A Travellerspoint blog

Al Faro Resort

sunny 30 °C

This resort is built on the side of the hill overlooking the bay. So to go anywhere, you go up or down stairs. There is a small swimming pool but I haven't tried it out yet. We came here to enjoy a little more luxury after camping on the expedition. After our breakfast, we agreed to just lie around and chill for the day. By lunchtime, the boys were getting restless and started making plans for tomorrow.
The view from our patio is lovely. There is a large resort across the bay which lights up the area at night - good nightlight for us in our room! The sound of their entertainment in the evening comes across the water as well.
Our patio

Our patio


The WIFI here is only available up in the lobby/dining room and is often very slow and unresponsive. We thought we would be able to get all caught up online while here, but it is proving more difficult.
As I sat on the patio after lunch, I watched a float plane land and taxi to the large resort across the water.
View of the bay from the dining level, overlooking the pool

View of the bay from the dining level, overlooking the pool

The large resort across the water with the float plane arriving

The large resort across the water with the float plane arriving


After a relaxing day, we had an early supper. They like you to order your meal during the day, and then they serve it about 7:30 or later. They want at least 1 hour prep time before you eat. Very different!
One of the things I forgot to tell you about the meals on the expedition is that Jeric or one of his staff, would tell us what each dish was and what ingredients it had after the food was laid out. Then they would say "Attack", which was our signal to get in line and load up. It was so nice to know what the ingredients where in each dish and if you were really curious, Jeric would share more of the cooking info with you.

Posted by katdill 19:23 Archived in Philippines Comments (0)

Tao Expedition Day Five

sunny 30 °C

Last day on the good ship Palawenya. We had breakfast on board, instead of at the camp. We had coconuts for bowls for our oatmeal. Everyday something different!
The Palawenya

The Palawenya


Sunrise over the mountains

Sunrise over the mountains

Coconut bowls waiting for breakfast

Coconut bowls waiting for breakfast


We had quite a long ride to a resort which had been destroyed by a typhoon in 2012. Tao is now renting the place and has some huts there that you can rent out for a few days if you wish. There is still a large 2 bedroom house that was the resort's owners house. Huge and very posh!
Oli telling us the story of the resort

Oli telling us the story of the resort

The owner's house

The owner's house

A shady lounge area

A shady lounge area


We had lunch in the shade on the beach and took the group photo of the expedition. Then back on the ship to travel to the last snorkel site, a sunken Japanese ship from the Second World War. There were other tour boats there and the water looked very crowded, especially in comparison to all the previous snorkel sites.
Lots of snorkels in the water

Lots of snorkels in the water


Some of the group tried climbing up the anchor rope at the bow of the ship, which Tata has done quite regularly after detaching us from some buoy or shoreline. Very difficult, but some managed to do it. Another long ride and we were in Coron. We said our goodbyes, it was a great trip with an excellent group of people and fantastic crew.
Oli with the map Rob drew

Oli with the map Rob drew


We jammed into a trike over to the Tao office. There we got a taxi to take us the 37 km to our resort, Al Faro. It was dark when the taxi stopped and said here we are. We got out and there were 2 men to greet us and carry all our luggage. We had to walk down 90 stone steps, which weren't very well lit, to reach a dock. Then in a little boat to cross the bay to the hotel. Then up about as many steps to the hotel lobby. Thank heavens we didn't have to carry our luggage. It was hard enough getting myself up there. They greeted us with a cold drink and after registering, we were shown our rooms. Down some steps, not too many this time, to our little private bungalow. Nicely designed, but maybe not as many amenities as we expected. This is an eco-resort, so runs on solar power. After we had showers and got cleaned up, we went back up to the dining room for supper. Not as good as Jeric's cooking, but delicious. Then to bed.

Posted by katdill 18:40 Archived in Philippines Comments (0)

Tao Expedition Day Four

I guess I should have told you right away that we have 21 tourists on the ship and 8 crew. We started out with 23 and 9, but a French couple only stayed 2 days and left, apparently because they didn't have enough time to do the whole trip. And one crew member, Jasper, was not feeling well. He was recovering from surgery and seems to have overdone it. The 21 tourists left are from 10 countries, so we are a very international group. And everyone speaks English well so we can talk quite easily. Although when the 3 Irish brothers get talking to each other, it's like another language!
The pier and suspension bridge used to land

The pier and suspension bridge used to land

Tata showing off while ferrying people to the ship

Tata showing off while ferrying people to the ship


This morning we loaded up after breakfast (banana flower patties, bread, and eggs). We stopped at one sand spit for snorkelling but only a few people went in because there were a lot of jelly fish in the water. Then we went for a long ride to get to the next spot. By the time we got there it was lunch time. (Cuttlefish, fried whole fish, pumpkin, green beans, etc, salad, rice)
One of the many scrumptious lunches we had on board

One of the many scrumptious lunches we had on board


Fresh coconut water

Fresh coconut water


Then Don went snorkelling, a few people went over in kayaks to the beach, managing to lose a snorkel and mask in a kayak capsize. So 3 of the crew started diving for it, and Tata found it.
Sunning on the prow

Sunning on the prow


Rob volunteered to draw the map of the islands on the whiteboard for Oli. Oli told us a story about finding 3 shipwreck survivors on an island he had never been to before. He just decided to take his tour there for lunch and found the men on the beach in very poor condition. Their boat had capsized a long way away and they had floated there on a pontoon. There was no water or food on the island. Quite an exciting story.
After everyone was back on board, we headed for our last camp. To get there we had to cross a channel that was pretty wild swells and raining fairly hard. But when we arrived at the camp, it was sunny again. This camp actually has showers and electricity. A volleyball game with some of the local people was entertaining for participants and watchers. Tata wandered around, even on the court, offering sweet potato fries to everyone.
Volleyball game with chips

