El Nido, Palawan (Philippines)

The scenery in Palawan will most definitely blow you away.  It is comprised of cluster of beautiful islands surrounding the main island of Palawan.  The small town of El Nido is where we based ourselves.  El Nido is surrounded by bays, sandy beaches, lagoons, limestone cliffs and a tropical jungle giving the surroundings a look similar to a Jurrasic Park movie set.  Absolutely looks like paradise.

While Boracay Island had a touristy holiday feel, El Nido on Palawan provided significantly more interaction with locals.  I really enjoyed seeing the local kids here.  They grow up so differently from kids raised in cities, with a richer sense of nature and calm.  The kids on El Nido appear so happy and content.  I suppose this is because they have such a wonderful, natural outdoor lifestyle.  The Filipino locals may not have a great deal of money but they are clearly blessed with a happy, fun loving life and a unique camaraderie.  I am not sure if it was just a special time of the year but every single night of our stay there was some sort of party or festival going on.  The Flipinos seem to really enjoy getting together in the streets, hanging out, partying and having fun.

Palawan is one of the most expensive islands in the Philippines.  The best way to see the area is to set out on a small wooden boat and explore.  The big activity here in El Nido is the island hopping tours to the more remote beaches and lagoons which are only accessible by boat.  One of the real big bummers of our time in El Nido was the presence of jellyfish in the ocean waters.  We arrived during a solar eclipse and Barbie told me that these eclipses and full moons bring out the jellyfish.  I always knew full moons bring out wasted raving backpackers but had not idea the moon also brought out these slippery fellas that like to sting.  I can deal with alot of shit but one thing that gives me the creeps are jellyfish and they did their job by scaring me from swimming in parts of the unbelievably crystal clear water.  Consequently, I didn’t get to see all of Palawan’s beautiful islands and beaches I wanted to visit, but I definitely intend to go back. Palawan is just another place that I cannot properly describe, you’ve really just got to see it for yourself.

Transport to get to this little slice of paradise on Palawan is a bit tricky and can be a pain in the butt (literally).  Most fly into Puerto Princesa on Palawan and then have to endure a rough, ass hurting 6 hour van ride up to El Nido.  Unless you have the desire to visit Puerto Princesa and the nearby UNESCO-listed, mountainous national park with its Underground River & caves, the much better option, although a bit more expensive, is to fly direct into El Nido.  Only one airline, Swift Air flies this nonstop route into El Nido.  It is a boutique airline and it felt like flying on a personal jet.  I was really impressed with the Swift Air services and can say it was the best flight of this trip.  In the past, this airline was only available to El Nido Resort guests who were staying at one of their two high end resorts in El Nido.  Fortunately, they opened their flights to non-guests and we pulled the trigger on this direct flight. A good decision and worth the extra moolah.

El Nido was a real cool relaxed place in a tropical setting.  I would say this small town on the tip of Palawan is more geared to the younger backpacker & flashpacker crowd aged 20-40.  This did not deter us old farts as we really enjoyed the vibrancy and being in the presence of the younger crowd.  El Nido town, does not have a built up infrastructure to cater to the comfort levels of the older and higher end traveler and that is probably why we did not see much of an older crowd.  There are a few high end resorts on the isolated surrounding islands which we never visited, which will provide more luxury and cater to the older well healed crowd.  However, I have a feeling staying at these sanitized resort islands would isolate you from fellow travelers, locals and the real pulse of El Nido.

Please note, if you want a little different perspective on our travels and you are getting tired of my loose stools index or just me, you can follow Barbie’s blog at: www.flashpackingbarbie.com


Restaurants –
The Art Cafe, Mezzanine, V & V Bagels, Jarace Seafood, Altrove, IBR.

Bowels adjusting to this new country and native islands.  Big Doug is on the mend and on the path to solid stools……and ready to kick some ass.

Fresh young coconuts are always available.  It is here in SE Asia that I am discovering all the magic the coconut possesses and I’m slowly becoming a true coconut guru.  Abe Froman is the Sausage King of Chicago, Barney Greengrass is the Sturgeon King, Michael Jackson was the King of Pop, so why can’t Big Doug be the Coconut King?

Coconut water is now a very hip drink worldwide primarily because of its many health benefits.  Note, this coconut water does not come from the hard brown coconuts that you are probably used to seeing.  The coconut water actually comes from the young green coconuts that are so prevalent here in SE Asia and they are dirt cheap.  These young green coconuts have green husks and soft white meat inside, not the hard meat you find in the brown coconuts.  I am really intrigued by the coconut as I learn a new health benefit of this fruit/nut/seed (whatever you want to call it) almost every single day.  Therefore, being King of Coconuts, it is my duty to learn you something.

The water in the young Coconut is super hydrating, especially in the SE Asian heat.

The water in one coconut has more potassium than several bananas.

Coconut water has Vitamin B, which mosquitoes do not like.  I see many locals applying coconut oil as mosquito repellent after combining it with other oils. (i.e. eucalyptus, lemongrass)

Coconut oil has an SPF 10 rating, is chemical free and makes a great suntan lotion.

Since my hair is longer now, I have been using Coconut Oil as conditioner and it does a great job keeping my hair hydrated from all the saltwater and sun on the beaches.

You can cook with coconut oil and eat it.  It smells and tastes great.

I read the following from the internet and I am actually beginning to believe it:
“During WWII hospitals actually used coconut water for emergency blood transfusions because coconut water has the same makeup as human plasma.  It is known to naturally remove toxins from the body, boost electrolytes, aid in digestion, elevate mood, deeply hydrate, boost metabolism, fight viral infections, fight bacterial infections, treat acne, neutralize acidity, and so much more.”

That all adds up to some good shit.  As you can tell, I am very bullish on Coconuts.  After all, I am King of Coconuts!

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