Summer Trip to Palawan, Part Deux

March 25, 2008 at 2:32 PM | Posted in Animals, Lifestyle, Musings, Travel | Leave a comment
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Buenavista View Deck overlooking Ulugan Bay

My housemate and I woke up early the next morning for the Underground River tour package we availed. We weren’t suppose to get this tour package since we only had very limited time in Palawan. But a few tour guides we’ve spoken with have said that we still had enough time to squeeze in this
tour package before we fly back to Manila. And so we decided that we take the Underground River tour on our second day there then get the Honda Bay tour on the third day.

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Our tour guide told us to be early for the Underground River tour because it would take a whole day. So we had our early breakfast in the hotel then boarded the tour van at 7:30 AM. The drive to the wharf took about over two hours. Then we, along with the other tourists, had to take a pump boat and cross the sea to get to the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, which featured the 8.2 km-long underground river. I must say, the Underground River cruise was really exciting! It was an actual adventure going inside the long, huge cave aboard a paddle boat. Since it was pitch black inside the cave, we had to use a light to see the stalactites and stalagmites there that were so abundant — not to mention the hordes of bats hanging on the ceiling of the cave!

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view from inside the cave

It took us 45 minutes to get through the cave and back. Then we had lunch at the park, among Palawan’s wildlife which included several lizards (didn’t know what type of lizards they were) and a couple of monkeys. After lunch, our tour guide gave us only a few minutes to take pictures then we headed back to our respective hotels. It was only three in the afternoon when we returned to the hotel so Marj and I decided to take a bit of rest in our room first before we hang out again at the SJD Center, at another coffee shop. We stayed there until six PM.

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the shore of Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park

The third day came and Marj and I went to Honda Bay with our usual group of fellow tourists. The drive to the Honda Bay wharf took only 15 minutes. Then we boarded a pump boat for some island hopping. The first island we visited was Pandan Island. For me, this was the best island among the three islands we visited. It had a wide stretch of shore with white sand fringed with palm trees. The shore wasn’t rocky so swimming wasn’t much of a problem. What I loved most about this island apart from the wide shore was that it wasn’t teeming with people. You could have peace and quiet there. We took our lunch on the island then hop on to the next at around noon. Our flight back to Manila was scheduled late in the afternoon of that day so we really had to rush. The second island we visited, the Snake Island, was too commercialized. There were crowds of people there and the shoreline was narrow and grassy though it’s still white sand. The shallow waters were rocky too so it was a bit uncomfortable swimming there. The third and last island we hopped on was the Starfish Island. Though the stretch of white sand was wide enough, the shores were so rocky. Swimming there was pretty uncomfortable.

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neat paw prints of a dog

We were given an hour there to swim before Marj and I were whisked off back to the wharf and the hotel at around three PM. Good thing we already checked-out from the hotel before the tour so we only had to grab our bags from the front desk and change our clothes then get to the airport. We arrived at the airport in time and by past six in the evening, we were back in Manila.

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view from the boat

Summer Trip to Palawan

March 23, 2008 at 6:37 PM | Posted in Animals, Food and Dining, Lifestyle, Musings, Travel | 2 Comments
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Masks at Ka Lui’s

So my much-anticipated vacation in Palawan came and went. I had such a blast while I was there. It was really a much-needed break for me — to get away from the big city and the stress of work and just enjoy the beauty of nature. I was in Palawan for three days with my housemate Marj. And I could really say that all the planning, the costs, and the preparation for the trip were worth it.

It was my first time to go to Palawan and I must say that the city of Puerto Princesa was pretty laid back. There was no traffic, no rush hour, and no large crowds. There wasn’t even a mall there. All you could see were mostly hardware and construction stores, small restaurants, a few banks, bike shops, and convenience stores. But whatever the city might lack, it made up with its beautiful, pristine beaches and amazing wildlife.

My first day in Palawan consisted of checking-in at Asturias Hotel and having lunch at a popular local restaurant outside the hotel called Ka Lui. The restaurant was built in traditional wood and bamboo cottage and was spacious and breezy. All diners were required to leave their shoes at the entrance. Ka Lui served mostly seafood and vegetables and their menu was very affordable.

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The afternoon was spent taking the city tour with a tour guide. My housemate and I, together with a small group of tourists, were led to several tourist spots around the city. The first stop was a World War II Japanese garrison called Plaza Cuartel where a hundred or so American POWs were imprisoned. The second stop was the Palawan Museum where it showcased several local artifacts including chinaware from the Ming dynasty and a small number of bone remains of the Tabon Man.

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One of the crocs at the crocodile farm

Our tour guide took us to the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center for the next stop. The center included a crocodile farm and an ostrich farm. Unfortunately, the tour guide only allowed us five minutes to explore the area so we didn’t have enough time to take some pictures of the wildlife and lush greeneries there.

We all went to the Iwahig Prison after that, which for me was a complete waste of time. I had no choice then since the prison camp was part of the itinerary. There was nothing to see there except the prisoners and the farm they were tilling. If I had the choice, I wouldn’t want to go there. I don’t care if it’s the largest prison camp in the Philippines. The place was boring!

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It was a good thing that our next stop was the Butterfly Farm. Now this place was awesome! Sadly though, we were only given three minutes to wander around the place before we headed off to our sixth stop, which was the private residence-cum-ranch of Congressman Abraham Mitra. The sprawling vacation house was set on a hill surrounded by a big ranch. The view here was breathtaking. As usual, our tour guide rushed us away from there towards the last stop. Our last stop, the Baker’s Hill, was no more than a small bakeshop with the usual bread and pastries being sold. Souvenir items were also being sold here.

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The city tour ended at five PM. It was too early for us to go back to the hotel and since we didn’t want to be holed up in our hotel room, Marj and I decided to pass the time lounging at a local coffee shop called Itoy’s located within the SJD Center. It was one of the only two coffee shops we saw in the area that’s near the hotel. We stayed there til six PM then headed back to the hotel.

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Our hotel room was generally OK, albeit it could use a bit of decoration. Though bare, it was perfectly clean including the bathroom. It was kinda spacious too. The location of our room was ideal since we only had to open the door to see a nice view of the swimming pool. Our room was practically a few steps away from the pool. My housemate and I spent the evening swimming in the pool and lazing around in the Jacuzzi.

(to be continued)

Palawan Getaway

March 6, 2008 at 4:32 PM | Posted in Lifestyle, Musings, Travel | Leave a comment
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At last, I’m all set for my upcoming vacation in Palawan! Yey, I’m so excited! I already have a plane ticket from Air Philippines and booked a room at the Asturias Hotel in Puerto Princesa. I’ll be going with my housemate Marj on March 18 to 20. This would be my first time to go on a vacation during Holy Week. I mean, I used to just stay at home during Holy Week but now I’m raring to go out of town and have a real vacation! Gosh, I haven’t been on a vacation for a long time. For the past couple of years, I’m always about work, work, work! Now I’m determined to give myself more quality time for leisurely activities — and going to Palawan is part of that.

I’m most excited about going to Honda Bay beach. I haven’t been on a beach in such a long time. The last time I went swimming was on a resort with nothing but a swimming pool to swim in. Since then, I’ve been wanting to go swimming on a beach and be close to nature. I can’t wait to go to Palawan! I haven’t been there before so this would be my first time to go.

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