The next day was technically our last full day on the island, so we decided to make it a slow and lazy one. We had breakfast at a French place by the beach with a view over the harbor, and enjoyed proper huge cappuccinos and fresh orange juice. We went back to the hotel for a lazy swim in our small but nevertheless amazing rooftop pool, sat around for a while, and then the mad dogs inside us demanded action.
We remembered seeing billboards advertising Canopy Walk, and decided this was just the right entertainment for a lazy day. Google helped us locate the place – conveniently within a 10-min walk from our hotel. And in the heat of midday two idiots set on a journey!…
At the entrance to the canopy walk, 5 young guys were relaxing in the shade. We were their only customers at this time, and after some discussion among the guides, one of them sighed and parted with the group to accompany us on our walk. We were strapped into harnesses, given hard hats, and instructed never to take them off, never to stray off the path, and religiously follow the guide. In hindsight, flip-flops were not the best choice of footwear for the experience, but we bravely dived in. The first part of the canopy walk consisted of climbing numerous narrow stairs, in some places bolted directly into the cliffs of the Mount Taraw hovering over the town, in others, hovering on metal stilts over the hollows in said cliffs. Quite intricate and clinging to the mountain at precarious angles, they represented a masterpiece of engineering ingenuity. Metal tubes of varied length and width were bolted together to create a stairway path around and about the mountain. Whoever came up with the technical specifications for the thing, and implemented them in real life must have been an engineering genius, or partook in very serious drugs. Probably, both.
In about 3 minutes we started sweating like pigs. The fact that the steps were shaded by the rich foliage of the jungle covering the cliff helped shit all in the over +40C heat. Nevertheless we persevered and continued climbing the amazing structure bolted to the cliff. The fact that our guide was running ahead like a gazelle, squeezing himself into the narrowest turns of the stairs with boneless ease served as an inspiration, and huffing and puffing we kept moving on.
Our bravery was rewarded: the steps brought us to the top of the cliff, the jungle foliage opened up, and the bay and the town lay in front of us, all but gift-wrapped. The view was stunning, and the fact that it was just us and our guide, with no tourist crowds pushing for a selfie with a view, made the experience so much more special, even in midday heat!
The view wasn’t all the Canopy Walk had to offer, though. After spending enough time admiring the bay and the birds-eye panorama of the town, we moved on to the next surprise – the Spider Web! Stretched over a hollow in the cliff, the Spider Web was made of thick metal ropes radiating from the center, and secured with metal rings of increasing diameter, clipped to the ropes. It looked like a real spider web, only made by some monstrously huge alien spiders. And there were 3 of them – one giant one, and two smaller ones! You could walk on the Spider Webs (you actually had to walk across them to get to the continuation of the canopy walk), jump on them, or sit in the middle, pretending to be said alien spider. We did all three, and were happy like idiot children in kindergarten.
Despite the heat and the physical efforts required for the experience, the Canopy Walk was definitely the highlight of the day, and we can wholeheartedly recommend it to all visitors to El Nido. Just ditch the flip-flops, and wear trainers.
Enlightened by the majestic views, and chuffed with ourselves for surviving all the climbs and turns of the cliff path, we were ready for some refreshments. Our favorite Subasco only opened in the evenings, so we landed for a pit-stop in Happiness – an Israeli bar with swings. What an absolutely brilliant idea, and a true embodiment of happiness! All bars in the world should have swings in them! The swings were strategically hung around the bar, so that you could push off it with your feet while enjoying your drink. All you had to watch out for is not hitting one of the wait staff, going back and forth behind your back, but they seemed to be quite familiar with the swings’ speed and clearance needed to avoid them, and were undeterred in their movements. We spent a lovely hour swinging by the bar, sipping on our cold beers and watching the world go by. Nic also took an opportunity to enlighten the bar staff on the intricacies of Irish folk medicine – the day manager seemed to have been going down with a cold, and was professionally advised on how to make a Hot Toddy that would awaken the dead. The guy gratefully concocted one right there and then, gulped it down, and went home to nurse his cold and soon-to-come hangover.
Refreshed by our beverages, we got second wind, and decided to hop on a bus to get to another nearby local attraction – Nacpan Beach. This 3 km long, white sand beach looked mellow and relaxed. Apart from the inevitable I HEART NACPAN sign, it did not look overly-touristy or super-crowded.
We walked the white sandy stretch in both directions, and landed in a pizza bar for creative cocktails and sunset views.
The bar made us once again wonder at the popularity of Italian cuisine in the Philippines – not only was spaghetti with meat balls a staple dish in the Jollibee – the most popular local fast-food chain – but a remote beach on an equally remote island could boast a proper Italian pizza oven, chucking out more than decent pizzas! Philippines was a true land of contrasts: a comprised of a multitude of islands, each with its own character, a pseudo-Latin American-looking country plopped in the middle of South East Asia, with people enjoying Italian food, and speaking very decent English language in addition to their native Tagalog and a variety of other dialects – what a mad, fantastic, enjoyable mix!
Our last evening in El Nido was spent in the already familiar fashion – we went back to Subasco. By this time everybody there knew us. We said hello to the owner, the band, and all the regulars, and had a great time listening to the guys jamming together.
The next morning, a taxi van booked by the hotel took us back to Puerto Princesa. This was not Bobby service, but it delivered us safely to our destination, from where our long journey home to Munich through Manila, and Istanbul began.