My last stop in Palawan was Coron, which I in my initial planning of this trip thought was a quick two hour boat ride from El Nido. That's not the case if you wonder, I learned this when I booked my ticket and I was asked if I wanted the fast ferry that take 4 hours to he slow boat that takes 8 hours. Again, when will I learn to do some more research when I move from A to B... There are two different Coron by the way, there is Coron island and there is Coron city which is on another island. I went to Busuanga island where you can find Coron city. After nearly three speedy to short days in Coron it was time to return to Manila.
In the end I opted for the slow boat, a banka as they known as. This since I was told that there is some nice scenery on the way and that you can actually sit outside. Oh boy was that a mistake or maybe not to bad of a mistake but it was windy, kind of rainy and a very gloom day when we left so no sitting outside. Found a Swedish book on the boat which I manage to finish before we arrived to Coron. It did help that the book was missing its first 191 pages so only had 150+ pages to read, was still a good read! One tip for you who plan to do this journey: don't sit close the entrance. This will be where the people who needs to get sick comes running and then hurls themselves out the opening, one thing I learned the hard way. The banka was only half full so when not reading or digging in to the included meal, I made myself comfortable on a few life vests and napped.
I didn't book anything in advance so took a tricycle from the pier when we arrived and asked to be dropped off at one of the places I checked out online. That didn't work out, since it was fully booked. So I took my belongings and started to hunt for another place. Finally found a bed in a dorm after an hour and 8 guesthouses later... Arrived at this particular place exactly the same time as a couple and when we asked if the place had a room, we were told they had one in a dorm. I blurted out quickly that: "Yes, please I take it"! Maybe a tad selfish but I had enough of house hunting.
Day 1 had diving on the agenda again, Coron is known for it's ship wreck dives. Picked dive shop again based after screening TripAdvisor reviews and had very good first impression. Nice shop, gear looked nearly new and friendly faces. Slightly bigger group this time around, a wide mix of nationalities with the dominance of Swedes! Take the crew away and 25% of us were Swedes, January is after all Swedish season in the Philippines. We had stunning blue sky so no complains on the weather from anyone while we were cruising out to our first dive site. It was announced who would be diving with who and which dive master would look after what group after an hour or so.
Only having Open Water Cert meant my group couldn't actually enter any of the ship wrecks. I was for once pleased with this, I might not be as scared of the dark as when I left on this journey but still there are times when I don't want darkness around me. We were told that we would see lot's of marine life so I was happy! Me, two Germans and our dive master descended and then I was in for a disappointment... The visibility was really crap compared to what I had in El Nido so didn't see much to be honest and worst thing is that dive two was similar. Guess today wasn't the day to go diving...
After dive two we had lunch served and then it was tan and nap time before we went in for the third dive in Barracuda Lake. Apparently there are two barracudas in the lake, that's why the name. What makes Barracuda Lake special is the temperature of the water which reaches 40 degrees celsius down at 17-20 meters, so this time we left the wet suits behind. To get to the lake we had to jump in to the sea with our gear on, swim for a few minutes, get out of the water, climb a good few stairs (still with gear on, it's heavy), climb down the stairs to the lake and then finally after all that exercise we could jump in to the lake.
It was truly a different experience diving here, not much marine life but just the feeling of the hot water. At first it was very pleasant but then I got the same feeling as I get when I take a hot bath, I just felt hot, sweaty and uncomfortable. Luckily we didn't stay down to deep for to long, instead we ascended a bit, took our fins off and started to do some underwater rock climbing and jumping from rock to rock. This was by far the best experience of the day, that and spending time on the boat in the awesome weather! Had a good day out with Fun & Sun, the dive shop I chose but must say that they were not as good as Turtle Dive in El Nido. They were very good, professional and friendly during the dives and on the boat. Unfortunately everything was rushed when we returned to the office. When log book was done and we paid, it felt a bit "bye bye please leave now". So if you looking for a more social place then I would go else where.
