Island life and some deserted island hopping, oh there’s George Clooney’s place!

by The Longest Way Home ~ September 24th, 2009. Published in: Travel blog » Philippines.
Paradise island in Palawan (clcik to enlarge)

Paradise island in Palawan (click to enlarge)

My days are generally taken up with the laptop and writing. Electricity is good, and I am getting a lot done. But my initial fear of island life is always there.

Boredom …

Get up, eat. Enjoy beautiful view. Write. Eat left overs, feel too hot. Start on second liter of water. Write. Stop and wait for the electricity to come back. Wait for the sun to cool down. Head to town and buy supplies. Sit in front of fan when the electrictiy does come back. Cook, clean, watch sunset. Write. Sleep.

Unsurprisingly, it’s pretty much the same routine everyone else has here. Locals that is. Holiday makers I’m not counting here as they are here for different reasons.

I am not complaining mind you, I am after all proving a point. And; it seems to be coming true.

Real life hermits living on an island in the Philippines

Real life hermits living on an island in the Philippines

However, when another opportunity to go island hoping came about; I jumped at it. There was another couple heading to a few of islands as part of their tout. I was invited to come along thanks to Rex. He wouldn’t be around this time though, so we had a new boatman. He caught be wonderfully for 400 pesos once I arrived at the boat.

I was tempted to walk away, Rex was usually free. But, I needed to get out.

The old lagoon was first. Then the hidden lagoon. Here rather than following the couple out I went off in the opposite direction. The island where the hidden lagoon is located is owned by a local man. And on it, two old Filipino’s are stationed to stand guard.

They live in a little hut on the beach, and have to paddle out to get supplies as there is nothing on the island. Not even water. They play on a guitar for visitors, and charge 50 pesos to people wanting to have a picnic there. Now these guys were really taking island life seriously.

I walked along the shore and soon noticed the rocks lining it. I am not a geologist, but I think this is fairly accurate. The rock in El Nido is very different to the rest of Palawan.

Cliffside rocks made of iron ore

Cliffside rocks made of iron ore

It’s almost bone or coral like in it’s formation. Tiny little holes cover all of it, and it feels sharp. Every cliff seems climbable due to this. One can just grab hold of any cliff face and your skin can grip onto this rock like spiderman. It hurts a little after a while, but nothing too much.

Iron deposits in the rock around El Nido

Iron deposits in the rock around El Nido

What’s more if you hit a stone off it, the rock gives off a metallic sound. There were also large iron colored deposits dotted around the place. A close up look showed them to be like iron ore, but still rock. I think that I must be getting really bored with my Island life. I am obsessing about rock …

We took off again and headed to another deserted island for lunch. Grilled chicken, salad and of course, rice. All in all it wasn’t a bad day out. I needed more of them actually. I’m spending too much of my island life writing my book from my little shore side cottage. Then again, there is only so much to do on an island.

I gentle reminder about how the other half live was brought to my attention as we chugged back to El Nido on the banka (small boat). The boatman pointed out to another island. This one looked a little different. All along the shore were well maintained houses, still decorated in local materials, but distinctly modern. So modern infact that I caught a glimpse of solar panels dotted along the roofs.

The boatman mentioned the name of the place. A resort used by the rich. I thought the guy meant the rich class of the Philippines as there did seem to be a striking number of them about. But no he meant the elite of Hollywood.

The island resort where George Clooney stays

The island resort where George Clooney stays

“This where George Clooney stay.” The boatman pointed. “$450 dollar a night.”

Back at my $5 dollar a night cottage I sat back to another sunset. Twiddled my thumbs and began to cook my two day old beef adobo. I wondered if George would like a plate?

Similar to West Africa, once you see how the other half live when you are at the complete opposite end of the scale; it gives rise to strange emotions. It makes me see why so many people clammer through all odd’s to get a taste of the good life. It’s another world on your door step, so close you can see the cool ‘unreality’ of it all.

Yes, there is a resentment there. Polar opposites living next door to each other can bring this out after a while.

In Africa it was emabassy functions, or NGO ‘think tanks’ or dare I mention ‘workshop weekends’.  Pluck the local man out from his village and place him in this foreign movie star like enviroment, then send him back.

I wonder if Rex, or today’s boatman thinks the same way I did after some time in Africa.

Do they look over at night when all but this villa are without electricity and wonder what it would be like to live like this everyday? What then if they get to make it inside? Do they resent it, desire it even more, or; try their level best to forget it?

Then again I’m not sure anyone would truly comprehend this unless they’ve been in such a situation. Though, I think most could and perhaps should, at least try to imagine it.

The electricity blinked off and I pined for a non-meltable candle, or maybe a wind-up fan at the very least.

Coming Soon:

How to cook for yourself on an island (refrigerators not included)

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9 Great responses to Island life and some deserted island hopping, oh there’s George Clooney’s place!

  1. Jemma says:

    Do you think George was there at the time?

  2. Carlos says:


    I follow your journey for a few months now. I really think you write with an inside look on life from the experience you have put together.

    I read this twice and I think there is more to what you are saying in just words. It’s a facinating look at life and I think yes we all look over at the people next to us an wonder what it be like to be them.

    I think more so for the poorer people. I see them come my country and it make me hide my wallet. But I think if I have to leave and would do the same.

    Good luck with your search, you bring something good to my office every week.

    Keep going

    • -Jemma- I don’t know. The boatman was just saying that’s where he stays. Though there are lights on over there at least every other week. So someone with $450 a night is there quite often :)

      -Carlos- Hi, Carlos. Thanks for the kind words. What you are reading is my journal. As many people do, I am often writing with myself in mind. So yes there is often more to it than just the words you see. A good observation on your part!

      Survival is a hard thing for many people to observe, nor truly comprehend unless they’ve been there. I see, and understand your points.

      Glad to have you following my journey along

  3. Grant Lingel says:

    Great post! It truly seems like paradise from your words and photos… keep up the great work with the site and happy travels!

  4. Lauren says:

    You are a truly fascinating person.

  5. mike says:

    Actually the place in your photo is kinda mid range – Amanpulo – a higher end resort goes for more 3800 a night for its top digs. And a lot of Hollywood is in northern palawan investing in resorts and development as well as protecting the environment there.
    WWF which is supporting a number of green projects is funded by the lot of the stars who shine on screens.
    And a number of high end as well as mid range resorts line the west coast of palawan.
    I grew up there… in the capitol of puerto princesa.
    Anyhow enjoy the island… oh… and if you feel homesick for Americans – there are about 2000 US marines on a exercise with the Philippine military to the south of you called the Balikatan.
    Hope you do find your place in the sun someday. God bless and enjoy palawan.

    • -Mike- Thanks for that information. I guess that’s $3800 a night. That’s pretty much amazingly expensive. Although I am all for environmental protection, I’ve seen a lot places in the world have the elite, set up resorts. One of the downsides is that the cost of living also goes up in that area and then it becomes inaccessible to many others. Which is a shame.

  6. Ryan says:

    I think Amanpulo charges 800USD a night for Filipinos/local residents; and over 1000USD for foreigners. El Nido Resorts price range is somewhere between 250-500USD a person a night. Boayan Island costs about 3,000 USD for 7 days I think. But you got the entire island to yourself, and you got a house with a full staff of people from chef to butlers. Heaps of great islands there. Will come back again to Palawan this December.