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Published: January 21st 2011
Tropical islands are a lot like breasts. Most men remember the day that they saw their first naked breast, or at least the first naked breast shown to them willingly and not possessed by their mother, as one of the most important and exciting of their lives. For most men the initial excitement engendered by this first viewing is not reduced upon subsequent repetition. Indeed, after witnessing his second naked breast and noticing it to be different from the first, most men will then embark on a lifelong quest to witness as many breasts as possible in a futile attempt to visually (or sometimes photographically) catalogue all possible mammarian manifestations. This obsession with the female breast is both strange and disturbing as it shows that for most men breasts are defined as much by their shape as their function, even though their function (biological not recreational) is fixed and unchanging but their shape is not. Ask a woman to describe a breast and she will most likely give you a biological description of their use, locate them anatomically and perhaps talk of them as a symbol of womanhood; ask a man and he will almost certainly cup his hands in front
of his chest and then bounce them up and down with his tongue sticking out. For me, this shows men to be great aesthetes who always appreciate form over function, for my girlfriend however this just shows that I am, along with the rest of my sex, a puerile, facile idiot.
Islands are clearly possessed of a great deal of form but very little function. Any function they do have is invested upon them by their inhabitants, be they human or otherwise, and is not inherent within them. Surprisingly, this does not mean that it is only men who can appreciate their beauty. Indeed, some of the greatest lovers of islands are actually women. This fact allows us to draw some uncomfortable, but entirely superfluous conclusions, namely that either breasts are not inherently beautiful, or that men are not in fact idiots. No matter, this dialectical impasse is best left for another day. The main point is that, like breasts, it is the myriad differences in form, though within a necessarily limited framework, that captivate the lover of tropical islands and compel them to continually seek new ones out. In the same way there are literally millions of different
breasts in bras, so there are also, cupped in this planet's warm, equatorial waters equatorial waters, hundreds of thousands of tropical islands to view, each one of them just a little different from the rest. It is in the tiny space between these differences, in the small chasm between the known and the unknown, that the root of the obsession lies.
As with purveyors of breasts, island connoisseurs have a particular type, a certain shape to an island, that they regard as being superior to all others. For me personally, I prefer mine to be of a medium size, gently swelling with curvilinear sides and crowned with a delicate areola of rock. Anny prefers hers to be a small, taut budding mound that rises almost imperceptibly from a flat, gently rippled surround. Now, should a boob fanatic wish to indulge his obsession, then a trip to the beaches of Andalucia in southern Spain would no doubt sate his appetites. For the lover of islands however, a trip to El Nido in northern Palawan is becoming something of a pilgrimage. For here, in the calm waters of the Palawan Passage, lies the Bacuit Archipelago; a smattering of stunningly beautiful limestone
karst islands that rise out of the green ocean like a pod of cresting dolphins. Every island variant is represented here, and days can be spent cruising between them whilst indulging your every sandy fantasy.
El Nido town is the ramshackle tourist ghetto that most travellers use as their springboard for entering the Bacuit Archipelago. From El Nido it is possible to organise any variety of waterborne transport to facilitate ones perusal of the islands. Most people opt to visit the area by signing up for one of the "tours" on offer. These trips on motorised bangkas ferry small to large groups about the areas island highlights and provide a cheap and simple way of enjoying this most stunning of environments. With a little more money it is possible to hire a bangka for your private use, and therefore to tailor your own trip so as to avoid the hoards that can sometimes somewhat spoil ones castaway fantasies. Perhaps the best way to see the islands, or at least the ones relatively close to El Nido, and one which was certainly our highlight of our time here, is to hire a sea kayak and paddle yourself around the archipelago.
On the day we spent in the kayak, we managed to visit some of the more popular and beautiful sites of the archipelago and, for the most part, we had the stunning white-sand beaches, the soaring limestone cliffs and the calm waters of hidden lagoons entirely to ourselves.
We did join with one tour, tour C I believe it was, and we had a very interesting day being ferried around the outer islands of the archipelago. We had intended to complete the set, but unfortunately the week of sunny weather which we had thus far enjoyed on Palawan, was replaced with the rain and storms that have been dogging us for the last two months. The severity of the weather was such that, for our final two days there, the coast guard refused to allow any boats to sail. His refusal was vindicated that night, when over ten bangkas were capsized and destroyed; as was the ferry from Coron, but thankfully with no loss of life. Despite the inclement weather which caused us to see much less of this are than we would have liked, we saw enough to convince us of the need to return. And, even though
my I Spy Book Of Breasts has not been updated for a week, my Spotters Guide To Islands is starting to look decidedly tattered.
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