Our two families worked together well, and all of our travel plans had been executed with minimum upheaval. The kids even squabbled sporadically like siblings would! It was decided to continue our good run of form and fun together and journey to Sandakan in the east side of Borneo where we would then be able to book a trip back into the jungle to experience the amazing Kinabatagan river.
An amazing three days were spent in our jungle lodge and the days were in-dispersed with long boat trips along the river spotting pygmy elephants, hornbills, proboscis monkeys, crocodiles and marvelling at the unspoilt jungle and beautiful sunsets.
We were on a roll and decided that our tribe would head to one more destination together before parting ways, as our agendas were different. The Philippines hadn’t really featured in Becky and my plans, but Mark threw us a curve ball citing a friend’s recent experience there, and showing us some amazing pictures. The island in question was Palawan, and on the map it only looked like a hop skip and a jump away from Northern Borneo, but it turned out to be more arduous to get to. Out came the laptops and some frantic planning took place. The Philippines trip was really booked on a whim and in hindsight, should have been researched more. We had to fly from Sandakan to Kota Kinabalu for a night, and on arrival spent a few hours trying to find accommodation due to the malfunctioning booking website that had wrongly advertised places that were unavailable. Things were hardly disastrous, but the machine wasn’t as well oiled as it had previously been and it felt that our good form was stuttering a bit.
The journey from KK was long and multi legged, but went without any issues: Cab, flight, cab flight , airport pick up. The views coming into Palawan were magnificent; lush green islands surrounded by aqua marine waters that were dotted with traditional Philippine fishing boats; was this the paradise we’d been searching for? The owner of our Air BnB was friendly enough and transported us in her van to our accommodation from the airport. The coconut trees and rolling hills soon turned into a scene befitting of the film Mad Max. Dusty streets filled with these odd looking tricycles scurrying about the roads, weaving in and out of the potholes and people.
We knew our accommodation would be basic; but it was tiny, especially for two families and there was no-where really for the kids to run around in the grounds of the property, as the grass was full of rubble and poo that the four residents dogs had kindly left for us.
The weather for the ensuing few days was miserable; we’d completely overlooked the fact that it was the wrong time to visit. The kids were getting claustrophobic and tetchy and it affected us adults as well. We managed a snorkelling trip to some islands, but got caught in the monsoon rain, which resulted in us all getting colds.
We were glad to leave Puerta Princessa and headed two hours into the country to Buena Vista where we stayed in some cottages in the most beautiful grounds. The beach was metres away, the kids had space to run around, finally we could breath again.