Before I start, I have to tell you I NOW HAVE A FEAR OF FLYING! Natalia and I caught a flight from Ho Chi Minh to Manila and flying has never bothered me… Until now! I have been on flights where there has been a bit of turbulence however nothing like this. The plane started shaking a bit and I honestly thought:
“Great it is a bit of turbulence I will be fine.”
Then boom the plane literally dropped, the lights cut out for a split second and my heart when in my throat. I have never been so scared in my life. Natalia and I grabbed each other in panic. All because of one little incident – crazy right! I’t didn’t help that my flight back home from London was bad as well, I have honestly never known turbulence like this before!
Saving the best till last.
The Philippines has to be my favourite place I have been to so far, the locals are so friendly and nice! The country is beautiful and I had the most fun here! My itinerary consisted of the following:
Manila – (FLIGHT) – Cebu City – (TAXI 3 1/2 hours) – Oslob – (BUS 4 hours) – Cebu City – (FLIGHT) – Palawan (Puerto Princessa) – (MINIBUS 6 hours) – El Nido – (MINIBUS 6 hours) – Puerto Princessa – (FLIGHT) – Manila.
So as you can see there was a lot of travelling involved whilst in the Philippines, however it was worth it. I honeslty felt I saved the best until last although Thailand was seriously amazing as well. Just to give you a heads up, this will be a long blog post!
We arrived in Manila, and was warned previously about the area we were staying in was rough – Quipo! They were not wrong, it was rough as hell but again the people were so friendly and helpful. It was also cheap as well which was a bonus. The hotel we stayed in was relatively cheap and we realised when we got there is was literally a hotel people went to hook up – What the hell! We found this quite funny and thought it is only for one night it will be fine and we was! Since being in Asia I have never felt so tall and huge, Natalia took a picture of me whilst I was queuing for food and you can see the difference between me and the locals.
The following day we were meeting Ben! We made him a funny welcome poster and we pictured us meeting him at the gate with this sign, however it did not go like this! The WI-FI decided to stop working at the hotel so we could not book a Grab (The equivalent to UBER) and getting a cab would cost double the price. Eventually a worker from the hotel ordered us a Grab, however the traffic from our hotel to the airport was horrendous. I was panicking like crazy, worried for him turning up at the airport and no one being there after travelling all them hours! Finally we met him with a beautiful welcome poster (see below) and we caught our flight to Cebu!
When we landed in Cebu we didn’t realise how far our accommodation was from the airport – Over 3 hours! I felt sorry for Ben, he had taken a 18 hour plane journey to Manila, plus another hour flight to Cebu. Then on top of this another 3 and a half hour journey to our hotel in Oslob! BLOODY HECK! We got a taxi up to our hotel and had the most loveliest taxi driver – Roy. He kept us entertained and didn’t mind when Ben fell asleep and his head went onto Roy’s shoulder… Awkward!
We finally made it to our hotel, Germaroze. This was more like a guest house and was really cool. We had a pool that looked out to the sea which was beautiful. The first day we checked out the area, and honestly there was not a lot around, so we went into the pool with some beers and chilled for the day. That evening we went to a local restaurant where we were met by our Tricycle driver – Edwin the legend! He picked us up in a really funky tricycle which was blaring music and had strobe lights. As you can imagine we received some strange looks given this was a quiet little town!
(Picture: A day by the pool at our accommodation)
That evening Edwin mentioned to us about Canyoneering, something we hadn’t really thought about so we thought sod it lets go. So… This involves jumping of canyons (huge rocks) and swimming within the canyons! For anyone that knows me I am the biggest wuss and so I was so scared to jump. In a previous post I wrote about my time in Australia and telling everyone we should go to a place called jump rock which I failed to do in the end. So we reached the canyon and I let everyone go in front of me to jump, Ben and Natalia were one of the first ones to jump! So I thought:
“Sod it I will go last”
I am not going to lie I was petrified! It didn’t help a girl who went before me slipped on the slippery rock and smacked her face on a rock on the way down and nearly drowned! That was it I panicked like crazy, thinking:
“Shit I am going to die!”
Anyways after a lot of persuading and Ben and Natalia shouting:
“Do it for Instagram. Do it for the likes”
I managed to jump and it was so fun but scary as hell! Canyoneering was such a fun experience and it really does get your adrenaline pumping! We slid down rocks into the pools of water, had around 7 jumps off different rocks and swam within the canyons. It lasted a good few hours!
Once we finished with canyoneering, Edwin took us to Kawasan Falls. I was so excited for this as I had seen so many pictures from this waterfall from the internet. I remember when I asked a old work colleague in Sydney about the Philippines, where to go and what to see. He said:
“Rach you have to go to Kawasan Falls!”
I remember him showing me pictures and I fell in love so I just wanted to be there and finally it was the day! The waterfall was amazing and we were taken under the waterfall which actually really hurt! We went onto a bamboo raft to get up close and personal with the waterfall – It was cold as hell however Kawasan Falls is beautiful!
(Picture: Kawasan Falls)
The following day we went to see… THE WHALE SHARKS! There is a lot of controversy around the whale sharks, although they are in their natural habitat they are fed so visitors can see them up close. The whale sharks were so huge and I did wee myself a little bit to be so close to them! We got to spend half hour with them and it was just such a great experience.
In the evening Ben and I went to dinner to a local restaurant – How romantic! Ben and I had met two days before I flew to Australia, so we had a whole 11 months to catch up on! It became even more romantic when all the power went out in the island, so we sat in darkness! Ha-ha! This seems to be a regular occurrence in the Philippines, however I embrace the power cuts!
