We’re not in the clear yet, so keep your fingers crossed until we reach Bali. And even then, I’m not sure if typhoons affecting even a single country may spread to the entire Southeast Asia region. For more drama, read on…
On our third and final day of island hopping, we started off our morning with a 1.4km zipline excursion (500-1100 pesos per person depending if you want to do round trip or one way, sitting or gliding like “Superman”) over The Palawan:
After that, walked back and took a tricycle back to town, except Dave who rented a motorbike (cough, showoff…ok I’m a little jealous):
At 2pm we hopped on our private boat for overnight camping on our own private beach.
Some of us took a speedboat back into town for an hour when we wanted to get more marshmallows, mosquito coils, liquor, and drinks. I guess you could call this our best “liquor run” ever:
Also enjoyed the sunset and ate freshly cooked food made by our ship captains.
And then the emergency news came: While in the middle of our “full moon party” we got word via a satellite phone call that our AirAsia flights out of Manila and into Bali on December 8th had been cancelled. This was bad. Supertyphoon Hagupit had finally reared its ugly head.
Sure, we had been dodging bullets left and right with such good weather in The Palawan, despite the threat of a supertyphoon hovering nearby…but now our luck had finally run out. Without our flights out of Manila and into Bali, we were threatened with the scenario of being stranded in The Philippines for the next week during the storm, as well as standing up all the folks who flew all the way out here to Southeast Asia to join us for the East Timor part of the trip. While these are first world problems, I didn’t want to let down my group with a horrible end to the trip, nor did I want to abandon anyone in East Timor.
Kicking our shit into high gear, we managed to leech off cell phone signal from one of my friends on the trip, Dave, and find alternative earlier flights direct from Manila to Bali. Instead of the original plan of flying into Manila, spending the night and catching the next morning 7:30am AirAsia flight to Kuala Lumpur to Bali (which flights were now cancelled), we would fly into Manila, hail a cab to another airport terminal, and barely make a direct Philippine Airlines flight out to Bali flying out that same evening. Although we would lose a night in Manila, we would gain an extra one in Bali and still be able to make it in time so that our monsooners joining us for East Timor wouldn’t arrive to an empty welcoming party.
Suffice to say, there was a lot of back and forth setting this up. It was hard enough to get cell signal on a remote abandoned beach in The Palawan Islands, let alone look up affordable alternative international flights on airlines that would be willing to book 12 people the day before. On the bright side, we were able to reach AirAsia and confirm their cancellations, and reach Philippine Airlines and confirm that their flights were still on. But we found out the hard way that some airlines and booking sites wouldn’t allow booking for flights less than 24 hour prior to departure. We found out the hard way that booking directly with Philippine Airlines would’ve been 50% more expensive. And we found out the hard way some booking sites only allow booking 5 people at a time. But after a few hours of laser-focus teamwork, we got the flights booked and plan B secured.
Resuming the full moon party on our own private beach in The Palawan would be a proper way to celebrate.
The next morning we woke up drowsily to the sounds of waves and a serene sunrise:
On our way back to town, we were able to re-confirm that our flight out of The Palawan was still on schedule and that whatever I booked last night via satellite phone was still on the books. After almost forgetting to reserve accommodations in Bali for my group of monsooners, I once again harnessed borrowed WiFi to make sure we had a place to sleep in Bali at 2am. We then hopped on our 6 hour bus to catch our flight from Puerto Princesa back to Manila.
As of right now I’m blogging at the airport in Puerto Princesa, crossing my fingers that the flights are still on. It ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings in Bali. Wish us luck.
– At time of posting in Puerto Princesa, The Philippines, it was 95 °F – Humidity: 85% | Wind Speed: 7km/hr | Cloud Cover: partly cloudy