Sunday 7th May 2023
We were up at a decent time to actually enjoy breakfast today! Our rate at our hotel didn’t include breakfast, however they did have an Abaca Bakery & Cafe downstairs that served a buffet breakfast for anyone staying at the hotel for around AUD$17 per person.
We decided to give this a go as we had our hair appointments at 10am so didn’t want to go around trying to find something to eat. I’m usually a big buffet person, however I’m always a little disappointed in buffet breakfasts in Asia. Mainly because I find the food so dry. The pancakes are dry, the waffles are dry, the little mini muffins and croissants they serve you are always dry. Safe to say, everything I had was pretty dry 😅 but oh well, we had food and that’s all that really matters.
After our breakfast, we took a GRAB to the mall for our blow-wave appointment. I was called first and was in the middle of having my hair washed when Bree came over and told me that they told her they couldn’t do her at the same time and she would have to go after me. As we had a flight that afternoon, we didn’t want to waste time so Bree said she’d find somewhere else in the mall to do her hair. It was quite disappointing as I had double checked with the receptionist the night before and she said they could do us both at the same time. They tried saying it was because two staff had called in sick however I didn’t quite believe that as when we arrived that morning there was a customer asking if they could do her hair right away even though she didn’t have an appointment and they said yes 🤔
The blow wave was fine for $10 – nothing amazing but I wasn’t expecting much either. I was hoping there would be some kind of scalp massage in the conditioner process but sadly there was not (me over here just dying for a good massage somewhere 😩)
Bree did find somewhere a few shops down that could fit her in for a blow wave so with our freshly washed hair, we headed back to the hotel so we could pack up the rest of our gear, check-out and head to the airport.
The drive to the airport was around 40 minutes so we arrived about 3 hours prior to departure – plenty of time to spare! (The check-in actually wasn’t even opened when we arrived) so we were quite early.
Once check-in opened, we checked in and received our boarding passes for our flight to El Nido which is on Palawan Island. I also had to sign a document saying I was less than 34 weeks pregnant and was able to fly without a medical certificate (you usually only need a note if you’re 26 weeks+)
If you’re ever going to El Nido, the fastest way is to fly with Airswift (which is the only airline that fly directly to El Nido Town). However, this can be expensive at around AUD$200-$300 per person. The cheapest way most people do it is by flying to Puerto Princesa which is the main international airport on Palawan and where the major airlines like Cebu Pacific & Philippine Airlines fly to. The only downfall to this is there is then a 6 hour drive to El Nido. 😩 however the flights are probably around AUD$30-$50 from Manila or Cebu and the transport is AUD$20 to El Nido which makes for a cheap trip if you have the time. We however, were only in The Philippines for a week so went with the nicer option of a 1.5 hour flight with a pick up from the airport by the hotel and a quick 15 minute drive to El Nido ☺️
There were quite a few food options at Cebu Airport and even though I probably had enough to eat already that day after the breakfast 😒 I got a yummy punnet of fries with this sour cream seasoning for lunch and a little Dunkin Donut 🍩 to eat on the plane.
By the time we had browsed a couple of the shops and walked around a little, we had an hour until boarding so we sat at our gate waiting for the call to board the bus that would take us to our plane on the tarmac. I remember at one stage the name “Sarah” being called over the intercom but I didn’t really register as they CONSTANTLY were talking about gate changes and saying peoples names over the intercom. I think Bree mentioned something like “hey was that your name?” And I probably said “nah I don’t think so” however the gate agent came over to me and asked if I was Sarah. I said I was and she asked if I had a medical certificate to fly as I was pregnant. I told her I’m sure I didn’t need one as I was under 26 weeks but she said I did and I’d have to go with another gate agent to be seen by the airport doctor. Bree and I were a little confused as it was literally about 5 minutes from boarding. I went with her anyways and someone (I assume the doctor) took my blood pressure and temperature at the medical office they had at the airport. Then they kept having discussions with each other in Filipino (obviously about me and whether to let me fly or not) i overhead the doctor say the number 34 so I quickly said “excuse me, I’m actually 24 weeks” – they looked puzzled and someone else said “no your age is 34” which I replied “no I’m 31, I’m 24 weeks though” but I still don’t think they understood and actually thought I was 34 weeks pregnant. Bree messaged me on Messenger at this stage and said everyone had boarded the bus so I got a bit nervous worried that I was gonna miss the flight. I mentioned it to the gate agent sitting next to me and she said no one was boarding yet but when I told her that my friend had messaged me and said they were she was like “oh really?” And then started messaging someone else
Anyways, 15-20 minutes later I signed some documents and got a medical certificate saying I was fit to fly (funnily enough throughout this process I actually realised I was now 25 weeks pregnant but I didn’t want to say anything Incase I caused any confusion and more doubt )
With certificate in hand, I was back at the gate where Bree was waiting for me with my carry on suitcase. Not to mention everyone on our flight was waiting for us on the bus woops.
