Duli – Life’s a Beach.

Day 1: (Day 12 in the Philippines)
We took our travelling day this time a little easier by having a lazy morning post-breakfast at Las Cabanas.

Perhaps it was because it was our last day, but they added a side of Plantains to my Egg White Omelette that morning. They were quite interesting and the flavour grew on me – mostly like a firm, savoury banana with a hint of sweet.

We checked out at 12pm on the dot and decided to trike into El Nido Town again because the guys were asking for 2000 Pesos to go up to Duli. No way were we paying that much! We decided to stop at Art Cafe for a drink before staying on to have lunch while we contemplated on to get to Duli and whether to draw out more cash or wait to see if we could use Credit Card for payment there.

My Seafood Salad at Art Cafe was pretty dope! It was full of fresh chunks of fish, prawns, squid and mussels. When I say fish chunks, I mean chunks! Flo went for the Mango Cashew Salad.

Then, we asked the staff there if we could leave our bags with them while we went to draw out more cash. We hadn’t heard back from the owners of Duli Beach Resort so we decided to play safe and get more monies. En-route to the cash machine, we made a stop by this little cafe said to make good muffins. What I didn’t know was that the muffins were huge!!

I chose the Nutella Muffin since it looked like it was oozing Nutella from beneath its dome. And yes, I polished the entire thing off save for a small segment that Flo tried. I also had a piece of Flo’s Calamansi Sugar Crepe before we went off to settle my ice-cream craving.

For the first time in like, 10 years, I had a Cornetto! We decided to go local and get ice-cream from their convenience store rather than get a scoop of gelato from a restaurant since gelaterias are a dime a dozen back here in Singapore. I had the Ube and Custard Cornetto while Flo accompanied me to have a Pinipeg Ube Ice-Cream stick.

Finally satisfied, we got our cash and around 3.30pm, found a trike-guy to take us to Duli for 700 Pesos. Flo was doubly happy because he was also wearing the jersey of Flo’s favourite football team – Dortmund.

He seemed like a good enough kid so we thought we’d give him some business and arranged for him to pick us up on Sunday to take us to the airport for 500 Pesos after he dropped us at Duli.

Duli beach is incredibly secluded. At the left end of the beach is Duli Beach Resort where there are about 4 ‘huts’ along with its resto-bar. The room was nice and open so it was bright and breezy. Also, it was very clean and quite modern.

Only thing is that they run on solar power so electricity has to be used sparingly from a battery source and there’s no hot water either! The beach itself is more of a surfing beach with high, rolling waves crashing forward.

Apart from Duli Beach Resort, there was one other small resto-bar along the beach and then its pretty much empty all the way down. Every morning and evening, it felt as though we had the entire beach to ourselves.

That first night, we could also see the fullness of the moon light up the entire beach along with stars galore. Beautiful!

Day 2: (Day 13 in the Philippines)
For the first time in my sheltered life, I learned to play in the waves with Flo by my side. The waves in Duli were huge and so fun to dive under, and jump over, and dive over.

The water wasn’t too cold much to my delight, and after a while, we came out of the salty water to walk along to beach in order to dry off and warm up. We walked all the way down to the other end of the beach and back again. The only downside were the sandflies that seemed to have a thing for Flo. I think he may also have had a slight allergy to them because his bites soon grew to look like mozzie bites whereas mine stayed small.

After our walk back, Flo decided to go surfing. Duli Beach Resort rents out surfboards at 350 Pesos an hour which is quite affordable. Flo got used to the board and the waves and towards the end of the hour, managed to surf over quite a few waves.

Dinner was at the Resto-bar. They usually have 3-4 options to choose from at dinner, all at 250 Pesos per meal. Flo had the Noodles with Pork and Vegetables while I had the Grilled Squid.

The squid turned out to be a little tooooo over-grilled so they ended up quite chewy and tough, much like this dried grilled cuttlefish from Bangkok that Dad loves and dubs ‘Asian Chewing gum‘.

Flo and I then had a nice heart-to-heart talk in the dark solitude of our room while listening to the waves endlessly crash against the shore. It reminded me so much of when we first got together and would spend hours just talking about everything and anything. Moments like these remind me of our connection and why I find it so easy to be with Flo.

Day 3: (Day 14 in the Philippines)
Our last full day in the Philippines! We woke up to a breakfast of French Toast and German Pancakes which we shared.

German Pancakes are like fatter, thicker crepes although I still prefer the usual thin French crepes. Also, Grandpa’s French Toast are a lot better but maybe I’m just biased.

I did little much the entire morning apart from finish this rubbish book I’d picked up from Sea Turtle House back in Moalboal. It’s called Emily by Jill Cooper and is honestly a terrible read with a nonsensical ending, but it kept me entertained enough through our Palawan stay so I shouldn’t be so ungrateful.

