Being New Years eve we decided to splurge on a bottle of local rum, a whole 85php (~$2) and start our night early with some cocktails. Nico, from France, had no plans for the night so we invited him to venture into town with us and see what we could find. We had heard that the place to be was the Baywalk downtown, so after 'hitchhiking' our way out of the Navy compound we caught a tricycle and soon found ourselves among the locals.
Nico was telling us about an awesome seafood restaurant but upon arriving we told they were out of food so instead we had dinner at one of the street stalls and also indulged in one of their massive beer towers. After a while I was getting bored of sitting so I took a few laps around the area before meeting some local Pilipino boys, shy and friendly, just like the Koreans :) The five of us spent the rest of the evening together listening to the live bands, drinking and enjoying the NYE fireworks. Later in the night we decided to move on to a bar downtown for a few last drinks before calling it a night, and what a fun night it was.
We finally got home somewhere around 5am, slept for a few hours and then rose to start yet another day of fun. We were in no hurry to get anywhere, believe me we planned it that way, so we had a relaxed breakfast and spent some time talking to Jonathan. Eventually, we got ourselves ready and started towards town, planning to get a ride to Honda bay and find a beach. After walking for 10-15 minutes we were scooped up by a tricycle and found ourselves in the company of Jeors, our new favorite trike driver. He agreed to take us out to Honda bay and come back to pick us up later that evening, roundtrip 400php which seemed like a great deal. Along the way he did his share for tourism offering us stops to book boats, snorkel gear, souvenirs and t-shirts, great effort on his part! At Honda bay we hired a boat to take us over to Cowrie island where we spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing on the beach, swimming and eating halo-halo (close backup to patbingsu).
Joers was back, as promised, to pick us up around 5pm and drive us back to town. Along the way we asked him about a good place to eat dinner and of course he was FULL of recommendations, one of which being Badjao floating restaurant. We agreed that this sounded like a cool place to check out and he was more than happy to drive us there. We had a bit of a scare when the sign said CLOSED as we pulled up but found out that they opened at 6pm; seeing as we had no where to be and nothing but time we chose to wait.
The restaurant was definitely a bit pricier than we were planning for dinner but we did awesome work of finding probably the most economical item on the menu. We decided to share the seafood paella which was plenty of food for the two of us and at a great price. Of course when we were finished Joers was there waiting for us, ready for our next destination. He tried talking up the Tiki bar in town but we were dead tired after the previous nights entertainment so we opted for a stop at the ATM and return back home. When we asked what we owed for our chauffeur services that day he told us it was 'up to us' which was an awesome gesture from him but made me a bit nervous as we didn't really have a grip for trike fares yet. Being the great businessman he is ,Joers made sure to inquire about our plans the next day and assured us he would be back at 7am to pick us up for our journey to the bus terminal. Seriously if you find yourself in Puerto and in need of a ride give him a call - 09486447308, he'll be more than helpful.
Although Joers tried talking us into booking a van for our journey to El Nido we held firm to our plans and opted for the, much cheaper, Roro bus. We arrived in plenty of time to catch the 8am bus, buy some snacks and secure comfortable seats before departing. Tickets are bought once you board the bus so as we rolled out of town we were presented with one more surprise for the day as tickets were only 294php, almost 100 less than what everyone had been telling us, score! The 6 hour journey was actually quite pleasant, well not for half the bus that was experiencing motion sickness and utilizing plastic bags, but I was comfortable. We arrived in El Nido later that afternoon with no problems and were on to the next leg of our journey.
7,500 islands of pure bliss. I've been twice, both times arriving with a "what am I doing here" hesitation, but weeks later resisting my departure. Forget about being on time, or eating lots of vegetables, but welcome beautiful sunsets, gorgeous beaches, and welcoming, friendly locals.