When we got to the plane, we got off the bus and were escorted onto the plane first. I assumed everyone was coming behind us but we must have been getting the special pregnancy treatment 😂 we were shown to our seats, helped with our luggage and told if we needed any help from the attendant to just call the call button. All the while everyone else was stopped to wait on the tarmac while we were seated. I had kept joking to Bree throughout the trip “when am I gonna get my special pregnancy treatment” and I definitely finally got it 😂
The flight to El Nido was about 1.5 hours and apart from a bumpy landing onto the runway, it was quite enjoyable!
We had a driver from our hotel waiting for us at the airport to take us to our accommodation which was nice not having to organise anything.
Already we knew we would enjoy El Nido more than Cebu. Driving through to the main centre of town, everything looked more relaxed and there were more tourists which was a relief as I’m not sure how much longer we could cope with being stared at in Cebu being the two white tourist girls 😅
Our hotel was nice. H Hotel is a relatively new hotel right in the centre of El Nido (about a 3 minute walk to the beach and to where all the boat tours leave from). The staff were really welcoming and helpful and the room was nice – albeit a bit small. The had decorated it for Bree as a ‘congratulations on her upcoming wedding’ but the colours they used made it seem more like a honeymoon set up 😂 maybe they misunderstood my request.
The only thing I didn’t like about the room was the random swing which actually ended up being kind of annoying as it was in the way when you were getting in and out of bed. Plus when you sat in it it kept swinging into the bedside table so there was a bit of a design flaw there. Also the bathroom lighting wasn’t ideal for applying make up (girl issues) as the light was right above the mirror so it was hard to see and there was absolutely no bench space for your toiletries. In the picture below it looks like there’s a cupboard but it doesn’t actually open. Plus the little shelf hadn’t been screwed into the tiles properly so it was on a lean the whole time and all our toiletries kept slipping off. They also had a cupboard with a rack to hang your clothes but no coat hangers?
Once we’d checked in and dumped out bags, we explored the streets of El Nido which were so cute! It definitely had the beachy island vibe we were looking for on our holiday.
We saw a place that had a happy hour going so we stopped there to get some drinks & nibbles before going out for dinner. (Well, Bree had the 2-4-1 cocktails and I had to buy a lonely mocktail haha)
We decided to have dinner at the hotel restaurant on the first night which was their Vegan restaurant called Ver De. I don’t know why we ordered so much food because we definitely couldn’t eat it all!
Everything was really yummy! Even if we couldn’t finish it all 😩
I was eager to finish my night with a massage as my last two were pretty mediocre. I went to the Spa underneath the hotel that had really great reviews. They did cost more than the other massage places on the island but I assumed it would be because they were really great. Anyways, I paid for a 1 hour Pregnancy massage and it was even worse than the last two 😭 I specifically told her when she started massaging me to please go firm. And she kind of just smiled and nodded but didn’t apply a different pressure so I said to her again I wanted a strong massage. She then says “it is relaxing because you are pregnant” and I said “no it’s fine, I really want firm, strong pressure” but then she said that because I’m pregnant they only do it lightly. GRRRR I wanted to say “I’m not going to give birth right then and there because you massaged my neck too hard” but of course I didn’t and I suffered through another wasted massage. It was so hot in the room too that I just became uncomfortable and irritated the whole time. All she really did was rub oil onto my skin, there was no actual ‘massaging’ going on. I rub oil into my skin harder than the pressure she used for me 😣
By the time I got to bed, it was around 11:30pm (not quite the semi early night I had hoped for). Luckily we had a private boat tour booked for the next day and to avoid the crowds we were starting around 9:45am so we had a semi-early sleep in which was nice ☺️.