After long flights from Washington DC to Beijing to Manila to Puerto Princesa, our travel adventures were just beginning
25 hours of travel time brought us to our STARTING point---El Nido, Palawan. Fortunately we had a family friend whose nephew Rey St. Ines owned a car rental business in Puerto Princesa which also included access to hiring a personal driver. Having our own driver in Palawan was definitely the way to go. We didn't have to worry about directions, knowing where to stop for fuel, or finding our way around the island of Palawan.
After arriving at Astoria Palawan about 4PM to pick us up to drive to El Nido, our driver Dennis was quiet, polite, and smiled and nodded a lot. It did help that I understood the native Philippine language of Tagalog, and could speak enough of it that they understood me. Most everyone that we encountered did speak English, especially in the tourist spots; however, they also appreciated it when they could freely speaking their native language, as the excitement and tone of sharing about the Philippines became more evident to me, as well as the pride they have for their country.
Go With the Flow
Letting go is not necessarily my strength; however, if you can go with the flow and just enjoy what comes before you, you may be surprised at your experience.
While on our drive to El Nido, we wondered where we would be staying for the night. We didn't make reservations ahead of time, as we were assured that we would have a choice of accommodations in El Nido, as it is a very popular tourist and vacation spot, especially for foreigners. We arrived about 8PM, and Dennis stopped at El Nido Moringa Resort, and stated to me that this would be a good option for us to stay for the night. He negotiated a local price on our behalf and advised that we were welcomed to enter and view the accommodations first before finalizing the check-in process. Dennis's selection and recommendation was great. The room was clean and very nicely done, we had everything we needed, it included breakfast, and just a little over a mile or so from the activities of which we would participate the next day.
Frogs At Night
One thing that we weren't totally ready for were the sounds of the night frogs. All night long were the loud noises of the frogs. And when did they stop? As soon as it was daylight. Like we do to drown out weird hotel noises---normally doors slamming, loud guests in the halls, ice & vending machines---we kept the television on with either TV or music playing to drown out the noises.
Late Dinner at Ka Inato
By the time we arrived to El Nido and secured our accommodations for the night, our teenage son was tired and just wanted to go to bed. He had been snacking on the trip up from Puerto Princesa and was done for the day. So Dennis, my husband, and I found and had dinner at Ka Inato. What made this restaurant rather unique and interesting was that the staff---host, waiters, kitchen---were deaf and mute. Apparently the location in El Nido had just had a soft opening in May; therefore, it was still a fairly new establishment in that area. We treated Dennis to dinner and enjoyed some Filipino dishes. Everything was delicious; however, I really wished that I knew sign language to have been able to communicate better with the restaurant staff. The front of the menu did have the the alphabet to sign individual letters for menu items; however, we could also point to the items we desired to order. They were very patient with us, and they got our order correct. It was a humbling learning experience thinking how difficult it was for us to communicate with them, yet they were very gracious with us. We did bring leftovers back to the hotel with us and placed them in the refrigerator, as I figured that our teenage son would wake up in the middle of the night starving and like clockwork he did and was very grateful that we brought back something for him to eat!
Beautiful Poolside Breakfast
When you check into the resort, they provide you with a menu and ask you what your breakfast order will be for the next morning and whether or not you would like it served in your room or poolside. We're on vacation, so poolside breakfast it is! Our teenage son and I had a Filipino breakfast which included tocino, a savory-sweet cured pork also known as "Filipino bacon." It was an immediate hit with our son who decided that he needed to have as many meals which included tocino as possible. My husband selected the American breakfast with ham as the meat selection, and our breakfast also included assorted juices, coffee, and fresh fruit. I chose the calamansi juice or "Filipino" lemonade which is a delicious fresh citrus juice in the Philippines. The fresh fruits of bananas, mangoes, and yellow watermelon were a great addition to start our day.
Rain Is Coming, So We Need to Start Moving
As much as our stay at El Nido Moringa Resort was short and sweet, it was the rainy season in the Philippines and showers were coming in, so we took a last look around, checked out, and was retrieved by our driver Dennis, who spent the night close by in El Nido Proper at his brother-in-law's home. Time for finish that last drop of coffee and juice and head out. We did recommend this resort to my brother and his family to stay and would recommend it to anyone else. Seriously we were able to book a room during a weeknight without a prior reservation, have Dennis secure a local rate for us, and finally relax after a long couple of days traveling at this resort!