The high season is a success

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Since my connection with the caretaker, my situation has felt much more certain. I no longer feel like such an outsider of a village on the verge of pulling out their pitchforks, but someone with possible clout. It went from someone who could be charged by the locals for collecting bamboo washed up onto the beach, to someone who is in contact with the owner of a property they traverse in order to get to the island’s only water supply. And I made sure to mention that when our relations seemed strained.


The beginnings of my humble hut.

But according to my initial spirit of wanting to maintain good community relations, which is also mandatory for future successful business, I found more effective ways of shmoozing their favour, such as:

  • sending nice guests, preferably female, to request fish or coconuts from the locals, so that they can see foreigners are not monsters, or at least not the madman I am;
  • a popular bonus has been to sell their local brandy at cost so they do not need to go all the way to town;
  • buying them ebay presents, such as inflatable water dinosaurs for their children or solar powered Christmas and other lights. After setting up two in the big community hut, they inadvertently changed my settings to flashing disco mode;
  • picking up supplies for them in Coron, such as 12v led lights and deep cycle batteries they now use for squid fishing at night instead of their stinky, loud and gas guzzling generators;
  • lending them money, such as to Elsie who had her second baby and the doctor advised for an ultrasound. Since then I have become the regular island bank, payable back in coconuts and fish etc., written down on pieces of paper instead of dealing with currency, which they never seem to have any of anyway (getting change on the thousands I get out of the atm is almost impossible in this entire region).


Due to popular demand finally managed to get a harpoon, for $100 used from a German tourist passing through. Together with my fishing rod, lures and banca paddle boat, some guests will certainly be pleased.

The nice thing about the Christmas lights, as I discovered one dark evening as we were arriving late from another Coron shopping trip, it gives you a welcoming feeling of home as you approach the blinking and lit up beach from a distance. Like a bustling metropolis sprawled out along a paradise beach, waiting for you to join the party.

Although relations have improved overall with the locals, other problems have surfaced.

For example, by the end of the rainy season, during the full moon of November and December, and a little bit of January, the waves reached so high up on the beach that they added more than half a metre of sand, completely burying our campfire and sucking away two of the massive logs that surrounded it for sitting. We managed to roll up some replacements, but instead of unearthing the two remaining logs that were now buried, I decided to shovel out the sand to turn it into a campfire “pit”. It’s actually quite cozy down there now, leaning against the logs with the sand outside the pit flush with the top of the logs. Another reason for this approach is to show people the possible effects of global warming. Talking about it and seeing the effects while sitting in it are two different matters.


Above, the campfire place is half buried, but once the full moon arrived in a few days it was completely buried. The beach is now flush with the property area, having risen almost a metre. Hope it won’t be the same next year!


Another annoyance has been the chickens and cocks. Always venturing into my kitchen while I work on my computer, just around the bush. Cackling away, knowing I do not like them making their mess (digging up all the leaves in search of worms and bugs for food), until I purchased myself a few sling shots from ebay. I even offer guests the bribe of a beer if they score. But somehow the little buggers always seem so sharp and evasive. Managed to only get them twice, once right in the butthole, but they hopped off with almost no regard, cackling in a way that sounds like open chuckling. I realised that this must be where the word “cocky” comes from.

But small fry in annoyance when compared to the previous rainy season. And to prepare myself for that, especially now that I received official authorisation from the property caretaker, I began building my own hut. I’m sure you can imagine that living in a tent for a couple of years can get rather old. No electricity to keep the laptop running while watching movies or working in bed, no big fan during hot stagnant nights, and the other many discomforts.


Took about 4 days to clear out the dense innards of these prickly trees to make room for my hammock lounge area behind my hut, but was quickly appreciated by this Lithuanian volunteer.

In typical grandiose fashion I masterminded a two story “hut scraper”, complete with terrace, wide open windows, removeable seethrough plastic windows, and bamboo walls which could drop down from the ceiling during the typhoon season or for when I need to go away for a while – this hut should promise to make my stay here much more pleasant. I will move inside the stereo system, set up more Christmas lights and store everything else on the ground floor, greatly increasing my security.

