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Published: February 26th 2013
After the banca boat and the bus ride back into the Manila airport we waited to catch our flight to Puerto Princessa to start the second leg of the journey. We were all really looking forward to this part of the trip because we were going to rent motorbikes and head up the coast to El Nido, so we had some adventure planned and read that El Nido was absolutely gorgeous.
The flight was just short of 1 hour to Puerto Princessa in the middle of the island of Palawan on the far west side of the Philippines. We walked out of the airport to the waiting drivers and tuk tuk's (modified motorcycles with a carriage to carry 3-6 people). Hopped in and told the driver where we were going and our plan of action for the next couple days. He knew a motorcycle rental shop so we stopped in to say hello and see what the bikes looked like. We had all our luggage with us and wanted to drop that off at the hostel and come back and practice since 2 out of the 3 of us have never ridden them before. Patrick had a couple experiences on
It's basically a small motorbike than is converted to carry up to 6 people.
them in the past. We dropped our bags off at the hostel, paid the owners and got back in the tuk tuk to rent the motorbikes.
We filled out the paperwork with the some basic information and got our helmets and looked over the bikes. We rented semi-automatic Honda XRM 125cc's. Not the fastest bikes in the world but perfect for what we were about to embark on. Since Leana and I had never ridden them before we set off for a back alley to practice before we began the long journey the next morning. There was a decent amount of traffic at that time of the night so getting across the street when you've never ridden a bike before was pretty difficult but we all made it eventually and parked in the long alley to await instructions from Patrick. Everyone was looking at us as we were just riding up and down the back road shifting gear and braking and getting used to being on this bike. I got it right away since it's like being on a mountain bike except with a motor. Leana had a little harder time getting started and shifting through the gears. It
is pretty daunting in the beginning trying to understand the order of operations. Push down on the shifter with your left foot into first, twist your right wrist to go, let go of the throttle and push down on your left foot again to shift into second, right foot is the back break, etc. So it was pretty fun riding along the back road shifting and braking and toward the end of the night Leana started to get it the hang of it. We made it back to the hostel after going through town on the bikes which was interesting with the lack of rules and a ton of disorder, but we made it.
The next morning we ate some breakfast and packed up the backpacks to get underway on the journey. We knew it was going to be a long ride up to El Nido and wanted to get an early start since we didn't want to ride at night and knew we would be taking frequent breaks. Getting out of town was probably the worst part. We were new at riding and there was a bunch of traffic with other scooters weaving in and out of the
These were the bikes that we rented.
traffic and a lot going on. But the good thing is that everyone is moving at about 15-20mph so it's not too bad overall. We filled up our tank with petrol (as the Brits call it) and determined that I would lead, Leana would be in the middle and Patrick would follow up in the rear. 300 kilometer bike trip here we come!
The terrain is absolutely gorgeous in the Philippines. Very lush, dense jungles with rice paddies butting up against the forests. Some of the greenest greens I have ever seen with a beautiful blue sky above us. It was great just sitting there with the cool wind hitting you and taking in all the sights that were around you. You couldn't feel the heat as you were riding but when you would stop to rest, you could feel the sun beating down on you. Needless to say we got burnt on the trip up. We kept lathering on the sunscreen but the sun still beat us. All the people were really friendly and would wave as we went by and we would honk our horns and wave. We would stop every couple of hours to grab some
Patrick teaching Leana what to do.
food and drinks and rest our butts from sitting for that long. Such an experience riding a bike. It's way different than being enclosed in a car. You are actually part of the road and pay more attention to all that is going on around you. We would pass through all these puny towns on the side of the road that were made of bamboo walls and a sheet metal roof with a small school. Tons of these towns littered the road up to El Nido.
The last section of road to El Nido was a gravel, unpaved road that was about 40 kilometers long. The sun was starting to go down so we took less frequent breaks and were excited about getting into town to see the sunset, eat some dinner, and drink some cold San Miguels. A great break from the crappy beers of Korea. We were outside of El Nido when the sun started to set and all it's colors starting coming out. Absolutely gorgeous! Purple, pink, and blue clouds littered the skies above Bacuit Bay with a ton of volcanic islands that just sat in the bay. I kept trying to describe what it was
A chill spot in our hostel area
like in my head to tell all you guys but it's nearly impossible. It feels like you are in this fantasy land like Peter Pan or Treasure Island. Hopefully the pictures can do it justice. Absolutely mindblowing. Such a great sight to see after being on a motorcycle for 9 hours. We got off the bikes and our bodies were just covered in dust and our hands ached from being on the bike that long and your skin was still burning from the hot sun. Nothing an ice cold San Miguel couldn't cure!
Overall the whole trip up was an amazing experience. I would do it again in an instant. There is something different about being on a motorbike vs being in a car. There wasn't much traffic on the road either which made it a lot easier. Sometimes you would get passed by a scooter but mostly we did the passing. Everyone once in a while you would spot a RoRo bus (Roll on Roll off) bus in your rearview mirror and you prepared for them to go flying by. They don't know what speed limits are and were flying down these roads. I mean we were doing
My favorite photo!
This is the sunset we came upon after a full day of riding. Beautiful!
about 60-80kph (not sure what that is in mph-50ish?) and they would go blowing by us in a cloud of dust. It's a very scooter driven society so everyone is scooter concious and always looks out for them. It's a crazy organized chaos with all the bikes. We would see 2-3 fully grown people on bikes just like ours going down the road. Even crazier were the families on bikes. You see a mother or a father driving the bike and a TODDLER in front just sitting there with a 4 or 5 year old child on the back with no helmets just cruising down the road smiling and having the time of their life.
Tot: 2.35s; Tpl: 0.05s; cc: 12; qc: 49; dbt: 0.0362s; 2; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb