Another Day Another Beach
We have now spent over 62 hours in the air and have crossed 21 different time zones to make it to our new home for the year. We landed in Auckland this afternoon at 5pm local time after a two day trip through countless security counters and uncomfortable middle seats. The saving grace of the trip - Josh's premium airport lounge pass. This gave us free food and wifi in every single airport along with a little cheeky open bar access. Screwdrivers at 10 AM? Why not - I'm on vacation after all :) The long hours spent in the airport also gave me a chance to go through all of the photos from our two weeks spent in Palawan and damn are there some good ones.
Our first day was a sleep filled jet lag blur, but I do remember that the A/C at our first hostel, Outpost, was AMAZING. We had hot water for the first time in a few days and a killer ocean front view. Waking up to a sea of colorful boats floating just feet from our door was pretty incredible. We spent our first day in El Nido exploring the town, admiring the local street vendors and negotiating the lowest possible price for a rented motorbike. Once acquired for 350 pesos which is about $7 USD, we set off around the coast on a self guided island tour.
While cruising through rural back roads and dodging roosters and free roaming goats, I was surprised at how friendly the locals seemed to be. Im still not sure if they were waving at us because they wanted to say hello or if they were just amazed that a couple of white tourists were driving through their neighborhoods. Either way, I waved back at every single one with my stupid helmet on and extremely burnt face. Whenever we wanted a snack, we would choose a different roadside vendor and take turns picking out an unfamiliar snack. After plenty of taste tests, we decided that our snack of choice was the blue bag of nacho cheese flavored chips with a brand name we still can't pronounce. One lady even recognized us when we came back and laughed while pulling out her last bag for Josh. The moral of this story that now has me salivating over chips is that for a place that is in a state of turmoil and civil unrest, we felt pretty safe thanks to the welcoming attitude of the locals.
Day 2 in El Nido was spent island hopping on a handcrafted boat that was surprisingly still afloat. We kayaked through big and small lagoons, snorkeled within beautiful coral reefs and climbed mountains and coconut trees in between. There is a sort of magic within the islands of The Philippines that was best seen while drifting between the steep cliffs and hidden coves. The landscape is like nothing I had ever seen before - huge boulder like cliffs covered in multiple shades of green foliage. Peaceful, breathtaking and one of a kind.
Once we had spent a few days in the A/C at outpost, we packed our bags, hopped on our motorbike and headed north to Tapik Beach. Over an hour and a half away from the touristy area of El Nido, Tapik was honestly the most remote place I have ever been. There was a small town with a few snack stands a spa and a broken down basketball court. The hostel was spread out along a quiet beach and offered some of the most beautiful and untouched coastline I have ever seen. All there was to do was unwind and relax - who can complain about that. The downsides - spiders the size of my fucking hand, geckos the size of Josh's calf and fire ants that sting like a bitch. I know this because one bit me in the armpit and it was not the highlight of my trip to put it lightly.
In all honestly, this hostel was pretty far outside of my comfort zone which I knew the minute I saw the bathroom/lack there of and a spider that I swore was fake because it was so big. But again, Josh and I are in this together so I put on my biggest smile and said can't wait (while thinking over every possible bug that could have been surrounding me at that very moment). This ended up being one of my favorite spots to date because I made 8 tiny puppy friends and fell in love 8 times over. Both litters had moms who combed the beaches for food but were so skinny that you could make out each individual rib. Naturally, I took it upon myself to feed mom some food here and there and bring the babies milk in the mornings.
Our last day at Tapik was spent kayaking to a nearby island and getting full body asian massages. There is honestly nothing quite like having your back massaged with roosters going off in one ear and dog fights in the other. Relaxing is not really the best word, but unique seems to fit the bill nicely. Once the time came, I hopped back on the moped and let my pretty awesome tour guide take the lead. We ended up stopping at the local surf beach for a beer and next thing I knew, Josh had rented me a board and had me in the water. Within about 20 minutes, I had caught my first pretty nice wave and was beyond stoked. Josh is a guy of many talents and being my tour guide and now surf instructor are only a few :) We agreed to spend the night on the beach, rode into town to pick up a bottle of cheap rum and rented a tent from the surf shop owner for $6 USD. The simplicity of this day mixed with the vibes of the location made it my most enjoyable of the trip.
While most of these stories sound perfect, the trip has not been all easy. The food didn't sit well, there was never one minute that we weren't sweating and I am covered in bug bites. To add to that, traveling with your partner isn't always a walk in the park. We bicker about silly things and sometimes just aren't on the same page. But each day, we are fortunate enough to wake up together on a trip that most people can only dream of so for that I am thankful.
Now that we have finally made it to Auckland, we are on the hunt for our home on wheels!