Experience Palawan with Tao (1)

Onboard the paraw is David Stock of Divergent Travelers, Anton Diaz of Our Awesome Planet and Jeff, our guide for our private Tao Expedition.

Travel Blog Exchange (TBEX) Asia Pacific 2016 has officially come to a close. Congratulations to the organizer, Tourism Promotions Board, for successfully hosting this event in the Philippines! ;)

I've been following TBEX for quite some time now. It is one of the largest conference and networking event for travel bloggers, travel brands, and industry professionals. I was excited to attend this event and hurriedly signed up to take advantage of the early bird rate when they announced back in October 2015 that they're coming to the Philippines. I attended a few talks and got inspired by Mike Shubic, Shane Dallas, and Patricia Schultz just to name a few.

But the thing I was looking forward to the most, and probably other travel bloggers too, are the post familiarization tours around the country. FAM trips were held between October 17-21, 2016 and we had to choose one from seventeen different locations. Out of almost 400 travelers, I luckily got picked to join the Tao Expedition. To give you a brief background about Tao, please watch the video below:

Tao means “people” in Filipino and is pronounced as Ta-O (not as the single syllable, tao). It was founded by Eddie Brock and Jack Foottit and their primary goal is to immerse participants in the authentic Filipino island life. The expedition usually takes place in Coron, Culion, Linipacan, and El Nido - for 5 days and 4 nights - but since we're on a private tour it was shortened to 3 days. The rest were spent in another luxury resort but I shall reserve that for my next post. ;)

Upon arrival in El Nido, we went straight to the Tao Office where we met with our guide Jeff for a briefing on our upcoming expedition. Basically, there's no plan. Every trip differs from the other. It will all depend on the mood of all the participants and of course the weather.

Below is a list of essentials you need to pack when joining Tao Expedition:

1. Dry Bag - This is a must-have to keep your gadgets safe and sound.
2. Towel - Another must have since they don't provide towels, probably for hygienic purposes. Make sure they're the light and fast drying ones. My favorite is the DryLite Towel™ from Sea to Summit.
3. Refillable water bottle - Save the world, stop using plastic cups and use a water bottle to keep yourselves hydrated!
4. Clothes - Choose the quick drying type of clothing. Bring extra just in case you get stranded somewhere.
5. Rash Guard - It might depend on the season but jellyfish and sea lice are quite rampant in different parts of Palawan.
6. First-Aid Kit - Must contain the basics including meclizine (to prevent motion sickness), insect repellents, and other ointments (for jellyfish sting).
7. Headlamps - You're visiting remote areas so there's a 100% chance that there's no electricity on the island. I do regret not bringing mine since I thought cell phone flashlight will do but no, it just drained my battery.
8. Power Banks - Make sure all gadgets are fully charged before leaving the house. Another option is to invest on those solar chargers that come in handy when electricity is not regularly available.
9. Sandals - The problem with trek sandals is that they smell overtime which is not good. Plus they don't look cool. I have yet to find a fashionable pair of beach sandals so after berating Crocs for years I have caved and bought a pair of Crocs Sexi Flip.
10. Sunscreen and Sunglasses - Need I say more?

Our first day started in the port of El Nido where we met up with the Tao crew. Check out Kuya Jhun filling up the coolers with booze! On the right are my new found friends namely Sean Nolan and Boom Garcia, both from Our Awesome Planet. And the lovely Shera Karim from the Tourism Promotions Board.

Our first stop is Nacpan beach which is approximately 20kms away from the town proper of El Nido. It took us an hour to get here by boat, other modes of transport to Nacpan are either by car or scooter.

This part of the island is also famous for its Twin Beach. Nacpan beach is on the left while the other is known as Calitang beach.

Nacpan reminds me of the early days of Boracay, unspoiled and unexploited. It boasts a long beach (around 4kms long) with beige to white sands. We had the beach practically to ourselves and less than a dozen tourists.

We had an hour in Nacpan and it might not look like it but all of us were actually "doing our job". Check out the other half of Divergent Travelers, Lina Stock, waiting to catch their drone. And of course, Anton Diaz, founder of Our Awesome Planet. Here he is sharing a beer to other tourists passing by. I'm sure he's promoting the beauty of El Nido and the Philippines! ;)

After our quick stop in Nacpan, it was time to hop on the boat for lunch! ;) All these dishes were prepared onboard by the talented Chef Mike. Not in the photo is a favorite of the Filipinos which they call Filipino Power a.k.a steamed rice.

Moving on, I am ending the post for now because I don't want to bombard your screens with hi-res photos. :p But don't worry coz as you read this post I'm already uploading part 2 and 3 of my Tao Expedition experience. See you in a few, Travel Junkies! ;)