For my last stop in the Philippines, I stopped by Port Barton, a beach and scuba diving town similar to El Nido, but much less developed, much less touristy. To use a well-worn cliche, it’s like El Nido from a decade or two ago. And I stayed here for a couple of days, just relaxing, enjoying the sunsets, and doing not much of anything at all. It’s that kind of place.
Continue reading Travelogue: Port Barton
El Nido is named after the swifts that live on the nearby cliffs, whose nests used to be harvested to make soups. Nowadays, however, it’s known as more of a tourist destination, with great scuba diving, beaches, and seascapes. And after suffering through the lack of electricity at Sabang, El Nido is a welcome change, having electricity from 2PM to 6AM – though many places also have backup generators.
Continue reading Travelogue: El Nido
After spending a day or two in Puerto Princesa to get tickets to the Underground River, I hopped on a bus at PP’s ‘market’ bus terminal, and rode three hours to Sabang, home of the Underground River. Sure, there are also day tours that leave from PP going to the underground river, but why take a tour if you can go yourself?
What I didn’t expect, was for Sabang to be an unexpectedly small town, with barely any internet and electricity only available from 6-10pm. Still, it was quite a picturesque town, and one with some pretty great sunsets.
Continue reading Travelogue: Sabang and the Underground River
After having my fill of diving with the whale sharks at Oslob, I took a bus around the southern tip of Cebu island, to Moalboal, on the Western coast of Cebu island. Before coming to the Philippines, I had never even heard of Moalboal. While visiting Tops in Cebu City, I started talking with a random local Filipino while waiting to get dinner, and he mentioned that Moalboal has the best sunsets of Cebu, even better than those of Tops.
Doing some research, I found that Moalboal also has some great scuba diving, and so decided to pay it a visit for a day or two. But upon arriving and discovering the tranquility, the Fiesta, the scuba diving, I ended up staying here for an entire week, longer than anywhere else in the Philippines.
Continue reading Travelogue: Moalboal
My next destination was then Gili Trawangan, the largest and partiest of the Gili Islands, and a inevitable destination on the backpacker circuit in Indonesia. Thirty years ago it was a newly discovered gem, surrounded by with amazing beaches, scuba diving, snorkeling, and sunsets:
Nowadays, however, it is a major tourist destination and known as a “party” island among backpackers. And like the Perhentian Islands in Malaysia, the entire island was strictly for tourists. There was no local industry. Don’t get me wrong, the place was absolutely gorgeous – especially since there were cars or motorcycles on the entire island – but it was just filled to the brim with tourists.
(Photo taken early morning, while everyone else was still passed out drunk)
Continue reading Travelogue: Gili Trawangan
After my quick stopover in Singapore, I hopped on a last-minute flight to Bali, where I made a beeline for the backpacker mecca of Kuta. Twenty years ago, in the ’90s backpacker world, the most famous backpacker destinations were the three Ks – Khao San Road (Thailand), Kuta (Indonesia), and Kumatra (Nepal).
Since then, resorts, shopping centers, and restaurants have sprung up like weeds, making it into a general tourist destination, especially amongst Australians, but it’s one of the cheapest and best beginning surf spots in the world.
And like a moth to the flame, I came to Kuta.
Continue reading Travelogue: Kuta, Bali