We Made it to Paradise!

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March 3rd 2011
Published: March 28th 2011
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We had been travelling pretty quickly around the north of the Philippines, and were so excited to kick back and relax with some beach life. After all, the beaches of Palawan were our Asian dream.

We arrived into Port Barton just 3 hours after leaving the city of Puerto Princesa, and despite the journey Katie had surprisingly managed to get some sleep on Luke's lap. The road onwards from the town of Roxas was more of a rocky dirt track than a driving surface, and it was a miracle that the jeepney made it without losing anything from the roof. Along the way we had collected many villagers and the roof was loaded with both luggage and people. We paid 200 pesos each which we suspected was more than the locals paid, but was less than the 250 that our fellow travellers paid. This was due to our developing bargaining skills, and the fact that we were so obviously being overcharged, as Katie asked a local behind what the fare was, and she wouldn't answer, neither would her friend, so they relayed the question to the driver whilst giggles erupted throughout the van. When the man had come to collect our fare we argued that the locals paid less, to which he replied this was because we had put our packs on the roof. Well all of the locals had many things on the roof that were a lot bigger than our packs, and besides we had put them up there ourselves, and if they have fallen off we were pretty sure that they would not have been replaced by the company. We told the man this and he agreed, and took the money we offered for the journey. Finally we are working out how things are done here.

We had already booked 4 nights at Summer Homes back in Puerto Princesa, which was fortunate as the standard rooms were fully booked when we arrived. Summer Homes was the best place to stay in the whole resort in our opinion; it was clean, had well maintained gardens, a view of the beach, and was a bargain at 550 pesos (just under £8) a night for a double room.

Port Barton was naturally beautiful with a palm lined arc shaped beach which was the perfect setting for sunrise and sunset. There was not a lot to the resort- if you walked along the beach you would see beautiful picture postcard restaurants and bungalows built from and filled with hand calved wood. But if you walked back to the road running adjacent to the beach you would find a dirt track lined with run down local houses and yards, and a lot of rubbish lining the streets. You would also become instantly aware of the territorial dogs which covered every crossroad in the little village, aand made it impossible for other dogs to pass. We witnessed a fair few scary dog fights from the safety of Judy's restaurant, where it was surprising some of the hounds escaped alive. We reasoned that the dirt and litter was the price that you pay for being able to visit such an underdeveloped resort with a beach that had not yet been ruined by mass tourism. This wasn't an issue for us as you could spend the day on the beach, and the nights in the restaurants that lined the beach, and it was really great to just lie in the sun. There were hammocks just outside Summer Homes on the beach which we spent a good few hours in, poring over copies of Countrylife and Famous that were supplied by our accommodation. At meal times we would eat dinner overlooking the waves lapping on the beach and eat a lot of curry and rice. Choice was limited as it is really difficult to get supplies to Port Barton with the dirt track roads, and also because there is only electricity operating between 6pm and midnight, meaning it is impossible to store a lot of basic items. The electricity was a bit of an issue as it was really very hot at night and we didn't have a generator to run the fans in our accommodation. It was a bit eerie when just after midnight everywhere would go silent and it would be pitch black. We have no idea what you would have done in an emergency.

During our time in Port Barton we made friends with two other couples, who we ate and had drinks with of an evening. We discovered Tanduay rum, which despite the high prices for all other goods in the resort, was still a bargain at 80 pesos (about £1.13) a litre. As we paddled back to our accommodation along the beach at night we saw the clearest skies with so many stars. Our time in Port Barton was really special and we were glad we were able to see such an unspoilt beach. After four nights here it was time for us to move onto El Nido.

Additional photos below
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28th March 2011

Tanduay Rhum and Red Horse
Now you're drinking like the locals! Good-priced drinks but very potent. Some discoveries while doing the rounds in the Philippines. Can't wait for your blog on El Nido. Have fun. Cheers!

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