Palawan: A Spectacular Island to Visit Even if You're Violently Ill

When you look at a map, it looks as though Malaysia decided to cut off a sliver of itself and throw it over to the Philippines. If so, was it a gesture of good will or because of a lost bet? Only the geography gods know unless they’ve had too much to drink. 

Palawan Map.png

This post shouldn’t be long though I suppose it’s already in the TLDR category. I don’t have too much to say about Palawan, but I have put together a video which includes a bit about my kayaking experience off of El Nido, which was the highlight of my time on the island.

A quick note about my videos: I’ve decided to put my efforts into photos and writing. What this means is that I’m ok with the videos being of sub-standard quality. I’ll be posting them so that you can get some glimpses into what I’ve experienced, but don’t expect anything within a 7 million kilometer radius like the work of J.J. Abrams. 

Palawan is cool, and I imagine I may have found it a lot cooler if I wasn't consistently experiencing some illness or getting rained on. Maybe not, though, maybe I needed to be “down with the sickness,” as the Disturbed singer said long ago (I have no idea what he really meant by this, and I’m not looking it up). 

Initial Impressions

Puerto Princesa

I flew into the Puerto Princesa airport, then rented a bike from Palawan Days. It was a red beauty and looked like a badass bike though it basically had a scooter engine. 

Puerto Princesa is just kind of…eh. It has too many people packed into it, and really isn’t that cool. I did enjoy the Robinson’s Shopping center though. 

Tip: If you’re riding your bike through rain, invest in a rain coat. It’s as simple as that. I didn’t have one, and for the life of me, I couldn’t find one anywhere. For some reason I was more fixated on finding something to cover my bags that I attached to the bike behind me, so was asking around more about something to cover up my gear with. It was like a collective conspiracy by the city to make sure I didn’t find anything. People would tell me they had no clue, or that “maybe that shop over blah blah blah has one.” I even stopped at some shops where they had laundry done and the like, and asked if I could buy a big plastic bag they use for clean clothes. Nope. Not for sale. It was fucking weird, but whatever, I know persistence. 

Then I ended up at Robinsons. I was going into every shop that could conceivably have anything. There was a luggage compartment in one of the stores, and they had rain bags but they only came with expensive bags. Everyone said no, there wasn’t anything, or to try a different store. 

Then something dawned on me. 

Shower curtains! 

They used shower curtains in the Philippines right? I was in a store not unlike Macy’s or Target, and headed to their bath section. Lo and behold, I found myself a beautiful cheap shower curtain. I was proud. I was practically high-fiving the young ladies that were working there, who looked at me like I was part lunatic, half-crazed madman. I ended up using that thing extensively because I drove around in the rain A LOT. By the end of the trip, it looked as though someone wore it in a tough mudder race.

The Roads and Countryside

What can I say? Gorgeous. Despite the rain, the tour van drivers driving a million miles an hour, the big trucks spewing out plumes of exhaust that put the Lost monster to shame, the loss of hearing in one ear, the construction on narrow windy unpaved mountainous roads, the food poisoning, and the extra portion of rain, I loved it. Seriously, it was awesome, even if sometimes it was pretty uncomfortable. Here are some of the roadside views:

Port Barton

I spoke with a lot of people who made Port Barton sound like a long lost paradise, filled with chilled out leprechauns and magical dragon dust. Usually, when I get that kind of strong advice from more than one person, I feel the need to check it out. In this case, sorry, I wasn’t impressed. Don’t get me wrong, it was cool and all, but the place I stayed in was overpriced and overall it was lackluster. I was able to capture some cool shots, though. 

El Nido

The town itself isn’t much. It has a lot of shops and people trying to sell you things. What’s AMAZING about El Nido is the natural beauty of the place. Check out the Wikipedia page for some good info on this beauty. 

For me, kayaking for a day was the highlight of my Palawan trip. You can find beaches that you can have all to yourself, and row past breathtaking rock formations jutting out of the sea. It’s best just to see pics of what I’m talking about:

Things to Know About and Possibly Avoid

  • If you are traveling domestically and have a flight transfer in Manila, know that you have to exit the airport and go to the entrance of the domestic terminal cuz the two ain't connected in the building yo.
  • If you go on an island hopping tour, be careful with the food. Well, be careful with the food anywhere on the island. When I first arrived the front desk person at my hotel told me a lot of foreigners were getting sick. I was feeling fine at that moment so of course arrogantly thought: “Hah! Those other Westerners with weak stomachs. I feel sorry for them, that they do not have a robust gastrointestinal system that exudes the very essence of ballast!”

Then I got violently ill 3 days later. I’m pretty sure it was from the meal they cooked on the island hopping tour. Some sea creature I ate just did not sit well. I’ll spare you the details, but my body was trying to use every available orifice to get rid of what felt like an alien invasion in my stomach.

Anyway, I have some footage of my kayaking experience in the following video. It starts at 2:24 into the video if you want to skip the other stuff. 

Thank you for reading my friends and family.