Before I begin, if you want a video summary with what we did, ate and experienced in this part of the world, stop here, hit the play button on the video below and ENJOY. You should definitely put on some headphones because the soundtrack is amazing :D… It would also mean the world to us if you could share this video/article with people that you consider might be interested in exploring that part of the world.
I think we’ve all wished at least once in our lifetime to wake up on an empty beach, surrounded by palm trees and witness an epic sunset from the deck of our bungalow. Well, at the beginning of 2017 I got lucky. I found out that a good friend of mine was going to get married to a girl from The Philippines. We immediately met and traded advice, she gave us her first impressions about Romania, about the fact that she hated the winters here, -side note: Who doesn’t? :)) – and, as we were getting close to calling it a night, i thought to myself ‘Maybe one day I’ll get to see that place…’. The evening ended in the most normal way. She told us that she enjoyed Romania, while we were thinking ‘what if?’.
About a week after our lunch with Vali and Diane, I started asking myself ‘Why not?’… ‘How many of my friends have ever seen Asia? How many of them have ever been to The Philippines?’. In the next two minutes I was already asking my -at the time- girlfriend, now wife :), Mihaela, where can we get tickets from. Two weeks later we had our boarding passes and 2 other travelers that were willing to explore with us – Sofia and Catalin.
By the way, if you wanna check out their amazing photo shoot in El Nido, I’ll put the link here. The Island of Palawan was the first place that we got to visit outside of Europe. We didn’t know what to expect, so research on the net began. Tripadvisor, forums, travel vlogs on Youtube and finally I came up with an entire list of activities, beaches, islands and restaurants that I was dying to try. I even knew how certain places looked like thanks to Google Maps and Street View.
The 3rd of March 2017 – Departure Day. Bucharest – Istanbul – Singapore – Manila – Puerto Princesa – El Nido. All in more than 40 hrs. 2 travel days that absolutely kicked our ass, but you know what? It was totally worth it. We were there. After doing a little trekking through the jungle at 1 AM to find our bungalows we could finally relax on our deck. The scenery was fantastic… Empty beaches, jungle surrounding us, Gatorade-like blue water and amazing people. After helping us with our bags, the hosts brought us our first beers, on the house… SAN MIGUEL 🙂 I’ll never forget that taste for as long as I’ll live.
Check out below some shots with our view. By the way, that is the beach where i proposed to Mihaela :). P.S. – She said YES! Who could say no in a place like that right? :))
After a day of relaxing we went to town to see what El Nido is all about. We wanted to check out their way of life, prices, what we can eat and also book some tours for the following days. By the way, El Nido WI-FI and 4G network are totally crap :)) So try to imagine 4 europeans, 4 phones, 4 local SIMS and not a drop of Internet. We honestly couldn’t care less about sharing photos on Facebook so we went on our first tours. Nacpan Beach, Big Lagoon, Secret Lagoon, Secret Beach and many more… We had never seen more beautiful places… The locals were really friendly and willing to help, aaand, we got to meet some cool people that were also travelling El Nido. A Russian, a Canadian and a Spanish… I know, I know, it sounds like the beginning of a joke but it might surprise you to find out that we still keep in touch and actually visit each other. As I’m writing this, Gabriel (He’s the one from Canada) is on his way to Bucharest :). To end this part of the article without seeming anything BUT in love with that place, I’m gonna say that the island of Palawan is magical… The first time I experienced total freedom. Just us and that beautiful place.
And because beer doesn’t go down well on an empty stomach, here is the Filipino way of cooking in a nutshell: Sweet, spicy, sour, in this order exactly. All the foods have sugar as a main ingredient 🙂 I honestly believe that this is one of the reasons the Filipino people smile so much. But let’s be honest… Who would turn down food like this?
Ok… Without further comments about food and beer, here are some of the best places that we got to see during our island tours of El Nido. Scroll down because I wanna share just a couple more things with you.
So finally we get down to the people of Palawan, because what would a place be without its people right? I don’t want to bore you to death so I’m gonna make this short. They are the happiest people I have ever seen and they have big smiles on their faces constantly, no matter what life throws at them. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned during that trip, it was to always stay positive, smile, and be happy with what I have. The Filipino people have little to no material values in their lives. They don’t benefit from some things that we westerners take for granted but despite that, they manage to find happiness in their hearts for their families, warmth in their eyes, even for strangers, and the famous smiles that we all fell in love with.
If you made it this far it means my work hasn’t been for nothing 🙂 As a general conclusion… It seems we don’t need a lot of things in our lives in order to smile. Sometimes you just need that small push that opens your mind to bigger and better things. For me, it was travelling, new experiences and the constant need to see more of this little round rock called Earth. My wife used to say to me that it’s everybody’s right to see the planet that they live on. I haven’t heard a cooler phrase in a long time :).
What did we discover during this vacation? To travel is to feed your mind and your soul. I know it sounds kind of cheesy but you know I’m right. If you don’t wanna go crazy because of corrupt politicians that destroy democracy, loose it because of 5 hr traffic jams, get sick because life is hard and short, DO SOMETHING FOR YOURSELF. What? you ask… This is something that all of us need to discover for ourselves. I can only hope that my experience brought you a little bit closer to that thing that makes you happy.
Drop the Mic moment :))) I’ll leave you with some shots from my wife’s favourite place in Palawan – PORT BARTON
See you soon,