Feeling rather volatile with making choices, I decided I wanted to see the cleanest lake in Asia. Coron was so close and I had no certainty of the next time I could come to the Philippines, so I accepted my inefficient use of time and money and proceeded to backtrack a segment of my travels for some more stunning islands.

 

Lake Kayangan

Getting There & Away

Boat—The trips from El Nido to Coron left at 8am for the slow boat (I did this, $20) and 6am for the fast. To leave, I took the slow boat at 8am from the Coron port to El Nido on Palawan Island (both “Busuanga” and “Palawan” islands are within the province of Palawan), 8 hours, $24, lunch included. The fast boat left Coron at noon and took 3.5 hours, $34 for adults and $30 for students with ID.

The reason why I always chose the slow boat was because it was cheaper and there was always space along the cushions to stretch out and sleep. I could sit at the hull, or chill on the upper deck, and I often had data signal on my phone. When departing from Coron, the slow boat actually reached El Nido at an earlier hour than the fast boat. Plus the onboard meal was always healthy with veggies, protein, steamed rice, and a banana, served hot on a beautiful woven plate.

 

Coral Garden

 

Fly—To reach Busuanga Island by plane, the airline Cebu Pacific has service from Manila (MNL) to Busuanga (USU),$72, 55 minutes of stunning views. To get to Coron town a shared shuttle from the airport costs $3. Other cities connecting to and from Busuanga included Cebu, Clark, El Nido, and Puerto Princesa. Other airlines with service to this island were Philippine Airlines and Cebgo. Check Skyscanner for schedules and prices.

To get to Manila I flew from Bangkok (BKK), ThailandDon’t wait last minute like me and instead try to find a flight for as low as $60. Within the MNL airport I purchased a SIM card with the provider Globe, giving me 6GB for around $15. To meet my friends and catch my domestic flight, I took the free shuttle between the terminals with minimal waiting (transferring terminals had a notorious history of being difficult and winded).

 

Lake Kayangan entrance.

 

Accommodation

Marley’s was $4 per person to share a private double with fan. Towels, wifi, hot showers, reggae tunes, and the best-stocked kitchen of my trip were provided. Centrally located, don’t be surprised if it’s full before you arrive. If they turn you away, try Coron Backpacker Guesthouse down the road, $6.

 

Lake Kayangan viewpoint.

Visit Lake Kayangan

The viewpoint at the entrance of Lake Kayangan was truly iconic of the nation and was frequently photographed to represent the whole Philippines. The viewpoint ironically does not include any part of the lake whatsoever.

The lake was very crowded and doubtfully the continent’s cleanest lake but it absolutely would have nagged me to no end if I didn’t come see it for myself. I booked at B2J Ticket Net (email: b2jticketnet@gmail.com) for $18 and rented snorkel gear for $1. They were located on the main street close to the center, a brief walk from Marley’s Guesthouse. All the tour companies offer packages that look the same so I chose one that stopped for lunch on Vivian Beach. Obviously.

 

Vivian Beach

 

Day 71

My French roommate Katy gave me a new dress and for her being a tall slim black woman, it suited my body quite well. Lore, Katy, and I figured out we would all be solo traveling Vietnam from North to South in August. I had a new bracelet and the boat had a new air to it. The skies poured.

The crew was coincidentally the same as the first time I took this boat, and I welcomed their smiles of recognition.

I looked forward to another hot meal cooked by them.

***

The truth is, I lied.

I do not understand.

I am not fine.

I am taking it personally.

 

Lake Kayangan

 

Day 72

I realized something. My hair stopped falling out like crazy. It was smooth, not straw. Like Peruvians, the Filipinos had thick black hair that was perfectly sleek. Traveling in both countries temporarily benefitted my scalp and uncombed mane.

 

Cave at the Lake Kayangan viewpoint.

 

I was the only non-Filipino on the boat, and the second Vivian. Our stops, in order, were Siete Pecados Marine Park, Lake Kayangan, Quin Lagoon, and Coral Gardens/ CYC Beach “two in one.”

At night Lore recounted her incredible diving experience in Lake Barracuda where she filmed the thermocline, or sharp temperature change with a visible line at the gradient. She did her dives with Reggae Diving Center, $60 for two fun dives or $70 for three, PADI courses and shipwreck dives offered as well.

 

Snorkeling Coral Gardens.

 

We stopped in Coffee Kong to complete some digital nomad-esque tasks because it was the only spot with usable wifi. On the street I found grilled pork ears and decided they tasted quite nice. On the other hand, I do not recommend the shawarma across the street from Marley’s.

 

 

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