Chinese New Year 2012 gave me the opportunity to travel again to my favorite destination for couple of years, South East Asia. I went with some French friends who lived in Beijing to Philippines, particularly Palawan Island.

This trip was a chance to rediscover the Backpacker spirit as this country is still under development and tourism is not comparable to countries like Thailand or Bali. We got really good time as we were all motivated to learn about a new culture and new environment.

Flying fish at our guesthouse

Something important to highlight is that all Philippinos can speak English. It was an incredible change compared to our tourism experiences in Beijing or around China. I’d never realized it but speak the same language can facilitate lot of things.

It didn’t prevent us accumulating misfortunes. ;)

Organization, what’s for? We will manage it later…

Before leaving China, we partially agreed on a roadmap for our week in Philippines with several places that we wanted to visit and some activities we wanted to do but nothing was clearly booked. We were really confident on managing everything on site.

First misfortune - We arrived late in Manila, Capital city after a long flight from Beijing. We went to our Guesthouse closed to the airport as we transfer to Palawan early in the morning. Even though I booked in advance two rooms with Hostelworld, the manager told us that they didn’t get any info about it. After a long talk (we even woke up the manager at 1am), they suggested a tiny room for 4 without shower… let’s wait the island to wash us then…

Second misfortune – our landing at Puerto Princesa, Palawan was eventful. We, in a same day, visited 3 guesthouses to find room for one night (as we plan to visit underground river in the morning), stayed 3 hours with our rickshaw driver hanging around the city, tried without success to book tickets for this famous river to end in a minivan at 1pm to go to El Nido (North of Palawan, 6hours-travel in a full minivan). Well done for the first day!

Local taxi which can contain 1 driver, 4 passengers and our bags No space for the bags; let's put them on the van's roof

Our initial draft program fell through in our first half day… :)

Third misfortune – we arrived late to El Nido after a very long travel (the road was without asphalt in the latest 50 km…) to find out that all the guesthouses were fully booked. We finally slept in a pretty bad guesthouse which was managed by a friend of our minivan’s driver. :(

Fourth misfortune – We early morning started to look for a new place with 2 available rooms. After walking north to south and south to north of El Nido main and only street, we didn’t manage to find a hostel with 2 rooms. One of the Guesthouse managed by a French guy even suggested that we might sleep on their tents in front of the beach… :(

El Nido Main and only street

We started to feel desperate as we thought that we may go back to our ugly room… until… the stroke of luck! One of our team members went to a small guesthouse and the manager mentioned that she got a room for 3 available since 10 minutes. She also agreed to add an extra mattress on the floor… Sold!

That is the story on how we settled at Rovic’s Pension House, El Nido for couple of days.

Chill out at our Guesthouse Rovic's Pension House Patio

Last misfortune… a minor one – The manager warned us that we can stay only for 2 nights in her Pension House. After a long talk and a bit of French romantic speeches, she found out a temporary solution asking us to move to a new room every day. As a result, we slept in 4 different rooms (for a total of 7 rooms in the Guesthouse). :)

Those misfortunes were a good warning for us, unprepared adventurers. We thought about it and we commonly agreed that we were not the only tourists traveling during Chinese New Year. Almost all foreigners leave China at this period.

Local boat in El Nido

Although we accumulated misfortunes, we had unforgettable adventures in this country: incredible beaches, amazing food, nice weather… I will come back on these soon…