Monday, May 7, 2018

Beyond Valenzuela: Soul Searching & Learning 7 More Things about El Nido

There are moments when you just need some time to unwind and reflect on things. The first few months of 2018 have been a whirlwind for One Valenzuela and she believes that this may have been the case for some of you as well. Life is hard but it’s up to us on how we will face the music, right?

One Valenzuela felt the need to have a brief break after a speaking engagement in Puerto Princesa, Palawan which went quite well (Thank you for the opportunity!). El Nido calls her back the second time around.

El Nido is such an amazing place to be in. One Valenzuela remembers the first time she went here with Little One Valenzuela – they grabbed a couple of blueberry muffins from El Nido Midtown Bakery, walked along the beach, and watched the sunset let out its magic. 

You might have seen a lot of posts about how one can splurge on a grand vacation in El Nido or simply get there on a humble budget (One Valenzuela falls in the latter; simple lang po tayo). Well, this post is not an exhaustive travel guide about El Nido. You will find those in travel-themed blogs which One Valenzuela also read whenever going to places beyond Valenzuela City. Rather, this post will give a few more points which may help you as you do your soul-searching in this gorgeous place through the photos below. Here are a few things that made her solo stay there even more unforgettable.

 1. How to travel better from Puerto Princesa to El Nido?
 Travel from Puerto Princesa to El Nido is approximately 5 to 6 hours via land. Be ready for such a long journey. One Valenzuela brings snacks to munch on and water to drink for this trip. There are vans and buses which are cheaper. But for those who want to be a bit more comfortable, Daytripper’s vehicles have ample leg room which makes the travel much bearable. Vans are not allowed to go beyond the terminal and so you have to take the tricycle (Php50) to reach your lodging. This is not the best shot of the van but just focus on the leg room.

2. What tour to take?
Tours A (Blue lagoons - Php1,200) and C (Islands and beaches - Php1,400 as of this writing). Suggestions: If you need to choose one, take Tour A. If you can do both, take tour C first then A. If you can do all tours, why not try all!?! Prices are fixed in El Nido and the tours all come with a sumptious group lunch. She intends to do the Taraw hike (Php700 as of 2018) and go to Nacpan in the future if life permits it again.

Other than the paradise itself, guides do their best to entertain tourists. One Valenzuela has to mention Jerome and his fellow tour guide who showed how to make birds and grasshoppers out of coconut leaves. Jerome said that seasoned tour guides pass this kind of knowledge to them. Ang galing!

3. Where to stay?
One Valenzuela has not experienced staying in a posh place while in El Nido. Again, she is just a simple kid. She highly recommends Biolina Guesthouse, a family-owned accommodation because of its budget-friendliness (Php1,000 for a fan room), the people’s warmth towards guests (saying hi to the Mantoses!), and the location which is literally near everything (beach, food spots, the Canopy walk). And you know what? The bougainvillea plant that they have there has a bird's nest during One Valenzuela's stay meaning that the birds are THAT comfortable to reside with the humans in this place. Well, to say it shortly, learn from the birds.

4. Where to run?
 Want to sweat it out after eating a lot? A Palaweño told her that runners frequent the uphill road near their elementary school. One Valenzuela tried the route! Basang sisiw mode on. It was her first time to run on an inclined path. Along the road are some cashew nut trees where she was able to pick a few fruits (with permission from the owner). By the way, Palawan is known for cashew nuts, so grab a few packs for pasalubong.

5. The best ice cream in El Nido?
 According to One Valenzuela’s taste buds, grab a cone of Gusto Gelato. She personally loves their Dark Chocolate ice cream. The tiramisu flavor is also good - she ate some while simply walking along the streets of El Nido. By the way, they also allow you to have samples of their ice cream (see upper left corner of the photo).

And you know what? The staff of Gusto Gelato(the one near Squidos) mentioned that she loves her job and how the company takes care of employees like them (benefits, etc.). So, yes, buy products from shops like these. 

6. Bread?

Still, still, still, go to El Nido Midtown Bakery. It churns out piping hot pan de sal early in the morning. The blueberry muffin (Php30.00) is something that you should try as well.

7. Where to dine?  
There are a lot of food stops in El Nido already! It's really hard to recommend shops. But...the falafel shop along Calle Hama is good! The owner of this spot is also the one who makes good falafels in the Legaspi Weekend Market. (Falafel - Middle Eastern food made of chickpeas and/or fava beans)

The falafel here in Happiness Bar also tastes good! Did not dine here yet but got the chance to taste their sample along the way. Well, One Valenzuela's advice is to basically eat what you haven't tried before. Like a falafel meal! 

For those Valenzuelanos planning their vacation in this great place, hope this short post helps. Have a happy summer!

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