Published: September 12th 2007September 2nd 2007
So we set off from Sabang at 8am headed for Port Barton in an outrigger big enough for 4 people, after persuading the boatmen that 6am really isn't a reasonable starting time. We shared the boat with a nice couple, Steve (from Belgium) and Whitney (from the US). One hour into the boat journey our boat broke down, bear in mind that Palawan is a very remote island and there are few boats sailing these waters and nothing even remotely resembling a coastguard ...we soon began to panic and question if there were sharks in these waters. Palawan isn't one of those places that you see any kind of habitations on the land and where we broke down we were at least a good 20kms from anybody. Luckily though the engine started again and the panic was over although we never really answered the shark question!
Although we were meant to be headed to Port Barton, the couple we were with had asked the driver to stop at an island on the way which they had heard was very pretty and when the boat approached the beach on the island we were very quickly convinced too that it was paradise
and worth a stay. We know we said in the last blog that Sabang had the nicest beach we had been to, but this beach was even better again. The water was clearer and everything was picture perfect. To top it all off there was some good snorkelling to be had offshore. There was only one resort on the island so we had no choice where to stay, but it was reasonably priced at £6 for a cottage with bathroom, balcony, solar fan, lights and everything. The view was even better than our last digs. It was truly a place for relaxation and wondering at the marvels of nature. As we were the only 4 people staying there it was made even more special. The resort staff of 10 people seemed to be there to serve only us, oh my god it was paradise which even the pictures - as good as they are - do not show it's beauty!
However...after the first day we realised paradise had a dark side and if hell was the opposite of heaven the hell on this island manifested itself in the form of sand flies. Neil is convinced that if you were
Cottage on the island
perfect for 600 pesos a night!
to put one of these pesky sand flies under the microscope they would have 'property of Satan' tattooed on their backsides! The bites itched like crazy (they bite even through 50% DEET) and we were covered head to toe in red, measle-like blisters. If you have read our other blogs you will know that sand flies are our number 1 hate on our travels. You swim in the water - you get bit, you lie on the sand - you get bit, you walk on the beach - you get bit. It was very much a love-hate relationship between the most amazing beach we have ever seen and the most annoying itchiest sand fly encounter we have had. It was worth it though and for 2 days we itched like crazy but lived like we owned our own slice of paradise.
After 2 nights on the sand fly infested island we decided that the itching HAD to stop, so we got a boat ride to Port Barton. When we arrived we realised that Port Barton was less of a beach resort and more of a working fishing village. We scouted around for hotels for half an hour or so
Us in the water
ah...the happy couple.....Hmmmm
and were assisted by a group of Filipino marines who were happy to give advice on hotel accommodation. We were told they were stationed there 3 months ago because the government was concerned about an underlying terrorist presence in Palawan. Donna found us a fan room (rather than a cottage) for 450 pesos a night. Again, the area had limited electricity, but at least this time it ran from 5pm until midnight. The beach itself isn't great due to the number of boats moored on it (the beach seemed to be one big dry dock for boat repairs) and the water was surprisingly murky for this area of Palawan, but looking at our pictures of the beach we were surprised that it looks so nice on them!
We only stayed in Port Barton one night because we needed to get up to El Nido in the north, but in this short time we did find the locals very friendly and welcoming. Port Barton had a great little restaurant called Judy's, run by Jim and Judy where we met up with the only other 8 tourists in the village for beers and food. We also acquired a Filipino phrase book
Perfectly raked sand
a job Donna's dad would like!
from an American girl from Chicago. The phrase book had several useful translations/sayings (in this order):
2.I want you
3.Touch me here
4.Do you like this
5.I like that
6.I don't like that
7.I think we should stop now
8.Do you have a condom?
9.I won't do it without protection
10.It's my first time
11.Don't worry I'll do it myself (this one made us laugh a lot)
12.Oh my god!
15.That was amazing/romantic/wild 16.You're just using me for sex (duh, obviously...but is this a statement or a question?!)
17.I never want to see you again
Whilst drinking our San Miguel's our 10 marine friends which we had met on the beach earlier in the day patrolled past us wearing full camouflage gear, face paint and M16 assault rifles. If the marines were there to protect us tourists we do think this may have been slight overkill!
At 9am the next morning we left Port Barton for what was to be a gruelling jeepney/bus combo journey to El Nido in the north-west reaches of Palawan.
There are more photos below