The excitement of embarking on a 370km motorbike journey up to El Nido on a bright sunny day was enough for me to detoxify from the rough night before. We arranged a deal with the Pensionne owners to leave our big bags and other unnecessary belongings there, at which we had to inconveniently transfer to another dirtcheap room because the owners said the room we currently had was reserved for the next few days, which made me wonder who in the hell would call in before hand to reserve a 0.5star lodging accomodation? I'm even being generous for that half-a-star rating, I'm serious: no tv, no AC, a very dusty hot-air blower fan, and it was the size of a closet. You might say, well you get what you pay for (after all it did cost about 15 dollars between the 3 of us) but I'm thinking we coulda saved more money sleeping outside on the pavement where it was alot cooler at night than in that stuffy closet.
Red Horse & Black Stallion
The engines are revved up and ready to go. Off we go onto the busy main street the size of a one-lane road divided into half, and off flies my helmet. Discarding regards to my own personal safety and robustly confident in my riding abilities, I opted to use a small green half-helmet rather than the full face-helmet because I figga'd it'd get too hot in a full-face. Besides it looked way cooler. So picked it back up in the middle of traffic, chin-strapped it tighter, and lateron while coasting the hills, off flew the inner padding so the helmet became useless. And at 100kmph on a dodgy motorbike, my inner reasoning told me I probably should have made a more prudent choice in helmets.
We got to the next big almost-city called Roxas, having done about 200km in about 2.5 hours.
At Roxas harbor, bangka to Coco Island.
We even stopped for lunch along the way at a roadside foodstand in a village. Filled up the tanks at one of the only 2 gasstations in the area, took a couple of pics at the harbor looking towards Coco Island. And off we go again thinking we could go the distance as smoothly as it had went. Then the adventure really kicked in.
The motorbike rental guy told us that after Roxas the paved road would end and the rest of the way would all be dirtroad. This fact was grossly underestimated by us, thinking that since this is the only way to get to El Nido from Puerto Princesa and there are daily busses, vans, and trucks going to and from, that this dirtroad would be exactly what it is described to be, a dirtroad. Noone told us that these dirtroads would consist of many different types of terrain, ranging from pebbly, to gravelly, to rocky, to extra rocky, to small fucking boulders.
But the worst part was that in the next 150-175 km's these dirtroads are peppered with potholes which made it extremely hazardous to the reproductive organs. Blowing by this road at more than 80kmph pretty much guarantees infertility. And since we are in a tropical place we had tropical climate meaning scattered rain at certain spots, and riding a motorbike at speeds over 40kmph in the rain with t-shirts and shorts feels like a bucket of nails dropping on you from a skyscraper. At this point I really regretted not picking that full face helmet.
But the passing landscape scenery was nothing short of beautiful. It was like a moving filmroll, moving along slides of dense jungle foliage to hillside ricefields to impressive mountaineous limestone rockwalls. I really enjoyed stopping by a tiny village to fill up with gas and to refresh on a beverage and smoke. The local kids would rush us for pictures.
Happy village kids.
This was the real Palawan. I started to think this motorbike idea was a great idea since we would otherwise miss out on the grand opportunity to experience the local culture by being transported in a comfortable, shock-absorbing, air-conditioned, tint-windowed minivan directly to a resort. That stuff is for tourists. Suddenly I could feel my ass and testicles again.
At the 232km routemarker on the final stretch after passing up another almost-city called Taytay, we grew excited by the prospects of being so close to El Nido, sore balls and all. I rode the Red Horse as usual along the margin of the road to avoid the potholes when suddenly BOOM!. I heard a muffled bang as my body jerked forward and seeing for only a splitsecond as something gushed all over my face. Behind me where GB rode, I heard a shriek.
This was only the beginning. When we finally got there, couldnt even see the blue on BK's shirt.
I couldnt see as my eyes were shut feeling a warm oily fluid drenched all over me. Both my front hydraulic shocks had blown as the screwcaps had overpressurized and ripped the threads. All the fluid exploded on mine and GB's face and the shriek I heard was because one of the screwcaps had projectiled onto GB's face. I gathered myself, assessed any physical damage, then assessed the bike's condition. Well, now I had no front shocks - loss of fluids, broken springs, missing screwcap - and we got another 40kms to go on potholed road. But the Red Horse was still alive, and so were we.
When we finally arrived in El Nido we wasted no time in stopping at the first resort we saw, since my wrists were killing me and I couldn't feel my lower torso any longer. We stopped at the Four Seasons Resorts owned by a loquacious Korean who loves to make plans for you. We just wanted a room to clean off 9 hours of road dirt and hydraulic fluid.
Beautiful sunset at Bacuit Bay!
The Four Seasons Resort itself is a nice relaxing place, although we can argue if it defines the criteria of being called a resort. When I think of resort, I'm thinking pool/spa, massages, huge lot area for activities, and even 5-course meals (ok well at least 3). This place was a rectangular two-level building hosting about 12 rooms with a decent 'backyard' overlooking the beach. At low tide, the sea would recess about 30-40 feet from the resort, but at high tide, the sea would bang against the resort's concrete retaining walls. But this place did not have any of the usual resort-like amenities. No pool/spa, no massages, only 1200sq meters lot, and they only serve breakfast. Well at least the Korean guy is a big-thinker kinda guy.
After washing up and enjoying the beautiful sunset over this very impressive limestone landscape, we planned on eating but since the Four Seasons Resort did not offer any dinner, our talkative Korean pointed us to the town of El Nido only about 6 mins away on, guess what, motorbike.
Sky reflection at sunset.
There was no fucking way I was gonna get back on that bike. I finally got blood circulation going on my bottom half and I gently massaged my balls in the shower feeling sorry for those puppies for all the trauma. Luckily there was a couple that was preparing to go into town in a pre-arranged AC-minivan that we caught a ride with. That's when we met Pink and the over-obsessed Middle-Eastern looking Dutch guy (didnt really get to know their names, but more on them later). Ate at a very cozy beachside restaurant called Seaslugs which had a live-music act going on for hours without taking any breaks or even breaths.
It was an extremely long and exhausting day, I still felt my skin bubbling from the heat, so I only had energy for a couple of Red Horse beers which meant getting shitfaced. We made arrangements to go on an island-hopping tour the next day so after getting drunk we returned back to the Four Seasons where we fell asleep outside the room listening to an ambient mix of soothing waves, wind-swaying palmfronds, and chirping nightcritters.