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Day 20: El Nido – Manila

Cadlao Island, from El Nido bay, dawn. Our final morning at El Nido - today we fly back to the madness of Manila.

Cadlao Island, from El Nido bay, dawn. Our final morning at El Nido - today we fly back to the madness of Manila.

El Nido Bay, dawn.

El Nido Bay, dawn.

El Nido

El Nido.

Palms. Definitely one of the icons of the trip.

Palms. Definitely one of the icons of the trip.

So we rode a few short kms to the airport, convinced the ground crew that we could pack our bikes up small, and were soon on our way to Manila.

So we rode a few short kms to the airport, convinced the ground crew that we could pack our bikes up small, and were soon on our way to Manila.

Jeepney ride in Manila. That's Frances, whose house we stayed at, on the right.

Jeepney ride in Manila. That's Frances, whose house we stayed at, on the right.

Being the dumb tourists that we are we both got scratched by a cat in El Nido. Seemed like a good idea to get our rabies boosters as soos as - just in case. So we paid a visit to the Makati Medical Centre (read, busy hospital in central Manila), it actually wasn't too bad and we got our shots soon enough - without contracting anything else (we hope).

Being the dumb cat-loving tourists that we are we both got scratched by a cat in El Nido. Seemed like a good idea to get our rabies boosters as soon as - just in case. So we paid a visit to the Makati Medical Centre (read, busy hospital in central Manila), it actually wasn't too bad and we got our shots soon enough.

Hanging out with Megan and Mike in Manila (we were trying to find somewhere to watch a Tour de France stage) but gave up and drank beer instead.

Hanging out with Megan and Mike in Manila (we were trying to find somewhere to watch a Tour de France stage) but gave up and drank beer instead.

Day 19: El Nido (boat trip 2)

On our last day at El Nido we went for a second boat trip, to some further-flung islands in the bay.

On our last day at El Nido we went for a second boat trip, to some further-flung islands in the bay.

Rock on the flanks of Matinloc Island.

Rock on the flanks of Matinloc Island.

Somewhere on Matinloc.

Somewhere on Matinloc.

Another swimming/snorkelling spot.

Another swimming/snorkelling spot.

More rock than you can shake a Hilti at...

More rock than you can shake a Hilti at...

Intestines from a pig (i think), not sure, but I ate them anyhow. Yum.

Intestines from a pig (i think), not sure, but I ate them anyhow. Yum.

Bakery treats - don't be fooled by colourings and different shapes - they all taste identical. Although the small 'breasty-like' ones with a single red spot have nice coconut stuff in them.

Bakery treats - don't be fooled by colourings and different shapes - they all taste identical! Although the small 'breasty-like' ones with a single red spot do have nice coconut stuff in them.

Tricycles, Hama Street, El Nido.

Tricycles, Hama Street, El Nido.

Serona Rd, El Nido.

Serona Rd, El Nido.

Serona Rd, El Nido.

Serona Rd, El Nido.

Day 18: El Nido (boat trip 1)

El Nido Bay, Cadlao Island

El Nido Bay, Cadlao Island.

El Nido - and what could be a sweet limestone crag.

El Nido - and what could be a sweet limestone crag.

The way to spend your time in El Nido is to go out on boat trips round the islands, lagoons and narrow straits that surround Bacuit Bay.

The way to spend your time in El Nido is to go out on boat trips round the islands, lagoons and narrow straits that surround Bacuit Bay. For around NZ$40 you can hire a boat and a guide (who cooks you barbequed fish for lunch) for a whole day.

The trip visits several lagoons, some big enough to float a bangka into, and others that you can only enter by swiming through a small hole.

The trip visits several lagoons, some big enough to float a bangka into, and others that you can only enter by swiming through a small hole. A gap in the cliff ahead allowed us to swim into Small Lagoon (Miniloc Island).

Inside Big Lagoon - Miniloc Island

Inside Big Lagoon - Miniloc Island.

Heading back out of Big Lagoon. Miniloc Is.

Heading back out of Big Lagoon. Miniloc Is.

Limestone karst. The entire bay is formed like this - and the rock forms everything from jagged slabs to massive overhanging walls.

