Our expectations were set rather low after visting the world famous underground river – so El Nido took us by surprise!
It is absolutely worth the visit – never mind the long and uncomfortable travel: 45 mins boat ride from the Coconut Garden Resort, another 2 hr jeepney tour and finally a local bus to El Nido for another 5 hours (of cause stopping in every single village). Including waiting time this might have been a record setting 10 hr trip for 180 km!
El Nido itself is not that special but the surrounding Bacuit Archipelago is. It’s an amazing archipelago consisting of immense limestone cliffs surrounded by crystal clear turquoise water inviting everyone for a snorkelling tour. Island hopping tours are the only way to explore the archipelago with its stunning lagoons. We booked the two most recommended ones (A and C) and weren’t disappointed. In the evenings we met with Dany and Layak (a Lebanese couple we met in a shisha bar) and Maaike and Marc (a Dutch couple we met on one of the tours).
Well, El Nido itself is not a bad place after all
Booking the accommodation for Port Barton gave us a hard time. Finally, we decided to stay at a place run by a half Swiss half German who offers some known Swiss dishes at his restaurant which we were dying for. Not giving up for 3 days Niels somehow managed to get in contact via Facebook (all other means of communication failed). Not sure if everything worked out we took a local minibus for 5 hours from Puerto Princesa to Port Barton – surprisingly a boat was awaiting us.
45 mins later a small island came into sight. The Cococnut Garden Resort was the only place on the island. Therefore, we enjoyed western dishes every day e.g. Gulasch with mashed potatoes or Schnitzel 😉 After traveling for almost 10 month you appreciate western food a lot. The place was a bit like a small zoo: dogs, cats, monkeys, ducks, ducklings and many more. We are not big fans of wild animals being locked up but in this case they only treated one injured monkey with her baby.
Since there was nothing to do besides eating, swimming, and playing cards it was all about being lazy without having a bad conscious.
View from our cottage Continue reading
Go to Sebang they said – it’s going to be amazing they said… Eva wanted to organize something special for Niels birthday and booked a full-day tour to the world famous underground river in Sabang. But small changes made a big difference. Instead of getting picked up at 8 am the pick-up got prescheduled to 7am – Niels is not exactly a big fan of getting up too early. But the tour was prepaid and it was our only chance to see the underground river. Being on Palawan and not seeing the undergrund river is like being in Paris without paying the Eifel Tower a visit.
The drive from Puerto Princesa took us around 2 hrs, arriving in Sebang we needed to wait for another hr before finally a small boat took us to the cave (3 1/2 hrs total travel time). The river winds its way through the cave for more than 4 km before emptying into the sea. But you can only go for the first 1,5 km. Inside the cave there are huge chambers filled with stalactites and stalagmites. Thousands of bats hanging upside down from the ceiling. But to be honest the view from the outside is much prettier than the cave itself. Niels even requested a new birthday present….
Back in Puerto Princesa we walked around the city center and ended up in a shopping-mall where Niels found a play-area. Finally, there was some happiness. Aside from various Philippine means of transport which come in all shapes, colors and sizes there is not much to see in Puerto Princesa.
Outside view of the underground river
Hanoi is said to be one of the most beautiful and atmospheric cities in Vietnam. To be honest we didn’t see its beauty (e.g. compared to Hoi An). It’s a nice city but not amazing. The Old Quarter is the historic heart with pulsating life and countless of motorbikes. You find local coffee shops and restaurants at every corner and it’s nice to watch to chaotic street life. We toured the capital sights for 3 days.
A small temple between residential housed
Yet another world heritage site?
Deciding which tour to take, took Eva a long time – too many choices and even more warnings about scam tours made our life as hard as it can get while traveling the world. Only a few tours met our requirements. Our lovely host Linda (Hoi An) offered us our favorite tour (“Glory Cruise”) for a good price. The 3D/2N adventure started three days later.
Still a bit cautious we arrived at the harbour and were pretty amazed by our ship. It was new and luxurious. Cruising in luxury made it very easy to enjoy Halong Bay with its over 3000 majestic lime-stone islets. The weather was perfect – sunshine all day long but not too hot. Especially, the second day we were able to explore the bay without the crowds. Sally, Paul and the two of us had a whole ship for ourselves and a lot of fun while kayaking, sun-bathing and relaxing.
The whole trip was great (the research paid off) and way above our expectations:
It’s all about tailor-made stuff!
Hoi An is an ancient town and a unique heritage site. The streets have charming lights in every tree and the whole city has an harmonious character. Not only because of its many temples, stylish restaurants and bars but also because of its grand architecture and the riverside setting it’s a must see when you are in Vietnam.
Everyone who has been to Vietnam recommended this cute little town which is also famous for its glut of tailors (more than 200). We couldn’t resist and got tailor-made suits, shirts and much more. It kept us busy for almost 2 days with around 7 fittings. But we left the tailor (BeBe) with a smile and many bags. As good costumers we were allowed to have a look in their factory which is located in the back of their shop.
If not busy with fittings we were wandering along the ancient lanes, the historic perfectly preserved port and the many sights the old town had to offer. The surrounding area could be well explored with our scooter…
Colorful bowls made out of coconuts