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Coron 2023: Sunset and Epilogue

Sunset in Coron, Philippines, with islands in the background.

5th April

Unfortunately, because it’s been a few weeks since I came back, I have forgotten the girl’s name that i limbed the 700 steps to see the sunset from that evening. It was good that we both had the same idea of what to do. I’ll call her Rachel for now.

Rachel and I left the hotel in plenty of time for the twenty-ish minute walk to the top of the hill, but we wanted to get some food first. Somehow, she managed to order a burger that came with no sauce. It looked like my brother's McDonald's order when he was younger. Then we made for the hill.

It was a steep climb – as I said, 700 steps (they kindly painted indicators onto the steps at 100-step intervals to show you how far you had left. It was reasonably busy on the way up, and almost all tourists, although one mad lad was actually running up the stairs. Certainly not my preferred style of HIIT. At relatively frequent intervals were terraces where people were selling water and jewellery. Some of the sellers were quite young, the same as had come onto the boat on the first trip. Noone was buying anything from them. Also, in case you need reminding, trying to have a conversation whilst walking uphill is really hard!

Oddly, at least for me, more than a few people were coming back down from the top, deliberately missing the sunset. Maybe they figured it wasn’t worth it, or they had a better location in mind, although it was hard to see where in the next few minutes they could go.

At the top was a wide concrete viewing platform in the shadow of a metal crucifix. The sun was starting its terminal descent, casting a dulling yellow light over the landscape. Shallow shadows were already being formed behind the hills and mountains, deepening ever faster. We found a spot on the hillside between the dust and scraps of grass and settled in. We talked about a few things of no consequence as we waited. Rachel offered to take a photograph of an Italian family. Eventually, the sun did set, and suddenly the whole world was in the shade. The islands that stretched out to infinity became ill-defined, and the sea became ink. The lights in the town were as stars in the sky.

When we got back, I went out one last time to say goodbye to Nicole and Mika, after briefly doing so in the back of the van after the morning trip. I still need to pay them back the money I owe them for the expeditions.

All in all, my first trip to the Philippines was quite successful, though that’s entirely thanks to Nicole. If she hadn’t invited me along, or planned the boat trips herself, I would have arrived with no plans and even less prepared. It would've been a whole holiday looking through salt water with no goggles. But the people were friendly (I hope not just because I was a tourist) and I wish I’d had the opportunity to find more Filipino food. What I did have was great (the fish especially). Ultimately, there’s a reason everyone goes there for the ocean. It really was a fantastic weekend of snorkelling, and I can’t wait to do it again someday.

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