It was time to leave this wonderful place.
We chucked our bags in this charming old Land Rover thing and headed to the jetty.
Having really enjoyed our time in El Nido, we couldn’t wait to see what else Palawan had to offer. But first we had to get there, via 6 hours on a banca. The reviews of the banca journey to Coron were mixed, some sounded fairly awful. On the ferry to France I get a bit sea sick so I really wasn’t looking forward to it but I had a feeling that the destination of our journey would make up for it, even if I spent most of it throwing up.
This is the beast! Looks ready to take on the open seas doesn’t it!?
We met a group of french lads on the boat who were on an exchange helping the local people build housing and pens for their animals.
I do find we meet many interesting people on our travels. People with interesting lives who have fascinating stories to tell. People who have sometimes lived what I would deem unconventional lives. But I find this more and more inspiring. It’s so easy to get sucked into the ‘system’ of how life should be lived rather than consciously making decisions about what actually makes you happy. I have met many unhappy people in the past few years who just ‘get by’ from month to month. For what reason do people do this? Is it because it’s what is expected of them? Is it because they hope for a promotion in a few years? Is it ok to just ‘live for the weekend’,or is that just a waste? Do people live the majority of their time in a semi-happy state for the bravado of living in the city in a city job? I don’t have the answers to these questions but I do think about it more and more and actually my list of questions is much longer than this! I have also met many happy people, but I think sometimes people forget to press pause, reevaluate and question if they have just got used to living in a certain way or if they actually love their life.
I heard this quote in 2013 and it has really stayed with me:
“The business of life is the acquisition of memories. In the end, that’s all there is.” – Mr. Carson (2013)
Yes, that’s Mr. Carson from Downton Abbey. But still, the words resinate with me, especially at this point in my life.
I digressed, I apologise. Back to the boat journey…
Luckily I wasn’t sick. However, it was extremely windy and choppy and the banca bounced around all over the place for the entire 6 hours. The destination of our banca was Coron, but we got off early to stay on Bamboo Island, a private island around 1 hour 30 from Busuanga Island.
The scenery over the 6 hours was an experience in its self.
We met a boat in the middle of the ocean, around 15 minutes from Bamboo Island, waved bye to the friends we had made and quite literally walked the plank onto another boat, suitcases and rucksacks in-hand. Mum, you would have had kittens.
Now just brace yourself for the beauty. Perhaps sit on your hands or they might take over and book a flight or worse, the whole island. That may damage the bank account a bit.
Arriving on Bamboo Island was something that is difficult to put into words. It is the dream. It is a little slice of heaven on earth and it was just for us!
This is obviously not my picture. I stole it. I wanted to give you some perspective of the size and space.
Bamboo Island was purchased over 10 years ago by a french man and his family who were living in Manila. Surrounding this perfect little paradise is a reef with some of the richest marine life in the region. Its turquoise waters, fine white sand, coconut trees and rain forest are home to a multitude of colourful birds and butterflies. The bamboo cottages and pavilion, which is the central area for all to gather together to dine and drink, reflect the eco-friendly ideology of the whole island. They are not flash but what I would describe as luxuriously rustic and natural.
Perched up into the rain forest was our little bamboo bedroom, complete with sink, fan, comfy bed, 3 stage filtered and UV treated drinking water and mosquito net. This is one of 7 thatched roof huts.
The food also has the ‘wow’ factor and is taken very seriously by the owners of the island.
The chef is wonderfully talented and works with an equally capable team who are friendly, professional and discrete. Nothing is too much to ask and they will do whatever they can to make your stay on Bamboo Island as special as possible.
The kitchen is big and really designed to have that family feel. I popped in on a number of occasions to take a snoop at what they were cooking and how they were preparing everything.
I have rarely eaten such fresh, real, flavoursome food. All the vegetables, citrus, herbs and poultry are grown or raised on the family farm near-by, and they also have access to the freshest non-farmed seafood. Every meal included the most delicious fresh salads and greens, grilled steamed seafood or meat, rice, potatoes or pastas, fresh fruits and home-made bread (this was a serious treat as they have no idea about bread in the Philippines).
Arorosep or Seaweed Salad which is apparently bursting with goodness. With each mouthful the little sacks of fluid pop perfectly in your mouth to release the most beautiful flavour.
Garlicky gambas in the making, my favourite.
Its disconcerting to know that the Philippines has the climate and soil to produce so much amazing fresh food, straight from the ground and yet they are really not known for their food.
Enough about the food, lets take a tour.
The island over looks other idyllic islands, some inhabited by locals, some not inhabited at all.
Hammocks and sun loungers are dotted around for your relaxation and comfort. My favourite was the big sofa bed!
After a little relaxation you may want to stretch your legs and do some exercise. The island is equipped with paddle boards, a hobie cat and snorkelling equipment. It is also not far from some of the best wreck diving in the world, which we did but I will write about it in another post. The snorkelling was spectacular. One day before aperitifs, Max and I decided to go for a ‘quick’ snorkel. During that short time, we saw a Blue Spotted Sting Ray, a White Tip Shark and a turtle. This is all amongst the incredible coral and an array of colourful fish. It was truly awesome. During the windy season, from around December to April, the island is perfect for kite boarding and as such, is rented out by a a gentleman who runs a school from there. Not a bad place for a kiting holiday!
Each night as the sun set, we enjoyed apero with the best possible view.
Not satisfied with owning just one magnificent island, we were taken on a short journey to the other equally awesome island, Big Bamboo island. This island is more of the family second home, with just one large house comprising of 4 big bedrooms.
We visited Big Bamboo Island on a very special day, the 8th of November 2015, exactly 2 years since the devastating Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines causing untold damage and killing thousands. This beautiful island was badly damaged during the typhoon but has been carefully restored and is now habitable again.
We toasted in remembrance of that day and enjoyed the peaceful sunset before whizzing back to Bamboo Island for some star gazing.
There is no light pollution on the island and because of its location, the night sky is exquisite. It glitters like a disco ball. I have never seen the stars shine so bright. Watching the shooting stars pass by became an evening ritual for Max and I. Some would burn for more than 7 seconds, some so big and seemingly so close, they looked like exploding fireworks in the sky. The milky way was clearly visable every night and we could identify many of the star alignments.
We had a magical 4 nights on Bamboo Island. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience that we feel so privileged to have enjoyed. We are so thankful to our kind friends for having us.
This trip just gets better and better.