Limestone karst. The entire bay is formed like this - and the rock forms everything from jagged slabs to massive overhanging walls.

One of the many amazing beaches we stopped on.

One of the many amazing beaches we stopped on.

Coconut palms and our bangka.

Coconut palms and our bangka.

the full range of coral, reef fish, barracuda, turtles - really good visibility too.

The snorkelling around these islands was amazing: the full range of coral, reef fish, barracuda, turtles - really good visibility too.

Day 17: El Nido (Cadlao Is.)

We had some postcards to send.

We had some postcards to send.

What better to do after 4 days in a row in the saddle than paddle out to a desterted beach and listen to your ipod in the sand.

What better to do after 4 days in a row in the saddle than paddle out to a deserted beach, go for a snorkel, and listen to your ipod in the sand. (Photo: Hana)

Looking back across to El Nido bay.

Looking back across to El Nido bay.

Cool trees around.

Cool trees around. View across Bacuit Bay.

Tree and limestone boulder

Tree and limestone boulder.

Chilling on Cadlao island.

Chilling on Cadlao island.

Day 16: Taytay – El Nido

This was our last day on the road  - 65km of hilly gravel road and we'd be in El Nido. Before we hit the road we checked out the stilt village down at the port.

This was our last day on the road - 65km of hilly gravel road and we'd be in El Nido. Before we hit the road we decided to check out a stilt village down at the port.

A crazy, rickety village entirely on stilts over the water.

A crazy, rickety village entirely on stilts over the water.

Kids everywhere of course.

Kids everywhere of course.

More kids...

More kids...

A plank is all y'need.

A plank is all y'need.

Not so happy.

Not so happy.

It was a long and quiet road today - it was our 4th day on in a row we were feeling pretty wrecked.

It was a long and quiet road today - it was our 4th day on in a row we were feeling pretty wrecked.

We nicknamed this bit the 'El Nido Wall'. Steepest climb of the trip. Went on for only 10 minutes or so but by the top we were dizzy, weak and ready to fall over.

We nicknamed this bit the 'El Nido Wall'. Steepest climb of the trip. Went on for only 15 minutes or so but by the top we were dizzy, weak and ready to fall over.

A monsoon downpour finally caught us, but fortunately we got some shelter at a nearby shop while it unleashed.

A monsoon downpour finally caught us, but fortunately we got some shelter at a nearby shop while it unleashed.

We were pretty happy to see the limestone cliffs of El Nido roll into view.

We were pretty happy to see the limestone cliffs of El Nido roll into view.

The end of the road. With 920km under our tyres we reached the end of the cycling leg of our trip at El Nido, a small resort town amid a stunning limestone karst landscape. We stayed here for 4 nights, exploring the archipelago by boat and spending hours snorkelling and checking out the local restaurants.

The end of the road. With 920km under our tyres we reached the end of the cycling leg of our trip at El Nido, a small resort town amid a stunning limestone karst landscape. We stayed here for 4 nights, exploring the archipelago by boat and spending hours snorkelling and checking out the local restaurants.

Picking a place to stay for the next 4 nights.

Picking a place to stay for the next 4 nights.

El Nido is a port village/chilled tourist town nestled amongst towering cliffs and a stunning bay.

El Nido is a port village/chilled tourist town nestled amongst towering cliffs and a stunning bay.

Bangka at sunset.

Bangkas at sunset.

Minbdblowing sunset and view of Cadlao island.

Minbdblowing sunset and view of Cadlao island.

Pretty amazing place to arrive at...

Pretty amazing place to arrive at...

Day 15: Roxas – Taytay

We woke to a beautiful sunny morning in Roxas. Time to go eat breakfast and hit the road ...

We woke to a beautiful sunny morning in Roxas. Time to go eat breakfast and hit the road ...

Shop en-route to Taytay. We knew that the road was going to deteriorate from here on and get much hiller.

Shop en-route to Taytay. We knew that the road was going to deteriorate from here on and get much hiller.

The San Vincente turn off. The road starts climbing a lot more from here - good thing we'd had nearly 2 weeks to build up to it.

