GOAL SURPRISE: El Nido Phillippines

We all set out a GOAL to travel, and we think our GOAL is met once we arrive,

but then on every trip, there’s a GOAL Surprise.

You know, that moment where you are caught off guard but it ends up exceeding your expectations.

It can be an extreme circumstance or the tiniest of interactions.

Regardless it’s a memory that lasts a lifetime.

It’s when the destination suddenly becomes something special.

Those unpredictable moments we call GOAL Surprises.




It was after an epic 2-hour paddleboarding excursion.


Those islands look so close until you start paddling against the current.


Our arms were exhausted and our body famished, we hunkered down at a downtown eatery and walked back to our hotel around sunset.



Like clockwork, the rain started to roll in. Typical July evening in Palawan. We rinsed off and made our way down our lodge bar. Tired, but refused to call it a night at 9 pm. We settled on a nightcap of a little shisha, hookah, whatever you want to call it. The perfect rhythm of rain drummed on the palm leaf roof as we sit back and enjoy some apple-mint tobacco. First puff in, we watch three men stumble in from the storm. They plant themselves at the table next to us. Including staff, we are the only ones hanging out.  A simple smile passed at one another as we casually stick to ourselves and they order their own hookah.


We’re introverted, so opening the door to connect never comes easy.


It’s was inevitable to listen in on each other’s conversations, so the occasional laugh in agreement and short responses began to occur. Before you know it we are chatting away, well, the best we could. All three men ended up being from Saudi Arabia. One gentleman spoke decent English, the second made due, the third didn’t understand a lick.


Drinks were ordered as our conversations continued. The professional shisha smokers claimed our hotel had the best in town.




We spoke about travel. We told them to come visit in NYC, they rebutted saying we need to experience Oman or try the beaches in Sri Lanka.


We spoke about our jobs, families, passions, just like old friends catching up from a long time apart. This would have been classified enough as a GOAL Surprise.  I said earlier that we are introverted, and although we are, it doesn’t mean that we don’t thoroughly enjoy getting to know other people from around the world. That simple reminder that we are all the same, living life the best we can, enjoying the ride, is always a magical moment for us, but these guys made the moment even more memorable.


It was getting late and the rain subsided, our new friends began to wrap up as we passed our farewells. One of the gentlemen offered us his umbrella as they were leaving the island tomorrow. Very thoughtful because it rains every day.


“Thanks guys, have a great rest of your trip!”  


A few minutes later we decide it’s time to hit the hay as the bartender goes, “the gentleman took care of your tab.”


Jaw dropped


This gesture was everything. There was absolutely no reason for them to treat us, our tabs were never combined, our tables never connected, but here we stood stunned. We didn’t even have their contact to thank them. Gentlemen, if by chance you discover this blog, please know that we couldn’t thank you enough.


Many will say that we are living in a very ugly time. If you read the paper or watch the news it’s easy to go down that rabbit hole, but we believe that kindness will always win. There is so much good out there, if you open yourself to it, it will find you. Encounters like this remind us to reciprocate the gesture as much as possible.



Have you ever had a similar encounter that made you so happy

to witness good in the world?

If so share and inspire us in the comments below!