The Great Escape

Rediscovering life in Palawan Philippines

Archive for the tag “Busuanga”

The Feist’s Great Escape: Facebook

Life is like a book filled with chapters. In these chapters are snippets of every day life. We’ve just launched our Facebook page ‘The Feist’s Great Escape: Coron Palawan’ to share these little snippets. Here, you’ll find travel tips, get an inside perspective of what it’s really like to live on a third world tropical island and maybe get inspired.

Visit our page – https://www.facebook.com/thefeists/

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The Price of Living in Paradise

Busunaga

The island of Busuanga is beautiful.

The island of Busuanga is beautiful. It’s also challenging, primitive and harsh. Living here is so much different from being on holiday. The reality is unless you have deep pockets life is hard. Infrastructure is poor in the Philippines and resources scarce. You are constantly battling the environment – sun, heat, dust, insects, animals.

Water Tank

Our empty water tank.

The heat is beating me down, making me so lethargic I don’t really want to move. Well, we did arrive in summer, hot season and it’s just beginning. It’s been four days without a refill on our water tank. The town’s water reserves are low, very low. We can’t do the laundry and ‘the Chef’ is running out of clothes. We try and conserve the best we can but it doesn’t help that the people next door syphon off our water. The kicker is we also pay for it.

Bat

Bat in our water tank. Eww.

As a last insult our remaining 20 litres of water got contaminated when a bat decided to go for a bath in our drum and couldn’t get out. At first I wanted to wait until ‘The Chef’ got back to deal with it. He was down the street at the neighbour’s doing laundry but I said the hell with it. What was I so afraid of? It took two tries but I managed to scoop out the bat and dump it unceremoniously in the yard. Despite all the hardship our neighbour sent his niece and nephew over and filled 5 water containers for us from an alternative water supply.

34 degrees in the shade

59 degrees in the sun. Insane.

We’ve had seven brown-outs in the last two weeks. Life is getting harsher. A transformer blew up so we were without power for almost three days. A second year of El Nino has brought drought and high temperatures. The first night without air-conditioning or even a fan was brutal but our bodies are slowly began to adapt.

Water

Taking care of our own water.

We take so much for granted in western society. If you’re thirsty just turn in the tap a fill your glass. Here we need to plan our drinking water. We bought five 25? litre jugs that we need to fill in Coron town 15 kilometres away.

Tricycle

Supply run. Beer, pop and water.

When we moved out of Coron town to the village of San Nicolas we also had to hire a tricycle to get our supplies home. I made the mistake of riding in the tricycle instead of on the motorbike on one of our runs and it was a bone jarring, wet experience (the lids on the water containers came loose and I ended up sitting in water). Seven of those fifteen kilometres are on a crappy, dusty dirt road.

Squid

Cooking squid adobo.

Cooking in our simple kitchen is a challenge. We have a basic cooktop (with only one of the two burners working, some kitchen tools we brought with us and our determination. The biggest challenge has been the ants. They are everywhere and they love seafood. On night we bought some squid from the little market down the road and the little buggers went on full attack mode. Our strategy was for ‘the Chef’ to clean them, then for me to take out all the trimmings and clean immediately. We had a nice squid adobo for dinner.

This isn’t Disney World. This is reality. We did sign-up for this ‘adventure.’ By renting a house outside of town we get to experience what normal living is like for the average person. Let’s see if we can hack it.

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.

Chilling.

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 http://www.abandonparadise.com or Facebook Page.

Just a note:

If you intend to do a lot of snorkelling in Palawan I recommend bringing your own snorkel, mask and fins. We weren’t keen on using a snorkel that everybody else puts in their mouths (even though they are cleaned). We found the best travel snorkel sets are made by U.S. Divers. Be aware they are made for the recreational, novice snorkelers. You can find travel snorkel sets at Amazon.com. Take a look at our ‘Recommended Travel Accessories for Palawan.’

Beautiful Busuanga

Most people go to Coron and do the typical island hopping tourist things. What people don’t usually get to experience is the beauty in the simplicity of life people have here. And that’s too bad. Drive 20 kilometres out of the town of Coron and you’ll be in a place of rolling hills and jungle, nipa huts and farmers fields, of scraggly dogs and chickens crossing the road. You’ll hear roosters and barking dogs and the occasional buzzing of a motorbike or tricycle.

A typical outside 'dirty' kitchen

A Typical Outside ‘Dirty’ Kitchen

This is life as it used to be. I won’t gloss over it. It’s not an easy life but I sense people are happy. Read more…

The Other Side of Paradise

Perfect picture postcard photos. That’s what we almost always see when researching a place to travel and visit. We create an image in our mind that has been conveniently edited of some of it’s reality.

image

Black Island

Black Island off Busuanga has been described as the most beautiful island in Palawan. Read more…

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