I am writing about El Nido but I think some of you already realized this is not going to be a positive article.
I want to share the troubles I had in El Nido with you.
I was supposed to stay in El Nido from the 1st of January until the 4th of January.
El Nido is said to be the most beautiful place in the Philippines and I was really excited to explore and join each tour we booked in advance there.
But UNFORTUNATELY, the first typhoon in 2018 came and hit Palawan and messed up my plans. The two tours were canceled and my friends and I were about to miss the ferry to go to Coron.
I am going to write about those troubles in order, but what I want to tell you is if you travel in a tropical country, you should think about what to do when a typhoon comes. The country you travel might not manage customers in the same way your country does.
■ About El Nido
The location of El Nido is in the northern part of Palawan.
You can take a tricycle from El Nido airport and it takes about several munites to get to the main town.
The population is about 40,000 and restaurants and many shops for tourists stand in a line.
I saw more tourists, expecially from Western countries, than the local Filipino people. And I heard British accent more often.
El Nido is also a port island to go to small islands in the north in Palawan.
There are many boats staying here.
The day I arrived in El Nido, my Filipino friend and I checked-in our hotel first and met another Filipino friend. It had been a long time since we gathered last.
We had a dinner and enjoyed drinking beer next to the beautiful beach.
We were thinking about only fun things.
I was supposed to dive the next day.
■ Typhoons can come any time of the year in the Philippines
Our travel plans were ruined by the first typhoon in 2018 whose name is Agaton.
It hit the middle of Palawan from on the 2nd of january until the 3rd.
This is the typhoon information from the Meteorological Agency in Japan. I realized that it became a typhoon on the 31th of December. But who cares about a typhoon during a trip?
I didn’t think about a typhoon at all because it had been totally fine after I arrived in the Philippines.
The central pressure was over 1000hpa, which means it is not a so strong typhoon. But people were not allowed to take boats from the ports due to the wind and rain.
The diving was canceled.
We could not do anything so we stayed at the hotel for a long time.
But we didn’t want to waste time so we decided to go to Nacpan Beach even it rained.
■ Two beaches are connected in Nacpan Beach
We road a tricycle to Nacpan Beach on the messed road for about 50 minutes by a tricycle.
I just wished it was sunny.
I can not tell you how tall the wave actually is. It is pretty tall. People evacuated under the beach parasoles when it got heavy. Some people still enjoyed playing volleyball.
We had a lunch under a parasol. The steamed crabs we had at lunch was so good.
The broadcast said that the typhoon would pass Palawan on the 3rd of January, so we thought it would get better soon.
■ Island hopping tour
We were supposed to join the Island hopping tour on the 3rd of January and it was the tour I really looked forward to. We booked a private Combo Tour A & C so we could enjoy the boat by ourselves.
You can check what the Combo tour A & B is from this site.
We went to the shop to check the situation of the tour and if we could go on the next day. All tours from the 2nd of January were cancelled.
The staff said that the typhoon had already passed so we could probably go on the tour. But the coast gaurds will give the final decision on whether or not to allow tours by 5am on the next day. So the tour agency could not say anything yet.
We went to drink with unsure feeling.
It was cloudy but it wasn’t so rainy.
I expected we probably could go!!
■ It was not enough to allow tour even if the typhoon completely passed!?
My friend got a message from the shop which said all tours for the day have been canceled as advised by the Philippine Coast Guards.
My friend asked why since it wasn’t so rainy, so why? And the answer was it was still windy offshore so the coast guards still warned about the risk.
We all got disappointed but there was another thing to worry about. It was whether we can take a ferry to go to Coron on the 4th of January.
We have to take a ferry to go there.
If we missed the ferry, we have to book a new ticket.
My friend went to check the condition of the booking.
■ A ferry ticket can be quashed when a typhoon comes!?
Can you believe it? Even if you booked the ticket, it might be quashed for the people who missed the ferry before you.
We realized that when we asked if we could go to Coron as scheduled.
The ferry trip had been canceled for two days so many people missed their trips and those people were given priority to take the ferry even if we already booked.
We booked a ferry ticket online a couple of months earlier through elnido.ph but when we talked to the staff of elnido.ph, they could not give us a ferry ticket because they said the ferry tickets are already sold out due to the canceled trips. They said we can reschedule the trip or they can give us a refund.
This is NOT fair.
We needed to book a new ticket for a ferry leaving on 5th.
But it was really difficult to get that because there were many people who wanted a new ticket like us. Thanks to my friends’ tenacious negotiation we finally could get that.
But going to Coron was postponed a day.
■ The booking for a private tour was also quashed
Since the ferry was postponed we decided to join the private combo A & C tour for the next day.
We were remaking the travel plan carefully step by step again and it seemed to be going well.
And we realized we can go on a tour that day.
When we got to the shop, there were many other tourists who found out the weather condition got better and expected they can join the tour without an advance booking.
I thought we already booked so we all are fine. But my friend started to have a quarrel with the staff with an angered face and I realized something was going wrong.
I asked him what happened and he said they said there is no private boat and we all are going to take the same boat with other people who are coming to the shop now.
You know what? The tour shop thinks more of the number and not the booked customers. I understood it must have been a hard time for the shop to make money during the typhoon. But if they cancel the booking, it breaks the trust of costomers causes bad evaluations.
We needed to join the public tour. It happened as if to add insult to injury.
Although it was not the worst thing that happened on that day. An even worse thing happened during the tour. I flew my own drone at the small beach surrounded by limestones which are about 100 meters, I think. And it was blown away by the wind and it got stuck on the stones. I could not take it back.
I realized El Nido HATES me. haha
But the tour was really good.
They brought us to some islands and we enjoyed swimming, snorkeling and kayaking. The lagoon was especially beautiful and it was my most favorite place for me on the tour.
I would like to write about the tour in another article.
■ The last day in El Nido. The competition to get a ticket for going to Coron
We went to the port in the really early in the morning on the day we were scheduled to leave El Nido.
But there were already many people who were hoping some might cancel.
People seem to be chosen randomly. Some people got mad at the staff saying “Are you kidding me?” or “That is not fair!”
Some people explained they have to take the ferry to Coron on that day so that they can still catch their flights at Coron Airport.
Those were all of the troubles I had in El Nido.
It became a pretty negative article but I learned that it is important to think of what to do in case an emergency happens. If you have such consciouness, the action will be different.
I would like to write about the tour next.
Thank you for reading.