I felt quite shitty about all the carbs and sugar intake after breakfast and after indulging in the last of this giant banana muffin we’d brought along from El Nido. Dinner ended up being a repeat of the Grilled Squid episode from the night before only this time, the squid was ever-so-slightly less rubbery. I requested for more salad and no rice, and the kitchen staff very sweetly gave me a generous portion of stir-fried vegetables instead.

The entire day was spent resting and relaxing for me while Flo went for another round of surfing. With lounge-y days and quiet evenings like these, we kind of got into a nice rhythm of getting into bed after dark at around 8pm, and waking up just after sunrise around 7am. We’d then roll around in bed only to get out and wash up for coffee and breakfast between 8.30-9am. I can totally understand why the couple running the resort love Duli Beach so much, but I’m not sure I would be able to give up my life here in Singapore to live there indefinitely as beautiful as it is. As a holiday beach destination, I’d return for sure.

Day 4: (Day 15 in the Philippines)
We spent 10 hours travelling from Duli Beach to El Nido airport, from El Nido airport to Cebu airport, then from Cebu airport to Changi airport.

Flo and I shared another breakfast of French Toast and German Pancakes in the morning before we sat back to bask in the sun on a couple of lounge chairs in from of the resort’s resto-bar. We talked about the things that we would like to have in life – children, our desires for them, what kind of parents we hope to be… And Flo told me that I’ve punished myself enough with the ED and that I need to let go and forgive myself. He said that I needed to realise that I deserve all the love and happiness that God has blessed me with. It was a good talk and I know what Flo was getting at. It opened my eyes once more that it was high time I learnt to let go of my past and not stay stuck, allowing ED to constantly get the better of me.

Anyway, our trike-buddy who took us up from El Nido to Duli, JoFranz, ended up being MIA, sending his brother Joseph, instead to pick us up. He tried to haggle with us for more but we insisted we had an agreement with JoFranz already so he relented and took the 500 to send us to the airport. It was a bumpy ride as usual and when we got there, we had to pay another 50 pesos to switch to an ‘airport’ trike because apparently they had to be licensed to enter the area.

Our flight got delayed by an hour because the plane had to undergo some necessary maintenance. The way the girl at the counter said it made me a little apprehensive about our flight ahead and it didn’t help that it turned out to be quite a turbulent flight back to Cebu.

We made it in time for our connecting flight back home despite the delay, but had to pay another 1050 pesos because they insisted we had to check in our trolley bag since the weight of our bags added together surpassed the 7 kilos per person by just a bit. The lady insisted that they would weigh our bags before our flight and that we would be charged 1500 pesos inside if we were overweight. In the end, there was no other ‘weigh-in’. Also note that passengers leaving the Philippines to go on international flights need to pay a tax of 750 pesos each. This is not really stated anywhere or made apparent in any way so there have been cases of tourists using up all their money and having none left for the tax.

The flight back to Singapore was rough. I don’t think the skies in between Singapore and the Philippines are very friendly. The 3.5hour ride felt much longer but we landed on time. As soon as we got home, I threw all our dirty clothes into the wash and thanked God that Mum and Dad very sweetly helped stock up our fridge with fresh fruit and yoghurt so we could fill our bellies.

Our two weeks together in the Philippines taught me a lot about myself as well as about Flo and our relationship.

I realise that I can rough things out and I am a lot more tough than I thought myself to be. During my time there, with the support of Flo, I learned how to snorkel more confidently and saw sea turtles and beautiful fish and magnificent corals in the process; I tried some Filipino cuisine; I found myself letting go where food was concerned at certain points during our trip; I experienced sleeping to the sound of crashing waves and noisy geckoes; I saw crystal clear waters and travelled pillion to Flo on scooters.

Of course, Flo and I had our little squabbles but I believe that they drew us closer. The fact that we managed to spend 15 days together, 24 hours each day, and not try to kill each other is testimony to that. We learned about communicating our thoughts to each other more effectively and admittedly, Flo was my rock throughout our trip. He soothed me many times when my stress levels went up, he listened to me as I shared about my past and offered me words of comfort and encouragement, and he always made sure I was safe.

As unsure as I am about visiting the Philippines any time soon, I am glad to have gone and had the experiences that I had, and made the memories that I have made with Flo. We saw the ugly side of some people, but we also met some lovely ones along the way. And against the backdrop of a city like Cebu still dusty and noisy in its development, we also had the privilege to see the untouched beaches of Duli, the serene lagoons around Miniloc, and the mysterious mounds called Chocolate Hills.

The experience was priceless and to have had the prayers of Mum and Dad with us, to have had God’s protection throughout, and to have seen and done the things I did with the man I love? All I can say is that I am truly and utterly blessed beyond description!

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