’t wait to share this bundle of joy to everyone! 😀
Then, of course, one of the many things why I am so taken by her is the fact that we look alike! Every time I look at her, I feel like staring into my own eyes.
A lot of people notice the similarities and for those who don’t agree because maybe Pancake is just too cute to look like her Tito, I went as far as rummaging through my old photos, and came out with this. 😀
See? I guess I was two or three years old in that photograph. I wonder if she’s going to be a juanderkid like me, but I will make sure that I will introduce her to the gifts of the world.
But if there’s one thing everyone here agrees on, it is that she looks exactly like her Lola, my mother. So again, that boils down to Baby Pancake looking like me because everyone also tells me I also look exactly like my mother. 😀
Everybody at home can’t wait for her to start walking so we can take her around. Christmas will become more meaningful and happier with her. Well, Christmas has always been fun at home, what with my fifteen pamangkins – now make that sixteen because of Baby Pancake – gathered together and just having fun playing around and hitting the beach.
Her kuya’s will definitely look after her (seen with me in this photograph) and her ate’s will surely pamper her (they are outnumbered by two).
Oh, I can’t wait for Christmas to come and see her wearing the fairy tale costume I gave her. 🙂
Love and light, everyone!
When Filipinos went to watch The Bourne Legacy, the Hollywood movie starring Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz that was partly filmed in the Philippines, most of them left the movie house not really pleased with the way the country was depicted.
Manila, they say, is a character, but the movie did not do it justice. Instead of the picturesque gritty city, what were shown instead were the financially-challenged communities, disappointing heavy traffic, and incompetent police men.
Unlike most of them, however, I was one happy movie goer because of one thing: El Nido.
That feeling of excitement that some of our kababayans probably felt when Manila was mentioned for the first time in the movie, I had that moment 60 seconds to its ending. In the film’s closing frame, Renner and Weisz were seen on a boat in the middle of a vast sea with numerous islands and towering limestone formations around them.
My heart almost leaped with joy for a few seconds the moment I recognized Pinagbuyutan Island from afar. It’s my favorite piece of paradise in El Nido, which variably looks like a big chunk of heart or a baby elephant, depending on where you are coming from.
Sublime and grand yet laidback
I have always been fascinated with El Nido’s beauty. I find it to be sublime and grand at the same time. There is a sense of tranquility wherever you go, and you certainly feel that even when you think the wow-inducing, jaw-dropping vista of Big Lagoon is just a little too much for your senses the first time you lay your eyes on it.
But it is not just El Nido’s impressive landscape that boasts of jagged limestone formations, or its pristine beaches which make the best playgrounds for beach worshippers, that endear visitors to this place. There is a laidback lifestyle that is evident in this little town, one that allows you to slow down and forget your worries that certainly belong to the city.
With 45 islands and islets to choose from, El Nido is possibly the Philippines at its finest. Whenever I talk with foreign travelers in the country, I tell them with excitement to visit Palawan. And when speaking about the country’s last frontier, it is almost always that I end our conversation with, “I tell you, you’re going to fall in love with El Nido.”
Because everyone who had been to these fascinating islands did, including author Alex Garland, who is believed to have been inspired by El Nido’s secret beaches when he wrote his popular novel “The Beach.” Even the location manager of “The Bourne Legacy,” Dow Griffith, boldly proclaimed El Nido a paradise after wrapping filming there.
In Donsol this year, I met a traveler from Spain who celebrated his birthday in one of the islands of El Nido with his girlfriend. He couldn’t help but gush about just how beautiful it is, and said that for the first time in his travels around Asia, he was actually at a loss for words to describe the kind of experience that one stumbles upon in El Nido.
Another friend of mine traveled to El Nido with her family last year and before I knew it, she was back again after a week. While on leave from her PhD studies in Singapore this year, she kept going back to the islands every month since May.
Before El Nido, she was mainly a mountain person. The islands that comprise the Bacuit Archipelago, she says, are just uniquely different.
After all, one never runs out of things to do in El Nido.
Island-hopping and diving
The island-hopping tours alone take you to a number of lagoons, one of which is the Small Lagoon, where visitors have to swim through a small opening when it is high tide just to get to it. You can also climb one of those rock formations in Shimizu Island while you wait for your lunch to be served.
Or you can hike the hill which affords you with a good view of Snake Island, which is really a winding piece of sandbar that disappears when it is high tide. You may also want to explore the Cathedral Cave, so named because of its façade and high ceiling that reminds one of a cathedral.
You can sunbathe in Entalula Island, where the white sand is as powdery as those in Boracay, or you can simply enjoy a coconut drink while relaxing at the beach of Seven Commandos. When you are feeling a little bit more adventurous, go on the island-hopping tour that will take you to Matinloc Shrine and have fun anticipating the Hidden Beach to appear.
Of course, swimming and snorkeling are two things that you should not take for granted when on these island-hopping tours. El Nido is also home to numerous diving sites.
But even just walking or biking around El Nido town presents one with an experience that is as totally satisfying as your water adventures.
