In total we spent 24 venturing around the Philippines. A country where the food is underrated, hospitality five stars, and routes of adventure countless. Frankly, the first two weeks of this journey was a culture shock and enlightening. It was a lesson on appreciating something for all its beauty and sorrow.
The Filipino people (in my current experience) are quite easily ranked as the most helpful, friendliest, and hospitable people I’ve encountered in a culture as a whole. Generally speaking, all Filipino people speak with a piercing grin on their face while maintaining a very polite direct eye contact. I was shocked to discover how littered the Philippines were throughout all of the cities and coastlines we traveled through. It is a country lush with mountains, tropical forests, and lavish green and blue waters. But litter plagued the streets of the metropolitan areas, beach towns, and everywhere in between. Poverty was abundant – as I began to contemplate if a middle or upper class even existed.
Manila probably had the best food in the entire country, of the cities we visited, in my opinion. Diverse in flavor influences from around the globe, each bite had a perfect taste of all of your favorite ethnic cuisine.
Palawan is the western province of the Philippines surround by the Sulu and South China Seas. The entire province is easily traveled via boat, bus, and vans. More than Cebu and Panay, Palawan remains the truest to the island life mentality. Of the villages and towns we visited and routes we took, probably ninety percent of the Palawan lived in huts.
From the moment we docked in Coron it took us about ten to backpack Palawan. Though, you can spend much more time here.
Coron is a unique destination popular for divers. Dozens of islands surround this village and the food and beer is the cheapest we found in all of the Philippines. It’s a tiny town that doesn’t take many days to cover, unless you intend to spend a bulk of time diving.
El Nido’s beach front is about one-half (0.50) mile long. The mountains surge out of the water beautifully. The beachfront turns into a true beach town party once the sun starts setting. Every restaurant has live music, all the tables are in the sand, and all the fresh catches of the day are brought for your picking. The town itself has an adorable little “downtown” street that hosts an array of good food, motorbikes to rent, and activities to book. We spent only a few days in El Nido, but in hindsight we should have spent longer. Unfortunately, two of the days spent there my body was not responding well to the new change in lifestyle.
We journeyed on to Puerto Princesa after El Nido. Many travelers opted to stop in Port Barton between the two towns but we carried on. In Puerto Princesa our main attraction was the market. Markets in the Philippines are probably my favorite of all experiences. From Puerto Princesa you can also catch a van ride out to The Underground River a New 7 Wonder of Nature. An incredible experience.
Oslob for whale shark swimming. It has been a great debate. Well, not really for us – but for some. There is some controversy behind the feeding of the whale sharks in Oslob (cost is 1,000 Php/pp). But we are in the Philippines – and Zach has documented this as one of the coolest things he has done in his life. Oslob is not really a town to stay in, but we did. In a hut. Under a mosquito net. Near the whalesharks.
We spent only one night in Cebu City. And that night happened to be Halloween. We were craving a sense of normalcy so what did we do? Find the most upscale mall in the city to sit on a patio at. Ayala Terraces in Cebu City is the first time in the Philippines that I saw a class outside of poverty.
At first site Panay seems to be a much wealthier province than Palawan and perhaps even Cebu. For the first time in the Philippines I’ve seen standard homes in towns and villages and probably only 50 to 60 percent huts. We departed Cebu City to head to explore Kawa hot baths then Boracay. The cheapest route we found was a flight from Cebu to Iloilo, then a 5-6 hour bus ride to Caticlan (300 Php) . Then a ferry to Boracay.
Ahh Boracay. A lazy beach bums paradise. We moseyed around Boracay for eleven days. We were exhausted from moving place to place – and let’s face it, time is on our side right now. It is probably a spring breakers dream. The sands are white, waters clear, and beach life comes alive at night. And surprisingly enough, Boracay is where we saved the most money.