Puerto Princesa > El Nido, Palawan, Philippines
It took us 5 days to drive up the west coast of Palawan Island on motorbikes - exploring a few sleepy beach towns along the way. We rented some (pretty questionable) onda XRM semi automatic dirt bikes in Puerto Princesa. Neither bikes' gas or odometer gauges worked and I had to ask them to put some rear view mirrors back on mine. But baby, it was fun. Thank god for shocks. Also thank my Dad... he made all 5 of us learn to drive a stick shift. A semiautomatic bike isn't difficult to learn but because I had known how to drive a manual car, my knowledge of how an engine works helped understand shifting the new type of bike.
I'll never say it enough, you have so much freedom on a bike. Not only did we not have to rely on terrible drivers, stuffed to the gills vans, and specific timetables, but we could stop at will and intermix with locals in tiny towns. Sometimes this happened unwillingly - Miks carbourator clogged our second day and my back tire popped on our 4th. Luckily for mine, a kind local took his time to change my tire.
But those hard, long days proved to be some of the best. We literally hung out at the local basketball court/church for an entire Saturday afternoon. One woman helped us call the rental guy (not before having to buy a $1 calling card) after the local mechanic we tried to find was at a birthday party. The boys swarmed Mik especially after he started talking NBA with them and offered to buy everyone halo halo (ice slushies) - they literally screamed for ice cream - 30 of them. Once word got out in town that we were chillin there for a while... you could tell more and more people started to show up- if only just to stare at Mik's "guapo" face or ask us if we were "planning on having a son soon". It felt incredible to see their huge smiles and make their day. And really they made ours more than they'll know.