Yesterday we woke feeling a little dusty thanks to the previous night’s escapades in Sava bar. A lie in and full English would have been ideal but we dragged ourselves up and out to get to the Ferry office before 9am when it opened. We booked our tickets to Coron online a couple of days ago but have been advised to exchange our voucher for proper tickets in advance to guarantee our seats on the over subscribed and oversold Ferry. Having researched the limited travel options to Coron we came to the conclusion that a 3.5 hour catamaran was preferable to a 7 hour, rough bangka crossing. We arrived at the boarded up shopfront at 8.45am and joined the back of an already lengthy queue. Needless to say that 9am came and went with no sign of staff or opening. As I was standing there, sweating profusely in the already blistering sun, with a huge hangover, I looked around at the pure madness of the current situation. We were stood in a line on the opposite side of the street because there is no sidewalk next to the shop. To our left is an exposed building site with pools of green stagnant water and to our right trucks, motorbikes and tuk tuks whizz past, missing our toes by inches. The air is thick and full of dust and fumes and smells of food cooking and drains. It’s a cacophony of horns, music and touts. But it’s become the norm these days and you just take it. No one runs to a schedule, no one is on time and there is a rarely a process for most things.
The ferry office eventually opens only to turn away every single person looking to buy a ticket for the next day because they are sold out. They don’t exchange our voucher for a ticket but tell us we are good to go and advise us to get to the ferry at 5am.
We make the most of being up and hire a scooter to visit Duli beach and Nacpan beach which have been recommended by everyone here as being stunning. I’m a bit of a nervous scooter passenger and the sketchiness of our hangover isn’t helping but we take it slow and once out of town, it’s really interesting to see the surrounding areas. Wonderful scenery of lush green paddy fields, huge cliffs and friendly locals waving to us.
We decide to go to Duli beach first which is furthest away. The main road is in pretty good condition but the turn off for the beach leads to a dirt track full of loose gravel and potholes which make for a wildly uncomfortable ride.
Our little scooter is struggling and the suspension bottoms out frequently but we eventually make it. The beach is beautifully remote. There is a large sweeping bay and crashing waves. We dump our stuff and go for a swim. It’s only when we get out that we realise we are being bitten by teams of sand flies which is really annoying.
We have a great couple of hours here and then head back in search of Nacpan Beach, the more famous of the two. We just about get back to the main road when we realise that we have a flat tyre at the back. Great. We are the furthest point from home with no way of contacting the rental people and no idea where the nearest garage is. Thankfully a kind tuk tuk driver who is bringing a tourist back from Nacpan Beach pulls over to help. I jumped in with them as Gary nursed the scooter to the next village. It was pretty surreal being in the tuk tuk with this 70 year old American tourist called Dave who was chatting away, as I watched poor Gary limping alongside.
Joey, the tuk tuk driver led us through a back alley to a family home with a workshop out the back.
They didn’t have a spare so they repaired ours and it was only then when we looked properly that we fully acknowledged how perished it was.
No tread and in a real state. Lesson learnt to be more vigilant when hiring next time.
As the guys worked on our bike, joey got his bike looked at too and Dave, the tourist didn’t seem to mind one jot that we had completely hijacked his afternoon. He seemed pretty excited by it all.
Having worked on the bike for 45 mins, they fixed it up and we were on our way. Given the state it was in and it being a bit of an emergency I was bracing myself for a hefty bill but the mechanic only wanted 50 Pesos which is 75p. Unbelievable!
We were so thankful that we gave him and Joey a big tip for helping us out and we were really touched by their hospitality and kindness. By the time we were sorted it was too late to get to Nacpan and we were aware that the repair might not withstand another dirt track so we headed home.
Bit of a disappointment but as we tell ourselves when these things happen, it’s all part of the adventure and tomorrow is a new day.