I chose El Nido Palawan for my first ever solo trip. It was an easy option because of the following:
- It is located within the country
- I already have ideas on where to stay, what activities to do, and how much to spend
- It is my dream local destination
Anyway, here’s how it happened.
I took the UBE Airport Bus from Robinson’s Place Pedro Gil at 12 NN and arrived at NAIA Terminal 3 at past 1 PM. My flight schedule was 4:45 PM so I still had several hours to kill. Since this was my first time to ride an airplane as an adult, I didn’t know what to do and where to go. So for half an hour I was just walking around the airport vicinity while pretending to look confident.
A ground attendant helped me check-in online then she told me to proceed to Gate 119. While I was in the waiting area, I was asking the attendants about my flight schedule all the time.
Ma’am, kindly sit in the waiting area and listen for further announcement. Your boarding time is 4:15 PM.
I was the annoying passenger 😀 Good thing the attendants are polite and patient. I was worried that I will miss my flight because I saw passengers complaining that they weren’t called and they were just in the waiting area.
Then exactly 4:15 PM, they announced that all passengers of 5J647 should proceed to Gate 120 for immediate boarding.
My First Airplane Ride
As soon the plane takes off, I closed my eyes and prayed. I was a little scared but everything went smoothly from take off to final landing. I was sitting on the aisle so I didn’t get the chance to see clouds and oceans below. It also happened too fast. I mean … time flew! One moment, the plane took off and then minutes later I heard the pilot announced to fasten our seat belts and prepare for landing. Quarter to 7:00 PM and I was outside of Puerto Princesa Airport and waiting for a tricycle.
The Trike Driver
There are a lot of trikes outside the airport. I called one trike driver and told him to take me to the bus terminal. He said I need to pay him 100 pesos. I agreed. However, while he was driving, he insisted to take me to a travel agency. He said van is better than bus because transport time is faster and the cost is just the same.
I refused and told him I already have plans to take the bus. But he insisted and stopped in front of a travel agency office and asked me to wait. He said he will just ask if there’s a 7:30 PM trip to El Nido. Then minutes later he came back and told me the van leaves at 7:30 PM while the bus leaves at 10:00 PM. To be honest, I felt trapped. I wanted to take the bus but I also told myself that it’s not really a big deal so I agreed to take the van. I guess this is the first downside of traveling solo as a woman. I was intimidated and didn’t want to argue.
I paid the driver 50 pesos then I also paid 550 pesos for the van which according to the driver is the discounted price. I thanked the driver and he said he is happy to help me.
The van didn’t depart until a little past 8:00 PM. While I was waiting inside the travel agency office, I saw the same trike driver brought more tourists in the office saying the same things he told me. WAIT??! Was he a sales agent or he only wanted to help??! I will leave that for you to decide.
It was a roller-coaster van ride to El Nido.
First, the driver was over-speeding. It made me dizzy and my stomach felt really bad.
Second, we were cramped inside the van. The other passengers brought a lot of big bags.
Third, we were sitting shoulder-to-shoulder at the back so I tried not to move the entire time so I won’t disturb my seatmate.
I guess those are the cons of riding the van to El Nido. There are also positive sides:
- Travel time was about 5 hours. We left Puerto Princesa at past 8:00 PM and I was inside my hotel room at exactly 1:11 AM
- The van driver was polite and asked every hour if we need to eat, drink or go to comfort room
- The van driver dropped me at my hotel instead of bus terminal
At 1:11 AM I was in my hotel room. Tired and exhausted and still feeling a bit dizzy but glad that I made it 🙂 This is my first solo trip – El Nido Palawan!