When you thought you’ve seen it all..
Everyone has heard of Amsterdam and all of the wild-but-totally-legal possibilities that go along with spending a few nights in this city. What you might not know is that besides hitting up the Red Light District at night for a good time (or a good laugh, or an uncomfortable walk through an alley way with far too many gawking tourists..) or heading to a local “Coffee Shop” to partake in illicit activities, there are surprisingly other touristy things one can do here.
Amsterdam’s bicycling culture is huge; cyclists have their own lanes and traffic lights. I’m pretty sure a requirement of living in Amsterdam is that you must own a bike, otherwise it’s off to the outskirts of the city for you. Because cycling is such a popular form of transportation and because the city itself is quite small, renting a bicycle during your stay in Amsterdam is a great way to spend a few hours or even an entire day exploring!
If you’re not quite up to speed on Hong Kong’s history, Kowloon Walled City was an extremely densely populated section of Kowloon that housed an interesting mix of residents. Prostitution, gambling, and drug use were very common in this area. The Walled City was predominately ungoverned by HK, instead it was controlled by the Triads for the last few decades before the HK government decided to begin evicting all residents in order to demolish the city.
As amazingly wonderful as the town of El Nido is, it’s missing one thing. Because of the looming limestone cliffs to the west of the town, you are unable to see the sunset. This also means it gets dark much earlier in the day than you would probably like. Thankfully, we ended up finding a solution to our lack-of-a-beautiful-sunset problem.
After we had been in Puerto Princesa for two nights, we made our way via van to the -almost- northern most part of Palawan; El Nido. The ride there was pretty painful; it took about 6 or so hours with multiple stops picking up and dropping off passengers (both tourists and locals) along the way in the towns of Roxas, Taytay, and who knows where else. However, I was in for a real treat on the ride back to Puerto Princesa when we were stuck in a much smaller van with the same amount of people, and had a pregnant lady moaning as if she were having contractions and an older woman who was horking into a baggy that she tied around the back of a seat… But, I digress.
Like I mentioned in my previous post on stopping over in Puerto Princesa, there isn’t that much to do in the city center. If you have a day to spend wandering about the city, there are a handful of tourist attractions you can visit during the day and some great restaurants and bars to check out at night. They are all within walking distance, unless you’re incredibly lazy or are on the verge of heatstroke and can’t bear to walk another step. If that’s the unfortunate case, there are plenty of tricycles haphazardly about the streets that will take you to any of the locations below for a nominal fee.
The majority of travelers who go to Puerto Princesa, Palawan in the Philippines are not there for a long time. Usually they stop for a night or two at most before heading north towards El Nido and/or Coron. Because the turnover of travelers is quite high, there isn’t much to do in Puerto Princesa.
I was like many of these other in-and-out travelers, as we only had a three night stay in Puerto Princesa before I made my way on a long and exhausting journey up to El Nido. Though my time in PP was short, I tried to make the best of it by going to see most of the touristy things I found online, as well as the obligatory wanderings of a backpacker who has found themselves in a new place.
I have quickly learned that preparing your travel itinerary ahead of time can save you a lot of unnecessary stress and money on Advil for those sure-to-happen headaches. Finding and booking a place to stay is one of the things I make sure to do ahead of time when going on a shorter trip.
Depending on the time of your visit to the Gili Islands, I would highly recommend booking ahead of time during their high season. We figured that most accommodation would be sold out, however, we were surprised to have multiple locals approach us when getting off the boat asking if we needed a room. We didn’t look into details regarding the price, area, or set-up since we already had something booked. However, I suppose it is good to know that you can head over there without any real plan (though doing this during high season would not be the wisest decision, unless you enjoy sleeping on the beach).