Trip Start Jan 09, 2013
113Trip End Ongoing
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Even though I signed up for this expedition with a very clear expectation that we will be living in nature, camping on beaches and living with BARE necessities, you could never be quite prepared for a life like that. I am glad it's over, but at the same it was an amazing experience and I would do it all over again!
My Tao group included 28 participants from Belgium, Sweden, Germany, Philippines, Austria and New York. We took a banka (a local boat made of bamboo and wood) with 8 staff on board and set out to the sea with no predetermined itinerary. All we knew was that we were crossing the sea connecting two islands, from Coron to El Nido in Palawan.
The scenery was beyond magnificent
The sleeping arrangements were interesting! We slept on a cushion about 1.5 inches thick, and the staff did an amazing job setting them up with sheets and mosquito nets. Some beaches had bamboo huts so we slept in it, with everyone under one roof. It was almost like we were in a summer camp! Well, with a bit of drinking involved ;). We had limited electricity, so we played a whole lot of drinking games after the sunset. I guess it was a combination of being back in college and a camp! Oh, the nights were fun (those that I can remember).
Since these islands have no plumbing, we all shared one toilet (if you can even call it that!) that you had to "flush" with a bucket of water. You can't flush paper so we'd place them in a basket beside the toilet. You can imagine this was NOT pleasant with 28 participants and 8 staff....
Our shower consisted of a bucket bath with water from a well
What was amazing about this trip was that everybody was a great sport. We all laughed about it and took it all in with a sense of adventure. After all, THAT was the experience we all paid for. We didn't sign up for a five-star accommodation. The food was always fresh, mostly fish with rice and vegetables. On the last night, we roasted a whole pig and by then we were all ready to devour some meat. The skin was so crispy and crunchy, we all called it bacon chips. It was so good!!
The Tao experience was definitely one-of-a-kind. I returned with jellyfish stings, countless mosquito bites, scars and rash that I have no clue how they got there. But I also returned with
an appreciation for comforts that I've always taken for granted. I experienced first-hand how the locals live and I have a new found respect for human survival. I have a new perspective on the world of materialism and consumerism that I left behind. While it was uncomfortable at moments, this experience is the reason I'm here.
I'm humbled and grateful.
And now I am ready to go find some ice cream and chocolate!!