Day two and I woke up with a cold and a bit of a fever but I refused to stay in bed since it was my full last day. Yep, another speedy visit to a place. Luckily me and a few guys had decided to rent scooters this day so I didn't really have to do any research on where on the island to go and what to see. So with some paracetamol in my body I I just handed over that responsibility to the guys. Can't say that we saw much but we did manage to get to a somewhat secluded beach. After some time here we aimed to go to another beach, that beach was never found though. We basically just drove the same road back and forward about three times and after an hour and a half we stopped at a small kiosk, had some refreshments and agreed to give up and instead head back to Coron City. I was well proud over myself at this stage, normally I would be well pissed off and take over the "reading of direction" by this point. Instead I was calm as you can be, guessing cold and fever had something to do with this. I even managed to stay calm when one of the guys ran out of petrol on the way back. You would think that if one guy have to do a refill of the tank and the other guy has an identical bike that he would also think "oh maybe I should top it up". But no instead he drives until out of petrol. So this added another half an hour or so on our ride back...
Despite the fact that I just wanted to go to bed when we got back to the "city", I decided that I couldn't miss climbing the 700 steps leading up to the view point. Not that the 700 steps was what I wanted but I did want to see the sun set from here and today was going to be a great one. Was it worth it??? Yes, big time!
Day 3 and I had a night ferry to Manila departing at 430 PM. No fever this day but cold and head still felt shitty so spent as long as I could in bed after breakfast. After being kicked out at noon, I spent the rest of the time at a very pleasant cafe. Maybe I shouldn't say that I got kicked out, it was more the fact that check out was at noon so I had to leave my bed for someone else...
When it was time to board the ferry we all had to line up, put our bags in front of us and have our bags sniffed by a dog. The line up was OKed and an hour after supposed departure we were finally allowed on to the ferry. I had no clue what to expect from comfort on this ferry trip, after all I had booked super value class. Captain D to and from the Corn Islands has kind of changed my perspective on standard on boats and I can assure you that it's hard to beat Captain D in lousiness in standard and comfort. I was kind of well impressed when I entered the super value class on the 2GO ferry, my standard has really gone downhill this year! It was one big room kind of half inside, kind of half outside, with a small reception counter and about 100 bunk beds. What struck me the most was how clean it was! I was assigned a top bunk and picked up my bed sheets that was included in the ticket price. After I done my bed I splashed out on an express meal, this means I paid PHP 20/ USD 0.40/ EUR 0.35 for a soft drink and was then entitled to get my dinner. This felt like a small price to pay rather then cue up with a ton of other people an hour later to get my free meal. Managed to watch Battle Royal, a highly disturbing Japanese movie, and fall asleep while everyone else around me was watching Miss Universe on telly. 14 hours later and we were "already" in Manila.
Got an Uber and had the best of luck in driver ever. Traffic in Manila is ridicules bad but my driver made the journey as quick as possible. After few minutes drive he paid some bribes to some locals so we could go down some back streets. Car doors locked and I obeyed his firm instructions on not opening the windows. After we zig zaged through the city for 45 minutes or so he called his wife to check the traffic in the area she was, just to make sure we didn't get stuck in a constant traffic jam. In the end it only took about an hour and a half instead of the two hours I thought it would take to get to my hosts apartment! I was well impressed with the driver...
Cost of Banka to Coron
PHP 1 300/ USD 26/ EUR 24.40 + PHP 20/ USD 0.40/ EUR 0.35
Petrol: PHP 210/ USD 4.20/ EUR 4
Cost of My Day Scootering Coron
Scooter: PHP 600/ USD 12/ EUR 11.20
Petrol: PHP 210/ USD 4.20/ EUR 4
Cost of My Day Diving Coron
3 dives with Fun & Sun including all gear, transport, snacks and lunch
PHP 3 500/ USD 70/ EUR 66
Cost of Tricycle in Coron City
PHP 20/ USD 0.40/ EUR 0.30 Doesn't matter how far you go
Where I Stayed in Coron
Lagrossa Backpacker: PHP 400/ USD 8/ EUR 7.50 (in Corong Corong)
Dorm with bathroom
Night Ferry To Manila
PHP 2090/ USD 42/ EUR 39.20 + PHP 20/ USD 0.40/ EUR 0.35
Super Value class including bed sheets and dinner
An Hour And a Half (15 km) In An Uber -Manila
PHP 363/ USD 7.30/ EUR 6.30
I decided that it was time for a career break. So handed in my notice to the company who I worked with for the last ten years. It's time to pack my bag and depart from Amsterdam which been my home town for the last 4.5 years. -"Amsterdam, it's not you it's me and I need a break!". Read more
WHERE AM I?