Last months in the Philippines

wedding island hopping philippines

The wedding was a great party, although not without some hitches. Mostly because I was focusing on things that interested me — live band, dart board, games for the children and general entertainment — while she felt it was important to focus on her interests — romantic ornamentation. After a major tear pouring session I finally convinced her that we should organise the event like a team. Like the compatible business partners that we are. I decided to allocate a budget of 25,000p (about $500), lending her almost the same for her flowery and seashell ornamenting. After all, I agreed to pay all her expenses traveling around the world, but if she wants to buy anything special for herself, or upgrade the accommodation to something fancier, it will have to come out of her pocket. And besides, I’ve long told myself I do not want a wife or a travel partner who lounges around all day facebooking or youtubing, because I find that demotivating for my own work, but rather someone who is self-motivated and can manage herself like a true business partner.

reconstruction island hopping philippinesTo win over hearts and minds, I decided to reconstruct her parents’ living room. Originally I planned to do most or all of the work myself, teaching them how to do it in the process, with my new wife by my side helping me, but when it came time to put up the wall tiles, I realised there was a severe lack of tools. Eventually I ended up just paying the construction dude ten bucks a day to do it all, mostly because we really did not have time to work on it, considering all our own preparations for our upcoming departure. 

Originally we planned to take the motorbike with sidecar to travel around the Visayas, expanding our business to include tour packages there, but Mel pointed out that we probably won’t make so much money for that and it would be better to do a boat tour through Palawan, since she is now offering tours there and would like to understand better what she is selling. Besides, after boasting how beautiful the area is, it perked her curiosity and thought it would also make a nice honeymoon. 

Meanwhile, her parents had yet another argument and went their separate ways instead of going together as a family to the famous resort island of Boracay. They planned to bring their daughter too, but calculated they lacked the funds, so grudgingly Mel’s sister had to stay at home. Realising how I was going to take her sister Mel around the world, I felt sorry for her so I invited her to come along with us through Palawan. I barely finished my sentence when she already replied yes. So off the three of us went on a wonderful one month vacation. 

sabang island hopping philippines

We flew into Puerto Princesa and planned to take a van directly to Sabang to meet a contact to show us around and to a secret cave entry 8km up the famous Underground River. But at the airport a taxi driver convinced us to take him instead, saving us much time for a little more money, and making the long journey much more pleasant. Especially since I could stock up on beers and play my own music through the stereo’s bluetooth.

We explored the nice town of Sabang for a day, and wanted to explore Port Barton as well, but our contact proved unreliable and our boatman to Coron said he will soon be in Sibaltan. He was finishing a tour from Coron, and was due to take his boat back to Coron for another tour. That meant we would have a cheap ride with him, since he was heading that way anyway.

sibaltan island hopping philippinesSo we had to skip Port Barton, spent a few wonderful days in El Nido, then one night in Sibaltan before heading off to Coron. 

In Sabang I had my first opportunity to test out the new Sparky video drone, then a few times in El Nido and along the way to Coron. I was getting fairly good at it and Mel was showing significant prowess with video editing, using some free app on her smartphone which automated much of the process. It really showed itself to be a promising combination for our future travel business ambitions. 

rodney island hopping philippinesIn Coron we stayed for a few days with our friend Rodney up in the mountains, then found workaway volunteering at a local hostel. Not only would we not have to pay for accommodation, which was rather expensive, but the girls would have something to do, as sis was becoming noticeably bored while we plugged away at the infinite work needed on the computer. 

A while back a certain gentleman had approached me with potential business partnership. But he wanted to start boat tours of his own, was a local, and I feared he would use my boatmen, so I declined to cooperate with him in my affiliate program. But it turns out that this Brandon was in fact the owner of the very hostel we were volunteering at. We quickly became friends and realised we have quite different customers — I small groups willing to pay more for a private tour, while he focuses on large, 80pax capacity boats for budget backpackers at a much lower price. 

He left us behind for the girls to manage the place while I worked on his new website<, so he could go to Manila to buy his first big boat. After some reflection, I suggested that I handle all the bookings, taking 30% commission from all sales arranged for him, while he can earn $100 in my affiliate program for all sales earned through his website. I can advertise the possibility of budget tours on my website, while he can advertise the possibility of more expensive but private custom tours to visitors of his website. It seems like a win win relationship for the both of us. After all, I have many visitors to my website who simply do not have the budget for my tours, in which case this way I can still earn some income from them. 

Future strategy

Originally the plan was to drive around Visayas with the trike until the rainy season hits around the start of June, then travel for the next six months during the rainy season through SE Asia, China and Russia, but arranging tourist visas for a Filipino proved so frustrating that we decided the first priority must be to get her a better passport.

I first tried Canada, then Czech (as for each I have citizenship), but that seeming daunting, we then thought of Spain, and after extensive research finally decided on Argentina, as apparently it is possible to attain citizenship there after living there for only two years. Their constitution states that there is no legal definition of an illegal alien, and it should be easier if we have children there. 

In South America there are five countries for which no visa is required. Flights seemed cheaper to Sao Paulo, so we plan to stay up to 90 days in Brazil before flying out of Rio de Janeiro to Buenes Aires.

While traveling we would compile useful information for each area and look for tour packages we could sell, basically the same like we are doing here in the Philippines but for a new website to cover the rest of the world, wanderlustingfamily.com. We plan to homeschool our children and take them with us around the globe, so this website will focus on safe and fun things to do for the whole family, but also offer the useful information and packages for those not traveling with children. The world is our oyster and we wanna gobble it up!

Since I will soon be leaving the Philippines (we expect it will take us at least five years before we come back, and at some point we hope to start a resort with our growing family), I will continue my blog entries on the new wanderlusting website above.

Oops, Covid happened, what a crazy trip around the world!

Or, if you decide to check out Palawan, our small family operation organizes private custom boat tours through the Palawan area, voted the best island in the world, with its 52 pristine white sand beaches and some of the clearest waters in the world.


Experience the thrill of island hopping in the Philippines

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 beautiful Gulf of Bacuit.Seeing the comments, I contacted Mel.Very responsive, very efficient and perfect organization.The flight attendants 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.

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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