Here we go, again…
Having been sandwiched by duties of my profession and the additional pressure of having limited WiFi, I decided to let it all out and just indulge in a trip, hence my runaway affair with Tour C. Immediately, coming off of it, I knew I had to do another one. And it was early in the evening when the battle between Tour A and Tour B finally finished. “Tour B,” I texted the tour organizer. No reason, just your proverbial coin toss, I suppose. And so it was, the following morning, I boarded the boat to another properly guided and packaged adventure in El Nido Philippines.
PINAGLUGABAN ISLAND (Dive Site)
I don’t look my prettiest when soaking wet so when the VERY FIRST stop of the tour was a direct drop into water and no dramatic slow-motion entrance from the beach, you can imagine how uncomfortable that was for me to take. Either way, I slowly entered the water and snorkeled my way without ever lifting my head up once. 15 minutes later (ish), I was busy following a school of fish when my head and the boat’s outrigger collided with an audible “clock.” I was startled at best. The little 1-second long episode caught me off guard and had to cling on for a bit to get my bearings straight. I thought about going back for a life vest but decided that it was just a little scare anyway. Let’s just say the next 10 minutes or so, I looked more above water than I did underwater.
In any case, the snorkeling was amazing but only as you go nearer to the giant rock. If only I have had any form of snorkel diving or free diving at all so I could make my way into the deeper parts of the water. And with that, here I am now (while writing this), determined to get over my fear of snorkel diving and free diving. It will happen. It must happen.
SNAKE ISLAND (Lunch Area)
This is pretty much the highlight of the day. Having spent a cool couple of hours or so here, I really didn’t mind being stuck on the tiny island at all. We came in for a little sightseeing and, more importantly, lunch! As our 3-man crew cooked up a storm, we spent the time up in the view deck, down in the sand bar and in the shallow and clear waters.
It is when you think you cannot be bothered by anything else, the cavalry comes in. And boy, do they. Dogs from the nearby village come over during lunch time and walk-swim (depending on the tide) going towards Snake Island to get a few scraps from those askal-loving tourists. They should be called the “Awwwww Gang” because those dogs are the cutest things on the planet – smart, cunning and very resourceful. Who wouldn’t want grilled seafood and pork belly everyday? These dogs have it good. Wake up, hang around, take a swim, have lunch, have another swim and end the day in style. Given, they do need to be fed a bit more, from the looks of their skinny physique, but still, good life.
If you must know though, Snake Island is purely a “hang out” beach – not for snorkeling, not for swimming.
Apparently, grace and poise aren’t included in the tour. Walking INTO the cave seemed easy enough and although it really isn’t DIFFICULT to get into that first chamber, it’s just not the most graceful of entrances – especially for plus sized wonders like myself. For those nervous, the technique is to lay on your side then slide your lower half towards the inside of the cave before finally nudging your upper half out into the dark cave.
As you turn the corner and into the deeper part of it. You basically ogle at the cave for a bit. Take a couple of photos here and there and that’s it.
The rest of the time, I spent outside of the cave, half-submerged in the water outside of the cave, hurling pebbles at the concave bamboo end of one of the boat’s raised outrigger. I wish there was an emotional and dramatic reason for it other than the fact that I was bored shi-less.
Barely coming off of the food coma and the sight of really strong waves, I decided to don a life vest for this part of the tour. I just knew that no matter how hard I paddled, my huge thighs would prove to be useless as flippers. And I was right. The waves were pretty hard to push through. Regardless, them Europeans in our boats are not just good swimmers, they are STRONG swimmers. Damn them and their swimming class-included European school curriculum and leisure centers with swimming pools! I envy them and their enduring lungs and appendages. I can swim but give me just a little bit of waves and I chicken out in a snap. And this time, I am chickening out just like that.
Going back to the cave, there really wasn’t much about it. You swim in, curse through ATTEMPTING to get unto the rocks (which I gave up on) and if you manage to get unto the platform of the cave, there really isn’t much difference than the view you had from the water. The rocks are EXTREMELY sharp and really did a number on me my legs despite me not attempting to get out of the water at all.
Still, it stands to be an impressive site. If the waves weren’t practically throwing me around like a piece of soaked up biscuit, I would’ve had a real Discovery Channel moment there, ogling at how much the cave really does resemble a cathedral. The walls go straight up, towering and just a massive sight to see. As I frog paddled my way down the imaginary aisle of this cathedral, I could almost feel a sense of solemnity from it. *Almost*. A wave hits me from behind and the moment is lost, I paddle more.
I paddle back, pull myself out from the water and almost pass out from exhaustion. Even with a vest, the waves were too much for me. But I see these damn European kids and they continue to swim and jump from the boat and do all that Spring Break stock footage stuff right in front of me. I excuse myself as being too damn old. Gawd. “Are we leaving, yet?”
A fitting end to a relatively strenuous day – Pangalusian is basically a good place for snorkeling on one end and a scary-as-eff swim into DEEEEEP water on the other. Hope you have better chances than me and my new Malaysian friend. We scraped our legs and arms navigating through the too-shallow waters. I cursed this particular wonder of nature. It’s not all the time that I have a hankering for snorkeling and this one time I have a good itch for it, it literally scratches me back.
I guess it was with this that I took to the island’s other awesome feature: grass. Perfect for the end-of-tour chill fest, you can just spread out a blanket or a sarong and just stare out into the water for the rest of the time. It would’ve been just that if we hadn’t been pounded by a stronger-than-usual afternoon shower. I screen the island and see the British couple wield a black, folded umbrella and spite the skies back with it. Typically British, and I loved it. In the middle of an island in the middle of El Nido Philippines and they’ve got an umbrella. Wonderful. We float around in rocky waters for a while before we finally headed back to home base. I was happy to hear the whir of the engine as it came to life. Another day in the office, here in paradise. Not a bad day, I believe. Not a bad day at all.
As usual, after coming from a long day out in the water and out in the islands, my first retreat back to town was towards the smell of freshly baked bread. Today, Malaysian friend and I darted towards the carbo-loading feast at the Midtown Bakery. I decided to go with an egg pie, pan de coco and some other made-do pastry. Good haul, love.
TOUR ESSENTIALS: (same as Tour C)
- AT LEAST 1-Liter of Water
- Sarong or Towel
- Optional: Appropriate amounts of Bonamine Chewable Anti-Motion Sickness Tablets
- Optional: Some kind of bar food like peanuts, cornick, chips and biscuits to literally just pass the time. Yes, I am a big, fat seacow because of that tip right there.