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Published: January 21st 2014
I have been sitting on this post for a week. I simply could not make up my mind on how I should go about writing it. I just realised that being a full time blogger is no joke. There are days where you get writing blocks or simply have nothing that you want to write about. Suddenly, I am glad that I have another job to occupy my brainless moments.
However, it is very agonising too. As this is one of those moments, where I have so much to share about El Nido, but yet, I have no idea how to string all my experiences, feelings and thoughts together.
For those who have been following my Philippines posts - I am so sorry for the long wait for this post. Hopefully, this post won't bore you out. Following this post, I will be writing about my experiences in Coron - shopping, eating and diving.
Foodie @ El Nido
I had wanted so badly to talk about the food we had at El Nido. However, after spending so many days of digging through all our photos. I realised that on this trip we did not take photos of
food, not even any of the restaurants!! Hence, I had been pondering whether I should even be writing this post at all.
In the end, I decided that I still have to write it. This is because the food in El Nido was just too good to not write about. It's either we had been so fortunate that all the restaurants we went to serve awesome food, or everyone in El Nido has a great taste for good food as well!!
I've taken most of the information of the restaurants from this TripAdvisor
(do check out their photos and reviews there too).
As always, we try to make it a point to try different restaurants every night, hence, we were fortunate enough to try up to 6 different restaurants there. Unfortunately, without all the photos, I could only remember 3 of those that we truly enjoyed ourselves very much, and I included Deep Blue Seafari, as the food they served on the boat was awesome.
• Lucky Alofa
• Deep Blue Seafari
Although there could be other restaurants with better quality food, or service. We all kinda decided that Altrove is the best
of them all. I just realised that it is also the number restaurant in TripAdvisor
. It was so good that we went back twice!! They really serve one of the best pizza I ever had (and I am not a pizza-kind of person).
For Lucky Alofa, it felt more like a nice cosy bar, where we can sit down, and chillax after dinner. Most of our evenings were spent here chatting about our dives, and to discuss about our photos. One of the main reason why we chose this place is that there is free wifi here. The network is not too bad. However, if there is alot of users, you may not be able to log into the network until one of the patrons leave.
Nonetheless, we had a good time drinking, chatting and catching up with one another. It is real sad that life in Singapore is so hectic that we only get to see each other once in 6 months, on these dive trips.
On the last day, we decided to visit Artcafe for dinner. Initially we were a little reluctant, as the rest of the group were worried about their walk back to
the resort. However, the dive masters and Ed was adamant that we should check out this place at least before we leave. I was glad that we listened to them.
ArtCafe has a very nice lounge feel to the place, making you feel very comfortable and the food was awesome. If you had read up all the reviews about El Nido, you would realised that ArtCafe seems to be the place with everything - air tixs, boat tixs, or any other information.
Ed had managed to check out the place on the day where he didn't go for the dive, and he loved the interactions and the things he found there. Even though, on some websites, some of them mentioned that ArtCafe do sell some medication, I would strongly advise tourists and visitors to go to the Pharmacy to buy them instead.
There is a pharmacy near the church, which looks like a normal provision shop, which seemed to be filled with most medication, as well as other provisional food and snacks.
Well, back to ArtCafe, we really like the atmosphere of the place and the dinner was one of our most enjoyable one. I think
the most important factorwas the company, we had a wonderful time sharing our diving experiences with each other as well as with the divemasters, while drinking to our hearts content and talking about anything and everything under the sun.
Like all great love affairs, our awesome dive trip in El Nido came to an end. Most of my dive friends flew back to Singapore, while Ed and I continued our adventure up North to Coron.
If you had read my previous entries, you would have realised that we were contemplating the different routes to take us to Coron. There are 2 main ways to get to Coron from El Nido, by flight or by boat.
Before our trip, Ed and I and tried all ways and means to source for a dive seafari from El Nido to Coron. Unfortunately, due to Typhoon Haiyan, most of the dive shops are either not doing it or postponing their dive seafari to 2014 instead. Hence, we are only left with 2 alternatives - flight or outriggers.
Both of us were very worried about the outriggers, as mentioned perviously, we had read many reviews of people being shipwrecked or stuck out in the middle of the sea or some other issues. You can read about one of their experience with one of the outriggers from The Jetsetters
Nevertheless, after much deliberation, we decided to take a gamble and booked ourselves the ferry tickets to Coron. As this was supposed to be dive trip, we had wanted to maximise the number of dives. With a flight, it would means that we would have to sit out on the last day, which we were reluctant to do so.
Unfortunately, our hunt for a ferry ticket did not go as smoothly as we had wanted. We were given the impression by our divemasters, as well as the locals, that the ferry tickets are easily obtainable and there are daily trips between El Nido and Coron.
Initially, we had planned to leave on a Wednesday, as we had wanted our trip out to coincide with our friends' flight back. The bombshell came when we were informed that there was no ferry leaving El Nido for Coron on a Wednesday. To make matter worse, it was pretty late on a Monday night when we started our hunt for a ferry ticket to leave on Wednesday.
We were at a dilemma, as Ed was looking forward to the dives at Coron. Leaving on Thursday would mean that we would be losing out another day of diving. After spending an hour or so, asking more than a dozen ferry counters, Ed decided that he would take the Tuesday ferry to Coron, while I will pick up our gears from the dive shop and leave on Thursday instead.
We woke up real early the next morning, on Tuesday, to grab our tickets to Coron. As we were stay at Rosanna's Pension House, we decided to check with them if they were selling ferry tickets as well. To our surprise, not only do they sell tickets to all the various outriggers, Beth (the receptionist) informed us that there was a ferry scheduled for Wednesday, and it is being operated by Overcomer. She had even helped us call the company to ensure that there really was a trip to Coron.
You can imagine our relief when we heard that. Ed was jumping with joy as he could spend more time with my dive buddies, and most importantly, everything went back to what we had planned. However, Ed was a little paranoid. He wanted to make sure that the ferry will definitely be leaving on Wednesday. Hence, we made our way to the "HQ of Overcomer", which is actually a tiny shop front, to ensure that they have sufficient passenger so that the ferry will leave for Coron tomorrow.
As mentioned in my previous post, the outriggers may cancel the ferry trip should there be insufficient passengers, licensing / permit issues, or even technical issues with the boat. Lucky for us, there was more than 15 bookings by the time we checked, and we were reassured by lady at the counter that the boat will leave as long as there are more than 7 passengers.
Happily, we went about our dives on our last day, and spent a memorable evening at ArtCafe.
Getting to Coron
As you know about the unpredictability of the outriggers, I had been very worried since the night before. Luckily, I had drank enough alcohol on our last night to keep me knock out for a couple of hours, allowing me to get a good rest.
I was praying very hard the entire time from the moment we left our hotel, till we reached Coron.
I prayed for good weather, a smooth journey and a peaceful ride.
For the first time in our lives, on this ride, Ed and I experience the smoothest boat ride we ever had. With sunny weather and extremely calm sea, the ride was so smooth that our journey from El Nido to Coron took us only 6 hours instead of 7. We got there at 3plus in the afternoon, with ample time to enjoy and explore the town.
I was extremely grateful for the wonderful ride, and there was nothing I could have asked for, except that we had gotten to Coron safe and sound. In my final post, I will share my awesome wreck dive experiences, and the sights and sounds of Coron.
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