We made our way down back to Cebu city for one night as we had a flight booked for Puerto Princessa. We decided to have a night out in Cebu and was recommended a place called Mango Square where all the party goers are.
This night to say the least was… messy! Prior to leaving to go out we shared a bottle of Filipino rum (It wasn’t actually that bad) and then when we arrived in Mango Square there was a deal. For 1000 pesos we got a bottle of rum, 5 beers plus food. This was a pretty good deal… I don’t know if I should really write more about how the night went! It was just a mess and I will leave it to your imagination! Lets just say we were lucky we had a flight late that night!
(Picture: Getting ready in the hotel room before our night out).
Another day. Another flight.
We only spent two nights in Puerto Princessa and wanted to tick of one of the seven natures of the world – The underground river! We landed pretty late that night and as you can imagine we were so tired! We grabbed some food and literally wanted to sleep. The next we had to be up and ready for 7 am so a early night for us!
The following day we went to one of the seven natural wonders of the world. It was pitch black with bats flying around like crazy. We was warned that if we look up to close our mouths so bat poo does not get into our mouths – YUCK! The cave itself was quite eery and quiet, we had a headset in which tells us about the cave. For a moment I took out my headphones and all you could hear was the bats and water dropping.
After the cave tour we had a buffet lunch which was delicious. It consisted of BBQ fish, curry, spring rolls, meat dishes, vegetables and I think I tried everything! The tour guide then took us to some markets and then back to our hotel!
That evening we decided to go and get dinner – Mexican! Yum! I checked out the local Mexican restaurants and this place I found had really big frozen margaritas – Taco Laco! I was sold and so were the others! The food was really nice as well.
Natalia and I came back to Puerto Princessa for one day after El Nido and that night went back to this Mexican place. We wanted one more large frozen Margarita! We stayed in a hostel called Shebang (WHAT A NAME AYE) and we it was cool hostel with a nice bar, however we was exhausted from our trip from El Nido so we went out had dinner and came back to the hostel to chill.
El Nido my favourite place so far!
We only had a few nights here but we packed in so much. The day we arrived (After our 6 hour mini bus journey) we went straight back out to do the zip line. This zip line is from one island to another, it is scarily huge but so fun and is over within a minute. I can jump of big rocks I can do a zip line!
PAUSE – CUTE STORY ALERT!
I left one island a single girl and whilst on the zipline I got a boyfriend! So Ben was adament to go on the zipline first, was like sure go ahead. Then Natalia was like why not let these other people go first, in my head I’m saying:
“I just want to go on the bloody zipline”
However as I am polite I said yeah sure lets these 4 people go infront of us. Natalia then wanted to go on the zipline, jut before she left she said:
“Look down at the sand.”
Confused as hell, I done exactly that as I was on the zipline. I looked down and in big words Ben had put:
“WILL YOU BE MY GF?”
I have never been asked out like this before so he is definately a keeper!
That evening we checked out a place called Art Cafe which was recommended to us by a few people, however this place was overpriced and the food wasn’t the best! The following day we had to be up early for our boat tour!
We were advised by many to either do the Tour A or Tour C boat tour in El Nido which includes the small and big lagoon. Well the views were amazing and we met two other gorgeous couples on the tour. The scenery was something you would see in a movie, we had so much fun! This also included a BBQ which made me happy. Us 3 also got a fresh coconut to drink – The luxury!
That evening we wanted to do something Filipinos do best – Karaoke! The two couples we met on the boat tour met up with us and we had so much fun! However Natalia, Ben and I all got the worse score in the bar! This made it so much more funnier as everyone took this so serious. I felt like I was auditioning for the X factor and I started to get nervous and started sweating! After being humiliated – Twice! We all went to another bar and grabbed some more cocktails, it was the perfect last night in El Nido.
The following day was Ben’s last day! This was so sad, I think I cried a little bit – ha-ha! We had so much fun with him but I knew I was going to see him in a matter of days! Natalia and I caught a bus back to Puerto Princessa and then a flight back to Manila!
Manila (Part 2):
So our last stop was finally here, back in Manila where Natalia and I are both catching our flights back to the UK. Here is where I wanted to try Brick Burger as I had previously seen this on someones blog! Well I was not disappointed, to be honest who would be? Its a burger in the shape of Lego as well as being surrounded by Lego – Perfect! I couldn’t believe this was my final day, so we decided to check out this part of Manila however apart from the burger place there wasn’t much else to see apart from the mall.
The following day I left Natalia, there were a few tears. Our 3 and half month travels were over. I had been with this girl 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for that amount of time it felt so weird that it was over!
Rachel’s Gap Year is officially over.
Thank you to all my family and friends who have been reading my blogs within the past year. I’m sure I will have loads more to write in the future, but for now I have a whole years worth of annoying my family I have to catch up with!
See below for tips
Where to stay:
Hotel 99 – This place was cheap for Manila however it was in the roughest place in Manila which was quite daunting. People were friendly but it was rough as hell!
Red Planet – This was in a place called Pisig and the area was nice! There is not much to do however you can catch a Grab Taxi to Brick Burger which I highly recommend.
Cebu (Oslob/ Cebu City):
Oslob – Germaroze Guest House
Cebu City – USDA Hotel
Palawan (Puerto Princessa, El Nido)
Puerto Princessa – Matutina Pensione Hotel
El Nido – Country Inn Hotel
What to do:
Brick Burger – This place was just so nice and staff were amazing.
There are loads of malls and places to shop!
Cebu – Oslob:
Visit the whale sharks in Oslob.
Mango Square – Good for a night out.
Palawan – Puerto Princessa:
Underground river experience.
Palawan – El Nido:
Tour A boat trip
El Nido Zip line – From one Island to another