Getting Set Up – more details

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[letter to mom]

Just got a $95 job to translate a 13 minute intro to a Czech reality TV show where some people will be chosen to live for two months like our predecessors, under Hitler I think – uncertainty if there will be food on the dinner table, no internet, no hot water or comfortable home. When I found out what it was about I burst out laughing and thought I’d share it with you, and mention an update at the same time.

Could say that I have been in a reality show myself, no hot water, getting drinking water from a hose winding its way down the mountain, washing myself from a bucket pulled up out of a well. But totally loving it and slowly making things more comfortable. I am SO thankful that I spent the extra $45 during my first round of shopping on a 12V monster fan. Buried a wire in the sand leading from the electricity/supply tent to my sleeping tent so I could finally have the fan blowing on me while asleep too. Find that I’ve been packing it in around 7pm, when it gets dark and certain bugs start coming out. By 9pm the mosquitos come out, and there’s nothing really to do here anyway. Have been waking up usually by around 3am and watching the sun come up around 5am is absolutely fantastic.


After brushing my teeth and eating 6 deliciously ripe mangos for breakfast, I’ll start my day, which mostly comprises of doing something on the computer and taking breaks every tenish minutes to add something to the fire and possibly to dip in the ocean, again. For now I am mostly cleaning up the beach and beachfront area of dead seaweed, coconuts and other loose material.

During the day children often come to ask if they can borrow my badminton rackets, volleyball or binoculars. I have set up a badminton net between two coconut trees, but plan to upgrade to a stronger volleyball net on my next shopping trip, and add to that a basketball hoop (to be attached to coconut tree next to badminton/volleyball court) with basket ball, more badminton rackets (the children have already broken 2/4), maybe another volleyball. Eventually I want to build a gymnastics style workout area out of bamboo. Even with all these playing areas on the property I have calculated that I can build at least 45 jungle huts, amply spaced apart.


For now will keep it tents only and save up money for a windsurf and kitesurfing board. As soon as I have those it will be easier to draw in paying guests, but I already have at least a dozen volunteers who want to come and help me build. Will focus on bare minimum of air mattress in tent, possibly small fan, and save up for the boards asap. Once I have enough of those, then can start upgrading the tents to something fancier.


I must be an interesting oddity on these three stretches of beach, as the locals come to explore my solar system setup, and I occasionally walk by their place every day as I have to hike up to the top of a mountain ridge in order to get fast internet. In camp I have slow internet, which is enough to confirm jobs, but not enough to surf. Made more than $2000 this month again, so my two week stay on the island has not been interfering with work. At least I’m getting into shape a bit walking up that hill. Will send link to webpage once I upload some pics, but absolutely beautiful here and I have high hopes for its success in the future.

Have already received consent from the neighbours. Was here for about a week and didn’t want to set up my tent too close to the caretakers here. We will eventually move them to farther back on the property. Set up my tents on the neighbour’s property and they were rather perplexed when they came back from their little vacation and found me there. But I told them I liked their beachfront property closest to the one I’m currently working on and they agreed for me to give them some basic rent, or 50% of profits for the two huts I plan to build on the extension, whichever is more. In the meantime, half of this extension makes a nice campfire place and where I have my two tents set up now. It is also good for the future, as it will bother fewer guests if we are playing music in the evenings.

The caretaker is some really old guy who is somehow sick and cannot talk but keeps his mouth gaping wide open all day, wiping from his lips some strange infection which accumulates all day, and mumbles and waves his hands whenever he tries to explain something to me. In an uncanny way I always seem to understand him. I hope to heal him with my new skills. His daughter comes by occasionally, with her entourage of about 5 little children and a bun in the oven. When you look at the age of the children, I cannot imagine someone procreating more feverishly, as they seem less than 9 months apart. This is a highly Catholic country, where divorce is illegal and most people respect the church’s demands not to use contraceptives. The politicians realise that this is exasperating poverty, but few make it into office without the church’s blessings. Which, in the meantime, sends about 2 million pesos ($44,000) each day, untaxed, to the Vatican, for the past 300 years since Spanish colonialism. The Roman Catholics have it good! I give the caretaker (lives for free on the property with his wife in exchange for maintaining it) about a beer a day and he seems happy to help me with my daily chores. His daughter mumbles to me in some strange language (she seems to have some speach impediment too), but surprsingly I understand her too while I talk back to her in fluent English.


