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El Nido is the base for exploring the islands of Palawan in the Philippines. The beach there is nothing exciting, the town has no ATM, and all the power is turned off between 6am and 2pm. But it was a nice little place to relax by day and drink by night between island hopping adventures*. And it provided some of the best and some of the worst nights of my trip so far....

I don't know if it was worth it, a 12-hour day for a 45 minute ride through the Puerto Princesa underground river. One of the seven wonders of the world. Or something like that. I would have preferred to sit in silence, observing the cave for what it was. Instead it was all camera flashes and incessant corny jokes from a tour guide I could barely understand. I didn't need to know that he (or, more accurately, whoever wrote the script) thinks that one rock looks like a mushroom or an elephant or a naked woman. And a lot of waiting...

I've never really been a water person. Growing up, we had a pool in our backyard that largely went unused minus the times I would bungee jump my Barbies into it from my bedroom window. I quit my childhood swim lessons because I didn't want to go. In high school I chose to play basketball (BASKETBALL!) over swimming for gym class because I hadn't figured out how to use tampons yet (true story). ...

Half an hour or so after checking into my hostel, after a morning's journey from Manila that consisted of taking a car, a plane, a bus, a boat, and a tricycle, after scaling the side of a barbed wire fence, I stepped onto White Beach in Boracay. And I decided right there and then that I would be extending my Philippines visa...