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Smith’s Island – One of the most beautiful island I have been to.

Last year for my birthday, I traveled solo to Palawan, a place I’ve always wanted to go to. While it may not be unusual for female lone travelers on other parts of the world, its very uncommon here in the Philippines so imagine my friends reactions when I told them I was going there solo. “What! Why?” “Are you okay?” ” What’s wrong?” were common reactions, there was even a “You are going to die there!” – yes, that happened. Needless to say I did not tell my parents of my travel plans.

So where did this little adventure took me?

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Leaving my mark in Malcapuya Island 

Well, for one, I got an exclusive pass to one of the most beautiful lagoons in the world  and I got to lounge on an isolated island for a day with seafood in one hand and beer on the other. I had the Twin Lagoon and Smith’s island all to myself for a day. Normally there would be hundred other tourists with me on those spots had it not been luckily for me some circumstances. Someone was also kind enough to lend me his speedboat and showed me around different islands and told me folk stories from the province.

Solitary swimmer at the Twin Lagoon

Solitary swimmer at the Twin Lagoon

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My first shipwreck dive *excited*

If that wasn’t good enough for you, I also met WWII shipwrecks.  Diving is such an exhilarating experience. It was like being transported to a different world. A world that is cold and beautiful, mysterious and beguiling. Swimming through the remnants of the wrecks was definitely one of the highlights of my trip. Imagine huge ships buried deep within the ocean now inhabited by giant corals, dark empty rooms serving as underwater creature’s playground,  – so much history and beauty in one place.

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Meeting an angry Clown fish

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Look at that concerned face, don’t worry little fella, I won’t take you.

I also got to visit one of the Philippine’s most secluded island – Culion. This place offered interesting story as it was the dumping place for all the people infected with Leprosy. Back in the day when we didn’t know any better,people infected with the disease were separated from their family, contained, tested, and treated into this tiny island without the hope of reuniting with their family ever again. Of course now we know that Leprosy isn’t contagious, it serves a sad reminder what this island used to be.

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A bust of a person with Leprosy may look like

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Waiting for the museum to open

On a lighter note, I got to test my endurance by climbing 700+ steps to a mountain top, yes the view was worth it but if I were to do it again I’m definitely leaving my tripod and probably bring less food and water next time. I also visited the town’s hot spring, a first for me. Then there was the walk around the town where I get to discover great street eats and some funny village folk.

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The view from the mountain top.

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The Dynamite – a great street food find.

What I did on my birthday wasn’t all that exceptional. Although I got to hike a rather slippery mountain – barefoot (my slipper snapped midway) and swam through a bipolar lake ( The Barracuda lake is thermoclinic which means it has warm and cold layers. – Amazing no?) Had fresh sea foods (crabs and shrimps!) and be sung to by strangers, I can say I was pretty much solved.

New friends: Happy birthday to me.

But its is true what they say, some things are better left unplanned. The most amazing memories I’ve had of my trip were the ones I didn’t plan for. I never planned visiting those amazing islands, having the Twin Lagoon and Smith’s island all to myself. I never expected to meet wonderful people who made the experience truly remarkable for me.

Pathway to the Barracuda Lake

Pathway to the Barracuda Lake

The highlight of my trip was the dinner and conversations I had with fellow travelers. I cooked pasta and fries for the house and everyone ended up sharing all their stories and experiences, there were animated conversations and exchange of ideas and opinions. What a better way to end a birthday no? The following night I treated myself with a wine ordered myself a beer (for the first time!) just to pass the evening and make it easier to catch sleep BUT I ended up having an all-nighter sharing stories, getting involved into a passionate conversations with people from different parts of the world.

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A bracelet I made for my trip

When I planned this trip all I was expecting is a relaxing stay at the beach which was not quite what happened and really I am not complaining. There are moments you plan for and there are moments you don’t  and  most of the time, those are the moments that stick.

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Till next time!

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