Rock is primarily volcanic in this whole area.


View from the Mountain (internet) Cafe,
with direct shot of mobile operator tower on
opposite island.


Another present from locals for
solar charging their phones and flashlights.


Nice fluffy clouds often.



Although the sunset is on the other side of the island,
this side still gets a nice purple glow in the evening.


Early beginnings. Fan a life saver.



Interesting peninsula with dual shot of ocean
where I thought I could build a dinner table
for romantic couples.


Next page in story Next: Exploring the island with GPS
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Home » Palawan » Patoyo » Getting Set Up – more details

05:51 03 Apr 24
I give 5 stars because they actually helped me to arrange the tour to Balabac in last minute. However, because the money wired through the local bank in my country took time to be processed, so i missed the boat due to peak season as many people paid before my money was received by the tour guide.As most of people usually feel, once your money has been transferred out to someone you do not know, you probably frustrated that your money would not be able to be refunded.But not in my experience. I dont need to be worry, the owner refunded me the money he has received (minus the bank fees). He promised to refund me and he did it. It was around 18.700 Pesos.So, eventhough i didn't manage to go with the tour, but i am really satisfied with their legitimate and great business practice. Hopefully, people will try their services and not worry about their legit business!Thanks a lot!
Chloe BlanchardChloe Blanchard
13:38 27 Mar 24
The most wonderful experience from booking to beach! Karel and Mel were so fast and responsive to my very last minute trip over the holidays. We booked a private boat for two and could not have been happier with our four day trip! We didn’t think about anything other than snorkeling the entire time. Linda, our captain, cooked wonderful meals and took us to totally empty beautiful beaches. We loved staying the night in Pical especially! Wonderful to experience the Philippines this way! Will come back again and would recommend to anyone!
hotel luci del farohotel luci del faro
08:13 31 Jan 24
We booked the 3 day 2 night expedition, from Coron to Sibaltan.First of all the booking part was really simple. I organized this trip to the Philippines last minute for my family (my parents and my uncles) but Karel answered all my questions very quickly and really made everything easier for me. It was an incredible experience. Albert, our tour leader, is a wonderful guy, always smiling and ready to help us. They assisted us in everything and really took care of making everything go smoothly. The accommodation on the islands is as spartan as you expect but the location of each hut alone is worth the trip. The wonder of nature was then added to the goodness of cuisine. It's really difficult to argue how you can cook all that goodness on a boat.If you are looking for an authentic experience, in contact with nature, off the beaten track, this company's private expedition is certainly for you.
Kate BrownKate Brown
00:22 27 Oct 23
What an unforgettable experience! We did a two night (3 day) island hopping tour from Sibaltan to Coron. Everything was so well organized and the boat crew were amazing and really made sure we had a great time. The accommodation was rustic, but added to the authentic experience of the Philippines. Karel always responded to any queries we had promptly. Our boatman, Albert, was the most amazing chef and we enjoyed every meal. The crew taught the kids how to fish with a line which was their highlight of the trip. They took us to the most unbelievable snorkelling spots along the way. Would highly recommend this trip.
Ian PascualIan Pascual
02:43 10 Aug 23
One of the most amazing, unforgettable things you can do in your life
Lou PrataliLou Pratali
11:04 25 Jul 23
This is a must to do!!Super ultimate tour is the best with Kayangan and barracuda lake, twin lagoons (my favorite), coral garden (blue fabulous coral) were the best. It’s really worth it to pay for private tour (3500 to 4000 PHP). You will also have to pay for entrance fees (150 to 200PHP by location) and eventually shopping at the market - must do (count 300 for 2 for fish, pork, fruits and vegetables, water).
16:11 07 Feb 23