The place echoes an undeniable rural appeal, and you get a dose of that just by admiring the houses that are set against towering limestone rocks, or from fishermen with their freshest and biggest catch whom you meet while you make your way to the market.
You can also wait for the sunset in Corong-Corong while you observe the nearby fishing village go on with its daily life. Alternatively, you can head to Las Cabanas, a private beach which is a 10-minute tricycle ride from the town center. Here, you can also enjoy the sunset while you ogle at the grandness of Pinagbuyutan Island nearby.
If it is an experience that you don’t want to really forget, dare to climb the Taraw, the cliffs providing a scenic backdrop to El Nido town proper, for an aerial view of the place.
My love affair with El Nido started in 2010 when I went to Palawan to celebrate my birthday. I have been returning every year since, each time finding myself coming back sooner than I expected to.
During my first visit, I remember Typhoon Juan was still threatening the country and the weather that greeted me in El Nido was just depressing. If not for the imposing beauty of Cadlao Island and the enchanting vibe of this little town, I would have taken the next trip out of El Nido. I was alone for my birthday and I certainly didn’t want to celebrate it within the four walls of my native room.
But El Nido knows how to reward its visitors who endure the six-hour trip from Puerto Princesa, the last hour of which is spent on a rough road, or those who brave the tiring six- to eight-hour boat ride from Coron, which I tried during my last visit to the island in March this year.
This is why more than getting interested in the prolonged Manila chasing scene in “The Bourne Legacy,” I found myself feeling more excited at the kind of life awaiting the characters that Renner and Weisz play in the movie when they were shown traveling in El Nido.
El Nido, obviously, was a fitting finale to all their adventures. It is a new horizon that promises rugged fun and soulful journeys. I am sure they are going to find the sense of bliss and tranquility that I love about El Nido, which every traveler has also found in these islands.
Just recently, the popular travel guide Lonely Planet has named Palawan on its Best in Travel 2013 list. I am certain that the editors have El Nido in mind when they announced this.
So, what are you waiting for? Head to El Nido now!
Love and light, everyone. Go, juanderlust! 🙂
I am back from my 10-day birthday travel around Vietnam and Cambodia, and except for, and also maybe because of, some mishaps two hours before we left the Philippines last week, I’d say this travel is one of my most amazing and meaningful trips abroad. My 30th birthday was something that I really look forward to (as my previous posts will attest) and I just wanted to be very busy before the big day and then just relax and kinda enjoy some slow travel from then on.
So, I found myself hopping from Halong Bay to Hanoi to Hue to Hoi An to Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, then to Phnom Pehn in Cambodia during the first six days of my travel. The remaining four days were leisurely spent in Siem Reap, also in Cambodia, where the world-famous Angkor Wat hogs the spotlight.
I really didn’t know what to expect from this travel, but then again, I strongly believe that the universe conspires to grant the desires of our hearts. Well, it actually surpasses our desires, right? I was taken on a life-changing ride, literally and figuratively.
Oh, I can’t wait to tell you about my adventures and I am really eager to let you meet the fascinating people I’ve met on this travel. But I have to unpack my stuff first and prepare a different bag as I will be traveling to Bicol in a few hours from now. Really, one of the best things about traveling is knowing you are coming home – as a better person. 🙂
Love and light, everyone. Go, juanderlust! 😀
When life surrounds you with little surprises, you get to ask, “What did I do to deserve this happiness?”
I initially wanted to have my birthday dinner at Sala Bai Hotel Restaurant and School which trains young Cambodians coming from underprivileged families for free, but I learned belatedly that they are not open for dinner. I went back yesterday but I was too early for breakfast.
I dropped by this morning, a little later than yesterday, and missed it again. I was told a big group had also booked for lunch, they can’t accommodate me then. After so much pleading and hurdling with the language barrier, I managed to have a reservation.
I didn’t know they understood why I so wanted to dine at the restaurant until dessert was served. I was blown away. “When you add it all up, happiness is a small thing.” 🙂
Know more about Sala Bai here.
That’s how I describe my travels these days before I finally turn 30 tomorrow and just relax as I marvel at magnificent ancient architectures at sunrise. When I got back from El Nido last week, I only stayed in Manila for a night. I have been on the road since, waking up to a different town every day.
I had taken a cruise, spent 12 hours on a train, rode a plane, enjoyed cycling around ancient towns, drove the moto to get to some unknown destinations, and was a willing hitchhiker to aggressive drivers who navigate the streets like they are the kings of the world.
I am on my sixth day now (and on my sixth destination) and I still have five more days to complete my travel. Every day has been amazing. More than the exciting sights and the salicious food that I have been enjoying, I am more in awe of the messages that I have been receiving from Him.
He is there, even at the silliest situations. On my first day, He reminded me to love and keep my friends in spite of their life-threatening flaws and two nights ago, He took me back to a neighborhood that had my forgotten childhood memories flashing right in front of me.
