Expedition: Philippines II

Marcus Hill’s 2020 Adventure

Marcus Hill set out on a solo month-long paddling trip in March 2020 in the Philippines. Then, COVID-19 happened.

We were bringing you his adventure real-time (almost) with Q&A, GPS tracking, photos and videos of his trip.

See his timeline below.

Marcus put together some videos and drone footage from his time on the islands.

Back home in Nagoya ready to start my 14 day quarantine

Marcus is home!

At Manila airport which is closed but has some flights out???? Just got a confirmation from my airline that they confirm that they have not cancelled the flight yet??? Looking down on a line of people flying ANA to Japan that I can’t get on because they don’t accept online bookings within six hours and they don’t have a ticketing office at the Airport!!!!

stuck in manila
hammock to hilton

From hammock to Hilton… I prefer the hammock.

Philippine update…. At midnight last night all flights cancelled in and out of Manila International Airport.. Well that’s me screwed.

On 5/2/20, @Liubov Afonina posted this on facebook:

Our superhero Marcus Hill has left us today in the morning and now is somewhere on the way to ferry and than hopefully to Japan

Thanks for this isolation. I was lucky to meet you. actually, we all were lucky to meet you.

The first thing I remember we got the news while staying in PEMs that the new Australian was traveling by kayak from Koron island 😱 and was stopped by coast guard with the guns 💪 and soon he would be with us isolated at the hotel.
Probably more than 1 month ago we started our ‘family’ isolation in TayTay firstly in Pems and than moved to our paradise.
Started our Sader Survivalist life

Lots of talks , a lot of smiles, swimming, kayaking 😻, I really enjoyed every conversation and every your story 💫 Definitely you should write a book about your adventures (and recipe book, this first 💚
Russian bike trip 🌍 never can imagine that somebody especially the foreigner will go into it 😅

and special thanks for the food and teaching 🥘 so far the Indian cuisine dinner is on my first place 😇 than curry, French toasts, flambé bananas, pancakes ❤️❤️❤️

Keep safe, Marcus 🙏
Wish all your ferry-flights-Japan will pass without difficulties 🌍

PS remember, I’m the first in the line for your books both adventures and recipe 🥘😎
PPS miss you already

Some photos and videos for our memories

A slight decline in ferry standards from suiteroom to cattle class, but I am so happy to be on this boat. 2 days and then the battle starts again in Manila.

On 5/1/20, @Beyond Elnido Palawan posted this on facebook:

Just ask Marcus Hill how he is dealt with Covid 19 here at Sader Beach🌴

This Adventurous gentleman puts most to shame for his age and spirit . Having Kayaked most of Palawan. Ridden half the world and helped us to add 20kgs in weight from great camp style cooking.

Wish you well.
P.S Dude can split Arrows.thats says alot.🤙

Marcus posted this to his facebook friends: “Hey Facebook friends in Japan. I will hopefully be flying back on Tuesday the 5th. The japanese government has once again decided that Tokyo is the only city in the country and I have to fly back there. It is a long shot and a lot to ask but if anyone can drive me from Narita to Nagoya it would save me doing 2 weeks quarantine in a hotel. I would pay all expenses including car rental and a hotel if needed. I have a heap of bags so it complicates things even more. Let me know if you feel a burning desire to rescue someone and I will provide my services as rescuee. This is a photo of what I look like now to scare you off even more.”

Ferry and flights booked for Saturday and Tuesday, hopefully back in Japan without any further setbacks.

Sader Beach

Day 37 stats. 32 days in the hammock.
300 +km paddled.
1 hot shower.
10 small fish speared.
1 false alarm SOS triggered.
1 armed escort by the coast guard.

Early morning Sader beach.

So the beach life gets another two weeks. After getting flights confirmed last night for the 15 th the Philippines extended their lock down until the end of the month! May 2nd is my next chance at getting to Japan.

Out of Quarantine in name only as the whole of Palawan is in lock down until the 14 th and possibly beyond. Trying to find a way to get flights back to Japan, but the situation is so fluid can’t really say when that will happen. On the bright side I am camped at a nice beach with good people the weather is good so I am far better off than most.

Sunday night is kebab night.

kabob night

Short trip into town to resupply. Only Bruce is allowed to shop while we can only stay at the cottages outside to use the Internet. Mask are mandatory but can be made from anything!