The San Vincente turn off. The road starts climbing a lot more from here, not long climbs, but lots of up-and-down and quite rough - good thing we'd had nearly 2 weeks to build up to it.

Down in the valley past Abongan. Shops and villages became very scarce along here and the road deserted.

Down in the valley past Abongan. Shops and villages became very scarce along here and the road deserted.

So we were getting pretty desperate for some lunch when we arrived at this village. We asked at one tiny shop if there was any food to be had and they pointed at this place. Turned out they were serving rice-chicken soup for lunch and we were invited in to watch a karaoke TV show.

So we were getting pretty desperate for some lunch when we arrived at this village. We asked at one tiny shop if there was any food to be had and they pointed at this place. Turned out they were serving rice-chicken soup for lunch and we were invited in to watch a karaoke TV show.

Taytay is a great little village, with an ancient fort right on the waterfront, and some good places to say. The place had a nice, chilled vibe and good views out towards other islands on the archipelago.

Taytay is a great little village, with an ancient fort right on the waterfront and some good places to say. It had a nice, chilled vibe and good views out towards other islands on the archipelago.

Fishing at sunset.

Fishing at sunset.

Had to take a photo of this.

Had to take a photo of this.

Fighting cock.

Fighting cock.

Tricyles (in various forms of disrepair) are the dominant form of transport in Philippine towns and their tooting and noisy engines were usually what we woke to most days. They're good for drafting behind too! In the background is the Spanish-style Santa Isabel fort, built by Catholic priests in 1667.

Tricyles (in various forms of disrepair) are the dominant form of transport in Philippine towns and their tooting and noisy engines were usually what we woke to most days. This one has broken down and the drivers family are milling round while he fixes it. In the background is the Spanish-style Santa Isabel fort, built by Catholic priests in 1667.

Number plate

Number plate.

More cute kids.

More cute kids.

Cool church.

Cool church.

Main street. Taytay.

Main street. Taytay.

Day 14: San Rafael – Roxas

Two boys with fighing cock. These kids were super shy - took a bit of convincing to get a photo.

Two boys with fighing cock. These kids were super shy - took a bit of convincing to get a photo.

Nice fast, smooth roads.

Nice fast, smooth roads.

Mmmm - attack that mango.

Mmmm - attack that mango.

I guess this area got flooded often - all the houses were on stilts.

I guess this area got flooded often - all the houses were on stilts.

single cigarettes, coca cola in a bag with a straw, petrol in coca cola bottles. Pick your bag, pull it off the hook, pay your pesos and it's yours.

Everything's for sale in the Philippines and in any manner: single cigarettes, coca cola in a bag with a straw, petrol in coca cola bottles. Pick your bag, pull it off the hook, pay your pesos and it's yours.

After a 77km day (67 the day before), we rode into Roxas. The town's not much - pretty scruffy - so we found another (deserted) beachside resort for the night. It was mid afternoon, so we decided to sleep for a bit before heading out closer to sunset for dinner.

After a 77km day (67km the day before), we rode into Roxas. The town's not much - pretty scruffy - so we found another (deserted) beachside resort for the night. It was mid afternoon, so we decided to sleep for a bit before heading out closer to sunset for dinner.

Bangka and island (view from beach outside our room).

Bangka and island (view from beach outside our room).

Bangka on the beach.

Bangka on the beach.

Quite nice to go for a stoll before dinner. Our legs were pretty trashed and we were looking forward to something to eat...

Quite nice to go for a stoll before dinner. Our legs were pretty trashed though and we were looking forward to something to eat...

The F/B Filipina Lady

The F/B Filipina Lady.

To get into town we had to walk right through a small fishing village (and volleyball game). Definitely got a few stares here.

To get into town we had to walk right through a small fishing village (and volleyball game). Definitely got a few stares here.

Kids walking home from school.

Kids walking home from school.

Crazy cats.

Crazy cats. No relation to this photo, but the best thing about Roxas is the Vietnamese restaurant on the main drag out of town. It's not in the LP book, but it totally should be - some of the best food we ate on the trip right there. Super tasty, fresh ingredients, cheap and good service. It was so good we went back for breakfast.


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This blog's about a three week cycle touring trip in the Philippines in July 2008. Check out the introduction.

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