4. Coron Bay, Philippines 2020 Sea kayak Expedition – Water World 1

This is machine translation.

We arrived in Coron port an hour before sunset. We meet the first tourists in the port city. As tourists, they also treat us here, and according to them, we will no longer fit on one motorbike. We needed to find a place to sleep as soon as possible, so we would ride like celebrities for two. Ideal by the water and with space for kayaking. The fact that the port is also visited by tourists has bright points. It’s the peak season, but there aren’t many people here.

However, you can eat perfectly here. Unlike about every Southeast Asian cuisine, the Philippines is infamous for its unhealthy and not very tasty cuisine. What we have eaten so far fell into exactly this category. In the much larger port of San Jose, we couldn’t find fish in two days. And we were in a fish restaurant. The boys tasted local specialties. I don’t eat meat and fatty foods don’t do me any good. I was disqualified from tasting on the whole island of Mindoro. I lived mainly on banana chips and local wiffons, which poured boiling water over you anywhere. The boiled egg in which the chicken is really is not for me. There was a hill of excellent restaurants. In addition to the poor Filipino cuisine we have had so far, we have discovered not only good Filipino food, but also immigrant cuisine. China, Thailand, USA, Italy or Australia. A luxury that we really did not expect after previous experiences. For the first time, we drank water directly from coconuts, which we have so far only seen on the ubiquitous coconut palms.

After dark we stayed directly in the port hotel. He looked pretty good on the outside. At the reception we met a young receptionist, with whom, in addition to the room, we also agreed to give us free of charge their restaurant, which was just being renovated. We couldn’t have wished for better storage and storage space. In addition, an armed police officer sat non-stop in front of the door, supervising the parking lot opposite. Inside, however, only the type of cockroaches that ran there were different from the previous hotel. In order not to downgrade their rating, I will mention that it was crowded everywhere with small red ants and bugs took care of us at night. I still have scars. Animals in the tropics must be, otherwise I might feel like I’m on vacation.

We started assembling kayaks early in the morning. Only here did we remember what it’s like to play sports in the tropics. Compared to Mindor, where it was also 30 ° C, there was almost no wind at all and there was high humidity. Although we were almost always in the shadows when composing, it was pouring like rain. We aroused the interest of the people in the port. The kayaks were of interest to the locals and the couple also stopped and asked where we had sea kayaks that they couldn’t find anywhere. Kayaks can be found on the island, but only with a guide as a tour.

I was worried about kayaking. The journey here was more difficult for equipment than for us. I assembled my kayak without any problems. The boys composed their “doubles” kayak themselves with little instruction from me. What to expect from two professional designers. We lost one package with spare parts that came at a time when the kayaks were already packed. Martin went to the city to look for some alternative parts, without which it was not possible to continue assembling kayaks. Until he returned, we found them in their personal luggage. He didn’t know how to get the parts, so he managed to make them on a lathe in the workshop he found along the way. We managed to do it in about 2 hours. Unbelievable.

After showering and squeezing the sweaty clothes, we finally went to sea. This time on kayaks. So far we have gone lightly. Just a bottle of water and diving goggles. It was a test drive. The guys were kayaking for the first time and I was wondering how they would like it. First we had to get out of the port, where there was quite heavy traffic. Just as they drive cars in the Philippines, they also drive here at sea. Immediately after that I started to check whether the kayak is well assembled and whether I will not sink for a while, as during the last ride in Slovakia. I did not encounter any problem.

I began to enjoy the view of the high mountains rising straight from the water. The limestone mountains, overgrown with vertical rainforest, stretch the entire length of Coron Island, which we saw in the distance to the east. Exactly because of the feeling I felt, I came here. We headed for a tiny nameless island about 6 miles south of our port hotel base. I had to do something to chase after the double kayak. The boys enjoyed paddling as much as I did. After a few kilometers we stopped. We walked over the first coral reef. I jumped into the water. Martin also jumped after me. The water was warm, but perfect for perfect refreshment.

The kayaks have a low cockpit, so it is really easy to get into them from the water. You literally just sit down. I’ve never tried it before, so I wasn’t sure if the folding kayak would last at all. You can only go ashore here on the beaches, which are often several kilometers apart. On some only during high tide. Corals, which often protrude above the surface at low tide, are as sharp as razors. So I wanted us to have a dedicated training. Miro quietly protested against the forced exercise for a moment, but the tropical sun drove him into the water instead of me.

Martin threw him off the boat about 50 meters from the shore of the island we were aiming for. In order to have a swimming warm-up, he left him there. On the way to the shore, he also tried an obstacle course between jellyfish. Since we didn’t know them, we were all afraid of everyone. Some did not swallow at all, some left itchy blisters as a snare, but some were very painful. There was a beautiful sandy beach on the island. Mangroves grew around the perimeter of the island, the rest was forest.

As it remained for the rest of the expedition, the wind always picked up in the afternoon and the waves came with it. The way back was already more difficult. Even though the day here is only 12 hours, we still have a few hours of light left. However, we decided to go back. We were still waiting to buy supplies. We didn’t know what we were going to do at all, and then the worst case scenario is to be expected, especially as far as water is concerned. Along the way we noticed a nice resort. In fact, we haven’t seen anyone else. Small wooden houses spread out in a tropical garden right next to a sandy beach and a coral reef.

