Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Beach
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I have become quite the expert on traveling with kids, and staying at Airbnb’s in general… I've always been a travel addict and my addiction never ended after I had kids. Perhaps my way to travel has changed, to make it more manageable with kids, and for this reason I always tend to stay at Airbnb’s when traveling with my family. (Read: blog on Airbnb). I also want the kids to be able to experience the most they can when traveling. Therefore it’s important that they get to know the local culture, the local food, understand that different languages are spoken in different countries, etc.

In January we traveled to Puerto Princesa, Palawan in the Philippines. I knew nothing about where we were about to go, except that they had beautiful beaches. I searched for a suitable Airbnb and found a nice villa with a private beach. It was the first time we were going somewhere that I had absolutely no idea what to expect. We arrived at Puerto Princesa, and the host from our Airbnb picked us up in a van. We travelled over an hour on broken roads, and finally reached our destination.

We were lucky our host Herwig, who is originally from Belgium, and his wife Theresa (from Puerto Princesa) were great! We don’t usually stay at Airbnb’s where we are totally at the mercy of the host. Here we were, in the middle of no where, with no car, no supermarkets, no restaurants around… we were stuck! It was hard to adjust to at first, not being able to research and discover local restaurants. All meals are actually included in the price, and therefore you eat all meals at the villa. Luckily, Theresa, was by far one of the greatest cooks I have ever met! So good in fact that I asked if she would give me private cooking lessons. We cooked for 2 days straight - chilli prawns, chicken curry, beef stew, vegetable fried rice…… all in an open fire kitchen. She is a professional baker, so we baked every type of bread possible as well. It really was an incredible experience. Sign up for my newsletter if you want some recipes! (Sign Up Form .)

During the days, we experienced so many things. The one day our hosts took us to a private river nearby. They said that they will prepare lunch for us by the river. Little did I know they meant they will kill a few chickens, make an open fire, and cook the most amazing meal. My kids were so intrigued, they watched everything with pure interests. They watched every single second of the chicken getting the neck cut, getting de-feathering, get chopped into pieces - at first I was scared it might be too gruesome for them, but then decided, they needed to know that chicken doesn’t come from shelves in the supermarket! We crushed garlic with beer bottles, chopped onions, turmeric, picked coconuts and shaved the coconuts (my husband quickly realised he is NOT the coconut shaving expert….looks easy but so difficult!) and then squeezed them to get the coconut milk. My girls ate with the local children, off a leaf as a plate (still they talk about this and say how much they loved it). I have to say this was one of the most enjoyable and delicious meals I have ever had!

They took us to beautiful waterfalls. My younger daughter Soraya insisted she wanted to get into the freezing cold waterfall and my poor husband (of course I wasn’t going to volunteer!) had to get in with her. I am sure she won’t forget this moment. My husband asked if the local fishermen would take him fishing one morning. Needless to say he didn’t come home with any fish, BUT he had an adventurous fun morning.

This is the kind of holiday I love. There were NO iPads, no phones, no electricity during the day, no shopping… hardly any wifi at all. We were just surrounded by pure beauty, good food, and enjoying our family without any interruptions or distractions. Was really a breath of fresh air. We flew back home, totally recharged and ready to face the world!

For anyone wanting to look into this experience, check out:Airbnb: Philippines
Herwig: herwiggielen@yahoo.com