The searing heat from the blue skies at high noon, the humid tropical air, the stuffed over-packed van, the snaking curves of the provincial road, and the driver hell bent on making a 7-hour drive under 5 hours lead me to wonder was it really worth the trip to the beach, the beach too far.
The drive from Puerto Princesa to the northern town of El Nido was one of the most inconvenient journeys I have ever endured despite the bountiful hospitality of our driver and yet as much as an ordeal as it was, from holding your bladder and not knowing where the next rest stop would be and having no say in where to stop, to the gut wrenching twist and turn of our van where you can hear the metal frame groan for mercy in each curve it was one of my fond memories in that trip, it’s not everyday that you get to be on a drifting van, trust me, I know, I might not be a drift king but I did fish tail once on my e36, and it felt like it, no scream of panic, of course, my fellow passengers were soundly asleep.
Sleep was not a great proposition for me once you get to see a large sign screaming in red shouting max speed limit 60kmph and yet your van is barreling down at 130kmph over blind curves and the occasional counter flow accompanied by blaring horns. This wasn’t one of your typical interstate highways where every consideration for safety was in place, this was a two lane provincial road, a sprinkle of blind curves here and there, why not a dash of 180 degree curve after. No brakes? Just choose between a cliff face or a deep ravine, its up to the driver, seat belts? Great, but what about the detachable makeshift chair that’s only tied with a clip? Well, your consolation is you had a great view. Oh remember the stack of unsecured bags behind everyone, well-lost luggage won’t be a concern if it is in your face. It’s scary yet it was fun, by fun meaning, an intense adrenaline-filled roller coaster ride fun, except worrying about throwing up was the worst thing that could happen but despite the things that could possibly go wrong, our journey was relatively uneventful but the dread of making the journey back hung on me like my credit card debt, I know it would come to haunt me after I enjoyed my vacation.
The trip from Puerto Princesa Airport to El Nido is roughly 280km via the winding roads. factor in the traffic and the stops along the way a Normal Journey would last around 6 to 7 hours. We made the trip in a toyota van. The space in the van is cramped and basic comforts for the 6 hour journey are dismal. Your only source of entertainment is your headphones and playlist, forget about fiddling with your smartphone, reception is far and in between, your only alternative would be to stare out the window and see the scenery as you barrel down the road. Too much of the scenery or staring too long my cause road sickness so be better prepare medications before the trip.
All in all, the road trip to El Nido as you thunder across the landscape, gives an almost nostalgic appeal as you stare out the window and catch glimpses of the life of the people of Palawan. A farmer plowing the field with his buffalo, kids drying grains on the roadside, A group of girls carrying water from the river and a lot of things you don’t get to see in the city. The road trip is part of the destination as it is a part of the journey and sleeping it off would mean losing such an awe-inspiring experience.
So Travel Wanderously.
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