On the other hand, my motivation does sometimes waver as I build this hut hurriedly before the upcoming rainy season, imagining that the Italian owner has managed to sell the property and forcing me to leave just as I tighten the last screw or bolt in the last LED light.


Speaking of increasing the comfort level, following several complaints by boyfriends of female guests, I have started building a shower. I don’t know if it is because the girls feel their boyfriends wont love them anymore because their hair is no longer shiny, or they feel a need to completely remove salt from the surface of their bodies in order to have slippery sex at night, but it will be on the verge of luxurious. Collecting rainfall, a bucket above a barrel used to filter the well water, and a complete shower and nozzle system with its own filtering mechanism. Should definitely give the place a facelift once done. The runoff can also irrigate the future garden, boosting the camp’s organic image.


The beginnings of the shower, a blue barrel I one day found washed up on the beach, which will be propped up on stilts while plugged into the below showerhead. Gotta up the comfort level!


And since a lot of the volunteer work has already been completed, I have started to shift towards beautification, and now even marketing, whether it is writing an article about their stay, or instagram tips.

It has been nice watching the place develop organically as the volunteers are given more freedom. Even the guests have expressed interest in helping out, sometimes contributing more than the volunteers.

One great visit was by Hugo from Malaysia. A Brit whose job is to manage millions of dollars of monthly purchases for a major distribution company there. So stressed out and high strung, when he saw my camp on airbnb he decided he HAS to come here. First guest who sent $300 in advance without almost any discussion.


His big project was to make a trap for all the crabs, octopus and barracuda lurking in amongst the coral reefs. It was a fun project to haul out his home-made contraption, balancing it on my frail banca paddle boat as we fought against the relentless onslaught of incoming waves.

It was great partying with him in San Mig over Christmas and New Years, and we even had a perfect brainstorm once back on the island, cranking the music and staring out from the beach. There across from us was Bolina Island, where I send occasional guests to “run naked on their own deserted island”. While we both enjoyed the deep house music, I remarked how the big fat beach on that island could accommodate 300 ravers, and thus was born the Linapacan Music Festival, which I think will be a great way to put this lovely area on the tourist map.

Another nice quality of paying guests is I collect cash for simply entertaining and taking care of them. With enough guests, my food is paid for, and so can my greatest budget expenditure: beer. I had 3 Finnish guys passing through who managed to polish off 60 1L bottles in only five days. Wooohooo! For every two they drink, I get one paid for! But they drank my stock dry and you can imagine what sour faces the four of us wore before we managed to replenish our stock with a special boat trip. It was certainly an interesting sensation to just breath, eat, drink and talk for free while your wallet grows slowly fatter. Until you have to thin it slightly by going to the bank, which in my case is a hole in the ground.


Some of the guests were rather exotic, who just showed up on my beach unexpectedly in their kayak, inflatable longboard, or four Russians who beached up on shore in their slow, powered inflatable raft (above pic). All three of these visits were on a mission to circumnavigate the 2,000km distance around Palawan. Although they did express some concern for the southern tip, where pirates are known for kidnapping and extortion, or where there are 6m long sea crocodiles. The skinny Italian’s 2m longboard, complete with inlayed compass and various compartments, certainly did look impressive, but I presume that those big critters can swim a lot faster. He visited for only one night and was off early the next morning, when it was cold, dark and showering miserably, in order that he could keep up with his rigid 8 hour schedule a day. I did not envy him as I waved him off into the horizon.

Besides things going well on the campsite, February actually bringing in enough earnings to cover all costs, the boat tours were really picking up well. Starting around October they were actually pulling in enough revenues that I did not have to translate, at all. For the first time in 25 years. It was a great relief and I enjoyed developing a website to help automate many of the tasks, because it was starting to consume a major part of my time. I was able to survive this way for a full six months, but now that the dry season is coming to an end and the slow season has started, I hope that I will not have to return to translation, also because it takes at least two months to receive payment as opposed to the immediate payment I have grown accustomed to with the boat tours. This may lead to a dangerous cash shortage.


Part of the beautification and organisational process, marking the various
camping sections from A to F and giving them individual names.

