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! 🙂
- Except for the chaolong photograph that was taken with a Nikon Coolpix AW100, all other photographs were taken with a Canon 550d.