I felt the driver crank up the speed as he leaned forward the tricycle looking at him from the back seat. It’s not that the three of us were heavy along with our baggage coming from Lio Airport, it’s just that the road going to El Nido town slopes prominently high. Once past that it was a breezy 10-15minutes ride into town. The group was split into half, Melo and I would be staying in Hadefe Cottages in Caalan Beach.
Among the ASEAN Countries outside the Philippines, I think Malaysia is the one I have frequented most. I remember it being my first passport stamp out of the country when we climbed Mt Kinabalu in Sabah, and since then Kuala Lumpur has become a gateway for my travels in Asia but have never really gone out to explore the city except for climbing one of the nearby mountain peaks of Bukit Tabur before. So when Tourism Malaysia sent an invite for a Familiarization Tour in conjunction to their Merdeka (Independence) Celebration and suddenly my schedule got free on the said dates, I didn’t think twice of course. It’s an opportunity to get to know the country more.
Island hopping is fun but beach hopping and let alone spending hours on a boat as well can take a toll. One moment I’m looking at those beautiful islands and in seconds I’m looking at the wooden paint patterns on the boat. I think I was bobbing my head up and down getting minutes of those micro-sleeps. While I enjoyed the tour in Ambulong and Ilin Island, I was also yearning to go back to the resort and rest up a little and check up what’s in store at Villa Paulina Gardens and Resort.
Tourism is not really the main draw in Bongao, Tawi-tawi so there aren’t that many accommodations to choose from. There are however three notable hotels there which caters to businessmen, visitors and the occasional travelers in Tawi-Tawi. We were able to stay at some of them and we can say that don’t expect any 3-5 star types here. Most of the rooms are basic and spartan. (Updated December 2014) Almost 5 years since my first visit, there are already additional options for stay in Bongao. Some though have remained the same.