North of Palawan: rivers, villages and many many pesos

And that is how I decided to come back in San Vicente after I left it just for having a look in El Nido for few days. The experience was so frustrating that I had to run away. The crowd and the sadness of mass tourism has killed my joy for exploring new places.

Enjoy this little paradise before somebody realize its beauty and start to build shameless pieces of concrete everywhere to improvise facilities.

There is a river long enough to be paddled for a good hour or more. I just explored it from my cottage to the sea and once taking an other road in a certain split. The first would take towards the fishing village, the second is a narrow passage onto some water palms labirinth.

I stayed in Farmbelle cottages which it wasn’t cheap compared to what happend in the little town of San Vicente. There you can find double room with fan for 500pesos or 600 or 1000 if with airco. In Farmbelle we are around 1200pesos. This was a good deal for us to stay closer to the long beach and renting a motorbike in town for 500pesos per day the distance was easy to manage. In town, which is around 3km away from the main access to the long beach you can find shops, restaurants and bar. There is a public market with fresh fishes and veggies, there are a couple of second end clothing shops and a very cute food court with 7 eating spots. I liked the local food served in a sort of buffet with many different choises (if looking for more veggies better to go for lunch than dinner). Good food is served also at Mango bar and the restaurant besides it. The local buffet set ups are of course the cheapest option to eat in town. Don’t look for wine or western food here. It would be a very disappointing choice. Go for fruit shakes at Mango bar that are amazing or the Tanduay local rum with kalamansi juice always available.

There are massive plans to make San Vicente become a new El nido. For sure it has the potential, and it has much more space and options to grow faster and better than the packed and cahotic El Nido. The harbour area is massive, the long beach is 14 kilometers of pure beauty. The surrounding area is luxuriant. Waterfalls and rivers are other chilling spots and very often you can see buffalo chilling as well in the middle of the rivers or rice fields.

My favourite swimming spot was where the river ends on the long beach. The Bighao waterfall are alse reachable by motorbike and a good refreshing spot although they are little and if unlucky you get there where other 10 people come with a tour from Port Barton. It’s one hour and a half drive in a very dusty sometimes sandy road beacuse is under construction and it will connect San Vicente to Port Barton.

Bighao waterfalls are closer to Port Barton than San Vicente. Infact we chosed to keep on going on the same coastal road till Port Barton to get back to San Vicente form the main road/highway.

Hospitality in San Vicente is now modest and cheap and when I compare the service I got in Port Barton and El Nido, I wish this place will not follow the same path. Port Barton and El Nido had been growing in a savage way and they claim importance as well as lot of money for a service that is far from being decent.

VHF and Radio things / connections when crossing an Ocean

The VhF was an important tool for my new life abroad. So it was that I started my “official” and “public” talking in English. At that time I remember it was an issue because even if I could communicate quite well with this foreign language I was still in doubt about my “listening” skills. Imagine when the skills needed are related to safety during sailing, approaching harbours, decks and having infos about weather, coordinates and communications with other boats. I really thought I could mess a lot with this tool in my hands, but everything went right in the end. First time using it was in the Caribbean Sea, Virgin Islands. Everybody on board thought it was my duty to do that, cause nobody was able to say anything in English. After this time that I remember with a bit of fear, this job was quite different…

When I started to travel with a more diversified provenience travellers everything become more “democratic” and the use of the vhf wasn’t a big deal anymore.

During my sailing trip I discover that the SSB Radio (single side band) was a great tool to communicate. In every area you can ask for the frequencies were independent volunteers advise you about everything related to the sea at least twice per day, at a certain time. I found it interesting, especially because you can communicate your position when you leave and people are taking notes of it. That means that they will look for you when you are aspected to come somewhere, somehow. This might sound a bit “too much” but is actually a very useful way to stay safe and “together” even when far apart from each other. Sometimes you meet new sailors because you hear their story on the radio and maybe you even talked, and the day after they are anchoring just besides you.

On those radio “rendez-vous”, there is normally a boat crew who is volunteering. They normally start to call people that were “in” during the last transmission. If you are signing for the first time you go on the queue waiting for the call for anybody else to join. After giving your name and position you can just keep silent and listen to the others or asking your questions and express your doubts on the end. I loved this system, I loved to hear from other people. I loved that we weren’t alone in a little boat in the vastity of the ocean. There were other sailors, many of them.

In Ritme, I was using the SSB radio also for sending very concise mails. We had the SailMail account provider connected with a Modem to the SSB Radio (it’s something like 280 $ per year, a pretty fair price for being connected with the world and being able to get the forecast wherever you are). It was quite a funny game for me to look for the best station with the most of the chance to get an email through, unless the Ocean was rough and throwing me up, down and left and right onto the desk. This system is actually very basic: you send a little email to a computer that is always connected on one of those radio stations offered (that is why you need to check the favourite one), that computer will eventually send it for you. Quite often “Niue” or “Honolulu” were the best options. One -few words (10) – email from the Ocean could take from two minutes to half of hour to go through. But, yes, I could tell my sister that I was still alive after many days of silence. It’s a great tool.