The Great Escape

dreaming of a simple life in Palawan

WPC: Refraction


Hike one hour on a moss-covered trail and you’ll reach a narrow canyon where Grouse Creek spills 35 metres over Mouls Falls. The roar of the water is seductive, drawing me in and encouraging me to follow a path that disappears behind the falls. Before continuing I stop to snap a photo of my friend’s son as the fall’s cool mist gently covers my face.

Wells Gray Provincial Park is in British Columbia and is known as the land of waterfalls. I was there in August 2013.

To see how others interpret the word ‘refraction” visit the Weekly Photo Challenge.

ABANDON PARADISE: Camping in Palawan

Luke emerged from the darkness. He was excited. “You’ve got to see this.” We put down our glasses of ‘Filipino style’ pina coladas and followed him to the edge of the water giddy with excitement. To put it politely, he had been making a golden arch to the sea when he got something more than he bargained for. He kicked sand into the water and the sea lit up with a subdued neon glow. “Wow!” Everyone’s inner child came out and soon everyone was kicking sand to activate the water’s bioluminescence.

Our Bangka

Our Bangka. Let’s Get This Trip Started.

We were on the last night of our 3 day, 2 night island hopping expedition with Don the owner of Abandon Paradise. Three of our friends from Canada and two of Don’s friends joined us on this adventure. With only our small knapsacks, snorkelling gear and sense of wonder, we left the town of Coron and made our way to the western side of Busuanga passing beautiful scenery along the way.

Coral Garden. Time to Snorkel.

Our first stop was an amazing coral garden.

I’m floating on the sea with the sun on my back letting the current take me slowly back towards the bangka. Below the surface of the water, my ears fill with the sounds of crackles and pops. My eyes focus down and I spy multi-coloured parrot fish zigzagging between the coral. As I look up I gasp with surprise. Small needle nosed fish are inches from my mask. I’m in a joyful place and tingling with anticipation of what I’ll see next.

The Sun Sets on Tear Drop Island

The Sun Sets on Tear Drop Island

I’ve seen the sun set on the Himalayas, watched a dramatic display play out over the Arabian Sea, sat on the edge of Lake Superior as an orange hue took over the sky but I hadn’t experienced a sunset quite like the one on Tear Drop Island. As the sun began it’s daily decent the light had an extraordinary, almost enchanted quality. This sunset, this island and all it’s beauty was ours. Four tents. One bonfire. Seven happy campers.

Hiking Through the Fields

Hiking Through the Fields

The following days we visited a picturesque fishermen’s village, hiked through tall grasses and derelict ruins to get a scenic view of Black Island, failed hilariously at skim boarding and cruised through breathtaking lagoons of Coron Island. We even managed to chase down the illusive dugong.


Just Chilling.

“The Chef” and I had been in Coron for four weeks on a fact-finding, research mission to see if we really want to move here. We thought it would be prudent to end our trip doing something we love to do. There’s nothing better than the wind in your hair, the sun on your face wandering  the sea without a care in the world. One day we hope this will be our backyard.

Don. A Man and His Guitar

Don. A Man and His Guitar

If you are looking for a real “Robinson Crusoe” adventure and want to learn more about Abandon Paradise Expeditions you can visit their website at

WPC: Signs


For this photo challenge I dug deep into my box of travel photos. It was November 1990, the fourth day of our overland trip from Kathmandu when we arrived in Xigaze, Tibet. I couldn’t resist taking a picture of this sign that so beautifully butchers the English language.

To see how others interpret the word ‘signs” visit the Weekly Photo Challenge.

Weekly Photo Challenge: HUMANITY


“Maria! Maria!”

‘The Captain’s’ wife turns towards me smiling and points to the row of pineapple plants. Her excitement is obvious. I trudge gingerly between the spiked leaves and try to keep up with her. She really wants to show me the bounty of this farm.

‘The Chef’ and I are in Coron, Palawan on a mission to find a property to start the next phase in our lives. The farm happens to be for sale. It’s not her farm but I can guess she is imagining it being hers. I can feel her happiness.

Is this what it means to be human? To find happiness in the simple joys of life?

To see how others interpret the word ‘humanity’ visit the Weekly Photo Challenge.


p.s. This photo was originally published in my post ‘Beautiful Busuanga


The First Step: Leaving Coron Behind

Good-Bye Pink House

Kuya Arthur said be ready to go at 5 am. It was still dark but the drumming had started already. It was the fiesta of San Augustin and the celebrations were starting. Outside in the dim, kids were out and about and gathering in the streets. When was the last time you saw a kid get up at 5 am at their own will? Amazing. That’s exactly what this trip has been.

As we drove out of Coron on the National Highway for the very last time, having been on this road many times on tricycles, motorbikes and vans, my heart grew heavy. There was mist hanging over the fields and the sky was streaked with red from the rising sun. If it wasn’t for my friends sitting next to me I think I would have cried.

It’s been exactly one week since we’ve been back. It feels strange to be home. In fact it doesn’t feel like home at all. I’ve been on many adventures and many trips and when I return home I’m always happy to be back. This is the first time I’m not. I notice ‘the Chef’ looking subdued and melancholy. I ask him what’s wrong and he simply says, “I miss Coron.” It’s just hitting him now. That’s how we feel.

It’s September and that means The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is in full swing. We should be downtown, watching movies, stargazing and partying with friends. I see the smiles on my friends faces on Facebook. It no longer feels relevant to us. It feels kind of empty. I’d rather listen to people tell their stories in Coron. Now, that’s real and better than any movie.

Happiness Found

Happiness Found

Four weeks flew by in a blink of the eye. They’re so much more I want to write. The last week we spent on an island camping expedition with friends before returning to the big city of Manila. We then made the long journey back to Canada. I’ll be writing more about our adventures and experience in Coron in the upcoming weeks.

Step one is complete. We found our happiness.

Weekly Photo Challenge: ADVENTURE


Road rash, jellyfish stings, sunburn.

For those who want the ultimate adventure of sun, surf and sand there’s no better place than Palawan, Philippines. Still considered the ‘last frontier’ of the Philippines but developing rapidly, it’s a place you can lose yourself and explore.

Get out of the tourist towns and motorbike across the lush and sparsely populated  islands. Hire a private bangka and find your own deserted beach and watch technicolor sunsets in 360 degree. Do it while you still can.

To see how others interpret the word ‘adventure’ visit the Weekly Photo Challenge.

Chindonan Island

It’s the image in my dreams. Coconut trees, a luscious green hillside with views overlooking the sea. A refreshing breeze blows from the water. It’s my slice of paradise, a perfect spot for quiet contemplation.

Chindonan Island Resort

Chindonan Island Resort

We are anxious to leave the hot and noisy town of Coron behind and be on the water. We hire a boat from Toto. I am 5′-1″ and he’s barely taller than me. Read more…

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