I was looking for a personalized excursion to the stunning Bacuit Gulf.Based on the comments, I contacted Mel.Very responsive, very efficient and perfect organization.The on-board staff were very friendly and very helpful.And I'm not even talking about the meal on board...a marvel.In all fairness, this excursion will remain an excellent memory and I cannot recommend Mel and his team highly enough.A big thank-you.
Alyse TarbottonAlyse Tarbotton
23:48 30 Aug 22
This tour went well above all our expectations! I couldn't recommend this enough! The boat crew, captain and tour guide were nothing but amazing, everyone was so kind, helpful and friendly. The crew knew the best spots to visit that weren't overcrowded with tourists, 3 times we were lucky enough to have whole islands to ourselves! It was my partner's birthday while away and everything went above and beyond, bonfire, cake, birthday card, singing and celebrating with us.If you love camping this is definitely a tout you should do, it has been the highlight of our trip!!
Danish KayaniDanish Kayani
10:24 31 Oct 19
Coron is the best place i have ever seen.. picturesque. Beautiful. Peaceful
We booked a 4 days/3 nights private boat trip from Coron to Sibaltan. The organization went very well from the beginning, the owner answered to all my questions, and we were able to choose which islands to visit and where to sleep. The first night we slept in a bungalow in Banana Island, the second we camped in Araw beach and the last we slept in a seafront bungalow builded on a tree in Pical on Iloc Island.The islands in that area are the most beautiful islands I have ever seen, with clear water, lots of coral reef and fishes to see, white sand and almost deserted. The crew was very friendly and polite and they organize every single meal and for camping they give you a tent which was just perfect! This was our highlight in our 2 weeks in the Philippines and I wish I had booked a longer trip. A private trip gives you the freedom to decide where and when to go.
Gérard Benoit
Gérard Benoit
I was looking for a personalized excursion to the beautiful bay of Bacuit. Seeing the comments, I contacted Mel. Very responsive, very efficient and perfect organization. The crew were very friendly and very helpful. And I'm not even talking about the meal on board...a marvel. In all fairness, this excursion will remain an excellent memory and I can recommend Mel and his team highly enough. A big thank-you.
André Mardoñal
André Mardoñal
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ The island world of Linapacan between Coron and El Nido with the clearest waters in the world is truly a dream for itself! Without a boat you won't be able to see it! But what this boat trips makes so amazing is the crew! Once you come on board they might be shy in the beginning but will make you feel welcome and home from the first moment. Not only that they are looking that you sit comfortable all the time, they will prepare fresh and delicious food what the buy from local markets. They know the best spots and most beautiful islands and will bring you to places where you get this "Robinson Cruisoe feeling". Every day you visit 3 to 5 spots for snorkeling, enjoying a beach or exploring a little island. The accommodation we had was good and simple. We slept in bungalows and tents right at the beach. Sheets and towels were always provided and sometimes towels. After a while you feel like a family on board. We loved living the boat life didn't wanna leave! If you doubt take a longer than shorter trip! For any questions please message me.
Sarah Uhan
Sarah Uhan
All in all it was a really great experience. It's a once in a lifetime thing to do and you won't get more authentic and basic Philippino experiences anywhere else. We were not so lucky with the wind and waves so we couldn't do all the stops we wanted to unfortunately. So be aware that especially the months from January to May can be very rough on water. But we still saw some great places Benji took us. Benji and his family was very nice and they did everything they could. The food was amazing - always freshly made in authentic Philippino style and way too much for the 2 of us. Make sure to bring enough cash - many of the islands cost extra (entrance fee) and be aware that any kind of accommodation and food (200php per meal) is not included in the boat fee. Also the deposit and commission fee for the agency are a little over the top, especially since the crew does not get any of it. The costs all in all are rather high for phillipino circumstances especially given the basicness of it all. However if you think about that all 5 boat people (in our case) live off of the boat fee alone, you spent the money willingly. Be aware