Robbed by a ladyboy in El Nido, Palawan in the middle of the night

the thief that got away in el nido

This story begins when I was travelling in the Philippines early 2016 with my Spanish friend Felix we spent two months travelling around this amazing country. At that point in the trip we were in El Nido, Palawan, famous for it’s island hopping tours, white beaches and coral reefs. We ended up staying at the hostel owners house, as the hostel was full up but they had converted an upstairs room into a dormitory which sat above the family home. It was small and cramped but really nice, and was easily accessible by  a flight of stairs at the side of the house. We were warned shortly after checking in that they had been targeted by thieves in recently weeks, but did not know who was doing it. We were told to always lock the door at night, as people were leaving the door open so that’s how this mystery person was getting in.

At this point we had been in El Nido almost two weeks and it was our final night, it was just another typical night chilling at the house with Teto (owner of house) and her son whilst having a few beverages and listening to some music. I decide at midnight to call it a night, after spending most of the day asleep feeling pretty ill. Leaving just Teto and Felix to have a debate about life. Felix and I had decided that very day to book tickets on a boat to take us to another island called Coron in the morning so we had to get up at 6:30am.

In the dormitory already is Sim and Spencer, they were just other travellers we got to know quite well. I drifted off to sleep full expecting to wake up early for the boat in the morning, shortly afterwards Felix stumbles in around 2am after a few too many rums. At 4am the door opens very quietly but not quiet enough as it still woke me up, and this person decides to leaves the door ajar which was strange. The opportunist slowly creeps around the dorm, and walks passed my bed, and goes straight to the wooden lockers in the corner of the room. Bare in mind it was pretty dark in the room, so I couldn’t make the person out. Next thing they start scuffling around and as my eyes adjusted to the darkness I made out a silhouette with long hair wearing a pink dress. I thought maybe Felix had gone out to a local bar and pulled a pretty Swedish girl haha! I assumed this person was looking for a toothbrush or something, they sat on the edge of Felix’s bed literally  opposite roughly a metre away from me!

But something did not add up to me, I sat up and took a sip of water, and took a glance at my bag it was untouched then pretended to go back to sleep. The opportunist was unfazed by my actions and carries on looking for something. Anyway a few minutes later I take another glance at my bag and it was open!! I jumped straight out of bed, knowing this was the thief who had been stealing from tourists over recent weeks. I screamed Felix’s name, and said there is someone in the room. I ran to the door to stop the intruder from leaving. Felix fails to awake from his drunken state, but Sim luckily jumps up and turns on the light. It was a lady boy in a pink dress! He looked terrified and straight off the bat started coming with all the excuses under the sun. I’m looking for my friend. I know the owner. I met this guy (Felix) at the bar this evening, but Felix didn’t go out!! Then I spot my wallet out of my bag and my sunnies by Felix’s bed. This lady boy was freaking out! We all checked our stuff I made sure no money had gone. We all confirmed that we had everything. Sim tried to get the owner but in the madness the lady boy got away, and was shouting all the way down the road that she knew us, but we had never met this person ever. Then we all came back to the room and Felix checked again the lady boy had stolen his money over £100 and our tickets to Coron for the morning!

We then went hunting for her at 4:30 am in the morning in different directions around the town but she had slipped away!

The very next morning Felix got some info at a local dive shop from another lady boy called Kim who was coming to met us in the hostel later that day. So Felix and I arrived at the main hostel, and this lady boy straight away thought we were accusing them of stealing. So you imagine how that went, I managed to calm down the situation saying I know it’s not you just trying to work out who it might have done it. She said I know who it might be, and  she wrote this name and places she stays at sometimes.

We then spent the day playing detective going around with this lady boy who wanted to help us locate the thief. We found some evidence where the lady boy may have stayed, at this very strange accommodation for locals, we spoke with the owner who for some reason did not want to speak with us. Which we found surprising, as everyone was normally so friendly so it made us suspicious. Felix and Kim managed to get some info from him eventually and he said the lady boy we were looking for had stayed there and checked out just after 4am. So this was literally just after she tried to steal from us, we went to the room she stayed in but there was noting apart from the biggest empty Durex box I’ve ever seen in the corner of the room. Oi oi cheeky! We then went to this other address with Kim, it was the part of El Nido none of the tourists go to. You could really see the poverty the locals were living in, and they looked confused why Felix and I were there. It transpired the house was where she used to live, we think with her aunty however not anymore.

We eventually gave up the search and that very afternoon went to the El Nido Police station. We told them the story and told her name, they knew her straight away and the lady officer showed us a picture on an iPhone of her. The Police were very helpful and phoned around to see if she had been spotted at the ferry or bus terminals. The officer said she may still be here, and was very well known in El Nido. Apparently the lady boy did this all the time, she travelled up to El Nido from Puerto Princesa and targeted tourists. She would try to steal money then the next day head back down to Puerto Princesa. If she was caught then she just paid off the fee with the stolen money which stopped her from going to jail. She does this every time, so it’s literally one big circle of repeat offending. Later that night we went out into town to all the bars with the slim chance of finding him, but we had no luck and instead forgot about it and danced the night away with the locals.

To wrap things up finally, the lovely hostel owners kindly got us an two more tickets for Coron, which they gave us free of charge! They felt really bad about the ordeal, but it was not their fault. Anyway it was super kind of them all and Felix and I were very grateful. So who left the door open that night? It was actually Spencer he had diarrhoea and was constantly up all night running to the toilet. It did not matter I would of left the door open too, if it saved me from pooing myself in a dorm. Felix luckily had insurance so claimed back the money.

The morning we were leaving to Coron, Felix and I were walking to the ferry terminal and suddenly we hear Teto son shouting our names. We turned around and he told us they had just arrested the lady boy he stole from us, she was in Puerto Princesa!

By the end of the whole ordeal we literally knew every lady boy in El Nido ha. Anyway they may have messed up our plans nicely but what a story.

el nido hostel
The family home, where we were staying.
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