Tomorrow, I will be 30 and while some say that it is just a number, I believe He says otherwise. I am forever grateful. 🙂
I’ve been waking up to this stunning view since Friday and just staring at Cadlao Island brings me peace. I am staying at my dear friend D’s place which she is renting out for more than a month now. Her place is spartan, very much what you would expect from someone who decided to leave the cosmopolitan life behind to embark on a daring island life. But her place is a real winner.
It makes me feel like I really live in El Nido since there are no resort staff to take care of my needs and my movements are not calculated in relation to the sensibilities of other guests which I would normally consider when staying in a fancy accommodation. Here, it’s just me and Cadlao Island (since D’s always out diving anyway).
I can actually just stare at her beauty forever and do nothing but the rest of the 45 islands and islets that comprise the Bacuit Archipelago are hiding behind her, they need to be experienced as well.
Later, when I come back, I will be staring at her again and the world will be on a standstill.
I am on my third day now in El Nido and I am really having a blast here. It is actually my fourth time to be in this quaint town and like what I’ve said before, I always go back to this place sooner that I expected to. I was here just March this year with my dear friend D’s family when we went on a Palawan tour that took us from Coron in northern Palawan down to Puerto Princesa, the province’s capital. Let us just say that I am in love with this amazingly beautiful piece of heaven in the Philippines.
The main reason though why I am here is D, that friend of mine who celebrated her birthday with the whale sharks in Donsol this year. I went here through her invitation and aside from our dinner last night, I have not been really spending much here. D has been living here in El Nido for one month now, although she has been coming back to this island every month since June for her diving lessons. She now works as a dive master in Submariner Diving Center, the first and only five-star PADI dive shop in El Nido.
Because D knew that diving was one of my frustrations in life, she promised to take me diving in time for my 30th birthday which is happening very soon. This trip is the materialization of that promise. Although I already went on my first dive in Misibis Bay last September, I still would like to think that this El Nido dive is my “official foray” to the underworld.
I got here last Thursday and I have been getting surprises every day from my friends. The first surprise of this travel happened when I got out of the Puerto Princesa International Airport and saw this woman holding this paper.
Although I asked another friend of mine, lawyer D, who lives in Puerto Princesa, to call Fort Wally, reserve a seat for me on its 10:00 am trip to El Nido and fetch me at the airport because I thought Fort Wally was still stationed at the Sta. Jose Public Terminal and I won’t make it to the 10:00 am trip then, I didn’t really expect the welcome and birthday greetings. The biggest surprise came in the form of a birthday cake.
I was still thrilled by the birthday greetings that I didn’t bother taking a look at the cake. When I finally did when we were already on our way to El Nido, I got kilig when I found out that it was actually a Juanderkid birthday cake! It’s something that I really want to have on my birthday. 🙂
Anyway, I learned that Fort Wally now holds office along Rizal Avenue, some few meters from the airport and trips to El Nido have been scheduled from 10:00 am to 11:00 am. Because I still had time before the trip, I initially wanted to have an early lunch in Ka Lui, but since they’re not open until 11:00 am, I just opted to have Chaolong, a popular Vietnamese noodle dish, at Rene’s Saigon Restaurant.
I had my first taste of Rene’s beef stew with noodles in 2010. It still has that distinct flavor that makes Rene’s one of the most frequented restaurants in Puerto Princesa. I noticed though that the service was a little slower this time.
Our van left Puerto Princesa at exactly 11:00 am. The ride to Taytay was smooth but the rest of the 6-hour trip to El Nido was spent on a bumpy path. Road construction was going on though so the trip to El Nido will be shorter and more convenient in no time. I was asleep almost the entire time that I didn’t realize that my box of cake fell on the floor and was really disappointed when I found out that its design got ruined. I have not taken a picture of it because I wanted to enjoy it when I get to El Nido but now that it’s a disaster, I wasn’t really hoping I’d still have fun with it.
But my disappointment disappeared when I saw D, and the familiar sight of Cadlao Island greeted me. We went straight to Habibi, a very laidback hang out place just above Submariner, where I coerced her to get us these sisha martinis, her welcome drink for me. 🙂
I really love the sense of tranquility that everyone gets to enjoy in El Nido and how the locals really blend well with the gift of nature around them. I mean unlike some tourist destinations in the country where the locals are bumped off by commercialism, the people of this little town still “own” El Nido, and that, I think, is a very good thing.
After sometime, I decided to finally open the box of cake once again and took some pictures of it to show to my lawyer friend D who gave it to me. D and I were thinking to bring it to the beach the next day but D’s friends made lambing so I decided to share it with all the other guests in Habibi. The cake had the words Dance. Dream. Travel. Love., the mantra on which this blog is built on. So, imagine my surprise when I first saw this on our way to El Nido and my big disappointment when it got ruined.
The cake made me giddy-happy like a kid once again. Well, this was my first Juanderkid cake, you can’t really blame me, can you? 🙂
And with D on my side, I knew my days in El Nido will get better.
I just love my friends! And again, thank You, because this life has no shortage of love and friendship.
Love and light, everyone. Go, juanderlust! 🙂