though that accommodation and sanataries are very basic if even existant. So you gotta have the right mindset. Bring tissue, sanatiszer and earplugs to get some better sleep. Another feedback I have concerning the size of the boat. I don't think it is sufficient for more than 4 people. If the weather is like it was these days, you always have to sit on top and it was already a little squeezy with us 2 and 5 boat people. So I guess 4 guests can be fine but more than that won't have the space. There is different boat sizes but make sure to talk about that with Karel in advance. Other than that it was really worth it and we got to see so many great beaches and reefs which we could have never been able to visit without the tour.
Eric Liu
Eric Liu
It was scary to book a 5 day trip with no places to stay confirmed or a strong itinerary. And in the Philippines, communication is difficult. But that is part of changing mindsets to a rural island mindset. In the end, everything worked out. We had some tough moments with bugs. But we also had some amazingly beautiful secluded beaches, the best snorkeling in the world, relaxing on the beach, and freshly made food on the boat while docked at beautiful places (better than being on land). Note, we went with Benji. Recommendations: - you must get a local SIM when you arrive to make sure pickup and everything works out - some islands have bugs - use bug spray! Pros: - a fraction of the cost - away from the crowds - can customize what you want - just ask! - a truly local experience - saw a REAL rural town Cons: - locals aren't really polished tour guides - if you don't ask for it, you won't get it, need to be pretty proactive - pretty simple "activities" - no frills like bathrooms or kayaks etc.
Ángela Deand
Ángela Deand
We can't be more grateful to have had the opportunity of experience the peace in Patoyo Kitesurfing Camping! Spending two weeks in Dimancal Island, gave us the chance to experiment the rural and traditional way of life, in touch with the nature and people. We have learnt how to cook with fire, how to open a coconut and how to survive in an environment where for a time we forget about unnecessary needs, just to focus on enjoy the small details and pleasures of life. Mentioning too the amazing snorkeling and beautiful islands around this place, which make it unique​ and special. It is a lovely option if you are running away from tourists and overcrowded places in the Philippines. You will find yourself in the middle of virgin beaches and nature, surrounding​ by charming people. We will definitely come back!
Caroline Danielle
Caroline Danielle
We haven't done a Tao tour, but I would suspect that this is a cheaper version of the same thing. Our boat operator (Benji) and the entire crew were were fun, friendly and made an effort to ensure we had a good time. If you get a large group of people together it can be a really inexpensive alternative to other Coron-El Nino and vice versa island hopping tours. The food was good, but more expensive than as advertised by Karl. The price quote we got was 100 php a meal, but the boat charged us 200. Since the food was good we didn't mind the extra expense, but it is important to keep in mind if you're on a budget. Definitely plan for some incidental spending. Our boat did have some mechanical issues and as a result we ended up being stuck in the same place for longer than we wanted to be. That being said, little could have been done about it and the trip was fun nonetheless.
Hauk Are Fjeld
Hauk Are Fjeld
If you believe that doing the touristic tours in El Nido and going to "The hidden beach" takes you off the beaten path, you are wrong. There are lots of beautiful places in Palawan, but few of these places are without any other tourists. If you want to spend some extra effort on getting away from the tourist places, and don't mind a little "primitive" living, Island Hopping in the Philippines is definitely something you should check out
Arnold Cabiguen
Arnold Cabiguen
The snorkeling in this area is phenomenal. Clearest waters in the world. I guess it's because there is relatively such lower tourist traffic through here, and the locals really protect the reefs!
Karel Kosman
Karel Kosman
Love it so much, just had to say it twice!

We are a family operation managing private custom boat tours in the beautiful Palawan area, and are happy to help travelers with their plans through the country, having traveled a lot of it ourselves and planning to visit it all.

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