El Nido, Corong, corong.
The journey to El Nido was a van share with 4 others at a price of 1300Pesos each. It would have been cheaper to get 2 connecting buses but the extra time it would take it just wasn't worth it. The journey took 4 hours and as there had been rain the day before some of the road leaving Port Barton was just mud and slush making it necessary for a 4 wheel drive vehicle. I'd already rung ahead to book accommodation as everywhere is fully booked, it seems half of China and Korea are here holidaying at the moment due to Chinese New Year.
Green View where I stayed is in Corong Corong, a 25 minute walk from El Nido and proudly boasts that it gets sunsets whereas El Nido doesn't due to a limestone cliff face blocking the sun from 4pm onwards. When I called a head to book a room I was told they were fully booked but I could stay in a staff room if I wished? It ended up being the laundry room. However back to what I've said before, I had a bed, a fan, my own mosquito net so what more did I need? Power was available between 2pm and 6am. I paid 500Peso whereas a bungalow would have been 1200 and of course my room smelt of freshly laundered bedding! The water pressure is really low so it meant I had to fill a bucket with water and use a pail over my head. The staff at Green View were exceptional. So polite, friendly, always smiling and helpful too. After watching the sunset which was pretty amazing I went into El Nido the first night. I'm not sure it's my cup of tea, mostly bars and restaurants with no pretty beach and too many noisy bangkas. The beach itself is nothing spectacular at Corong Corong so I made up my mind to go island hoping on my second day and then head for my next island, Coron. Island hoping was a fun day out and the local islands are beautiful as you can see from my photos. Barbara and Andres from Vienna and myself hired a private bangka which proved to make it a much more enjoyable day as we did what we wanted rather than having to wait for a big group. Sunset was once again amazing and I had dinner of a big fat juicy burger in Green Views, so an excellent day all round. Free wifi is available for guests and they also offer a free tri-cycle ride back from El Nido between 9pm and midnight. The only disadvantage with staying at Green View was the rude awakening by a rooster at 3.30am. It's something I can't get used to and even earplugs don't block out the racket they make! I've got used to sleeping with earplugs now and see them as a necessary evil in a country where the people love karaoke, loud boom boom music and 80's hiphop!
There has been much controversy over the bangka Jessabel which does the journey from El Nido to Coron and I read on the internet that 2 weeks ago she hit heavy seas and a big wave made a hole is her hull. So I've read the crew were totally unprofessional, had been drinking and didn't really give a damn about rescuing their passengers. Keeping this in mind and the fact that Jessabel sunk 2 years ago and was repaired I decided to make the journey with a different company.
For any travelers out there that may have the same reservations the schedule is as follows;
Wednesday- Ride the Joe or Wella
Thursday – Overcomer
Friday – Jessabel
Saturday- Ride The Joe and Wella
Sunday – Jessabel
I sailed with Ride the Joe and the price is a standard 2200Pesos across the board. Ride the Joe offers a free buffet of noodles, egg, spaghetti, bread rolls, cakes and biscuits, tea and coffee and cold drinks. Traveling on a bangka is an experience in itself and everyone was warned to take seasickness tablets if they thought they may have a problem. Although it has stabilisers on, the ride is not what you would call smooth. I am so lucky to have good sea legs and I spent 3 or 4 hours of the journey sunbathing up the front where you can really feel the rise and fall of the vessel! The sea had a swell of 8 metres or so but the weather held out for most of the journey with only an hours rain.