camping trek day 3: of monsters and monkeys / by mmkeyes

Once again, we woke up to a lovely sunrise. Good one, Philippines.

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There was nothing on the horizon to stop the rays from shining on us and our surroundings right away.

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Like I said, this made for a beautiful sunrise, but it also made for a hot morning with no shade. Brandon and Jessica were both feeling stomach sick, probably from the cold pork that was part of a meal the day before. Thankfully, I had my trusty medicine pack with some loperamide for tummy troubles. After breakfast, we took off on the boat and headed toward El Nido area. The boat ride was fairly long, and Brandon and Jessica both slept through the majority of it. In fact, so did Travis. For some reason, I have a weird sort of FOMO when I'm travelling on trains and boats during the day. I don't want to miss out on the scenery, so I was the only one who never slept a wink on the boat.

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Our first stop was at Balicasag Island. The water was a beautiful emerald green, and I was excited to hop in. The two sickies weren't so excited, and when we saw jellyfish before even getting off the boat, they had already decided against snorkeling at Balicasag. I went in and snorkeled around a bit, but there really were jellyfish everywhere. It just made for too much anxiety. I couldn't focus on the fish and coral when I was preoccupied with making sure I wasn't moving any of my limbs into a barely-visible electric current. I hopped out of the water, and Travis hopped in, only to get back on the boat a few minutes later for the same reason. We told the boat crew why we weren't snorkeling, and I'm pretty sure they wrote us off as lame wusses. I found out why later that day. In fact, what we called "jellyfish," they called "plankton."

We left Balicasag and got on the boat for an hour and a half ride to Nacpan Beach which is northwest of El Nido--our final destination. Nacpan Beach is the highest-rated attraction in all of El Nido. It's an incredibly beautiful beach with near-white sand and palm trees to boot.

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We set out in search of some food that wasn't rice and fish, and of some facilities. We found a little restaurant where, in order to feel better about them letting us use the bathroom (which turned out to be in their home), I ordered some halo-halo. Now, for those of you who are unfamiliar with halo-halo, imagine this mixture:

1. Shaved ice

2. Evaporated milk

3. Jello

4. Fruit

Fine so far, right? Here's the kicker:

5. BEANS

Yes, as in garbanzo and kidney beans. I did my best to drink/chew it, but beans and jelly just don't go together for this girl.

After that, we needed some palate cleansers, so we went to a place further down the beach that sold smoothies and buko (coconut).

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Meanwhile, on the beach, we ran into some REAL jellyfish.

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It's a monster. That first jellyfish was laying there on the beach, all ginormous and lonely and blue. But as we looked in the water, we saw another and another and another and another. It was so disturbing. Imagine running into that thing while swimming!

After our smoothies, we headed out to find a store where we could buy water. With the help of a nice girl named Erika, we found such a store. But it required a trek through some scalding sand. SCALDING, I tell you. We speedwalked to the boat and dipped our feet in the water to relieve the pain. And then we played.

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Brandon and Travis played with an adorable little boy who was somersaulting around in the water. He was super shy to begin with, but he warmed up to them after awhile.

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Lunch on the boat was comprised of rice (naturally), chicken (yay), pineapple (yum), and octopus (...). I tried to be adventurous and try the octopus, but the texture feels much too bouncy ball for my taste.

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We didn't want to leave Nacpan, but we knew we could come back on motorbike, so we headed to our camp on Paradise Beach.

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There were some tourists visiting the beach when we arrived, and there were also two small dogs. After a couple hours, they all left. Except the dogs. Apparently they live there. On a saltwater beach with no owners. We (or I) named them Eunice and Matilda. They are by far the saddest puppy dogs I've ever seen.

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We gave them some of our showerwater to drink, and they loved us. Eunice even slept on our tent mat to protect us. So sweet. And so filthy.

We relaxed on that beach for a long time. It was a beautiful view, and we could see El Nido town from where we were.

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Despite another large, beached jellyfish, Brandon and I snorkeled some. I also tried really really hard not to be terrified of a fish that kept making quick attacks at my head. I took this with the GoPro, which means he's pretty much an inch away from the GoPro lens. Isn't he terrifying???

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After snorkeling, we had a dinner of squid, egg pizza, chicken curry, and mango. We then took bucket showers. And then magic happened. I looked over about 30 feet away and saw a MONKEY. Pretty sure my exact words were:

"OH. MY. GOSH."

And so we monkey stalked for awhile, and we realized that there were monkeys hanging around in the trees all around our little beach. It was like heaven.

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Life goes on even when there are monkeys to be stalked, so the sun went down, and we went to sleep. At 7:30. I know. So cool! That's the earliest I've ever gone to sleep in my adult life. During the night, I woke up to a boat of locals doing I-have-no-clue-what in the pitch black waters right off our beach until 3 in the morning. But I wasn't scared. Because THIS:

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