Fresh arrived from amazing dives at Bunaken National Marine Park in Sulawesi Indonesia, we completed an all-day flight to flight connection to finally land in Puerto Princesa in Palawan, PI. The goal is to get to El Nido in the beautiful Bacuit Bay Archipelago roughly 370km to the north. It was around 4PM and since we didnt make any resort reservations in El Nido, we were left figuring out how to get there by ourselves. Couldn't even finish a cigarette in 90+ degree weather/80% humidity when we were marauded by the usual "Sir, taxi?" and "Pedicab, Sir?" Those guys come in packs! But I dont blame them, gotta put food on the table, so they gotta do what they gotta do.
RED HORSE & BLACK STALLION
Knowing there weren't any banks/ATMs in El Nido, we loaded up in Manila prior to catching our flight to Palawan. ATMs have a 12K peso max limit by the way. So imagine how ridiculous it sounded when these friendly taxi drivers quoted us 8000 peso to drive us to El Nido. In an attractive attempt to seal the deal, the guy even said that the usual price runs for 12K peso so he's already cutting us a deal to which he even unfolded a piece of paper to back his claim. I'm pretty sure all of them have the same piece of paper in their pockets and use this corroborative last-ditch tactic to spiderweb their prey only to celebrate the night away getting drunk with friends, slapping high fives and ridiculing another set of naive tourists. "Fuckthat!" we said in English.
BK taking pictures of our 125cc sexy beasts!
Discouraged by our friendly taxidriver friends' suspicious lack of honesty, we followed the exit signs on foot towards the main road with a fixed back-and-forth side-to-side head movement to deter any other attempts by taxi drivers to take us places.
Ok, no ride to El Nido and the sunset's upon us, so we figga'd might as well find a nice cheap telly to stash our bags and prep for the next day. Ended up getting a room at Amaya Pension for dirtcheap and all of a sudden we find ourselves in front of a motorbike rental place just across the street from the Pension House. First thought was to just cruise these motorbike badboys around the city of Puerto Princesa but then someone suggested taking these horses all the way up to El Nido. WOW! ADVENTURE!!! I quickly started mentally calculating that going 370km at a steady 90kmph would get us there in fucking no time, so we agreed and paid for the next 3 days. My choice was a red 125cc pure bred racehorse and BK opted for a sexy black 125cc stallion.
See how fast 125cc goes???
The rental guy made his mandatory durability inspection by just tightening the wheel bolts, which raised some doubts as to the viability of these motor-monsters to last the trip. Any doubts I had were quickly extinguished by the immediate comfort and warmth I felt when noticing a rosary on the handlebar of my untamed bronco. Got some helmets and a map but it was already late in the day to start the journey so we took these two-wheeled speedfreaks on a testdrive around the city, which was really only a couple of parallel streets the length of a couple of football fields. Dinner was rotisserie chicken and the obligatory litros of the Red Horse beer (coincidence? I dont think so). Back at the fancy hotel Amaya, where the AC didnt work, we decided to hit the parties hard instead of getting a good night's rest for the journey ahead.
The night started young at Club Dos, a live music hotspot for the avantgarde rich and famous, since there was a clear sign that restricted entry for those wearing slippers.
These 125cc horses really go faaast!
Shoes and pants were the attire of code. But I had tossed my only pair of jeans and Nike sneakers back in Indonesia because they weighed down my backpack, so I hoped for a little 'tourist luck' (read:bribe) to allow us in. Upon arriving at Club Dos fashionably in our mighty choppers, revving our high-power 125cc engines at idle to let everyone know we have arrived, the guard took a look at my feet, then at us, then smiled and guided our way in. (BK being a white guy is an advantage in these situations). The music was pumping, we were seated close to the action and, yet tired as we were, still managed to agree to order a bhaattle of Antonov Vodka that'll make you feel like you're partying back in the 70s. The bhaattle stood no chance against the 3 of us especially when amazing acts like an indiginous Muslim Palawan drumgroup came up bongo'ing the roof away! Music I've never heard, pacey, rhytmic, loud, awesome.
The Palawan Bongo Bongo Band. Awesome!
During intervals the DJs played the latest 90s hiphop music with the usual old white men dancing with waay younger Filipino chicks. Good for them. I had to take a piss so I got into the C.R. where there was a flood of (I'm hoping) water. "Fuck why'd I throw my shoes away", is all I kept thinking. Luckily my Walmart slippers were high enough to meet the waterlevel so I could piss safely without the insanitary feeling of my feet standing in a puddle of piss left behind by hundreds of patrons.
After Club Dos, at which I'm already at the point of blacking-out, we got back on the bikes after agreeing not to drink and drive a couple hourse before, head back into town, and jumped from beerhaus to beerhaus with many lovely ladies singing videoke songs, and even went to a high school dance where we were the only ones allowed to drink, ahem... old enough.
This is pretty much how I was seeing things after that bottle of cheap vodka.
Well, it wasn't my choice to go in here, but from the outside it sounded like the party was jumping and we just stopped at every place that had music. None of us cared anyways, we came to party. So after getting another round of beers we noticed that as with any high school dance, the dancefloor was evenly divided between boys and girls. Like Moses in the Red Sea, we got right in the middle and did the boogie while BK and I were trying to get the ladies to dance with the boys while GB was dancing with the boys trying to get them to dance with the ladies. I guess the ladies didn't seem to enjoy two drunk dudes slobbering all over themselves trying to get them to dance so it was a tough sell. GB, on the other hand, had a bunch of horny schoolboys droolin all over everytime she got low.
bottles bottles bottles
10AM - Head pounding, no air conditioning, the busy sounds of the street woke us up. The journey is upon us and I feel like asshole. Cold bottled water and a couple of smokes and we're looking at a map to see where the next destination is.