So we have finally arrived in Boracay, a place that Robyn has been on at us to visit since we breathed the words South East Asia. We have been in the Philippines for two weeks now and despite the fact we are here in the rainy season we have loved it.
Our first stop off was in Manila and we hadn't heard a good word about the city. We stayed in a hostel in the centre and the reports were pretty accurate. It was dirty, overcrowded and smelly but we were still smiling. The prices were cheap the people friendly, we were back in Asia! It was a brief stop in Manila as we wanted to hit the islands and beaches that were so famous.
We flew to Puerta Princesa and had a couple of days there. We liked the city and our hostel was so cheap and the family run owners so lovely that despite the clouds and the pollution we enjoyed it. About 2 hours away from the city is one of the new seven natural wonders of the world, the Underground River. We booked a day trip and our first obstacle to overcome was the mini bus journey. The driver drove like a maniac and the roads were not what one would call straight! James had to sit in the front for the second leg of the journey as he felt so sick. We got to Sabang (the town nearest the river) and there was brilliant sunshine. We had a wait a short time to get our Bangka to the river. It probably won't be the last time this trip but an Asian woman wanted her photo with me, this always makes me laugh but it's part of the Asian experience. The river was really touristy, hardly surprising when it is a 7 wonder. We could see how it was so popular, the inside was beautiful but we couldn't believe it when we got into the section known as Cathedral cove. It was amazing but unfortunately we couldn't capture it on film as our camera doesn't have those capabilities! We saw cave swallows that make the nests that people use to make birds nest soup. They use echo detection to 'see' in the caves and fly scarily close to you head. There were also tiny bats but as we were visiting during the day they were fast asleep. We could smell their presence in the form of bat droppings, not nice. Just outside the river were monkeys so they kept everyone entertained while we waited to go back to Sabang. The journey back I entertained Jacob a very cute 1 year old on our trip he was so well behaved, he didn't cry or complain for the whole day. We went for a great meal at our Christian run restaurant (no alcohol) but the food, Filipino style made up for this.
We had another horrendous mini bus journey getting to El Nido where we were met with more dark clouds and it stayed this way for the next two days. We had hoped to spend four days in El Nido and then take a boat to the island of Coron to do some wreck dives. The incoming typhoon was making this impossible to we just resided on the fact that we going to be stuck here for an extra 3 days. Not that being stuck in El Nido is a disaster, the weather could have been better for the first two days but the view and surrounding greenery was beautiful. We spent a lot of time relaxing in our nice hotel room, and wandered around the town when there was a break in the weather. We wanted to a trip around the surrounding islands and finally, two days later the trip was going ahead, the weather was improving. We did tour A and saw the amazing big lagoon in glorious sunshine. By the time we got to the small lagoon the rain started again but we weren't as bothered. James and I swam into the lagoon and we were the only ones in there. It was so impressive. The rain didn't stop for the rest of the day but we could get warm by swimming in the ridiculously warm sea. It was a great day and we were delighted when the next two days were sunny and we could do both B and C tours! It was such a bargain, especially as we weren't getting the chance to dive in Coron and each tour was fun and we saw some remarkable views.