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Day 73- 75: Port Barton

Yet more snorkeling, boat tours, and... a turtle!

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14 February- a quiet but beautiful Valentine's
Waking up feeling like we’d slept on a bed of rocks, rubbing shoulders and necks decided this was the worst place we’d stayed. The matteress was thinner than our duvet back home. We went on a venture around the ‘town’. Walking along the beach, which was thankfully quieter than Boracay but still busier than most places we’ve been, we considered what this town would’ve been like 5 years ago before tourists had yet to discover this place of beauty. As with every island in the Philippines it had a selection of boat tours to explore the surrounding smaller islands. We chose the selection we wanted and arranged to meet with the guide later in the evening to sort out details.

Having walked the full length of the beach, played with as many of the roaming dogs as we could, we realised this sleepy town didn’t have much else to do that boat tours and bars. I guess that left us with one choice; we decided on a bar with 70php mojitos and picked a table facing out to sea. We quickly learnt the Filipino mojito is not the same as back home. It tasted like lime juice and Sambucca, as someone who doesn’t like liquorice, this wasn’t great for me, but hey the view wasn't bad.


This pooch looks like Sandy did when she was a puppy. And the second dog we named Heidi and she was our favourite.

When traveling you don’t really take note of dates or days- past knowing when you need to get a flight or ferry etc. Realising 14th February meant it was Valentine’s Day, we had agreed before we started the trip we would kind of pretty much write off anniversaries, birthdays, Hallmark holidays but thought it would be nice to go out for a bit of a nicer meal and get a massage afterwards (however we decided to skip the latter and save the dollar!).

Back at the hostel we googled some options and picked a cute hut like restaurant with some tasty sounding traditional meals. After killing a few more hours, and deciding we needed an extra night in Port Barton but definitely not in this hostel, we headed out for an early dinner (bearing in mind we had to meet the tour guide at 7.30- prime dinner time). The food was incredible, Andy having something called Chicken Adobe with pineapple (something we will probably try and create back home) and I went for spicy garlic chicken. When I ordered the waitress ask how spicy, I dread to think how hot it would’ve been if all I had was ‘a little bit of spice’ ????

We met ‘Joey’ the tour guide and he explained how the following day would look and what time to meet and it was early night in preparation for a jam packed day tomorrow. Although it was a quiet Valentine's day we were treated to one of our favourite sunsets so far and we had great company!


15 February- It's a pirate's life for me!
Up early we made our way to the meeting point, checked in and on the boat. As soon as we set sailing Joey turned on the music and got out 11 cups for the 10 or us and himself. He then proceeded to fill half of each cup with rum!... it was 8.30am! With tunes like YMCA banging we were on the way to getting drunk... Oh and our first spot. This was a place that most the other tours didn’t go to. While they were at turtle spot sharing the space with about 7 other boats we sailed past to a more secluded spot. There was one sole turtle swimming around the area with about 3 tour boat load of people ogling at it.

To start with I was mostly relieved that I could enjoy this experience, since the last turtle swim I was a little worse for wear to say the least. After a short while it dawned on us that these wasn’t a natural environment for a turtle. The water was crystal clear and although the water was deep you could see the sea bed was just sand, there was no coral to be seen. Their main food consumption being algae... which grows on coral, how was this turtle feeding? Secondly, the three tours worth of tourists were following this turtle everywhere he went and you could tell he was quite uncomfortable, constantly swimming away or getting trapped in a gaggle of snorkelers legs. Wondering why he would hang around such a spot we saw something fall from a boat and realised the turtle was getting fed to be here. By being patient we did get a couple of private moments with the turtle they called Michael Angelo and boy was he a beaut!


Feeling uncomfortable at the situation and our contributing factor that it will continue we got back on our boat ready for the next stop... And apparently another pint of rum and coke. For the life of us we can't remember what this spot was out if the order we have written is even right. I blame the alcohol. So we will just skip this one.

Lunch stop was a bigger island with the operation to swim or just hang around the beach. We found a little cabana and sat in the shade a while talking about our trip in general and how much nicer this tour was as it was more laid back, with a better group of people and obviously rum! Then panic struck that we’d been chatting too long, we were told lunch would be at 12 and it was now 12.15 we worried that all the food would be gone! We hurried off to find the rest of our tour and thankfully lunch was delayed. While waiting for lunch we got chatting to Patrick and Lizzy, an Austrian Couple on our tour. One of the things I like about meeting other travelers is learning about the kind of trip they’re on and the things they have done in comparison to us.


Bbq chicken and fish tucked in our bellies for lunch (even Andy had some fish!!), we headed to the next stop. This was another chilled spot (I think that’s just Joey's style), after a quick snorkel we played around on the edge of the boat for a bit, trying and failing to balance on the beams of the boat and just generally playing around. I mean there’s worse places to be on a Saturday afternoon than on a tiny island in the middle of the Philippines with the sun beating down and spending time with your best friends without a real care in the world!


Our last stop was sand fish bar, a random area of sand that has a large collection of starfish around! Snorkel masks on it was back in the water in hunt for the little stars of the sea. This was a little calmer spot with only our boat here, until after ten minutes to ourselves another tour group joined. Four English friends jumped off their boat- no need for life jackets with the girls, all the air in the heads would keep them afloat... and if not all the silicon in their bodies should help. The two girls instantly picked up two starfish and posed with them for a photo. This both angered and upset Andy and I as these little fellas need to be left alone, everyone knows you don’t touch anything in the sea! The bacteria on humans skin can seriously harm the star fish and even put them in danger of death! We had earlier decided to pose by the star fish without the need to hold them. Patrick had also used a cool adaption on his camera to take a photo half in the water and half out.


We didn’t let them put a dampener on our day and made our way to our new hostel, as we checked in this place seemed really cute with a row of about 5 huts either side with a deck in the middle with about 10 hammocks all hooked up. Out for dinner of pizza and chicken strips before our early rise for the bus to El Nido tomorrow!

16 February- trip to El Nido
Thankfully the bus ride to El Nido was less eventful and bumpy than the one into Port Barton. Upon arrival in El Nido, after a short panic of no signal and no idea where our hostel was or how to get there, we had a walk around. This was the most western style place we’d seen in the Philippines and definitely the most built up with real shops and not just huts. A ten minute walk definitely needed to be rewarded, so we ducked in to a Craft beer bar and cooled down the best way we now how.

Our first experience of El Nido had been good. The view of the harbour leaky made us both say wow when we saw it between two buildings. We’d been promised spectacular sunsets in the Philippines and were yet to experience such so we grabbed a table at a beach restaurant just in time... for the sun to go down behind a mountain twenty minutes before it set. Nonetheless, the sky still turned the magical red as the last of the days light dimmed.


Posted by Bears on Tour 04:18 Archived in Philippines

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by Steph Wagstaff

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