We lost our gas burner for a while back into the jungle for some bamboo… Voilà

chic on stick
bamboo kebabs

I have moved to a little beach with four other tourists, it is a great little spot. The weather has been windy but hopefully I can get some drone footage soon. Zero to very minimal signal means text only until the 3rd of April when I finish my quarantine.

bus to freedom

If you are going to take a bus to freedom then this is the bus!

This is what quarantine looks like in El Nido. Dinner, jump into the jungle grab some bamboo and make pork and pineapple shish kebabs

Armed escort by the coast guard into Taytay, where I am to spend 11 days in quarantine at a little cottage place along with 10 other foreigners. Own little cottage shower toilet can get food brought in 600(12usd) pesos a night.

(Marcus posted this on 3/23 but the communication was sketchy along the way so we have gotten a little behind.)

27 km today finishing at 4:00 next to an abandoned resort. Part of the experience is finding somewhere to stay every night, I have offline maps with satellite view so I can differentiate between sandy and rocky coast lines, but they are not up to date and little settlements of people can pop up right where you planned to sleep.. Previously this wasn’t a big deal as camping down one end of the beach would usually be OK. However with the Coronavirus people are not happy with me anywhere near them. Last night after dark I was told not to stay more than one night and today I was stopped mid ocean and told not to enter the village area. Let’s hope that I can avoid the dramas and find camping every night. Its all part of the experience.

(2 hours later) And it’s over. The government officials of El Nido have been told about me and are coming to pick me up in the morning, I am in contradiction of the movement quarantine laws and can’t continue. I have had a great 300 +km in the kayak but finally, even here in the Philippines the Coronavirus effect got me.

Well today was a perfect example of what an expedition is like. I was woken several times by cows and pigs during the night, the cows were semi domesticated the pigs not. When I finally climbed out of the hammock the tide was out exposing rock. The wind was up and the view of the sea showed big messy swells and chop. But I still packed up, had breakfast, found some bamboo to make rollers out of and launched. The first hour and a half was as expected, then the swell dropped off. Now I was paddle /sailing and making reasonable time. My initial destination was reached by 2 and with the wind in my favor I completed a 10km crossing in about an hour and 20 minutes. Now the rice is on and the hammock is up. 26 km for the day.

Narrowly avoided an early end to the expedition today as the coronavirus affected me for the second time. I pulled into San Miguel, Linapacan Island for some water. Armed soldiers stopped me from landing and directed me to the end of the pier where I had to have my temporature taken and answer a few questions. Then I had to wait for the medical officer to check me out. Finally I was given the all clear to buy some water. When I made my way back however there was a problem, seems no one is allowed to travel between municipalities in the Philippines now. Also no one was allowed to enter a new municipality. Phone calls were made in Tagalog and all I could understand was KAYAK… yes a Kayak from Coron… Yes from Coron. In the end not having a municipality to go back to and not being able to enter left them with the only option to let me continue. Lesson learned I can’t visit any town without the risk of being stuck there… Glassy sea in the morning with strange currents and rough confused seas in the afternoon. Alls well that ends well.

Luckily I don’t consume a lot of water compared to most people. I only use 2.5 litres a day for cooking and drinking. I carry 14 litres in the kayak and fill up every 5 days, I use a filter to clean up any non bottled water I get.

Re-tracing last years route. I have been on the same schedule as last year for the last five days. There is something about remembering the journey last year through this year’s eyes that is very satisfying. Today the wind dropped just a little but enough to make using the sail possible. The Pakayak handles it really well. Whether it was sailing/paddling across flat water bays running downwind or even a 5 km sailing only the kayak excelled. The last km today was the tricky current section I remembered from last year. This time I didn’t spend an hour slogging into it as I did last time.

Last night was windy all night and the beautiful fine white sand beach turned into a sand blaster. The wind was 24mph when I started paddling and was more or less a tailwind. The swells today were the biggest I have ever been in, but the Pakayak handled everything well. The first stop was a 13km crossing then an 11 km hop over less rough water to my destination.

Rough day on the high seas. Big swells but always an adventure.

Very short hop down the coast to last year’s first solo nights camp. Amazing all the construction taking place along the Coron island coast in only a year. Tonight’s camping spot was completely natural last year and now it looks like two or three huts are being constructed. Tomorrow back to paddling properly with a 7 km crossing to start the day.

Barring a plane crash I will be back in Japan today. JAL charged me for excess baggage then I had to pay for overstaying my Visa!!!!

homeless chic

Hammock to Hilton to Homeless chic (in Japanese airport)

dexters bus

Catching Dexters bus to the hotel

Well big news in the Pakayak Palawan expedition world. Two days ago Metro Manila was quarantined stopping all domestic flights in and out of the capital. This means my return flight had to be rebooked. Now I will have an extra 11 days paddling. Which means a few needed rest days and that if I find a beautiful island I can stay there for a few days. Today therefore is a rest day.

