paradise found.

Last night’s travel from Dumaguete back to Manila was much less adventurous than getting to Dumaguete. We left around 4PM, arrived in Manila around 6PM and met J’s cousin’s driver at the airport. Coming into the domestic terminal in Manila is a much different experience than coming in through the international terminal. We were grateful for the ease of the day.

From the airport, the driver dropped us off at Mall of Asia, which is apparently one of the largest malls in Asia. It was huge, but full of American stores, so not all that interesting. We wanted to go to a) eat dinner and b) buy a waterproof camera for El Nido.

The driver took us to J’s cousin’s house around 10PM and we went straight to bed, exhausted from the events of the previous days.

This morning we slept in a bit, had breakfast with J’s family and then his cousin took us to the Manila Polo Club. Unfortunately for us, there was no polo match today, but we did eat a delicious lunch.

We’ve seen a variety of local attractions / people during our trip – everything from extremely poor to extremely rich. I actually prefer the true Filipino culture to the expat culture of Manila, but I have to admit that I enjoy Western food when I can get it. We are spending a couple more nights in Manila when we return from El Nido, so I hope to have more to say about Manila soon – more than just visiting the MOA, anyway.

After lunch, the driver took us to the charter plane section of the airport, where we prepared for our flight to El Nido. They did weigh me with my bags, but the scale was facing the other direction to save me from any sort of embarrassment :).

(Anna, you were right… I’ve seen it already :))

The flight to El Nido is a charter flight into the island of Palawan. We are staying on Miniloc Island, which was a 40 minute boat ride from the “airport”. When I refer to it as an “airport”, it’s because it was really a dirt runway about 100 feet from the ocean.

Flying in was pretty cool except that it’s a 19 seat aircraft and you can feel every bit of turbulence. Luckily, we had a clear day and the flight was pretty smooth. The plane flies low coming into Palawan, so we had a great view of the islands below. I took a ton of pictures, but my card reader is in the room.

We arrived at Miniloc around 6PM, a bit later than planned, but the flight was over an hour delayed. By the way, when the plane is on the runway, they don’t use the air conditioner for some reason. We sat on the runway for about 35 minutes and it’s probably 90 degrees outside. It was HOT. They provide hand fans, but it does very little when it’s so hot.

The boat ride to the island was beautiful – the sun setting over the ocean… I could get used to living here. Our room is a cottage sitting right over the water – it’s a bit unreal, actually.

We just finished a buffet dinner – it was really good. We’re now sitting outside and it’s raining, so I am going to cut this short and call it a night. Tomorrow we are “island hopping” and kayaking through lagoons. We will put the waterproof camera to good use, I’m sure.

We are absolutely in paradise… more tomorrow.

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