Last Holiday, my mom asked me to go back to Palawan with her. I can’t remember the last time I went there but I remember how good Palawan felt during my adolescent years. I just got back from my Thailand trip and I’m not really sure if I can take another week-long leave from work so I told her I’ll look at my schedule.
We’re coming along with two of my nieces. They booked earlier than me. I checked the ticket prices. It’s PHP7,000+ – that’s literally the price of my roundtrip ticket from Manila – Bangkok. Being an indecisive adult that I am, I didn’t bought the ticket and waited for another two days. After two days, it’s close to PHP9,000. I called my mom to tell her that I don’t think I can make it. She hesitated, I swear I can hear her heart break through the phone. My mom is a very emotional individual, sometimes to the point of irrationality.
After so much deliberation, I decided to book it. They booked earlier than me, but because of some holiday flight conflict, the airline moved my flight to 9 hours earlier than my mom’s.
If you’re following me on Instagram, you know that I’ve been bitten by the travel bug for quite some time now.
The moment my plane landed in Puerto Princesa City, I’ve checked the hostels available in El Nido. Booked the cheapest one available and called my mom to tell her I’ll see her in Balabac in three days. And off I go.
As a kid, we used to stay in El Nido. My Mom’s family tree is so big and confusing that I ended up having relatives from Coron down to Balabac. Back then, El Nido only has its beaches, few motels, and stray dogs. When I arrived after so many years, everything was so intense. The amount of tourists, the paid tours, the bars – it’s different from the El Nido that has been good to me during my adolescent years.
El Nido Solo Travel – What to do:
I’ve been travelling solo for a while now. I know that you can always book your tours everywhere in touristy places like El Nido. To be fair, that’s my initial plan. But because my mom’s family tree is so complicated, I ended up getting tours for free because the tour owner knows my mom. I don’t even know if she’s a relative or not, she seems ecstatic to know that we’re back.
If you are not sure what to do, you can always ask the locals anywhere on where to get shuttle services. I find it amusing that every local in Palawan knows all the tours available in all regions of the province. Trust me, I’m probably the most shy traveler out there (when it comes to bothering people, at least) and I can assure you that you won’t really have a hard time.
There are four tours available in El Nido, all of them ranges from 1,200-1,500 per tour. If you have a very limited time like me, I suggest doing Tour A first then Tour C. But if you have more days to spare, you can book all of them and enjoy El Nido to the fullest.
If you want to roam the island after your tours, you can rent a motorbike and just go around and discover places. It’s so sad that I’ve never learned how to ride a bike so driving a motorcycle is out of the question. However, this is when social skills come in handy. I made some friends during one of my tours and we ended up renting a motorcycle for our pub crawl. I just get to ride in the back. Smart.
El Nido Solo Travel – What NOT to do:
Do not drink the tap water! I repeat, Do not drink the tap water. Even when you’re brushing your teeth, just go and buy some big bottled water. I met a lot of tourists who had bad cases of Amoebiasis because of it. The worst story is this French guy I met during my trip back to Balabac. He looked so thin and sickly that the only reason we had our conversation was because I asked him if he was okay. He said he has been sick for a week from drinking the tap water and can’t enjoy his whole holiday. That’s so sad.
Also, do not be rude to the locals. I think this is a no-brainer. While I was waiting for my tour to start, one family was fuming because the tour is starting late. Though it is indeed very annoying, we don’t have to shout to other people to be heard. I’ve dealt with a lot of angry people in my lifetime and one thing I’ve learned is that keeping your cool is a surefire way to kill the fire.
El Nido Solo Travel – Reflection:
On my way to Balabac, I wondered why my mom chose to leave this place. I could’ve stayed in Palawan forever and that would be my ideal life. My mom said she doesn’t want to be stuck in her hometown for the rest of her life – something that I won’t be able to understand because I have lived most of my life in the busy city of Manila.
I believe that we are always where we’re supposed to be. Life is a learning process. If my mom didn’t leave her hometown, I don’t think I’ll be able to appreciate Palawan as I do now.
I realized that I’ve always lived in my comfort zone, and my mom – this small and skinny woman in her teenage years – gathered all her guts to go out of her comfort zone and leave with only a hundred pesos in her pocket.
And that’s when I knew. Inside that shuttle van that smells like old cabinets and livestock, I’ve learned that contrary to my belief, my mom is not emotionally weak, she is actually one of the bravest souls I’ve known. It took me 25 years to realize that. I was so overwhelmed with this discovery that I have this urge to apologize when I see her. To say sorry because my spoiled ass never understood. I want to tell her that if I ever become a parent, I’ll be happy if I’m even half as good as she is.
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