Many times you hear people describe their tropical holidays as paradise but El Nido was truly the closest to paradise we have come. Many beaches are to come on this trip but this place will be hard to top. El Nido is on the northwest side of the island of Palawan and is a gem. From the main room we had to pass some families homes, the resident ducks, many chickens, a pond of tadpoles and the resident pigs to get to our beachfront cottage at Talindak Cottages run by such a friendly family. These cottages were in Corong-Corong, which is about 1km away from the little tourist El Nido City as we have realized we like to stay at the quieter places. We were served coffee and mango pancakes each morning on our porch and ended each day with magical sunsets over the sea. Zane has been perfecting his sunset picture taking so check them out.
El Nido is known for their island hopping and secret beaches. We took 3 days of island hopping tours (one day on kayaks) through secret, hidden lagoons and beaches and some of the best snorkeling we have experienced. In the large lagoon we swam with baby black fin sharks, cliff jumped, saw so many sea urchins and kayaked every corner and into a cave. To get to secret beach (same name as the beach we got married on) we had to snorkel through an arched tunnel in some decent sized waves, which was a bit scary but ended up being amazing. Each day of the tours our boat captain (the father of the family who owned the cottages) would grill a lunch of fresh fish, and marinated pork chops accompanied with pineapple, mangos, salad, rice, and a soy based citrus sauce all on some random secluded beach.
Our driver on one of our motor tricycle rides into town was a young local guy named Dexter who ended up taking us on a popular hike to a waterfall. After a short hike through some farmland and illegal logging we were able to swim in the refreshing cold water of the waterfall. We were blessed with gorgeous weather for the duration of our stay here with the exception of one day of rain, which gave me an excuse to get a massage.
The paradise ended the minute we left El Nido with a 5-hour van ride where we feared for our lives. The laid-back island mentality goes out the window when Filipinos’ get on the road. Our driver drove so fast and crazy that we had a woman get sick and I had to ask him during a stop if he would not drive so fast. Then we weren’t sure if our flights were to make it out of the country as another tropical storm hit Manila the day before we left. Ended with 2 delayed flights, unexpected terminal/departure fees, more mosquito bites than can be counted and us running through immigration but we made it safely to Malaysia.
Landing in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia was bliss as it was such a clean, modern airport. Malaysia has one of the highest standards of living in Asia and is quite progressive. Not knowing much about the country we are now very excited to venture back here at end of the year to explore. Only having a 15-hour layover, we were forced to stay near the airport and over our budget. Staying in a real hotel with hot water and all the hotel amenities we have forgotten about was more exciting then we thought. We took everything free we could get our hands on!
Arriving in Kathmandu, Nepal was surreal and unnerving at first. It is normal to feel out our element when first arrive somewhere but this was such new sites, smells and sounds. This was a new level of traffic chaos with driving on the left side of the road, so many motorcycles and undeveloped roads in many areas. Many new faces and dress with the mix of religions and culture here was so shocking at first and then just became beautiful. Lucky for us the day we arrived was a festival and found ourselves in the middle of a group of people walking the streets playing music to celebrate. Curry, naan and Everest beer ended our first day in Nepal. Today we spent the day tackling logistics with lots of waiting and paperwork to get our visas extended, entry permits and trekking cards for our 18-day trek on the Annapurna Circuit Trek. Tomorrow morning we catch a 6-hour bus to Pokhara, for a 7-day yoga retreat before the trek. We are going hippy-trippy for a couple of weeks!
A number of people have asked for our travel route so here it is. It is definitely tentative and will have changes but gives an idea of the year.
- September– Nepal
- October–January – Southeast Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, back to Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore)
- February–March – New Zealand
- April–May/June: Europe (Turkey, Greece, Croatia, Italy)–possible stop in S. Africa
- June–September – South America
We will continue to try to post about every 2 weeks but have also started to post on Facebook more to keep our immediate moves up-to-date. Hugs to everyone!