Therefore, I’d say I have finally entered a nice cruising period, where food is cooked for me, the place remains tidy, and I more carefully select volunteers and guests. Just today I guided one guest to the top of the second mountain. It has been a long time since I walked to the very end of the beach, but I noticed how much of the sand had been dragged away and replaced by immense boulders and logs. That could have a major impact on the property’s value, since that was the nicest section of beach. We’ll see if the sea continues to eat away at the beach, potentially extending my stay. Now I just need to scrape it through this next low season.

Scraping through the next low season in comfort and style

The low season is for a reason, because it is the rainy season. And with the rain the swamp in the back of the property fills up, bringing with it the mosquitoes and all the other bugs. The air can become quite stagnant and wet at night, rather uncomfortable as I lay sweating in bed in the hot air of the tent, irritated by little yellow slippery beach bugs drawn into the tent by the light of my laptop as I try to enjoy a movie.


But with my own hut in the making for the past six months, I just managed to get enough of it done that I could officially move into it just as the weather changed. Until then I slept as I always do during the dry season, which is outside under the stars, a cool breeze often making the sleep just perfect.


Making “Sawali slabs” to string up into position.

Into my hut I move my latest purchase – the best mattress that Coron offers. It’s time to up the comfort level. But somehow I have fallen out with the caretaker as he no longer responds to my text messages, without an explanation. I had already paid him in advance for some Sawali, which is interlaced bamboo strips used for hut walls. My existing Sawali ran out and I have not yet been able to weather proof the top floor, where I now sleep. Sometimes the wind picks up at night as it rains, that pouring at such angles that my new bed can get completely soaked in a manner of minutes. I remedy this by opening up one of the big sun shades and cuddling up protected under that umbrella. Or if it really starts to pour, reluctantly crawl back into the dreaded tent.

I scrounge together some savings and manage to buy a few more rolls of Sawali. I have finally moved the solar panel with electricity into the hut, so now I can watch movies or work in bed, one of my favourite workstations. Now living on the second floor, the dreaded slimy yellow beach bugs can’t reach me, and overall the bugs and mosquitoes are fewer. But the remainder have been dealt with by good mosquito netting around my bed and new workstation, and a battery operated fan to blow away the little black ones which get through the usual netting.


Sawali slab tied up into place with mosquito netting over fanciest mattress. From the ceiling hangs framed windows which can be put into place according to need (front and right of workstation – always need beautiful view!).

One potential downfall has been the loss of my main volunteering account, at Workaway. One girl complained about the environmental tax and caretaker fee, but it is actually a welcome break, because the constant flow of volunteers have truly been taxing. The locals are less than pleased though because it means lower sales in fish, coconuts and local boat tours.

Since the big boat tours have dried up, I have been forced to go back to translating. I now spend my days on the occasional translation job, in peace and quiet mostly on my own, with the occasional volunteer passing through for a longer period, since I am now more strict concerning their minimum stay. If not translating then I continue working on my hut, patching up this and that as I find various leaks when the rain pellets me from different angles.


The new workstation with rolling blinder (nicest coloured bedsheet) to block out the setting sun, framed window left up to the right during the rainy season. To see more pics of the hut’s progress, check out its album on our facebook page.

And work hard I must, for my cousin from the UK has announced that she plans to visit Vancouver, the home of both my mother and sister, in April of next year. I have been strictly instructed that I simply MUST attend this rare reunion. By that time I should have my hut completed and able to lock up everything tight for an extended departure. Which I might make an annual routine during the six month rainy season – depends on how my comfort/discomfort level pans out during this experimental period. Perhaps the following year I will try fruit picking in Australia.

And because there are so fewer volunteers and paying guests, I have been using the free time to work on promotion, most recently in the form of converting the big hut into a home (with its own solar power, lights and dining picnic table), to give the site an overall facelift and finally post it on, agoda and many other sites. I imagine it could get quite busy by the next high season, in conjunction with the boat tours again. But one thorn remains: now that I’ve fallen out with the caretaker, how precarious is my position here?


First sunset enjoyed from new workstation.

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The shit finally hits the fan

Home » Palawan » Patoyo » The high season is a success

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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