Paradise in the Philippines

Danielle Buxbaum on a trip to the Philippines
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It is a goal of mine to travel to every country in Southeast Asia. At 31 years old, I’m pretty much crushing this goal. The Philippines has been on my travel list for this reason, and I was really blown away by my experience. It is such a gorgeous place, seemingly untouched! With pristine beaches, beautiful clear blue water, and tiny islands dotted amongst the vast and everlasting bay, it’s hard not to have the most perfect day.
 
As always with traveling, there will arise some challenges. The long haul international flight to Taipei, Taiwan (where I had a connecting flight) was about an hour delayed leaving Los Angeles. The connection in Taipei was very tight and I was worried I wouldn’t make my connection.
 
But I decided instead of worrying about things out of my control, I should try to take action to make my situation better. So, I very calmly approached one of the flight attendants and told her my situation. I asked if there was anything she could do to help me make my connection, like have a rep on the ground escort me to my next flight or give me a seat closer to the front of the plane so I could get off quicker. I used to be a flight attendant, so I learned from that job experience that when people approach the situation with love and gratitude, it will give them a better chance of yielding successful results.
 
This lovely Eva Air flight attendant had compassion for my situation. She found me right before landing and gave me a seat right behind business class. I was literally the 5th person off the plane, running like my life depended on it. There was a rep on the ground that gave me some special sticker and pointed me in the direction of the international transfer security check. That was my golden ticket to jump the security line, in and out, bing bam boom! I was plane to plane in 10 minutes and thankful for all my previous workouts that gave me the ability to run consistently with my carry-on backpack the entire way. I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Eva Air and their flight attendants. I also enjoyed their Hello Kitty theme. So Asian!
 
I made it to Cebu and spent the afternoon exploring the city before taking a flight that night to Puerto Princesa, the capital of the island of Palawan. I ventured over to Irawan Eco-Park, where there’s all sorts of adventurous outdoor activities. Home to Asia’s longest canopy zipline, I was flying through the jungle and experiencing all the natural beauty from this incredible aerial view. I also did a Tarzan swing, loving every moment and feeling exhilarated. There was a stunning sculpture garden at the entrance of the park. It was a really fun way to spend the day.
 
I took a 6-hour ride from Puerto Princesa to get to El Nido, which is at the northern tip of the island. All the traveling and anticipation to get to El Nido was worth it all. It is such a beautiful place! Staying at a property right on the beach, I felt like I had arrived in paradise.
 
The best way to explore the area is by boat. You leave in the morning and spend the entire day visiting uninhabited islands where you can relax on the beach or snorkel. We went to a lagoon and rented kayaks, paddling amongst lush cliffs. A fresh and delicious lunch is prepared and served on the beach. The day is packed with fun, adventure, and so much natural beauty. While I have a great appreciation for architecture, art, and other man-made creations, I feel a strong and deeper connection to this stunning world we live in. Seeing such natural beauty first-hand gives me a great feeling of gratitude.
 
El Nido is known to have the most stunning sunsets, and I was awe-struck by the transformation of the sky, shifting from day to night. Words cannot express how special this experience was for me. It was a true gift from nature!
 

Danielle Buxbaum