Updated: Feb 26
EL Nido was the one place in the Philippines that I had heard of before I decided to come and it is the reason I picked The Philippines as my first destination. It did not dissapoint. However, you could say that our first 12 hours were less than ideal.
We got the night cherry bus from Puerto Princesa which arrived about 2.30am. The lovely driver let us sleep on the coach until 6.30am when it had to leave again which was amazing. What was not amazing was what we discovered when we woke up - Vicky's day rucksack had been stollen from literally right under our noses. We are talking, passport, bank card, all our cash (I had the cash for the hotels she had the rest) camera, phone etc gone. As you can imagine, pure panic set in, it was a NIGHTMARE. So by 7am that morning we were on our way to the polcie station to figure out what we do. The most stressful 12 hours ever, made only slightly better by the fact we found 2 puppies in a cafe who were adorable. Once we checked into the hostel we rang our parents (doesn't matter how old we get they will always be the voice of reason and reasurance). So after about 5 hours of mild to actual panic, about 10 minutes after we broke the news to them, the police station messaged me to get us back down there. They had found the bag!!!! Can you even believe it?! We couldn't, but everything except our cash was there. Thank GOD.
After that less than perfect start, we had the BEST time in El Nido. It rained most of the time we were there but that didn't distract from the pure beauty of the island. We visited the big and small lagoon, snorkelling and kayaking and exploring - the sea was warmer than the rain so it made sense to spend as much time in the water as possible.
We went to Nacpan beach and Las Cabanas beach where we had the best day. We took a zipwire to Depeldet Island (after basaiclly hiking up a hill which was basically a mudslide mountain that we weren't pre warned about and my 90p primark flipflops were useless - our Filipino trycicle driver who was guiding us had to catch me and practically drag me up until we were past the mud. The zipwire was was an amazing experience and we managed to pick the perfect time to do it when there was no rain and the sky was clear so we could see all the different islands in the bay. That evening we went to this amazing place called the Birds Nest where did a 1 hour 15 minute yoga session as the sun set over the beach - and we got free mosquito repellent, WINNER. It was such a beautiful place and they do glamping there which I will definitly book if I ever go back because it looked beautiful.
You can't go to Southeast Asia without getting a massage so it was the perfect place for me to get my first ever full body massage - and it was great, so relaxing and apparently I had a lot of knots in my shoulders. Vicky got one with sunburn treatment included and it worked wonders, all the peel was gone and she is sooo tanned now!
Despite the fact that we had a week of rain here, more than I expected even though I knew it was monsoon season, the Philippines has been an amazing first stop on my trip. Althought I have never experienced humidity like it. I'm just glad I don't have hair like Monica! Being there with my sister was perfect, even though she told dad that I thought there was an American Ocean/sea (apparently there isn't but I've never pretended to be good at geography). I couldn't have had a better time with her and it's another place we have experienced together ticked off.
One last note - I can't go anywhere without doing a bit of history, and so I got chatting wih a Filipino guy and he told me the basics of the discovery of the Philippine Islands. They were discovered by a Spanish explorer in the 16th century and were then colonised by the Spanish. Naturally the Filipino natives didn't like this and the national hero of the Philippines is Lapu-Lapu as we was the first Filipino to stand up to Spanish imperialsim colonising his land. The Philippines is named after King Philip II who was King of Spain (and a few other places - even married our Queen Mary for a little while as well) at the time so that is it is called the Philippines. Interesting I know.
Next stop is New Zealand and I am so excited to visit the country which has been top of my places to visit list for years!!!