Finished the circumnavigation Busuanga, 200 km over 9 days. A very enjoyable trip. I had little contact with anyone but every interaction I did have was super friendly and involved them giving me lunch, fruit or a fresh coconut. I stopped in at lunchtime to Coron to refill on water and thought about staying but the noise and hustle was too much so I jumped back into my Pakayak and paddled on. Conditions today were quite mixed with glassy seas, chop, flat, waves and back to flat again with a headwind most of the time.

Late start and late finish today with 19 km paddled the winds although headwinds have eased making paddling tiring but possible to make some distance. I had difficulty finding a camping spot as I am getting nearer to Coron which I should reach tomorrow. I’m a little beat but otherwise can’t complain.

Into the wind all day but lighter than yesterday’s 20mph had to do a little bit of zig zagging between island to lessen the effects. Stopped at 4:00 when I found this little camp spot in the mangroves.

Rough day at the office. 20mph headwinds. I tried to cross directly in the wind and made slow progress before the wind picked up and pushed me backwards turned tail and ran downwind to the nearest island. Will camp here tonight.

No problems except for extreme low tides and difficulties getting into the beach. Landed last night 40 minutes after sunset.

26 km yesterday slow because of the long shallow flats.

Hi, big dramas with the satellite receiver malfunctioning and sending an SOS distress call all when I was out of cell reception. The somewear receiver then stopped working completely. This means we are on cell only and no tracking.

Not sure of the outcome re search and rescue only that I managed to get a message out to cancel the SOS by paddling 2 km out to sea under the moonlight!

Everything else is great, lol​.

Enjoying the only two things that I can’t get when paddling. Shade and a cold drink.

Stopped for water got invited to lunch, mangrove worms.,mudcrab fish rice salad and scary hot chilli peppers. Delicious.

Q&A, Comments & Videos

How did you hear about and decide on Pakayak?

Svein: Hi Marcus. My wife and I is going to buy modular kayaks. What is your experience with pakayak in rough water? And is it stabile? Crushing speed? Best regards Svein

Marcus: Hi Svein, the Pakayak handles the rough water extremely well. I have taken the kayak out in 2 m swells with a metre of cross swell and even in these extremely rough conditions didn’t capsize. The cross section of the hull is forgiving and allows the paddler to regain control easily. I have also surfed the kayak in medium sized waves and it was stable and a lot of fun! The cruising speed of the Pakayak over a whole day is around 6-7 kph in flat conditions, this drops with wind and choppy seas to around 5-6 kph. These speeds are easy to achieve and the kayak doesn’t feel slow or sluggish when paddled. The overall performance of the Pakayak is as good as any 14 ft normal rigid kayak with all the benefits of being portable. Let me know if you have any further questions.

Mary: how are you staying connected on the internet to record your journey’s progress?

Marcus: I use a GPS tracker and global hotspot called Somewear plus cell coverage.

Gabriele: Hi Marcus, sound like an amazing trip at an amazing location. Have a safe and exciting time!

Marcus: Thanks! I can’t wait to be actually paddling! Flying and on a ferry now.

Tracy: Best wishes for an AMAZING journey. My hubby and I just got our Pakayaks. We have a long way to go in reaching your Adventure level. So, we are looking forward to following you on your journey and picking up on your expertise. I’m sure you will enjoy every moment.

Marcus: Thanks! It’s going to be fun!

Mark: I’m really interested in the sail installation on the Pakayak. If you could post pictures on how you did this along with the components used I’m sure it would be appreciated by all.

Marcus: Sure, I hope to get some pictures once I get going. It’s a Flat Earth sails kit with everything included.

Elke: Hi Marcus, it is great to hear from you and your adventures again! Wish you good luck! Elke and her yellow Pakayak “Sandermander” from Germany

Sharil: Hi Marcus, how do you manage fresh/drinking water during your trip? Rations?

Marcus: Luckily I don’t consume a lot of water compared to most people. I only use 2.5 litres a day for cooking and drinking. I carry 14 litres in the kayak and fill up every 5 days, I use a filter to clean up any non bottled water I get.

David: Hi Marcus I think what you are doing is awesome ! Safe travels and I continue to look forward to your updates. Very interesting the different COVID-19 protocols between countries.

How did you get the 70+ lbs of gear you are taking into the Bluefin 14?

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