5 days in the Philippines: the Tao experience
Back in November (which seems like a lifetime ago as I write these lines), we spent five days in one of the most beautiful parts of the world; the Palau archipelago, in the Philippines.
We had heard of the Tao Experience through friends who had embarked on this singular journey and couldn’t recommend it enough. We decided to give it a go during the autumn break, right at the end of the rainy season, as it was the most affordable time to do so, both for the flights and the price of the cruise – which is always great value for the money, even if you do it in the high season.
A few days before our scheduled departure though, we were regularly checking the weather and what we could see wasn’t reassuring. Grey skies, rain, even typhoons. At some point, we did wonder if we hadn’t made a big mistake.
We flew in late October from Dublin to Manila, stayed overnight in a hotel room quite near the airport (none of this part of the trip is worth lingering over as the room and the area were as crap as it gets) and flew again to Buchansaga the next morning. Well, it was supposed to be the next morning but flights in the Philippines are pretty much as reliable as trains in India. Meaning: expect delays, and that's if the flight even shows up.
When we arrived at the Manila domestic airport, we realised our flight had been moved back an hour, without any announcement being made. Long story short, we made it, but we didn’t regret planning the flight a little earlier than needed to be in Coron for the pre-trip meeting with the Tap team. One valuable piece of advice here: allow yourself plenty of time when travelling through Manila, and if you can, book with AirSwift, which we did on the return flight. They seem to be the most reliable.
We were welcomed in Coron by our Australian friends Byron and Verity and by a heavy rain – thank God, it was the first and last big precipitation we saw on the trip. We encountered a few showers on the way, but nothing compared to what it was the weeks before.
It might sound weird as I'm writing a whole blog post about it but I do not want to tell too much about Tao. As always, Damien had done all the needed research and I knew very little about what to expect from the trip, which has always been my favourite way of travelling. Or maybe the only way I know. The downside to this is that I am usually pretty badly prepared for anything. Thankfully, our friends are quite the opposite and they were prepared for the team.
For Tao, you will need a couple of bathing suits, a book, and a few other items that the crew will list for you before departure – like mosquito spray, a dry bag, and loads of sunscreen. For a whole 5 days, you will forget about your phone, your watch, and about pretty much anything happening outside your little Tao bubble. For 5 days, you will be sailing on a boat, sleeping on deserted beaches and eating local food, chatting for the crew (all locals) and with your fellow travellers, who if you are as lucky as we were, should be interesting open-minded people from all around the globe.
What do you do for 5 days would you ask? Not much, apart from eating delicious food, drinking (only if you want), snorkelling, napping, and chatting with people. No fixed itinerary or schedule here: the crew decides on the plan as it goes and you should just sit back and relax while looking at some of the most beautiful landscapes you will ever see.
Damien and I have done our fair share of travelling in the past 10 years and we both agree Tao is one of the best experiences we ever did. I guess the best is that you see for yourself and book your tickets asap.