In the long haul - Puerto Galera > Manila > Puerto Princesa > El Nido

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December 12th 2013
Published: January 7th 2014
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Puerto Galera > Manila > Puerto Princesa > El Nido

Puerto Galera > Manila > Puerto Princesa > El Nido. How we went from boat > bus > plane > van ...

The Start of Our Journey to El Nido

I sure wasn't looking forward to this part of the trip. But I have come to realise that, for the sake of beautiful beaches and untouched scenery, the extremely difficult and long travel to the place is the price to pay.

This leg of the trip started on Dec 11th at 2pm and we only finally reached El Nido on Dec 12th at about 4pm. This included several places - Batangas City, Manila, Puerto Princesa, etc.

Puerto Galera to Manila

As we are flying from Manila to Puerto Princesa, we needed at least 12 hours of break between our last dive and our flight.

As usual, I chilled out my morning while Ed went for his last dive in Galera. After that, we went through the entire hassle of moving our luggages from the resort to Sabang Pier, while waiting for our ferry to Batangas City Port.

While waiting, there were the usual haggling by the hawkers and the porters as they want to earn our tips by carrying our luggages onto the boat. However, this time round, their tip charges were 3 times more than what we paid on the 1st day. Ed and I was adamant that we will find some ways to get our luggages onboard the boat without having to pay such exorbitant tip.

When the boat finally arrived, all the porters rushed to offer their service, and the whole negotiation process began. We waited till almost everyone's luggages were onboard, and there were more porters than luggages to begin our bargaining. We managed to load our luggages for 1/2 the price we paid on the 1st day, which was also a quarter of what the other passengers had paid - our determination and patience paid off. Unfortunately, the entire process repeated itself when we arrived at Batangas City Port too.

When we got to Batangas City Port, we realised that we still have more than 12 hours to our morning flight. Hence, we decided to take the bus ride back to Manila. We believed that the terminal should be close to the Ferry Terminal and we set off to hunt for it. Ed realised that alot of people were walking in a particular direction, hence we followed suit and found the bus terminal.

We managed to catch a bus back to Manila, and we were even allowed to inform the driver where we would want to drop off. We also decided to go back to the same hostel as the one we went to on our 1st night in Manila, MNL Boutique Hostel, to allow us to have a place to rest for the night. Thus, we got off at Makati area, and we grabbed a cab to the hostel.

By the timer we got to MNL Boutique Hostel, it was very late in the evening. We had been caught in the evening peak hour jam. Fortunately, they still had rooms available. As the night was still young, we dropped our stuffs and went out exploring parts of Makati, Manila. As this is a city, it is much more convenient and you are able to get more things, such as necessities, medications, and cash from ATMs, as compared to Puerto Galera. We even went to Rockwell Shopping Centre to see if we can get some souvenirs for friends.

In the end, I was too tired to walk any further and dragged Ed back to the hostel. We tried to grab as much rest as possible for the next leg of our travel.

Manila to Puerto Princesa

As my friends (the main dive group) were coming into Manila from Singapore on a wee morning flight, I managed to book us on the same connecting flight from Manila to Puerto Princesa. However, the usual unprepared me got us to the wrong terminal, hence, we spent more time and money moving from terminal 2 to terminal 3.

Lucky for us, we insisted on the meter and our cab fare only came up to 80 php. Our friends, however, had an non-metered taxi and they ended up paying 300 php for that short ride from terminal 2 to 3. It really pays to know your information of that place.

As Singaporeans, we are very spoilt by our convenient transportation system in Singapore. More often than not, we do not pay enough attention to transportation issues overseas. This is something I am guilty of as well. Thus, when we realised how difficult it was to move from one terminal to another in Philippines, I suddenly became very grateful to our wonderful Singapore Changi Airport (For those who have not been to Singapore, you should try our Skytrain, and you will understand what I mean.)

Our flight from Manila to Puerto Princesa went very smoothly and everyone slowly get to know one and another. As Ed and I had dived for a couple of days already, our urge to dive wasn't as bad as the rest of our group. All of them were like some addicts waiting for their drug - the dive. As it was going to be a long travel to El Nido, we were all very edgy and impatient, looking forward to our destination.

Puerto Princesa to El Nido

When we touched down at Puerto Princesa, I realised that the terminal at Puerto Princesa was very small, and there wasn't much security checks, other than ensuring that we got the right luggages.

As there was 7 of us, one of our friend, WS, was the main planner for this leg of the trip. He had booked us a private van transfer with Fort Wally. However, it doesn't have their own website, but we read some good reviews of it and decided to go with it. Hence, this was the beginning of the painful long ride to El Nido (the 7 hour van ride).

One advantage of booking the entire van, is that it allowed us the freedom to determine the number of pit stops and where we would like to go instead. As we were so hungry, we requested for an earlier lunch and 2 toilet stops along the way.

At the lunch place, we were too tired, and we forgot to take some shots of the place. It was at a really secluded location and we didn't notice any other houses or shops along the road. Nonetheless, the food was great and we had a good time catching up with each other and talking about our 1st dive trip to Puerto Galera.

El Nido

We managed to get to El Nido at about 3 plus in the afternoon, after approximately after 6 hours of van ride. I realised that I was ageing fast, as my body was protesting when we were finally able to get out of the van to stretch our aching bodies.

However, when we got to El Nido, we encountered some other issues that we never expected. I'll be blogging it in another entry.

Despite all these hiccups, it was a lovely 6 days affair at El Nido. The dives were awesome, the beach was beautiful, we also had lots of awesome food. Other than the lack of electricity from 6am to 2-4pm (depending on where you stay), it was a wonderful and relaxing little town.

I would like to go back there one day. However, the travel overland is a real joy-killer, I might try flying there via the Island Transvoyager from Manila to El Nido instead. Hopefully, by then, I would be rich enough then to be a tai tai diver (tai tai = hokkien for very rich wives).

Additional photos below
Photos: 9, Displayed: 9


9th January 2014
El Nido Beach

El Nido
Nothing like a serene beach to fill your sails
10th January 2014
El Nido Beach

El Nido
Hi Dave, yup, it is quite a sight. Really made the trip felt worthwhile.

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