Volleyball game with chips

Little island boy

Little island boy


After a lovely supper yet again, with everyone sitting around talking and drinking, Oli went to check out the karaoke machine. Of course, we all went up to party. We did some dancing but left the singing to the younger folk. Lots of the songs people requested to sing were ones we weren't familiar with, just too old, I guess. The party went on for quite a while after we left for bed. The accommodations here just aren't as good as the previous camps. We are squished in a tiny room, one of 3 adjoining rooms with only bamboo walls as partitions. And we were actually cold this time! Greg, the Australian, was very drunk yet again, and I heard him get up, walk down the deck to our end and pee on the deck - where our shoes, etc were. Yikes!! I figured there was no profit in shouting at him, he was so drunk. So we had to wash some stuff off in the morning.

Posted by katdill 18:11 Archived in Philippines Comments (0)

Tao Expedition Day Three

I got up early and had a traditional Filipino massage before breakfast. What a great way to start the day! We had a yummy breakfast of a baked taro, sweet potato, and other veggies, baked eggs and fresh buns made with coconut milk to make them more digestible. Fantastic! The oven is a large clay oven built by our chef's mother, I think.
The row of thatched huts at the farm

The row of thatched huts at the farm

Having breakfast

Having breakfast


Then we had a talk by Ann, the head cook and trainer for Tao. She explained about how the organization works and some of the different projects they are involved in. They are trying to create permaculture farming culture here to try and diversify from tourism. We then had a walk through tour of the farm garden there.
The talk on the Tao Foundation, with the beautiful bamboo stairway in the back

The talk on the Tao Foundation, with the beautiful bamboo stairway in the back


Part of the farm tour

Part of the farm tour


We loaded back up onto the boat and took off across a large channel, heading north to Busuanga Island. Loading and unloading the boat is so much work for the staff. All our food, bedding, water, etc needs to be loaded into kayaks and taken to shore or visa versa in the morning. Most people swim into shore or back to the boat, but there are a few of us that get a ride in a kayak for various reasons.
We stopped at a little island for snorkelling and stayed there for lunch. Oli bought 3 cuttlefish from a fisherman and then we had quite an educational talk on cuttlefish and octopus. He was a fisherman for 14 years before joining Tao and knows a great deal.
Cuttlefish

Cuttlefish

Oli playing with the cuttlefish eyes

Oli playing with the cuttlefish eyes


We stopped at another island for more snorkelling but there were a lot of jellyfish or plankton in the water and Don and Rob were the only two who went snorkelling. They had full rash guard shirts and pants and were well protected. Some others just went over to the beach and explored the island a bit. I saw a sea eagle come down and catch a fish and fly away with it. I was so excited - my first interesting bird sighting for days and days.
Then it was time to go to our base camp for the night. After we unloaded we got to have bucket showers and set up our beds and mosquito nets for the night. Greg, the Australian, got very drunk and had to be carted to bed by a couple of crew.

Posted by katdill 23:18 Archived in Philippines Comments (0)

Tao Expedition Day Two

semi-overcast

We woke early and found Alex and Eric meditating on the beach. That inspired us to meditate for a bit. Breakfast was fruit and fried eggplant with eggs. After everyone ate, we packed up and most of us rode the kayaks back to the ship, as it was very shallow with low tide.
Cooking breakfast

Cooking breakfast

Getting kayak rides back to the ship

Getting kayak rides back to the ship


Helping the crew pull up the anchor

Helping the crew pull up the anchor


We went to visit the Secret Beach, which we hadn't stopped at yesterday because there were so many boats there. Some people swam into it, they had to pass thru a little tunnel under the rock to get there. Then we had to go back to the base camp we had spent the night at, because someone had forgotten his rash guard hanging on a tree. It turned out that some other things had been forgotten as well. Then we headed for open ocean, where it was pretty wild. A windy day, with big swells. Waves would crash onto the boat and get us wet. They pulled into a sheltered beach for lunch, because cooking or eating on the moving boat is almost impossible. Then we went on another beach at one of the first base camps so everyone could swim or snorkel, or explore the village that is there. Don said the snorkelling was quite good there. While they were all gone, the crew of the boat caught a large "jack fish" off the back of the boat.
The fishing village where we dropped Jasper (the sick crew member)

The fishing village where we dropped Jasper (the sick crew member)

Buying fish from local fishermen

Buying fish from local fishermen

Ollie playing with the "Jack fish"

Ollie playing with the "Jack fish"


When everyone came back, Ollie and Jeric (the cook) made cerviche for everyone to try. Good but too much chilli! We then went to our base camp at the farm - their organic farm which is the source of much of their food. We arrived just before sundown and had to hurry to get a shower before dark. It was a group bucket shower at a spring with lots of water. We had to walk about 1/2 km thru the bush to the farm garden to have the shower. It was pretty funny having a group shower, some people keeping their swim suits on to shower and some taking it all off. Then we got our beds made up and I blogged while Don had a massage. Apparently, we all get a massage included as part of the trip. I think I will have mine tomorrow morning.
We had a seven course meal for our supper. Amazing food! This is the best food we have had on the whole trip.
The menu for our seven course meal

The menu for our seven course meal

Posted by katdill 23:02 Archived in Philippines Comments (0)

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