The waves could only be climbed here by jumping into the water and the boys took some water. We stopped here to ask about the possibility of sleeping. The next day the bad weather forecast came out. In the afternoon it looked like a strong wind and storm. If it was very bad, we’d rather be here than in a dirty harbor. He was fascinated by a strange tree I had never seen before. Fruits grew on it, on which there was still a cashew nut. I asked if it was a cashew and if I could taste it. The fruit is edible. Walnut is inedible without baking. Each of us has some bad habits. Martin’s bizarre habit is to eat everything that is poisonous. It is even loaded with berries.  When he heard this, despite the warnings, one raw walnut full of white latex was peeling off. By evening, his skin had slipped from his lips. Thanks to him, we know that our aunt didn’t lie to us. The original plan was to sleep somewhere in the north of the island of Coron, which was more than 5 kilometers away from us in open water. We had no idea if he could sleep there. We returned to the base, where we parked kayaks in our shipyard in the restaurant.

In the morning we took the kayaks to the water and started packing. There was little space in the harbor and ships came ashore just to load people or goods. We arrived at the worst time. There was so little space that I started packing first to make room for the guys. I didn’t load even half of the things when the kayak completely disintegrated. The whole structure was sprayed with kerosene due to the fact that aluminum also rust in the seawater. It’s not very greasy, but it was enough for some of the snapped components to start to separate. Fortunately, I had two designers with me. Martin has such long arms that he was able to repair the kayak without massive disassembly. He ran to the port for a moment and returned with the straps. We strengthened the construction of the kayak.

I threw all my things into the kayak again. In the meantime, however, another ship came and filled the last gap that could be reached. I tried to cram between the ship and its bamboo stabilizer float. Bad luck, I’m stuck. I whistled to the captain of the ship, who nodded for the crew to climb to the opposite side. The boat tilted and the float lifted slightly. That was enough for me to get crammed in there. The boys took advantage of the departure of another ship. We headed straight for Coron Island. According to the compass, we didn’t do very well. There was a slight flow between the islands. In the north of the island we came across a number of boats with tourists who come here to swim, snorkel, or come to visit some of the lakes on the island. They are a kind of lagoon of sea water hidden between the hills. Even though we wanted to go there to see it, the mass of people discouraged us. It was not easy to stop here. We continued on to the westernmost tip of the island. From there we wanted to go back to the other side of the strait to the houses we found yesterday.

Along the way, we found a group of houseboats in a covered lagoon with a coral garden. Although they didn’t want to leave us there to eat or eat at the beginning, we stayed there for two nights. It was foolish for us to pay the required amount. At least they let us eat. I wondered if we could ask them if we could at least sleep on the pier. At first they took it as a joke. Imagine the most luxuriously furnished place in the middle of fairytale nature, right on the sea on a coral reef. The houseboat was actually a bar with three separate zones. Outside two showers with fresh water. Upstairs room with electrical outlets, open on 2 sides, so you feel as good in the room as you do outside. Private terrace for each room. With private bathroom and flush toilet, whose waste did not end up in the sea. The kitchen and accommodation for the “service staff” was on the other side of the lagoon. The kitchen worked so that in the evening everyone said what they wanted. Someone went to Coron to the fish markets early in the morning and bought everything fresh.

And now imagine three sweaty kayakers asking them if they can sleep in their bar. All our requests had to be consulted by the staff with the Italian owner via the walkie-talkie. Since we were already moving there, on the other hand, we didn’t want to. The boys tasted rum, one by one. As I would not be able to let them go anyway, we ended the negotiations with half the original amount. Until the evening we drank, ate and mainly snorkeled for hours on the lagoon. They kept watching us and asking what they could do for us. Not only will they bring you a towel, but they will also wipe you when you let go.

The lagoon was tens of meters deep, so I trained to dive to greater depths. There were also jellyfish, but we were so euphoric that we didn’t notice it anymore. There were many more fish seen here than on the high seas. Normally it was the other way around. When there was no wind and water like glass, the fish were nestled among the corals. They only came out when the waves came. But this is not so suitable for snorkeling. It was like an aquarium in a lagoon. When it was dark, we looked at the stars on the paddleboard, or just stared into the floodlit water for shoals of fish or hunting barracuda.

During the day, a vest in which I had my phone fell into the water. Although waterproof, falling into salt water permanently marked it. He hasn’t been charged for more than a week. I managed it at home. The power button is no longer remembered. Fortunately, Martin’s iPhone had only a temporary charging problem.

Martin did not realize that our floating hotel had fallen a few meters lower in the meantime. When he had previously swam 2 meters above a colony of sea urchins. So now he kicked them. He got a good dose of thorns. Long and thin spines break immediately. But for some reason Martin didn’t mind trying to pick prickly pears. He had so many of them there that not even all of his nurses could pick them. It wasn’t a poisonous berry, but it seemed to please him, and he might even think that even his large family of hedgehogs couldn’t decide.

We also missed dinner. It was the best food not only in the Philippines. Maybe someone didn’t stay hungry for us. We had two dinners for sure. Meanwhile, even then, we jumped into the water late into the night. It was absolutely fantastic at night outside. The storm was thundering in the background, which we had been expecting all day. It rained lightly in places. I don’t even know when I got to bed.

I woke up when it started to rain on me. It was just the wind directing the drops up to the bed. I felt terribly bad. I couldn’t even stand up. I crawled to the toilet and left, among other things, the good dinner. This was repeated until the morning. I was so sick I didn’t even know about myself. The toilet had a hand-held flushing pump, and everyone in the bamboo house heard it. I wasn’t the only one. I wasn’t even able to talk in the morning. So what now?